Note: part 1 is here.

Unpopular and Under-Appreciated:

  • Majjhima Nikaya 5
    • “It’s possible that some mendicant might wish: ‘If I commit an offence, I hope the mendicants don’t find out!’ But it’s possible that the mendicants do find out that that mendicant has committed an offence. Thinking, ‘The mendicants have found out about my offence,’ they get angry and bitter. And that anger and that bitterness are both blemishes.

      It’s possible that some mendicant might wish: ‘If I commit an offence, I hope the mendicants accuse me in private, not in the middle of the Saṅgha.’ But it’s possible that the mendicants do accuse that mendicant in the middle of the Saṅgha …

      It’s possible that some mendicant might wish: ‘If I commit an offence, I hope I’m accused by an equal, not by someone who is not an equal.’ But it’s possible that someone who is not an equal accuses that mendicant … “

  • Majjhima Nikaya 8 - samadhi alone doesn’t efface
    • “It is possible here, Cunda, that quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, some bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhana … second jhana … third jhana … fourth jhāna … the base of infinite space … the base of infinite consciousness … the base of nothingness … the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception … He might think thus: ‘I am abiding in effacement. ’ But it is not these attainments that are called ‘effacement’ in the Noble One’s Discipline: these are called ‘pleasant abidings here and now’ in the Noble One’s Discipline.
  • Majjhima Nikaya 26 - meme busters: base of nothingness does not lead to disenchantment, also Buddha learned Jhanas from other teachers

  • Majjhima Nikaya 89 - meme buster: cheerful Bhikkhus inspire
    • “But here I see mendicants always smiling and joyful, obviously happy, with cheerful faces, living relaxed, unruffled, surviving on charity, their hearts free as a wild deer. It occurred to me: ‘Clearly these venerables have realized a higher distinction in the Buddha’s instructions than they had before. That’s why these venerables are always smiling and joyful, obviously happy, with cheerful faces, living relaxed, unruffled, surviving on charity, their hearts free as a wild deer.’ So I infer this about the Buddha from the teaching: ‘The Blessed One is a fully awakened Buddha. The teaching is well explained. The Saṅgha is practicing well.’”
  • Majjhima Nikaya 96 - meme-buster: that loyalty to people in positions of authority should be iron-clad
    • “Brahmin, I don’t say that you should serve everyone, nor do I say that you shouldn’t serve anyone. I say that you shouldn’t serve someone if serving them makes you worse, not better. And I say that you should serve someone if serving them makes you better, not worse. If they were to ask an aristocrat this: ‘Who should you serve? Someone in whose service you get worse, or someone in whose service you get better?’ Answering rightly, an aristocrat would say: ‘Someone in whose service I get better.’ If they were to ask a brahmin … a merchant … or a worker this: ‘Who should you serve? Someone in whose service you get worse, or someone in whose service you get better?’ Answering rightly, a worker would say: ‘Someone in whose service I get better.’”
  • Majjhima Nikaya 103 - resolving differences in view

  • Majjhima Nikaya 104 - “A dispute about livelihood or about the Pātimokkha would be trifling, Ānanda. But should a dispute arise in the Sangha about the path or the way, such a dispute would be for the harm and unhappiness of many, for the loss, harm, and suffering of gods and humans. meme-buster: that the Vinaya is utterly inflexible and unchangeable, especially in foreign countries outside Jambudipa/the lower Ganges Plain

  • Majjhima Nikaya 108 - Dhamma is refuge after Buddha, not any one monk

  • Majjhima Nikaya 114 - meme buster: that empty tradition is worth anything

  • Majjhima Nikaya 127 - Anuruddhasutta - Anuruddha. Exalted vs. Immeasurable deliverance of mind. Both are space-element meditations. Rare space-element object of meditation.
    • “And what is the limitless release of the heart? It’s when a mendicant meditates spreading a heart full of love to one direction, and to the second, and to the third, and to the fourth. In the same way above, below, across, everywhere, all around, they spread a heart full of love to the whole world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will. They meditate spreading a heart full of compassion … They meditate spreading a heart full of rejoicing … They meditate spreading a heart full of equanimity to one direction, and to the second, and to the third, and to the fourth. In the same way above, below, across, everywhere, all around, they spread a heart full of equanimity to the whole world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will. This is called the limitless release of the heart.

