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Pali Canon - Itivuttaka

by Sangharakshita

The Itivuttaka

[Tape 1, side 1]
Sangharakshita: We have finished with the Udana for the time being. We come on to the
Itivuttaka, which is a collection you can say of sayings and episodes. There is no record of
where or when it was compiled, though we may have a few hints as we go through. It seems
in some ways a little more stereotyped than the Udana; there is quite a bit of repetition, so I
suggest we go straight through the first ten suttas and then discuss them as a group, otherwise
I think we shall be repeating ourselves quite a lot. There is a common pattern all the way
through, and quite a bit of repetition. That is the oral tradition of course coming in. So let's go
through the whole of those first ten short suttas and then have a collective discussion on them.
You can read one each, but we won't pause for discussion until we come to the end of the
tenth one.
(i)
This was said by the Exalted One, said by the Arahant; so I have heard: 'Monks, do ye give up
one thing. I am your surety for not returning (to birth). What one thing? Lust, monks, is the
one thing ye must give up. I am your surety for not returning.'
This is the meaning of what the Exalted One said. Herein this meaning is thus spoken.
By whatsoever lust inflamed
Beings to the ill-bourn go,
That lust, completely knowing it,
Those who have insight do reject.
Rejecting it, no more again
They come unto this world at all.
This meaning also was spoken by the Exalted One; so I have heard.
(ii)
This was said by the Exalted One, said by the Arahant; so I have heard:
'Monks, do ye give up one thing. I am your surety for not returning. What one thing? Ill-will,
monks, is the one thing ye must give up. I am your surety for not returning.'
This is the meaning of what the Exalted One said. Herein this meaning is thus spoken.
By whatsoe'er ill-will corrupt
Beings to the ill-bourn go, [2]
That ill-will, completely knowing it,
Those who have insight do reject.
Rejecting it, no more again
They come unto this world at all.
This meaning also was spoken by the Exalted One; so I have heard.
(v)
This was said by the Exalted One, said by the Arahant; so I have heard:
'Monks, do ye give up one thing. I am your surety for not returning. What one thing?
Delusion, monks, is the one thing ye must give up. I am your surety for not returning.'
This is the meaning of what the Exalted One said. Herein this meaning is thus spoken.
Confused by whatsoe'er delusion
Beings to the ill-bourn go,
That same delusion, comprehending,
Those who have insight do reject.
Rejecting it, no more again
They come unto this world at all.
This meaning also was spoken by the Exalted One; so I have heard.
(iv)
This was said by the Exalted One, said by the Arahant; so I have heard:
'Monks, do ye give up one thing. I am your surety for not returning. What one thing? Wrath,
monks, is the one thing ye must give up. I am your surety for not returning.'
This is the meaning of what the Exalted One said. Herein this meaning is thus spoken.
Angered by whatsoever wrath
Beings to the ill-bourn go,
That wrath, completely knowing it,
Those who have insight do reject.
Rejecting it, no more again
They come unto this world at all.
This meaning also was spoken by the Exalted One; so I have heard.
(v)
This was said by the Exalted One, said by the Arahant; so I have heard:
'Monks, do ye give up one thing. I am your surety for not returning. What one thing? Spite,
monks, is the one thing ye must give up. I am your surety for not returning.'
This is the meaning of what the Exalted One said. Herein this meaning is thus spoken.
Spiteful with whatsoever spite
Beings to the ill-bourn go,
That spite, completely knowing it,
Those who have insight do reject.
Rejecting it, no more again [3]
They come unto this world at all.
This meaning also was spoken by the Exalted One; so I have heard.
(vi)
This was said by the Exalted One [...]
'Monks, do ye give up one thing. I am your surety for not returning. What one thing? Pride,
monks, is the one thing ye must give up. I am your surety for not returning.'
This is the meaning of what the Exalted One said. Herein this meaning is thus spoken.
With whatsoever pride elate
Beings to the ill-bourn go,
That pride, completely knowing it,
Those who have insight do reject.
Rejecting it, no more again
They come unto this world at all.
(vii)
This was said by the Exalted One...
'Monks, the man who does not understand and comprehend the all, who has not detached his
mind therefrom, who has not abandoned the all, can make no growth in extinguishing Ill. But,
monks, he who does understand and comprehend the all, who has detached his mind
