Looking For Another Three Suttas

So I am running into new problems as far as finding Suttas, Dhamma talks that mention events/people/teachings within the Suttas without giving the title of the Sutta.

Maybe an official, ‘Looking for Sutta’ topic is in the future.

Okay anyways!
The first one I am looking for is about a layperson who becomes and monk, but as soon as he becomes a monk his mind tries to trick him to return to lay life. Luckily the monk realizes that the mind is being stoopid, and decided to stay a monk!

The second one is about a a layperson that is somehow a once returner.

Third and final, the Sutta where an individual asks to become a Buddha.

Any advice to help me do this on my own would be nice as well. I am terrible with catching the names of the individuals in Suttas, and when I read their names I know I must be pronouncing them wrong. It makes me feel dumb, but I must not give up!

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This is probably commentarial, or at least non-EBT.

There a number of such lay people in the suttas, for instance at AN 6.44.

This is definitely not from the suttas. Again, it’s probably a commentarial story or some such.


[Edit: Bhante Brahmalli gave his answer while I was composing; sorry for the overlap]

This sounds more like a story from the commentaries. Like this one:

Can you give more information about that one? Laypeople can become once returners, so that’s not such a unique thing.

Are you thinking of the Buddha asking this from someone else while he was still just a bodhisatta? This is something also found in the commentaries, not the suttas. One place this can be found is here:

Again, any more info you have would be helpful.

It’s probably best to just make a new post for each request. There aren’t so many and this makes it easier for people to search.

As far as how to do this on your own, it can be really tricky if you don’t know the name of the person involved. And people don’t always have names any way. Honestly, for questions like this, asking a knowledgeable friend (aka, this forum!) may be the best way.


“96 lay-followers who have died in Nādikā, with the ending of [the first] three fetters, and with the attenuation of passion, aversion, & delusion, are once-returners, who—on returning only once more to this world—will put an end to stress.”—DN 16


While asking for help here is a good way to engage with noble friends, learning how to search yourself is also valuable.

I put “once-returner” (including the quotes) into the search field (for Sutta central, not the forum) and a number of results came up. I had expected the quotes to restrict the search to the complete phrase, but the search engine still broke the phrase at the hyphen (?!)

Anyway there were a lot of results that included the full phrase. Skimming the excerpts, it was clear that most were not about a specific once-returner, but about that attainment in a general way. Scrolling through revealed a result that was about a specific person. ( SuttaCentral ).

The joyful part of such searches, for me anyway, is to go off onto tangents not directly related to the original search and learn precious things that I didn’t know I was looking for.


To expand upon the previous responses slightly, DN 16 and MN 73 both also include many laypeople who are non-returners. MN 73 even mentions hundreds who were non-returners. There are parallels in SA and SA-2 as well.



Another useful search phrase can be “not liable to return”. Set in quote marks, it returns 46 results on SuttaCentral; on Voice, no quote marks are needed, and you will get 34 results. (Voice doesn’t have the repetitions found on SC, where there can be multiple translations in the same language.)

Voice can also do a keyword search, if not all words can be found as a coherent phrase. In this case, try for example “five lower fetters given up” (7 results). (Don’t try that one on SuttaCentral: With quote marks you will get 0 results, and without quote marks you will get 5150! :scream_cat:

There are definitely quite a number of individuals who are said to have become non-returners, and they often have quite fascinating stories. Much to discover!

Edit: It seems I got it wrong: It’s not about a non-returner, but a once-returner … :see_no_evil: Oh dear mindfulness!


Absolutely! But I find stories especially difficult to search for unless you have a name. So some times asking may be the only way. Also, lots of stories aren’t even in the suttas so you need to know the comentarial stories or the Jatakas. And sometimes you can discover interesting things through discussion, too.


If you mean an individual asking to take the Buddha’s place, this is what Devadatta notoriously did. The episode is recounted in the Vinaya’s chapter on schism in the saṅgha.


Sutta Hunt #1

I found the first one!!!

Verses of the Senior Monks
The Book of the Fifties
Chapter One
# 19.1. Tālapuṭa

What is "The Book of Fifties’ and are they EBT?
If it is a commentary, what does that mean exactly?
What are the commentaries? I thought I knew, but my definition of them seem inaccurate now.

Sutta Hunt #2

The second one I was looking for I’m seeing now would be difficult to find.
It is about a layperson that is once-returner, one of the monks asked the Buddha how is this possible and the Buddha describes the layperson proclivities. I belief it had to do with his desire of sense pleasures. Sorry I don’t have more information to give in help of the search

Sutta Hunt #3

The reason I asked about this one is because I am under the impression that if a person wants to become a Buddha he must go to a Buddha and ask this of him. Is there really no EBT on how person who wants to become a Buddha could become one?

No this is not along the lines of what I am looking for, thank you though!

Congratulations! This is indeed a beautiful poem. And the verses of the senior monks (Theragāthā) are in fact considered EBT.

The “book of the fifties” is a subdivision of the Theragāthā; they are divided into chapters according to the number of verses they contain.

Maybe you’ll find it at some point, maybe some day you remember further details …

This is a later idea and is not found in the early texts.


Did you have a look at AN 6.44? The content is similar to what you describe. There is also SN 55.24, which is in the ballpark.


