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Mahātaṇhāsaṅkhaya Suttaṃ

(M.i.256)

The Greater Discourse on the Destruction of Craving

Contents

Introduction

Wrong-View of Venerable Sāti

Dependent Origination of Consciousness

On Becoming

The Four Nutriments

Dependent Origination in Forward and Reverse Order

Summary of Dependent Origination

Empirical Knowledge

Conception and Maturity

The Arising of a Tathāgata

Introduction

This long and important discourse deals with the central topics of rebirth and dependent origination. It is not unusual to hear Buddhists talk about re-incarnation, especially in the Mahāyāna tradition, but I prefer to use the term rebirth. Those who deny rebirth after death fall into the serious wrong-view of annihilationism, while those who believe in the transmigration of the soul or consciousness fall into the equally serious wrong-view of eternalism. If there is any permanent soul, store-consciousness, or whatever term one wishes to use, then rebirth is not possible. However, because consciousness arises and passes away at every moment due to conditions, rebirth is possible and all living beings inherit the results of their own actions after death. The arising of consciousness dependent on conditions is the Buddha’s teaching of Dependent Origination. Bhikkhu Sāti was strongly attached to his view, and would not abandon it when admonished. Attachment to views prolongs the cycle of suffering. Such wrong views persist in many Buddhists who, like Bhikkhu Sāti, do not have much learning. Careful study of discourses such as this one should be done to dispel the most serious wrong-views. The belief in a permanent soul or self is clung to by most, and is only dispelled by attaining deep insights and realising the path of Stream-winning. Buddhist should apply themselves to the practice of insight meditation to uproot this serious wrong-view, or at least weaken its hold so that they are no longer overwhelmed by worldly thoughts and aspirations.

#MahātaṇhāsaṅkhayaSuttaṃTop#DependentOriginationofConsciousnessTranslation

Wrong-View of Venerable Sāti

Thus have I heard — At one time the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthi in Prince Jeta’s grove, in the monastery of Anāthapiṇḍika. Then, on that occasion, a pernicious view had arisen to the Venerable Sāti, the son of a fisherman: “This is how I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, it is this very consciousness that wanders and transmigrates throughout the cycle of rebirth, not another.”

Many monks heard: “In the Venerable Sāti this pernicious view has arisen: ‘This is how I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, it is this very consciousness that wanders and transmigrates through the cycle of rebirth, not another’.” Then those monks approached the Venerable Sāti, and having approached, said to him — “Is it true, friend Sāti, that this pernicious view has arisen in you: ‘This is how I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, it is this very consciousness that wanders and transmigrates through the cycle of rebirth, not another’?”

“Yes, indeed, friends: ‘This is how I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, it is this very consciousness that wanders and transmigrates through the cycle of rebirth, not another’.”

Then those monks, wishing to dissuade the Venerable Sāti from this pernicious view, cross-questioned, pressed, and examined — “Do not say thus, friend Sāti, do not slander the Blessed one, it is not good to slander the Blessed One, the Blessed One would not speak thus. In many ways, friend Sāti, the Blessed One has said that consciousness is dependently arisen, [257] apart from conditions there is no origination of consciousness.” When the Venerable Sāti was thus cross-questioned, pressed, and examined by those monks who wished to dissuade him from that pernicious view — he clung firmly to that view and reaffirmed: “This is how I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, it is this very consciousness that wanders and transmigrates through the cycle of rebirth, not another.”

Those monks, not being able to dissuade the Venerable Sāti from his pernicious view, then approached the Blessed One, and have approached, paid homage, and sat down at one side. Sitting there, those monks said to the Blessed One — “Venerable sir, in the monk named Venerable Sāti a pernicious view has arisen ‘This is how I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, it is this very consciousness that wanders and transmigrates through the cycle of rebirth, not another.’ Having heard about this, Venerable sir, we approached the Venerable Sāti, and having approached him asked: ‘Is it true, friend Sāti, that this pernicious view has arisen in you?’ When this was said, Venerable sir, the Venerable Sāti said: ‘Yes, indeed, friends, that is how I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One.’ Then we cross-questioned, pressed, and examined the Venerable Sāti wishing to dissuade him from that pernicious view, but we were unable to do so. He clung firmly to that view and reaffirmed: ‘This is how I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, it is this very consciousness that wanders and transmigrates through the cycle of rebirth, not another.’ Since we, Venerable sir, were unable to dissuade him from that pernicious view, we have come to tell the Blessed One about this.”

