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#47243
Gad
Participant

ABHAYA SUTTA: DISCOURSE ON FEARLESS

Abhaya sutta is included in the Brahmana vagga of the fourth group of the discourses in the Anguttara Nikāya. (1)

Content of Abhaya sutta

[There is no back ground story to this discourse to indicate when, where and under what circumstances, the Buddha delivered this discourse. Janussoni brahmin was a resident of Sāvatti, where the Buddha resided at the Jetavana monastery during the majority of the rainy seasons. He was an admirer of the Buddha and often visited the Buddha to consult and discuss various matters of spiritual nature. There are several discourses in the basket of discourses of the Buddha (sutta pitaka) that contain discussions between the Buddha and Janussoni brahmin.]

Then the brahmin named Janussoni went up to the Buddha and, on arrival, exchanged greetings with the Buddha. When the courteous and friendly exchange was over, Janussoni sat to one side. As he was sitting to one side, he said to the Buddha:

“Master Gotama, I am of the doctrine and view, that there is no one, being subject to death, who is not frightened or terrified of death.”

The Buddha said: “Brahmin, there are those who, being subject to death are frightened and terrified of death. But there are those who, being subject to death, are not frightened or terrified of death.”

“And who, brahmin, is the person who, being subject to death, is frightened and terrified of death?”

“Here, brahmin, there is a certain person who has not abandoned passion, desire, fondness, thirst, fever and craving for sensual pleasures. Then he comes down with a grave, serious illness. When he comes down with a grave, serious illness, the thought occurs to him.”

‘Oh, the sensual pleasures that I love so much will be taken away from me, and I will be taken away from them!’ He grieves, suffers, laments, beats his breast and falls into confusion. This brahmin, is a person who, being subject to death, is frightened and terrified of death.”

[Sensual pleasures are the pleasures that one enjoys in relation to the external sense objects of pleasant forms, pleasant sounds, pleasant smells, pleasant tastes and pleasant touches that one receives through the five internal senses doors of the eye, ear, nose, tongue and the body respectively. They are ephemeral and transitory and any desire, craving or attachment to them will result in eventual suffering.]

“Furthermore, there is a certain person who has not abandoned passion, desire, fondness, thirst, fever and craving for the body. Then he comes down with a grave, serious illness. When he comes down with a grave, serious illness, the thought occurs to him.”

‘Oh, my body that I love so much will be taken away from me, and I will be taken away from my body!’ He grieves, suffers, laments, beats his breast and falls into confusion. This too, brahmin, is a person who, being subject to death, is frightened and terrified of death.”

[Through ignorance of the inability to keep things to our liking and repulsive nature of the body, unenlightened worldly beings tend to develop passion, desire, fondness, thirst, fever, craving and attachment to the physical body.According to Buddhist teaching, the physical body, which must be constantly taken care of, is made up of thirty-two parts which will not be to our liking in the long term. These parts become repulsive and fruitless with time.The body is prone to the development of various ailments and diseases that cause suffering and one day it will die and eventually be buried to rot or burned to ashes.]

“Furthermore, there is a certain person who has done no good, has not done what is skillful that would provide safety, and instead, has done what is evil, savage and cruel. Then he comes down with a grave, serious illness. When he comes down with a grave, serious illness, the thought occurs to him: ‘I have not done what is good, have not done what is skillful that would provide safety to myself, and instead, I have done what is evil, savage and cruel. When I depart, I will go to the place where those who have not done what is good, have not done what is skillful that would provide safety to themselves, and instead, have done what is evil, savage and cruel would go.’ He grieves, suffers, laments, beats his breast and falls into confusion. This too, brahmin, is a person who, being subject to death, is frightened and terrified of death.”

[According to Buddhist teaching, any intentional physical, verbal or mental actions based on the three unwholesome roots of craving (lobha), hatred (dosa) and delusion (moha) are unwholesome or unskillful actions. One who commits those unskillful actions can expect to experience painful consequences including rebirth in the realms of extreme suffering. The Buddha has described the following ten unwholesome actions performed through the body, speech and the mind which can result in a rebirth in one of the four realms of extreme suffering.

Three unwholesome bodily actions:

1. Killing any living beings (panati pata)

2. Stealing or taking what is not given (adinnadana)

3. Sexual misconduct (kamesu micchachara) What I add: Any exaggeration in sensual pleasures not just sex.

Four unwholesome verbal actions:

1.False speech (musavada)

2.Slanderous speech (pisunavaca)

3.Harsh speech (pharusa vaca)

4.Idle chattering (samphapplapa)

Three unwholesome mental actions:

1.Covetousness or greed (abhijja)

2. Ill-will (vyapada)

3.Wrong view (micca ditthi)]

“Furthermore, there is a certain person who has doubts, who has misgivings, who has uncertainty regarding the true teaching. Then he comes down with a grave, serious illness. When he comes down with a grave, serious illness, the thought occurs to him: ‘I have doubts, I have misgivings, I have uncertainty regarding the true teaching.’ He grieves, suffers, laments, beats his breast and falls into confusion. This too, brahmin, is a person who, being subject to death, is frightened and terrified of death.”

