Analytic Insight Net - FREE Online Tipiṭaka Research & Practice Universitu 
in
 112 CLASSICAL LANGUAGES
Paṭisambhidā Jāla-Abaddha Paripanti Tipiṭaka Anvesanā ca Paricaya Nikhilavijjālaya ca ñātibhūta Pavatti Nissāya 
http://sarvajan.ambedkar.org anto 105 Seṭṭhaganthāyatta Bhāsā
Categories:

Archives:
Meta:
July 2011
M T W T F S S
« Jun   Aug »
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031
07/26/11
328 LESSON 27 07 2011 Mind Like Fire Unbound Chapter IIIForty cartloads of timber FREE ONLINE eNālandā Research and Practice UNIVERSITY and BUDDHIST GOOD NEW Sletter to VOTE for BSP ELEPHANT to attain Ultimate Bliss-Through http://sarvajan.ambedkar.org- Let us celebrate Shri Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Jayanti as Reservation Day Celebrated on 26-07-2011- Buddhist Pilgrimage- Four Places of Principal Miracles-Objects of Interest - Rajgir, Place of Taming the Drunken Elephant Nalagiri- Veluvana (Bamboo Grove) and Karanda Tank- Pipphali House- Sattapanni caves-Bimbisara Jail- Jivaka’s mango garden (Jivaka ambavana)- Gijjhakuta (Vulture Peak)- Maddakucchi (Rub belly)- Burmese Monastery- Ruins of Nalanda Mahavihara
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 11:46 pm

328 LESSON 27 07 2011 Mind Like Fire Unbound  Chapter III Forty cartloads of timber FREE
ONLINE eNālandā Research and Practice UNIVERSITY and BUDDHIST GOOD NEW Sletter
to VOTE for BSP ELEPHANT to attain Ultimate Bliss-Through http://sarvajan.ambedkar.org-
Let
us celebrate Shri
Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Jayanti as Reservation Day Celebrated on 26-07-2011-
Buddhist Pilgrimage- Four Places of Principal Miracles-Objects of Interest -
Rajgir, Place of Taming the Drunken Elephant Nalagiri-
Veluvana (Bamboo Grove) and Karanda Tank- Pipphali House- Sattapanni caves-Bimbisara
Jail- Jivaka’s mango garden (Jivaka ambavana)- Gijjhakuta (Vulture Peak)-
Maddakucchi (Rub belly)- Burmese Monastery- Ruins of Nalanda Mahavihara

Mind Like Fire Unbound

Chapter III

‘Forty cartloads of timber.’

Fourth Edition

by

Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff)

© 1999–2011

Upādāna
carries both of its meanings — clinging & sustenance — when applied to the
mind. It refers on the one hand both to mental clinging & to the object
clung to, and on the other to both the act of taking mental sustenance &
the sustenance itself. This, of course, raises the question, ‘Sustenance for
what?’ In the description of dependent co-arising, upādāna forms the condition
for becoming and, through becoming, for birth, aging, death, and the entire
mass of suffering & stress. Thus the answer: ‘Sustenance for becoming’
& its attendant ills.

‘Just as
if a great mass of fire, of ten… twenty… thirty or forty cartloads of
timber were burning, and into it a man would periodically throw dried grass,
dried cow dung, & dried timber, so that the great mass of fire — thus
nourished, thus sustained — would burn for a long, long time; even so, monks,
in one who keeps focusing on the allure of those phenomena that offer
sustenance [lit: “flammable phenomena”], craving develops; with
craving as condition, sustenance; with sustenance as condition, becoming; with
becoming as condition, birth; with birth as condition, aging, illness &
death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all come into play.
Thus is the origin of this entire mass of suffering & stress.

‘Just as
if a great mass of fire… were burning, into which a man simply would not
periodically throw dried grass, dried cow dung, or dried timber, so that the
great mass of fire — its original sustenance being consumed, and no other being
offered — would, without nourishment, go out; even so, monks, in one who keeps
focusing on the drawbacks of those phenomena that offer sustenance, craving
stops. From the stopping of craving, sustenance stops. From the stopping of
sustenance, becoming… birth… aging, illness & death, sorrow,
lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all stop. Thus is the stopping of
this entire mass of suffering & stress.’


SN 12.52

The
Buddha
made a distinction between phenomena that offer
sustenance & the sustenance itself.

‘And
what, monks, are phenomena that offer sustenance? What is sustenance? Form,
monks, is a phenomenon offering sustenance. Any desire or passion related to
it, is sustenance related to it. Feeling… Perception… Fabrications…
Consciousness is a phenomenon offering sustenance. Any desire or passion
related to it, is sustenance related to it.’


SN 22.121

Thus
passion & desire are both the act of taking sustenance and the sustenance
itself, while form, feeling, perception, fabrications, & consciousness
simply offer the opportunity for them to occur.

Alternatively,
we can translate the distinction as one between clingable phenomena & the
clinging itself.

‘And
what, monks, are clingable phenomena? What is clinging? Form, monks, is a
clingable phenomenon. Any desire or passion related to it, is clinging related
to it. Feeling… Perception… Fabrications… Consciousness is a clingable
phenomenon. Any desire or passion related to it, is clinging related to it.’


SN 22.121

In this
case, passion & desire are the act of clinging and the object clung to,
while form, feeling, & the rest simply offer the opportunity for them to
occur.

Still,
the two sides of this distinction are so closely interrelated that they are
hardly distinct at all.

Visākha:
‘Is it the case that clinging/sustenance is the same thing as the five
aggregates for clinging/sustenance [form, feeling, perception, fabrications,
& consciousness], or is it something separate?’

Sister
Dhammadinnā: ‘Neither is clinging/sustenance the same thing as the five
aggregates for clinging/ sustenance, my friend, nor is it something separate.
Whatever desire & passion there is with regard to the five aggregates for
clinging/sustenance, that is the clinging/sustenance there.’


MN 44

(The use
of the word aggregate (khandha) here may relate to the fire image, as
khandha can also mean the trunk of a tree.)

The
desire & passion for these five aggregates can take any of four forms.

‘Monks,
there are four [modes of] sustenance for becoming. Which four? Sensuality as a
form of sustenance, views as a form of sustenance, habits & practices as a
form of sustenance, doctrines of the self as a form of sustenance.’


MN 11

These
four modes of sustenance act as the focus for many of the passages in the Canon
describing the attainment of the goal. Because they are so closely related to
the notion of nibbāna — they are the binding loosened in the unbinding of the
mind — each of them deserves to be considered in detail.

First, sensuality. The Buddha recommended relinquishing
attachment to sensuality, not because sensual pleasures are in any way evil,
but because the attachment itself is dangerous: both in terms of the pain
experienced when a relished pleasure inevitably ends, and in terms of the
detrimental influence such attachment can have on a person’s actions — and thus
on his or her future condition.

‘It’s
with a cause, monks, that sensual thinking occurs, and not without a cause…
And how is it, monks, that sensual thinking occurs with a cause and not without
a cause? In dependence on the property of sensuality there occurs the
perception of sensuality. In dependence on the perception of sensuality there
occurs the resolve for sensuality… the desire for sensuality… the fever for
sensuality… the quest for sensuality. Questing for sensuality, monks, an
uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person conducts himself wrongly through three
means: through body, through speech, & through mind…

‘Just as
if a man were to throw a burning firebrand into a dry, grassy wilderness and
not quickly stamp it out with his hands & feet, and thus whatever animals
inhabiting the grass & timber would come to ruin & loss; even so,
monks, any contemplative or brāhman who does not quickly abandon, dispel,
demolish, & wipe out of existence an out-of-tune, unskillful perception
once it has arisen, will dwell in stress in the present life — threatened,
despairing, & feverish — and on the break-up of the body, after death, can
expect a bad destination.’


SN 14.12

This is
not to deny that sensual pleasures provide a certain form of happiness, but
this happiness must be weighed against the greater pains & disappointments
sensuality can bring.

‘Now what
is the allure of sensuality? There are, monks, these five strings of
sensuality. Which five? Forms cognizable via the eye — agreeable, pleasing,
charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. Sounds cognizable via the
ear… Aromas cognizable via the nose… Flavors cognizable via the tongue…
Tactile sensations cognizable via the body — agreeable, pleasing, charming,
endearing, fostering desire, enticing. Now whatever pleasure or joy arises in
dependence on these five strings of sensuality, that is the allure of
sensuality.

‘And what
is the drawback of sensuality? There is the case where, on account of the
occupation by which a clansman makes a living — whether checking or accounting
or calculating or plowing or trading or cattle tending or archery or as a
king’s man, or whatever the occupation may be — he faces cold, he faces heat,
being harassed by mosquitoes & flies, wind & sun & creeping things,
dying from hunger & thirst.

‘Now this
drawback in the case of sensuality, this mass of stress visible here & now,
has sensuality for its reason, sensuality for its source, sensuality for its
cause, the reason being simply sensuality.

‘If the
clansman gains no wealth while thus working & striving & making effort,
he sorrows, grieves, & laments, beats his breast, becomes distraught:
“My work is in vain, my efforts are fruitless!” Now this drawback too
in the case of sensuality, this mass of stress visible here & now, has
sensuality for its reason…

‘If the
clansman gains wealth while thus working & striving & making effort, he
experiences pain & distress in protecting it: “How will neither kings
nor thieves make off with my property, nor fire burn it, nor water sweep it
away, nor hateful heirs make off with it?” And as he thus guards and
watches over his property, kings or thieves make off with it, or fire burns it,
or water sweeps it away, or hateful heirs make off with it. And he sorrows,
grieves, & laments, beats his breast, becomes distraught: “What was
mine is no more!” Now this drawback too in the case of sensuality, this
mass of stress visible here & now, has sensuality for its reason…

‘Furthermore,
it is with sensuality for the reason, sensuality for the source, sensuality for
the cause, the reason being simply sensuality, that kings quarrel with kings,
nobles with nobles, brāhmans with brāhmans, householders with householders,
mother with child, child with mother, father with child, child with father,
brother with brother, sister with sister, brother with sister, sister with
brother, friend with friend. And then in their quarrels, brawls, &
disputes, they attack one another with fists or with clods or with sticks or
with knives, so that they incur death or deadly pain. Now this drawback too in
the case of sensuality, this mass of stress visible here & now, has
sensuality for its reason…

‘Furthermore,
it is with sensuality for the reason, sensuality for the source… that (men),
taking swords & shields and buckling on bows & quivers, charge into
battle massed in double array while arrows & spears are flying and swords
are flashing; and there they are wounded by arrows & spears, and their
heads are cut off by swords, so that they incur death or deadly pain. Now this
drawback too in the case of sensuality, this mass of stress visible here &
now, has sensuality for its reason…

‘Furthermore,
it is with sensuality for the reason, sensuality for the source… that (men),
taking swords & shields and buckling on bows & quivers, charge slippery
bastions while arrows & spears are flying and swords are flashing; and
there they are splashed with boiling cow dung and crushed under heavy weights, and
their heads are cut off by swords, so that they incur death or deadly pain. Now
this drawback too in the case of sensuality, this mass of stress visible here
& now, has sensuality for its reason, sensuality for its source, sensuality
for its cause, the reason being simply sensuality.’


MN 13

Sumedha to her fiancé:

In the face of the Deathless,
what worth are your sensual pleasures?
 
For all delights in sensuality are
        burning & boiling,
        aggravated, aglow…
A blazing grass firebrand,
        held in the hand:
 
Those who let go
        do not get burned.
Sensuality is like a firebrand.
               It burns
 
               those who
               do not let go.


Thig 16.1

Even the
more honorable emotions that can develop from sensual attraction — such as love
& personal devotion — ultimately lead to suffering & stress when one is
inevitably parted from the person one loves.

‘Once in
this same Sāvatthi there was a certain man whose wife died. Owing to her death
he went mad, out of his mind and — wandering from street to street, crossroads
to crossroads — would say, “Have you seen my wife? Have you seen my
wife?” From this it may be realized how from a dear one, owing to a dear
one, comes sorrow & lamentation, pain, distress, & despair.

‘Once in
this same Sāvatthi there was a wife who went to her relatives’ home. Her
relatives, having separated her from her husband, wanted to give her to another
against her will. So she said to her husband, “These relatives of mine,
having separated us, want to give me to another against my will,”
whereupon he cut her in two and slashed himself open, thinking, “Dead we
will be together.” And from this it may be realized how from a dear one,
owing to a dear one, comes sorrow & lamentation, pain, distress, &
despair.’


MN 87

‘How do
you construe this, monks: Which is greater, the tears you have shed while
transmigrating & wandering this long time — crying & weeping from being
joined with what is displeasing, from being separated from what is pleasing —
or the water in the four great oceans?’… ‘This is the greater: The tears you
have shed… Why is that? From an inconstruable beginning, monks, comes
transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by
ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. Long
have you thus experienced stress, experienced pain, experienced loss, swelling
the cemeteries — long enough to become disenchanted with all conditioned
things, enough to become dispassionate, enough to be released.’


SN 15.3

A theme
recurrent throughout the Canon is that complete knowledge of any object does
not end with an understanding of its allure & drawbacks, but goes on to
comprehend what brings emancipation from the mental fetters based on both.

‘And what
is the emancipation from sensuality? Whatever is the subduing of passion &
desire, the abandoning of passion & desire for sensuality, that is the
emancipation from sensuality.’


MN 13

Sundara Samudda:

Ornamented, finely clothed
        garlanded, adorned,
her feet stained red with lac,
        she wore slippers:
        a courtesan.
 
Stepping out of her slippers —
        her hands raised before me
        palm-to-palm over her heart —
she softly, tenderly,
        in measured words
        spoke to me first:
‘You are young, recluse.
        Heed my message:
Partake of human sensuality.
        I will give you luxury.
Truly I vow to you,
        I will tend to you as to a fire.
When we are old,
        both leaning on canes,
then we will both become recluses,
        winning the benefits of both worlds.’
 
