Sariputta (Pali) or Sariputra (Sanskrit) and his friend Mogellana (Maudgalyayana; Pali: Moggallana) were disciples of Buddha. (Wikipedia, "Sariputta"; "Maudgalyayana")
The venerable Sariputta said this: "There are these four kinds of persons in the world. What four? From bottom and up: The inferior kind has a blemish without understanding it as it is. Another has a blemish and understands it as it is. Still another has no blemish without understanding that. And then there is the superior kind with no blemish and who knows it." (1-2, abr.)
Then Maha Moggallana then asked Sariputta: "Why is the one with a blemish and who knows his blemish, better than the other who without realising it has a blemish? (3)
And why is the one without blemish, who knows he is without blemish, better than the one without blemish but who does not know it?" (3)
Sariputta said, "In this: When a person with a blemish does not understand it as it actually is, it can be expected that he will not arouse zeal, make effort, or instigate energy to abandon that blemish, and that he will die with the blemish, with mind defiled." (4)
"But when a person with a blemish understands it as it is, recognised the blemish in himself or herself, it can be expected that he will arouse zeal, make effort, and instigate energy to abandon that blemish, and that he will die without it, with mind undefiled (by it). (5)
"Also, when a person with no blemish does not understand that, he may go for what appears beautiful, to the end that some lust will rise in his mind and he will die with such lust, with such a blemish, with mind defiled. (6)
"However, when a person with no blemish understands that he is without it, he should not pay attention to what appears to be beautiful. In that way lust may not come to infect his mind either. Thus he may die with no blemish, with mind undefiled. Thus, when a person with no blemish understands: 'I have no blemish in myself,' it can be expected that he will with mind undefiled. (7)
Maha Moggallana added, "OK. Now, what does this word 'blemish' signify? (9)
Sariputta: "'Blemish' is a term for all sorts of unwholesome and evil wishes. Anger and bitterness are both blemishes, [and haughtiness is not far from being it too]. (8-28)
"'Blemish,' friend, is a term for the spheres of these evil unwholesome wishes. (28)
To the degree that evil and unwholesome wishes are detected to be unabandoned in a monk, then for all the rough robe he is wearing, still his fellows in the holy life do not honour, respect, revere, and venerate him because of the evil unwholesome wishes he has not got rid of." (29)
"However, a monk who gives up evil unwholesome wishes, even if he lives in a village, his fellows in the holy life honour, respect, revere, and venerate him because he has got rid of unwelcome desires." (30)
Then Maha Moggallana said to Sariputta: "There are persons who are faithless and seeking a livelihood, who are fraudulent, deceitful, treacherous, haughty, hollow, personally vain, rough-tongued, loose-spoken, unguarded in their sense faculties, immoderate in eating, undevoted to wakefulness, unconcerned with recluseship, not greatly respectful of training, luxurious, careless, leaders in backsliding, neglectful of seclusion, lazy, wanting in energy, unmindful, not fully aware, unconcentrated, with straying minds, devoid of wisdom, drivellers!" (32)
"But there are clansmen who are not fraudulent, deceitful, treacherous, haughty, hollow, personally vain, rough-tongued, or loose-spoken; who are guarded in their sense faculties, moderate in eating, devoted to wakefulness, concerned with recluseship, greatly respectful of training, not luxurious or careless, who are keen to avoid backsliding, leaders in seclusion, energetic, resolute, established in mindfulness, fully aware, concentrated, with unified minds, possessing wisdom, not drivellers. (33)
These, on hearing Sariputta's discourse on the Dharma, drink it in and eat it by word and thought. Good indeed it is that followers emerge from the unwholesome and establish themselves in the wholesome. (32-33)
These two great beings rejoiced in each other's good words.
It can be wise to study the whole suttra/sutta before making any resolves in matters they pertain to, while allowing for a variety of interpretations.
Nanamoli, Bhikkhu, tr. and Bhikkhu Bodhi, ed. The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya. 4th ed. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2009. ⍽▢⍽ Parts are online at Access to Insight,
Upalavanna, Sister, tr. Majjhima Nikaya. Sri Lanka: Metta Net. Online.
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