Sutta about not dwelling in remorse?

Can anyone direct me to the sutta where someone makes a mistake but thinks to themselves or speaks aloud that dwelling in remorse/regret over that mistake is unbeneficial. Then they are praised by the wise (the Buddha or a wise disciple). IIRC, this is the only or one of the only suttas with these phrases/reflections, i.e. it’s not a stock phrase.


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SN 42.8 is somewhat similar, but maybe not exactly what you are looking for. This is the closest I remember that matches your description.

“Then a disciple has full confidence in that teacher. He reflects thus: ‘In many ways the Blessed
One criticizes and censures the destruction of life, and he says: “Abstain from the destruction of
life.” Now I have destroyed life to such and such an extent. That wasn’t proper; that wasn’t good.
But though I feel regret over this, that evil deed of mine cannot be undone.’ Having reflected
thus, he abandons the destruction of life and he abstains from the destruction of life in the future. Thus there comes about the abandoning of that evil deed; thus there comes about the transcending of that evil deed.

The sutta continues with stealing, sexual misconduct and lying. The Buddha later calls that disciple a “noble disciple”.


Thank you, Venerable. That is exactly the one I was thinking of.


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Interestingly, Ven. Thanissaro’s and Ven. Bodhi’s translations are essentially different. You have quoted Ven. Bodhi’s translation. Here is Ven. Thanissaro’s, with the essential difference bolded:

"A disciple has faith in that teacher and reflects: ‘The Blessed One in a variety of ways criticizes & censures the taking of life, and says, “Abstain from taking life.” There are living beings that I have killed, to a greater or lesser extent. That was not right. That was not good. But if I become remorseful for that reason, that evil deed of mine will not be undone.’ So, reflecting thus, he abandons right then the taking of life, and in the future refrains from taking life. This is how there comes to be the abandoning of that evil deed. This is how there comes to be the transcending of that evil deed.

Ven. Bodhi seems to be saying that one feels regret over it whereas Ven. Thanissaro seems to be saying that feeling of remorse is optional. This seems like a pretty major difference. Perhaps Ven. @sujato can weigh in, or I will be patient and wait until his translations are released to compare them. :slight_smile: