Tipitaka » Sutta
Pitaka » Samyutta Nikaya » Context
of this sutta
- Samyutta Nikaya XXXVI.4
- Patala Sutta
- The Bottomless Chasm
- Translated from the Pali by Nyanaponika Thera
- For free distribution only,
by arrangement with the Buddhist Publication Society
"When, O monks, an untaught worldling says that in the great ocean there is a
(bottomless) pit, he speaks about something unreal and not
factual. 'The (bottomless) pit,' O monks, is rather a name
for painful bodily feelings. When an untaught worldling is afflicted by painful bodily
feelings, he worries and grieves, he laments, beats his breast, weeps and is distraught.
He is then said to be an untaught worldling who cannot withstand the bottomless pit and
cannot gain a foothold in it. But when a well-taught noble disciple
is afflicted by painful bodily feelings, he will not worry nor grieve and lament, he will
not beat his breast and weep, nor will he be distraught. He is then said to be a noble
disciple who can withstand the bottomless pit and has gained a foothold in it."
Who cannot bear the painful body-feelings that arise
endangering his life, he trembles when afflicted.
He wails and cries aloud, a weak and feeble man.
He cannot stand against the pit,
nor can a foothold he secure.
But one who bears the painful body-feelings that arise,
not trembling when his very life is threatened,
he truly can withstand that pit
and gain a foothold in its depth.
1. Patala. [Go back]
2. Comy. (paraphrased): According to popular belief, there is
in the ocean a very deep abyss hollowed out by the force of the water, which is the abode
of aquatic animals as well as dragon deities (naga), etc. Hence, for these beings, this
abyss provides a basis for their existence, a comfortable abode. Therefore, to call it a bottomless
pit is unrealistic and not factual, because it gives an inadequate and non-evident meaning
to the word. It is rather bodily pain, inseparable from bodily existence, which deserves
to be called a "bottomless pit" of suffering, being a part of unfathomable
Samsara. [Go back]
3. Comy.: In this Discourse, by the words "noble
disciple," it is, in the first place, a Stream-winner (sotapanna) that is
meant. But also a meditator with strong insight and keen intellect is capable of
withstanding feelings that arise without being carried away by them. He, too, ought to be
included here (because he penetrates the feelings to some extent; Sub-comy.). [Go back]