To Vaccha (on Giving)
Vaccha Sutta (AN 3:58)
Then Vacchagotta the wanderer went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One: “Master Gotama, I have heard that ‘Gotama the contemplative says this: “Only to me should a gift be given, and not to others. Only to my disciples should a gift be given, and not to others. Only what is given to me bears great fruit, and not what is given to others. Only what is given to my disciples bears great fruit, and not what is given to the disciples of others.”’ Now those who report this: Are they reporting the Master Gotama’s actual words, are they not misrepresenting him with what is unfactual, are they answering in line with the Dhamma, so that no one whose thinking is in line with the Dhamma will have grounds for criticizing them? For we don’t want to misrepresent the Master Gotama.”
“Vaccha, whoever says this: ‘Gotama the contemplative says this: “Only to me should a gift be given.… Only what is given to my disciples bears great fruit, and not what is given to the disciples of others,” is not reporting my actual words, is misrepresenting me with what is unfactual & untrue.
“Vaccha, whoever prevents another from giving a gift creates three obstructions, three impediments. Which three? He creates an obstruction to the merit of the giver, an obstruction to the recipient’s gains, and prior to that he undermines and harms his own self. Whoever prevents another from giving a gift creates these three obstructions, these three impediments.
“I tell you, Vaccha, even if a person throws the rinsings of a bowl or a cup into a village pool or pond, thinking, ‘May whatever animals live here feed on this,’ that would be a source of merit, to say nothing of what is given to human beings. But I do say that what is given to a virtuous person is of great fruit, and not so much what is given to an unvirtuous person. And the virtuous person has abandoned five factors and is endowed with five.
“Which five has he abandoned? He has abandoned sensual desire… ill will… sloth & drowsiness… restlessness & anxiety… uncertainty. These are the five factors he has abandoned. And with which five is he endowed? He is endowed with the aggregate of virtue of one beyond training… the aggregate of concentration of one beyond training… the aggregate of discernment of one beyond training… the aggregate of release of one beyond training… the aggregate of knowledge & vision of release of one beyond training. These are the five factors with which he is endowed.
“I tell you: What is given to one who has abandoned these five factors and is endowed with these five, bears great fruit.
“In a herd of cattle,
whether black, white,
or pigeon gray:
If a bull is born—
consummate in strength,
people yoke him to burdens,
regardless of his color.
In the same way,
wherever one is born
among human beings—
noble warriors, brahmans,
outcastes, or scavengers—
if one is tame, with good practices,
righteous, consummate in virtue,
a speaker of truth, with conscience at heart,
who’s abandoned birth & death,
completed the holy life
put down the burden,
done the task
gone beyond all dhammas,
through lack of clinging unbound:
Offerings to this spotless field
bear an abundance of fruit.
But fools, unknowing,
give gifts outside
and don’t come near the good.
While those who do come near the good
—regarded as enlightened,
whose conviction in the One Well-Gone
has taken root,
They go to the world of the devas
or are reborn here in good family.
Step by step
who are wise.”