12. Lohicca Sutta

Lohicca and his doubt

Brahman Lohicca is in doubt that a person who has attained liberation from suffering can help another being. After all, he cannot convey to someone else the good qualities of his mind. And if it is so, when someone claims to be able to help another, is not this statement caused by greed (the desire to get this or that kind of personal gain)?

Experiencing this doubt, the Brahmana decides to see the Buddha. Lohicca sends the barber Bhesika to consult about the state of Buddha’s health and invite Him and his disciples to a meal. Bhesika fulfills the assignment and, having received the consent of the Buddha, comes the next day to accompany the Blessed to the house of Lohicca, where the meal is prepared.

Bhesika’s request

Accompanying the Buddha, Bhesika asks Him to relieve the Brahmana Lohicca from a vicious doubt. Buddha reassures Bhesika, saying that, perhaps, it will happen so, and Lohicca will get rid of his false view.

Conversation between the Buddha and Lohicca

The Buddha begins a conversation with Lohicca by making sure he understands the doubt of the latter correctly. After this, the Buddha asks Lohicca: what if someone, speaking of Lohicca, who rules this village, said that Lohicca won’t share his income with other people in this village? Or that the king of this country, having income from his possession, won’t take care of the inhabitants of his kingdom? Would such a person be friendly to the inhabitants of the village and country, or would this person be ill-intentioned to them? Lohicca says that such a person would be ill-intentioned to them. The Buddha confirms this and says that the ill intention of this kind undoubtedly leads to a rebirth in hell or in the form of an animal.

Then, the Buddha explains: a man who says that a hermit who has attained liberation cannot help another, is ill-intentioned to those worthy people who, following the Buddha, achieve liberation from suffering. A person who speaks like this is hostile to the followers of the Teaching. Being hostile, he condemns himself to a birth in hell or in the form of an animal.

Three kinds of teachers worthy of reprehension

On the three types of teachers, the Buddha says that the expression “What can one person do for another?” is really applicable to them. What are these three?

The first teacher, who has not reached the goal, tries to teach students who do not want to listen to him. He is like a man trying to embrace a woman who turns away. In his actions, the property of greed is manifested.

The second teacher, who has not reached the goal, explains to the students the way to where he himself has not yet come, and they listen to him. He is like someone who has abandoned his own field in order to go work on someone else’s field. In his actions, greed is manifested too.

The third teacher, who has achieved knowledge, instructs the disciples, but does not direct them (skilfully) to the comprehension of wisdom. Such a teacher, cutting old fetters, makes new ones. And this is too the act of greed.

A teacher worthy of praise

The Buddha says that a Teacher, worthy of praise, is a Teacher, whose disciples, listening to his instructions, become on the Path of attaining Arahatship (in the text of the sutta, three sets of instructions are fully cited, for a detailed account see Subha Sutta, Digha Nikaya 10).

Eliminating Lohicca’s doubt

After listening to the instructions of the Buddha, Lohicca thanks Him and says that he feels like a man who fell into the abyss, but he was grabbed by the hair and dragged out from there. Lohicca, judging by his behavior, was already inclined to accept the Teachings before the beginning of the conversation, but his doubt came from the experience of communicating with such teachers as the Buddha considers worthy of blame. An important detail of the sutta is the request of the barber Bhesika, to relieve Lohicca from doubt. It turns out that not only the highest wisdom of the Buddha, but also the simple friendly participation of Bhesika, leads to Lohicca’s gaining of correct understanding.

Vladimir Pyatsky & Smadar Pyatsky
Translation: Natalia Tsimbler