And seeing her before me —
        a courtesan, ornamented, finely clothed,
        hands palm-to-palm over her heart —
               like a snare of death laid out,
apt attention arose in me,
        the drawbacks appeared,
        disenchantment stood at an even keel:
 
With that, my heart was released…


Thag 7.1

Seeing a form unmindfully,
        focusing on its pleasing features,
one knows with mind enflamed
        and remains fastened to it.

(Notice
how these lines draw directly on the image of burning as entrapment.)

One’s feelings, born of the form,
               grow numerous.
Greed & provocation
               injure one’s mind.
Thus amassing stress
        one is said to be far from Unbinding.
        
[And so on with the rest of the six senses.]
 
One not enflamed with forms
         — seeing a form with mindfulness firm —
knows with mind unenflamed
        and doesn’t remain fastened there.
While one is seeing a form
         — and even experiencing feeling —
it falls away and does not accumulate.
        Faring mindful.
and thus not amassing stress,
        one is said to be
in the presence of Unbinding.
 
[And so on with the rest of the six senses.]


SN 35.95

‘There
are forms, monks, cognizable via the eye — agreeable, pleasing, charming,
endearing, fostering desire, enticing. If a monk relishes them, welcomes them,
& remains fastened to them, he is said to be a monk fettered by forms
cognizable by the eye. He has gone over to Māra’s camp; he has come under
Māra’s power. The Evil One can do with him as he will.’

[And so
on with the rest of the six senses.]


SN 35.115

‘There
are forms cognizable by the eye — agreeable… enticing. If a monk relishes
them, welcomes them, & remains fastened to them, then… his consciousness
is dependent on them, is sustained by them. With sustenance/clinging, the monk
is not totally unbound…

‘If he
does not relish them, welcome them, or remain fastened to them, then… his
consciousness is not dependent on them, is not sustained by them. Without
sustenance/clinging, the monk is totally unbound.’

[And so
on with the rest of the six senses.]


SN 35.118

Here
again
, we see the reciprocal nature of attachment: One is
bound by what one relishes & latches onto — or rather, by the act of
relishing & latching on, in and of itself.

Citta:
‘Venerable sirs, it is just as if a black ox & a white ox were joined with
a single collar or yoke. If someone were to say, “The black ox is the
fetter of the white ox, the white ox is the fetter of the black” —
speaking this way, would he be speaking rightly?’

Some
elder monks: ‘No, householder. The black ox is not the fetter of the white ox,
nor is the white ox the fetter of the black. The single collar or yoke by which
they are joined: That is the fetter there.’

Citta:
‘In the same way, the eye is not the fetter of forms, nor are forms the fetter
of the eye. Whatever desire & passion arises in dependence on the two of
them: That is the fetter there. The ear is not the fetter of sounds… The nose
is not the fetter of aromas… The tongue is not the fetter of flavors… The
body is not the fetter of tactile sensations… The intellect is not the fetter
of ideas, nor are ideas the fetter of the intellect. Whatever desire &
passion arises in dependence on the two of them: That is the fetter there.’


SN 41.1

In
other words,
neither the senses nor their objects are fetters for the
mind. Beautiful sights, sounds, & so forth, do not entrap it, nor do the
senses themselves. Instead, it is trapped by the act of desire & passion
based on such things.

‘Monks,
there are these five strings of sensuality. Which five? Forms cognizable via
the eye — agreeable… enticing; sounds… aromas… flavors… tactile
sensations cognizable via the body — agreeable… enticing. But these are not
sensuality. They are called stings of sensuality in the discipline of the Noble
Ones.

‘The passion for his resolves is a man’s sensuality,
not the beautiful sensual pleasures
        found in the world.
The passion for his resolves is a man’s sensuality.
 
The beauties remain as they are in the world,
while the wise, in this regard,
        subdue their desire.’


AN 6.63

Thus
sensual pleasures, which belong to the realm of form, are the ‘clingable
phenomena’ that offer sustenance for the bond of desire & passion. Or, to
borrow an image from Ven. Rāhula, they are the bait — as long as one is blind
to their true nature — for falling into the trap of one’s own craving &
heedlessness.

Rāhula:

They [the unawakened]:
blinded by sensual pleasures,
        covered by the net,
veiled with the veil of craving,
        bound by the Kinsman of the Heedless*
 
        like fish in the mouth of a trap.


Thag 4.8

For this
reason, freedom from sensuality as a clinging/sustenance requires a two-pronged
approach: to realize the true nature of the bait and to extricate oneself from
the trap. The first step involves examining the unattractive side of the human
body, for as the Buddha says,

‘Monks, I
don’t know of even one other form that stays in a man’s mind and consumes it
like the form of a woman… one other sound… smell… taste… touch that
stays in a man’s mind and consumes it like the touch of a woman. The touch of a
woman stays in a man’s mind and consumes it.

‘I don’t
know of even one other form that stays in a woman’s mind and consumes it like
the form of a man… one other sound… smell… taste… touch that stays in a
woman’s mind and consumes it like the touch of a man. The touch of a man stays
in a woman’s mind and consumes it.’


AN 1.1

‘Just as
if a sack with openings at both ends were full of various kinds of grain —
wheat, rice, mung beans, kidney beans, sesame seeds, husked rice — and a man
with good eyesight, pouring it out, were to reflect, “This is wheat. This
is rice. These are mung beans. These are kidney beans. These are sesame seeds.
This is husked rice,” in the same way, monks, a monk reflects on this very
body from the soles of the feet on up, from the crown of the head on down,
surrounded by skin and full of various kinds of unclean things: “In this
body there are head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons,
bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, membranes, spleen, lungs, large
intestines, small intestines, gorge, feces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat,
fat, tears, oil, saliva, mucus, fluid in the joints, urine”…

‘Or
again, as if he were to see a corpse cast away in a charnel ground — one day,
two days, three days dead — bloated, livid & festering, he applies it to
this very body, “This body, too: Such is its nature, such is its future,
such its unavoidable fate”…

‘Or
again, as if he were to see a corpse cast away in a charnel ground, picked at
by crows, vultures, & hawks; by dogs, hyenas, & various other
creatures… a skeleton smeared with flesh & blood, connected with
tendons… a fleshless skeleton smeared with blood, connected with tendons… a
skeleton without flesh or blood, connected with tendons… bones detached from
their tendons, scattered in all directions — here a hand bone, there a foot
bone, here a shin bone, there a thigh bone, here a hip bone, there a back bone,
here a rib, there a chest bone, here a shoulder bone, there a neck bone, here a
jaw bone, there a tooth, here a skull… the bones whitened, somewhat like the
color of shells… piled up, more than a year old… decomposed into a powder,
he applies it to this very body, “This body, too: Such is its nature, such
is its future, such its unavoidable fate.” So he abides contemplating the
body in & of itself, internally, externally or both internally &
externally.’


DN 22

The
purpose of this contemplation is not to develop a morbid fascination with the
grotesque, but simply to correct the distortion of perception that tries to
deny the unattractive aspects of the body and to admit only ‘the sign of the
beautiful’ — its attractive side. Now of course this contemplation has its
dangers, for it can go overboard into states of aversion & depression, but
these are not incurable. At several points in the Canon, where the Buddha sees
that monks have let the contemplation of foulness adversely affect their minds,
he recommends that they calm their aversion by focusing on the in & out
breath as a companion meditation.

Ultimately,
as a more balanced perception of the body develops, one may make use of the
second prong of the approach: turning one’s attention from the object of the
lust to the act of lust itself, seeing it as an act of mental fabrication —
foolish, inconstant, & stressful — and so removing any sense of
identification with it. This, in turn, can calm the mind to an even deeper
level and lead on to its Unbinding.

Vaṅgīsa:

With sensual lust              I burn.
My mind        is on fire.
Please, Gotama, out of kindness,
        tell me how to put it out.

Ānanda:

From distorted perception
        your mind is on fire.
Shun the sign  of the beautiful,
        accompanied by lust.
See fabrications       as other,
        as stress,
        not as self.
        
        Extinguish your great lust.
        Don’t keep burning
        again & again.


Thag 21.1

‘For one
who keeps focusing on the foulness [of the body], any obsession with passion
for the property of beauty is abandoned. For one who has mindfulness of
breathing well-established to the fore within oneself, annoying external
thoughts & inclinations don’t exist. For one who keeps focusing on the
inconstancy of all fabrications, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises.

Focusing on foulness
        in the body,
mindful
        of in & out breathing,
seeing
        the calming of all fabrications
               — always ardent —
he is a monk who’s seen rightly.
        
        From that he is there set free.
 
A master of direct knowing,
        at peace,
        he is a sage
               gone beyond bonds.’


Iti 85

Sister Nandā:

As I, heedful,
        examined it aptly,
[a vision of a beautiful person
        growing sick, unclean, & putrid]
this body — as it actually is —
        was seen inside & out.
 
Then was I disenchanted with the body
        and dispassionate within:
Heedful, detached,
        calmed was I,
        
        unbound.


Thig 5.4

Views are the second
mode of clinging/sustenance. And, as with the abandoning of attachment to
sensuality, the abandoning of attachment to views can lead to an experience of
Unbinding.

‘I argue for this,’
doesn’t occur to one
when considering what’s grasped
        among doctrines.
        
Looking for what is    ungrasped
        with regard to views,
and detecting inner peace,
 
        I saw.


Sn 4.9

Attachment
to views can block an experience of Unbinding in any of three major ways.
First, the content of the view itself may not be conducive to the arising of
discernment and may even have a pernicious moral effect on one’s actions,
leading to an unfavorable rebirth.

I have
heard that once the Blessed One was dwelling among the Koliyans… Then Puṇṇa
the Koliyan, a bovine, and Seniya, a canine naked ascetic, approached the
Blessed One. On arrival, Puṇṇa the Koliyan bovine, bowing down to the Blessed
One, sat to one side, while Seniya, the canine naked ascetic, exchanged
courteous greetings with the Blessed One, and after an exchange of friendly
greetings and courtesies, sat to one side, curling up like a dog. While he was
sitting there, Puṇṇa the Koliyan bovine said to the Blessed One, ‘Sir, Seniya,
this naked ascetic, is a canine, a doer-of-hard-tasks. He eats food that is
thrown on the ground. He has long undertaken & conformed to that
dog-practice. What is his future destination, what is his future course?’

[The
Buddha at first declines to answer, but on being pressed, finally responds:]
‘There is the case where a person develops the dog-practice fully &
perfectly… Having developed the dog-practice fully & perfectly, having
developed a dog’s virtue fully & perfectly, having developed a dog’s mind
fully & perfectly, having developed a dog’s demeanor fully & perfectly,
then on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of
dogs. But if he is of such a view as, “By this virtue or practice or
asceticism or holy life I will become a greater or lesser god,” that is
his wrong view. Now, Puṇṇa, there are two destinations for one with wrong view,
I say: hell or the animal womb. So the dog-practice, if perfected, leads him to
the company of dogs; if defective, to hell.’


MN 57

‘Just as
if in the last month of the hot season a māluva creeper pod were to burst open,
and a māluva creeper seed were to fall at the foot of a sāla tree. The deity
living in the tree would become frightened, apprehensive, & anxious. Her
friends & companions, relatives & kin — garden deities, forest deities,
tree deities, deities living in herbs, grass, & forest monarchs — would
gather together to console her: “Have no fear, have no fear. In all
likelihood a peacock is sure to swallow this māluva creeper seed, or a deer
will eat it, or a brush fire will burn it up, or woodsmen will pick it up, or
termites will carry it off, and anyway it probably isn’t really a seed.”

‘And then
no peacock swallowed it, no deer ate it, no brush fire burned it up, no
woodsmen picked it up, no termites carried it off, and it really was a seed.
Watered by a rain-laden cloud, it sprouted in due course and curled its soft,
tender, downy tendril around the sāla tree.

‘The
thought occurred to the deity living in the sāla tree: “Now what future
danger did my friends… foresee, that they gathered together to console me?…
It’s pleasant, the touch of this māluva creeper’s soft, tender, downy
tendril.”

‘Then the
creeper, having enwrapped the sāla tree, having made a canopy over it, &
cascading down around it, caused the massive limbs of the sāla tree to come
crashing down. The thought occurred to the deity living in the tree: “This
was the future danger my friends… foresaw, that they gathered together to
console me… It’s because of that māluva creeper seed that I’m now
experiencing sharp, burning pains.”

‘In the
same way, monks, there are some contemplatives & brāhmans who hold to a
doctrine, a view like this: “There is no harm in sensuality.” Thus
they meet with their downfall through sensuality. They consort with women
wanderers who wear their hair coiled and long.

‘The
thought occurs to them: “Now what future danger do those [other]
contemplatives & brāhmans foresee that they teach the relinquishing &
analysis of sensuality? It’s pleasant, the touch of this woman wanderer’s soft,
tender, downy arm.”

‘Thus
they meet with their downfall through sensuality. With the break-up of the
body, after death, they will go to a bad bourn, destitution, the realm of the
hungry shades, hell. There they will experience sharp, burning pains. The
thought will occur to them: “This was the future danger those
contemplatives & brāhmans foresaw that they taught the relinquishing &
analysis of sensuality. It’s because of sensuality, as a result of sensuality,
that we are now experiencing these sharp, burning pains.”‘


MN 45

Secondly,
apart from the actual content of the views, a person attached to views is bound
to get into disputes with those who hold opposing views, resulting in
unwholesome mental states for the winners as well as the losers.

Engaged in disputes in the midst of an assembly,
         — anxious, desiring praise —
        the one defeated is chagrined.
Shaken with criticism, he seeks for an opening.
        he whose doctrine is [judged as] demolished,
        defeated, by those judging the issue:
He laments, he grieves — the inferior exponent —
        ‘He beat me,’ he mourns.
        
