The Deceivers (Kuhasutta)

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The Deceivers (Kuhasutta)

In the Pāli discourse, there is a word that worth mentioning. It is “singi”. Venerable Minh Châu translated it as “ excessive sexual desire “. In fact, in Pāli dictionary this word means “kamamuccha”.

In Japanese version the word “singi” is translated as “love attachment”, and in English version it is translated as “erotomania “. It means that a monastic person leads a life of deep love affection and has a thought that someone is also in love with him. In Google search, the word “singi” means a love attachment and it is defined as “erotomania“ which means having a delusion of being greatly loved or liked. It is stated in the discourse that a monk who has these bad emotional habits is considered as an outsider but not a monk even though he is present at the temple, among the monastic community.

In the book “The eight strange things of the sea” from Anguttara Nikaya sutta, Buddha taught: “All big oceans are alike, they are vast and contain the water from all sources on the planet, but there is something special about them that they do not harbour the floating objects. Somehow, sooner or later the sea will drift those objects to shore. Likewise, in His teachings, there is no place for unworthy elements or followers. Considering that sutta, in response to this sutta, He said, “such disciple though still lives in a monastery, he is also seen as an outcast”. Buddha’s monastic community is like an ocean, at first all disciples are accepted and included, but after all if any of them turns out to be unworthy and unsuitable he will be eliminated.

We have seen the same thing in human history. There are so many mankind mistakes and troubles. We could see a lot of problems they caused while they were occurring. But after a while, as time goes by, any issue which wasn’t conformable to morality would cease by itself, be it from political, cultural, religious, social to private matters. Our bodies work the same way. If we step on a thorn which remains in our flesh as a splinter , it gradually turns into a callus and extrudes by itself. A pearl is formed when a grain of sand is slipped inside the shells. And inside our body if any part deems unworthy or unsuitable it would automatically find its own way to leave its hidden place.

The profound meaning of this sutta is that no matter wherever we live, in whatever environment we are present, in any organisation we belong, if we don’t have an inner quality which is corresponding to that place we will have to leave sooner or later. For example, we can say that we are practising Buddhism, we believe in Buddha, but our inner qualities are not matching with what Buddha taught, we do not have the Buddha nature in us, we don’t nurture and follow the Buddhist doctrine though other people regard us as Buddhist followers, Buddhist monks, therefore we still belong to Buddhist congregation in this life but in the next life we will integrate with another congregation that has nothing to do with Buddhism. That is because our inner quality has nothing matching with what Buddha taught. Although we take refuge in Triple Gems, have five precepts, have Dhamma names, but we do not have the knowledge of the Buddhist doctrine and do not practise what Buddha taught in our daily life, we do not have the mindset that corresponds to the Dhamma, therefore it is considered that we have eliminated ourselves from Buddha’s teachings.

How are we eliminated ? No one will expel us from the Buddhist congregation but we do it ourselves by just a blink of the eye when we stop breathing then immediately our next life will belong to a different congregation. There is a Tibetan saying “ An elephant can not fit in a dog hole “. The large form of an elephant will prevent it from doing so. We can see similar occurring in physical matters, oil and water do not mix. Whether or not we want to belong to a certain congregation, our wanting is one thing but our preparation for a suitable inner quality matching to it is far more important. It is that our mindset will determine which congregation we will belong, which world we will be born into. Our inner quality or mindset will determine the lasting place that we will belong. In a marriage or within a family, since there are unresolved issues from its members, therefore sooner or later there will be a marriage break up or family disintegration because there are inherently unworthy, unsuitable elements in it. This is the important message from this sutta.

In summary, if we are oil we can not dissolve in water. Being unskilled in the way we conduct ourselves in a Buddhist congregation, this may result in becoming a kidney stone or an inflamed appendix that needs to be removed. Inside an oyster, whatever does not belong to it will be eliminated. While the oyster works very hard to expel the foreign object inside its body, we admire and call it a gem, a pearl. We seem to ignore the fact that the pearl is the pain, the wound, the big problem of an oyster. If an oyster can use the human language it would tell us that “ The precious pearls which the ladies wear on their necks, their chests, their wrists actually is my pain, my wound! I wanted to eliminate it but unable to do so. If I possess the same level of human intelligence and live in the human world, I would go to a doctor to remove it when it still is a small grain of sand. But when the wound developed as a big object which you call “a pearl”, my pain is already immeasurable!” This is all the content of the Kuhasutta that we’ve learned .

Kuhasutta the Deceivers

In the Pali version of the discourses, there is a word that needs special attention: ‘siṅgī’. Ven. Minh Châu translated this into Vietnamese as ‘hoang dâm’ (uncontrolled lust). But in the dictionary, this word ‘siṅgī’ actually means ‘kāmamucchā' (sensual stupor). Japanese would translate it to mean 'love attachment' and English ‘erotomania’. This diagnosis applies in the case of a person who lives in corrupted emotional state with a delusion that someone loves him or likes him (despite contrary evidence). If a monk has this delusion, then he will no longer be accepted as a monk, and though he may stay in the temple, he will be considered as an outsider to the monastic community.

