DN25.2. Mortification in Disgust of Sin

Udumbarika Sihanada Sutta ("The Lion’s Roar at Udumbarikā’s Monastery")

Then the Buddha went up to the wanderer Nigrodha, who said to him, “Come, Blessed One! Welcome, Blessed One! It’s been a long time since you took the opportunity to come here. Please, sir, sit down, this seat is ready.” The Buddha sat on the seat spread out, while Nigrodha took a low seat and sat to one side. The Buddha said to him, “Nigrodha, what were you sitting talking about just now? What conversation was unfinished?”

Nigrodha said, “Well, sir, I saw you walking meditation and said: ‘If the ascetic Gotama comes, I’ll ask him this question: “Sir, what teaching do you use to guide your disciples, through which they claim solace in the fundamental purpose of the spiritual life?”’ This is the conversation that was unfinished when the Buddha arrived.”

“It’s hard for you to understand this, Nigrodha, since you have a different view, creed, preference, practice, and tradition. Please ask me a question about the higher mortification in disgust of sin in your own tradition: ‘How are the conditions for the mortification in disgust of sin completed, and how are they incomplete?’”

When he said this, those wanderers made an uproar, “It’s incredible, it’s amazing! The ascetic Gotama has such power and might! For he sets aside his own doctrine and invites discussion on the doctrine of others!”

Then Nigrodha, having quieted those wanderers, said to the Buddha, “Sir, we teach mortification in disgust of sin, regarding it as essential and clinging to it. How are the conditions for the mortification in disgust of sin completed, and how are they incomplete?”

“It’s when a mortifier goes naked, ignoring conventions. They lick their hands, and don’t come or wait when asked. They don’t consent to food brought to them, or food prepared on purpose for them, or an invitation for a meal. They don’t receive anything from a pot or bowl; or from someone who keeps sheep, or who has a weapon or a shovel in their home; or where a couple is eating; or where there is a woman who is pregnant, breast-feeding, or who has a man in her home; or where there’s a dog waiting or flies buzzing. They accept no fish or meat or liquor or wine, and drink no beer. They go to just one house for alms, taking just one mouthful, or two houses and two mouthfuls, up to seven houses and seven mouthfuls. They feed on one saucer a day, two saucers a day, up to seven saucers a day. They eat once a day, once every second day, up to once a week, and so on, even up to once a fortnight. They live committed to the practice of eating food at set intervals. They eat herbs, millet, wild rice, poor rice, water lettuce, rice bran, scum from boiling rice, sesame flour, grass, or cow dung. They survive on forest roots and fruits, or eating fallen fruit. They wear robes of sunn hemp, mixed hemp, corpse-wrapping cloth, rags, lodh tree bark, antelope hide (whole or in strips), kusa grass, bark, wood-chips, human hair, horse-tail hair, or owls’ wings. They tear out their hair and beard, committed to this practice. They constantly stand, refusing seats. They squat, committed to persisting in the squatting position. They lie on a mat of thorns, making a mat of thorns their bed. They make their bed on a plank, or the bare ground. They lie only on one side. They wear dust and dirt. They stay in the open air. They sleep wherever they lay their mat. They eat unnatural things, committed to the practice of eating unnatural foods. They don’t drink, committed to the practice of not drinking liquids. They’re committed to the practice of immersion in water three times a day, including the evening.

What do you think, Nigrodha? If this is so, is the mortification in disgust of sin complete, or incomplete?”

“Clearly, sir, if that is so the mortification in disgust of sin is complete, not incomplete.”

“But even such a completed mortification has many defects, I say.”

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