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Bhikkhuvaga Sutta – To a Monk
In the Bhikkhuvaga Sutta, the Buddha teaches the importance to develop the virtuous factors of the Eightfold Path of Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood to recognize and abandon unskillful thoughts, words, and deeds. The concentration developed through Jhana meditation supports the refined mindfulness that brings the ability to guard the six-sense base.
In this sutta, the Buddha continues the theme of restraint  and also addresses the Three Defilements of greed, aversion, and deluded thinking. The Bhikkhuvaga is from a section of the Dhammapada which is a collection of short texts from the Khuddaka Nikaya. (Dhp 360 to 382)
The Buddha teaches restraint at creating a Dhamma diminished by rites and ritual. He further teaches restraint at attempting to establish a self in non-physical realms.
The Bhikkhuvaga Sutta shows that restraint develops a true understanding of “emptiness” and the effect restraint has on the entire world.
Here the Buddha is painting a picture of an awakened, fully mature human being living a life of peace and happiness free of entanglements with the world.
Bhikkhuvaga – To a Monk
“Skillful is restraint at the eye, at the ear, at the nose, and at the tongue.
“Skillful is restraint at the body, skillful is restraint is speech, skillful is restraint in thought. Restraint in all experiences is skillful. One restrained in the world is free from confusion, delusion, and disappointment.
“Those who have full control over their hands, their feet, and their tongue are delighted with their understanding. They are well established in meditative absorption. They are content in solitude, free of entanglements. They are called Dhamma Practitioners.
“Those who have control of their tongue are moderate in speech. Unassuming they explain the Dhamma with integrity and by example – their words are useful and pleasing.
“Those that abide in the Dhamma, who delight in the Dhamma, are mindful of the Dhamma, they do not lose the Dhamma.
“Those free of aversion of what has occurred to them and free of craving for what has occurred to others will be able to attain meditative absorption.
“Those that are calm even when receiving little, pure in livelihood and determined in their Dhamma practice are exalted by the wise.
“Those with no clinging to thoughts or feelings, free of regret from what is not present, they are true Dhamma Practitioners.
“Those who abide with compassion for all beings and devoted to the Dhamma will achieve unbinding (Nibbana) and the bliss of the cessation of all conditioned thinking.
“Empty of all conditioned thoughts, free of craving and aversion, they achieve unbinding.
“Abandon the five lower fetters of self-referential views, of doubt, of belief in rites and rituals, of lust, and of ill-will. Abandon conceit, restlessness, and ignorance and abandon the fetters of craving to establish a self in heavenly realms, or formless realms. Cultivate the skillful faculties of conviction, persistence, refined mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. Overcoming the fetters one has crossed to the far shore. (Of lasting peace and happiness)
“Develop concentration through meditation. Do not be heedless and allow your mind to be distracted by sensual pleasure. The world’s bait is like a red-hot ball of iron. Do not swallow it and then cry how painful it is!
“There is no concentration for those that fail to develop insight. (Into impermanence, not-self, and disappointment) There is no insight for those that fail to develop concentration. Those who have developed (through the Eightfold Path) concentration and insight in tandem are close to Nibbana.
“Those who abide in solitude, free of worldly entanglements, with a calm mind, who understand the Dhamma through tranquility and insight, in them arises delight that transcends all human delight!
“Those that see with true insight the rise and fall of all conditioned things and of the Five-Clinging Aggregates, they are full of joy and lasting happiness. This is called the Deathless State as there will be no rebirth of confusion, delusion, and disappointment. The task (of unbinding) has been accomplished.
“Restraint of the senses, contentment in the Dhamma, and restraint of unskillful behavior, these form the foundation of a well-integrated life.
“Associate with those who are engaged in the Noble search, who have passion for the true Dhamma, who are pure in thought, word, and deed, who are pleasant and refined in their behavior. Full of joy, unbinding will occur.
“Just as a jasmine creeper sheds its withered flowers, so should you shed greed, aversion, and deluded thinking!
‘Those well-composed, calm and pleasant in thought, word, and deed, free of worldly entanglements, can be truly known as serene.
“It is by self-understanding that one can scrutinize themselves and restrain themselves. With the Six-sense base well-guarded with refined mindfulness one will always live in peace and happiness.
“Be your own protector. Be your own refuge. What other refuge could there be? Restrain yourself as a rider restrains his horse.
“Full of joy and conviction in the Dhamma the peaceful state is developed and conditioned thinking ends.
“Those that develop the Dhamma illuminate the entire world as a bright moon free of clouds.”
End of Sutta
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My Dhamma articles and talks are based on the Buddha's teachings (suttas) as preserved in the Sutta Pitaka, the second book of the Pali Canon. I have relied primarily on Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s excellent and insightful translation of the Pali generously made freely available at his website Dhammatalks.org, as well as the works of Acharya Buddharakkhita, Nyanaponika Thera, John Ireland, Maurice Walsh, Hellmuth Hecker, and Sister Khema, among others, as preserved at Access To Insight.
Also, I have found Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations from Wisdom Publications Pali Canon Anthologies to be most informative and an excellent resource.
I have made edits to the suttas from these sources for further clarity, to modernize language, to minimize repetition, and maintain contextual relevance to Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths.
Becoming-Buddha.com and Dhamma articles and recordings by John Haspel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.