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Archive for October, 2011

Majjhima Nikaya, Middle collection
M. 75th (VIII, 5) Māgandiya Sutta (Māgandiyo)

translated from Pāli by Karl Eugen Neumann

THIS HAVE I HEARD. At one time the Blessed One was staying in the Kuru country, in a town of the Kurus called Kammasadammam, at the altar hearth of a Brahman from the Bharadvajer-lineage, on a straw mat. And the Master, getting ready early, took bowl and robe and went to Kammasadammam for his alms meal. And as the Sublime One, walking from house to house, had received alms, he returned, took the meal and then went to a nearby forest grove, for the day. Inside this forest thicket, the Sublime One sat at the foot of a tree, to dwell there until sunset.

Now came Māgandiyo, a pilgrim, strolling on a promenade, to the altar hearth of the Bharadvajer Brahmin. And there he saw the straw mat arranged, and when he had noticed that he spoke thus to Bharadvajer Brahmin:

“For whom is here at Sir Bharadvajo’s altar hearth the straw mat arranged? It looks like a seat of an ascetic.”

“It is, o Māgandiyo, the ascetic Gotama, the Sakyerson who has renounced the legacy of the Sakya! This Lord Gotama is greeted everywhere with the joyous glorious call: ‘So indeed, this is the Sublime One, the Holy One,the fully Awakened One, proven in knowledge and character, the Welcome One, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of the herd of men, the master of the gods and men, the Awakened One, the Sublime One.’ For this Sir Gotama the seat is arranged.”‘

“Bad, verily, O Bharadvajo, we have seen that we have seen the seat of Sir Gotama, the core-biter.”

“Let go, Māgandiyo, of such talk! Even many learned princes and learned priests, learned ascetics and learned citizens are thrilled and genuinely initiated by this Lord Gotama, in the salutary law.”

“And if, oh Bharadvajo, that Lord Gotama came to face, we should say it to his face: ‘A core-biter is the ascetic Gotama, I say: and why I say that? Because he, as such, is against our own statutes.'”

“If it is agreeable to Sir Māgandiyo, I want to tell the ascetic Gotama.”

“Not that I want to burden Sir Bharadvajo with it, but he may say it.” But the Blessed One heard with his heavenly ear, the purified, superhuman, reaching beyond borders, this talk of the Brahmin of the Bharadvaja lineage with the pilgrim Māgandiyo.

When the Blessed One had now finished towards evening the peace of thought, he returned to the altar hearth of the Bharadvaja Brahmin and sat down on the arranged straw mat. Then came the Bharadvajer-Brahmin and approached the Sublime One, exchanging courteous and friendly greeting and memorable words and sat down on the side. And when the Bharadvajer-Brahmin sat to the side, the Blessed One addressed him thus:

“Did you, Bharadvajo, have any conversation here with Māgandiyo the pilgrims about this straw mat?”

At these words the Brahman Bharadvajo, taken by awe, replied to he Exalted One:

“That’s just now what we wanted to inform Lord Gotama about: ‘But Lord Gotama has now made us become silent.”

And no sooner this conversation of the Sublime One with the Bharadvajer Brahmins had begun, there came Māgandiyo the pilgrims strolling on his walk, back to the altar hearth of the Bharadvajer Brahmin, and he walked to the Sublime One, exchanging courteous greeting and friendly, memorable words with the Sublime One and sat down on the side. And as the pilgrim Māgandiyo sat aside, the Blessed One addressed him thus:

“The eye, Māgandiyo indulges in the forms, loves the forms, enjoys the forms: it the Tathagata has subdued, made waiting, saddled and bridled; to rein it in he shows the teaching. Have you, Māgandiyo thought of this as you saidst: ‘A core-biter is the ascetic Gotama?’ “

“Of this, sure, O Gotama, I thought when I said, ‘A core-biter is the ascetic Gotama, I say: and why I say that? Because he, as such, is against our own statutes.'”

