[i]‘Thus have I heard.
At one time the Buddha was staying in Śrāvastī, at Jetṛ’s Grove, in Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park. Then the Exalted One said to the bhikṣus:
If there is a person who knows [how] to appreciate,[ii] [he or she], never being oblivious of small favours, to say nothing of great acts of kindness (upakāra), deserves honour (satkārya). Should [that person] be a thousand or one hundred thousand yojanas away from here, [he or she] would not after all be far away; [that person] would, was it were, be close to and not estranged from me. For this reason a bhikṣu should know that I always admire and praise someone who knows how to appreciate. Those who do not know how to appreciate great acts of kindness, let alone small favours, are neither close to me nor am I to them. Even if [an ungrateful person] formally wears [his or her] saṁghāṭī[iii] in my presence, [he or she] is after all far away.
Therefore, I never say one [should] not appreciate. For this reason, O bhikṣus, you should be mindful of appreciating [and you should] not imitate [others who do] not appreciate.[iv] Thus, O bhikṣus, you should train.
After listening to the Buddha’s words, the bhikṣus were pleased and respectfully applied themselves to practice.’[v]
[i] CBETA, T02, no. 125, p. 600, a5-16.This translation originally published as Ekottarāgama XXVIII, Buddhist Studies Review 18.2, 2001, p 222. Translated from the Chinese version by Thích Huyên-Vi and Bhikkhu Pāsādika in collaboration with Sara Boin-Webb.
[ii] As plausibly indicated at T, loc.cit., but not in Hayashi, ## should be read ##, lit.: ‘back/return – again/restore’. The term …… (pratikāravedin) could be freely rendered as ‘grateful’ (kṛtajña); the slightly different translation is given in this discourse because below, at T2, 601a12 ff., the standard rendering of kṛtajña is found; ## (cf. Foguang, p.4107a: ##).
[iii] I.e. the formal outer ‘double robe (diguṇa) in contrast to the inner (antaravāsaka) and upper (uttarāsaṅga) garments which are single (ekacciya : Vin I, p.289)’ – see EncBuddh IV, 2, p.183 f., s.v. cīvara. The meaning of ‘waist-cloth’ for saṁghāṭī at BHSD, p.549, is not correct.
[iv] These words of the Buddha may seem overly emphatic, the common human weakness of ingratitude notwithstanding; it should be kept in mind, however, that early Buddhists were confronted with the teachings of influential materialistic philosophers.
[v] Cf, A I, p.61 (II.4.1): Asappurisabhūmiñ ca vo bhikkhave desissāmi sappurisabhūmiñ ca / taṁ suṇātha ... Asappuriso bhikkhave akataññū hoti akatavedi… Cf. the English transl. at F.L. Woodward, Gradual Sayings I, PTS, 1932 ff., p.56: ‘Monks, I will teach you the condition of the unworthy and that of the worthy. Do ye listen to it … Monks, the unworthy man is ungrateful, forgetful of benefits…’