The sutta seems to be a collection of teachings, that presumably the Digha reciters knew but had no good place to put, so they all got collected here as a lead in to the Buddha's passing. The little teachings are separated by the 'chorus' of the comprehensive discourse on morality, concentration and wisdom which first appears in section 1.12.
The little teachings that struck me the most are as follows:
Sections 2.23 - 2.26: The Buddha is presented as a very human and very old man - he becomes quite ill, but manages to recover. Then he states that he has taught with an open hand - there are no secret teaching, it's all laid out for us to follow. He also says we should be islands (or lamps) unto ourselves by practicing the four foundations of mindfulness.
Section 3.40 - 3.47: Ananda is blamed for the Buddha not living to be 100. This is such a weird passage. I certainly have no idea of why it is there!
As for the jhanas in 6.8 - 6.9, if another experienced jhana practitioner were to watch my face, I think they could distinguish 1, 2, 3, 4 and immaterial. So I'm not at all surprised that Anuruddha could tell what the Buddha was doing as he passed away.
The rest of this sutta is a tribute to the Buddha and his teachings. His impact is still so strong today - it must have been astounding during his lifetime.
This is a finely crafted sutta. Skimming it as I write this has again had the impact it had upon first reading!
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