[Here, the true teaching refers to the teaching of the Buddha that includes the four Noble Truths: the truth of suffering (dukkha sacca), the truth of the origin of suffering (samudaya sacca), the truth of the cessation of suffering (nirodha sacca) and the truth of the path leading to the cessation of suffering (magga sacca). The path leading to the cessation of suffering is the Noble Eight-fold Path consisting of: Right view (sammā-ditthi), right intention (sammā-sankappa), right speech (sammā-vācā), right action (sammā-kammanta), right livelihood (sammā-ājīva), right effort (sammā-vāyāma), right mindfulness (sammā-sati) and right concentration (sammā-samādhi). One who has doubts, misgivings or uncertainty about the true teaching, will not practise the path of liberation from suffering that the Buddha discovered and preached to the world.]

“These are the four persons who, being subject to death, are frightened and terrified of death.”

“And who, brahmin, is the person who, being subject to death, is not frightened or terrified of death?”

“Here, brahmin, there is a certain person who has abandoned passion, desire, fondness, thirst, fever and craving for sensual pleasures. Then he comes down with a grave, serious illness. When he comes down with a grave, serious illness, the thought does not occur to him:

‘Oh, the sensual pleasures that I love so much will be taken away from me, and I will be taken away from them!’ He does not grieve, suffer, lament, beat his breast or fall into confusion. This brahmin, is a person who, being subject to death, is not frightened or terrified of death.”

“Furthermore, there is a certain person who has abandoned passion, desire, fondness, thirst, fever and craving for the body. Then he comes down with a grave, serious illness. When he comes down with a grave, serious illness, the thought does not occur to him.”

‘Oh, my body that I love so much will be taken away from me, and I will be taken away from my body!’ He does not grieve, suffer, lament, beat his breast or fall into confusion. This too, brahmin, is a person who, being subject to death, is not frightened or terrified of death.”

“Furthermore, there is a certain person who has done good, has done what is skillful that would provide safety, and has not done what is evil, savage or cruel. Then he comes down with a grave, serious illness. When he comes down with a grave, serious illness, the thought occurs to him: ‘I have done what is good, have done what is skillful that would provide safety to myself, and I have not done what is evil, savage or cruel. When I depart, I will go to the place where those who have done what is good, have done what is skillful that would provide safety to themselves, and have not done what is evil, savage or cruel would go.’ He does not grieve, suffer, lament, beat his breast or fall into confusion. This too, brahmin, is a person who, being subject to death, is not frightened or terrified of death.”

“Furthermore, there is a certain person who has no doubts, who has no misgivings, who has come to certainty regarding the true teaching. Then he comes down with a grave, serious illness. When he comes down with a grave, serious illness, the thought occurs to him: ‘I have no doubts, I have no misgivings, I have come to certainty regarding the true teaching.’ He does not grieve, suffer, lament, beat his breast or fall into confusion. This too, brahmin, is a person who, being subject to death, is not frightened or terrified of death.”

“These are the four persons who, being subject to death, are not frightened or terrified of death.”

When this was said, Janussoni the brahmin said: “Excellent, Master Gotama! Excellent, Master Gotama! Just as one were to set upright what had been overturned, or what had been closed is opened, or were to show the way to one who has lost his way, or as one who holds an oil lamp in the dark so that those with eyes may see things, in similar manner, by Master Gotama, in various ways, the Dhamma has been declared. I take refuge in Master Gotama, the Dhamma and the Sangha. May Master Gotama accept me as a lay follower who has taken refuge from today onwards till the end of my life.”

In the Abhaya sutta, when the brahmin Janussoni stated his view that anyone facing death would be frightened and terrified, the Buddha has stated that while some persons are frightened and terrified of facing death, there are others who are not. Then the Buddha has described the differences between the two groups of persons. Those who have craving for sensual pleasures and for one’s own body, those who have done unwholesome things while not doing wholesome things and those who have doubts, misgivings and uncertainty about the true teaching are frightened and terrified of facing death. Those who have abandoned craving for sensual pleasures or for one’s own body, those who have done wholesome things while not doing unwholesome things and those who have no doubts, misgivings or uncertainty about the true teaching are not frightened or terrified of facing death.

Me : I believe the last group of people relate to sotāpannas and sakadagamins. As we know these two noble beings did not abandon kāma ragā (craving for sensual pleasures). Although sakadagamin reduced it considerably.

I changed some words regarding anicca. I made it bold.