These disputes have arisen among contemplatives.
        In them are elation & dejection.
Seeing this, one should abstain from disputes,
        for they have no other goal
        than the gaining of praise.
 
He who is praised there
        for expounding his doctrine
        in the midst of the assembly,
laughs on that account & grows haughty,
        attaining his heart’s desire.
That haughtiness will be his grounds for vexation,
        for he’ll speak in pride & conceit.
Seeing this, one should abstain from disputes.
No purity is attained by them, say the skilled.


Sn 4.8

Thirdly,
and more profoundly, attachment to views implicitly involves attachment to a
sense of ’superior’ & ‘inferior,’ and to the criteria used in measuring and
making such evaluations. As we saw in Chapter I, any measure or criterion acts
as a limitation or bond on the mind.

That, say the skilled, is a binding knot: that
        in dependence on which
        you regard another as inferior.


Sn 4.5

Whoever construes
        ‘equal’
        ’superior’ or
        ‘inferior,’
by that he’d dispute;
whereas to one unaffected by these three,
        ‘equal’
        ’superior’
do not occur.
 
Of what would the brāhman* say ‘true’ or ‘false,’
        disputing with whom,
he in whom ‘equal,’ ‘unequal’ are not…
 
As the prickly lotus
is unsmeared by water & mud,
so the sage,
        an exponent of peace,
        without greed,
        is unsmeared by sensuality &
        the world.
 
An attainer-of-wisdom
isn’t measured,
        made proud,
        by views or by what is thought,
        for he isn’t affected by them.
He wouldn’t be led by action, learning;
doesn’t reach a conclusion in any entrenchments.
For one dispassionate toward perception
        there are no ties;
for one released by discernment,
        no delusions.
Those who grasp at perceptions & views
        go about butting their heads in the world.


Sn 4.9

An
important point to notice is that attachment to views must be abandoned through
knowledge, and not through skepticism, agnosticism, ignorance, or a mindless
openness to all views. This point is made clear in the Discourse of the Supreme
Net. There the Buddha gives a list of 62 philosophical positions concerning the
nature of the self, the cosmos, & the state of ultimate freedom in the
immediate present. The list is intended to be exhaustive — the ‘net’ in the
title of the discourse — covering all possible views & positions on these
subjects divided into ten categories, one of the categories — equivocation —
including cases of agnosticism.

‘There
are, monks, some contemplatives & brāhmans who, being asked questions
regarding this or that, resort to verbal contortions, to eel-like wriggling, on
four grounds… There is the case of a certain contemplative or brāhman who
does not discern as it actually is that “This is skillful,” or that
“This is unskillful.” The thought occurs to him: “I don’t
discern as it actually is that ‘This is skillful,’ or that ‘This is
unskillful.’ If I… were to declare that ‘This is skillful,’ or that ‘This is
unskillful,’ desire, passion, aversion, or irritation would occur to me; that
would be a falsehood for me. Whatever would be a falsehood for me would be a
distress for me. Whatever would be a distress for me would be an obstacle for
me.” So, out of fear of falsehood, a loathing for falsehood, he does not
declare that “This is skillful,” or that “This is
unskillful.” Being asked questions regarding this or that, he resorts to
verbal contortions, to eel-like wriggling: “I don’t think so. I don’t
think in that way. I don’t think otherwise. I don’t think not. I don’t think
not not.”

[The
second case is virtually identical with the first, substituting ‘clinging’ for
‘falsehood.’]

‘[The
third case:] There is the case of a certain contemplative or brāhman who does
not discern as it actually is that “This is skillful,” or that
“This is unskillful”… “If I, not discerning as it actually is
that ‘This is skillful,’ or that ‘This is unskillful,’ were to declare that
‘This is skillful,’ or that ‘This is unskillful’ — There are contemplatives
& brāhmans who are pundits, subtle, skilled in debate, who prowl about like
hair-splitting marksmen, as it were, shooting [philosophical] positions to
pieces with their dialectic. They might cross-question me, press me for
reasons, rebuke me. I might not be able to stand my ground, that would be a
distress for me… an obstacle for me.” So, out of a fear for questioning,
a loathing for questioning… he resorts to verbal contortions, to eel-like
wriggling…

‘[The
fourth case:] There is the case of a certain contemplative or brāhman who is
dull & exceedingly stupid. Out of dullness & exceeding stupidity, he —
being asked questions regarding this or that — resorts to verbal contortions,
to eel-like wriggling: “If you ask me if there exists another world [after
death], if I thought that there exists another world, would I declare that to
you? I don’t think so. I don’t think in that way. I don’t think otherwise. I
don’t think not. I don’t think not not. If you asked me if there isn’t another
world… both is & isn’t… neither is nor isn’t… if there are beings who
transmigrate… if there aren’t… both are & aren’t… neither are nor
aren’t… if the Tathāgata exists after death… doesn’t… both… neither…
I don’t think so. I don’t think in that way. I don’t think otherwise. I don’t
think not. I don’t think not not.”‘


DN 1

Agnosticism,
then, is not a way of abandoning standpoints but is simply another standpoint:
Like all standpoints, it must be abandoned through knowledge. The type of
knowledge called for — in which standpoints are regarded, not in terms of their
content, but as events in a causal chain — is indicated by the refrain that
follows each of the ten categories of the Supreme Net.

‘This,
monks, the Tathāgata discerns. And he discerns that these standpoints, thus
seized, thus grasped at, lead to such & such a destination, to such &
such a state in the world beyond. And he discerns what is higher than this. And
yet discerning that, he does not grasp at that act of discerning. And as he is
not grasping at it, unbinding [nibbuti] is experienced right within.
Knowing, as they have come to be, the origin, ending, allure, & drawbacks
of feelings, along with the emancipation from feelings, the Tathāgata, monks —
through lack of sustenance/ clinging — is released.’


DN 1

Another
list of speculative views — a set of ten positions summarizing the standard
topics debated by the various schools of contemplatives in the Buddha’s time —
recurs frequently in the Canon. Non-Buddhist debaters used it as a ready-made
checklist for gauging an individual’s positions on the controversial issues of
the day and they often put it to the Buddha. Invariably, he would reply that he
did not hold to any of the ten positions.

‘Seeing
what drawback, then, is Master Gotama thus entirely dissociated from each of
these ten positions?’

‘Vaccha,
the position that “the world is eternal” is a thicket of views, a
wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of
views. It is accompanied by suffering, distress, despair, & fever, and it
does not lead to disenchantment, dispassion, stopping; to calm, direct
knowledge, self-awakening, Unbinding.

‘The
position that “the world is not eternal”… “the world is
finite”… “the world is infinite”… “the soul is the same
thing as the body”… “the soul is one thing and the body
another”… “after death a Tathāgata exists”… “after
death a Tathāgata does not exist”… “after death a Tathāgata both
exists & does not exist”… “after death a Tathāgata neither
exists nor does not exist”… does not lead to disenchantment, dispassion,
stopping; to calm, direct knowledge, self-awakening, Unbinding.’

‘Does
Master Gotama have any position at all?’

‘A
“position,” Vaccha, is something that a Tathāgata has done away with.
What a Tathāgata sees is this: “Such is form, such its origin, such its
disappearance; such is feeling, such its origin, such its disappearance; such
is perception… such are fabrications… such is consciousness, such its
origin, such its disappearance.” Because of this, I say, a Tathāgata — with
the ending, fading out, stopping, renunciation & relinquishing of all
construings, all excogitations, all I-making & my-making & obsessions
with conceit — is, through lack of sustenance/clinging, released.’


MN 72

The
construings the Buddha relinquished include views not only in their full-blown
form as specific positions, but also in their rudimentary form as the
categories & relationships that the mind reads into experience. This is a
point he makes in his instructions to Bāhiya, which led immediately to the
latter’s attaining the goal. When the mind imposes interpretations on its
experience, it is engaging implicitly in system-building and all the
limitations of location & relationship that system-building involves. Only
when it can free itself of those interpretations and the fetters they place on
it, can it gain true freedom.

‘Therefore,
Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the
seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard.
In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only
the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be
only the seen in reference to the seen… only the heard… only the sensed…
only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you
in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is
no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor
between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress.’


Ud 1.10

Habits & practices. The Canon mentions a variety of habits & practices —
the third mode of clinging/sustenance. Prominent among them are Brāhmanical
rituals & Jain practices of self-torture, and according to the Commentary
these are the habits & practices referred to in this context. Yet although
the goal will always remain out of reach as long as one remains attached to
such practices, the abandonment of this attachment is never in & of itself
sufficient for attaining the goal.

But there
is another practice which, though a necessary part of the Buddhist path, can
nevertheless offer sustenance for becoming; and which — as the object of
attachment to be transcended — figures prominently in descriptions of the
goal’s attainment. That practice is jhāna, or meditative absorption. It
might be argued that this is stretching the term, ‘practice’ (vata), a
little far, but jhāna does not fall under any of the other three sustenances
for becoming at all, and yet it definitely does function as such a sustenance,
so there seems to be little choice but to place it here.

Different
passages in the Canon number the levels of jhāna in different ways. The
standard description gives four, although the pure mindfulness & equanimity
attained on the fourth level may further be applied to four progressively more
& more refined formless sensations — termed the ‘peaceful emancipations,
formlessness beyond forms’ — that altogether give eight levels, often referred
to as the eight attainments.

A number
of objects can serve as the basis for jhāna. The breath is one, and an analysis
of the Canon’s description of the first stages of breath meditation will give
an idea of what jhāna involves.

The first
step is simply being mindful of the breath in the present:

‘There is
the case of a monk who, having gone to a forest, to the shade of a tree or to
an empty building, sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body
erect, & keeping mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, he breathes in;
mindful he breathes out.

Then
comes evaluation: He begins to discern variations in the breath:

“Breathing
in long, he discerns, ‘I am breathing in long’; or breathing out long, he
discerns, ‘I am breathing out long.’ Or breathing in short, he discerns, ‘I am
breathing in short’; or breathing out short, he discerns, ‘I am breathing out
short.’”

The
remaining steps are willed, or determined: He ‘trains himself,’ first by
manipulating his sense of conscious awareness, making it sensitive to the body
as a whole. (This accounts for the term ‘mahaggataṃ’ — enlarged or
expanded — used to describe the mind in the state of jhāna.)

‘He
trains himself, “I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body”…
“I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.”

Now that
he is aware of the body as a whole, he can begin to manipulate the physical
sensations of which he is aware, calming them — i.e., calming the breath — so
as to create a sense of rapture & ease.

‘He
trains himself, “I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication”…
“I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.” He trains himself,
“I will breathe in sensitive to rapture”… “I, will breathe out
sensitive to rapture.” He trains himself, “I will breathe in
sensitive to pleasure”… “I will breathe out sensitive to
pleasure.”

(As we
will see below, he maximizes this sense of rapture & pleasure, making it
suffuse the entire body.)

Now that
bodily processes are stilled, mental processes become apparent as they occur.
These too are calmed, leaving — as we will see below — a radiant awareness of
the mind itself.

‘He
trains himself, “I will breathe in sensitive to mental
fabrication”… “I will breathe out sensitive to mental
fabrication.” He trains himself, “I will breathe in calming mental
fabrication”… “I will to breathe out calming mental
fabrication.” He trains himself, “I will breathe in sensitive to the
mind”… “I will to breathe out sensitive to the mind”‘…


MN 118

The
standard description of jhāna, however, does not refer to any particular object
as its basis, but simply divides it into four levels determined by the way the
mind relates to the object as it becomes more & more absorbed in it.

‘Furthermore,
monks, the monk — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful
(mental) qualities — enters and remains in the first jhāna: rapture & pleasure
born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He
permeates & pervades, suffuses & fills this very body with the rapture
& pleasure born of seclusion, so that nothing of his entire body is
unpervaded by rapture & pleasure born from seclusion.

‘Just as
an adept bathman or bathman’s apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass
basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again & again with water, so
that his ball of bath powder — saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within
& without — would nevertheless not drip; even so, monks, the monk
permeates… this very body with the rapture & pleasure born of seclusion.
And as he remains thus earnest, ardent, & intent, any longings related to
the household life are abandoned, and with their abandoning his mind gathers
& settles inwardly, unified & composed. That is how a monk develops
mindfulness immersed in the body.

‘And
furthermore, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he
enters & remains in the second jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of
concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought &
evaluation — internal assurance. He permeates & pervades, suffuses &
fills this very body with the rapture & pleasure born of concentration, so
that nothing of his entire body is unpervaded by rapture & pleasure born of
concentration.

‘Just
like a lake with spring-water welling up from within, having no inflow from
east, west, north, or south, and with the skies periodically supplying abundant
showers, so that the cool fount of water welling up from within the lake would
permeate & pervade, suffuse & fill it with cool waters, there being no
part of the lake unpervaded by the cool waters; even so monks, the monk
permeates… this very body with the rapture & pleasure born of concentration.
And as he remains thus earnest, ardent & intent… he develops mindfulness
immersed in the body.

‘And
furthermore, with the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, &
alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third
jhāna, of which the Noble Ones declare, “Equanimous & mindful, he has
a pleasant abiding.” He permeates & pervades, suffuses & fills
this very body with the pleasure divested of rapture, so that nothing of his
entire body is unpervaded by pleasure divested of rapture.

‘Just as
in a blue-, white-, or red-lotus pond, there may be some of the blue, white, or
red lotuses that, born & growing in the water, stay immersed in the water
and flourish without standing up out of the water, so that they are permeated
& pervaded, suffused & filled with cool water from their roots to their
tips, there being nothing of those blue, white, or red lotuses unpervaded by
cool water; even so, monks, the monk permeates… this very body with the
pleasure divested of rapture. And as he remains thus earnest, ardent &
intent… he develops mindfulness immersed in the body.