“The ear, Māgandiyo indulges in the sounds, the nose, Māgandiyo in the scents, the tongue, Māgandiyo, indulges in the juices, the body, Māgandiyo indulges in the tangibles, the mind, Māgandiyo indulges in ideas, loves ideas, delights in ideas: the mind has been tamed by the Perfect One, made waiting, saddled and bridled; to rein it in he teaches the teaching. Have you, Māgandiyo thought of that, when you spoke.? ‘A core-biter is the ascetic Gotama’ “

“Of this, sure, O Gotama, I thought when I said, ‘A core-biter is the ascetic Gotama, I say: and why I say that? Because he, as such, is against our own statutes.'”

“What do you think Māgandiyo: it was there someone first being served by the forms entering into consciousness through the eye, which he longed for, loved, lovely, pleasant, appropriate for desire, charming, who had then later understood the forms’ arising and passing away, understood their misery, their refreshment and renunciation; who then discarded the desire for forms, the fever for forms and has conquered the thirst and gained the stilling of his own mind: what you want now, Māgandiyo argue against such a one ?”

“Nothing, oh Gotama!”

“What do you think Māgandiyo: it was there someone first being served by the sounds entering into consciousness through the ear, by the scents entering into consciousness through the nose, by the tastes entering into consciousness through the tongue, by the tangibles entering into consciousness through the body, by the ideas entering into consciousness through the mind which he longed for, loved, lovely, pleasant, appropriate for desire, charming, who had then later understood the ideas’ arising and passing away, understood their misery, their refreshment and renunciation therefrom; who then discarded the desire for ideas, the fever for ideas and has conquered the thirst and gained the stilling of his own mind: what you want now, Māgandiyo argue against such a one ?”

“Nothing more, O Gotama!”

“I used to, Māgandiyo, also live in the house and was gifted with the possession and enjoyment of the five desires: the forms entering into consciousness through the eye, the sounds entering into consciousness through the ear, the fragrances entering into consciousness through the nose, the juices entering into consciousness through the tongue, the tangibles entering into consciousness through the body, the ones longed-for, loved, lovely, pleasant,  appropriate for desire, charming. And I owned Māgandiyo, three palaces, one for fall, one for winter, one for the summer. And I spent, Māgandiyo, the four autumn months in the autumn palace, served by invisible music, and did not rise to come down from the balcony. Later then I understood according to truth the desire’s arising and passing away, its refreshment and misery and renunciation therefrom and I rejected the desiring pleasure, denied the desiring fever, conquered thirst and attained the ebbing of my own mind. And I saw how the other beings who yielded to the desire, consumed of desiring thirst, ignited by desiring fever, how they indulge in desires, and I could not envy could find no pleasure in it: and why not? Because yes, Māgandiyo, my joy, far from desires, far from unwholesome things, come close to heavenly bliss: such joy enjoying I could not find anything attractive in the common, find no pleasure in it.

“Just if, Māgandiyo, there was a father, or the son of a householder, rich, with money and property powerfully gifted in possession and enjoyment of the five desires. And he had traveled on the righteous path in works, words and thoughts and at the dissolution of the body, after death, reappeared on the good track, enters into a heavenly world, up to the realm of the thirty-three gods. And he lived in the ‘Blissful Forest’, with an array of nymphs, in the possession and enjoyment of the five heavenly desires. And he perceived a householder, or the son of a householder, who owns the five worldy desires and enjoys them what do you think Māgandiyo, would this son of the gods, who owns the ‘Blissful Forest’ with an array of nymphs and the heavenly five desires enjoy that householder, or son of a householder and envy him, and miss the five human desires, turn to human desires? “

“Certainly not, O Gotama!”

“And why not?”

“Human desires, O Gautama, are to be preferred and be preceded by heavenly desires.”

