Jataka 134

Jhānasodhana Jātaka

Making It Clear

as told by Eric Van Horn

originally translated by Robert Chalmers, B.A., of Oriel College, Oxford University

originally edited by Professor Edward Byles Cowell, Cambridge University

This story is reminiscent of Jātaka 101 – Parosata Jātaka – and Jātaka 99 – the Parosahassa Jātaka. In both stories the disciples do not believe Sāriputta’s exposition of the Dharma. In those Jātakas as well the Bodhisatta returns from the Brahma Realm to tell the disciples that Sāriputta’s interpretation is correct.

With conscious.” This story was told by the Master while he was at Jetavana. It is about the interpretation of a problem tersely expounded by the Master by Sāriputta, Captain of the Faith, at the gate of the town of Saṁkassa. And the following was the story of the past he then told.

Once upon a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta, as he passed away in his forest home, exclaimed, “Neither conscious nor unconscious.” And the recluses did not believe the interpretation that the Bodhisatta’s chief disciple gave of the Master’s words. So the Bodhisatta came back from the Brahma Realm, and he recited this stanza from mid-air:

With conscious, with unconscious, too,

Sorrow dwells. Relinquish both ills.

Pure bliss, free from all corruption,

Springs only from the ecstasy of insight.

(The reference to conscious and unconscious probably refers to the fourth immaterial jhāna, the state of neither-perception-nor-non-perception. The Bodhisatta seems to be saying that even in this advanced state of jhāna there is dukkha, therefore it must be abandoned. For a discussion of the jhānas see “The Little Book of Buddhist Mindfulness and Concentration.” Also see the Samanupassanna Sutta: Assumptions [SN 22.47].)

His lesson ended, the Bodhisatta praised his disciple and went back to the Brahma Realm. Then the rest of the recluses believed the chief disciple.

Figure: I Told You So

Figure: “I told you so.”

His lesson taught, the Master identified the birth by saying, “In those days Sāriputta was the chief disciple, and I was Mahā-Brahma.”