‘And
furthermore, with the abandoning of pleasure & stress — as with the earlier
disappearance of joys & distress — he enters & remains in the fourth
jhāna: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor stress. He
sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness, so that nothing of his
entire body is unpervaded by pure, bright awareness.

‘Just as
if a man were sitting covered from head to foot with a white cloth so that
there would be no part of his body to which the white cloth did not extend;
even so, monks, the monk sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright
awareness. And as he remains thus earnest, ardent, & intent… he develops
mindfulness immersed in the body.’


MN 119

‘Directed
thought’ mentioned in the reference to the first level of jhāna corresponds, in
the description of breath meditation, to the mindfulness directed to the breath
in the present. ‘Evaluation’ corresponds to the discernment of variations in
the breath, and to the manipulation of awareness & the breath so as to
create a sense of rapture & pleasure throughout the body (the bathman kneading
moisture throughout the ball of bath powder). The still waters in the simile
for the third level of jhāna, as opposed to the spring waters welling up in the
second level, correspond to the stilling of mental fabrications. And the pure,
bright awareness in the fourth level corresponds to the stage of breath
meditation where the meditator is sensitive to the mind.

Thus as
the mind progresses through the first four levels of jhāna, it sheds the
various mental activities surrounding its one object: Directed thought &
evaluation are stilled, rapture fades, and pleasure is abandoned. After
reaching a state of pure, bright, mindful, equanimous awareness in the fourth
level of jhāna, the mind can start shedding its perception (mental label) of
the form of its object, the space around its object, itself, & the lack of
activity within itself. This process takes four steps — the four formlessnesses
beyond form — culminating in a state where perception is so refined that it can
hardly be called perception at all.

‘With the
complete transcending of perceptions of form,

and the
passing away of perceptions of resistance, and not attending to perceptions of
diversity, (perceiving,) “Infinite space,” one enters & remains
in the dimension of the infinitude of space…

‘With the
complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of space,
(perceiving,) “Infinite consciousness,” one enters & remains in
the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness…

‘With the
complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness,
(perceiving,) “There is nothing,” one enters & remains in the
dimension of nothingness…

‘With the
complete transcending of the dimension of nothingness, one enters & remains
in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.


DN 15

To
abandon attachment to jhāna as a sustenance for becoming means, not to stop
practicing it, but rather to practice it without becoming engrossed in the
sense of pleasure or equanimity it affords, so that one can discern its true
nature for what it is.

When this
had been said, Venerable Ānanda asked the Blessed One: ‘In the case, lord,
where a monk has reached the point that — (perceiving,) “It should not be,
it should not occur to me; it will not be, it will not occur to me. What is,
what has come to be, that I abandon” — he obtains equanimity. Would this
monk be totally unbound, or not?’

‘A
certain such monk might, Ānanda, and another might not.’

‘What is
the cause, what is the reason, whereby one might and another might not?’

‘There is
the case, Ānanda, where a monk has reached the point that — (perceiving,)
“It should not be, it should not occur to me; it will not be, it will not
occur to me. What is, what has come to be, that I abandon” — he obtains
equanimity. He relishes that equanimity, welcomes it, remains fastened to it.
As he does so, his consciousness is dependent on it, sustained by it. With
sustenance, Ānanda, a monk is not totally unbound.’

‘Being
sustained, where is that monk sustained?’

‘The
dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.’

‘Then,
indeed, being sustained, he is sustained by the supreme sustenance.’

‘Being
sustained, Ānanda, he is sustained by the supreme sustenance; for this — the
dimension of neither perception nor non-perception — is the supreme sustenance.
There is [however] the case where a monk… reaches equanimity. He does not
relish that equanimity, does not welcome it, does not remain fastened to it.
Such being the case, his consciousness is not dependent on it, is not sustained
by it. Without sustenance, Ānanda, a monk is totally unbound.’


MN 106

Once the
mind can detach itself from the pleasure & equanimity offered by jhāna, it
can be inclined toward that which transcends jhāna — the unconditioned quality
of deathlessness.

‘There is
the case, Ānanda, where a monk… enters & remains in the first jhāna:
rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought &
evaluation. He regards whatever phenomena there that are connected with form,
feeling, perception, fabrications, & consciousness as inconstant,
stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution,
empty, not-self. He turns his mind away from those phenomena and, having done
so, inclines it to the phenomenon [dhamma] of deathlessness: “This
is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the
relinquishing of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; stopping;
Unbinding.”

‘Staying
right there, he reaches the ending of effluents. Or, if not, then — through
this very Dhamma-passion, this very Dhamma-delight, and from the total wasting
away of the first five Fetters* — he is due to be reborn [in the Pure Abodes],
there to be totally unbound, never again to return from that world. [Similarly
with the other levels of jhāna up through the dimension of nothingness.]’


MN 64

The fact
that the various levels of jhāna are nurtured & willed, and thus dependent
on conditions, is important: A realization of exactly how they are nurtured — a
realization acquired only through practical experience with them — can give
insight into the conditioned nature of all mental events and is one of the ways
in which the attachment to jhāna, as sustenance for becoming, can be abandoned.

An
indication of how this happens is given in outline form in the Discourse on
Mindfulness of In & Out Breathing. To take up the description of breath
meditation where we left off: Once there is direct awareness of the mind
itself, the various levels of jhāna are reviewed. Now, however, primary
attention is focused, not on the object, but on the mind as it relates to the
object — the different ways in which it can be satisfied & steadied, and
the different factors from which it can be released by taking it through the
different levels (e.g., releasing it from directed thought & evaluation by
taking it from the first to the second level, and so forth).

‘He
trains himself, “I will breathe in…& out gladdening the mind.”
He trains himself, “I will breathe in…& out steadying the
mind.” He trains himself, “I will breathe in…& out releasing
the mind.”

The
states of gladdening, steadiness, & release experienced on these levels,
though, are willed and therefore conditioned. The next step is to focus on the
fact that these qualities, being conditioned, are inconstant. Once the mind
sees directly that inconstancy is inherent both in the pleasure offered by
jhāna and in the act of will that brings it about, one becomes dispassionate
toward it, stops craving it, and can relinquish any & all attachment to it.

‘He
trains himself, “I will breathe in…& out focusing on
inconstancy.” He trains himself, “I will breathe in…& out focusing
on dispassion.” He trains himself, “I will breathe in…& out
focusing on stopping.” He trains himself, “I will breathe in…&
out focusing on relinquishing.”‘


MN 118

At the
conclusion to the discourse, the Buddha states that breath meditation, when
practiced often & repeatedly in this way, results in the maturation of
clear knowledge & release.

A more
vivid description of how mastery of jhāna can lead to the insight that transcends
it, is given in the Discourse on the Analysis of the Properties:

‘[On
attaining the fourth level of jhāna] there remains only equanimity: pure &
bright, pliant, malleable & luminous. Just as if a skilled goldsmith or
goldsmith’s apprentice were to prepare a furnace, heat up a crucible, and,
taking gold with a pair of tongs, place it in the crucible. He would blow on it
time & again, sprinkle water on it time & again, examine it time &
again, so that the gold would become refined, well-refined, thoroughly refined,
flawless, free from dross, pliant, malleable & luminous. Then whatever sort
of ornament he had in mind — whether a belt, an earring, a necklace, or a gold
chain — it would serve his purpose. In the same way, there remains only
equanimity: pure & bright, pliant, malleable & luminous. He [the
meditator] discerns that “If I were to direct equanimity as pure &
bright as this toward the dimension of the infinitude of space, I would develop
the mind along those lines, and thus this equanimity of mine — thus supported,
thus sustained — would last for a long time. [Similarly with the remaining
formless states.]”

‘He
discerns that “If I were to direct equanimity as pure & bright as this
toward the dimension of the infinitude of space and to develop the mind along
those lines, that would be fabricated. [Similarly with the remaining formless
states.]” He neither fabricates nor mentally fashions for the sake of
becoming or un-becoming. This being the case, he is not sustained by anything
in the world [does not cling to anything in the world]. Unsustained, he is not
agitated. Unagitated, he is totally unbound right within. He discerns that
“Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing
further for this world.”‘


MN 140

Doctrines of the self form the
fourth mode of clinging/ sustenance. The Canon reports a wide variety of such
doctrines current in the Buddha’s time, only to reject them out-of-hand for two
major reasons. The first is that even the least articulated sense of self or
self-identification inevitably leads to stress & suffering.

‘Monks,
do you see any clinging/sustenance in the form of a doctrine of self which, in
clinging to, there would not arise sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, &
despair?’

‘No,
lord.’

‘…Neither
do I… How do you construe this, monks: If a person were to gather or burn or
do as he likes with the grass, twigs, branches, & leaves here in Jeta’s
Grove, would the thought occur to you, “It’s us that this person is
gathering, burning, or doing with as he likes”?’

‘No,
lord. Why is that? Because those things are not our self and do not pertain to
our self.’

‘Even so,
monks, whatever is not yours: Let go of it. Your letting go of it will be for
your long-term happiness & benefit. And what is not yours? Form is not
yours… Feeling is not yours… Perception… Fabrications… Consciousness is
not yours. Let go of it. Your letting go of it will be for your long-term
happiness & benefit.’


MN 22

The
second reason for rejecting doctrines of the self is that, whatever form they
take, they all contain inherent inconsistencies. The Buddha’s most systematic
treatment of this point is in the Great Discourse on Causation, where he
classifies all theories of the self into four major categories: those
describing a self (a) possessed of form & finite; (b) possessed of form
& infinite; (c) formless & finite; and (d) formless & infinite. The
text gives no examples for the categories, but we might cite the following as
illustrations: (a) theories that deny the existence of a soul, and identify the
self with the body; (b) theories that identify the self with all being or with
the universe; (c) theories of discrete souls in individual beings; (d) theories
of a unitary soul or identity immanent in all things.

Discussing
these various categories, the Buddha states that people who adhere to any of
them will state that the self already is of such a nature, that it is destined
to acquire such a nature after death, or that it can be made into such a nature
by various practices. He then goes on to discuss the various ways people assume
a self as defined in relation to feeling.

‘In what
respect, Ānanda, does one assume when assuming a self? Assuming feeling to be
the self, one assumes that “Feeling is my self” [or] “Feeling is
not my self: My self is oblivious [to feeling]” [or] “Neither is
feeling my self, nor is my self oblivious to feeling, but rather my self feels,
in that my self is subject to feeling.”

‘Now, one
who says, “Feeling is my self,” should be addressed as follows:
“There are these three feelings, my friend — feelings of pleasure,
feelings of pain, & feelings of neither pleasure nor pain. Which of these
three feelings do you assume to be the self? At a moment when a feeling of
pleasure is sensed, no feeling of pain or of neither pleasure nor pain is
sensed. Only a feeling of pleasure is sensed at that moment. At a moment when a
feeling of pain is sensed, no feeling of pleasure or of neither pleasure nor
pain is sensed. Only a feeling of pain is sensed at that moment. At a moment
when a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain is sensed, no feeling of pleasure
or of pain is sensed. Only a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain is sensed at
that moment.

‘”Now,
a feeling of pleasure is inconstant, compounded, dependent on conditions,
subject to passing away, dissolution, fading, & stopping. A feeling of
pain… A feeling of neither pleasure nor pain is inconstant… subject to
stopping. Having sensed a feeling of pleasure as ‘my self,’ then with the
stopping of one’s very own feeling of pleasure, ‘my self’ has perished. Having
sensed a feeling of pain as ‘my self’… Having sensed a feeling of neither
pleasure nor pain as ‘my self,’ then with the stopping of one’s very own
feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, ‘my self’ has perished.”

‘Thus he
assumes, assuming in the immediate present a self inconstant, entangled in
pleasure & pain, subject to arising & passing away, he who says,
“Feeling is my self.” Thus in this manner, Ānanda, one does not see
fit to assume feeling to be the self.

‘As for
the person who says, “Feeling is not the self: My self is oblivious [to
feeling],” he should be addressed as follows: “My friend, where
nothing whatsoever is sensed [experienced] at all, would there be the thought,
‘I am’?”‘

‘No,
lord.’

‘Thus in
this manner, Ānanda, one does not see fit to assume that “Feeling is not
my self: My self is oblivious [to feeling].”

‘As for
the person who says, “Neither is feeling my self, nor is my self oblivious
to feeling, but rather my self feels, in that my self is subject to
feeling,” he should be addressed as follows: “My friend, should
feelings altogether and every way stop without remainder, then with feeling
completely not existing, owing to the stopping of feeling, would there be the
thought, ‘I am’?”‘

‘No,
lord.’

‘Thus in
this manner, Ānanda, one does not see fit to assume that “Neither is
feeling my self, nor is my self oblivious to feeling, but rather my self feels,
in that my self is subject to feeling.”

‘Now,
Ānanda, in as far as a monk does not assume feeling to be the self, nor the
self as oblivious, nor that “My self feels, in that my self is subject to
feeling,” then, not assuming in this way, he is not sustained by anything
in the world. Unsustained, he is not agitated. Unagitated, he is totally
unbound right within. He discerns that “Birth is ended, the holy life
fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.”

‘If
anyone were to say with regard to a monk whose mind is thus released that
“The Tathāgata exists after death,” is his view, that would be
mistaken; that “The Tathāgata does not exist after death”… that
“The Tathāgata both exists & does not exist after death”… that
“The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death” is his
view, that would be mistaken. Why? Having directly known the extent of
designation and the extent of the objects of designation, the extent of
expression and the extent of the objects of expression, the extent of
description and the extent of the objects of description, the extent of
discernment and the extent of the objects of discernment, the extent to which
the cycle revolves: Having directly known that, the monk is released. [To say
that,] “The monk released, having directly known that, does not see, does
not know is his opinion,” that would be mistaken.’ [This last sentence
means that the monk released is not an agnostic concerning what lies beyond the
extent of designation, and so forth. He does know & see what lies beyond,
even though — as Ven. Sāriputta said to Ven. MahaKoṭṭhita — he cannot express
it, inasmuch as it lies beyond objectification. See the discussion of SN 35.23,
AN 4.173, & SN 35.117 in
Chapter One.]