“Just in the same way now, Māgandiyo did I used to also live in the house and was gifted with the possession and enjoyment of the five desires: . Later then I understood according to truth the desire’s arising and passing away, its refreshment and misery and renunciation therefrom and I rejected the desiring pleasure, denied the desiring fever, conquered thirst and attained the ebbing of my own mind. And I saw how the other beings who yielded to the desire, consumed of desiring thirst, ignited by desiring fever, how they indulge in desires, and I could not envy could find no pleasure in it: and why not? Because yes, Māgandiyo, my joy, far from desires, far from unwholesome things, come close to heavenly bliss: such joy enjoying I could not find anything attractive in the common, find no pleasure in it.

“Just if, Māgandiyo, when a leper, whose limbs have become covered with ulcers, rotten, worm-eaten, are scratched by the nails and sore, would bake them at a pit full of burning coals with scraps of skin tearing down from the body. And his friends and comrades, relatives and cousins ​​ordered him a knowledgeable doctor, and this knowledgeable doctor would give him a cure, and he used this remedy and would be freed from leprosy and was cured, felt good, independent, and could go where he wanted. And he saw other lepers, with limbs full of sores, foul-grown, eaten by worms and scratched by the nails sore, as they dried them up at a pit full of burning coals with shreds of skin hanging down from the body. What do you think Māgandiyo, would this man envy those lepers or miss the glowing coal pit and the use of the remedy? “

“Oh no, oh Gotama!”

“And why not?”

“If one is ill, oh Gotama, then one needs a cure. If one is not sick, then you do not need it.”

“Just in the same way now, Māgandiyo did I used to also live in the house and was gifted with the possession and enjoyment of the five desires: . Later then I understood according to truth the desire’s arising and passing away, its refreshment and misery and renunciation therefrom and I rejected the desiring pleasure, denied the desiring fever, conquered thirst and attained the ebbing of my own mind. And I saw how the other beings who yielded to the desire, consumed of desiring thirst, ignited by desiring fever, how they indulge in desires, and I could not envy could find no pleasure in it: and why not? Because yes, Māgandiyo, my joy, far from desires, far from unwholesome things, come close to heavenly bliss: such joy enjoying I could not find anything attractive in the common, find no pleasure in it.

“Just if, Māgandiyo, when a leper, whose limbs have become covered with ulcers, rotten, worm-eaten, are scratched by the nails and sore, would bake them at a pit full of burning coals with scraps of skin tearing down from the body. And his friends and comrades, relatives and cousins ​​ordered him a knowledgeable doctor, and this knowledgeable doctor would give him a cure, and he used this remedy and would be freed from leprosy and was cured, felt good, independent, and could go where he wanted.  And two strong men grabbed him under the arms and dragged him toward the glowing coal pit. What do you think Māgandiyo? Would not this man pull back his body in every possible way?”

“Certainly, oh Gotama!”

“And why is that?”

“That fire, oh Gotama, is so painful to endure and even terribly scorching and terribly injuring.”

“What do you think Māgandiyo: is only now the fire painful to endure and terribly scorching and dreadfully injuring, or was it earlier too painful to endure and terribly scorching and dreadfully injuring?”

“Now, O Gautama, the fire is painful to endure and terribly scorching and dreadfully injuring and even before the fire was painful to endure and terribly scorching and dreadfully injuring. But that leper, oh Gotama, whose limbs were full of sores, had become rotten, worm-eaten, were scratched by the nails with shreds of skin tearing down from his body, he had become confused and had lost his mind, and that his how he endured the painful fire believing: ‘That feels good’ “

“Just in the same way, however, Māgandiyo, were also the desires of the past painful to bear and terribly scorching and frightfully injuring, and also the desires of the future will be painful to endure and terribly scorching and frightfully injuring, and even the desires of today are painful to bear and terribly scorching and frightfully injuring. But these beings, Māgandiyo, yielded to the desire of desiring thirst, inflamed by desiring fever, have become confused in their senses, lost their mind, and while they painfully endure the desires they believe: ‘This feels good’.

