THE PARABLE OF THE PIECE OF CLOTH

Vatthupama-sutta

Abridged

Thus have I heard. The Blessed One was once living at the monastery of Anathapindika in Jeta’s grove near Savatthi. There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus saying: ‘Bhikkhus’ and they replied to him: ‘Venerable Sir’. The Blessed One then spoke as follows:

            ‘If a soiled and dirty ( piece of ) cloth is dipped by the fuller in any dye at all –blue, yellow, red or pink—it will still be of bad and dirty colour. Why? Because the cloth is not clean. Even so, Bhikkhus, when the mind is impure, a bad future life must be expected.

            If a perfectly clean ( piece of ) cloth is dipped by the fuller in any dye at all—blue, yellow, red or pink—it will be of beautiful and clean colour. Why? Because the cloth is clean. Even so, Bhikkhus, when the mind is pure, a good future life must be expected.

            ‘Now, what are the mind’s impurities? Cupidity—excessive desire—is an impurity of the mind; enmityangerrancourhypocrisymalicejealousyavaricetrickerydeceitobduracyhaughtinesspridearroganceinflationindolence is an impurity of the mind.

            ‘Bhikkhus, that bhikkuu, who recognizes cupidity—cxcessive desire—as an impurity of the mind, abandons it; who recognizes enmityangerrancourhypocrisymalicejealousyavaricetrickerydeceitobduracyhaughtinesspride arroganceinflationindolence as an impurity of the mind, abandons it.

                ‘Bhikkhus, when that bhikkhu has abandoned cupidity—excessive desire—recognizing it as an impurity of the mind; when he has abandoned enmityangerrancourhypo-crustmalicejealousyavaricetrickerydeceitobduracyhaughtinesspridearroganceinflationindolence recognizing it as an impurity of the mind, he finds serene joy (satisfaction) in the Enlightened One: ( knowing that ) “The Blessed One is Worthy, Perfectly Enlightened, Endowed with knowledge and virtue, Happy, Knower of worlds, Matchless tamer of men, Teacher of gods and men, Awakened and Blessed.” He finds serene joy (satisfaction) in the Dhamma : ( knowing that ) “The Dhamma is excellently expounded by the Blessed One; it can be realized here in this life; it produces immediate results; it invites people to come and see ( investigate); it leads to the goal ( Nibbana ); it has to be comprehended by the wise, each for himself.” He finds serene joy (satisfaction ) in the Community of the Disciples: ( knowing that ) “The Community of the Disciples of the Blessed One is of good conduct, upright, wise, dutiful. The Community of the Disciples of the Blessed One: namely, the Four Pairs of Persons, the Eight kinds of Individuals,1. is worthy of offerings, of hospitality, of gifts, of reverential salutation, it is an incomparable field of merit to world.”

            ‘Finally, with impurities renounced, spewed out, discharged, abandoned, and with the thought that he is endowed with serene joy in the Enlightened One—in his Teaching ( Dbamma )—in the Community—he is touched with a feeling for the Sense and the Truth, and he receives the gladness associated with Truth; when one is glad, joy arises; when the mind is joyful, the body becomes relaxed; when relaxed, one feels content: the mind of the contented man is concentrated.

            ‘A bhikkhu who has reached this state in virtue, in mental discipline and in wisdom, may, without impediment ( to his spiritual life), partake of the choicest rice with all manner of sauces and curries. Just as a soiled and dirty cloth, plunged in clear water, becomes pure and clean; or just as gold, passed through the furnace, becomes pure and clean; even so,a bhikkhu who has reached this state in virtue, in mental discipline and in wisdom, may partake of the choicest rice with all manner of sauces and curries, and it will not be an impediment ( harm ) to him (to his spiritual ljfe).

‘With thoughts of love—of compassion—of sympathetic joy—of equanimity—he pervades one quarter of the world, so too the second, the third and the fourth quarters, above, below, across, everywhere; the whole length and breadth of the wide world is pervaded by the radiant thoughts of a mind all-embracing, vast and boundless, without hate, without ill-will.

            ‘Then he knows; “There is this; there is a lower and there is yet a higher stage; Deliverrance lies beyond this realm of perceptions.” When he knows and sees this, his mind becomes liberated from the impurities of sense-pleasure, of (the desire for) continuing existence, of ignorance, When liberated, there is knowledge that he is liberated. Then he knows: “Birth is exhausted, the holy life has been lived, what has to be done is done, there is no more left to be done on this account.” Bhikkhus, such a bhikkhu can be said to have bathed internally.’

