MN 63. Cuḷamālunkya Sutta

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MN 63. Cuḷamālunkya Sutta

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Apr 28, 2009 1:22 pm

Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta
The Shorter Instructions to Malunkya
Translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi at Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Then, as Ven. Malunkyaputta was alone in seclusion, this train of thought arose in his awareness: "These positions that are undeclared, set aside, discarded by the Blessed One — 'The cosmos is eternal,' 'The cosmos is not eternal,' 'The cosmos is finite,' 'The cosmos is infinite,' 'The soul & the body are the same,' 'The soul is one thing and the body another,' 'After death a Tathagata exists,' 'After death a Tathagata does not exist,' 'After death a Tathagata both exists & does not exist,' 'After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist' — I don't approve, I don't accept that the Blessed One has not declared them to me. I'll go ask the Blessed One about this matter. If he declares to me that 'The cosmos is eternal,' that 'The cosmos is not eternal,' that 'The cosmos is finite,' that 'The cosmos is infinite,' that 'The soul & the body are the same,' that 'The soul is one thing and the body another,' that 'After death a Tathagata exists,' that 'After death a Tathagata does not exist,' that 'After death a Tathagata both exists & does not exist,' or that 'After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist,' then I will live the holy life under him. If he does not declare to me that 'The cosmos is eternal,'... or that 'After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist,' then I will renounce the training and return to the lower life."

Then, when it was evening, Ven. Malunkyaputta arose from seclusion and went to the Blessed One. On arrival, having bowed down, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One, "Lord, just now, as I was alone in seclusion, this train of thought arose in my awareness: 'These positions that are undeclared, set aside, discarded by the Blessed One... I don't approve, I don't accept that the Blessed One has not declared them to me. I'll go ask the Blessed One about this matter. If he declares to me that "The cosmos is eternal,"... or that "After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist," then I will live the holy life under him. If he does not declare to me that "The cosmos is eternal,"... or that "After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist," then I will renounce the training and return to the lower life.'

"Lord, if the Blessed One knows that 'The cosmos is eternal,' then may he declare to me that 'The cosmos is eternal.' If he knows that 'The cosmos is not eternal,' then may he declare to me that 'The cosmos is not eternal.' But if he doesn't know or see whether the cosmos is eternal or not eternal, then, in one who is unknowing & unseeing, the straightforward thing is to admit, 'I don't know. I don't see.'... If he doesn't know or see whether after death a Tathagata exists... does not exist... both exists & does not exist... neither exists nor does not exist,' then, in one who is unknowing & unseeing, the straightforward thing is to admit, 'I don't know. I don't see.'"

"Malunkyaputta, did I ever say to you, 'Come, Malunkyaputta, live the holy life under me, and I will declare to you that 'The cosmos is eternal,' or 'The cosmos is not eternal,' or 'The cosmos is finite,' or 'The cosmos is infinite,' or 'The soul & the body are the same,' or 'The soul is one thing and the body another,' or 'After death a Tathagata exists,' or 'After death a Tathagata does not exist,' or 'After death a Tathagata both exists & does not exist,' or 'After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist'?"

"No, lord."

"And did you ever say to me, 'Lord, I will live the holy life under the Blessed One and [in return] he will declare to me that 'The cosmos is eternal,' or 'The cosmos is not eternal,' or 'The cosmos is finite,' or 'The cosmos is infinite,' or 'The soul & the body are the same,' or 'The soul is one thing and the body another,' or 'After death a Tathagata exists,' or 'After death a Tathagata does not exist,' or 'After death a Tathagata both exists & does not exist,' or 'After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist'?"

"No, lord."

"Then that being the case, foolish man, who are you to be claiming grievances/making demands of anyone?

"Malunkyaputta, if anyone were to say, 'I won't live the holy life under the Blessed One as long as he does not declare to me that "The cosmos is eternal,"... or that "After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist,"' the man would die and those things would still remain undeclared by the Tathagata.

"It's just as if a man were wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. His friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives would provide him with a surgeon, and the man would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble warrior, a priest, a merchant, or a worker.' He would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know the given name & clan name of the man who wounded me... until I know whether he was tall, medium, or short... until I know whether he was dark, ruddy-brown, or golden-colored... until I know his home village, town, or city... until I know whether the bow with which I was wounded was a long bow or a crossbow... until I know whether the bowstring with which I was wounded was fiber, bamboo threads, sinew, hemp, or bark... until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was wild or cultivated... until I know whether the feathers of the shaft with which I was wounded were those of a vulture, a stork, a hawk, a peacock, or another bird... until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was bound with the sinew of an ox, a water buffalo, a langur, or a monkey.' He would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was that of a common arrow, a curved arrow, a barbed, a calf-toothed, or an oleander arrow.' The man would die and those things would still remain unknown to him.

"In the same way, if anyone were to say, 'I won't live the holy life under the Blessed One as long as he does not declare to me that 'The cosmos is eternal,'... or that 'After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist,' the man would die and those things would still remain undeclared by the Tathagata.

"Malunkyaputta, it's not the case that when there is the view, 'The cosmos is eternal,' there is the living of the holy life. And it's not the case that when there is the view, 'The cosmos is not eternal,' there is the living of the holy life. When there is the view, 'The cosmos is eternal,' and when there is the view, 'The cosmos is not eternal,' there is still the birth, there is the aging, there is the death, there is the sorrow, lamentation, pain, despair, & distress whose destruction I make known right in the here & now.

