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Advice to Rāhula | MN 62

Advice to Rāhula | MN 62

The Long Discourse Giving
Advice to Rāhula

(Mahārāhulovādasuttaṁ, MN 62)

An important discourse by the Buddha to his son Rāhula on the development of meditation on the elements as a precursor to mindfulness while breathing;

from Majjhima Nikāya (MN:62) or Middle Length Discourses of Buddha.

Translated from Pāḷi by Ānandajoti Bhikkhu.

1: Being Advised
1a: Receiving Good Advice

Thus I heard:

At one time the Gracious One was dwelling near Sāvatthī at Anāthapiṇḍika’s grounds in Jeta’s Wood.

Then the Gracious One, having dressed in the morning time, after picking up his bowl and robe, was entering Sāvatthī for alms.

Also venerable Rāhula, having dressed in the morning time, after picking up his bowl and robe, followed along close behind the Gracious One.

Then the Gracious One, looking back, addressed venerable Rāhula, saying:

“Whatever form there is, Rāhula, past, future, or present,
inside or outside, gross or subtle, base or excellent,
whether far or near, (in regard to) all form:

This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self,”
like this it ought to be seen as it really is, with right wisdom.”

“Only form, Gracious One? Only form, Fortunate One?”

Form, Rāhula - and feelings, Rāhula - and perceptions, Rāhula – and (mental) processes, Rāhula - and consciousness, Rāhula.

1b: Receiving Further Advice

Then venerable Rāhula thought:

Who today, when the Gracious One has advised him with (such) advice to his face, could enter a village for alms?

Therefore having turned back he sat down at the root of a certain tree. After folding his legs crosswise, and setting his body straight, he established mindfulness at the front.

Venerable Sāriputta saw that venerable Rāhula was sitting down at the root of a certain tree, and had folded his legs crosswise, set his body straight, and established mindfulness at the front, and having seen him, he addressed venerable Rāhula, saying:

Develop the meditation, Rāhula, that is mindfulness while breathing. Mindfulness while breathing, Rāhula, when it has been developed and made much of yields great fruit and brings great advantages.

Then venerable Rāhula rising from seclusion in the evening time approached the Gracious One, and after approaching and worshipping the Gracious One, he sat down on one side.

While sitting on one side, venerable Rāhula said this to the Gracious One:

How, reverend Sir, does mindfulness while breathing when it has been developed and made much of yield great fruit, bring great advantages?

2: The elements, first meditation
2a: Earth is Not Self

“Rāhula, Whatever is there - inside, in oneself,
that is hard or has become solid, and is attached to, like this:

head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin,
flesh, sinews, bones, bone-marrow, kidneys,
heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs,
intestines, mesentery, undigested food, excrement -

or whatever else there is that is inside, in oneself, that is hard,
or has become solid, and is attached to,
that, Rāhula, is called the internal earth element.

Now, that which is the internal earth element,
and that which is the external earth element,
that is only the earth element.

This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self,”
like this it ought to be seen, as it really is, with right wisdom.

Having seen it like this, as it really is, with right wisdom,
one loses interest in the earth element,
one detaches the mind from the earth element.

2b: Water is Not Self

And what, Rāhula, is the water-element?

The water element may be internal or may be external.

And what, Rāhula, is the internal water element?

That which is inside, in oneself, that is water,
or has become watery, and is attached to, like this:

bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, oil,
tears, grease, spit, mucus, synovial fluid, urine -

or whatever else there is that is inside, in oneself, that is water,
or has become watery, and is attached to,
that, Rāhula, is called the internal water element.

Now, that which is the internal water element,
and that which is the external water element,
that is only the water element.

This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self,”
like this it ought to be seen, as it really is, with right wisdom.

Having seen it like this, as it really is, with right wisdom,
one loses interest in the water element,
one detaches the mind from the water element.

2c: Fire is Not Self

And what, Rāhula, is the fire element?

The fire element may be internal or may be external.

And what, Rāhula, is the internal fire element?

That which is inside, in oneself, that is fire,
or has become fiery, and is attached to, like this:

- that by which one is heated, by which one grows old, by which one is burned up,

- by which what is eaten, drunk, chewed, and tasted, gets completely digested

- or whatever else there is that is inside, in oneself, that is fire, or has become fiery, and is attached to, that, Rāhula, is called the internal fire element.

Now, that which is the internal fire element, and that which is the external fire element, that is only the fire element.