“(1) Bhikkhus, those bhikkhus who are deceivers, stubborn, talkers, imposters, haughty, and unconcentrated are not bhikkhus of mine. (2) They have strayed from this Dhamma and discipline, and they do not achieve growth, progress, and maturity in this Dhamma and discipline. (3) But those bhikkhus who are honest, sincere, steadfast, compliant, and well concentrated are bhikkhus of mine. (4) They have not strayed from this Dhamma and discipline, and they achieve growth, progress, and maturity in this Dhamma and discipline.” - aṅguttara nikāya - the book of the fours

Buddha also spoke of amazing abilities of the ocean:

"(3) Again, the great ocean does not associate with a corpse, but quickly carries it to the coast and washes it ashore. This is the first astounding and amazing quality that the asuras see in the great ocean because of which they take delight in it." aṅguttara nikāya - the book of the eights

Likewise in Buddhist monastic community, there is no tolerance for unacceptable followers. According to the discourse, a monk with a problem (e.g. erotomania) will be rejected even though he may be living in the temple. The Buddhist monastic community is like an ocean, at first they may allow all and include all, but in the end, all unacceptable, unsuitable elements will be pushed back out.

Our world history works in the same way. All the errors and troubles of humanity, while they are happening, they really do cause a lot of problems, but after a while, as time goes by, the unsuitable will cease spontaneously - from public issues, be it political, cultural, religious or social; to private matters. Our body works the same way. If one steps on a splinter, the body will over time creates a callus and later extrude the foreign body. A pearl is created when a grain of sand floats into an oyster. In our body, anything that is deemed unsuitable, unacceptable will automatically be worked on and later removed from its hiding.

The deeper meaning from the sutta is this: In any environment, in any reference of space and time, in any community, if we do not have the appropriate make-up and intensions, sooner or later, we will have to leave or to be expelled. Everything has to be suitable to its surrounding for it to be able to stay. If we want to maintain our place in a community, just like anything that needs to stay where it is, we must obtain an appropriate, commensurate set of characteristics. For example, someone may say "I am practicing Buddhism, I am believing in Buddhism, I am studying Buddhism,..." but if his intensions are not of a true Buddhist, if he does not have a Buddhist's mindset, if he does not have Buddhist mental righteousness, then even though he may be called a Buddhist or a practitioner, he will be leaving the monastic Buddhist community, if not in this life then in the next lives, and then he will join another community that has nothing to do with Buddhism. This is because our original intensions have nothing to do with Buddhism. Though today you happen to be a Buddhist monk, following the Five Precepts, having a Buddhist name but without proper Buddhist knowledge, without genuine Buddhist practice, without a well-trained Buddhist mindset, you practically expel yourself from Buddha's circles. How do you expel yourself? Nobody really expels you. But the expulsion occurs within a blink of the eye when you die and enter a totally different environment with a totally different set of characteristics.

The Tibetans have a saying: "An elephant cannot fit in a dog hole". The form and size of the elephant prevent it from doing so. Similarly, in the physical world, oil and water cannot mix. Whether or not we want to be in a community or environment, our wanting is one thing, but the more important issue is how can we equip ourselves, what capacity do we really have. The capacity and equipment we possess will dictate which environment we can enter, which world we can belong to. Our set of characteristics and intensions will decide our journey and where we would likely end up at a more stable existence. Within a family or a marriage, it only needs one member with unresolved issues to cause that family or marriage will break up, sooner or later, because of the unsuitable, disruptive factors. This is the intention of this sutta.

In summary, if we turn ourselves into oil, we cannot mix with water. In worse scenario, our existence in certain environment may turn out to be like a kidney stone or an inflamed appendix that must be removed. When a foreign matter enters an oyster it will try to removed it. We give this foreign body that the oyster is trying to expel a nice name "pearl". We may not know that this pearl is actually a painful event, a nasty wound, a big problem for the oyster. If oysters can speak they would say to us: "The precious pearls you are wearing on your necks, your chests, your wrists are our wounds, our pains. We want to get rid of them but are not capable to do so. If we had humans' wisdom and our world was like your world, we would go and get doctors to remove them for us. By the time they get to the size of the pearls you prefer, our suffering would be beyond comprehension."

This is the sutta we are reading - Kuhasutta, the Deceivers.


But, Paharada, how many astounding and amazing qualities do the asuras see in the great ocean because of which they take delight in it.
The asuras see eight astounding and amazing qualities in the great ocean because of which they take delight in it.
What eight?
(1) The great ocean, bhante, slants, slopes, and inclines gradually, not dropping off abruptly. This is the first astounding and amazing quality that the asuras see in the great ocean because of which they take delight in it.
(2) Again, the great ocean is stable and does not overflow its boundaries.
(3) Again, the great ocean does not associate with a corpse, but quickly carries it to the coast and washes it ashore.
(4) Again, when the great rivers - the Ganges,the Yamuna, the Aciravati, the Sarabhu and the Mahi - reach the great ocean, they give up their former names and designations and are simply called the great ocean.
(5) Again, whatever streams in the world flow into the great ocean and however much rain falls into it from the sky, neither a decrease nor a filling up can be seen in the great ocean.
(6) Again, the great ocean has but one taste, the taste of salt.
(7) Again, the great ocean contains many precious substances, numerous precious substances such as pearls, gems, lapis lazuli, conch, quartz, coral, silver, gold, rubies, and cats-eye.
(8) Again, the great ocean is the abode of great beings such as timis, timingalas, timirapingalas, asuras, nagas, and gandhabbas.

aṅguttara nikāya - VIII. the book of eights II. maha vagga sutta 19 paharada

Cīvara (monk’s robe) | | Wrong Views (Micchādiṭṭhi)

Knowing We Have Enough | | Amita Means Immeasurable

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