Monthly Archives: March 2018

Tathagata cannot be described

When we feel the urge to reflect on qualities, motives of the Enlightened Being, when we try to envisage what his thought and emotions look like, we always should keep in mind that such a being is transcendent, indescribable and cannot be grasped by us.

At one time Venerable Sabhiya Kaccāna was staying at Nādika in the brick house. Then the wanderer Vacchagotta went up to him, and exchanged greetings with him. When the greetings and polite conversation were over, he sat down to one side, and said to Sabhiya Kaccāna:
“Master Kaccāna, does a Realized One exist after death?”
“Vaccha, this has not been declared by the Buddha.”
“Well then, does a Realized One not exist after death?”
“This too has not been declared by the Buddha.”
“Well then, does a Realized One both exist and not exist after death?”
“This has not been declared by the Buddha.”
“Well then, does a Realized One neither exist nor not exist after death?”
“This too has not been declared by the Buddha.”
“Master Kaccāna, when asked these questions, you say that this has not been declared by the Buddha. What’s the cause, what’s the reason why this has not been declared by the Buddha?”
“In order to describe him as ‘possessing form’ or ‘formless’ or ‘percipient’ or ‘non-percipient’ or ‘neither percipient nor non-percipient’, there must be some cause or reason for doing so. But if that cause and reason were to totally and utterly cease without anything left over, how could you describe him in any such terms?”
“Master Kaccāna, how long has it been since you went forth?”
“Not long, reverend: three years.”
“Well, you’ve learned a lot already, let alone what lies ahead!”
SN 44.11