“As if, Māgandiyo, a leper, whose limbs are covered with ulcers, rotten, worm-eaten, are scratched by the nails and tearing shreds of skin off his body close to a fire pit full of burning coals – the more and more now, Māgandiyo, those lepers scratch themselves, the more and more his open wounds get filled with dirt, odor and pus, and yet he feels a certain complacency, a certain enjoyment by rubbing the open wounds. In the same way, Māgandiyo, do the beings who indulge in desires, surrendering to desires and desiring thirst, consumed by desiring fever and ignited by passions – the more and more now, Māgandiyo, they are given to the desires and desiring thirst, consumed by desiring fever and inflamed and indulging in desires – the more and more grows in them desire, the more they are ignited by the lustful fever, and yet they feel a certain complacency, a certain enjoyment following the five sense desires.

“What do you think Māgandiyo: have you seen such a king or a prince, who, endowed with the possession and enjoyment of the five desires, without rejecting the desire and without having denied the desiring fever, has defeated his thirst and attained to the ebbing of his own mind, or finds it or will find it? “

“Probably not, oh Gotama!”

“Well, Māgandiyo: Neither have I heard nor seen, Māgandiyo, that a king or a prince, in the possession and enjoyment of the five desires, without rejecting the desiring pleasure, and without having denied the desiring fever, defeated thirst and attained to the ebbing of his own mind, or is, or will find it. But whoever also Māgandiyo, of all the ascetics and priests, overcame thirst and did attain the ebbing of their own mind, or does so or will in the future – each has truly seen the desires’ arising and passing away, their refreshment and misery and renunciation therefrom and rejected the desiring pleasure, denied the desiring fever, and then conquered the thirst and found the ebbing of his own mind, or finds it, or will find it. “

And the Blessed One was heard on this occasion saying the following verses:

“Health is the highest good,
The extinction of delusion highest salvation,
The eightfold real is the best of all pathways
To extinguish forever. “

At these words the pilgrims Māgandiyo said to the Exalted One:

“Wonderful, oh Gotama, is great, oh Gotama, how well Lord Gotama has put it:

“Health is the highest good,
The extinction of delusion highest salvation’

I too have heard this, oh Gotama, this word of the pilgrims and their former masters and teachers of yore:

“Health is the highest good,
The extinction of delusion highest salvation’

With them, oh Gotama, it is consistent! “

“What you heard there Māgandiyo, the word of the pilgrims and their former masters and teachers of yore:

“Health is the highest good,
The extinction of delusion highest salvation’

what does ‘health‘ mean? what means ‘the extinction of delusion’? “

So asked, the pilgrim Māgandiyo wiped his hand over eyes and forehead:

“The meaning of ‘health’, o Gotama, is the same as the meaning of ‘extinction of delusion’. I am now, oh Gotama, healthy, feel good and am wanting for nothing.”

“Just if, Māgandiyo, there were a man born blind: who sees no black and no white objects, not blue, not yellow, not red, not green, he did not see what is equal and what is not equal, would see no stars and no moon and no sun. And he heard the word of someone who can see: ‘proper, indeed, my dear, is a white dress, fine, without stains and clean.’ And he sought to gain such and someone deceived him, someone gave him a shirt greasy and grimy and second hand. ‘Here you go, my dear man, here is a white dress, very fine, without stains and clean’. And he took and clothed himself with it and happily he would run around saying: ‘proper, indeed, is a white dress,very fine, without stains and clean.’ What do you think Māgandiyo; would this man knowingly had accepted that greasy and grimy old shirt, put it on and running around made such happy exclamation or because he trusted that seeing man who sold it to him? “

“Without knowing it, certainly, oh Gotama, without seeing it he had accepted that greasy and grimy old shirt, put it on and talked about it chearfully, because he believed that man who could see.”

“Just in the same way, Māgandiyo, the other ascetics and pilgrims are blind and eyeless, don’t know of health, do not see the extinction of delusion, and yet they say the phrase:

‘Health is the highest good,
‘The extinction of delusion highest salvation.’