Then the Blessed One called a certain monk – “Monk, [258] go and call the Venerable Sāti, the son of a fisherman, in my name, saying: ‘The teacher calls you, friend Sāti’.”

“Very well, Venerable sir, that monk replied, then he approached the Venerable Sāti, and having approached said to him: ‘The teacher calls you, friend Sāti.’ The Venerable Sāti, replied ‘Very well, friend,’ and approached the Blessed One; having approached, he paid homage, and sat down at one side. As the Venerable Sāti was sitting there, the Blessed One said to him: “Is it true, Sāti, that this pernicious view has arisen in you: ‘This is how I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, it is this very consciousness that wanders and transmigrates through the cycle of rebirth, not another’?”

“Yes, indeed: ‘This is how I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, it is this very consciousness that wanders and transmigrates through the cycle of rebirth, not another’.”

“What, Sāti, is that consciousness?”

“It is that, Venerable sir, which speaks, feels, and experiences the fruits of good and evil kamma.”

“To whom, foolish man (moghapurisa), have you known me to teach the Dhamma thus? Have we not, foolish man, in various ways taught that consciousness is dependently arisen, apart from conditions there is no origination of consciousness. However, you, foolish man, having taken hold of this wrongly, slander us, destroy yourself, and make much demerit. This, foolish man, will surely lead to your harm and suffering for a long time.”

Then the Blessed One address the monks — “What do you think, monks, has the Venerable Sāti, the son of a fisherman ignited even a spark in this Dhamma and Discipline?”

“How could this be, Venerable sir? No, indeed, Venerable sir.”

When this had been said, the Venerable Sāti sat silently, confused, with shoulders drooping, looking down, depressed, and unable to reply. Then the Blessed One, knowing this, said to the Venerable Sāti, “You will be known, foolish man, for your own wrong grasp of this pernicious view. Herein, I will question the monks about this.”

“What do you think, monks, do you understand the Dhamma taught by me as taken hold of wrongly by the Venerable Sāti, [259] slandering us, destroying himself, and making much demerit?”

“Indeed, not, Venerable sir. In various ways, Venerable sir, has the Blessed One taught that consciousness is dependently arisen, apart from conditions there is no origination of consciousness.”

“Well said, monks, well said. It is good, monks, that you have thus understood the Dhamma taught by me. In various ways, monks, I have taught that consciousness is dependently arisen, apart from conditions there is no origination of consciousness. However, the Venerable Sāti having taken hold of this wrongly, slanders us, destroys himself, and makes much demerit. That will indeed lead to this foolish man’s harm and suffering for a long time.”

#MahātaṇhāsaṅkhayaSuttaṃTop#OnBecomingDependent Origination of Consciousness

“Whatever condition, monks, consciousness arises dependent on, by that designation it is known. Consciousness arisen dependent on the eye and form is known as eye-consciousness. Consciousness arisen dependent on the ear and sound is known as ear-consciousness. Consciousness arisen dependent on the nose and odour [260] is known as nose-consciousness. Consciousness arisen dependent on the tongue and taste is known as tongue-consciousness. Consciousness arisen dependent on the body and touch is known as body-consciousness. Consciousness arisen dependent on the mind and mental-objects is known as mind-consciousness.

“It is like, monks, whatever fire burns dependent on, by that designation is it known. Fire burning dependent on sticks (kaṭṭha) is known as a stick-fire. Fire burning dependent on twigs (sakalika) is known as a twig-fire. Fire burning dependent on grass (tiṇa) is known as a grass-fire. Fire burning dependent on cow-dung (gomaya) is known as a cow-dung-fire. Fire burning dependent on rice-husks (thusa) is known as a rice-husk-fire. Fire burning dependent on rubbish (saṅkāra) is known as a rubbish-fire.

“In the same way, monks, whatever condition consciousness arises dependent on, by that designation it is known. Consciousness arisen dependent on the eye and form is known as eye-consciousness. Consciousness arisen dependent on the ear and sound is known as ear-consciousness. Consciousness arisen dependent on the nose and odour is known as nose-consciousness. Consciousness arisen dependent on the tongue and taste is known as tongue-consciousness. Consciousness arisen dependent on the body and touch is known as body-consciousness. Consciousness arisen dependent on the mind and mental-objects is known as mind-consciousness.”

