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Samyutta Nikaya
Sotāpatti Saṁyutta

55.54 Gilāna Sutta
Advice to a Sick Follower

How do we console a friend?

In those days, the Buddha was living in the Kingdom of the Sakyans, in the city of Kapilavatthu, in the Nigrodha Monastery.

At that time, several monks were repairing the Buddha’s robe, thinking that when his robe was repaired and the three months of the rainy season retreat had passed, the Buddha would set out travelling.

Mahānāma the Sakyan heard about this. Then he went to the Buddha, bowed respectfully, sat down to one side, and told him that he had heard that the Buddha was leaving. He added, “Bhante, I haven’t heard and learned from the Buddha how a wise lay follower should advise another wise lay follower who is sick, suffering and gravely ill.”

“Mahānāma, a wise lay follower should console another wise lay follower who is sick, suffering and gravely ill with four consolations. ‘Be at ease, friend. You have unshakable confidence in the Buddha… the Dhamma… the Saṅgha… and you have the virtue loved by the noble ones… leading to concentration.’

“When a wise lay follower has consoled another wise lay follower who is sick, suffering and gravely ill with these four consolations, he should be asked, ‘Are you attached to your mother and father?’ If he replies, ‘I am,’ he should be told, ‘But friend, you’re about to die. Whether or not you are attached to your mother and father, you will die anyway. It would be good to give up attachment to your mother and father.’

“If he replies, ‘I have given up attachment for my mother and father,’ he should be asked, ‘But are you attached to your wife and children?’ If he replies, ‘I am,’ he should be told, ‘But friend, you’re about to die. Whether or not you are attached to your wife and children, you will die anyway. It would be good to give up attachment to your wife and children.’

“If he replies, ‘I have given up attachment for my wife and children,’ he should be asked, ‘But are you attached to pleasures of the human world?’ If he replies, ‘I am,’ he should be told, ‘Friend, pleasures of the heavenly worlds are better than pleasures of the human world. It would be good to turn your mind away from the pleasures of the human world and fix your mind on the gods of the Cātummaharājika heaven.’

“If he replies, ‘I have turned my mind away from the pleasures of the human world and fixed my mind on the gods of the Cātummaharājika heaven,’ he should be told, ‘Friend, the gods of Tāvatiṁsa heaven are more beautiful and happier than the gods of Cātummaharājika heaven…

“‘Friend, the gods of Yāma heaven… the gods of Tusita heaven… the gods of Nimmānarati heaven… the gods of Paranimmita Vasavatti heaven… the brahmas of the Brahmā world are more beautiful and happier than the gods of Paranimmita Vasavatti heaven. It would be good to turn your mind away from gods of Paranimmita Vasavatti heaven and fix your mind on the brahmas of the Brahmā world.’ If he replies, ‘I have turned my mind away from gods of Paranimmita Vasavatti heaven and fixed my mind on the brahmas of the Brahmā world,’ he should be told, ‘Friend, the Brahmā world is impermanent, not everlasting, and all the brahmas there have conditioned lives. It would be good to turn your mind away from the Brahmā world and apply your mind to the cessation of the five groups of clinging.’

“He will reply, ‘I have turned my mind away from the Brahmā world and applied my mind to the cessation of the five groups of clinging.’

“Mahānāma, take a lay follower whose mind is liberated in this way from the Five Groups of Clinging. Take an enlightened monk whose mind is liberated from the Five Groups of Clinging a hundred years ago.1

“When their liberation is compared, there is no difference between the liberation of the enlightened lay follower and the enlightened monk.”

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Saṁyutta Nikāya 55.54 Gilāna Sutta: Advice to a Sick Follower

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