From SN 11.1
“‘If there exists any place anywhere
Where without work one won’t decline,
That is indeed Nibbāna’s path:
Go there, Suvīra,
And take me along with you.’
“So, bhikkhus, if Sakka, lord of the devas, subsisting on the fruit of his own merit, exercising supreme sovereignty and rulership over the Tavatiṃsa devas, will be one who speaks in praise of initiative and energy, then how much more would it be fitting here for you, who have gone forth in such a well-expounded Dhamma and Discipline, to toil, struggle, and strive for the attainment of the as-yet-unattained, for the achievement of the as-yet-unachieved, for the realization of the as-yet-unrealized.”
Lately, one of my little pleasures is to read a small section from the Samyutta Nikaya just before I sleep at night. I recently read Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of this sutta and found his notes (which I tend to usually ignore as I feel it interrupts the flow most of the time) on this section rather intriguing. There appears to be, and to have been, some confusion about the interpretation of this particular section. I don’t pretend to understand exactly what Ven Bodhi was talking about. I am no Pali expert. But I did work out - possibly erroneously - that there was some thing here that even the authors of the commentaries found confusing.
To me, being someone who doesn’t know enough Pali - but has been meditating on and off for many years and listening to good teachers for a long time - this section of text points to the fact that the type of hard work we ought to be doing is the type where we become skilled at non-doing and not working hard - in particular when it comes to time on the cushion/chair.
I’m also wondering if a section of text is missing. I would’ve expected the Buddha to make things more explicit.
I guess when you take the text as a whole, the overall message is clear and this section does appear confusing. But I couldn’t help smiling as I read it…wondering whether Sakka was telling Suvira that a bliss that comes from “laziness” is the Path to Nibbana! But is this what the Pali is telling us? And is this likely to be the whole of the original text. I don’t have the time to look into it but I can’t help wondering what the parallel texts in Chinese etc. say.
Many thanks for any replies.