#MahātaṇhāsaṅkhayaSuttaṃTop#TheFourNutrimentsOn Becoming

“Do you see, monks, this has come into existence?” “Yes, indeed, Venerable sir.”

“Do you see, monks, its origination from nutriment?” “Yes, indeed, Venerable sir.”

“Do you see, monks, its cessation from the cessation of nutriment?” “Yes, indeed, Venerable sir.”

“If uncertain that it has come into existence, monks, does doubt arise?” “Yes, indeed, Venerable sir.”

“If uncertain about its origination from nutriment, monks, does doubt arise?” “Yes, indeed, Venerable sir.”

“If uncertain about its cessation with the cessation of nutriment, monks, does doubt arise?” “Yes, indeed, Venerable sir.”

“If one sees that this has come into existence, monks, as it truly is with perfect wisdom, is doubt abandoned?” “Yes, indeed, Venerable sir.”

“If one sees that its origination is from nutriment, monks, as it truly is with perfect wisdom, is doubt abandoned?” “Yes, indeed, Venerable sir.”

“If one sees that its ceases with the cessation of that nutriment, monks, as it truly is with perfect wisdom, is doubt abandoned?” “Yes, indeed, Venerable sir.”

“Regarding what has come into existence, monks, are you free from doubt here?” “Yes, indeed, Venerable sir.”

“That its origination is from nutriment, monks, are you free from doubt here?” “Yes, indeed, Venerable sir.”

“That its cessation comes about from the cessation of nutriment, monks, are you free from doubt here?” “Yes, indeed, Venerable sir.”

“That it has come into existence, monks, do you see this as it truly is with perfect wisdom?” “Yes, indeed, Venerable sir.”

“That its origination is from nutriment, monks, do you see this as it truly is with perfect wisdom?” “Yes, indeed, Venerable sir.”

“That its cessation comes about from the cessation of nutriment, monks, do you see this as it truly is with perfect wisdom?” “Yes, indeed, Venerable sir.”

“Monks, purified and excellent though this view is, if you were to cling to it, take pride in it, and guard it jealously as your own, would you, monks, understand that the teaching is a raft to be used for crossing over, not to be clung to?” “Indeed not, Venerable sir.”

“Monks, purified and excellent though this view is, [261] if you were to not cling to it, nor take pride in it, nor guard it jealously as your own, would you, monks, understand that the teaching is a raft to be used for crossing over, not to be clung to?” “Yes, indeed, Venerable sir.”

#MahātaṇhāsaṅkhayaSuttaṃTop#DependentOriginationinForwardandReverseOrderThe Four Nutriments

“These four nutriments, monks, are for the continuation of living beings that have come into existence and for the support of those coming into existence. What four? Edible food (kabaḷīkāro āhāro), whether coarse or subtle, contact (phasso) is the second, mental volition (manosañcetanā) is the third, and consciousness (viññāṇaṃ) is the fourth.”

“These four nutriments, monks, what is their cause, what is their origin, from what are they born, from what do they come into existence? These four nutriments have craving as their cause, craving as their origin, they are born and come into existence from craving.

“And craving, monks, what is its cause, what is its origin, from what is it born, from what does it come into existence? Craving has feeling as its cause, feeling as its origin, it is born and comes into existence from feeling.

“And feeling, monks, what is its cause, what is its origin, from what is it born, from what does it come into existence? Feeling has contact as its cause, contact as its origin, it is born and comes into existence from contact.

“And contact, monks, what is its cause, what is its origin, from what is it born, from what does it come into existence? Contact has the six senses as its cause, the six senses as its origin, it is born and comes into existence from the six senses.

“And the six senses, monks, what is their cause, what is their origin, from what are they born, from what do they come into existence? The six senses have mind and matter as their cause, mind and matter as their origin, they are born and come into existence from mind and matter.

“And mind and matter, monks, what is their cause, what is their origin, from what are they born, from what do they come into existence? Mind and matter have consciousness as their cause, consciousness as their origin, they are born and come into existence from consciousness.

“And consciousness, monks, what is its cause, what is its origin, from what is it born, from what does it come into existence? Consciousness has mental formations as its cause, mental formations as its origin, it is born and comes into existence from mental formations.

“And mental formations, monks, what are their cause, what are their origin, from what are they born, from what do they come into existence? Mental formations have ignorance as their cause, ignorance as their origin, they are born and come into existence from ignorance.”