Those ancient holy ones, Māgandiyo, the fully Awakened Ones (Buddhas) were saying this:

“Health is the highest good,
The extinction of delusion highest salvation,
The eightfold real is the best of all pathways
To extinguish forever. “

This is now gradually becoming a common saying. But this body here, Māgandiyo is a sickly thing, a brest-like thing, a painful thing, an evil thing, a fragile thing, and from this body, which is a sickly thing, a brest-like thing, a painful thing, an evil thing, is a fragile thing, you say: ‘The meaning of health, oh Gotama, is the same as teh meaning of extinction of delusion.’  You are lacking the noble vision, Māgandiyo, equipped with the noble vision you knew what health is, would see the extinction of delusion. “

“I trust the Lord Gotama as much and think as well that Lord Gotama can show me his teaching such that I become aware of health, may see the extinction of delusion!”

“Just about, Māgandiyo if it were a man born blind because: who sees no black and no white objects, not blue, not yellow, not red, not green, he did not see what right and what is not equal, would see no stars and no moon and no sun. And his friends and comrades, relatives and cousins ​​ordered him a knowledgeable doctor, and this knowledgeable doctor would give him a cure, and he used this remedy and could not clear his eyes, could not  purify the eyes. What do you think Māgandiyo: would not that artist have plagued and struggled with his patient in vain “?

“Certainly, oh Gotama!”

“Just in the same way, Māgandiyo, I could probably expound to you the doctrine about health and about the extinction of delusion and you might not perceive health and not see the extinction of delusion: and it would be my plague and my struggle with you would be in vain.”

“I trust the Lord Gotama as much and think as well that Lord Gotama can show me his teaching such that I become aware of health, may see the extinction of delusion!”

“Just as, Māgandiyo there were a man born blind: who sees no black and no white objects, not blue, not yellow, not red, not green, he did not see what is equal and what is not equal, would see no stars and no moon and no sun. And he heard the word of a seeing person: ‘proper, indeed, my dear friend, is a white dress, a fine one, without stains and clean.’ And he sought to gain such and it deceived him another man with a shirt greasy and grimy a used one. ‘Take it, dear man, a white dress, very fine, without stains and clean’. And he took it and clothed himself with it. And his friends and comrades, relatives and cousins, they would order a knowledgeable  doctor, and this knowledgeable doctor would give him a cure, and let’ him drain himself up and down using ointment, balm and sneezing powder and under this treatment his eyes were clear up and get purified and as he would start to see he would loose his pleasure and joy in the old greasy and grimy used shirt, and he thought of the man as his enemy, as his adversary, and thought perhaps even the fact that he sought his life: ‘Long time has passed, verily, that I was deceived by that man, deceived and betrayed with this old greasy and grimy slave-shirt, saying: ‘Here thou have, dear man, a white dress ,very fine, no stains and clean “:

Just in the same way, Māgandiyo, I could expound to you the doctrine about health and about the extinction of delusion, and you would perceive health, and see the extinction of delusion: and as you would start seeing your joy and delight in the five pieces of clinging would perish and you would think: ‘For a long time, verily, I was cheated by this heart, deceived, betrayed! Because I attachingly attached to form, attachingly attached to feeling, attachingly attached to perception, attachingly attached to (mental) distinctions, attachingly attached to consciousness.  Thus from attachment resulted becoming and from becoming birth, from birth, aging and death, woe, misery, suffering, grief and despair: this is how this mass of suffering comes about. ‘”

“I trust the Lord Gotama and believe as much that the Lord Gotama can show me his teaching so that I will get up from this seat free from blindness!”

