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6. Vicissitudes of Life

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AN 8:6 Vicissitudes of Life

Translated from the Pali by Nyanaponika Thera and Bhikkhu Bodhi


“These eight worldly conditions, O monks, keep the world turning around, and the world turns around these eight worldly conditions. What eight? Gain and loss, fame and disrepute, praise and blame, pleasure and pain.

“These eight worldly conditions, monks, are encountered by an uninstructed worldling, and they are also encountered by an instructed noble disciple. What now is the distinction, the disparity, the difference between an instructed noble disciple and an uninstructed worldling?”

“Lord, our knowledge of these things has its roots in the Blessed One; it has the Blessed One as guide and resort. It would be good indeed, Lord, if the meaning of that statement would be explained by the Blessed One. Having heard it from him, the monks will bear it in mind.”

“Listen then, monks, and attend carefully. I shall speak.”

“Yes, Lord,” the monks replied. The Blessed One then spoke thus:

“When an uninstructed worldling, O monks, comes upon gain, he does not reflect on it thus: ’This gain that has come to me is impermanent, bound up with suffering, subject to change.’ He does not know it as it really is. And when he comes upon loss, fame and disrepute, praise and blame, he does not reflect on them thus: ’All these are impermanent, bound up with suffering, subject to change.’ He does not know them as they really are. With such a person, gain and loss … pleasure and pain keep his mind engrossed. When gain comes he is elated and when he meets with loss he is dejected. When fame comes he is elated and when he meets with disrepute he is dejected. When praise comes he is elated and when he meets with blame he is dejected. When he experiences pleasure he is elated and when he experiences pain he is dejected. Being thus involved in likes and dislikes, he will not be freed from birth, ageing and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair; he will not be freed from suffering, I declare.

“But, O monks, when an instructed noble disciple comes upon gain, he reflects on it thus: ’This gain that has come to me is impermanent, bound up with suffering, subject to change.’ And so he will reflect when loss and so forth come upon him. He understands all these things as they really are, and they do not engross his mind. Thus he will not be elated by gain or dejected by loss; elated by fame or dejected by disrepute; elated by praise or dejected by blame; elated by pleasure or dejected by pain. Having thus given up likes and dislikes, he will be freed from birth, ageing and death, from sorrow, lamentation, from pain, grief, and despair; he will be freed from suffering, I declare.

“This, monks, is the distinction, the disparity, the difference between an instructed noble disciple and an uninstructed worldling.”

Loss and gain, disrepute and fame, Praise and blame, pleasure and pain — These things are transient in human life, Inconstant and bound to change. The mindful wise one discerns them well, Observant of their alterations. Pleasant things do not stir his mind And those unpleasant do not annoy him. All likes and dislikes are dispelled by him, Eliminated and abolished. Aware now of the stainless, griefless state, He fully knows, having gone beyond.”

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