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Discourse to Bhumija (Bhumijasutta)

A puzzled man asked Buddha: I have heard that some monks meditate with expectations, others meditate with no expectations, and yet others are indifferent to the result. What is the best?

Buddha answered: Whether they meditate with or without expectations, if they have the wrong ideas and the wrong methods, they will not get any [good] fruit from their meditation. . . .

But if somebody meditates with a wholesome attitude, with right attention and mindfulness, then whether he has expectations or not he will gain insight.

(Contracted from the Bhumija Sutta in the Majjhima Nikaya by Anne Bancroft 2010:58-59. Emphasis added.) How to make progress and headway in meditation whether one has expectations of things or not, is what the following discourse is about. Gains depend on the meditation method and also on one's living, asserts Buddha. Helpful teachings are boons as well.

Thus have I heard: At one time the Lord [Buddha] was staying near Rájagaha in the Bamboo Grove at the squirrels' feeding place.

Then the venerable Bhumija, having dressed early in the morning, taking his bowl and robe, approached Prince Jayasena's abode; having approached, he sat down on the appointed seat. And Prince Jayasena approached the venerable Bhumija; having approached, he exchanged greetings with the venerable Bhumija; having conversed in a friendly and courteous way, he sat down at a respectful distance. As he was sitting down at a respectful distance, Prince Jayasena spoke thus to the venerable Bhumija:

"There are, good Bhumija, some recluses and brahmans who speak thus and are of these views: 'If one fares the Brahma-faring with an expectation, one is incapable of obtaining the fruit. And if one fares the Brahma-faring without an expectation, one is incapable of obtaining the fruit. And if one fares the Brahma-faring both with an expectation and without, one is incapable of obtaining the fruit. And if one fares the Brahma-faring neither with an expectation nor without, one is incapable of obtaining the fruit.'

What does the good Bhumija's teacher say about this, what does he point out?'

"I have not heard this face to face with the Lord, Prince, nor have I learnt it face to face. But the situation exists that the Lord might explain it thus: If, with an expectation, one fares the Brahma-faring inattentively, one is incapable of obtaining the fruit. And if, without an expectation . . . both with an expectation and without . . . neither with an expectation nor without, one fares the Brahma-faring inattentively, one is incapable of obtaining the fruit. But if, with an expectation, one fares the Brahma-faring attentively. . . without an expectation . . . both with an expectation and without . . . neither with an expectation nor without, one fares the Brahma-faring attentively, one is capable of obtaining the fruit. I have not heard this face to face with the Lord, Prince, I have not learnt it face to face. But the situation exists that the Lord might explain it thus."

"If the good Bhumija's teacher speaks thus, points out thus, it seems to me that the good Bhumija's teacher stands head and shoulders above all ordinary recluses and brahmans." Then Prince Jayasena offered the venerable Bhumija his own (dish of) rice cooked in milk.

Then the venerable Bhumija, returning from alms-gathering after the meal, approached the Lord; having approached and greeted the Lord, he sat down at a respectful distance. As he was sitting down at a respectful distance, the venerable Bhumija spoke thus to the Lord:

"Now, revered sir, I, having dressed early in the morning . . . '. . .stands head and shoulders above all ordinary recluses and brahmans.' [Bhumija repeats the whole of his conversation with Jayasena] I hope, revered sir, that when questioned thus and answering thus, I was asserting (fairly) what the Lord affirms, that I was not misrepresenting the Lord with what is not fact, but was. explaining a dhamma that conforms to dhamma and that no fellow dhamma-man, a holder of (my) views, comes to a position incurring blame?"

"Indeed, Bhumija, when questioned thus and answering thus, you were asserting (fairly) what I affirm, you were not misrepresenting me with what is not fact, you were explaining a dhamma that conforms to dhamma and no fellow dhamma-man, a holder of (your) views, comes to a position incurring blame.

If, Bhumija, those recluses or brahmans who are of wrong view, wrong aspiration, wrong speech, wrong action, wrong mode of livelihood, wrong endeavour, wrong mindfulness, wrong concentration, fare the Brahma-faring with an expectation, they are incapable of obtaining the fruit. And if they fare the Brahma-faring without an expectation they are incapable of obtaining the fruit. And if they fare the Brahma-faring both with an expectation and without . . . neither with an expectation nor without, they are incapable of obtaining the fruit. What is the reason for this? This is not the method, Bhumija, for obtaining the fruit.

