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Samyutta Nikaya
Sotāpatti Saṁyutta

55.25 Sarakāni Sutta
To Sarakāni the Sakyan 2

Which types of beings are free from miserable worlds?

In those days, the Blessed One was living in the Sakyan Kingdom, in the city of Kapilavatthu, at Nigrodha Monastery. At that time, Sarakāni the Sakyan had passed away. The Buddha declared that he was a stream-enterer, not liable to be reborn in the lower worlds, and headed towards Nibbāna.

After hearing this, several Sakyans came together complaining, grumbling, and objecting, “It’s incredible, it’s amazing! Who can’t become a stream-enterer these days? The Buddha even declared Sarakāni to be a stream-enterer after he passed away. Sarakāni didn’t keep his five precepts well.” 1

Then Mahānāma the Sakyan went to the Buddha, bowed respectfully, sat down to one side, and told about the complaining of some Sakyans. The Buddha said:

“Mahānāma, when a lay follower has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Saṅgha for a long time, how could he go to the lower worlds? If I were to declare someone who has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Saṅgha for a long time, it would be Sarakāni the Sakyan. Sarakāni the Sakyan has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Saṅgha for a long time.

“Mahānāma, take a certain person who is wholeheartedly devoted to the Buddha and has strong confidence in the Buddha… the Dhamma… the Saṅgha… He has joyful wisdom and rapid wisdom, and has achieved liberation. He’s realized the undefiled liberation of mind and liberation by wisdom in this very life. He lives having realized enlightenment with his own insight, due to the abandoning of defilements. This person is permanently freed from taking rebirth in hell, the animal world, and the ghost world. He’s permanently freed from taking rebirth in any miserable world.

“Mahānāma, take another person who is wholeheartedly devoted to the Buddha and has strong confidence in the Buddha… the Dhamma… the Saṅgha… He has joyful wisdom and rapid wisdom, and has not achieved liberation. However, with the abandoning of the five lower fetters, he attains the third stage of enlightenment. He’s reborn spontaneously in the Suddhāvāsa Brahma world. He attains final Nibbāna there, between one life and the next in the Suddhāvāsa Brahma world.2 Another non-returner attains final Nibbāna upon landing in the Suddhāvāsa Brahma world. 3 Another non-returner attains final Nibbāna in the Suddhāvāsa Brahma world, without extra effort.4 Another non-returner attains final Nibbāna in the Suddhāvāsa Brahma world with extra effort. 5 Another non-returner spends time in all the Suddhāvāsa Brahma worlds.6 and attains final Nibbāna in the last Brahma world called Akaniṭṭha.7All of these non-returners, too, are permanently freed from taking rebirth in hell, the animal world, and the ghost world. They’re permanently freed from taking rebirth in any miserable world.

“Mahānāma, take another person who is wholeheartedly devoted to the Buddha and has strong confidence in the Buddha… the Dhamma… the Saṅgha… However, he doesn’t have joyful wisdom or rapid wisdom, nor has he achieved liberation. With the abandoning of three fetters, and the weakening of greed, hate, and delusion, he’s a once-returner. He comes back to this sensory world once only, and then makes an end of suffering. This person, too, is permanently freed from taking rebirth in hell, the animal world, and the ghost world. He’s permanently freed from taking rebirth in any miserable world.

“Mahānāma, take another person who is wholeheartedly devoted to the Buddha and has strong confidence in the Buddha… the Dhamma… the Saṅgha… However, he doesn’t have joyful wisdom or rapid wisdom, nor has he achieved liberation. With the abandoning of three fetters, he’s a stream-enterer, not liable to be reborn in the lower worlds, and headed towards Nibbāna. This person, too, is permanently freed from taking rebirth in hell, the animal world, and the ghost world. He’s permanently freed from taking rebirth in any miserable world.

“Mahānāma, take another person who doesn’t have strong confidence in the Buddha… the Dhamma… the Saṅgha… He doesn’t have joyful wisdom or rapid wisdom, nor has he achieved liberation. Still, he has these qualities: the spiritual faculty of faith, the spiritual faculty of energy, the spiritual faculty of mindfulness, the spiritual faculty of concentration, and the spiritual faculty of wisdom. He understands the teachings proclaimed by the Buddha after contemplating them with a certain degree of wisdom. This person, too, doesn’t go to hell, the animal world, and the ghost world. He doesn’t go to any miserable world.

“Mahānāma, take another person who doesn’t have strong confidence in the Buddha… the Dhamma… the Saṅgha… He doesn’t have joyful wisdom or rapid wisdom, nor has he achieved liberation. Still, he has these qualities: the spiritual faculty of faith, the spiritual faculty of energy, the spiritual faculty of mindfulness, the spiritual faculty of concentration, and the spiritual faculty of wisdom. And he has a degree of faith and love for the Buddha. This person, too, doesn’t go to hell, the animal world, and the ghost world. He doesn’t go to any miserable world.

“Suppose there was an unfertile field, an unfertile ground, with its tree roots still remaining. And on that unfertile field, you spread seeds that were broken, spoiled, weather damaged, infertile, and ill kept, and the clouds didn’t provide enough rain. Would those seeds grow, increase, and mature?”

“No, Bhante.”

“In the same way, Mahānāma, take a teaching that’s badly explained and badly preached, not leading to purification, not leading to peace, proclaimed by someone who is not a fully enlightened Buddha. This is what I call an unfertile field. A follower remains in such a teaching, practicing in line with that teaching, practicing it accordingly, living in line with that teaching. This is what I call a bad seed.

“Suppose there was a fertile field, a fertile ground, well cleared of tree roots. And on that fertile field, you spread seeds that were intact, unspoiled, not weather damaged, fertile, and well kept, and there’s plenty of rainfall. Would those seeds grow, increase, and mature?”

“Yes, Bhante.”

“In the same way, Mahānāma, take a teaching that’s well explained and well preached, leading to purification, leading to peace, proclaimed by a fully enlightened Buddha. This is what I call a fertile field. A follower remains in such a teaching, practicing in line with that teaching, practicing it accordingly, living in line with that teaching. This is what I call a good seed. Why can’t this apply to Sarakāni? Mahānāma, Sarakāni the Sakyan was keeping his precepts well during last days of his life before death.”

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Saṁyutta Nikāya 55.25 Sarakāni Sutta: To Sarakāni the Sakyan 2

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