Dharma Pearls

Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Long Discourses

29. Lohitya

Thus I have heard:1 One time, the Buddha was in Kauśala touring among the people. With an assembly of 1,250 great monks, he went to the brahmin town of *Śālavatī and stopped to rest to the north in a rosewood grove.2

There was a brahmin then named Lohitya3 who was staying in a sal grove. His town was bountiful and happy, and the people were flourishing. King Prasenajit had awarded this town to that brahmin as his brahmin due.4 This brahmin was descended from seven generations of fathers and mothers who were genuine, so he wasn’t slandered by others. He chanted and fully understood the other canon of three divisions,5 and he could entirely discern the various kinds of scriptures. He was also skilled in the principle of the great man’s signs, divining fortune and misfortune, and sacrifices and rituals.

He heard that the mendicant Gautama of the Śākya clan, who had left the home life [113a] and achieved awakening, was touring among the people of Kauśala and had arrived in a rosewood grove. This Gautama had a great reputation that was heard throughout the world. He was a Tathāgata, an Arhat, and a Perfectly Awakened One, fully endowed with the ten epithets. Of gods, worldly men, and demons, whether they were assemblies of Māra’s gods, mendicants, or brahmins, he had himself realized and taught the Dharma for others. It was good in the beginning, middle, and end, complete in meaning and manner, and the purification of the religious life. Lohitya said: “It would be fitting to go and have an audience with such a true man as this. I would like to go and pay him a visit now.”

The brahmin then left his village and went to visit the Bhagavān in the rosewood grove. After making polite inquiries, he sat to one side. The Buddha taught the Dharma for him, and the instruction was profitable and elating. After that brahmin heard the Dharma, he said to the Buddha, “May the Bhagavān and the great assembly clearly accept my invitation.”

The Bhagavān then silently accepted his invitation.

The brahmin saw that the Buddha was silent. Once he knew that he had the Buddha’s assent, he rose from his seat, circled the Buddha, and left. He wasn’t far away from the Buddha when a bad view occurred to him: “Mendicants and brahmins often know the good Dharma, and many are their proofs, but they shouldn’t teach it to other people. They simply know it for themselves and desist from discussing it with others. It’s like a man who builds a new prison after he destroys an old prison. It’s a greedy, bad, and unwholesome thing!”

After the brahmin returned to the sal grove, he then prepared a variety of delicious food and drink that night. When he arrived, the brahmin said to his barber, “Remember my words and go to the rosewood grove. Tell the mendicant Gautama, ‘Once morning has arrived, you should know that it’s time.’"

His barber accepted and performed his instructions. He went to the Buddha and bowed at the Bhagavān’s feet. “Once the day has come, you should know that it’s time.”

The Bhagavān then put on his robe, picked up his bowl, and when to the sal grove with his 1,250 disciples.

The barber followed the Bhagavān on his right side, saluted him with his palms together, and told the Buddha, “That brahmin Lohitya had this evil view occur to him not far from the Buddha when he left: ‘Mendicants and brahmins often know the good Dharma, and many are their proofs, but they shouldn’t teach it to other people. They simply know it for themselves and desist from discussing it with others. It’s like a man who builds a new prison after he destroys an old prison. It’s a greedy, bad, and unwholesome thing!’ May the Bhagavān remove his bad view.”

The Buddha told the barber, “This is only a minor subject that’s easily taught.”

When the Bhagavān arrived at the brahmin’s residence, he prepared a seat, and sat down. The brahmin then personally served them various delicious foods, providing it to the Buddha and the assembly. When they had finished the meal, left with their bowls, and were done washing them, [113b] they gave a small sofa to the Buddha to sit in front.

The Buddha then told Lohitya, “Yesterday, you weren’t far away after you left when a bad view occurred to you: ‘Mendicants and brahmins often know the good Dharma, and many are their proofs, but they shouldn’t teach it to other people. They simply know it for themselves and desist from discussing it with others. It’s like a man who builds a new prison after he destroys an old prison. It’s a greedy, bad, and unwholesome thing!’ Is that statement true?”

Lohitya said, “Yes, it’s true that this happened.”

The Buddha told Lohitya, “Don’t let this bad view arise again. What is the reason for that? There are three teachers in the world whom it’s possible admonish yourself. Who are the three? One shaves off his hair, wears the three Dharma robes, and leaves home to cultivate the path. Here in the present, he could be rid of the afflictions, and he could develop and attain the state of a superior man. Here in the present, however, he isn’t rid of the afflictions, and he doesn’t attain the state of a superior man. His work is incomplete, yet he teaches the Dharma for his disciples. His disciples don’t respect or serve him. As a result, they again support him and reside with him as equals.