#MahātaṇhāsaṅkhayaSuttaṃTop#SummaryofDependentOriginationDependent Origination in Forward and Reverse Order

“Thus it is, monks, that dependent on ignorance mental formations arise, dependent on mental formations consciousness arises, dependent on consciousness mind and matter arise, dependent on mind and matter the six sense arise, dependent on the six senses contact arises, dependent on contact feeling arises, dependent on feeling craving arises, dependent on craving attachment arises, dependent on attachment becoming arises, dependent on becoming birth arises, dependent on birth aging, death, grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair come into existence. Thus this entire aggregate of suffering arises.

“It was said: ‘Dependent on birth, aging and death arise,’ thus was it said. Dependent on birth, monks, do aging and death arise or not? How is it in this case?” “Dependent on birth, [262] Venerable sir, aging and death arise; that’s how it is in this case — dependent on birth, aging and death arise.”

“It was said: ‘Dependent on becoming, birth arises,’ thus was it said. Dependent on becoming, monks, does birth arise or not? How is it in this case?” “Dependent on becoming, Venerable sir, birth arises; that’s how it is in this case — dependent on becoming, birth arises.”

“It was said: ‘Dependent on attachment, becoming arises,’ thus was it said. Dependent on attachment, monks, does becoming arise or not? How is it in this case?” “Dependent on attachment, Venerable sir, becoming arises; that’s how it is in this case — dependent on attachment, becoming arises.”

“It was said: ‘Dependent on craving, attachment arises,’ thus was it said. Dependent on craving, monks, does attachment arise or not? How is it in this case?” “Dependent on craving, Venerable sir, attachment arises; that’s how it is in this case — dependent on craving, attachment arises.”

“It was said: ‘Dependent on feeling, craving arises,’ thus was it said. Dependent on feeling, monks, does craving arise or not? How is it in this case?” “Dependent on feeling, Venerable sir, craving arises; that’s how it is in this case — dependent on feeling, craving arises.”

“It was said: ‘Dependent on contact, feeling arises,’ thus was it said. Dependent on contact, monks, does feeling arise or not? How is it in this case?” “Dependent on contact, Venerable sir, feeling arises; that’s how it is in this case — dependent on contact, feeling arises.”

“It was said: ‘Dependent on the six senses, contact arises,’ thus was it said. Dependent on the six senses, monks, does contact arise or not? How is it in this case?” “Dependent on the six senses, Venerable sir, contact arises; that’s how it is in this case — dependent on the six senses, contact arises.”

“It was said: ‘Dependent on mind and matter, the six senses arise,’ thus was it said. Dependent on mind and matter, monks, do the six senses arise or not? How is it in this case?” “Dependent on mind and matter, Venerable sir, the six senses arise; that’s how it is in this case — dependent on mind and matter, the six senses arise.”

“It was said: ‘Dependent on consciousness, mind and matter arise,’ thus was it said. Dependent on consciousness, monks, do mind and matter arise or not? How is it in this case?” “Dependent on consciousness, Venerable sir, mind and matter arise; that’s how it is in this case — dependent on consciousness, mind and matter arise.”

“It was said: ‘Dependent on mental formations, consciousness arises,’ thus was it said. Dependent on mental formations, monks, does consciousness arise or not? How is it in this case?” “Dependent on mental formations, Venerable sir, consciousness arises; that’s how it is in this case — dependent on mental formations, consciousness arises.”

“It was said: ‘Dependent on ignorance, mental formations arise,’ thus was it said. Dependent on ignorance, monks, do mental formations arise or not? How is it in this case?” “Dependent on ignorance, Venerable sir, mental formations arise; that’s how it is in this case — dependent on ignorance, mental formations arise.”

#MahātaṇhāsaṅkhayaSuttaṃTop#EmpiricalKnowledgeSummary of Dependent Origination

“Well said, monks. You say thus, monks, and I also say thus — when this exists, that comes into existence, [263] with the arising of this, that comes into existence. That is to say — dependent on ignorance, mental formations arise; dependent on mental formations, consciousness arises; dependent on consciousness, mind and matter arise; dependent on mind and matter, the six senses arise; dependent on the six senses, contact arises; dependent on contact, feeling arises; depending on feeling, craving arises; depending on craving, attachment arises; dependent on attachment, becoming arises; dependent on becoming, birth arises; dependent on birth, aging and death, grief, lamentation, pan, sorrow, and despair come into existence. Thus this entire mass of suffering arises.

