The Discourse about the Great Emancipation

[The Sixth Chapter for Recitation]

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[40: The Last Instructions of the Realised One]

Then the Gracious One addressed venerable Ānanda, (saying): “It may be, Ānanda, that some of you may think in this way: ‘Past is the Teacher's word, there is now no Teacher for us.’ But it should not be seen like that, Ānanda, whatever Teaching and Discipline has been taught by me or laid down, Ānanda, that is your Teacher after my passing away.

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At present, Ānanda, the monks address each other with the word ‘friend’, (but) after my passing away they are not to address (one another) thus. The elder monk, Ānanda, should address the younger monk by his name or by his clan (name) or by the word ‘friend’. (But) the younger monk should address the elder monk as reverend Sir or venerable Sir.

* * *

Desiring (to do so), Ānanda, the Community after my passing away, can abolish the minor and subsidiary training rules. Ānanda was greatly blamed at the First Council for not asking the Buddha what the minor and subsidiary training rules were. As there was no agreement as to the range of rules included here the decision was made at the Council not to abolish any of them.01

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The highest penalty, Ānanda, after my passing away, is to be handed out to the monk Channa.” “But what is the highest penalty, reverend Sir?” “The monk Channa, Ānanda, may say whatever he wishes but he is not to be spoken to or advised or instructed by the monks.” When he found out the Brahmadaṇḍa punishment had been decreed by the Buddha before he died, Channa was humbled, and later, striving in solitude, he became a Worthy One, at which point the penalty lapsed.02

* * *

Then the Gracious One addressed the monks, (saying): “It may be, monks, that for one of the monks there is doubt or confusion about the Buddha, or about the Teaching, or about the Community, or about the Path, or about the practice. Ask, monks, do not be regretful later (thinking): ‘The Teacher was face to face with us and we didn’t ask the Gracious One directly about the training.’ ” After this was said those monks were silent.

For a second time the Gracious One addressed the monks, (saying): “It may be, monks, that for one of the monks there is doubt or confusion about the Buddha, or about the Teaching, or about the Community, or about the Path, or about the practice. Ask, monks, do not be regretful later (thinking): ‘The Teacher was face to face with us and we didn’t ask the Gracious One directly about the training.’ ” For a second time those monks were silent.

For a third time the Gracious One addressed the monks, (saying): “It may be, monks, that for one of the monks there is doubt or confusion about the Buddha, or about the Teaching, or about the Community, or about the Path, or about the practice. Ask, monks, do not be regretful later (thinking): ‘The Teacher was face to face with us and we didn’t ask the Gracious One directly about the training.’ ” For a third time those monks were silent.

Then the Gracious One addressed the monks, (saying): “It may be, monks, that out of respect for the Teacher you do not ask, then one friend, monks, can inform another friend (about his doubts).” After this was said those monks were silent.

Then venerable Ānanda said this to the Gracious One: “It is wonderful, reverend Sir, it is marvellous, reverend Sir, I am confident, reverend Sir, that in this Community of monks there is not one of the monks in this Community of monks who has doubt or confusion about the Buddha, or about the Teaching, or about the Community, or about the Path, or about the practice.”

“Out of confidence, Ānanda, you speak, but the Realised One, Ānanda, has knowledge that there is not one of the monks in this Community of monks who has doubt or confusion about the Buddha, or about the Teaching, or about the Community, or about the Path, or about the practice. For amongst these five hundred monks, Ānanda, he who is the last monk, is a Stream-Enterer, no longer subject to falling (into the lower realms), and has a fixed destiny ending in Final Awakening.” According to the Commentary the last monk the Buddha was referring to was Ānanda himself, and this was said to encourage his efforts.03

* * *

Then the Gracious One addressed the monks, (saying): “Come now, monks, for I tell you (all) conditioned things are subject to decay, strive on with heedfulness!” These were the last words of the Realised One. Commentary: Saṅgītikārakānaṁ vacanaṁ; the words of those who held the (First) Council.04