            Now at this time there was sitting close by the Brahmin Sundarika-Bharadvaja who asked the Blessed One thus: ‘Does the Venerable Gotama go to bathe in the river Bahuka?

            ‘What does the river Bahuka matter, Brahmin? What (good) does it do?’

            ‘Venerable Gotama, the river Bahuka is considered by many people as purifying, as holy. Many people wash away their their sins in the river Bahuka.’

            Thereupon the Blessed One addressed the Brahmin Sundarika-Bharadvaja in these lines:

                        ‘In Bahuka and in Adhikakka,

                        Gaya, Sundarika, Srassati,

                        Payaga, Bahumati—there the fool of black deeds

                        May daily plunge, yet is never purified,

                        What can Sundarika, Payaga or Bahumati do?

                        They cleanse not the man guilty of hate and evil.

            For him who is pure (in mind ) any day is auspicious, any day is hallowed.

            Cleaned, pure in deeds,

            He always fulfils observances.

                        So, Brahmin, come and bathe here.

                        Love all that lives. If you neither lie, nor slay, nor steal,

                        Are no greedy miser but live in trust,

                        What use going to Gaya? Your well at home is Gaya.’

            At this the Brahmin Sundarika-Bharadvaja said to the Blessed One: ‘Excellent, Venerable Gotama, excellent! It is just as if one should set upright what had been turned upside down, or reveal what had been hidden away, or show the way to a man gone astray, or bring a lamp into darkness so that those with eyes might see things there. In this manner in many ways the Dhamma is expounded by the Venerable Gotama. I take refuge in the Venerable Gotama, in the Dhamma and in the Community of Bhikkhus. May I be admitted into the Order and receive the Higher Ordination under the Venerable Gotama.’

            The Brahmin Sundarika-Bharadvaia was admitted into the Order and received the Higher Ordination. Not long after his Higher Ordination, the Venerable Bharadvaja, dwelling alone and aloof, strenuous, ardent, resolute, attained to and dwelt in that incomparable State, the ultimate aim of holy life, in quest of which sons of families go forth from home to homelessness. And he knew through higher knowledge: ‘Birth is exhausted, the holy life has been lived, what has to be done is done, there is no more left to be done on this account.’ And in this way the Venerable Bharadvaja, too, became one of the Arahants.

Majjhima-nikaya, Sutta No.7

 

 

1. The Four Pairs of Persons constitute the four kinds of disciples who have attained the four

Paths and the four Fruits of Sainthood, namely, Sotapatti (Stream-Entrant), Sakadagami (Onec-Returner), Anagami (Never-Returner), and Arabatta (Worthy). The one who has attained the Path and the one who has attained the Fruit of each of the four stages of Sainthood are once taken together and considered as a Pair. Hence the Four Pairs of Persons. And then when the two persons of each Pair are regarded separately, there are eight Individua

 

 

布喻經       

如是我聞:當時,世尊正住在舍衛城附近袛陀林給孤獨園內一間寺院裡。一次,世尊向各位比丘說法:比丘啊!他們回應:尊敬的聖者!世尊便說了以下的話:

如果漂染工人把一塊骯髒的布染了,變得藍色、黃色、紅色、或者紫色;但它的顏色仍是差劣的。為什麼?因為那塊布是不清潔的。所以,比丘,一個人的思想如果是不潔的,他的未來肯定是不好的。

如果漂染工人把一塊清潔的布染了,變得藍色、黃色、紅色、或者紫色;它的顏色仍是清麗的。為什麼?因為那塊布是清潔的。所以,比丘,一個人的思想如果是純潔的,他的未來肯定是美好的。

那麼,什麼是思想的不潔呢?貪婪,過分的渴求,這是思想的不潔;仇恨……憤怒……憎惡……虛偽……怨恨……妒忌……貪心……欺騙……詭詐……倔強……高傲……自大……傲慢……自誇……懶散,這些都是思想的不潔,必須捨棄。

比丘,當一個比丘捨棄了貪婪、過分的渴求,他己經認識到這是思想的不潔;當一個比丘捨棄了仇恨……憤怒……憎惡……虛偽……怨恨……妒忌……貪心……欺騙……詭詐……倔強……高傲……自大……傲慢……自誇……懶散,他已經認識這是思想的不潔;也從「覺悟者」那裡找到詳和,因為他知道:聖者是高尚尊敬、覺悟完美、德智俱備、歡欣快樂、知曉大千世界的、最佳的教授、人神的導師、已省覺的聖者。他也從佛法找到詳和,因為他知道:佛法是由聖者很好地講解的、可以在此世此地印證的、可以得到即時效果的,它吸引人們去察看、它引領人們到 [涅槃] 目的、它可以由有聰慧的人各自領會。他也從信徒團體找到詳和,因為他知道:聖者的信徒團體是端正、正直、明智、負責任的。聖者的信徒團體可分為四雙、八類人士(1),他們都是應該供養、款待、送禮以及頌讚的。這團體實際是世界最好的福地。

