Pāyāsi Sutta: About Pāyāsi | 1 part

Pāyāsi Sutta: About Pāyāsi

Debate with a Sceptic

1 Part

1. Thus have I heard:

Once the Venerable Kumara- Kassapa was touring round Kosala with a large company of about five hundred monks, and he came to stay at a town called Setavyā. He stayed to the north of Setavyā in the Simsapā Forest.

And at that time Prince Pāyāsi was living at Setavyā, a populous place, full of grass, timber, water and corn, which had been given to him by King Pasenadi of Kosala as a royal gift and with royal powers.

2. And Prince Pāyāsi developed the following evil opinion:

"There is no other world, there are no spontaneously born beings, there is no fruit or result of good or evil deeds.'

Meanwhile, the Brahmins and householders of Setavyā heard the news:

'The ascetic Kumara-Kassapa, a disciple of the ascetic Gotama, is touring round Kosala with a large company of about five hundred monks; he has arrived at Setavyā and is staying to the north of Setavyā in the Simsapā Forest; and concerning the Reverend Kassapa a good report has been spread about:

"He is learned, experienced, wise, well-informed, a fine speaker, able to give good replies, venerable, an Arahant." And it is good to see such Arahants.'

And so the Brahmins and householders of Setavyā, leaving Setavyā by the north gate in large numbers, made for the Simsapā Forest.

3. And just then, Prince Pāyāsi had gone up to the veranda for his midday rest. Seeing all the Brahmins and householders making for the Simsapā Forest, he asked his steward why.

The steward said: 'Sir, it is the ascetic Kumara- Kassapa, a disciple of the ascetic Gotama,... and concerning him a good report has been spread about...That is why they are going to see him.'

'Well then, steward, you go to the Brahmins and householders of Setavyā and say:

"Gentlemen, Prince Pāyāsi says: 'Please wait, the Prince will come to see the ascetic Kumara-Kassapa.'

‘Already this ascetic Kumara-Kassapa has been teaching these foolish and inexperienced Brahmins and householders of Setavyā that there is another world, that there are spontaneously born beings, and that there is fruit and result of good and evil deeds. But no such things exist.'

'Very good, sir', said the steward, and delivered the message.

4. Then Prince Pāyāsi, accompanied by the Brahmins and householders of Setavyā, went to the Simsapā Forest where the Venerable Kumara-Kassapa was. Having exchanged courtesies with the Venerable Kumara Kassapa, he sat down to one side.

And some of the Brahmins and householders saluted the Venerable Kumara-Kassapa and then sat down to one side, while some first exchanged courtesies with him, some saluted him with joined palms, some announced their name and clan, and some silently sat down to one side.

5. Then Prince Pāyāsi said to the Venerable Kumara-Kassapa:

'Reverend Kassapa, I hold to this tenet and this view: There is no other world, there are no spontaneously born beings, there is no fruit or result of good or evil deeds.'

'Well, Prince, I have never seen or heard of such a tenet or view as you declare. And so, Prince, I will question you about it, and you shall reply as you think fit.

What do you think, Prince? Are the sun and the moon in this world or another, are they gods or humans?'

'Reverend Kassapa, they are in another world, and they are gods, not humans.'

'In the same way, Prince, you should consider: "There is another world, there are spontaneously born beings, there is fruit and result of good and evil deeds."'

6.'Whatever you may say about that, Reverend Kassapa, I still think there is no other world...'
'Have you any reasons for this assertion, Prince?'
'I have, Reverend Kassapa.'
'How is that, Prince?'

'Reverend Kassapa, I have friends, colleagues and blood- relations who take life, take what is not given, commit sexual offences, tell lies, use abusive, harsh and frivolous speech, who are greedy, full of hatred and hold wrong views.

Eventually they become ill, suffering, diseased. And when I am sure they will not recover, I go to them and say:

"There are certain ascetics and Brahmins who declare and believe that those who take life,... hold wrong views will, after death at the breaking-up of the body, be born in a state of woe, an evil place, a place of punishment, in hell.

Now you have done these things, and if what these ascetics and Brahmins say is true, that is where you will go.

Now if, after death, you go to a state of woe,... come to me and declare that there is another world, there are spontaneously born beings, there is fruit and result of good and evil deeds.

You, gentlemen, are trustworthy and dependable, and what you have seen shall be as if I had seen it myself, so it will be."

But although they agreed, they neither came to tell me, nor did they send a messenger.

That, Reverend Kassapa, is my reason for maintaining: "There is no other world, there are no spontaneously born beings, there is no fruit or result of good or evil deeds."'

7. 'As to that, Prince, I will question you about it, and you shall reply as you think fit. What do you think, Prince?