This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self,”
like this it ought to be seen, as it really is, with right wisdom.

Having seen it like this, as it really is, with right wisdom,
one loses interest in the fire element,
one detaches the mind from the fire element.

2d: Wind is Not Self

And what, Rāhula, is the wind element?

The wind element may be internal or may be external.

And what, Rāhula, is the internal wind element?

That which is inside, in oneself, that is wind,
or has become windy, and is attached to, like this:

- winds that go up, winds that go down, winds in the bowels,

- winds in the belly, winds that go through the limbs, in-breath, out-breath

- or whatever else there is that is inside, in oneself, that is wind, or has become windy, and is attached to, that, Rāhula, is called the internal wind element.

Now, that which is the internal wind element, and that which is the external wind element, that is only the wind element.

This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self,”
like this it ought to be seen, as it really is, with right wisdom.

Having seen it like this, as it really is, with right wisdom,
one loses interest in the wind element,
one detaches the mind from the wind element.

2e: Space is Not Self

And what, Rāhula, is the space element?

The space element may be internal or may be external.

And what, Rāhula, is the internal space element?

That which is inside that is space,
or has become spacy, and is attached to, like this:

- ear-holes, nose-holes, the door of the mouth, and

- that by which what is eaten, drunk, chewed, and tasted is swallowed,

- that place where what is eaten, drunk, chewed, and tasted settles, and

- the lower part by which that which is eaten, drunk, chewed, and tasted goes out

- or whatever else there is that is inside, in oneself,
that is space, or has become spacy, and is attached to,
that, Rāhula, is called the internal space element.

Now, that which is the internal space element,
and that which is the external space element,
that is only the space element.

This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self,”
like this it ought to be seen, as it really is, with right wisdom.

Having seen it like this, as it really is, with right wisdom, one loses interest in the space element, one detaches the mind from the space element.

3: The Elements, second meditation
3a: Being Even as the Earth

Rāhula, Develop the meditation even as the earth, for, Rāhula,
from developing the meditation that is to be even as the earth,
appealing and unappealing contacts
that have arisen in the mind will not take a hold there.

Just as, Rāhula,

they throw what is clean on the earth, and
they throw what is unclean, and
they throw what has become dung, and
they throw what has become urine, and
they throw what has become spit, and
they throw what has become pus, and
they throw what has become blood,

but the earth is not distressed, or ashamed, or disgusted by it,
just so do you, Rāhula,

develop the meditation even as the earth, for, Rāhula,
from developing the meditation even as the earth
appealing and unappealing contacts
that have arisen in the mind will not take a hold there.

3b: Being Even as the Water

Rāhula, Develop the meditation even as water, for, Rāhula,
from developing the meditation that is to be even as water,
appealing and unappealing contacts
that have arisen in the mind will not take a hold there.

Just as, Rāhula,

they wash away what is clean in the water, and
they wash away what is unclean, and
they wash away what has become dung, and
they wash away what has become urine, and
they wash away what has become spit, and
they wash away what has become pus, and
they wash away what has become blood,

but the water is not distressed, or ashamed, or disgusted by it,
just so do you, Rāhula,

develop the meditation that is to be even as water, for, Rāhula,
from developing the meditation that is to be even as water
appealing and unappealing contacts
that have arisen in the mind will not take a hold there.

3c: Being Even as Fire

Rāhula, Develop the meditation even as fire, for, Rāhula,
from developing the meditation even as fire,
appealing and unappealing contacts
that have arisen in the mind will not take a hold there.

Just as, Rāhula,

they burn what is clean in fire, and
they burn what is unclean, and
they burn what has become dung, and
they burn what has become urine, and
they burn what has become spit, and
they burn what has become pus, and
they burn what has become blood,

but the fire is not distressed, or ashamed, or disgusted by it,
just so do you, Rāhula,

develop the meditation that is to be even as fire, for, Rāhula,
from developing the meditation even as fire
appealing and unappealing contacts
that have arisen in the mind will not take a hold there.

3d: Being Even as the Wind

Rāhula, Develop the meditation even as the wind, for, Rāhula,
from developing the meditation even as the wind,
appealing and unappealing contacts
that have arisen in the mind will not take a hold there.

