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Kutuhalasala Sutta

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Title: Kutuhalasala Sutta: With Vacchagotta

Summary: The Buddha uses the image of a fire to explain what carries a being over into its next rebirth.

SN 44.9

PTS: S iv 398

CDB ii 1392

Kutuhalasala Sutta: With Vacchagotta

translated from the Pali by

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Then Vacchagotta the wanderer went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One, “Master Gotama, a few days ago a large number of contemplatives, brahmans, and wanderers of various sects were sitting together in the Debating Hall when this conversation arose among them: 'This Purana Kassapa — the leader of a community, the leader of a group, the teacher of a group, honored and famous, esteemed as holy by the mass of people — describes a disciple who has died and passed on in terms of places of rebirth: “That one is reborn there; that one is reborn there.” Even when the disciple is an ultimate person, a foremost person, attained to the foremost attainment, Purana Kassapa describes him, when he has died and passed on, in terms of places of rebirth: “That one is reborn there; that one is reborn there.”

”'This Makkhali Gosala… This Nigantha Nataputta… This Sañjaya Velatthaputta… This Pakudha Kaccana… This Ajita Kesakambala — the leader of a community, the leader of a group, the teacher of a group, honored and famous, esteemed as holy by the mass of people — describes a disciple who has died and passed on in terms of places of rebirth: “That one is reborn there; that one is reborn there.” Even when the disciple is an ultimate person, a foremost person, attained to the foremost attainment, Ajita Kesakambala describes him, when he has died and passed on, in terms of places of rebirth: “That one is reborn there; that one is reborn there.”

“This contemplative Gotama — the leader of a community, the leader of a group, the teacher of a group, honored and famous, esteemed as holy by the mass of people — describes a disciple who has died and passed on in terms of places of rebirth: “That one is reborn there; that one is reborn there.” But when the disciple is an ultimate person, a foremost person, attained to the foremost attainment, Gotama the contemplative does not describe him, when he has died and passed on, in terms of places of rebirth: “That one is reborn there; that one is reborn there.” Instead, he describes him thus: “He has cut through craving, severed the fetter, and by rightly breaking through conceit has made an end of suffering & stress.”'

“So I was simply befuddled. I was uncertain: How is the teaching of Gotama the contemplative to be understood?”

“Of course you are befuddled, Vaccha. Of course you are uncertain. When there is a reason for befuddlement in you, uncertainty arises. I designate the rebirth of one who has sustenance, Vaccha, and not of one without sustenance. Just as a fire burns with sustenance and not without sustenance, even so I designate the rebirth of one who has sustenance and not of one without sustenance.”

“But, Master Gotama, at the moment a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, what do you designate as its sustenance then?”

“Vaccha, when a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, I designate it as wind-sustained, for the wind is its sustenance at that time.”

“And at the moment when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, what do you designate as its sustenance then?”

“Vaccha, when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, I designate it as craving-sustained, for craving is its sustenance at that time.”

See also: other suttas in the Avyakata Samyutta (and the translator's Introduction); AN 4.42.

en/tipitaka/sut/sn/sn44/sn44.009.than.txt · Last modified: 2019/04/16 01:30 by Johann