Ambalatthika-rahulovada Sutta: Instructions to Rahula at Mango Stone

MN 61 PTS: M i 414

I have heard that one time the Blessed One was staying near Rajagaha, at the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels’ Feeding Ground.

At that time Rahula was staying at the Mango Stone. The Blessed One, getting up from his meditation in the late afternoon, went to where Rahula was sitting at the Mango Stone. Rahula saw him coming from far away and when he saw him, he set out a seat and water for washing the feet. The Blessed One sat down on the seat and when he had sat down, he washed his feet. Rahula, saluting the Blessed One, sat to one side.

Then the Blessed One, having left a little bit of water in the jug, said to Rahula, “Rahula, do you see this little drop of left-over water that’s left in this jug?”

“Yes, sir.”

“That’s how little of a meditator there is, that is how little of a monk there is, in anyone who feels no shame in telling a deliberate lie.”

Having thrown away the little bit of left-over water, the Blessed One said to Rahula,

“Rahula, do you see how this little drop of left-over water is thrown away?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Rahula, if someone has any of the qualities of monk or meditator in him, if he feels no shame in telling a deliberate lie, whatever there is left in him of that quality of monk or meditator is turned upside down just like that.”

Having turned the water jug the right way up, the Blessed One said to Rahula, “Rahula, do you see how empty and hollow this water jug is?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Rahula, in anyone who feels no shame in telling a deliberate lie, whatever quality of meditator or monk there is in him, is hollow and empty just like that.”

“Rahula, it’s like the trunk of a royal elephant – huge, pure-bred, used to battles, its tusks as shiny as the poles of a chariot. When it goes into battle it uses its front legs and back legs, its head and ears and tusks and tail, but keeps protecting its trunk. The elephant trainer notices that and thinks, ‘This royal elephant has not given up its life to the king.’ But when the royal elephant, having gone into battle, uses its front legs and back legs, its head and ears and tusks and tail and his trunk as well, his trainer notices that and thinks, ‘This royal elephant has given up his life to the king. There’s nothing it will not do.’

“In the same way, Rahula, when anyone feels no shame in telling a deliberate lie, there’s no evil, I’m telling you, that he will not do. You should train yourself in this way, Rahula – ‘I will not tell a deliberate lie even as a joke.’

“What do you think, Rahula, what is a mirror for?”

“To reflect things, sir.”

“Just like a mirror, Rahula, physical actions, actions of speaking, and actions of the mind are to be done always with reflection, looking back at them, looking back at yourself.

Physical Actions

“Whenever you want to do a physical action, you should reflect on it: “This physical action I want to do – would it lead to harm for myself, or others, or both? Would it be an unwise action with painful consequences, painful results?’ If, when you have reflected, you know that it would lead to harm for yourself, or others, or both; it would be an unwise physical action with painful consequences, painful results, then any physical action like that is absolutely wrong for you to do and you shouldn’t do it. But if when you have reflected you know that it would not cause harm for yourself, or others, or both, it would be a wise action with good consequences and good results, then any physical action like that is right for you to do.

“While you are doing a physical action, you should reflect on it: ‘This physical action I am doing, is it leading to harm for myself, or to harm of others, or both? Is it an unwise action with painful consequences, painful results?’ If, when you have reflected, you know that it is leading to harm for yourself, or others, or both; it is an unwise action with painful consequences, painful results, then any physical action like that is absolutely wrong for you to do and you should give it up. But if when you have reflected you know that it is not causing harm for yourself, or others, or both, it is a wise action with good consequences and good results, then any physical action like that is right for you to do and you can continue with it.

Having done a physical action, you should reflect on it, “This physical action I have done – did it lead to harm for myself, or others, or both? Was it an unwise physical action with painful consequences, painful results?’ If, when you have reflected, you know that it led to harm for yourself, or others, or both; it was an unwise action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should confess it, tell it, lay it open to the teacher or to a wise friend in the holy life. Having confessed it, you should be more careful in the future. But if when you have reflected you know that it did not cause any harm to yourself, or to others, or to both; that it was a wise action with good consequences and good results, then your mind should stay calm and happy, and you can keep working on good qualities day and night.”

Verbal Actions

“Whenever you want to do a verbal action, you should reflect on it: “This verbal action I want to do – would it lead to harm for myself, or to harm of others, or to both? Would it be an unwise verbal action, with painful consequences, painful results?’ If, when you have reflected, you know that it would lead to harm for yourself, or others, or both; it would be an unwise verbal action with painful consequences, painful results, then any verbal action like that is absolutely wrong for you to do and you shouldn’t do it. But if when you have reflected you know that it would not cause harm for yourself, or others, or both, it would be a wise verbal action with good consequences and good results, then any verbal action like that is right for you to do.

“While you are doing a verbal action, you should reflect on it: ‘This verbal action I am doing, is it leading to harm for myself, or to harm of others, or both? Is it an unwise action with painful consequences, painful results?’ If, when you have reflected, you know that it is leading to harm for yourself, or others, or both; it is an unwise action with painful consequences, painful results, then any action like that is absolutely wrong for you to do and you should give it up. But if when you have reflected you know that it is not causing harm for yourself, or others, or both, it is a wise verbal action with good consequences and good results, then any verbal action like that is right for you to do and you can continue with it.