DN 15

Views
of the self
can center around not only feeling, but also physical
form, perception, fabrications, & consciousness — the five aggregates for
sustenance — which, according to another passage in the above discourse, cover
the extent of what can be designated, expressed, & described, but none of
which, on investigation, can rightfully be designated as self.

I have
heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Vārāṇasi, in the Game
Refuge at Isipatana. There he addressed the group of five monks:

‘Form,
monks, is not-self. If form were the self, this form would not lend itself to
dis-ease. One could get form to be like this and not be like that. But
precisely because form is not-self, it lends itself to dis-ease. And one cannot
get form to be like this and not be like that.

‘Feeling
is not-self… Perception is not-self… Fabrications are not-self…

‘Consciousness
is not-self. If consciousness were the self, this consciousness would not lend
itself to dis-ease. One could get consciousness to be like this and not be like
that. But precisely because consciousness is not-self, it lends itself to
dis-ease. And one cannot get consciousness to be like this and not be like
that.

‘How do
you construe thus, monks — Is form constant or inconstant?’ — ‘Inconstant,
lord.’ — ‘And whatever is inconstant: Is it easeful or stressful?’ —
‘Stressful, lord.’ — ‘And is it right to assume with regard to whatever is
inconstant, stressful, subject to change, that “This is mine. This is my
self. This is what I am”?’ — ‘No, lord.’

‘…Is
feeling constant or inconstant?… Is perception constant or inconstant?… Are
fabrications constant or inconstant?…

‘Is
consciousness constant or inconstant?’ — ‘Inconstant, lord.’ — ‘And whatever is
inconstant: Is it easeful or stressful?’ — ‘Stressful, lord.’ — ‘And is it
right to assume with regard to whatever is inconstant, stressful, subject to
change, that “This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am”?’ —
‘No, lord.’

‘Thus,
monks, any form whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or
external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: every form is to
be seen as it actually is with right discernment as: “This is not mine.
This is not my self. This is not what I am.”

‘Any
feeling whatsoever… Any perception whatsoever… Any fabrications
whatsoever…

‘Any
consciousness whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or
external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: every
consciousness is to be seen as it actually is with right discernment as:
“This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.”

‘Seeing
thus, the instructed noble disciple grows disenchanted with form, disenchanted
with feeling, disenchanted with perception, disenchanted with fabrications,
disenchanted with consciousness. Disenchanted, he grows dispassionate. Through
dispassion, he is released. With release, there is the knowledge,
“Released.” He discerns that “Birth is ended, the holy life
fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.”‘

That is
what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the group of five monks delighted at his
words. And while this explanation was being given, the hearts of the group of
five monks, through not clinging [not being sustained], were released from
effluents.


SN 22.59

On the
surface, doctrines about the self would appear simply to be another variety of
speculative view. They deserve separate treatment, though, because they all
come down to a deeply rooted sense of ‘I am’ — a conceit coloring all
perception at the most fundamental level.

‘Monks,
any contemplatives or brāhmans who assume in various ways when assuming a self,
all assume the five aggregates for sustenance or a certain one of them. Which
five? There is the case where an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person…
assumes form to be the self, or the self as possessing form, form as in the
self, or the self as in form. He assumes feeling to be the self… perception
to be the self… fabrications to be the self… He assumes consciousness to be
the self, or the self as possessing consciousness, consciousness as in the
self, or the self as in consciousness.

‘Thus,
both this assumption & the understanding, “I am,” occur to him.
And so it is with reference to the understanding “I am” that there is
the appearance of the five faculties — eye, ear, nose, tongue, & body [the
senses of vision, hearing, smell, taste, & touch].

‘Now,
there is the intellect, there are ideas [mental qualities], there is the
property of ignorance. To an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person, touched by
experience born of the contact of ignorance, there occur [the thoughts]:
“I am,” “I am thus,” “I will be,” “I will
not be,” “I will be possessed of form,” “I will be
formless,” “I will be percipient [conscious],” “I will be
non-percipient,” or “I will be neither percipient nor
non-percipient.”

‘The five
faculties, monks, continue as they were. And with regard to them the instructed
noble disciple abandons ignorance and gives rise to clear knowing. Owing to the
fading of ignorance and the arising of clear knowing, [the thoughts] — “I
am,” “I am this,”… “I will be neither percipient nor
non-percipient” — do not occur to him.’


SN 22.47

The
sense of ‘I am’
can prevent a person from reaching the goal, even when
he feels that he has abandoned attachment to sensuality, speculative views,
& the experience of jhāna.

‘There is the case, monks, where a certain contemplative or brāhman, with
the relinquishing of speculations about the past and the relinquishing of
speculations about the future, from being totally not determined on the fetters
of sensuality, and from the surmounting of the rapture of seclusion [in the
first jhāna], of pleasure not-of-the-flesh, & of the feeling of neither
pleasure nor pain [in the fourth jhāna], thinks, “I am at peace, I am
unbound, I am without clinging/sustenance!”

‘With
regard to this, the Tathāgata discerns: “This venerable contemplative or
brāhman, with the relinquishing of speculations about the past… thinks, ‘I am
at peace, I am unbound, I am without clinging/sustenance!” Yes, he affirms
a practice conducive to Unbinding. But still he clings, clinging to a
speculation about the past or… a speculation about the future… or a fetter
of sensuality… or the rapture of seclusion… or pleasure not-of-the-flesh…
or a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain. And the fact that he thinks, ‘I am
at peace, I am unbound, I am without clinging/sustenance!’ — that in itself
points to his clinging.”

‘With
regard to this — fabricated, gross — there is still the cessation of
fabrications. Knowing, “There is that,” seeing the escape from it,
the Tathāgata has gone beyond it.’


MN 102

Whereas the
contemplative or brāhman under discussion in this passage reads an ‘I’ into
what he is experiencing, the Buddha simply observes that ‘There is this…’
This unadorned observation — which simply sees what is present in an experience
as present, and what is absent as absent — is treated in detail in the Lesser
Discourse on Emptiness. There the Buddha describes how to develop it
methodically, in ascending stages passing through the levels of jhāna — in this
case based on the object ‘earth’, or solidity — and leading ultimately to
Awakening.

‘Ānanda,
just as this palace of Migāra’s mother [in the monastery constructed by Lady
Visākhā near Sāvatthi] is empty of elephants, cattle, & mares, empty of
gold & silver, empty of assemblies of women & men, and there is only
this non-emptiness — the singleness based on the community of monks; even so,
Ānanda, a monk — not attending to the perception [mental label] of village, not
attending to the perception of human being — attends to the singleness based on
the perception of wilderness. His mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction,
settles, & indulges in its perception of wilderness.

‘He
discerns that “Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the
perception of village… that would exist based on the perception of human
being, are not present. There is only this modicum of disturbance: the
singleness based on the perception of wilderness.” He discerns that
“This mode of perception is empty of the perception of village. This mode
of perception is empty of the perception of human being. There is only this
non-emptiness: the singleness based on the perception of wilderness.” Thus
he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns
as present: “There is this.” And so this, his entry into emptiness,
accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, & pure.

‘Further,
Ānanda, the monk — not attending to the perception of human being, not
attending to the perception of wilderness — attends to the singleness based on
the perception of earth. His mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction, settles,
& indulges in its perception of earth. Just as a bull’s hide is stretched
free from wrinkles with a hundred stakes, even so — without attending to all
the ridges & hollows, the river ravines, the tracts of stumps & thorns,
the craggy irregularities of this earth — he attends to the singleness based on
the perception of earth. His mind… settles & indulges in its perception
of earth.

‘He
discerns that “Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the
perception of human being… that would exist based on the perception of
wilderness, are not present. There is only this modicum of disturbance: the
singleness based on the perception of earth.” He discerns that “This
mode of perception is empty of the perception of human being… empty of the perception
of wilderness. There is only this non-emptiness: the singleness based on the
perception of earth.” Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not
there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: “There is this.” And
so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in
meaning, & pure.

‘Further,
Ānanda, the monk — not attending to the perception of wilderness, not attending
to the perception of earth — attends to the singleness based on the perception
of the dimension of the infinitude of space… [and so on through the four
levels of formless jhāna. Then:]

‘Further,
Ānanda, the monk — not attending to the perception of the dimension of
nothingness, not attending to the perception of the dimension of neither
perception nor non-perception — attends to the singleness based on the signless
concentration of awareness. His mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction,
settles, & indulges in its signless concentration of awareness.

‘He
discerns that “Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the
perception of the dimension of nothingness… that would exist based on the
perception of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, are not
present. And there is only this modicum of disturbance: that connected with the
six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its
condition.” He discerns that “This mode of perception is
empty…[etc.]”

‘Further,
Ānanda, the monk — not attending to the perception of the dimension of
nothingness, not attending to the perception of the dimension of neither
perception nor non-perception — attends to the singleness based on the signless
concentration of awareness. His mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction,
settles, & indulges in its signless concentration of awareness.

‘He
discerns that “This signless concentration of awareness is fabricated
& mentally fashioned.” And he discerns that “Whatever is
fabricated & mentally fashioned is inconstant & subject to
stopping.” For him — thus knowing, thus seeing — the mind is released from
the effluent of sensuality, the effluent of becoming, the effluent of
ignorance. With release, there is the knowledge, “Released.” He
discerns that “Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done.
There is nothing further for this world.”

‘He
discerns that “Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the
effluent of sensuality… the effluent of becoming… the effluent of
ignorance, are not present. And there is only this modicum of disturbance: that
connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life
as its condition.” He discerns that “This mode of perception is empty
of the effluent of sensuality… the effluent of becoming… the effluent of
ignorance. And there is just this non-emptiness: that connected with the six
sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.”
Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he
discerns as present: “There is this.” And so this, his entry into
emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, pure —

         
superior & unsurpassed.’


MN 121

Ānanda:
‘It is said that the world is empty, the world is empty, lord. To what extent
is it said that the world is empty?’

The
Buddha: ‘Insofar as it is empty of self or of anything pertaining to self: Thus
it is said that the world is empty. And what is empty of self or of anything
pertaining to self? The eye is empty of self or of anything pertaining to self.
Forms… Eye-consciousness… Eye-contact is empty of self or of anything
pertaining to self.

‘The
ear… The nose… The tongue… The body…

‘The
intellect is empty of self or of anything pertaining to self. Ideas…
Intellect-consciousness… Intellect-contact is empty of self or of anything
pertaining to self. Thus it is said that the world is empty.’


SN 35.85

In abandoning the
notion of self with regard to the world — here defined in the same terms as the
‘All’ (
page 31, above) — the Buddha
did not, however, hold to a theory that there is no self.

Having
sat to one side, Vacchagotta the wanderer said to the Blessed One, ‘Now then,
Venerable Gotama, is there a self?’ When this was said, the Blessed One was
silent.

‘Then is
there no self?’ Again, the Blessed One was silent.

Then
Vacchagotta the wanderer got up from his seat and left.

Then, not
long after Vacchagotta the wanderer had left, Venerable Ānanda said to the
Blessed One, ‘Why, lord, did the Blessed One not answer when asked a question
by Vacchagotta the wanderer?’

‘Ānanda,
if I, being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self, were to
answer that there is a self, that would be conforming with those contemplatives
& brāhmans who are exponents of eternalism [i.e., the view that there is an
eternal soul]. And if I… were to answer that there is no self, that would be
conforming with those contemplatives & brāhmans who are exponents of
annihilationism [i.e. that death is the annihilation of consciousness]. If I…
were to answer that there is a self, would that be in keeping with the arising
of knowledge that all phenomena are not-self?

‘No,
lord.’

‘And if
I… were to answer that there is no self, the bewildered Vacchagotta would
become even more bewildered: “Does the self that I used to have, now not
exist?”‘


SN 44.10

This
dialogue is one of the most controversial in the Canon. Those who hold that the
Buddha took a position one way or the other on the question of whether or not
there is a self have to explain away the Buddha’s silence, and usually do so by
focusing on his final statement to Ānanda. If someone else more spiritually
mature than Vacchagotta had asked the question, they say, the Buddha would have
revealed his true position.

This
interpretation, though, ignores the fact that of the Buddha’s four express
reasons for not answering the question, only the last is specific to Vacchagotta.
The first two hold true no matter who is asking the question: To say that there
is or is not a self would be to fall into one of two philosophical positions
that the Buddha frequently attacked as incompatible with his teaching. As for
his third reason, the Buddha wanted to be consistent with ‘the arising of
knowledge that all phenomena are not-self,’ not because he felt that this
knowledge was worth holding onto in & of itself (cf. his statement to
Upasīva, Sn 5:6, that in the experience of the goal all phenomena are done away
with), but because he saw that the arising of such knowledge could, through
causing the mind to let go of all forms of clinging/sustenance, lead to
liberation.

This
point becomes clear when we compare the exchange with Vacchagotta, given above,
to this one with Mogharāja:

Mogharāja:

How does one view the world so as not to be seen by
Death’s king?

The Buddha:

View the world, Mogharāja,
        as empty —
        always mindful,
to have removed any view about self.
This way one is above & beyond death.
This is how one views the world
so as not to be seen by Death’s king.


Sn 5.16

The
fundamental difference between this dialogue & the preceding one lies in
the questions asked: In the first, Vacchagotta asks the Buddha to take a
position on the metaphysical question of whether or not there is a self, and
the Buddha remains silent. In the second, Mogharāja asks for a way to view the
world so that one can go beyond death, and the Buddha speaks, teaching him to
view the world without reference to the notion of self.