Bhumija, it is like a man walking about in need of oil, seeking for oil, looking about for oil who, having heaped sand into a trough, should press it while sprinkling it continuously with water. Even though he had an expectation, he would be incapable of obtaining oil by heaping sand into a trough and pressing it while sprinkling it continuously with water. And even though he were without an expectation . . . were both with an expectation and without . . . were neither with an expectation nor without, he would be incapable of obtaining oil by heaping sand into a trough and pressing it while sprinkling it continuously with water. What is the reason for this?

This is not the method, Bhumija, for obtaining oil. In the same way, Bhumija, if those recluses or brahmans who are of wrong view . . . wrong concentration, fare the Brahma-faring with an expectation . . . without an expectation . . . both with an expectation and without . . . neither with an expectation nor without, they are incapable of obtaining the fruit. What is the reason for this? This is not the method, Bhumija, for obtaining the fruit.

Bhumija, it is like a man walking about in need of milk, seeking for milk, looking about for milk, who should pull a young cow by the horn. Even though he had an expectation, he would be incapable of obtaining milk by pulling the young cow by the horn. And even though he were without an expectation . . . were both with an expectation and without . . . were neither with an expectation nor without, he would be incapable of obtaining milk by pulling a young cow by the horn. What is the reason for this? This is not the method, Bhumija, for obtaining milk. In the same way, Bhumija, if those recluses or brahmans who are of wrong view . . . they are incapable of obtaining the fruit. What is the reason for this?

This is not the method, Bhumija, for obtaining the fruit.

Bhumija, it is like a man walking about in need of butter, seeking for butter, looking about for butter who, having sprinkled water into a jar, should swirl it round with a churning-stick.1 Even though he had an expectation, he would be incapable of obtaining butter by sprinkling water into a jar and swirling it round with a churningstick. And even though he were without an expectation . . . were both with an expectation and without, were neither with an expectation nor without, he would be incapable of obtaining butter by sprinkling water into a jar and swirling it round with a churningstick. What is the reason for this? This is not the method, Bhumija, for obtaining butter. In the same way, Bhumija, if those recluses or brahmans who are of wrong view . . . they are incapable of obtaining the fruit. What is the reason for this? This is not the method, Bhumija, for obtaining the fruit.

Bhumija, it is like a man walking about in need of fire, seeking for fire, looking about for fire who, bringing an upper piece of firestick, should rub a wet sappy stick (with it). Even though he had an expectation, he would be incapable of obtaining fire by bringing an upper piece of fire-stick and rubbing a wet sappy stick (with it). And even though he were without an expectation . . . were both with an expectation and without . . . were neither with an expectation nor without, he would be incapable of obtaining a fire by bringing an upper piece of fire-stick and rubbing a wet sappy stick (with it). What is the reason for this? This is not the method, Bhumija, for obtaining fire. In the same way, Bhumija, if those recluses or brahmans who are of wrong view . . . are incapable of obtaining the fruit. What is the reason for this? This is not the method, Bhumija, for obtaining the fruit.

But if, Bhumija, those recluses or brahmans who are of right view, right aspiration, right speech, right action, right mode of livelihood, right endeavour, right mindfulness, right concentration, fare the Brahma-faring with an expectation, they are capable of obtaining the fruit. And if they fare the Brahma-faring without an expectation, they are capable of obtaining the fruit. And if they fare the Brahma-faring both with an expectation and without . . . neither with an expectation nor without, they are capable of obtaining the fruit. What is the reason for this? This is the method, Bhumija, for obtaining the fruit.

Bhumija, it is like a man walking about in need of oil, seeking for oil, looking about for oil who, having heaped oil-seeds into a trough, should press them while sprinkling them continuously with water. If he had an expectation, he would be capable of obtaining oil by heaping oil-seeds into a trough and pressing them while sprinkling them continuously with water. What is the reason for this? This is the method, Bhumija, for obtaining oil. And if he were without an expectation , . . were both with an expectation and w ithout. . . wdre neither with an expectation nor without, he would be capable of obtaining oil by heaping oil-seeds into a trough and pressing them while sprinkling them continuously with water.

