|English translation of
Holy Digha Nikaya
English translation by T. W. Rhys Davids
taken from http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/dob/
And they heard the news: 'They say that the Samana Gotama of the Sâkya clan, who went out from a Sâkya family to adopt the religious life, is now staying at Vesâlî at the Gabled Hall in the Great Wood. Now regarding that venerable Gotama, such is the high reputation that has been noised abroad: "That Blessed One is an Arahat, a fully awakened one, abounding in wisdom and goodness, happy, who knows all worlds, unsurpassed as a guide to mortals willing to be led, a teacher for gods and men, a Blessed One, a Buddha. He, by himself, thoroughly knows and sees, as it were, face to face this universe,--including the worlds above of the gods, the Brahmâs, and the Mâras, and the world below with its recluses and Brahmans, its princes and peoples,--and having known it, he makes his knowledge known to others. The truth, lovely in its origin, lovely in its progress, lovely in its consummation, doth he proclaim, both in the spirit and in the letter, the higher life doth he make known, in all its fullness and in all its purity. And good is it to pay visits to Arahats like that."'
Then they sat down round about, saying, 'We will not go away without seeing the venerable Gotama.'
'Very well, then, Sîha. Tell the Blessed One yourself.'
'Very good, Sir,' said Sîha the novice in assent to the venerable Nâgita. And he went where the Blessed One was, and saluted him, and standing reverently apart, he said to him even as he had said to Nâgita.
'Some few days ago, Sir, Sunakkhatta of the Likkhavis came to me, and said: "It is only three years, Mahâli, since I first came under the Blessed One, and I can see heavenly forms, pleasant to behold, fitted to satisfy all one's desires, exciting longing in one's heart. But I cannot hear heavenly sounds like that." Now, Sir, are there such heavenly sounds, which he could not hear, or have they no existence?'
'They are real, those heavenly sounds, pleasant, fitted to satisfy one's desires, exciting longing in one's heart, which he could not hear. They are not things of nought.'
'No, Mahâli. There are things, higher and sweeter than that, for the sake of which they do so.'
'In the first place, Mahâli, a brother by the complete destruction of the Three Bonds (the Delusions of self, Doubt, and Trust in the efficacy of good works and ceremonies) becomes a converted man, one who cannot be reborn in any state of woe, and is assured of attaining to the Insight (of the stages higher still). That, Mahâli, is a condition, higher and sweeter, for the sake of which the brethren lead the religious life under me.
'And then further, Mahâli, a brother by the complete destruction of those Three Bonds, and by reducing to a minimum lust, illwill, and dullness, becomes a Once-returner, one who on his first return to this world shall make an end of pain. That, Mahâli, is a condition higher still and sweeter, for the sake of which the brethren lead the religious life under me.
'And then further, Mahâli, a brother by the complete destruction of the Five Bonds that bind people to this world becomes an inheritor of the highest heavens, there to pass away, thence never to return. That, Mahâli, is a condition higher still and sweeter, for the sake of which the brethren lead the religious life under me.
'And then further. Mahâli, when a brother by the destruction of the Deadly Floods (or Intoxications--Lusts, Becomings, Delusion, and Ignorance) has, by himself, known and realised and continues to abide here, in this visible world, in that emancipation of mind, that emancipation of heart, which is Arahatship--that, Mahâli, is a condition higher still and sweeter still, for the sake of which the brethren lead the religious life under me.
'Such, Mahâli, are the conditions higher and sweeter (than seeing heavenly sights and hearing heavenly sounds), for the sake of which the brethren lead the religious life under me.'
'Yes, Mahâli, there is.'
'Verily it is this Noble Eightfold Path, that is to say: Right views, right aspirations, right speech, right action, a right means of livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right ecstasy in self-concentration. This, Mahâli, is the path, and this the method, for the realisation of these conditions.