Just as, Rāhula,

the wind blows over what is clean, and
it blows over what is unclean, and
it blows over what has become dung, and
it blows over what has become urine, and
it blows over what has become spit, and
it blows over what has become pus, and
it blows over what has become blood,

but the wind is not distressed, or ashamed, or disgusted by it,
just so do you, Rāhula,

develop the meditation even as the wind, for, Rāhula,
from developing the meditation even as the wind
appealing and unappealing contacts
that have arisen in the mind will not take a hold there.

3e: Being Even as Space

Rāhula, Develop the meditation even as space, for, Rāhula,
from developing the meditation that is to be even as space,
appealing and unappealing contacts
that have arisen in the mind will not take a hold there.

Just as, Rāhula, space doesn’t settle anywhere, just so do you, Rāhula,
develop the meditation even as space,

for, Rāhula, from developing the meditation even as space,
appealing and unappealing contacts
that have arisen in the mind will not take a hold there.

4: Six Further Meditations

Rāhula, Develop the meditation of friendliness, for, Rāhula,
from developing the meditation that is friendliness
whatever ill-will there is will be given up.

Rāhula, Develop the meditation of kindness, for, Rāhula,
from developing the meditation that is kindness
whatever violence there is will be given up.

Rāhula, Develop the meditation of gladness, for, Rāhula,
from developing the meditation that is gladness
whatever discontent there is will be given up.

Rāhula, Develop the meditation of equanimity, for, Rāhula,
from developing the meditation that is equanimity
whatever resentment there is will be given up.

Rāhula, Develop the meditation of unattractive, for, Rāhula,
from developing the meditation on the unattractive
whatever passion there is will be given up.

Rāhula, Develop the meditation of perception of impermanence, for, Rāhula,
from developing the meditation that is the perception of impermanence
whatever (kind of) ‘I am’ conceit there is - will be given up.

5: Mindfulness while Breathing
5a: Preliminaries

Rāhula, Develop the meditation of mindfulness while breathing,
mindfulness while breathing, Rāhula,
when developed and made much of yields great fruit, brings great advantages.

And how, Rāhula, does mindfulness while breathing when it has been developed and made much of yield great fruit and bring great advantages?

Here, Rāhula, a monk who has gone to the wilderness, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty place, sits down:

After folding his legs crosswise, setting his body straight, and establishing mindfulness at the front, ever mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out.

5b: Mindfulness of the Body

While breathing in long, he knows “I am breathing in long”,
while breathing out long, he knows “I am breathing out long”,
while breathing in short, he knows “I am breathing in short”,
while breathing out short, he knows “I am breathing out short”,

he trains like this: experiencing the whole body I will breathe in,
he trains like this: experiencing the whole body I will breathe out,
he trains like this: making the bodily process calm I will breathe in,
he trains like this: making the bodily process calm I will breathe out.

5c: Mindfulness of Feelings

He trains like this: experiencing happiness I will breathe in,
he trains like this: experiencing happiness I will breathe out,
he trains like this: experiencing pleasure I will breathe in,
he trains like this: experiencing pleasure I will breathe out,

he trains like this: experiencing the mental process I will breathe in,
he trains like this: experiencing the mental process I will breathe out,
he trains like this: making the mental process calm I will breathe in,
he trains like this: making the mental process calm I will breathe out.

5d: Mindfulness of the Mind

He trains like this: experiencing the mind I will breathe in,
he trains like this: experiencing the mind I will breathe out,
he trains like this: gladdening the mind I will breathe in,
he trains like this: gladdening the mind I will breathe out,

he trains like this: concentrating the mind I will breathe in,
he trains like this: concentrating the mind I will breathe out,
he trains like this: freeing the mind I will breathe in,
he trains like this: freeing the mind I will breathe out.

5e: Mindfulness of (the Nature of) Things

He trains like this: contemplating impermanence I will breathe in,
he trains like this: contemplating impermanence I will breathe out,
he trains like this: contemplating dispassion I will breathe in,
he trains like this: contemplating dispassion I will breathe out,

he trains like this: contemplating cessation I will breathe in,
he trains like this: contemplating cessation I will breathe out,
he trains like this: contemplating letting go I will breathe in,
he trains like this: contemplating letting go I will breathe out.

The Conclusion

In this way, Rāhula, mindfulness while breathing when it has been developed like this and made much of yields great fruit, brings great advantages.

In this way, Rāhula, through the development of mindfulness while breathing, through making much of it, the in-breaths and the out-breaths at the end are understood as they cease, they are surely understood.”

The Gracious One said this, and venerable Rāhula was uplifted and greatly rejoiced in what was said by the Gracious One.