“With the cessation of ignorance without remainder, mental formations cease; with the cessation of mental formations, consciousness ceases; with cessation of consciousness, mind and matter cease; with the cessation of mind and matter, the six senses cease; with the cessation of the six senses, contact ceases; with the cessation of contact, feeling ceases; with the cessation of feeling, craving ceases; with the cessation of craving, attachment ceases; with the cessation of attachment, becoming ceases; with the cessation of becoming, birth ceases; with the cessation of birth, aging and death, grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair cease. Thus this entire mass of suffering ceases.”

“It was said: ‘With the cessation of birth, aging and death cease,’ thus was it said. With the cessation of birth, monks, do aging and death cease or not? How is it in this case?” “With the cessation of birth, Venerable sir, aging and death cease; that’s how it is in this case — with the cessation of birth, aging and death cease.”

“It was said: ‘With the cessation of becoming, birth ceases,’ thus was it said. With the cessation of becoming, monks, does birth cease or not? How is it in this case?” “With the cessation of becoming, Venerable sir, birth ceases; that’s how it is in this case — with the cessation of becoming, birth ceases.”

“It was said: ‘With the cessation of attachment, becoming ceases,’ thus was it said. With the cessation of attachment, monks, does becoming cease or not? How is it in this case?” “With the cessation of attachment, Venerable sir, becoming ceases; that’s how it is in this case — with the cessation of attachment, becoming ceases.”

“It was said: ‘With the cessation of craving, attachment ceases,’ thus was it said. With the cessation of attachment, monks, does craving cease or not? How is it in this case?” “With the cessation of attachment, Venerable sir, craving ceases; that’s how it is in this case — with the cessation of attachment, craving ceases.”

“It was said: ‘With the cessation of feeling, craving ceases,’ thus was it said. With the cessation of feeling, monks, does craving cease or not? How is it in this case?” “With the cessation of feeling, Venerable sir, craving ceases; that’s how it is in this case — with the cessation of feeling, craving ceases.”

“It was said: ‘With the cessation of contact, feeling ceases,’ thus was it said. [264] With the cessation of contact, monks, does feeling cease or not? How is it in this case?” “With the cessation of contact, Venerable sir, feeling ceases; that’s how it is in this case — with the cessation of contact, feeling ceases.”

“It was said: ‘With the cessation of the six senses, contact ceases,’ thus was it said. With the cessation of the six senses, monks, does contact cease or not? How is it in this case?” “With the cessation of the six senses, Venerable sir, contact ceases; that’s how it is in this case — with the cessation of the six senses, contact ceases.”

“It was said: ‘With the cessation of mind and matter, the six senses cease,’ thus was it said. With the cessation of mind and matter, monks, do the six senses cease or not? How is it in this case?” “With the cessation of mind and matter, Venerable sir, the six senses cease; that’s how it is in this case — with the cessation of mind and matter, the six senses cease.”

“It was said: ‘With the cessation of consciousness, mind and matter cease,’ thus was it said. With the cessation of consciousness, monks, do mind and matter cease or not? How is it in this case?” “With the cessation of consciousness, Venerable sir, mind and matter cease; that’s how it is in this case — with the cessation of consciousness, mind and matter cease.”

“It was said: ‘With the cessation of mental formations, consciousness ceases,’ thus was it said. With the cessation of mental formations, monks, does consciousness cease or not? How is it in this case?” “With the cessation of mental formations, Venerable sir, consciousness ceases; that’s how it is in this case — with the cessation of mental formations, consciousness ceases.”

“It was said: ‘With the cessation of ignorance, mental formations cease,’ thus was it said. With the cessation of ignorance, monks, do mental formations cease or not? How is it in this case?” “With the cessation of ignorance, Venerable sir, mental formations cease; that’s how it is in this case — with the cessation of ignorance, mental formations cease.”

“Well said, monks. You say thus, monks, and I also say thus — when this does not exist, that does not comes into existence; when this ceases, that ceases. That is to say — with the cessation of ignorance, mental formations cease; with the cessation of mental formations, consciousness ceases; with the cessation of consciousness, mind and matter cease; with the cessation of mind and matter, the six senses cease; with the cessation of the six sense, contact ceases; with the cessation of contact, feeling ceases; with the cessation of feeling, craving ceases; with the cessation of craving; attachment ceases; with the cessation of attachment, becoming ceases; with the cessation of becoming, birth ceases; with the cessation of birth, aging and death, grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair cease. Thus this entire mass of suffering ceases.”

