Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa

Introduction to 3.3.12
(Who is Dearer than Oneself?)

This present text presents the well-known incident, where King Pasenadi and Queen Mallika each discover how much importance and value is contributed to themselves. King Pasenadi of the Kosala country was a contemporary of the Buddha, who frequently visited the Buddha. King Pasenadi developed great faith in the teaching of the Buddha and had the Rājākārāma monastery built for the Saṅgha which was in the vicinity of Jetavana. His chief-queen Mallika was of even deeper devotion towards the Buddha’s teaching and it is said that the king often relied on her wisdom. In this present sutta it is also Mallika who stunned the King with her upright and honest reply that nothing was dearer to her than her own self.

The sutta concludes with the utterance of the Buddha who praises the wisdom that speaks through the realisation of Queen Mallika’s words that so many saints of many ages have summarized with the words: “Know thyself!” in which important self-realisation paves the way for knowing others:

“Sabbā disā anuparigamma cetasā,
nevajjhagā piyataramattanā kvaci;
evaṃ piyo puthu attā paresaṃ,
tasmā na hiṃse paramattakāmo”ti

“Having explored all directions with the mind
One would not find anywhere, anyone dearer than oneself.
In the same way this Oneself is dearer to anyone else too
Therefore do not harm anyone because likewise they are dear to themselves.”

Through deep understanding of how one wishes for his or her own wellbeing it is then possible to realize that others also do not desire to be treated in any harmful way and rather prefer to live happy and peaceful lives which enables for the practise of Mettā. Therefore this verse is quoted in the Brahmavihāraniddeso of the Visuddhimaggo1 to demonstrate the ideal procedure of sharing one’s good wishes and compassion with others by starting with one’s own good and wellbeing as a healthy base and from here spreading one’s good wishes for others:

Sabbapaṭhamaṃ pana “ahaṃ sukhito homi niddukkho”ti vā, “avero abyāpajjo anīgho sukhī attānaṃ pariharāmī”ti vā evaṃ punappunaṃ attaniyeva bhāvetabbā. …… Ahaṃ sukhito homī”ti bhāvayato pana yathā ahaṃ sukhakāmo dukkhapaṭikkūlo jīvitukāmo amaritukāmo ca, evaṃ aññepi sattāti attānaṃ sakkhiṃ katvā aññasattesu hitasukhakāmatā uppajjati. Bhagavatāpi – “Sabbā disā anuparigamma cetasā……” - First of all this should be developed only towards oneself thus by repeatedly considering: “May I myself be happy, be free from suffering” as well as: “free from animosity, free from ill will, free from animosity, may I surround myself with happiness.”…… But if he develops thus: “may I be happy” having made himself an eye-witness in this way: “like I desire to be happy, loathe suffering, want to live and do not want to die, the same must be good for other beings” a desire for wellbeing and happiness for others arises in him. Thus it has been pointed out by the Bhagavā: - “Having explored all directions with the mind……”

The Mahācattārīsakasutta2 divides sammāsaṅkappo into mundane and supramundane right thought. For someone who develops the first it needs right view, right effort and constant awareness to drive out wrong thoughts and strengthen sammāsaṅkappo: - Sammāsaṅkappaṃ anuparidhāvantīti lokuttarasammāsaṅkappaṃ parivārenti – They circle around right thought: they surround mundane right thought.

But for those who have developed supramundane right thought as a factor of the path: - sammāsaṅkappo ariyo anāsavo lokuttaro maggaṅgo – a single right intention will effortless drive out all kinds of wrong thoughts and their respective opposites will manifest and the mind will automatically be filled with renunciation, mettā and karuna: - Ettha ca tayopi nekkhammasaṅkappādayo pubbabhāge nānācittesu labbhanti, maggakkhaṇe pana tiṇṇampi kāmasaṅkappādīnañca padacchedaṃ samugghātaṃ karonto maggaṅgaṃ pūrayamāno ekova sammāsaṅkappo uppajjitvā nekkhammasaṅkappādivasena tīṇi nāmāni labhati. – Here the three right thoughts beginning with renunciation are gained separately by different mind processes (nānācittesu). At the moment of the path the threefold thoughts beginning with desire and separation of words are cut off by fulfilling the path and on account of a single right intention that arises (all) the three right intentions beginning with renunciation are gained!

May all be enabled to fully develop sammāsaṅkappo ariyo anāsavo lokuttaro maggaṅgo!

[1] On the practice, development and sharing of Mettābhāvana compare: Chapter four: lesson 4.2 cont!

[2] See lesson 3.3.5


Pāli lesson (with audio) 3.3.12

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Last modified: Thursday, 28 December 2023, 10:44 AM