      And what is the expansive release of the heart? It’s when a mendicant meditates determined on pervading the extent of a single tree root as expansive. This is called the expansive release of the heart. Also, a mendicant meditates determined on pervading the extent of two or three tree roots … a single village district … two or three village districts … a single kingdom … two or three kingdoms … this land surrounded by ocean. This too is called the expansive release of the heart. This is a way to understand how these things differ in both meaning and phrasing.”

  • Majjhima Nikaya 139 - Araṇavibhangasutta - The Exposition of Non-Conflict. Meme-buster: that Pali must still be used (instead of the local lanuage, such as English) in countries outside Jambudipa/the lower Ganges Plain

    • One should know what it is to extol and what it is to disparage, and knowing both, one should neither extol nor disparage but should teach only the Dhamma. … One should not insist on [the] local language [of Jambudipa], and one should not override normal usage [in foreign countries] … “How, bhikkhus, does there come to be insistence on [the] local language [of Jambudipa] and overriding of normal usage [in foreign countries]? Here, bhikkhus, in different [foreign] localities they [synonymously] call the same thing a ‘dish’ [/] pāti, a ‘bowl’ [/] patta, a ‘vessel’ [/] vittha, a ‘saucer’ [/] serāva, a ‘pan’ [/] dhāropa, a ‘pot’ [/] poṇa, or a ‘basin’ [/] pisīla. So whatever they call it in such and such a [foreign] locality, one speaks accordingly [using Jambudipan labelling], firmly adhering to that [local-to-Jambudipa] expression and insisting: ‘Only this [the Jambudipan labelling] is correct; anything else is wrong.’ This is how there comes to be insistence on [the] local language [of Jambudipa] and overriding normal usage [in foreign countries].

      21 “And how, bhikkhus, does there come to be non-insistence on [the] local language [of ambudipa] and non-overriding of normal usage [in foreign contries]? Here, bhikkhus, in different [foreign] localities they [synonymously] call the same thing a ‘dish’ … or a ‘basin.’ So whatever they call it in such and such a [foreign] locality, without adhering to that [local-to-Jambudipa] expression one speaks accordingly, thinking: ‘These [foreign-tongued] venerable ones, it seems, are speaking with reference to this.’ This is how there comes to be non-insistence on [the] local language [of Jambudipa] and non-overriding of normal usage [in foreign countries].

      “So it was with reference to this that it was said: ‘One should not insist on [the] local language [of Jambudipa], and one should not override normal usage [in foreign countries].’

    • Related note: in Vin.ii.139, two bhikkhus, former Brahmin Sanskrit Vedic scholars, named Yamelu and Tekula, proposed to the Buddha that the Dhamma should be put into Sanskrit (chandasi). The Buddha refused their request:

      • Now at that time there were two brothers, Bhikkhus, by name Yamelu and Tekula, Brâhmans by birth, excelling in speech, excelling in pronunciation. These went up to the place where the Blessed One was, and when they had come there, they saluted the Blessed One, and took their seats on one side. And so sitting those Bhikkhus spake to the Blessed One thus:

        ‘At the present time, Lord, Bhikkhus, differing in name, differing in lineage, differing in birth, differing in family, have gone forth (from the world). These corrupt the word of the Buddhas by (repeating it in) their own dialect. Let us, Lord, put the word of the Buddhas into (Sanskrit) verse.’

        ‘How can you, O foolish ones, speak thus, saying, “Let us, Lord, put the word of the Buddhas into [Sanskrit] verse?” This will not conduce, O foolish ones, either to the conversion of the unconverted, or to the increase of the converted; but rather to those who have not been converted being not converted, and to the turning back of those who have been converted.’

        And when the Blessed One had rebuked those Bhikkhus, and had delivered a religious discourse, he addressed the Bhikkhus, and said: ‘You are not, O Bhikkhus, to put the word of the Buddhas into [Sanskrit] verse. Whosoever does so, shall be guilty of a dukkata. I allow you, O Bhikkhus, to learn the word of the Buddhas each in his own dialect.

  • Majjhima Nikaya 140 - Dhātuvibhangasutta - The Exposition of the Elements - rare case of 6 element contemplation being taught.

