Sick and Dying

Samyuttanikaaya S22.88 Assaji (อัสสชิสูตร)

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Raajagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrel Sanctuary. Now on that occasion the Venerable Assaji was dwelling at Kassapaka’s Park, sick, afflicted, gravely ill. Then the Venerable Assaji addressed his attendants:

“Come, friends, approach the Blessed One, pay homage to him in my name with your head at his feet, and say: ‘It would be good, venerable sir, if the Blessed One would approach the Venerable Assaji out of compassion.'”

“Yes, friend,” those bhikkhus replied, and they approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and delivered their message. The Blessed One consented by silence.

Then the Blessed One dressed and, taking bowl and robe, approached the Venerable Assaji. The Venerable Assaji saw the Blessed One coming in the distance and stirred on his bed. The Blessed One said to him: “Enough, Assaji, do not stir on your bed. There are seats ready, I will sit down there.”

The Blessed One then sat down on the appointed seat and said to the Venerable Assaji: “I hope you are bearing up, Assaji, I hope you are getting better. I hope that your painful feelings are subsiding and not increasing, and that their subsiding, not their increase, is to be discerned.”

“I hope then, Assaji, that you have nothing for which to reproach yourself in regard to virtue.”

“I have nothing, venerable sir, for which to reproach myself in regard to virtue.”

“Then if you have nothing for which to reproach yourself in regard to virtue, Assaji, why are you troubled by remorse and regret?”

“Formerly, venerable sir, when I was ill I kept on tranquillising the bodily formations, but [now] I do not obtain concentration. As I do not obtain concentration, it occurs to me: ‘Let me not fall away!”

“Those ascetics and brahmins, Assaji, who regard concentration as the essence and identify concentration with asceticism, failing to obtain concentration, might think, ‘Let us not fall away!’

“What do you think, Assaji, is form permanent or impermanent?” – “Impermanent, venerable sir.” … – “Therefore … Seeing thus … He understands: ‘ … there is no more for this state of being.’

“If he feels a pleasant feeling, he understands: ‘It is impermanent’; he understands: ‘It is not held to’; he understands: ‘It is not delighted in.’ If he feels a painful feeling, he understands: ‘It is impermanent’; he understands: ‘It is not held to’; he understands: ‘It is not delighted in.’ If he feels a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he understands: ‘It is impermanent’; he understands: ‘It is not held to’; he understands: ‘It is not delighted in.’ “If he feels a pleasant feeling, he feels it detached; if he feels a painful feeling, he feels it detached; if he feels a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he feels it detached.

“When he feels a feeling terminating with the body, he understands: ‘I feel a feeling terminating with the body, he understands: ‘I feel a feeling terminating with the body.’ When he feels a feeling terminating with life, he understands: ‘With the breakup of the body, following the exhaustion of life, all that is felt, not being delighted in, will become cool right here.’

“Just as, Assaji, an oil lamp burns in dependence on the oil and the wick, and with the exhaustion of the oil and the wick it is extinguished though lack of fuel, so too, Assaji, when a bhikkhu feels a feeling terminating with the body … terminating with life … He understands: ‘With the breakup of the body, following the exhaustion of life, all that is felt, not being delighted in, will become cool right here.'”

Samyuttanikaaya S 36.7 The Sick Ward 1 (เคลัญญสูตรที่ ๑)

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Vesaali in the Great Wood in the Hall with the Peaked Roof. Then, in the evening, the Blessed One emerged from seclusion and went to the sick ward, where he sat down in the appointed seat and addressed the bhikkhus thus:

“Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu should await his time mindful and clearly comprehending. This is our instruction to you.

“And how, bhikkhus, is a bhikkhu mindful? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having put away covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings … mind in mind … phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having put away covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. It is in such a way that a bhikkhu is mindful.

“And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu exercise clear comprehension? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhus is one who acts with clear comprehension when going forward and returning, when looking ahead and looking aside; when drawing in and extending the limbs; when wearing his robes and carrying his outer robe and bowl; when eating, drinking, chewing his food, and tasting; when defecating and urinating; when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, speaking, and keeping silent. It is in such a way that a bhikkhu exercises clear comprehension.

“A bhikkhu should await his time mindful and clearly comprehending. This is our instruction to you.

“Bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu dwells thus, mindful and clearly comprehending, diligent, ardent, and resolute, if there arises in him a pleasant feeling, he understands thus: ‘There has arisen in me a pleasant feeling. Now that is dependent, not independent. Dependent on what? Dependent on this very body. But this body is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, how could it be permanent?’ He dwells contemplating vanishing, contemplating fading away, contemplating cessation, contemplating relinquishment. As he dwells thus, the underlying tendency to lust in regard to the body and in regard to pleasant feeling is abandoned by him.

“Bhikkhus, while a bhikkhu dwells thus, mindful and clearly comprehending, diligent, ardent, and resolute, if there arises in him a painful feeling, he understand thus: ‘There has arisen in me a painful feeling. Now that is dependent, not independent. Dependent on what? Dependent on this very body. But this body is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, how could it be permanent?’ He dwells contemplating vanishing, contemplating fading away, contemplating cessation, contemplating relinquishment. As he dwells thus, the underlying tendency to aversion in regard to the body and in regard to painful feeling is abandoned by him.

“Bhikkhus, while a bhikkhu dwells thus, mindful and clearly comprehending, diligent, ardent, and resolute, if there arises in him a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he understand thus: ‘There has arisen in me a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. Now that is dependent, not independent. Dependent on what? Dependent on this very body. But this body is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, how could it be permanent?’ He dwells contemplating vanishing, contemplating fading away, contemplating cessation, contemplating relinquishment. As he dwells thus, the underlying tendency to ignorance in regard to the body and in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling is abandoned by him.

“If he feels a pleasant feeling, he understands: ‘It is impermanent’; he understands: ‘It is not held to’; he understands: ‘It is not delighted in.’ If he feels a painful feeling, he understands: ‘It is impermanent’; he understands: ‘It is not held to’; he understands: ‘It is not delighted in. If he feels a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling feeling, he understands: ‘It is impermanent’; he understands: ‘It is not held to’; he understands: ‘It is not delighted in.’

“If he feels a pleasant feeling, he feels it detached; if he feels a painful feeling, he feels it detached; if he feels a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he feels it detached.

“When he feels a feeling terminating with the body, he understands: ‘I feel a feeling terminating with the body.’ When he feels a feeling terminating with life.’ He understands: ‘With the break-up of the body, following the exhaustion of life, all that is felt, not being delighted in, will become cool right here.’

“Just as, bhikkhus, an oil lamp burns in dependence on the oil and the wick, and with the exhaustion of the oil and the wick is extinguished though lack of fuel, so too, bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu feels a feeling terminating with the body … terminating with life … He understands: ‘With the break-up of the body, following the exhaustion of life, all that is felt, not being delighted in, will become cool right here.'”

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