Patala Sutta: The Bottomless Chasm


translated from the Pali by

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

© 1997

Alternate translation: Nyanaponika

"Monks, when an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person makes the statement, 'There is a bottomless chasm in the ocean,' he is talking about something that doesn't exist, that can't be found.

The word 'bottomless chasm' is actually a designation for painful bodily feeling.


"When an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is touched by a painful bodily feeling, he sorrows, grieves, and laments, beats his breast, becomes distraught. This is called an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person who has not risen up out of the bottomless chasm, who has not gained a foothold.


"When a well-instructed disciple of the noble ones is touched by a painful bodily feeling, he does not sorrow, grieve, or lament, does not beat his breast or become distraught.


This is called a well-instructed disciple of the noble ones who has risen up out of the bottomless chasm,

whose foothold is gained.


Whoever can't endure them

once they've arisen —

     painful bodily feelings

     that could kill living beings —

who trembles at their touch,

who cries and wails,

a weakling with no resilience:

     he hasn't risen up

     out of the bottomless chasm

     or even gained

     a foothold.


Whoever endures them

once they've arisen —

     painful bodily feelings

     that could kill living beings —

who doesn't tremble at their touch:

     he's risen up

     out of the bottomless chasm,

     his foothold is gained.

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