  • Majjhima Nikaya 150 - Nagaravindeyyasutta - To the Nagaravindans

Texas Sharpshooter

These suttas are rare, one-off suttas that have been latched onto and sometimes select quotations therewithin are made far too much out of:

  • Majjhima Nikaya 21 - simile of the saw

  • Majjhima Nikaya 118 - Ānāpānassatisutta - Mindfulness of Breathing. There’s nothing wrong with this sutta, it’s just that there are so, so many other suttas which also talk about how to meditate. It would be remiss to treat this sutta like it was the be-all and end-all of what the Buddha’s instructions were, on how to meditate.

  • Majjhima Nikaya 122 - Mahāsuññatasutta - The Greater Discourse on Voidness. The simile of the potter who tests his clay pots.
    • So, Ānanda, treat me as a friend, not as an enemy. That will be for your lasting welfare and happiness.

      And how do disciples treat their Teacher as an enemy, not a friend? It’s when the Teacher teaches the Dhamma out of kindness and compassion: ‘This is for your welfare. This is for your happiness.’ But their disciples don’t want to listen. They don’t pay attention or apply their minds to understand. They proceed having turned away from the Teacher’s instruction. That’s how the disciples treat their Teacher as an enemy, not a friend.

      And how do disciples treat their Teacher as a friend, not an enemy? It’s when the Teacher teaches the Dhamma out of kindness and compassion: ‘This is for your welfare. This is for your happiness.’ And their disciples want to listen. They pay attention and apply their minds to understand. They don’t proceed having turned away from the Teacher’s instruction. That’s how the disciples treat their Teacher as a friend, not an enemy.

      So, Ānanda, treat me as a friend, not as an enemy. That will be for your lasting welfare and happiness. I shall not mollycoddle you like a potter with their damp, unfired pots. I shall speak, pushing you again and again, pressing you again and again. The core will stand the test.”

  • Majjhima Nikaya 142 - Dakkhiṇāvibhangasutta - The Exposition of Offerings. - meme - all to do with “merit-making”; some of these finer points are mentioned here and here only, and these finer points are taken to be absolutely true, but might not be tempered or cross-referenced with many other suttas, which are also about merit-making:
    • “That’s so true, Ānanda. When someone has enabled you to go for refuge, it’s not easy to repay them by bowing down to them, rising up for them, greeting them with joined palms, and observing proper etiquette for them; or by providing them with robes, alms-food, lodgings, and medicines and supplies for the sick.

      When someone has enabled you to refrain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and alcoholic drinks that cause negligence, it’s not easy to repay them …

      When someone has enabled you to have experiential confidence in the Buddha, the teaching, and the Saṅgha, and the ethics loved by the noble ones, it’s not easy to repay them …

      When someone has enabled you to be free of doubt regarding suffering, its origin, its cessation, and the practice that leads to its cessation, it’s not easy to repay them by bowing down to them, rising up for them, greeting them with joined palms, and observing proper etiquette for them; or by providing them with robes, alms-food, lodgings, and medicines and supplies for the sick.

      Ānanda, there are these fourteen religious donations to individuals. What fourteen? One gives a gift to the Realized One, the perfected one, the fully awakened Buddha. This is the first religious donation to an individual. One gives a gift to a Buddha awakened for themselves. This is the second religious donation to an individual. One gives a gift to a perfected one. This is the third religious donation to an individual. One gives a gift to a someone practicing to realize the fruit of perfection. This is the fourth religious donation to an individual. One gives a gift to a non-returner. This is the fifth religious donation to an individual. One gives a gift to someone practicing to realize the fruit of non-return. This is the sixth religious donation to an individual. One gives a gift to a once-returner. This is the seventh religious donation to an individual. One gives a gift to someone practicing to realize the fruit of once-return. This is the eighth religious donation to an individual. One gives a gift to a stream-enterer. This is the ninth religious donation to an individual. One gives a gift to someone practicing to realize the fruit of stream-entry. This is the tenth religious donation to an individual. One gives a gift to someone outside of Buddhism who is free of sensual desire. This is the eleventh religious donation to an individual. One gives a gift to an ordinary person who has good ethical conduct. This is the twelfth religious donation to an individual. One gives a gift to an ordinary person who has bad ethical conduct. This is the thirteenth religious donation to an individual. One gives a gift to an animal. This is the fourteenth religious donation to an individual.

