SN 22.84
PTS: S iii 106
CDB i 929
Tisso Sutta: Tissa the Waverer
translated from the Pali by
Maurice O'Connell Walshe
Alternate translation: Thanissaro
The Pali title of this sutta is based on the PTS (Feer) edition.

[The Ven. Tissa tells the other monks:] "As you see, friends, my body has become as if drugged, I have lost my bearings, the teachings are not clear to me,[1] my heart is beset with sloth and torpor,[2] I take no pleasure in the holy life and I have doubts about the teachings."

[The other monks advise Tissa to see the Buddha, who, after catechizing him, gives this simile:] "Suppose, Tissa, there are two men, one of whom does not know his way,[3] and the other does. And the man who does not know his way asks the other to direct him. He replies: 'Yes, friend, this is the way. Go on for a while and you will see that the road forks. Don't go to the left but take the right-handed path. Go on for a while and you will see a dense jungle. Keep going, and you will see a great sunken swamp. Keep going and you will see a steep precipice. Go a bit further and you will see a delightful stretch of level ground.'

"I have made this parable, Tissa, to help you to understand. This is the explanation. 'The man who does not know his way' denotes the worldling.[4] 'The man who knows the way' is the Tathaagata, the Arahant, the Fully Self-enlightened One. 'The road-fork' is the state of wavering. 'The left-hand path' is the false eightfold path, that is: wrong view... wrong concentration. 'The right-hand path' is the Noble Eightfold Path, that is: Right View... Right Concentration. 'The dense jungle' means ignorance, 'the great sunken swamp' denotes sense-desires,[5] 'the steep precipice' denotes anger and despair, 'the delightful stretch of level ground,' Tissa, denotes Nibbaana. Cheer up, Tissa, cheer up! I am here to advise you, help you and teach you!"

So said the Blessed One, and the Venerable Tissa was cheered by his words.


Dhammaa: i.e., doctrines learned.
Thiina-middha: one of the five hindrances. See SN 35.120, n. 6.
Amaggakusalo, maggakusalo, "unskilled, skilled in the path" is the explanation, but primarily meaning, "who does not know his way" and "who knows his way."
Puthujjana. "Worldling" is now the standard translation. The rendering "many-folk" favored by earlier translators is literal but not natural English, and also implies a plural. The meaning is one who has not "entered the stream"; cf SN 22.109, n. 1.
Kaamaa: "sense-desires." Like the Biblical "lusts of the flesh," it certainly means more than sexual desire, with which it is often exclusively identified, even in the plural form as here. Woodward's "feeling-desires" is not idiomatic English, though probably intended to cover the wider meaning.