#MahātaṇhāsaṅkhayaSuttaṃTop#ConceptionandMaturityEmpirical Knowledge

“Knowing and seeing thus, monks, [265] would you speculate thus about the past — ‘Did we exist in the past? Did we not exist in the past? What were we in the past? How were we in the past? Having been what, what did we become in the past?’” “Indeed not, Venerable sir.”

“Knowing and seeing thus, monks, would you speculate about the future — ‘Will we exist in the future? Will we not exist in the future? What will we be in the future? How will we be in the future? Having been what, what will we become in the future?’” “Indeed not, Venerable sir.”

“Knowing and seeing thus, monks, would you be confused and doubtful thus about the present — ‘Do I exist? Do I not exist? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? To where is it going?’” “Indeed not, Venerable sir.”

“Knowing and seeing thus, monks, would you speak thus: ‘We respect the teacher, therefore out of respect in the teacher we speak thus’?” “Indeed not, Venerable sir.”

“Knowing and seeing thus, monks, would you speak thus: ‘The recluse said thus, so we speak thus.” “Indeed not, Venerable sir.”

“Knowing and seeing thus, monks, would you point out another as your teacher?” “Indeed not, Venerable sir.”

“Knowing and seeing thus, monks, would you return to the rituals and ceremonies of ordinary recluses and brahmins, regarding them as the essence of the holy life?” “Indeed not, venerable sir.”

“Is it, monks, that you know, see, and understand for yourselves that you speak thus?” “Indeed it is, Venerable sir.”

“Well said, monks, you have been instructed by me, monks, in this Dhamma, which is visible for oneself (sandiṭṭhiko), timeless (akāliko), inviting investigation (ehipassiko), leading onwards (opaneyyiko), and realisable by the wise (paccattaṃ veditabbo viññūhi). This Dhamma, monks, is visible for oneself, timeless, inviting investigation, leading onwards, and realisable by the wise. This was said, and for this reason it was said.”

#MahātaṇhāsaṅkhayaSuttaṃTop#TheArisingofaTathāgataConception and Maturity

“With the coincidence of three things, monks, conception takes place in the womb. Here, the mother and father come together, but the mother is not in season, and the being to be born (gandhabba) is not present, [266] then there is no conception in the womb. Here, the mother and father come together, the mother is in season, but the being to be born is not present, then there is no conception in the womb. However, monks, if the mother and father come together, the mother is in season, and the being to be born is present — thus with the three coming together there is conception in the womb. Then, monks, the mother protects the foetus ¹ for nine or ten months with great anxiety as a heavy burden. Then, when the child is born, she nourishes it with her own blood; for mother’s milk is known as blood in the discipline of the Noble Ones.

“When the baby grows up and his faculties mature, he plays with various toys such as toy ploughs, tip-cat, turning somersaults, toy windmills, toy measures, toy chariots, toy bows. As, monks, the boy matures further he enjoys the five strands of sensual desire — sights cognisable with the eye that are desirable, delightful, pleasing, lovely, connected with sensuality and exciting passion; sounds cognisable by the ear … odours cognisable by the nose … flavours cognisable by the tongue … touches cognisable by the body that are desirable, delightful, pleasing, lovely, connected with sensuality and exciting passion.

“Having seen a pleasing sight with the eye he is attached to it, if it is displeasing he is averse to it, since he dwells with mindfulness not established and an inferior mind. Not understanding the liberation of the mind and liberation through wisdom as it really is whereby those evil unwholesome states cease without remainder. He is thus endowed with satisfaction and opposition to whatever pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral feeling he experiences, he delights in feeling, welcomes it, and remains hanging onto it. Now, from delighting in, welcoming, and hanging onto that feeling, delight arises. Delight in feelings is attachment; dependent on attachment, there is becoming; dependent on becoming, birth; dependent on birth, aging and death, grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair come into existence. Thus this whole mass of suffering arises.

