Buddhist Scriptures, by E.J. Thomas, , at sacred-texts.com
Uttiya and Vaccha, as will be seen from their mode of addressing Buddha, are not his followers. They are interested in the "views" or metaphysical theories discussed by the various philosophical schools. All such speculation as a means of salvation Buddha rejected. The only view admitted is the "right view" of the Noble Eightfold Path.
Now the wandering ascetic Uttiya approached the Lord, and, having approached, he exchanged friendly greetings with the Lord, and after the customary salutations he sat down at one side. The ascetic Uttiya, as he sat at one side, said, "How is it, sir Gotama, is the world eternal, this being true and any other view foolish?" "I have not explained, Uttiya, that the world is eternal, that this is true and any other view foolish." "But is the world not eternal, sir Gotama, this being true and any other view foolish?" "This also, Uttiya, I have not explained, that the world is not eternal, that this is true and any other view foolish." [In the same way Uttiya asks whether the world is finite, whether
the soul is the same as the body or different, whether a Buddha exists after death, whether he both exists and does not exist after death, and whether he is both non-existent and not non-existent after death.]
"Well, sir Gotama, when you are asked whether the world is eternal, and whether this is true and any other view false, you say it has not been explained by you. . . . Now what has been explained by you, sir Gotama?" "With higher knowledge, Uttiya, I teach the doctrine to disciples, for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of grief and lamentation, for the destruction of suffering and sorrow, for the acquiring of good conduct and the realization of Nirvana."
"Once more, sir Gotama, when you teach the doctrine with higher knowledge, for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of grief and lamentation, for the destruction of suffering and sorrow, for the acquiring of good conduct and the realization of Nirvana, will all beings attain this, or a half of them, or a third?" At these words the Lord remained silent. Then the elder Ānanda thought, "The ascetic Uttiya must not get a wrong opinion by supposing that the Samana Gotama, when questioned by him, is embarrassed, and is unable to reply; this would be a painful misfortune for a long time to the ascetic Uttiya." So the elder Ānanda said to the
ascetic Uttiya, "Now then, friend Uttiya, I will give you an example. With an example some intelligent people can understand the meaning of what is said. Suppose, friend Uttiya, a king had a border city with strong foundations and walls, and one gate. It has a gatekeeper, learned, intelligent, and wise, who keeps out strangers, and admits those whom he knows. As he goes all round the city he cannot see an aperture in the ramparts, or even a hole large enough for a cat to enter. He certainly has not the knowledge that such and such a number of living beings enter or leave this city; but in this matter he rather thinks, 'Whatever beings of larger size enter or leave this city all enter or leave it by this gate.' And in the same way, Uttiya, the Tathāgata does not care about whether all beings or a half or a third will thereby go [to Nirvana]. On the contrary the Tathāgata in this matter rather thinks, 'All who have gone, or are going, or will go, reject the five hindrances, the depravities of the mind which weaken the understanding, and with thought firmly fixed on the four earnest meditations duly cultivate the seven faculties for obtaining perfect knowledge, and thus they have gone, are going, or will go from the world.' But the question which you, friend Uttiya, asked the Lord, you asked from a wrong point of view. Therefore the Lord did not explain it to you." (Ang. Nik. V. I.93 ff.)