最後,當他放棄、嘔吐、排除、捨棄這些不潔,而且他記得從「覺悟者」、佛法、信徒團體那裡已賦予他詳和。能夠感覺意識和真理,他很感動;而且他得到真理帶來的快樂。當人快樂,歡欣呈現;當思想歡欣,身體鬆弛;當一個人的身體鬆弛了,他覺得滿足。當一個人覺得滿足他的思想便變得集中。

當一個比丘達到既有德行、又克制思想、又擁有智慧的境界時,他可以享用混了任何醬油和咖哩最好的白米,而不會對他的精神生活有什麼障礙。就像把一塊骯髒的布塊放進清水裡,會變得純淨;也像金塊經過火爐會變得純淨;所以當一個比丘達到既有德行、又能克制思想、又擁有智慧的境界時,他可以享用混了任何醬油和咖哩最好的白米,而不會對他的精神生活有什麼障礙。

當一個比丘懷著慈愛、憐憫、諒解、平和,這些思想不只彌漫世界的一個角落、而是兩個、三個、以至所有四個角落;而且彌漫世界的上、下、左、右;整個世界的長度和闊度都彌漫著這種包容一切、宏大無窮、亦無怨恨的思想。

然後,這位比丘知道:雖然有一個比較低的層次、也有一個比較高的層次;但是解脫都超越這種認知的境界。當他了解和目睹這些,他的思想便從感官上的享樂、延續生命的渴求以及幼稚無知這種種不潔超脫出來。超脫了,他便知道他已超脫了。然後,他又知道:此生已盡,梵行已立,所作已辦,不再有餘事待學。比丘,這位比丘的內心可以說已經洗淨了。

當世尊說到這裡,坐得很近的婆羅門巴雅華沙問世尊:請問尊者葛答瑪有沒有在巴浩格河洗澡呢?

有什麼事和巴浩格河相關的呢,婆羅門?它可以做什麼事?

尊者葛答瑪,很多人都認為巴浩格河有神靈,它可以洗淨人們。很多人都在巴浩格河清洗了他們的罪孽。

世尊便向婆羅門巴雅華沙唱誦了這幾句:

                        ‘在巴浩格河、也在阿滴加加,

                        或加也河、新達力加、斯拉沙滴、

                        巴也加、派許瑪地諸河,

在那裡,罪大惡極的人

                        儘管每天都浸,卻永不淨潔。

                        新達力加、巴也加、派許瑪地河水,可以做些什麼?

                        它們可以洗淨的不是充塞著仇恨和罪惡的人,

                誰的心靈清淨,每天都是幸福的,每天都是受崇敬的。

                洗淨,所做的都淨潔,他時常奉行。

                        所以,婆羅門,來這裡洗淨吧!

                        愛眾生。如果你既沒有說謊、也沒有殺人、也沒有偷竊,

                        又不是貪婪的守財奴;卻坦誠地生活,

                        為麼要去加也?你家的井已經是加也了。

婆羅門巴雅華沙聽了,立即對世尊說:真好,尊者葛答瑪,真好!即是說應該把倒下了的東西扶正過來,把遮蔽了的東西顯現出來;也就是說指引走錯了路的人,帶盞燈到黑暗處、好使人們帶眼看事物。尊者葛答瑪,你就是這樣用各種方法說明佛法。我要歸依到尊者葛答瑪、佛法、信徒團體那裡去。請接納我加入僧團,我接受更高的聖職。

婆羅門巴雅華沙被接納加入僧團和接受更高的聖職。很快,獨居的婆羅門巴雅華沙很快便達到、並堅守這個神聖生活的終極目標,很多人家的兒子都寧願捨棄家庭來追求的最佳境界。他也透過這種更高的認知而明白:此生已盡,梵行已立,所作已作,不再有餘事待學。就這樣,婆羅門巴雅華沙並成為阿羅漢。

 

(1)    四雙人士包括四種聖者,他們都己達到四條大道以及修到聖道的四種成果;它們是:須陀洹(入流)、斯陀含(一還)、阿那含(不還)、阿羅漢(高尚尊敬)。達到大道和修到聖道的成果合為一雙;所以有四雙人士。每雙的兩位人士合共算作八類人士。

(中部            No.7