Having done a verbal action, you should reflect on it, “This verbal action I have done – did it lead to harm for myself, or to harm of others, or both? Was it an unwise verbal action with painful consequences, painful results?’ If, when you have reflected, you know that it led to harm for yourself, or others, or both; it was an unwise action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should confess it, tell it, lay it open to the teacher or to a wise friend in the holy life. Having confessed it, you should be more careful in the future. But if when you have reflected you know that it did not cause any harm to yourself, or to others, or both; that it was a wise action with good consequences and good results, then your mind should stay calm and happy, and you can keep working on good qualities day and night.”

Having done a verbal action, you should reflect on it, “This verbal action I have done – did it lead to harm for myself, or to harm of others, or both? Was it an unwise verbal action with painful consequences, painful results?’ If, when you have reflected, you know that it led to harm for yourself, or others, or both; it was an unwise action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should confess it, tell it, lay it open to the teacher or to a wise friend in the holy life. Having confessed it, you should be more careful in the future. But if when you have reflected you know that it did not cause any harm to yourself, or to others, or both; that it was a wise verbal action with good consequences and good results, then your mind should stay calm and happy, and you can keep working on good qualities day and night.”

Thoughts

Whenever you want to pursue a thought, an action of the mind, you should reflect on it: “This thought I want to go into – would it lead to harm for myself, or to harm of others, or both? Would it be an unwise action of the mind with painful consequences, painful results?’ If, when you have reflected, you know that it would lead to harm for yourself, or others, or both; it would be an unwise action of the mind with painful consequences, painful results, then any mind action like that is absolutely wrong for you to do and you shouldn’t pursue it, you should cut it off. But if when you have reflected you know that it would not cause harm for yourself, or others, or both, it would be a wise action of the mind with good consequences and good results, then any mind action, any thought like that is right for you to do.

“While you are engaging in a thought, an action of the mind, you should reflect on it: ‘This thought I am entering into, is it leading to harm for myself, or to harm of others, or to both? Is it an unwise action of the mind with painful consequences, painful results?’ If, when you have reflected, you know that it is leading to harm for yourself, or others, or both; it is an unwise action of the mind with painful consequences, painful results, then any mind-action like that is absolutely wrong for you to do and you should drop it right away. But if when you have reflected you know that it is not causing harm for yourself, or others, or both, it is a wise action of the mind with good consequences and good results, then any mind-action like that is right for you to do and you can continue with it.

“Having done an action of the mind, been engaged in a thought, you should reflect on it: “This thought, this action of the mind I have done – did it lead to harm for myself, or to harm of others, or to both? Was it an unwise action of the mind with painful consequences, painful results?’ If, when you have reflected, you know that it led to harm for yourself, or others, or both; it was an unwise action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should feel distressed, ashamed, and disgusted with it. Feeling distressed, ashamed and disgusted with it, you should be more careful in the future. But if on reflection you know that that it did not cause any harm to yourself, or to others, or to both; that it was a wise thought, a wise action of the mind with good consequences and good results, then your mind should stay calm and happy, and you can keep working on good qualities day and night.”

“Rahula, all those learned people and monks in all the past who cleaned, who purified their physical actions, actions of speech and actions of the mind, did it through repeated reflection on their physical actions, actions of speech and actions of mind in just this way.

“All those learned people and monks in the course of the future who will clean and purify their physical actions, actions of speech and actions of the mind, they will do it

through repeated reflection on their physical action, actions of speech and actions of mind in just this way.

Anyone, all learned people and monks who are at the moment at work to clean and purify their physical actions, actions of speech and actions of the mind, are doing it through repeated reflection on their physical actions, actions of speech and actions of mind in just this way.

So in this way, Rahula, you should train yourself: “I will clean, I will purify my physical actions through reflecting on them again and again, looking back at them again and again. I will clean and purify my actions of speech through looking at them again and again, reflecting on them again and again. I will clean and purify my thoughts, my actions of the mind through reflecting on them again and again.’ That’s how you should train yourself.

That is what the Blessed One said. Full of gratitude, Rahula was delighted by the Blessed One’s words.”

Right actions = those that help and do not harm

Those done in a spirit of compassion

Those that are selfless and not selfish

Right Speech/ Wrong Speech  – two quotes

(a) Monks, there are five kinds of right or wrong speech that people might use when speaking to you:

  1. Speaking at the right moment, or at the wrong moment
  2. Speaking with truth or falsly
  3. Speaking with a gentle tone, or a harsh one
  4. Speaking with an intention to do good, or an intention to harm
  5. Speaking with love and good will inside, or with anger or kadjai inside.

(b) “Giving up lying, he refuses to lie. He speaks the truth, holds to the truth, is firm, reliable, no deceiver of the world.

Giving up speech of division and not harmonious, he speaks no words to divide, no back-biting, no bitching. What he has heard in one place he does not tell in another place to break apart people who are together. Bringing together those who have broken apart and cementing those who are united, he love harmony, delights in harmony, enjoys harmony, speaks things that create harmony.

Giving up abusive speech, he speaks no harsh or abusive words. He speaks words that are soft and easeful to the ear, that are affectionate, that go to the heart, that are polite, gentle and pleasing to people in general.

Giving up useless chatting, he does not engage in useless chatting. He speaks at the right moment, speaks what is truth, what is in line with the aim, the Dhamma and the practice. He speaks words worth treasuring, well-timed, reasonable, limited, and connected with the aim.”

Right Intention = free from ill will, kadjai, anger, hatred, want-to-be-loved, hypocrisy, laziness, or any other kilesa – intention full of loving kindness and compassion instead, right thinking with wisdom, honesty, effort, patience, generosity, renunciation, determination and equilibrium.