Suppose they were to bring a thief before you caught in the act, and say:
"This man, Lord, is a thief caught in the act. Sentence him to any punishment you wish."

And you might say: "Bind this man's arms tightly behind him with a strong rope, shave his head closely, and lead him to the rough sound of a drum through the streets and squares and out through the southern gate, and there cut off his head."

And they, saying: "Very good" in assent, might...lead him out through the southern gate, and there cut off his head."

Now if that thief were to say to the executioners:

"Good executioners, in this town or village I have friends, colleagues and blood-relations, please wait till I have visited them", would he get his wish?

Or would they just cut off that talkative thief's head?'

'He would not get his wish, Reverend Kassapa. They would just cut off his head.'

'So, Prince, this thief could not get even his human executioners to wait while he visited his friends and relations.

So how can your friends, colleagues and blood-relations who have committed all these misdeeds, having died and gone to a place of woe, prevail upon the warders of hell, saying:

"Good warders of hell, please wait while we report to Prince Pāyāsi that there is another world, there are spontaneously born beings, and there is fruit and result of good and evil deeds"?

Therefore, Prince, admit that there is another world

8.'Whatever you may say about that, Reverend Kassapa, I still think there is no other world...'
'Have you any reason for this assertion, Prince?'
'I have, Reverend Kassapa.'
'What is that, Prince?'

'Reverend Kassapa, I have friends... who abstain from taking life, from taking what is not given, from committing sexual offences, from telling lies or using abusive, harsh and frivolous speech, who are not greedy or full of hatred and who have right views.

Eventually they become ill...and when I am sure they will not recover, I go to them and say:

"There are certain ascetics and Brahmins who declare and believe that those who abstain from taking life... and have right views will, after death at the breaking-up of the body, be born in a happy state, a heavenly world.

Now you have refrained from doing these things, and if what these ascetics and Brahmins say is true, that is where you will go.

Now if, after death, you go to a happy state, a heavenly world, come to me and declare that there is another world...You, gentlemen, are trustworthy and dependable, and what you have seen shall be as if I had seen it myself, so it will be."

But although they agreed, they neither came to me, nor did they send a messenger - That, Reverend Kassapa, is my reason for maintaining: "There is no other world..."'

9. 'Well then, Prince, I will give you a parable, because some wise people understand what is said by means of parables:

Suppose a man had fallen head first into a cesspit, and you were to say to your men: "Pull that man out of the cesspit!" and they would say: "Very good", and do so.

Then you would tell them to clean his body thoroughly of the filth with bamboo scrapers, and then to give him a triple shampoo with yellow loam.

Then you would tell them to anoint his body with oil and then to clean him three times with fine soap- powder. Then you would tell them to dress his hair and beard, and to adorn him with fine garlands, ointments and clothes.

Finally you would tell Them to lead him up to your palace and let him indulge in the pleasures of the five senses, and they would do so.

What do you think, Prince? Would that man, having been well washed, with his hair and beard dressed, adorned and garlanded, clothed in white, and having been conveyed up to the palace, enjoying and revelling in the pleasures of the five senses, want to be plunged once more into that cesspit?'

'No, Reverend Kassapa.'
'Why not?'

'Because that cesspit is unclean and considered so, evil-smelling, horrible, revolting, and generally considered to be so.'

'In just the same way, Prince, human beings are unclean, evil-smelling, horrible, revolting and generally considered to be so by the devas.

So why should your friends... who have not committed any of the offences... (as verse 8), and who have after death been born in a happy state, a heavenly world, come back and say: "There is another world,...there is fruit of good and evil deeds"?

Therefore, Prince, admit that there is another world.

10. 'Whatever you may say about that, Reverend Kassapa, I still think there is no other world...'
'Have you any reason for this assertion, Prince?'
'I have, Reverend Kassapa.'
'What is that, Prince?'

'Reverend Kassapa, I have friends who abstain...from telling lies, from strong drink and sloth-inducing drugs. Eventually they become ill...

"There are certain ascetics and Brahmins who declare and believe that those who abstain from taking life...and sloth-producing drugs will...be born in a happy state, in a heavenly world, as companions of the Thirty-Three Gods..."

But although they agreed, they neither came to tell me, nor did they send a messenger. That, Reverend Kassapa, is my reason for maintaining: "There is no other world

11. 'As to that, Prince, I will question you about it, and you shall answer as you think fit.

That which is for human beings, Prince, a hundred years is for the Thirty-Three Gods one day and night. Thirty of such nights make a month, twelve such months a year, and a thousand such years are the life-span of the Thirty-Three Gods.