This
suggests that, instead of being a metaphysical assertion that there is no self,
the teaching on not-self is more a strategy, a technique of perception aimed at
leading beyond death to Unbinding — a way of perceiving things that involves no
self-identification, no sense that ‘I am’, no attachment to ‘I’ or ‘mine.’ And
this would be in keeping with the discernment the Buddha recommends in the
Discourse on the Supreme Net (DN 1): one that judges views not in terms of
their content, but in terms of where they come from and where they lead.

If a
person aiming at Unbinding is not to view the world in terms of self, then in
what terms should he or she view it? The Buddha’s comment to Anurādha (
page 25) — ‘It is only
stress that I describe, and the stopping of stress’ — suggests an answer, and
this answer is borne out by a series of other passages in the Canon.

‘Lord,
“Right view, right view,” it is said. To what extent is there right
view?’

‘By &
large, Kaccāyana, this world is supported by [takes as its object] a polarity,
that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the
world as it has come to be with right discernment, “non-existence”
with reference to the world doesn’t occur to one. When one sees the stopping of
the world as it has come to be with right discernment, “existence”
with reference to the world doesn’t occur to one.

‘By &
large, Kaccāyana, this world is in bondage to attachments, clingings
[sustenances], & biases. But one such as this doesn’t get involved with or
cling to these attachments, clingings, fixations of awareness, biases, or
obsessions; nor is he resolved on “my self.” He has no uncertainty or
doubt that mere stress, when arising, is arising; stress, when passing away, is
passing away. In this, his knowledge is independent of others. It’s to this
extent, Kaccāyana, that there is right view.’


SN 12.15

‘There is
the case where an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person… does not discern what
ideas are fit for attention, or what ideas are unfit for attention. This being
so, he doesn’t attend to ideas fit for attention, and attends [instead] to
ideas unfit for attention… This is how he attends inappropriately: “Was
I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the
past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Will I be in the future? Will I
not be in the future? What will I be in the future? How will I be in the
future? Having been what, what will I be in the future?” Or else he is
inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: “Am I? Am I not? What am
I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?”

‘As this
person attends inappropriately in this way, one of six kinds of view arises in
him: The view I have a self arises in him as true & established, or
the view I have no self… or the view It is precisely because of
self that I perceive self
… or the view It is precisely because of self
that I perceive not-self
… or the view It is precisely because of
not-self that I perceive self
arises in him as true & established, or
else he has a view like this: This very self of mine — the knower that is
sensitive here & there to the ripening of good & bad actions — is the
self of mine that is constant, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and
will endure as long as eternity.
This is called a thicket of views, a
wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of
views. Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is
not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain,
distress, & despair. He is not freed from stress, I say.

‘The
well-taught noble disciple… discerns what ideas are fit for attention, and
what ideas are unfit for attention. This being so, he doesn’t attend to ideas
unfit for attention, and attends (instead) to ideas fit for attention… He
attends appropriately, This is stress… This is the origin of stress… This
is the stopping of stress… This is the way leading to the stopping of stress.
As he attends appropriately in this way, three fetters are abandoned in him:
identity-view, uncertainty, & grasping at habits & practices.’


MN 2

‘Now
this, monks, is the noble truth of stress: Birth is stress, aging is stress,
death is stress; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stress;
association with the unbeloved is stress, separation from the loved is stress,
not getting what is wanted is stress. In short, the five aggregates for
sustenance are stress.

‘And
this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of stress: the craving that
makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing
now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for
becoming, craving for non-becoming.

‘And
this, monks, is the noble truth of the stopping of stress: the remainderless
fading & stopping, renunciation, relinquishment, release, & letting go
of that very craving.

‘And
this, monks, is the noble truth of the way leading to the stopping of stress:
precisely this noble eightfold path — right view, right resolve, right speech,
right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right
concentration.

‘Vision
arose, insight arose, discernment arose, knowledge arose, illumination arose
within me with regard to things never heard before: “This is the noble
truth of stress”… “This noble truth of stress is to be
comprehended”… “This noble truth of stress has been comprehended”…
“This is the noble truth of the origination of stress”… “This
noble truth of the origination of stress is to be abandoned”… “This
noble truth of the origination of stress has been abandoned”… “This
is the noble truth of the stopping of stress”… “This noble truth of
the stopping of stress is to be realized”… “This noble truth of the
stopping of stress has been realized”… “This is the noble truth of
the way leading to the stopping of stress”… “This noble truth of
the way leading to the stopping of stress is to be developed”…
“This noble truth of the way leading to the stopping of stress has been
developed.”

‘And,
monks, as long as this three-round, twelve-permutation knowledge & vision
of mine concerning these four noble truths as they have come to be was not
pure, I did not claim to have directly awakened to the unexcelled right
self-awakening… But as soon as this three-round, twelve-permutation knowledge
& vision of mine concerning these four noble truths as they have come to be
was truly pure, then did I claim to have directly awakened to the unexcelled
right self-awakening… Knowledge & vision arose in me: “Unprovoked is
my release. This is the last birth. There is now no further becoming.”‘


SN 56.11

‘Just as
if there were a pool of water in a mountain glen — clear, limpid, &
unsullied — where a man with good eyes standing on the bank could see shells,
gravel, & pebbles, and also shoals of fish swimming about & resting,
and it would occur to him, “This pool of water is clear, limpid &
unsullied. Here are these shells, gravel & pebbles, and also these shoals
of fish swimming about & resting.” So too, the monk discerns as it
actually is, that “This is stress… This is the origination of stress…
This is the stopping of stress… This is the way leading to the stopping of
stress… These are effluents… This is the origination of effluents… This
is the stopping of effluents… This is the way leading to the stopping of
effluents.” His heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, is released from the
effluent of sensuality, released from the effluent of becoming, released from
the effluent of ignorance. With release, there is the knowledge,
“Released.” He discerns that “Birth is ended, the holy life
fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.”

‘This,
great king, is a fruit of the contemplative life, visible here & now, more
excellent than the previous ones and more sublime. And as for another visible
fruit of the contemplative life, higher & more sublime than this, there is
none.’


DN 2

Thus for
the person who aims at Unbinding, the Buddha recommends a technique of
perception that regards things simply in terms of the four truths concerning
stress, with no self-identification, no sense that ‘I am’, no attachment to ‘I’
or ‘mine’ involved. Although, as the following passage states, there may be a
temporary, functional identity to one’s range of perception, this ‘identity’
goes no further than that. One recognizes it for what it is: inconstant &
conditioned, and thus not worthy of being taken as a self — for in transcending
attachment to it, there is the realization of deathlessness.

Ānanda:
‘It’s wonderful, lord; it’s marvelous. For truly, the Blessed One has pointed
out the way to cross over the flood by going from one support to the next. But
what then, lord, is the noble liberation?’

The
Buddha: ‘There is the case, Ānanda, where a noble disciple considers that
“Sensual pleasure here & now and in lives to come; form here & now
and in lives to come; perceptions of form here & now and in lives to come;
perceptions of imperturbability, perceptions of the dimension of nothingness,
perceptions of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception: [All]
that is an identity, to the extent that there is identity. [But] this is
deathless: the liberation of the mind through lack of
clinging/sustenance.”‘


MN 106

Once the
sense of self is transcended, its polar opposite — the sense of something
standing in contradistinction to a self — is transcended as well. In the
Discourse at Kālaka’s Park, the Buddha expresses this lack of a self/non-self
polarity directly in terms of sensory experience. For a person who has attained
the goal, experience occurs with no ’subject’ or ‘object’ superimposed on it,
no construing of experience or thing experienced. There is simply the
experience in & of itself.

‘Monks,
whatever in this world — with its gods, Māras & Brahmās, its generations
complete with contemplatives & brāhmans, princes & men — is seen,
heard, sensed, cognized, attained, sought after, pondered by the intellect:
That do I know. Whatever in this world… is seen, heard, sensed, cognized,
attained, sought after, pondered by the intellect: That I directly know. That
is known by the Tathāgata, but in the Tathāgata it has not been established …

‘Thus,
monks, the Tathāgata, when seeing what is to be seen, doesn’t construe [an
object as] seen, doesn’t construe an unseen, doesn’t construe [an object]
to-be-seen, doesn’t construe a seer.

‘When
hearing… When sensing…

‘When
cognizing what is to be cognized, he doesn’t construe [an object as] cognized,
doesn’t construe an uncognized, doesn’t construe [an object] to-be-cognized,
doesn’t construe a cognizer.

‘Thus,
monks, the Tathāgata — being such-like with regard to all phenomena that can be
seen, heard, sensed, & cognized — is “Such.” And I tell you:
There is no other “Such” higher or more sublime.

‘Whatever is seen or heard or sensed and fastened onto as
true by others, One who is Such — among the self-fettered — wouldn’t further
claim to be true or even false. Having seen well in advance that arrow where
generations are fastened & hung — “I know, I see, that’s just how it
is!” — there’s nothing of the Tathāgata fastened.’


AN IV.24

A view is
true or false only when one is judging how accurately it refers to something
else. If one is regarding it simply as an event in & of itself, true &
false no longer apply. Thus for the Tathāgata — who no longer needs to impose
notions of subject or object on experience, and can regard sights, sounds,
feelings, & thoughts purely in & of themselves — views are not
necessarily true or false, but can simply serve as phenomena to be experienced.
With no notion of subject, there is no grounds for ‘I know, I see;’ with no
notion of object, no grounds for ‘That’s just how it is.’ So — although a
Tathāgata may continue using ‘true’ & ‘false’ in the course of teaching
others, and may continue reflecting on right view as a means of abiding
mindfully & comfortably in the present — notions of true, false, self,
& not self have lost all their holding power over the mind. As a result,
the mind can see conditioned events in their suchness — ’such are the
aggregates, such their origin, such their disappearance’ — and is left free to
its own Suchness: unrestrained, uninfluenced by anything of any sort.

* * *

This
concludes our survey of the four modes of clinging/ sustenance — passion &
delight for sensuality, for views, for habits & practices, and for
doctrines of the self — and should be enough to give a sense of what is loosed
in the Unbinding of the mind. All that remains now is the question of how.

Many of
the passages we have considered seem to suggest that total Unbinding may be
realized by letting go of any one of these four modes of sustenance. What most
likely happens in such cases, though, is that the abandoning of one mode
immediately triggers an abandoning of the remaining three, for there are other
cases reported in the Canon where the experience of Unbinding comes in stages
spread over time: the arising of the eye of Dhamma, which frees one from
passion & delight for identity views, uncertainty, and grasping at habits
& practices; the attainment of Non-returning, which frees one from passion
& delight for sensuality; and the attainment of Arahantship, which frees
one from passion & delight for all views, the practice of jhāna, & the
conceit ‘I am.’ Why these stages happen in this order, and how they relate to
the practices meant to induce them, is what we will take up next.

 

3. Rajgir, Place of Taming the Drunken
Elephant

Nalagiri

 

3.1 How to reach there

 

Rajgir is situated in the Nalanda
district of Bihar, 70 km northeast

of Bodhgaya and
102 km south of Patna. All distances are

approximate.

 

3.2 Religious Significance

3, 25, 26

 

Rajgir is the modern name of Rajagaha or “royal abode”, an

appropriate
designation for a place that had remained as the capital

of the powerful
kingdom of
Magadha for centuries.
In the Buddha’s

time, the ruler
was King
Bimbisara,
who was later usurped by his

parricidal son,
Ajatasattu.
In his first meeting with the
Bodhisatta,

Bimbisara was
so impressed by his royal bearing that he offered to

share his
kingdom with him. The
Bodhisatta,
who had just

renounced his
Sakyan kingdom in search of the Deathless, declined

the offer but
promised to return to visit Rajgir after he had attained

his goal. Soon
after dispatching the
Sangha to
spread the
Dhamma

from Sarnath,
the Buddha traveled to Uruvela, where he converted

the Kassapa
brothers and their matted-hair disciples, who all attained

Arahantship. With this retinue of a
thousand
Arahants,
the Buddha

entered Rajgir
where he received a warm welcome from the King.

Thereupon he
preached a sermon to King Bimbisra who became a

Sotapanna. Next
day he invited the Buddha to a meal and offered the

Bamboo Garden (Veluvana) to the Buddha and the Sangha.

As the capital
of a powerful state, Rajgir was a hive of secular and

religious
activities. According to the
Samannaphala Sutta,
many

heretical
teachers operated in Rajgir, namely: Purana Kassapa,

Makkhali
Gosala, Ajita Kesakambali, Pakudha Kaccayana, Nigantha

Nattaputta and
Sanjaya Belatthaputta. Among the disciples of

Sanjaya were
two rich brahmins,
Upatissa and
Kolita, popularly

known as Sariputta and Moggallana respectively. Both joined the

Sangha after their conversion by the
Arahant Assaji, and became the

Buddha’s first
and second Chief Disciples. Following their

conversion,
many
paribbajakas or
wandering ascetics also became

followers of
the Buddha. Among the laity, the most notable disciples

were the royal
physician
Jivaka, adopted son
of Prince Abhaya; and

the millionaire
Upali, a follower of
Nigantha Nattaputta, who was

sent to convert
the Buddha but ended up as a lay disciple instead.

Thus Rajgir
became an important centre of Buddhism as the fame of

the Buddha
spread throughout Magadha.

 

Rajgir was also
the scene of many attempts by
Devadatta to
kill the

Buddha over the
leadership of the
Sangha.
First he hired archers to

assassinate the
Buddha, but they ended up by becoming disciples of

the Buddha
instead. Next, as the Buddha was walking up the slopes

of Gijjhakuta
(Vulture Peak) one day, Devadatta hurled a rock from

the summit at
the Buddha but it missed and a splinter wounded the

Buddha’s foot.
Finally, he caused the elephant
5alagiri to
be

intoxicated
with liquor and sent the ferocious beast to charge at the

Buddha. But the
Buddha subdued the animal with his loving

kindness.
Because of this miracle, Rajgir became sanctified as an

important
pilgrimage site. While Devadatta was plotting against the

Buddha, Ajatasattu, at his instigation, usurped
the throne and

imprisoned his
father in order to starve him to death. He regretted

his actions too
late, as his father had died before he could release

him.
Ajatasattu, later at the suggestion of Jivaka, sought the

Buddha’s advice
and became a lay disciple. After the Buddha’s

Mahaparinibbana, he led an army to Kusinara
to claim a share of

the Buddha’s
relics. He was the patron of the
First Sangiti or

Council held at
Sattapanni Cave in
Rajgir.

