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Samyutta Nikaya

Saṁyutta Nikāya 55.6 Thapati Sutta
The Carpenters

Some carpenters explain the difficulties of their life to the Supreme Buddha.

Those days, several monks were repairing the Buddha’s robe, thinking that when his robe was repaired and the three months of the rain retreat had passed, the Buddha would set out traveling from city to city. Now, at that time, the carpenters Isidatta and Purāṇa were staying in the city of Sādhuka on some business. They heard about this.

So they posted someone on the road, saying, “Friend, let us know when you see the Blessed One coming, the Liberated One, the fully enlightened Buddha.” After three days, he saw the Buddha coming off in the distance. When he saw the Buddha, he went to the carpenters and said,

“Sirs, the Blessed One, the Liberated One, the fully enlightened Buddha is coming. Please come at your convenience.”

Then the carpenters went up to the Buddha, bowed respectfully, and followed behind him. Then the Buddha left the road, went to the root of a tree, and sat down on the seat spread out. The carpenters Isidatta and Purāṇa bowed respectfully, sat down to one side, and said to the Buddha,

“Bhante, when we hear that you will be leaving the city of Sāvatthī to wander in the Kosalan lands, we become sad and upset, thinking that you will be far from us. And when we hear that you have left the city of Sāvatthī and arrived in the Kosalan lands, we become sad and upset, thinking that you are far from us.

“And when we hear that you will be leaving the Kosalan lands to wander in the Mallian lands, we become sad and upset, thinking that you will be far from us. And when we hear that you have left the Kosalan lands and arrived in the Mallian lands, we become sad and upset, thinking that you are far from us.

“And when we hear that you will be leaving the Mallian lands to wander in the Vajjian lands… in the Kāsian lands… in the Māgadhan lands… And when we hear that you have left the Kāsian lands and arrived in the Māgadhan lands, we become sad and upset, thinking that you are far from us.

“However Bhante, when we hear that you will be leaving the Māgadhan lands to wander in the Kāsian lands, we become happy and joyful, thinking that you will be near to us. And when we hear that you have left the Māgadhan lands and arrived in the Kāsian lands… in the Vajjian lands… in the Mallian lands… in the Kosalan lands… you will be leaving the Kosalan lands to wander in the city of Sāvatthī, we become happy and joyful, thinking that you will be near to us.

“And when we hear that you are living in the city of Sāvatthī, in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery there is no greater happiness and joy, thinking that you are near to us.”

“Well then, carpenters, the home-life is not easy and that lifestyle leads to more defilements, but the monk-life is so peaceful and leads to detachment. Therefore, you must practice the Dhamma diligently.”

“Bhante, there is something that’s even more difficult than the home-life for us.”

“What is that?”

“Bhante, it’s when King Pasenadi wants to go and visit a park. We have to harness and prepare his royal elephants. Then we have to seat his dear and beloved wives on the elephants, one in front of us, and one behind. Those sisters smell like a freshly opened perfume box; that’s how the royal ladies smell with makeup on. The touch of those sisters is like a tuft of cotton-wool or padding; that’s how smooth the royal ladies are. Now at that time we must look after the elephants, the royal ladies, and ourselves. But, Bhante, we don’t recall having a lustful thought regarding those royal ladies. The effort needed to prevent the rising of lustful thoughts at that moment is more difficult than the home-life.”

“Well then, carpenters, the home-life is not easy and that lifestyle leads to more defilements, but the monk-life is so peaceful and leads to detachment. Therefore, you must practise the Dhamma diligently.

“A noble disciple who has four factors is a stream-enterer, not liable to be reborn in the miserable worlds, headed for Nibbāna.

“What four? A noble disciple has unshakable confidence in the Buddha… the Dhamma… the Saṅgha… He lives at home, rid of the stain of stinginess, ready to give, open-handed, with desire to give, committed to charity, loves to give and share. A noble disciple who has these four factors is a stream-enterer, not liable to be reborn in miserable worlds and is headed for Nibbāna.

“And carpenters, you have unshakable confidence in the Buddha… the Dhamma… the Saṅgha… And whatever you have available in your family, you share it all with those who are virtuous and of good character.

“What do you think, carpenters? How many people among the Kosalans are your equals when it comes to giving and sharing?”

“We’re fortunate, Bhante, so very fortunate, in that the Buddha understands us like this.”

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Saṁyutta Nikāya 55.6 Thapati Sutta: The Carpenters

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