Now suppose they were to think:

"After we have indulged in the pleasures of the five senses for two or three days we will go to Pāyāsi and tell him there is another world, there are spontaneously born beings, there is fruit and result of good and evil deeds", would they have done so?'

'No, Reverend Kassapa, because we should be long- since dead.

But, Reverend Kassapa, who has told you that the Thirty-Three Gods exist, and that they are so long-lived? I don't believe the Thirty-Three Gods exist or are so long- lived.'

'Prince, imagine a man who was blind from birth and could not see dark or light objects, or blue, yellow, red or crimson ones, could not see the smooth and the rough, could not see the stars and the moon.

He might say: "There are no dark and light objects and nobody who can see them,... there is no sun or moon, and nobody who can see them. I am not aware of this thing, and therefore it does not exist."

Would he be speaking rightly, Prince?'

'No, Reverend Kassapa. There are dark and light objects... , there is a sun and a moon, and anyone who said: "I am not aware of this thing, I cannot see it, and therefore it does not exist" would not be speaking rightly.'

'Well, Prince, it appears that your reply is like that of the blind man when you ask how I know about the Thirty-Three Gods and their longevity.

Prince, the other world cannot be seen the way you think, with the physical eye.

Prince, those ascetics and Brahmins who seek in the jungle-thickets and the recesses of the forest for a resting-place that is quiet, with little noise — they stay there unwearied, ardent, restrained, purifying the divine eye,

and with that purified divine eye that exceeds the powers of human sight, they see both this world and the next, and spontaneously born beings. That, Prince, is how the other world can be seen, and not the way you think, with the physical eye.

Therefore, Prince, admit that there is another world, that there are spontaneously born beings, and that there is fruit and result of good and evil deeds.'

12. 'Whatever you may say about that, Reverend Kassapa, I still think there is no other world...'
'Have you any reason for this assertion, Prince?'
'I have, Reverend Kassapa.'
'What is that, Prince?'

'Well, Reverend Kassapa, I see here some ascetics and Brahmins who observe morality and are well-conducted, who want to live, do not want to die, who desire comfort and hate suffering.

And it seems to me that if these good ascetics and Brahmins who are so moral and well-conducted know that after death they will be better off, then these good people would now take poison, take a knife and kill themselves, hang themselves or jump off a cliff.

But though they have such knowledge, they still want to live, do not want to die, they desire comfort and hate suffering.

And that, Reverend Kassapa, is my reason for maintaining: "There is no other world.”

13. 'Well then, Prince, I will give you a parable, because some wise people understand what is said by means of parables:

Once upon a time, Prince, a certain Brahmin had two wives. One had a son ten or twelve years old, while the other was pregnant and nearing her time when the Brahmin died.

Then this youth said to his mother's co-wife: "Lady, whatever wealth and possessions, silver or gold, there may be, is all mine. My father made me his heir."

At this the Brahmin lady said to the youth: "Wait, young man, until I give birth. If the child is a boy, one portion will be his, and if it is a girl, she will become your servant."

The youth repeated his words a second time, and received the same reply.

When he repeated them a third time, the lady took a knife and, going into an inner room, cut open her belly, thinking: "If only I could find out whether it is a boy or a girl!"

And thus she destroyed herself and the living embryo, and the wealth as well, just as fools do who seek their inheritance unwisely, heedless of hidden danger.

'In the same way you, Prince, will foolishly enter on hidden dangers by unwisely seeking for another world, just as that Brahmin lady did in seeking her inheritance.

But, Prince, those ascetics and Brahmins who observe morality and are well-conducted do not seek to hasten the ripening of that which is not yet ripe, but rather they wisely await its ripening.

Their life is profitable to those ascetics and Brahmins, for the longer such moral and well-conducted ascetics and Brahmins remain alive, the greater the merit that they create;

they practise for the welfare of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the profit and benefit of devas and humans.

Therefore, Prince, admit that there is another world...'

14. 'Whatever you may say about that, Reverend Kassapa, I still think there is no other world...'
'Have you any reason for this assertion, Prince?'
'I have, Reverend Kassapa.'
'What is that, Prince?'

'Reverend Kassapa, take the case that they bring a thief before me, caught in the act and say: "Here, Lord, is a thief caught in the act, sentence him to whatever punishment you wish."

And I say: "Take this man and put him alive in a jar. Seal the mouth and close it with a damp skin, give it a thick covering of damp clay, put it in an oven and light the fire." And they do so.

When we are sure the man is dead, we remove the jar, break the clay, uncover the mouth, and watch carefully: "Maybe we can see his soul escaping."

But we do not see any soul escaping, and that is why, Reverend Kassapa, I believe there is no other world...'