 

3.3 Historical Background

5, 27, 36

 

Rajgir lost its
political status after Ajatasattu’s son, Udayibhadda,

slew his father
and transferred the capital to Pataliputta. But the fact

Four
Places of Principal Miracles
• 137

that Asoka
erected a
stupa and
a stone pillar with an elephant capital

during his
pilgrimage to Rajgir shows that the place remained as an

important
Buddhist centre for centuries. When Fa Hsien came during

the fifth
century, he found the old city desolate but outside the hills

at Veluvana, he
found a group of monks living in the monastery.

When Hsüan
Tsang visited Rajgir in 637-638 AD, it was practically

deserted. Of
the ancient monasteries and
stupas,
he found only

foundation
walls and ruins standing. He saw the Asoka
stupa which

was 18.3 m high
and by the side of it, the Asokan pillar about 15.2 m

high with an
elephant capital, the Pippala stone house said to be the

cave of
Mahakassapa and the Sattapanni caves. He also visited

Gijjhakuta and
saw a brick
vihara at
the western end of the hill and

several stupas in the vicinity.

 

Although there
is no record of Rajgir after Hsüan Tsang’s visit, the

antiquities
recovered from Rajgir during archaeological excavations

in 1905-06
showed that it continued to be a popular Buddhist shrine

up to the 12th century AD. According to Fa Hsien, Ajatasattu
built a

new citadel
outside the circle of five hills, namely:
Vebhara,

Pandava, Vepulla, Gijjhakuta and Isigili; that encircled the old

Rajagaha city.
The modern village of Rajgir encloses a part of this

‘New Rajagaha’,
which was protected by a massive wall of earth

resembling an
irregular pentagon in shape, with a circuit of 5 km. On

the south,
towards the hills, one can still see the stone fortifications

that once
protected the old city. The wall is 4.6 m to 5.5 m thick and

rises to a
height of 3.4 m at some places.

 

3.4 Objects of Interest

5, 27, 36

 

a)   
Veluvana (Bamboo
Grove) and Karanda Tank


When King
Bimbisara heard that the Buddha had come to Rajgir

with a retinue
of one thousand
Arahants,
he went to the Sapling

Grove to meet
the Buddha and was converted by the Buddha,

attaining the
First Stage of Sainthood. Thereafter, he invited the

Buddha to his
palace for the following day’s meal, after which he

donated the
famous Bamboo Grove or
Veluvana, the
first donation

of a park (arama), to the Buddha and Sangha.

 

When the writer
first visited Veluvana in 1991, the place was

slightly
overgrown with bushes and on the south side towards the

hot springs, a
number of Muslim tombs could be seen on a large

mound to the
left of the main entrance. The cemetery is believed to

be the site of
the
Veluvana Vihara built
by Bimbisara for the

Buddha’s
residence. The whole area has been cleaned up and

Veluvana now
looks like a pleasant park, planted with shade trees,

bamboo and
flowers, reflecting its original status as the royal park of

King Bimbisara.
In the vicinity of Veluvana is a large pond with a

Buddha image at
the centre. This pond is believed to be the site of

the Karanda tank mentioned in Buddhist text as
the
Karanda

kanivapa where the Buddha used to take
his bath.

 

b) Pipphali House


A short
distance from Veluvana at the foot of
Vebhara hill,
are the

hot springs of
Rajgir, a popular picnic spot for bathing. A little

above the hot
springs, on the right side of the path uphill, is a

remarkable
stone structure known locally as the “
machan
(watch

tower). The
structure is roughly cube-shaped with dimensions of 26

m feet long by
25 m wide by 7 m high and is built of unhewn blocks

of stone set on
the rock. According to
Sir John Marshall who

excavated the
site in 1905-06, the structure was originally a watchtower

and “in after
times, when no longer required for defensive

purposes, they
would afford convenient cells for ascetics to meditate

in”. This
structure is believed to be the
Pipphali stone house,

residence of Ven. Maha Kassapa, Convenor of the First
Council.

The name
‘Pipphali’ probably refers to the name of Mahakassapa

before he
became a monk. According to
Samyutta V,
78, the Buddha

visited Maha
Kassapa on one occasion when the latter was ill and

expounded the
Seven Factors of Enlightenment, upon hearing which,

Maha Kassapa
recovered from the illness. According to
Samyutta iii,

124, Ven. Assaji once stayed at Pipphali House
when he was sick.

 

c) Sattapanni caves

 

The Sattapanni caves, site of the First Buddhist Council held three

months after
the
Mahaparinibbana in
543 BC is situated on top of

Vebhara hill, beyond the largest
Jains temple. There a narrow

footpath
descends some 30 m to a long artificial terrace in front of a

line of six
caves (might have been seven originally). The caves have

been sealed off
to ensure the safety of visitors. The terrace in front of

the caves is
about 36.6 m long and 10.4 m at the widest point and

part of the
retaining wall of large unhewn stones on the outer edge

can still be
seen. This place agrees with the description of Sattapanni

found in the
Pali texts where five hundred
Arahants convened
to

codify the
Buddha’s Teaching. Over the last 2500 years, a lot of

erosion would
have taken place so the terrace was probably bigger in

those days, to
accommodate so many
Arahants.

 

d) Bimbisara Jail

 

About 2½ km
south of Veluvana beside the main road, is an area

about 60 m
square enclosed by the remains of a stone wall 2 m thick.

This area has
been identified as the prison in which Bimbisara was

jailed by his
son Ajatasattu, who usurped the throne. It is said that

from this
prison, the king could see the Buddha up in Gijjhakuta, the

sight of whom
provided great joy to the prisoner.

 

e) Jivaka’s mango garden (Jivaka ambavana)

 

According to
Pali sources, Jivaka’s mango garden is situated

between the
city’s East Gate and Gijjhakuta, and the site has been

identified a
short distance from the foot of Gijjhakuta. According to

the Vinaya
Texts,
Jivaka Komarabhacca was
the adopted son of

Prince Abhaya, who found him alive (jivati) in a dust heap when he

was an infant
and raised him up. When he was old enough, he set out

for Taxila to
study medicine for seven years. To test his knowledge,

his teacher
asked him to go all round Taxila to search for any plant,

which was not
medicinal and bring it back. Jivaka proved to be so

proficient in
medicinal plants that he returned after a long search and

declared that
he had not seen any plant that was not medicinal within

a yojana (13 km) of Taxila.

 

Returning to
Rajgir, he cured many people suffering from serious

ailments and
even performed surgery, something unheard of in those

days. He became
the leading physician and surgeon of Rajgir and

earned great
wealth through his medical practice. At some point in

his career, he
became a lay disciple and used to attend on the

Buddha three
times a day. When the Buddha’s foot was injured by a

splinter from a
rock hurled by Devadatta, it was Jivaka who attended

on him and
healed the wound. Realizing the advantages of having a

monastery near
his home, Jivaka built one on his extensive mango

garden and
donated it to the Buddha. The site of this monastery was

excavated
recently, which exposed the buried foundations of

elliptical
buildings, possibly of monastic nature, of an early date.

 

f) Gijjhakuta (Vulture Peak)

Gijjhakuta hill
was the favourite resort of the Buddha and the scene

of many
important discourses while he was in Rajgir. To reach the

top, one has to
climb up a long stone stairway, 6.1 m to 7.3 m wide,

called the Bimbisara road, built by the King to enable
him to reach

the summit to
see the Buddha. The rocky path ends near the top of

the hill where
one can see two natural caves, which were probably

used by the Buddha and Ven. Ananda. At the summit, one can see

the huge
granite rock formation resembling a vulture standing with

folded wing,
from which the hill derived its name. Recently, a

cement
staircase has been constructed to facilitate the pilgrim’s

climb to the
top, which is a flat terrace surrounded by a low retaining

wall with a
shrine near the precipice. This spot offers a commanding

view of the
valley below. It is a favourite place for pilgrims to

perform puja or
circumambulate while reciting the virtues of the

Buddha. Near
the bottom of the cement staircase are two smaller

caves believed to be used by Ven. Sariputta and Ven. Moggallana.

 

g) Maddakucchi (Rub belly)

 

The Pali name maddakucchi, which means “rub belly”, was derived

from a story
that at this place, the queen of Bimbisara knowing that

she was
carrying a patricide, tried to abort the foetus by a forcible

massage of her
belly. Maddakucchi, which finds mention in the Pali

scriptures, is
situated at the base of Gijjhakuta. It is believed to be

the place where
the Buddha was brought by stretcher after being

wounded on the
leg by a splinter of a big rock hurled by Devadatta

from the summit
of Gijjhakuta hill. Formerly, this place contained a

deer park and a
monastery.

 

h) Burmese Monastery


The Burmese
monastery standing on top of a hillock in New Rajgir

was the first
modern monastery established in Rajgir in 1958. Its

founder was an
old Theravada monk,
Sayadaw U Zayanta who
has

passed away.
Recently it has built a new shrine hall to enshrine a

sacred Buddha
relic.

 

3.5 Ruins of Nalanda Mahavihara

 


The ruins of Nalanda Mahavihara were first excavated in 1871
by

Sir Alexander
Cunningham who identified its site at the modern

village of
Bargaon on the basis of the accounts of the Chinese

pilgrim, Hsüan
Tsang. Located only 12 km from Rajgir, the ruins

extend over a
vast area. The structures exposed represent only a part

of the vast
establishment and consist of monastic sites
, stupa sites

and temple
sites. Lengthwise, they extend from south to north, the

monasteries on
the eastern flank and temples on the west. The

monasteries
were all built on more or less the same plan and to-date,

at least eleven
monastic sites and five main temple sites have been

identified. The
most prominent standing structure at Nalanda is the

Sariputta stupa,
erected in honour of the Chief Disciple, who was

born and passed
away in the nearby village of
Nalaka.

 

comments (0)
327 LESSON 26 07 2011 Vijaya Sutta Sister Vijaya FREE ONLINE eNālandā Research and Practice UNIVERSITY and BUDDHIST GOOD NEW Sletter to VOTE for BSP ELEPHANT to attain Ultimate Bliss-Through http://sarvajan.ambedkar.org- Let us celebrate Shri Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Jayanti as Reservation Day on 26-07-2011- Buddhist Pilgrimage- Four Places of Principal Miracles-Objects of Interest -Sankasia, Place of Descent from Heaven
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 3:44 am

327  LESSON 26 07 2011 Vijaya Sutta Sister
Vijaya
 FREE ONLINE eNālandā Research and Practice UNIVERSITY and
BUDDHIST GOOD NEW Sletter to VOTE for BSP ELEPHANT to attain Ultimate
Bliss-Through
http://sarvajan.ambedkar.org- Let us celebrate Shri Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Jayanti as
Reservation Day on 26-07-2011- Buddhist Pilgrimage- Four Places of Principal
Miracles-Objects of Interest-
Sankasia, Place of Descent from Heaven

Vijaya Sutta: Sister Vijaya

translated from the Pali by

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

© 1998–2011

Alternate translation: Bodhi

At
Savatthi. Then, early in the morning, Vijaya the nun put on her robes and,
taking her bowl & outer robe, went into Savatthi for alms. When she had
gone for alms in Savatthi and had returned from her alms round, after her meal
she went to the Grove of the Blind to spend the day. Having gone deep into the
Grove of the Blind, she sat down at the foot of a tree for the day’s abiding.

Then Mara
the Evil One, wanting to arouse fear, horripilation, & terror in her,
wanting to make her fall away from concentration, approached her &
addressed her in verse:

You, a beautiful young woman. I, a young man. Come, my
lady, let’s enjoy ourselves to the music of a five-piece band.

Then the
thought occurred to Vijaya the nun: “Now who has recited this verse — a
human being or a non-human one?” Then it occurred to her: “This is
Mara the Evil One, who has recited this verse wanting to arouse fear,
horripilation, & terror in me, wanting to make me fall away from
concentration.”

Then,
having understood that “This is Mara the Evil One,” she replied to
him in verses:

Lovely sights, sounds, smells, tastes, & tactile
sensations I leave to you, Mara. I have no need for them. I’m disgusted,
ashamed of this putrid body — disintegrating, dissolving. Sensual craving is
rooted out. Beings who have come to form, & those with a share in the
formless, & the peaceful attainments: their darkness is completely
destroyed.

Then Mara
the Evil One — sad & dejected at realizing, “Vijaya the nun knows
me” — vanished right there.

 

SN
5.4

 SN
5.7

 Iti
63

 Sn
5.6
; also Sn 4.9 (quoted in The
Mind Like Fire Unbound,
chapter III
).

Four Places of Principal Miracles

 

Buddhist
Pilgrimage

 

2. Sankasia, Place of Descent from Heaven

3, 16, 25, 26

 

2.1 How to reach there

Sankasia is
located in the village of
Sankisa-Basantapur in
district

of Farrukhabad,
Uttar Pradesh. From Agra, Sankasia is 175km via

the
Firozabad-Shikohabad-Mainpuri-Bewar-Pakhna route

 

2.1 Religious Significance

According to Dhammapada Commentary XIV, 2, after the
Buddha

had completed
the rains-retreat in
Tavatimsa Heaven,
he informed

Sakka Devaraja
of his intention to return to earth. Thereupon, Sakka

created three
ladders; one of gold, one of jewels and one of silver,

the tops of
which rested on the summit of Mt. Sumeru and the feet of

which rested
against the gate of the city of Sankasia. On the right

side was the
golden ladder for
devas,
on the left side was the silver

ladder for Brahma and his train, and in the
middle was the jewelled

ladder for the
Buddha. As the Buddha descended upon the jewelled

ladder, devas and Brahmas honored him by accompanying
him on

each side. With
this retinue the Buddha descended and set foot on

earth at the
gate of the city of Sankasia. Because of this miraculous

event, which
was witnessed by a great multitude, Sankasia became

an important
Buddhist shrine and several
stupas and
viharas were

erected there.

