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Samyutta Nikaya
Sacca Saṁyutta

56.41 Loka Cintā Sutta
Thinking

We should not reflect on unbeneficial things that will do us no good.

In those days the Buddha was living in the city of Rājagaha, in the Bamboo Grove, the squirrels’ feeding ground. There the Buddha told the monks:

“Once upon a time, monks, a certain person left the city of Rājagaha, thinking ‘I’ll think about the world.’ He went to the Sumāgavā lotus pond and sat down on the bank thinking about the world. Then, that person saw an army of four divisions enter a lotus stalk. When he saw this he thought, ‘I’ve gone mad, really, I’ve lost my mind! I have seen things that don’t exist in the world.’

“Then that person entered the city and informed a large crowd, ‘I’ve gone mad, really, I’ve lost my mind! I have seen something that doesn’t exist in the world.’

“‘But how is it that you’re mad? How have you lost your mind? And what have you seen that doesn’t exist in the world?’

“‘Friends, I left Rājagaha, thinking “I’ll think about the world.” I went to the Sumāgavā lotus pond and sat down on the bank thinking about the world. Then, I saw an army of four divisions enter a lotus stalk. That’s why I’m mad, that’s why I’ve lost my mind. And that’s what I’ve seen what doesn’t exist in the world.’

“‘Well, friend, you’re definitely mad, you’ve definitely lost your mind. And you have seen something that doesn’t exist in the world.’

“Monks, what that person saw was in fact real, not unreal. Once upon a time, a battle was fought between the gods and the asuras. In that battle the gods won and the asuras lost. The defeated and terrified asuras entered the asura city through the lotus stalk only to confuse the gods.

“Therefore, monks, don’t think about the world. For example: whether the world is eternal or not eternal, whether it is finite or infinite; whether the soul and the body are the same thing, or whether they are different things; whether after death, a liberated one exists or doesn’t exist, or both exists and doesn’t exist, or neither exists nor doesn’t exist. Why? Because those thoughts aren’t beneficial or relevant to the basics of the spiritual life. They don’t lead to detachment, dispassion, cessation, peace, insight, enlightenment, and Nibbāna.

“Monks, when you think something, you should think: ‘This is suffering’ … ‘This is the origin of suffering’ … ‘This is the end of suffering’ … ‘This is the path that leads to the end of suffering’. Why? Because those thoughts are beneficial and relevant to the basics of the spiritual life. They lead to detachment, dispassion, cessation, peace, insight, enlightenment, and Nibbāna.

“Therefore, monks, you should make an effort to understand: ‘This is suffering.’ You should make an effort to understand: ‘This is the origin of suffering.’ You should make an effort to understand: ‘This is the end of suffering.’ You should make an effort to understand: ‘This is the path that leads to the end of suffering.’”

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Saṁyutta Nikāya 56.41 Loka Cintā Sutta: Thinking

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