“Well then, Māgandiyo, join good people, and joining good people, Māgandiyo, you will listen to good teaching, and when you will listen to the good teaching, Māgandiyo, you will live in accordance with the teaching and living in accordance with it, Māgandiyo, you will know by yourself, see by yourself: ‘That’s the infirm, the brest-like, the painful. There the infirm, the brest-like, the painful will be dissolved without residue. In this way in me through dissolution of attachment becoming will dissolve and from the dissolving of becoming birth will dissolve. Through the dissolution of birth  aging and dying, woe, misery, suffering, grief and despair: that suffering will find its end. ‘”

After these words, Māgandiyo the pilgrim turned to the Sublime one and said:

“Well said, oh Gotama, excellent, oh Gotama. Just as if one, oh Gotama, would turn upside what had fallen down, or reveal the concealed or point out the right way to the misguided one, or bring light into the darkness: ‘Whoever has eyes to see, may he see': in the same way has Lord Gotama explained the doctrine in various ways and so I take refuge in the Lord Gotama, in the teaching and discipleship. May Lord Gautama accept me as his student, give me the entrance into his order.”!

“Who was, Māgandiyo, first in another order and then comes to this doctrine and discipline, and wants to receive the entrance into the order, stays for four months, and after a lapse of four months he will, if he remains, will be introduced into the order and trained well by experienced monks: for I have seen here some some variability. “

“If, O Lord, the former members of other orders, which will enter in this doctrine and discipline, will receive the consecration, after four months, and after a lapse of four months – if they remained so – are introduced to the monkhood by very experienced by monks, I want to stay four years, and after a lapse of four years, if I remained, therefore, be allowed to enter the order.”

Māgandiyo the pilgrim was accepted by the Sublime One, and entered the order.

Not long, after the venerable Māgandiyo was admitted to the Order, there he had, lonely, isolated, pursuing tirelessly in hot, heartfelt earnestness quite soon achieved what attracts noble sons entirely away from home into homelessness: that supreme goal of asceticism in this very life he made it apparent to himself, realized and attained to it: ‘Dried up is birth, perfected the asceticism, the work accomplished, no longer is this world’. He too now, the venerable Māgandiyo, had become one of the saints.

===

Karl Eugen Neumann was one of the first European Buddhists. His translation of Dhp, MN, DN, Thag, This and Snip in an incredibly poetic and non-commentarial reading of the Suttas with footnotes expressing his vast array of literary, philogical and artistic knowledge spanning across 2500 years of Eastern and Western religious and philosophical life are an amazing rendering of the beauty of the Buddha’s words into a modern language.

This translation of MN 75 from the German translation of the middle length discourses by KEN does not strive for perfectionism in a word by word rendering of the original Pali (how could it, being a secondary translation Pali-German-English ;-)).

While KEN was extremely ambitious to render the frequent Pali alliterations, the melody, rhythm and word order as close as possible to the source texts, my personal attempt to translate this important sutta into English from the German original was just an attempt to try to capture the “flavor” of KEN’s translation style in English – even if it’s just a distant echo of the original – and with a lot of help of google translate.

Maybe one or the other Pali translator (who might not be fluent in German) might enjoy KEN’s sometimes un-orthodox but always beautifully rhythmic rendering of the Buddha’s words. It will not come as a surprise that Hermann Hesse (like many other poets and writers) were deeply influenced by Neumann’s translation.

About this discourse, MN 75, Karl Eugen Neumann wrote to one of his best friends, the famous Italian scientist Giuseppe de Lorenzo, in a letter dated “Vienna, May 9th 1900

“You are absolutely right when you praise No. 75  as exceedingly beautiful master piece: if we just had this one discourse, so would it alone show the perfected greatness of Gotama and his teaching. It is the deepest metaphysics spoken in a comprehensible manner. What did Wagner once – brilliant enthusiastically – say? “The language most appropriate to highest insight was spoken by that Buddha.” Every word fits like an Ashokan thought-pillar.

Karl Eugen Neumann was born October 18th, 1865 and passed away on that same day, October 18th, 1915 having dedicated his whole life to the translation of the Tipitaka.

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