 

2.3 Historical Background

5, 16, 27

 

King Asoka
visited Sankasia as part of his itinerary of pilgrimage in

249 BC.
According to Fa Hsien, Asoka built a shrine over the spot

where the
Buddha set foot on earth. Behind the shrine, he raised a

stone column
18.3 m high with a lion capital on top and on its four

sides, placed
Buddha images.

 

Fa Hsien
reported that there were about a thousand monks and nuns

who all
received their food from the common store, and belonged,

some to the
greater vehicle and some of the lesser one. He spent one

vassa in Sankasia and described the
presence of many Buddhist

structures and
monasteries including a
sangharama containing
600-

700 monks. When
Hsüan Tsang arrived in 636 AD, there were four

sangharamas with about 1000 priests of
the Sammitiya sect. To the

east of the
city 20 li or so, he saw the great
sangharama of
beautiful

construction,
wherein lived 100 monks and religious laymen. He

also saw the
Asoka column 21 m high with carved figures on the

four sides and
around it, and mentioned the presence of some
stupas.

Other than
these accounts of the Chinese pilgrims, the history of

Sankasia
remained blank for the next 1200 years until
Cunningham

identified it
with the village of
Sankisa-Basantapur in
Farrukhabad

District of
Uttar Pradesh. The present site of Sankasia is situated on

a high mound
and there is a chain of other mounds spread outside

the village.
These mounds have yielded numerous silver and copper

punch marked
coins during excavations, mostly tribal coins of the

Panchala kings
and copper coins of the Kushan rulers. Large bricks

measuring 28 cm
by 15 cm bearing Brahmi inscriptions of 2
nd

century BC were
also discovered.

 

2.4 The Pristine Environment of Sankasia

 

Today Sankasia
is the one of the most remote and undeveloped

Buddhist
shrines in India, a far cry from the Buddha’s time when it

was called
‘City of Sankasia’. When India’s
Prime Minister Nehru

was asked by
some Japanese visitors in 1961, which was the poorest

Buddhist shrine
in India, he promptly replied: “Sankasia!” The

situation has
improved slightly since
Ms Mayawati,
a Buddhist

laywoman became
Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in May 2007

again after a
brief term in 2002-03. Now the roads are getting better

and a new hotel
is being built to accommodate tourists in Sankasia.

 

The author
first visited Sankasia ten years ago. Impressed by its

pristine environment, he decided to lead
Malaysian pilgrims there

every
pilgrimage despite initial objections from certain members. In

the beginning,
the trip would take the whole day and we would leave

Sankasia by
evening and travel to Kanpur or Lucknow arriving at the

hotel well
after midnight. When the pilgrims’ hostel in the Burmese

Temple was
completed in 2004,
Sayadaw U 5anda invited
us to

stay overnight
there instead of leaving in the evening. It proved to be

very pleasant
as we got the opportunity to know Sayadaw U Nanda

and benefit
from his vast knowledge of the history of Sankasia. Now

more pilgrims
will get to know the rich heritage of Sankasia.

 

2.5 Objects of Interest

5, 16, 27

 

a) Broken Asoka Column with Elephant Capital

The Elephant
Capital that once surmounted the Asoka column is an

important relic
of the 3
rd century
BC. It is kept in a fenced up

pavilion.
Nearby under a tree, is a small shrine with a standing

image of Lord
Buddha, flanked by Brahma and Sakka to depict the

Buddha’s
descent from Heaven.

 

b) Site where the Buddha Descended from Heaven

About 20 metres
to the south of the Asokan pillar is a high mound

composed of
solid brickwork, which was once a Buddhist structure.

This mound is 6
metres high and 49 metres in diameter at its base.

Cunningham
identified it with the position of the three flights of

ladders by
which the Buddha descended from Heaven attended by

Brahma and
Sakka. According to Hsüan Tsang, when the ladders by

which the
Buddha descended from Heaven had disappeared, the

neighbouring
princes built up new triple stairs of bricks and chased

stones
ornamented with jewels on the ancient foundation (three

ladders)
resembling the old ones. There was a
vihara on
the

foundation and
close by its side was a stone column 21m high,

which was
erected by Asoka-raja. After the disappearance of

Buddhism from
India, the
vihara probably
followed the same fate of

many other
Buddhist establishments and fell into ruins. On top of the

foundation now
is a small shrine dedicated to a Hindu goddess

Bisari Devi,
built by a Hindu priest who has taken over the place

sometime ago.
This Hindu shrine on top of a Buddhist structure is a

bone of
contention between the Buddhists and Hindus in Sankasia.

According to
the Press Trust of India News, during the
Pavarana in

November 2001, at least 18 people including three policemen were

injured in
clashes involving people from the two communities

during a
religious procession in Sankasia. The trouble began when

the Hindus
started to attack a group of Buddhists in the
Dhamma

Yatra (religious procession) who
were chanting for the return of the

site to
Buddhists. The Buddhists and Hindus have always been at

loggerheads
over the issue of the possession of Bisari Devi temple.

During the past
three years, the tussle has often assumed violent

overtones.
Because of this incident, the Government has banned the

yearly
procession around the Buddhist pilgrimage site at Sankasia.

When the author
visited Sankasia in November 2003, the brickworks

around the
mound had fallen off due to heavy rains during the last

monsoon,
revealing the bare earth (Plate 31) According to
Sayadaw

U 5anda, the resident monk of the
Burmese
vihara, this event
may

turn out to be
a blessing for Buddhists because there are plans by the

Archaeological
Survey of India (ASI) to carry out excavations of

this ancient
Buddhist site and develop it for more pilgrims to visit

Sankasia. It
will be interesting to see what ancient relics will be

unearthed by
the archaeologist’s spade. For a long time, Sankasia

has been
by-passed by most present-day pilgrims in spite of its

religious
significance and the fact that it was an important shrine to

the great
pilgrims of the past like Asoka, Fa Hsien and Hsüan Tsang.

 

d) Burmese and Sri Lankan Viharas

The first
Buddhist monk to reside in Sankasia was the Late Ven.

Vijaya Soma from Sri Lanka who
established a school there. It is

indeed
heartening to see two Buddhist monasteries now in Sankasia

Four
Places of Principal Miracles
• 133

in spite of its
remote location. The Burmese monastery was opened

in the year
2000 while the Sri Lankan monastery was built a few

years earlier.
Pilgrims visiting Sankasia should visit these

monasteries to
pay their respects to the
bhikkhus,
whose presence

have enhanced
the sanctity of this rural environment. They will be

able to obtain
more information about the history of Sankasia from

the monks who
have lived there for many years.

 

2.6 Buddhist Population around Sankasia

According to Sayadaw U 5anda, the resident monk of the
Burmese

vihara, when Lord Buddha descended
from Heaven at the gate of

Sankasia city
after his 7th Vassa (about 2600 years ago) a group of

Sakyan nobles
came to witness the miracle and settled in Sankasia.

After Vidhadabu attacked Kapilavatthu and
massacred the Sakyans,

many escaped to
India and became immigrants of Sankasia (
5ote

11). Today there are over one quarter million of
their descendants

living in the
districts around Sankasia. Every year during
Pavarana

on the
full-moon day of October a great congregation of local

Buddhists
gather at Sankasia to commemorate this important event.

In the early 5th century AD when Fa Hsien was at Sankasia, he heard

of a dispute
between the Brahmins and the
Sramanas (Bhikkhus)

over land
rights in Sankasia. According to him,
the
latter were losing

the argument.
Then both sides took an oath that if the place did

indeed belong
to the
Sramanas,
there should be some supernatural

proof of it.
When these words had been spoken, the stone lion on top

of the nearby
Asoka pillar gave a great roar. Witnessing this, their

opponents were
frightened, bowed to the decision, and withdrew
.

Eventually the
Brahmins appeared to have succeeded in ousting the

Buddhists from
their lands, because by the time of Hsüan Tsang’s

visit, he
reported: “
There were only
four viharas with about one

thousand monks of the Sammitiya School. There were ten Deva

temples, where sectarians of all beliefs lived. They all honour
and

sacrifice to Mahesvara.

 

So it is very
likely that at some early period, perhaps before Hsüan

Tsang’s visit,
the Buddhists of Sankasia, many of which were

immigrant
Sakyans deserted their native place and settled in the

surrounding
villages. Many of them join the October full-moon

celebration as
another traditional festival of their ancestors. They are

ignorant of
their historical ties with the Buddhism. Sayadaw U

Nanda, who is
fluent in Hindi, has started a Sunday school to

educate the
younger generation about their roots by teaching them

the history of
their ancestral religion.

 

Note 11: Immigration of Sakyans to India

During
Vidudabha’s attack of Kapilavatthu, many Sakyans fled

south, avoiding
Kosala country, to
Sankasia (in
Uttar Pradesh)

where an
earlier group of their countrymen had settled after

witnessing the
Buddha’s Descent from Heaven. This new group of

refugees
increased the Sakyan population in Sankasia significantly.

However, these
Sakyans were not the only ones who had moved out

of
Kapilavatthu. According to the Mahavamsa viii, 18, soothsayers

had foretold
the future destruction of Kapilavatthu to
Sakka
Pandu
,

a cousin of the
Buddha and son of
Amitodana.
With a group of

followers, he
went to another tract of land on the further side of the

Ganges and
founded a city there and ruled as king. He had seven

sons and one
daughter named
Baddhakaccana. She
later married

the Pandyan
prince
Panduvasdeva who
succeeded his uncle
King

Vijaya to the throne of Sri Lanka.

 

Another famous
Sakyan was
Devi, the first wife
of King Asoka and

mother of Ven. Mahinda and Ven. Sanghamitta. Asoka married

her when he was
the viceroy of Ujjayini (Ujjain). She was a devotee

of the Buddha
and a descendant of a Sakyan family who migrated to

Vedisa after escaping the
destruction of Kapilavatthu by Vidudabha

Awakeness
Practices

All 84,000
Khandas As Found in the Pali Suttas


Traditionally
there are 84,000 Dhamma Doors - 84,000 ways to get Awakened. May be so;
certainly the Buddha taught a large number of practices that lead to get
Awakened. This web page attempts to catalogue those found in the Pali Suttas
(DN, MN, SN, AN, Ud & Sn
 1). There are 3 sections:

The discourses of Buddha are divided into 84,000, as to separate
addresses. The division includes all that was spoken by Buddha.”I received from
Buddha,” said Ananda, “82,000 Khandas, and
 
from the priests 2000; these are 84,000 Khandas maintained by me.” They
are divided into 275,250, as to the stanzas of the original text, and into
361,550, as to the stanzas of the commentary. All the discourses including both
those of Buddha and those of the commentator, are divided  into 2,547 banawanas, containing 737,000
stanzas, and 29,368,000 separate letters.

BUDDHA (EDUCATE)!
DHAMMA (MEDITATE)! SANGHA (ORGANISE)!

WISDOM          IS POWER

 

Awakened
One Shows the Path to Attain Ultimate Bliss

    

Using such an instrument

The Free ONLINE e-Nālandā Research and
Practice University has been re-organized to function through the following
Schools of Learning :

 

Buddha’s Sangha Practiced His Dhamma Free of cost, hence the
Free- e-Nālandā Research and Practice University follows suit

 

As the Original Nālandā University did not offer any Degree, so
also the Free  e-Nālandā Research and Practice University.

 

The teachings of Buddha are
eternal, but even then Buddha did not proclaim them to be infallible. The
religion of Buddha has the capacity to change according to times, a quality
which no other religion can claim to have…Now what is the basis of Buddhism? If
you study carefully, you will see that Buddhism is based on reason. There is an
element of flexibility inherent in it, which is not found in any other
religion.

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar , Indian scholar,
philosopher and architect of Constitution of India, in his writing and speeches

I.

KAMMA,REBIRTH,AWAKEN-NESS,BUDDHA,THUS COME ONE,DHAMMA

II.

ARHAT ,FOUR HOLY TRUTHS,EIGHTFOLD PATH,TWELVEFOLD CONDITIONED ARISING,BODHISATTA,PARAMITA,SIX PARAMITAS

III.

SIX SPIRITUAL POWERS,SIX PATHS OF REBIRTH,TEN DHARMA REALMS,FIVE SKANDHAS,EIGHTEEN REALMS,FIVE MORAL PRECEPTS

IV.

MEDITATION,MINDFULNESS,FOUR APPLICATIONS OF MINDFULNESS,LOTUS POSTURE,SAMADHI,CHAN SCHOOL,FOUR JHANAS,FOUR FORMLESS REALMS

V.

FIVE TYPES OF BUDDHIST STUDY AND PRACTICE,MAHAYANA AND HINAYANA COMPARED,PURE LAND,BUDDHA RECITATION,EIGHT CONSCIOUSNESSES,ONE HUNDRED DHARMAS,EMPTINESS

VI.

DEMON,LINEAGE

With

Level I: Introduction to
Buddhism,Level II: Buddhist Studies,

TO ATTAIN

Level III: Stream-Enterer,Level IV: Once –
Returner,Level V: Non-Returner,Level VI: Arhat

Jambudvipa, i.e, PraBuddha
Bharath scientific thought in

mathematics,astronomy,alchemy,andanatomy

Philosophy and Comparative
Religions;Historical Studies;International Relations and Peace Studies;Business
Management in relation to Public Policy and Development Studies;Languages and
Literature;and Ecology and Environmental Studies

comments (0)