What is the reason for this? This is the method, Bhumija, for obtaining oil. In the same way, Bhumjia, if those recluses or brahmans who are of right view . . . right concentration, fare the Brahma-faring with an expectation, they are capable of obtaining the fruit. And if they fare the Brahma-faring without an expectation . . . both with an expectation and without . . . neither with an expectation nor without, they are capable of obtaining the fruit. What is the reason for this? This is the method, Bhumija, for obtaining the fruit.

Bhumija, it is like a man walking about in need of milk, seeking for milk, looking about for milk, who should pull a young cow by the teat. If he had an expectation he would be capable of obtaining milk by pulling the young cow by the teat. And if he were without an expectation . . . were both with an expectation and without . . . were neither with an expectation nor without he would be capable of obtaining milk by pulling the young cow by the teat. What is the reason for this? This is the method, Bhumija, for obtaining milk. In the same way, Bhumija, if those recluses or brahmans who are of right view . . . fare the Brahma-faring with an expectation . . . without an expectation . . . both with an expectation and without. . . neither with an expectation nor without, they are capable of obtaining the fruit. What is the reason for this? This is the method, Bhumija, for obtaining the fruit.

Bhumija, it is like a man walking about in need of butter, seeking for butter, looking about for butter who, having sprinkled curds into a jar, should swirl them around with a churning-stick. If he had an expectation he would be capable of obtaining butter by sprinkling curds into a jar and swirling them around with a churningstick. And if he were without an expectation . . . were both with an expectation and w ithout. . . were neither with an expectation nor without, he would be capable of obtaining butter by sprinkling curds into a jar and swirling them around with a churning-stick. What is the reason for this? This is the method, Bhumija, for obtaining butter. In the same way, Bhumija, if those recluses or brahmans who are of right view . .. fare the Brahma-faring without an expectation . . . both with an expectation and without . . . neither with an expectation nor without, they are capable of obtaining the fruit.

What is the reason for this? This is the method, Bhumija, for obtaining the fruit.

Bhumija, it is like a man walking about in need of fire, seeking for fire, looking about for fire who, bringing an upper piece of fire-stick, should rub a dry sapless stick (with it). And if he had an expectation he would be capable of obtaining fire by bringing an upper piece of fire-stick and rubbing a dry sapless stick (with it).1 And if he were without an expectation, he would be capable of obtaining fire by bringing an upper piece of fire-stick and rubbing a dry sapless stick (with it). And if he were both with an expectation and w ithout. . . were neither with an expectation nor without, he would be capable of obtaining fire by bringing an upper piece of fire-stick and rubbing a dry sapless stick (with it). What is the reason for this? This is the method, Bhumija, for obtaining fire. In the same way, Bhumija, if those recluses or brahmans who are of right view . . . right concentration fare the Brahma-faring with an expectation, they are capable of obtaining the fruit. And if they fare the Brahma-faring without an expectation, they are capable of obtaining the fruit. And if they fare the Brahma-faring both with an expectation and without, they are capable of obtaining the fruit. And if they fare the Brahma-faring neither with an expectation nor without, they are capable of obtaining the fruit. What is the reason for this? This is the method, Bhumija, for obtaining the fruit.

If, Bhumija, these four similes had occurred to you for Prince Jayasena, Prince Jayasena would naturally have trusted you and, having trust, would have acted in the manner of one having trust in you."

"But how could these four similes for Prince Jayasena have occurred to me, revered sir, seeing that they are spontaneous, that is to say to the Lord, and had never been heard before?"

Thus spoke the Lord. Delighted, the venerable Bhumija rejoiced in what the Lord had said.

(Horner, vol 3. Discourse 126. P. 183-89, emphasis added)

Horner: "This is a very curious ending to a Discourse, and seems little more than an absent-minded repetition of M. iii. 131."

Terms

Brahma-faring: The Buddhist path leading to Nirvana is called the "Brahma-faring". Buddha said, "Practise this Brahma faring for the perfect ending of suffering". Buddha used a pre-Buddhistic Brahma understanding. The path is quite parallel to the sannyasi stage in the "varnasrama dharma" in Sanatana Dharma, Hinduism.

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Buddha sayings, Discourse to Bhumija, Bhumijasutta, Buddhist lore, Literature  

Horner, Isaline Blew, tr. The Collection of the Middle Length Sayings (Majjhima-Nikaya). Vol 3. The Final Fifty Discourses (Uparipannasa). Oxford: The Pali Text Society, 1999.

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, 2009:997-1001.

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