Quotes from In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon

Bhikkhu Bodhi ·  486 pages

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“(3) Insight Surpasses All [The Buddha said to Anāthapiṇḍika:] “In the past, householder, there was a brahmin named Velāma. He gave such a great alms offering as this: eighty-four thousand bowls of gold filled with silver; eighty-four thousand bowls of silver filled with gold; eighty-four thousand bronze bowls filled with bullion; eighty-four thousand elephants, chariots, milch cows, maidens, and couches, many millions of fine cloths, and indescribable amounts of food, drink, ointment, and bedding. “As great as was the alms offering that the brahmin Velāma gave, it would be even more fruitful if one would feed a single person possessed of right view.22 As great as the brahmin Velāma’s alms offering was, and though one would feed a hundred persons possessed of right view, it would be even more fruitful if one would feed a single once-returner. As great as the brahmin Velāma’s alms offering was, and though one would feed a hundred once-returners, it would be even more fruitful if one would feed a single nonreturner. As great as the brahmin Velāma’s alms offering was, and though one would feed a hundred nonreturners, it would be even more fruitful if one would feed a single arahant. As great as the brahmin Velāma’s alms offering was, and though one would feed a hundred arahants, it would be even more fruitful if one would feed a single paccekabuddha.23 As great as the brahmin Velāma’s alms offering was, and though one would feed a hundred paccekabuddhas, it would be even more fruitful if one would feed a single Perfectly Enlightened Buddha ... it would be even more fruitful if one would feed the Saṅgha of monks headed by the Buddha and build a monastery for the sake of the Saṅgha of the four quarters … it would be even more fruitful if, with a trusting mind, one would go for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Saṅgha, and would undertake the five precepts: abstaining from the destruction of life, from taking what is not given, from sexual misconduct, from false speech, and from the use of intoxicants. As great as all this might be, it would be even more fruitful if one would develop a mind of loving-kindness even for the time it takes to pull a cow’s udder. And as great as all this might be, it would be even more fruitful still if one would develop the perception of impermanence just for the time it takes to snap one’s fingers.” (AN 9:20, abridged; IV 393–96) VI.”
― Bhikkhu Bodhi, quote from In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon


“Do not go by oral tradition, by lineage of teaching, by hearsay, by a collection of texts, by logic, by inferential reasoning, by reasoned cogitation, by the acceptance of a view after pondering it, by the seeming competence of a speaker, or because you think, ‘The ascetic is our teacher.’4 But when you know for yourselves, ‘These things are unwholesome; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; these things, if undertaken and practiced, lead to harm and suffering,’ then you should abandon them.”
― Bhikkhu Bodhi, quote from In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon


“Text VI,7(3) draws a contrast between the pair of distorted views known as eternalism (sassatav̄da) and annihilationism (ucchedav̄da), also called, respectively, the view of existence (bhavadiṭṭhi) and the view of nonexistence (vibhavadiṭṭhi). Eternalism affirms an eternal component in the individual, an indestructible self, and an eternal ground of the world, such as an all-powerful creator God. Annihilationism denies that there is any survival beyond death, holding that the individual comes to a complete end with the demise of the physical body. Eternalism, according to the Buddha, leads to delight in existence and binds beings to the cycle of existence. Annihilationism is often accompanied by a disgust with existence that, paradoxically, binds its adherents to the same existence that they loathe. As we will see below, the Buddha’s teaching of dependent origination avoids both these futile ends (see IX, pp. 356–57).”
― Bhikkhu Bodhi, quote from In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon


“The first assurance he has won is this: ‘If there is another world, and if good and bad deeds bear fruit and yield results, it is possible that with the breakup of the body, after death, I shall arise in a good destination, in a heavenly world.’ “The second assurance he has won is this: ‘If there is no other world, and if good and bad deeds do not bear fruit and yield results, still right here, in this very life, I live happily, free of enmity and ill will. “The third assurance he has won is this: ‘Suppose evil befalls the evil-doer. Then, as I do not intend evil for anyone, how can suffering afflict me, one who does no evil deed?’ “The fourth assurance he has won is this: ‘Suppose evil does not befall the evil-doer. Then right here I see myself purified in both respects.”
― Bhikkhu Bodhi, quote from In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon


“Just as, when a cow to be slaughtered is led to the shambles, whenever she lifts a leg she will be closer to slaughter, closer to death; even so, brahmins, is human life like cattle doomed to slaughter; it is short, limited, and brief. It is full of suffering, full of tribulation. This one should wisely understand. One should do good and live a pure life; for none who is born can escape death.”
― Bhikkhu Bodhi, quote from In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon



“Monks, there are these two kinds of search: the noble search and the ignoble search. And what is the ignoble search? Here someone being himself subject to birth seeks what is also subject to birth; being himself subject to aging, he seeks what is also subject to aging; being himself subject to sickness, he seeks what is also subject to sickness; being himself subject to death, he seeks what is also subject to death; being himself subject to sorrow, he seeks what is also subject to sorrow; being himself subject to defilement, he seeks what is also subject to defilement. 6–11. “And what may be said to be subject to birth, aging, sickness, and death; to sorrow and defilement? Wife and children, men and women slaves, goats and sheep, fowl and pigs, elephants, cattle, horses, and mares, gold and silver: these acquisitions are subject to birth, aging, sickness, and death; to sorrow and defilement; and one who is tied to these things, infatuated with them, and utterly absorbed in them, being himself subject to birth ... to sorrow and defilement, seeks what it also subject to birth ... to sorrow and defilement.10 12. “And what is the noble search? Here someone being himself subject to birth, having understood the danger in what is subject to birth, seeks the unborn supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being himself subject to aging, having understood the danger in what is subject to aging, he seeks the unaging supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being himself subject to sickness, having understood the danger in what is subject to sickness, he seeks the unailing supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being himself subject to death, having understood the danger in what is subject to death, he seeks the deathless supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being himself subject to sorrow, having understood the danger in what is subject to sorrow, he seeks the sorrowless supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being himself subject to defilement, having understood the danger in what is subject to defilement, he seeks the undefiled supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna. This is the noble search.”
― Bhikkhu Bodhi, quote from In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon


“According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha Gotama is not merely one unique individual who puts in an unprecedented appearance on the stage of human history and then bows out forever. He is, rather, the fulfillment of a primordial archetype, the most recent member of a cosmic “dynasty” of Buddhas constituted by numberless Perfectly Enlightened Ones of the past and sustained by Perfectly Enlightened Ones continuing indefinitely onward into the future. Early Buddhism, even in the archaic root texts of the Nikāyas, already recognizes a plurality of Buddhas who all conform to certain fixed patterns of behavior, the broad outlines of which are described in the opening sections of the Mahāpadāna Sutta (Dīgha Nikāya 14, not represented in the present anthology). The word “Tathāgata,” which the texts use as an epithet for a Buddha, points to this fulfillment of a primordial archetype. The word means both “the one who has come thus” (tath̄ ̄gata), that is, who has come into our midst in the same way that the Buddhas of the past have come; and “the one who has gone thus” (tath̄ gata), that is, who has gone to the ultimate peace, Nibbāna, in the same way that the Buddhas of the past have gone.”
― Bhikkhu Bodhi, quote from In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon


About the author

Bhikkhu Bodhi
Born place: in Brooklyn
Born date December 10, 1944
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