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The Buddha

AN 9.38 PTS: A iv 428


Brahmana Sutta: To Two Brahmans
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
2011
Then two brahman cosmologists went to the Blessed One and, on arrival,
exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings &
courtesies, they sat to one side. As they were sitting there, they said to the Blessed
One, "Master Gotama, Purana Kassapa all-knowing, all-seeing claims
exhaustive knowledge & vision: 'Whether I am standing or walking, awake or asleep,
continual, unflagging knowledge & vision is established within me.' He says, 'I dwell
with infinite knowledge, knowing & seeing the finite cosmos.' Yet Nigantha
Nataputta all-knowing, all-seeing also claims exhaustive knowledge & vision:
'Whether I am standing or walking, awake or asleep, continual, unflagging
knowledge & vision is established within me.' He says, 'I dwell with infinite
knowledge, knowing & seeing the infinite cosmos.' Of these two speakers of
knowledge, these two who contradict each other, which is telling the truth, and
which is lying?"

"Enough, brahmans. Put this question aside. I will teach you the Dhamma. Listen
and pay close attention. I will speak."

"Yes, sir," the brahmans responded to the Blessed One, and the Blessed One said,
"Suppose that there were four men standing at the four directions, endowed with
supreme speed & stride. Like that of a strong archer well-trained, a practiced
hand, a practiced sharp-shooter shooting a light arrow across the shadow of a
palm tree: Such would be the speed with which they were endowed. As far as the
east sea is from the west: Such would be the stride with which they were endowed.
Then the man standing at the eastern direction would say, 'I, by walking, will reach
the end of the cosmos.' He with a one-hundred year life, a one-hundred year span
would spend one hundred years traveling apart from the time spent on eating,
drinking, chewing & tasting, urinating & defecating, and sleeping to fight off
weariness but without reaching the end of the cosmos he would die along the
way. [Similarly with the men standing at the western, southern, & northern
directions.] Why is that? I tell you, it isn't through that sort of traveling that the end

of the cosmos is known, seen, or reached. But at the same time, I tell you that there
is no making an end of suffering & stress without reaching the end of the cosmos.

"These five strings of sensuality are, in the discipline of the noble ones, called the
cosmos. Which five? Forms cognizable via the eye agreeable, pleasing, charming,
endearing, fostering desire, enticing; sounds cognizable via the ear... aromas
cognizable via the nose... flavors cognizable via the tongue... tactile sensations
cognizable via the body agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering
desire, enticing. These are the five strings of sensuality that, in the discipline of the
noble ones, are called the cosmos.

"There is the case where a monk quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from
unskillful qualities enters & remains in the first jhna: rapture & pleasure born of
seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. This is called a monk
who, coming to the end of the cosmos, remains at the end of the cosmos. Others
say of him, 'He is encompassed in the cosmos; he has not escaped from the
cosmos.' And I too say of him, 'He is encompassed in the cosmos; he has not
escaped from the cosmos.'

[Similarly with the second, third, & fourth jhnas, and with the attainment of the
dimensions of the infinitude of space, the infinitude of consciousness, nothingness,
and neither perception nor non-perception.]

"Furthermore, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither


perception nor non-perception, he enters & remains in the cessation of perception &
feeling. And, having seen [that] with discernment, his fermentations are completely
ended. This is called a monk who, coming to the end of the cosmos, remains at the
end of the cosmos, having crossed over attachment in the cosmos."

See also: AN 4.45