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Summary: url=index.html#snp.4.16.than When a monk, disaffected with the world, takes up the life of seclusion, what fears should he overcome? How should he train to annihilate the darkness in his heart.
“Never before have I seen or heard from anyone of a teacher with such lovely speech come, together with his following from Tusita heaven,(1) as the One with Eyes who appears to the world with its devas having dispelled all darkness having arrived at delight all alone. To that One Awakened — unentangled, Such, un- deceptive, come with his following — I have come with a question on behalf of the many here who are fettered. For a monk disaffected, frequenting a place that's remote — the root of a tree, a cemetery, in mountain caves various places to stay — how many are the fears there at which he shouldn't tremble — there in his noiseless abode — how many the dangers in the world for the monk going the direction he never has gone that he should transcend there in his isolated abode? What should be the ways of his speech? What should be his range there of action? What should be a resolute monk's precepts & practices?(2) Undertaking what training — alone, astute, & mindful — would he blow away his own impurities as a silver smith, those in molten silver?” The Buddha: “I will tell you as one who knows, what is comfort for one disaffected resorting to a remote place, desiring self-awakening in line with the Dhamma. An enlightened monk, living circumscribed, mindful, shouldn't fear the five fears: of horseflies, mosquitoes, snakes, human contact, four-footed beings; shouldn't be disturbed by those following another's teaching even on seeing their manifold terrors; should overcome still other further dangers as he seeks what is skillful. Touched by the touch of discomforts, hunger, he should endure cold & inordinate heat. He with no home, in many ways touched by these things, striving, should make firm his persistence. He shouldn't commit a theft, shouldn't speak a lie, should touch with thoughts of good will beings firm & infirm. Conscious of when his mind is stirred up & turbid, he should dispel it: 'It's on the Dark One's side.' He shouldn't come under the sway of anger or pride. Having dug up their root he would stand firm. Then, when prevailing — yes — he'd prevail over his sense of dear & undear. Yearning for discernment enraptured with what's admirable, he should overcome these dangers, should conquer discontent in his isolated spot, should conquer these four thoughts of lament: 'What will I eat, or where will I eat. How badly I slept. Tonight where will I sleep?' These lamenting thoughts he should subdue — one under training, wandering without home. Receiving food & cloth at appropriate times, he should have a sense of enough for the sake of contentment.(3) Guarded in regard to these things going restrained into a village, even when harassed he shouldn't say a harsh word. With eyes downcast, & not footloose, committed to jhana, he should be continually wakeful.(4) Strengthening equanimity, centered within, he should cut off any penchant to conjecture or worry. When reprimanded, he should — mindful — rejoice;(5) should smash any stubbornness toward his fellows in the holy life; should utter skillful words that are not untimely; should give no mind to the gossip people might say. And then there are in the world the five kinds of dust for whose dispelling, mindful he should train: with regard to forms, sounds, tastes, smells, & tactile sensations he should conquer passion; with regard to these things he should subdue his desire. A monk, mindful, his mind well-released, contemplating the right Dhamma at the right times, on coming to oneness should annihilate darkness,” the Blessed One said.
The Buddha spent his next-to-last lifetime in the Tusita heaven, one of the highest levels on the sensual plane.
The fact that the Buddha answers this question in a straightforward manner illustrates the point that abandoning precepts and practices does not mean having no precepts and practices. See note 2 to Sn 4.13.