“Lohitya, those disciples say to their teacher, ‘Teacher, now you’ve shaven off your hair, put on the three Dharma robes, and left home to cultivate the path. Here in the present, you could be rid of the myriad afflictions and attain the supreme state of a superior man. Here in the present, however, you aren’t able to be rid of the afflictions nor attain the supreme state of a superior man. Your work is incomplete, yet you teach the Dharma for disciples, which causes your disciples to no longer respect, serve, or make offerings. They just share your support and reside as equals.’”

The Buddha continued, “Lohitya, like a man who builds a new prison after destroying an old prison, this is called a greedy, degenerate thing. This is one teacher whom it’s possible to admonish yourself. It’s a precept of nobles, a precept of the discipline, a precept of propriety, and a precept of the time.

“The second teacher shaves off his hair, wears the three Dharma robes, and leaves home to cultivate the path. Here in the present, he could be rid of the myriad afflictions, and he could develop and attain the state of a superior man. Here in the present, however, he isn’t able to be rid of the myriad afflictions, even though he again does attain a little or a lot of the supreme state of a superior man. His work is incomplete, yet he teaches the Dharma for his disciples. His disciples don’t respect or serve him. As a result, they again support him and reside with him as equals.

“Lohitya, those disciples say to the teacher, ‘Teacher, now you’ve shaven off your hair, put on the three Dharma robes, and left home to cultivate the path. Here in the present, you could be rid of the myriad afflictions and attain the state of a superior man. Here in the present, however, you aren’t able to be rid of the myriad afflictions, although you’ve attained a little or a lot of the state of a superior man. Your own benefit is incomplete, yet you teach the Dharma for disciples, which causes your disciples to no longer respect, serve, or make offerings. They just share your support and reside as equals.’”

The Buddha [113c] continued, “Lohitya, like a man who rubs another’s back with his hand after walking, this is called a greedy, degenerate thing. This is the second teacher whom it’s possible to admonish yourself. It’s a precept of nobles, a precept of the discipline, a precept of propriety, and a precept of the time.

He also told Lohitya, “A third teacher shaves off his hair, wears the three Dharma robes, and leaves home to cultivate the path. Here in the present, he could be rid of the afflictions, and he could develop and attain the state of a superior man. Here in the present, however, he isn’t able to be rid of the myriad afflictions, even though he again does attain a little or a lot of the state of a superior man. His own benefit is incomplete, yet he teaches the Dharma for his disciples. His disciples don’t respect or serve him, supporting him and residing as his equals.

“Lohitya, those disciples say to the teacher, ‘Teacher, now you’ve shaven off your hair, put on the three Dharma robes, and left home to cultivate the path. Here in the present, you could be rid of the myriad afflictions and attain a little or a lot of the state of a superior man. Here in the present, however, you aren’t able to be rid of the myriad afflictions, although you’ve attained a little or a lot of the state of a superior man. Your own benefit is incomplete, yet you teach the Dharma for disciples. Your disciples respect and serve you, sharing support and residing as equals.’”

The Buddha said, “Lohitya, like a man who plows another’s field after abandoning his own crop, this is a greedy, degenerate teaching. This is the third teacher whom it’s possible to admonish yourself. It’s a precept of nobles, a precept of the discipline, a precept of propriety, and a precept of the time.

“Lohitya, there’s one Bhagavān who doesn’t reside in the mundane and cannot be shaken. Who is the one? If a Tathāgata, an Arhat, and a Completely Awakened One appears in the world up to attains three knowledges, eliminates ignorance, gives rise to the radiance of wisdom, leaves behind darkness, and produces the great light of Dharma, then that’s known as the realization of the knowledge that the contaminants are ended. What is the reason for that? These are attainments that come from diligence, focus, mindfulness, unforgetfulness, and happy solitude. Lohitya, this is the first Bhagavān who doesn’t reside in the mundane and cannot be shaken.

“Lohitya, there are four fruits of the mendicant. What are the four? They are the fruit of stream entry, fruit of one more return, fruit of no return, and the fruit of the arhat. How is it, Lohitya? Someone who hears the teaching should attain these four fruits of a mendicant. Suppose someone prohibits it by saying, ‘Don’t teach the Dharma.’ If those words are put into action, would that person hear the Dharma and attain these fruits by doing so?”

“He won’t attain them.”

“If he doesn’t attain these fruits, does he attain birth in heaven?”

“He won’t attain it.”

“To prohibit others from teaching Dharma causes them to not attain its fruits and not attain birth in heaven. Is that a wholesome or an unwholesome thought?”

“Unwholesome.”

“Is someone with unwholesome thoughts born in good destinies, or do they fall into bad destinies?”

“He’s born to a bad [114a] destiny.”