      Now, Ānanda, gifts to the following persons may be expected to yield the following returns. To an animal, a hundred times. To an unethical ordinary person, a thousand. To an ethical ordinary person, a hundred thousand. To an outsider free of sensual desire, 10,000,000,000. But a gift to someone practicing to realize the fruit of stream-entry may be expected to yield incalculable, immeasurable returns. How much more so a gift to a stream-enterer, someone practicing to realize the fruit of once-return, a once-returner, someone practicing to realize the fruit of non-return, a non-returner, someone practicing to realize the fruit of perfection, a perfected one, or a Buddha awakened for themselves? How much more so a Realized One, a perfected one, a fully awakened Buddha?

      But there are, Ānanda, seven religious donations bestowed on a Saṅgha. What seven? One gives a gift to the communities of both monks and nuns headed by the Buddha. This is the first religious donation bestowed on a Saṅgha. One gives a gift to the communities of both monks and nuns after the Buddha has finally become extinguished. This is the second religious donation bestowed on a Saṅgha. One gives a gift to the Saṅgha of monks. This is the third religious donation bestowed on a Saṅgha. One gives a gift to the Saṅgha of nuns. This is the fourth religious donation bestowed on a Saṅgha. One gives a gift, thinking: ‘Appoint this many monks and nuns for me from the Saṅgha.’ This is the fifth religious donation bestowed on a Saṅgha. One gives a gift, thinking: ‘Appoint this many monks for me from the Saṅgha.’ This is the sixth religious donation bestowed on a Saṅgha. One gives a gift, thinking: ‘Appoint this many nuns for me from the Saṅgha.’ This is the seventh religious donation bestowed on a Saṅgha.

      In times to come there will be members of the spiritual family merely by virtue of wearing ocher cloth around their necks; but they are unethical and of bad character. People will give gifts to those unethical people in the name of the Saṅgha. Even then, I say, a religious donation bestowed on the Saṅgha is incalculable and immeasurable. But I say that there is no way a personal offering can be more fruitful than one bestowed on a Saṅgha.

      Ānanda, there are these four ways of purifying a religious donation. What four? There’s a religious donation that’s purified by the giver, not the recipient. There’s a religious donation that’s purified by the recipient, not the giver. There’s a religious donation that’s purified by neither the giver nor the recipient. There’s a religious donation that’s purified by both the giver and the recipient.

      And how is a religious donation purified by the giver, not the recipient? It’s when the giver is ethical, of good character, but the recipient is unethical, of bad character.

      And how is a religious donation purified by the recipient, not the giver? It’s when the giver is unethical, of bad character, but the recipient is ethical, of good character.

      And how is a religious donation purified by neither the giver nor the recipient? It’s when both the giver and the recipient are unethical, of bad character.

      And how is a religious donation purified by both the giver and the recipient? It’s when both the giver and the recipient are ethical, of good character. These are the four ways of purifying a religious donation.”

  • Majjhima Nikaya 149: Mahāsaḷāyatanikasutta - The Great Sixfold Base (Here’s where the whole Vipassana thing exploded out of):
    • “These two things — serenity and insight — occur in him yoked evenly together.”

Hard to Categorize

  • Majjhima Nikaya 39 - what remains to be done to be a Brahmin / recluse

  • Majjhima Nikaya 88 - exercise for monks is commissioned implicitly, since a lack of it can stop skillful qualities from growing:
    • “But sir, what kind of bodily behavior is not faulted by sensible ascetics and brahmins?” “Skillful behavior.”

      “But what kind of bodily behavior is skillful?” “Blameless behavior.”

      “But what kind of bodily behavior is blameless?” “Pleasing behavior.”

      “But what kind of bodily behavior is pleasing?” “Behavior that results in happiness.”

      “But what kind of bodily behavior results in happiness?” “Bodily behavior that leads to pleasing yourself, pleasing others, and pleasing both, and which makes unskillful qualities decline while skillful qualities grow. That kind of bodily behavior is not faulted by sensible ascetics and brahmins.”

  • Majjhima Nikaya 110 - on “untrue men”

  • Majjhima Nikaya 119 - Kāyagatāsatisutta - Mindfulness of the Body. This phrase keeps getting repeated over and over again: “As they meditate like this—diligent, keen, and resolute—memories and thoughts of the lay life are given up. Their mind becomes stilled internally; it settles, unifies, and becomes immersed in samādhi. That too is how a mendicant develops mindfulness of the body.”