15. 'As to that, Prince, I will question you about it, and you shall reply as you think fit:

Do you admit that when you have gone for your midday rest you have seen pleasant visions of parks, forests, delightful country and lotus-ponds?'

'I do, Reverend Kassapa.'

'And at that time are you not watched over by hunchbacks, dwarfs, young girls and maidens?'

'I am, Reverend Kassapa.'

'And do they observe your soul entering or leaving your body?'

'No, Reverend Kassapa.'

'So they do not see your soul entering or leaving your body even when you are alive. Therefore how could you see the soul of a dead man entering or leaving his body? Therefore, Prince, admit that there is another world

16. 'Whatever you may say about that, Reverend Kassapa, I still think there is no other world...'
'Have you any reason for this assertion, Prince?'
‘I have, Reverend Kassapa.'
'What is that, Prince?'

'Reverend Kassapa, take the case that they bring a thief before me... and I say: "Weigh this man on the scales alive, then strangle him, and weigh him again." And they do so.

As long as he was alive, he was lighter, softer and more flexible, but when he was dead he was heavier, stiffer and more in-flexible. And that, Reverend Kassapa, is my reason for maintaining that there is no other world...'

17. 'Well then, Prince, I will give you a parable...

Suppose a man weighed an iron ball that had been heated all day, blazing, burning fiercely, glowing. And suppose that after a time, when it had grown cold and gone out, he weighed it again. At which time would it be lighter, softer and more flexible: when it was hot, burning and glowing, or when it was cold and extinguished?'

'Reverend Kassapa, when that ball of iron is hot, burning and glowing with the elements of fire and air, then it is lighter, softer and more flexible. When, without those elements, it has grown cold and gone out, it is heavier, stiffer and more inflexible.'

'Well then, Prince, it is just the same with the body. When it has life, heat and consciousness, it is lighter, softer and more flexible. But when it is deprived of life, heat and consciousness, it is heavier, stiffer and more inflexible.

In the same way, Prince, you should consider: "There is another world.”

18. 'Whatever you may say about that, Reverend Kassapa, I still think there is no other world...'
'Have you any reason for this assertion, Prince?'
‘I have, Reverend Kassapa.'
'What is that, Prince?'

'Reverend Kassapa, take the case of a thief that they bring before me... and I say: "Kill this man without wounding his cuticle, skin, flesh, sinews, bones or marrow", and they do so.

When he is half-dead, I say: "Now lay this man on his back, and perhaps we shall be able to see his soul emerging." They do so, but we cannot see his soul emerging.

Then I say: 'Turn him face downwards,... on his side,... on the other side,... stand him up,... stand him on his head,... thump him with your fists,... stone him,... hit him with sticks,... strike him with swords,... shake him this way and that, and perhaps we shall be able to see his soul emerging."

And they do all these things, but although he has eyes he does not perceive objects or their spheres, although he has ears he does not hear sounds..., although he has a nose he does not smell smells..., although he has a tongue he does not taste tastes..., although he has a body he does not feel tangibles or their spheres.

And that is why, Reverend Kassapa, I believe there is no other world...'

19. 'Well then, Prince, I will give you a parable...

Once there was a trumpeter who took his trumpet and went into the border country. On coming to a village, he stood in the village centre, blew his trumpet three times and then, putting it down on the ground, sat down to one side.

Then, Prince, those border folk thought: "Where does that sound come from that is so delightful, so sweet, so intoxicating, so compelling, so captivating?"

They addressed the trumpeter and asked him about this.

"Friends, this trumpet is where those delightful sounds come from."

So then they laid the trumpet on its back, crying: "Speak, mister trumpet, speak!" But the trumpet never uttered a sound.

Then they turned it face downwards,... on its side,... on its other side,... stood it up,,.. stood it on its head,... thumped it with their fists,...stoned it,...beat it with sticks,... struck it with swords,... shook it this way and that, crying: "Speak, mister trumpet, speak!" But the trumpet never uttered a sound.

The trumpeter thought: "What fools these border folk are! How stupidly they search for the sound of the trumpet!" And as they watched him, he took the trumpet, blew it three times, and went away.

And those border folk thought: "It seems that when the trumpet is accompanied by a man, by effort, and by the wind, then it makes a sound. But when it is not accompanied by a man, by effort, and by the wind, then it makes no sound."

'In the same way, Prince, when this body has life, heat and consciousness,

then it goes and comes back, stands and sits and lies down, sees things with its eyes, hears with its ears, smells with its nose, tastes with its tongue, feels with its body, and knows mental objects with its mind.

But when it has no life, heat or consciousness, it does none of these things. In the same way, Prince, you should consider: "There is another world..."'