therefrom, who has abandoned the all, can make growth in extinguishing Ill.'
This is the meaning ...
Who, knowing the all in all its parts,
For all its phases hath no lust,
By comprehension of the all
He truly hath escaped all-Ill.
This meaning also...
(viii)
This was said by the Exalted One...
'Monks, the man who does not understand and comprehend pride, who has not detached his
mind therefrom, who has not abandoned pride, can make no growth in extinguishing Ill. But,
monks, he who does understand and comprehend pride, who has detached his mind
therefrom, who has abandoned pride, can make growth in extinguishing Ill.'
This is the meaning...
(ix)
This was said by the Exalted One...
'Monks, the man who does not understand and comprehend lust, who has not detached his
mind therefrom, who has not abandoned lust, can make no growth in extinguishing Ill. But,
monks, he who does understand and comprehend lust, who has detached his mind therefrom,
who has abandoned lust, can make growth in extinguishing Ill.'
This is the meaning...
(x)
This was said by the Exalted One...
'Monks, the man who does not understand and comprehend ill will ...'
S: The pattern is quite clear. There is one very important point that emerges from all of this.
You have these five, or six really, 'poisons', as they afterwards came to be known. There is
first of all lust, then there is ill-will, then there is delusion, then there is anger, then there is
spite, and then there is pride or conceit. The point is made that if one is affected or if one is
under the control or the domination of these poisons then after death one goes to an ill bourn,
one goes to a lower state of existence. On the other hand if one is able to reject that poison
during this life, then one doesn't go, one doesn't come back to this world or to any world or
anywhere within the samsara at all. The point is made - and this is the really important point -
that this rejection of any of the poisons, is possible only through insight. In other words the
only way in which one can get rid of any of these poisons is by an actual experience of or
insight into or awareness of the transcendental, the higher Nirvanic dimension beyond. In
other words, in a way, as we said yesterday, no psychological solutions to psychological
problems. You cannot get rid of lust, ill will and so on unless you have reference to or unless
you are oriented towards something which transcends the psychological, and even the
spiritual in the ordinary sense, altogether - unless you take your stand as it were on the
transcendental. Maybe you can restrain [them] for a while or you can suppress [them] but you
cannot really get rid of [them] unless you see through, and that is a sort of transcendental
faculty. You can see through only with insight or wisdom. You cannot transcend the
conditioned unless you can take your stand on the unconditioned. So this is a very important
point, that taking your stand on a purely human - in the narrow sense - purely as it were
psychological basis, you cannot get rid of any of these poisons; it just is not possible. As I [4]
said you may suppress them or hold them in check, but you cannot really dissolve or resolve
them. You will always be troubled by them in one way or another.
: How many poisons are there?
S. Here there are six, but the usual later list is five. There is anger and ill-will, so...
: - and spite.
S: Spite is often referred to as jealousy. That is in one of the lists of five poisons.
: You would not say that it was not worthwhile holding down on, keeping a check?
S: No, because unless they are in check to some extent, you cannot even develop your insight,
your vision of the transcendental. Meditation in the ordinary sense, experience of the
superconscious states, holds them down or keeps them at bay temporarily. You can come out
from the most wonderful meditation and still be assailed by them all. But if in the course of
the meditation you develop insight, when you come out of the meditation you find that the
poisons are not troubling you so much. They have been partially destroyed, or permanently
weakened.
: Permanently weakened?
S: Yes. So insight is something which has a permanent effect?
S: Yes. Of course there are degrees of insight: it can be a feeble glimmer or it can be almost
total, but to the extent that it is insight, it has a permanent effect, whether that is great or
whether that is small. And it is never lost, whereas the gains and benefits of meditation in the
non-transcendental sense can be lost, as everybody knows I think. This is why you get the
stories ...

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