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Academic Sutta Name Notes PSA Plae Vagga Nikaya PTS Keywords

XI:4 The over-confident monks

A group of monks went into a forest and practised meditation ardently and diligently and soon attained deep mental absorption (jhana) and they thought that they were free from sensual desires and, therefore, had attained Arahanthood. Actually, they were only overestimating themselves. Then, they went to the Buddha, with the intention of informing him about what they thought was their attainment of Arahanthood.

When they arrived at the outer gate of the monastery, the Buddha told Venerable Ananda, 'Those bhikkhus will not benefit much by coming to see me now. Ask them to go to the cemetery first and then come and see me.' Ananda then delivered the message to those bhikkhus, and they reflected, 'The Enlightened One knows everything; he must have some reasons for making us go to the cemetery first.' So they went to the cemetery.

There, when they saw decaying dead bodies*, they could look at them as just skeletons, and bones, but when they saw some fresh dead bodies, they realised, with horror, that they still had some sensual desires awakening in them. The Buddha saw them from his monastery and sent forth his radiance and exhorted, 'Bhikkhus! Seeing these dead bodies, is it proper for you to have any sensual desire in you?'

Perceiving the fleeting nature of all sensual pleasures, all those bhikkhus realised the Dhamma.

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Last modified on: Sunday, 13 August 2000.