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Tipitaka Sutta Pitaka Khuddaka Nikaya Sutta Nipata Context of this sutta

Sutta Nipata IV.2
Guhatthaka Sutta
The Cave of the Body
For free distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma

Staying attached to the cave,
covered heavily over,[1]
a person sunk in confusion
is far from seclusion --
for    sensual pleasures
    sensual desires[2]
in the world
    are not lightly let go.

Those chained by desire,
bound by becoming's allure,
aren't easily released
for there's no liberation by others.
Intent, in front or behind,[3]
on hunger for sensual pleasures
here or before --
for sensual pleasures,
busy, deluded, ungenerous,
entrenched in the out-of-tune way,[4]
they -- impelled into pain -- lament:
    "What will we be
    when we pass on from here?"

So a person should train
    right here & now.
Whatever you know
as out-of-tune in the world,
don't, for its sake, act out-of-tune,
for that life, the enlightened say,
    is short.

    I see them,
in the world, floundering around,
people immersed in craving
for states of becoming.
Base people moan in the mouth of death,
their craving, for states of becoming & not-,[5]

    See them,
floundering in their sense of mine,
like fish in the puddles
of a dried-up stream --
and, seeing this,
live with no mine,
not forming attachment
for states of becoming.
    Subdue desire
for both sides,[6]
comprehending[7] sensory contact,
    with no greed.

Doing nothing for which
he himself
would rebuke himself,
the enlightened person doesn't adhere
    to what's seen,
    to what's heard.
Comprehending perception,
he'd cross over the flood --
the sage not stuck
on possessions.
Then, with arrow removed,
living heedfully, he longs for neither --
    this world,
    the next.


1. Nd.I: "Covered heavily over" with defilements and unskillful mental qualities. [Go back]

2. "Sensual desires/sensual pleasures": two possible meanings of kama. According to Nd.I, both meanings are intended here. [Go back]

3. Nd.I: "In front" means experienced in the past (as does "before" two lines down); "behind" means to-be-experienced in the future. [Go back]

4. Nd.I: "The out-of-tune way" means the ten types of unskillful action (see AN X.176). [Go back]

5. States of not-becoming are oblivious states of becoming that people can get themselves into through a desire for annihilation, either after death or as a goal of their religious striving (see Iti 49). As with all states of becoming, these states are impermanent and stressful. [Go back]

6. According to Nd.I, "both sides" here has several possible meanings: sensory contact and the origination of sensory contact; past and future; name and form; internal and external sense media; self-identity and the origination of self-identity. It also might mean states of becoming and not-becoming, mentioned in the previous verse and below, in Sn IV.5. [Go back]

7. Nd.I: Comprehending sensory contact has three aspects: being able to identify and distinguish types of sensory contact; contemplating the true nature of sensory contact (e.g., inconstant, stressful, and not-self); and abandoning attachment to sensory contact. The same three aspects would apply to comprehending perception, as mentioned in the following verse. [Go back]

See also: AN IV.184


Updated: 1-7-2000

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