“Having heard a sound with the ear … smelt an odour with the nose … tasted a flavour with the tongue … felt a touch with the body … cognised a mental object with the mind, [267] if it is pleasing he is attached to it, if it is displeasing he is averse to it, since he dwells with mindfulness not established and an inferior mind, not understanding the liberation of the mind and liberation through wisdom as it really is whereby those evil unwholesome states cease without remainder. He is thus endowed with satisfaction and opposition to whatever pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral feeling he experiences, he delights in feeling, welcomes it, and remains hanging onto it. Now, from delighting in, welcoming, and hanging onto that feeling, delight arises. Delight in feelings is attachment; dependent on attachment, there is becoming; dependent on becoming, birth; dependent on birth, aging and death, grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair come into existence. Thus this whole mass of suffering arises.”

#MahātaṇhāsaṅkhayaSuttaṃTop#NotesThe Arising of a Tathāgata

“Here, monks, a Tathāgata arises in the world, a worthy (arahaṃ), fully enlightened Buddha (sammāsambuddho), endowed with knowledge and conduct (vijjācaraṇasampanno), fortunate (sugato), a seer of the worlds (lokavidū), an incomparable guide of trainable persons (anuttaro purisadammasārathi), the teacher of gods and human beings (satthā devamanussānaṃ), enlightened (buddho), and blessed (bhagavā). He makes known this world with its deities, demons, brahmas, recluses and brahmins, this generation of deities and human beings, that he has realised with direct knowledge. He teaches the Dhamma that is good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, with clear meaning and correct phrasing; explaining the perfectly pure holy life. A householder or a householder’s son, or one reborn in some other family, hears that Dhamma. Having heard that Dhamma he acquires confidence in the Tathāgata. Being endowed with confidence he reflects: ‘Household life is confining and defiling, going-forth is free and open. It is not easy while living at home to practise the complete, perfectly pure holy life like a polished shell. What if I were to cut off my hair, put on the yellow robes, and go forth from home to the homeless life?’ On a later occasion, having abandoned little or much wealth, having abandoned a small or large circle of relatives, having cut off his hair, and put on the yellow robes,² he goes forth from home to the homeless life.

“Having thus gone forth as a recluse, endowed with the livelihood and training of the monks, having abandoned the killing of living beings and abstaining from it, putting aside sticks and weapons, he abides conscientious and compassionate for the welfare of all living beings. Having abandoned the taking of what is not given and abstaining from it, taking only what is given, expecting only what is given, he abides in purity. [268] Having abandoned unchastity, he observes chastity, dwelling in solitude abstaining from the village practice ³ (gāmadhamma) of sexual intercourse. Having abandoned false speech and abstaining from it, he is a speaker of truth, adheres to the truth, reliable, trustworthy, not deceitful. Having abandoned divisive speech and abstaining from it — what he has heard here he does not repeat there to divide people there, what he has heard there he does not repeat here to divide people here. He unites those who are divided, promotes the harmony of those who are united, he rejoices in harmony, is intent on harmony, delights in harmony, and speak words conducive to harmony. Having abandoned harsh speech and abstaining from it — whatever speech is gentle, pleasing to the ear, affectionate, heartfelt, polite, lovely and pleasing to many, such speech he speaks. Having abandoned idle chatter and abstaining from it, he speaks at the right time, he speaks about facts, he speaks about benefit, he speaks about the doctrine and discipline, he speaks words to treasure, at the right time, reasonable, measured, and beneficial.

“He abstains from damaging seeds and plants, he eats only one meal a day, abstaining from food at the wrong time. He abstains from dancing, singing, music, and unseemly entertainments,⁴ he abstains from garlands, perfumes, and cosmetics. He abstains from using high or luxurious beds and seats. He abstains from accepting gold and silver;⁵ uncooked grains and flesh; woman and girls; male and female slaves; goats and sheep; fowl and pigs; elephants, oxen, stallions and mares; fields and land. He abstains from running errands, bartering, false weights and measures, and counterfeit coins. He abstains from cheating, deception, fraud, and trickery. He abstains from maiming, flogging and binding, highway-robbery, plunder, and violence.