“Lohitya, he’s like a man who says to King Prasenajit, ‘The country belongs to the king. The wealth within it is entirely for the king’s own use. Don’t share it with anyone else!’ How is it, Lohitya? If he put that person’s words into action, would the king stop sharing it with other people?”

“He would stop.”

“To stop sharing with others: Is that a wholesome thought or an unwholesome thought?”

“An unwholesome thought.”

“Is someone with unwholesome thoughts born in good destinies, or do they fall into bad destinies?”

“He’ll fall to a bad destiny.”

“Lohitya, he’s likewise, someone who hears the Dharma and would attain four fruits of a mendicant. Suppose someone prohibits it by saying, ‘Don’t teach the Dharma.’ If those words are put into action, would that person hear the Dharma and attain these fruits?”

“He won’t attain them.”

“If he doesn’t attain these fruits, does he attain birth in heaven?”

“He won’t attain it.”

“To prohibit others from teaching Dharma causes them to not attain its fruits and not attain birth in heaven. Is that a wholesome or an unwholesome thought?”

“Unwholesome.”

“Is someone with unwholesome thoughts born in good destinies, or do they fall into bad destinies?”

“He’ll fall to a bad destiny.”

“Lohitya, if someone were to say to you, ‘There’s wealth in that fiefdom of *Śālavatī. Lohitya, it’s for your own use; don’t share it with others. Possessions are for your own use. What purpose is there to giving them to others?’ How would it be, Lohitya? If you put his words into action, would you stop sharing with anyone else?”

“I would stop.”

“Is teaching people to stop sharing with others a wholesome or an unwholesome thought?”

“Unwholesome.”

“Is someone with unwholesome thoughts born in good destinies, or do they fall into bad destinies?”

“He’ll fall to a bad destiny.”

“Lohitya, it’s likewise for someone who hears the Dharma who would attain the four fruits of a mendicant. Suppose someone says, ‘Don’t teach the Dharma.’ If those words are put into action, would that person hear the Dharma and attain these fruits?”

“He wouldn’t attain them.”

“If he doesn’t gain these fruits, does he attain birth in heaven?”

“He won’t attain it.”

“To prohibit others from teaching Dharma causes them to not attain its fruits and not attain birth in heaven. Is that a wholesome or an unwholesome thought?”

“Unwholesome.”

“Is someone with unwholesome thoughts born in good destinies, or do they fall into bad destinies?”

“He’ll fall to a bad destiny.”

The brahmin Lohitya then said to the Buddha, “I take refuge in the Buddha, refuge in the Dharma, and refuge in the Saṃgha. Please permit me to be a layman in the correct teaching. From this day forward, I will not kill, steal, commit sexual misconduct, lie, or drink alcohol for all my life.”

After the Buddha had taught the Dharma, the brahmin Lohitya heard what the Buddha had said, rejoiced, [114b] and handed it down.

Endnotes

  1. This sutra is a close parallel with Pali DN 12. Aside from differences in details, there are two major departures from the Pali sutta.
    First, Lohitya visits the Buddha personally to invite him and the monks for a meal. The Buddha gives him a Dharma teaching, which Lohitya apparently finds insulting because he forms a wrong view that religious teachers should keep their teachings to themselves. In the Pali, this encounter doesn’t happen. Instead, Lohicca’s wrong view is simply stated at the outset.
    The second major difference is that the Q&A between the Buddha and Lohitya takes place at the end of the DA sutra and culminates in Lohitya’s conversion to the Buddha’s teaching. In the Pali, the Q&A section comes before the discourse on the three blameworthy teachers.
  2. *Śālavatī. This is an educated guess based on the Chinese transliteration. Pali: Sālavatikā.
    rosewood grove. The Chinese appears to transliterate śiṃśapā, which is a Skt. name for the Dalbergia sissoo tree, sometimes called Indian rosewood in English.
  3. Lohitya. The Sanskrit name Lohitya is attested in the Sarvâstivāda Dīrghâgama; however, many Central Asian texts give his name as Lokecca. The Chinese transliteration only indicates the first and last syllable (“lo” and “cha” ).
    This brahmin appears again in SN 35.132 and SA 255. One of the many curiosities we encounter when comparing the Pali and Chinese, Lohicca converts at the end of SN 35.132 as he does in DN 12, but he simply praises his interlocutor and returns home in SA 255. Thus, in the Pali tradition there appears to be two brahmins named Lohicca, while in the Chinese it may well be the same brahmin.
  4. Brahmin due (梵分) is probably a translation of brahma-deya, which refers to gifts made to the brahmin caste by rulers and others.
  5. other canon of three divisions. Chinese: 異典三部. This appears to describe the three Vedas.