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 Chapter III - CITTA VAGGA Mind

control his mind


Durangamam ekacaram asariram guhasayam
Ye cittam sannamessanti mokkhanti mara bandhana.

Faring far, wandering alone,1bodiless,2lying in a cave,3is the mind. Those who subdue it are freed from the hand of Mara.

III: 04 The mind can wander afar (Sangha Rakkhita)

Once, there lived in Savatthi a senior bhikkhu by the name of Sangha Rakkhita. When his sister gave birth to a son, she named the child after this monk. He came to be known as the nephew Sangha Rakkhita, and this youth in due course was admitted into the Order. While the young bhikkhu was staying in a village monastery he was offered two sets of robes and he decided to offer one set to the monk who was his uncle.

At the end of the vassa, he went to pay respects to his uncle and he offered the robe to him. But the uncle declined to accept the robe saying that he had enough. Although he repeated his request, the Elder would not accept. The young bhikkhu felt disheartened thinking that his uncle did not like him. Since his uncle was so unwilling to share the requisites with him, he thought it would be better for him to leave the Order and live the life of a layman.

From that point, his mind wandered and a distracting stream of thoughts followed. He thought that after leaving the Order he would sell the robe and buy a she-goat, that she-goat would breed quickly and soon he would make enough money to enable him to marry, his wife would give birth to a son. He would take his wife and child in a small cart to visit his uncle at the monastery. On the way, he would say that he would carry the child, she would tell him to drive the cart and not to bother about the child. He would insist and grab the child from her, between them the child would drop on the cart track and the wheel would pass over the child. He would get so furious with his wife that he would strike her with the goading-stick.

At that time he was fanning his uncle monk with a fan and he absentmindedly struck the head of the monk with the fan. The monk knowing the thoughts of the young bhikkhu said, 'You were unable to beat your wife. why have you beaten an old bhikkhu?' Young Sangha Rakkhita was very much surprised and embarrassed at the words of his uncle. He also became extremely frightened, and wanted to leave the monastery there and then. However the elder monk managed to take him to the presence of the Buddha.

When told about the whole episode, the Buddha spoke kindly to the young monk and said that the mind has the ability to think of an object even though it might be far away. This would naturally cause much distraction. Therefore, one should strive hard for liberation from the bondage of passion, ill-will and ignorance.


1Because no two thought moments arise at a particular time.

2The imperceptible mind is immaterial and colourless.

3Guhasayam - i.e., the seat of consciousness.

It is clear that the Buddha had not definitely assigned a specific basis of consciousness as He had done with the other senses. It was the cardiac theory (the theory that the heart is the seat of consciousness) that prevailed in His time, and this was evidently supported by the Upanishads. The Buddha could have adopted this popular theory, but He did not commit himself. In the Patthana, the Book of Relations, the Buddha refers to the basis of consciousness in such indirect terms as yam rupam nissaya, dependent on that material thing. What the material thing was the Buddha did not positively assert. According to the views of commentators like the Venerables Buddhaghosa and Anuruddha the seat of consciousness is the heart (hadayavatthu).

One wonders whether one is justified in presenting the cardiac theory as Buddhistic when the Buddha Himself neither rejected nor accepted this popular theory.

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This webpage was updated 22nd March 2024