Ajahn Brahmali I have read over AN 6.44 a couple times now and I think this maybe it. SN 55.24 is much further away from what I remember. I am not certain that AN 6.44 is correct as I remember the Sutta as really being focused specifically around the once-returner and his habits. It’s more then possible I am misremembering what I read. Thank you for your directions!

What in the world is “laughing wisdom” and “swift wisdom”? From Sujato translation of SN 55.24?

This seems inaccurate, but I am uncertain now. I will be more mindful when coming across text that reference this from now on.

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I would say laughing wisdom (hassapaññā) relates the light-heartedness of the ariyas, specifically the nonreturners. Swift wisdom presumably refers to their quick-wittedness. In other words, they know straightaway what is Dhamma and what is not.


You can find this type of subject in the Avadanas, like the Jataka collections and biographical texts like the Mahavastu. The Sarvastivada have a sutra in the Madhyama Agama in which the Buddha gives a monk the prediction he’ll become Maitreya in the future. It’s Sutra No. 66 in the first volume of Analayo’s translation. That’s the closest EBT sutra I can think of.


In early Buddhism, there is more or less a linear progression of buddhas over time. So the next buddha to arise after Gautama Buddha will be Maitreya Buddha, in the distant future.

Otherwise, you may be thinking of the mythical account of the brahmin ascetic Sumedha, AKA Megha, who lived in the distant past and aspired to become a buddha. He received a prediction of future buddhahood from Dipamkara Buddha. He then became the bodhisattva, and after many lifetimes was reborn as Gautama, becoming our Buddha. That is the beginning of the story of the Buddha. Sumedha is usually depicted dressed as an ascetic with long matted hair (dreadlocks).

The story of Sumedha meeting Dipamkara Buddha and receiving the prediction of Bodhi is popularly referenced in the Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra (Diamond Sutra), which is a later Mahayana text. It refers to a few of the better-known Jatakas in illustrating some points. Namely, the one about Sumedha and Dipamkara, and the one about the bodhisattva as the sage Ksantivadin (who gets hacked limb from limb). Some early Mahayana sutras have occasional references to the Jatakas. The presumption was that listeners knew the stories about the past lives of the Buddha.

Early materials have few references to buddhas of the past. The oldest references to a list of past buddhas seems to be seven buddhas. They were then increased to over 20, and up from there… The largest number of buddhas of the past is held by the legendary biography of the Buddha, the Mahavastu, which refers to over 330 million buddhas of the past. Richard Salomon gave a talk about this topic with reference to the Gandharan Buddhist texts.

As for other people aspiring to become buddhas, but not in the same line as Gautama, Maitreya, etc., that comes in a few hundred years after the time of the Buddha. The Mahasamghika groups specifically held the tenet that there may be buddhas in the ten directions (i.e. four cardinal directions, zenith and nadir, and the four intermediary directions). In other words, other buddhas presiding over other buddha world-realms. This leads to the Mahayana cosmology that includes not only a vast timeline, but also a multiplicity of world systems.


I happened to read some posts from this thread,

I just want to correct some of the mistakes made by those posts above, so here are the proof in the Early Buddhist Texts about Buddha Dīpaṅkara and the Brahmin Sumedha (Future Sakya Muni Buddha). BTW, I don’t know about the situation in Western Buddhism, but in the East, the story of Buddha Dīpaṅkara holds an important role here, so there was a great urge in me to try and clarify this a bit:

The story of Buddha Dīpaṅkara and Brahmin Sumedha is given in these parallel suttas:

  1. Ekottara Agama 20.3, Dharmaruci’s Past Life. English translation below, but with a note, that the English translator mistakenly translated the word 超術 (It is a transliteration of Sumedha), as Nayātikrama. How did I know this? Because in Vietnamese (which still faithfully preserves the Classical Chinese pronunciation), it is pronounced “Siêu Thuật” (sounds like “su ta” in English, clearly a transliteration of Sumedha), anyway, here is the sutra: EA 20.3: Dharmaruci’s Past Life (English) - Ekottarikāgama 20 - SuttaCentral

  2. Therāpadāna 486, Dhammarucī:

  3. Therīpadāna 28, Yasodharā:

  4. Therīpadāna 29, Ten Thousand Buddhist Nuns Headed Up by Yasovatī:

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Therāpadāna and Therīpadāna are generally consisted later sources. They aren’t “suttas” really but biographies of the senior monks and nuns.

My understanding is that the Ekottara Agama is widely suspected as having later embellishments, so perhaps that’s why it wasn’t brought up.

I don’t know why the Ekottara had a bad reputation as you said it was, for it has some of most faithful and most excellent sutras by the Buddha I have ever read. I have been a Theravadin Buddhist since I was very young, and I am well aware of the bias by the Western Theravadins for the Jatakas and the Avadanas literature, I once had these views too myself, but after having read the Āgamas and the sutras of the Avadana genre in Chinese Tripitaka, my view on this has completely changed, I believe now that the Jatakas and Avadanas were indeed needed the same level of respect given to the other four Nikayas, difficult to explain all this, but when the Agamas and the Chinese Tripitaka have been faithfully and properly translated into English, truth will be told.

I am aware that we all still live under Mara’s prison now, and he doesn’t like his secrets to be told, but the truth is like the sun, no matter how many efforts to try and suppress it, it will come out eventually. Wish you all well on the path.