“He is content with robes to cover his body and food to fill his stomach. Wherever he goes he takes only these with him. Like a bird flies wherever it wishes taking its wings as its only burden, thus a monk is content with robes to cover his body and food to fill his stomach. Endowed with the noble aggregate of morality he keeps himself happy, experiencing the bliss of blamelessness. [269]

“Having seen a sight with the eye, he takes no notice of its signs and features. Since, if he dwelt with the eye-faculty unguarded, evil unwholesome states of covetousness and sorrow might invade his mind, he guards the eye-faculty and undertakes to restrain it. Having heard a sound with the ear ... Having smelt and odour with the nose ... having tasted a flavour with the tongue ... having felt a touch with the body ... having cognised a mental object with the mind, he takes no notice of its signs and features. Since, if he dwelt with the mind-faculty unguarded, evil unwholesome states of covetousness (abhijjhā) and sorrow (domanassa) might invade his mind, he guards the mind-faculty and undertakes to restrain it. Endowed with the noble aggregate of morality he keeps himself happy, experiencing the bliss of blamelessness.

“In going forward or coming back he practises clear comprehension, in looking ahead or looking to the side he practises clear comprehension, in extending and bending the arms he practises clear comprehension, in wearing the robes and carrying the almsbowl he practises clear comprehension, in eating, drinking, chewing, and tasting he practises clear comprehension, in urinating and defecating he practises clear comprehension, in walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, speaking or remaining silent, he practises clear comprehension.

“Endowed with this noble aggregate of morality, (with this noble contentment), with this noble sense-faculty restraint, this noble clear comprehension, he resorts to a secluding lodging — in the forest, at the foot of a tree, a mountain, a ravine, a hillside cave, a cemetery, a jungle thicket, in the open air, or on a heap of straw. After the meal, having returned from almsround, he sits down cross-legged, with his body erect, and establishes mindfulness in front of his face. Having abandoned covetousness concerning the world he dwells with a mind free from covetousness and purifies his mind from covetousness. Having abandoned ill-will he dwells with a mind free from ill-will and purifies his mind from ill-will. Having abandoned sloth and torpor he dwells free from sloth and torpor, perceiving light, mindful and clearly comprehending, and purifies his mind from sloth and torpor. Having abandoned restlessness and remorse, he dwells calmly with his mind at peace. Having abandoned doubt he dwells having transcended doubt, unconfused about wholesome states, he purifies his mind from doubt. [270]

“Having abandoned these five hindrances that defile the mind and weaken wisdom, secluded from sensuality, secluded from unwholesome mental states he attains and abides in the first absorption, which is accompanied by initial application and sustained application, with joy and bliss born of seclusion [from defilements]. Again, monks, a monk with the calming of initial and sustained application attains and his mind inwardly calm and unified without initial and sustained application he attains and abides in the second absorption with joy and bliss born of concentration … the third absorption … he attains and abides in the four absorption.

“Having seen a form with the eye he does not cling to it if it is pleasing, nor get averse to it if it is displeasing, but abides with mindfulness of the body established with an unrestricted mind. That liberation of mind and liberation by wisdom he knows as it really is whereby those evil unwholesome states cease without remainder. Having thus abandoned satisfaction and opposition, whatever feeling he experiences, whether pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral, he does not delight in that feeling nor welcome it nor hang onto it. Since he does not delight in that feeling nor welcome it nor hang onto it, delight in feelings ceases. From the cessation of delight, attachment ceases; with the cessation of attachment, becoming ceases; with the cessation of becoming, birth ceases; with the cessation of birth, aging and death, grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair cease. Thus this entire mass of suffering ceases.

“Monks, remember this liberation by the destruction of craving as taught in brief by me. However, the monk Sāti the son of a fisherman [271] is caught in the great net of craving,⁶ the great tangle of craving.”

Thus spoke the Blessed One. Those monks rejoiced in what the Blessed One had said.

#MahātaṇhāsaṅkhayaSuttaṃTopNotes:

1. Gabbha = The womb, or what is in the womb. This one word includes all stages from embryo, through foetus, to unborn baby.

2. Kāsāyāni vatthāni = most often translated as “yellow robes,” but actually closer to ochre or brown. The dye for the robes is general made by boiling wood chips of the Jack-fruit tree.

3. Gāmadhamma = the practice of villagers. Bhikkhu Bodhi elides this section on the Arising of a Tathāgata, cross-referencing the identical passages in the Cūḷahatthipadopama Sutta, where he translates it as “the vulgar practice.”

4. Either watching or performing such entertainments.

5. Includes any forms of money, whether brass, copper, nickel, paper, or virtual currency.

6. It seems that Bhikkhu Sāti remained stuck in his wrong-view.


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