Free From Weeds

There is weirdly little written about the original disciples of the Buddha, the ascetics that he practiced with before finding liberation. Probably the most famous is Aññatakondañña Kondañña, partly because of his lovely rhyming name and partly because he was the first student of the Buddha to get a glimpse of the Dhamma. This sutta is one of the few teachings about these early disciples. I suspect the reason that there were so few teaching about these guys is that there weren’t many monks around to memorize them. And as the Buddha’s fame grew, more and more monks worked ever harder to memorize what he had to say. But that means more teachings that the Buddha gave later in life.

Once the Buddha was living at Anathapindika’s Monastery near Savatthi. Aññatakondañña Kondañña, He-Who-Knows, was sitting in meditation near the Buddha. His legs were crossed and his body straight. We was meditating on his own liberation, his freedom, the complete destruction of all craving. The Buddha saw him sitting there meditating on his own liberation, and offered this little poem:

For one with no roots, no earth, no leaves

How could there be weeds?

He is solid and free from shackles

Who could criticize such a person?

The gods praise him

Even Brahma praises such a person.

-Tanhakkhaya Sutta, Udana 7.7

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