THE HIGHEST GOAL
Translation by Phra Khantipalo
The Buddhasasana is the way to complete purity in mind, speech and body actions (Kamma). Those kinds of kamma made by way of speech and body are purified by keeping the precepts--the five or eight of lay-people, the ten of a novice or the 227 of a bhikkhu. The mind is purified through persistent and diligent practice of tranquil meditation. But there is something still to purify. Insight (Vipassana) and wisdom (Panna) have not yet been developed, so views (Ditthi) have not yet been purified. People may be good at meditation but still hold to false views (as to the permanence, happiness and selfhood of events, for instance). It is only by developing one's insight that views can be relinquished so that one approaches Enlightenment, the abandoning of all views.
In the commentary on the sutta which follows, non-Buddhist teachers are cited as the occasion for Lord Buddha speaking these verses and while there are innumerable wrong views outside the Buddhasasana, inside the stream of Lord Buddha's Teaching there have also been many who have erred out of the direct way of Sila (moral conduct, precepts), Samadhi (collectedness) and Paftn5 (wisdom). It seems as though these three, which embrace the whole range of Lord Buddha's Teachings, are too direct and straightforward for some who prefer to juggle with complicated ideas and systems of their own construction. After all, it is much easier to play with ideas than practice these basic teachings!
'Highest among views' therefore (it is called) 'the Highest Goal'. What was its occurrence? It is said that when the Exalted One was staying at Savatthi, various ascetics (titthiya) having assembled, each one explained his own views (saying): "This is highest, this is highest." Having squabbled thus they caused the king to speak. The Icing commanded: "Having gathered together all the blind people make them 'see' an elephant." The king's men gathered together all the blind and having first made the elephant lie down, they said to them, "See it!" Each one of them took hold of a different limb of the elephant. Then the king said: "Now then, this elephant, what is it like, what is it like?" That one who had hold of the trunk said, "Great king, it is like the beam of a plough." Those who held the tusks and so on contradicted the others--"Do not speak falsely in front of the king." "Great king, it resembles a peg in the wall"--thus they spoke this and that.
The king having heard them all (said): "It looks like the time for you!"--and had those ascetics expelled from there.
A certain (bhikkhu) seeking alms got to know of this matter and told the Exalted One. When this matter had occurred the Exalted One addressed the bhikkhus thus: "Bhikkhus, just as blind men having taken hold of this and that limb do not know an elephant, so they quarrel; in the same way ascetics having taken hold of this and that view do not know the Dhamma which is near to Liberation (vimokkha), so they quarrel." Having pointed out the Dhamma in this matter. He spoke this discourse:
[Paramatthajotika (Sutta-Nipata Commentary) 529].
*titthiya: non-Buddhist religious leaders and ascetics—used as a term of reproach.
SUTTA: THE DISCOURSE ON THE HIGHEST GOAL.
SHOULD TAKE TO HIMSELF CERTAIN VIEWS
WHATEVER IS SEEN BY HIM, HEARD AND COGNIZED,
SKILLED (IN THE DHAMMA) DECLARE IT A BOND
SO IN THE WORLD LET HIM FASHION NO VIEWS
OWN VIEWS, NOT GRASPING (AT MORE)
NO BIAS FOR EITHER EXTREME--
NO BIAS FOR EITHER EXTREME--
THE SEEN, THE HEARD AND COGNIZED
FASHION NO VIEWS NOR PURSUE THEM AT ALL
(Sutta Nipata, verses 796-803)
*An Arahant, a perfected one.
Phra Khantipalo has been a leading bhiksu at Hat Bovoranives in Bangkok. He is a native of England.
CAN'T FIND YOUR MIND??? SEE PAGE 17!