"It's not the case that when there is the view, 'The cosmos is finite,' there is the living of the holy life. And it's not the case that when there is the view, 'The cosmos is infinite,' there is the living of the holy life. When there is the view, 'The cosmos is finite,' and when there is the view, 'The cosmos is infinite,' there is still the birth, there is the aging, there is the death, there is the sorrow, lamentation, pain, despair, & distress whose destruction I make known right in the here & now.

"It's not the case that when there is the view, 'The soul & the body are the same,' there is the living of the holy life. And it's not the case that when there is the view, 'The soul is one thing and the body another,' there is the living of the holy life. When there is the view, 'The soul & the body are the same,' and when there is the view, 'The soul is one thing and the body another,' there is still the birth, there is the aging, there is the death, there is the sorrow, lamentation, pain, despair, & distress whose destruction I make known right in the here & now.

"It's not the case that when there is the view, 'After death a Tathagata exists,' there is the living of the holy life. And it's not the case that when there is the view, 'After death a Tathagata does not exist,' there is the living of the holy life. And it's not the case that when there is the view, 'After death a Tathagata both exists & does not exist,' there is the living of the holy life. And it's not the case that when there is the view, 'After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist' there is the living of the holy life. When there is the view, 'After death a Tathagata exists'... 'After death a Tathagata does not exist'... 'After death a Tathagata both exists & does not exist'... 'After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist,' there is still the birth, there is the aging, there is the death, there is the sorrow, lamentation, pain, despair, & distress whose destruction I make known right in the here & now.

"So, Malunkyaputta, remember what is undeclared by me as undeclared, and what is declared by me as declared. And what is undeclared by me? 'The cosmos is eternal,' is undeclared by me. 'The cosmos is not eternal,' is undeclared by me. 'The cosmos is finite'... 'The cosmos is infinite'... 'The soul & the body are the same'... 'The soul is one thing and the body another'... 'After death a Tathagata exists'... 'After death a Tathagata does not exist'... 'After death a Tathagata both exists & does not exist'... 'After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist,' is undeclared by me.

"And why are they undeclared by me? Because they are not connected with the goal, are not fundamental to the holy life. They do not lead to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, calming, direct knowledge, self-awakening, Unbinding. That's why they are undeclared by me.

"And what is declared by me? 'This is stress,' is declared by me. 'This is the origination of stress,' is declared by me. 'This is the cessation of stress,' is declared by me. 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress,' is declared by me. And why are they declared by me? Because they are connected with the goal, are fundamental to the holy life. They lead to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, calming, direct knowledge, self-awakening, Unbinding. That's why they are declared by me.

"So, Malunkyaputta, remember what is undeclared by me as undeclared, and what is declared by me as declared."

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, Ven. Malunkyaputta delighted in the Blessed One's words.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

See also: AN 4.24.



and from the study guide

63 Cūlamālunkya Sutta The Shorter Discourse to Mālunkyāputta
SUMMARY
The monk who was given this discourse by the Buddha was prepared to leave
the holy life if the Buddha could not declare what he had left undeclared. The
Buddha makes quite clear what he has and has not declared and why. The monk
was satisfied.
NOT ES
[2] The ten speculative views (as in MN72). The Buddha has left undeclared—
whether:
1. the world is eternal or
2. is not eternal;
3. the world is finite or
4. is infinite;
5. the soul is the same as the body or
6. the soul is one thing and the body another (see Note 718);
7. after death, a Tathāgata exists or
8. does not exist or
9. both exists and does not exist or,
Pressing Out Pure Ho ney 77
10.neither exists nor does not exist (see Note 719).
No matter what the view, there is still the reality of birth, aging,
death…despair, the destruction of which the Buddha goes on to prescribe. [Ed:
The Buddha is definite on so many issues, yet he left open to question the above
issues on existence. He is not willing to posit any view at all on these matters.
This shows his masterfulness.]
[910]
The Buddha has declared the Four Noble Truths. Why has he declared
this and not the other views? The Four Noble Truths are beneficial and will lead
to dispassion and cessation, to Nibbāna. The others are speculative views and
are not beneficial to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to
enlightenment, to Nibbāna.
This discourse contains the wellknown
SIMILE [5] about the man who is
pierced with the poisoned arrow and refuses to let the surgeon remove it until
he knows who was responsible for the shooting, what kind of arrow it was, etc.,
and in the meantime dies. In the same way, if one will not lead the holy life until
the teacher makes declarations on all of one’s unanswered questions, one will
die before reaching the goal.
PRACT ICE
If you are spending time speculating about philosophical views, ask yourself
whether this interferes with the nuts and bolts of practice—that is, bringing an
end to suffering.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: MN 63. Cuḷamālunkya Sutta

Postby Fede » Tue Apr 28, 2009 2:07 pm

Ah, now you see.... the Buddha has complimented what I've thought for a long time....
"is this conducive or necessary to my practice?"

He confirms my thinking....!

How very kind! :tongue: :stirthepot:

Seriously, it's good to see this again and remember the teaching....
Thank you for posting... I'm earmarking it for further reference.
See... I remember the teachings. I'm darned if I can ever remember which suttas they are....

:clap:

:namaste:

EDIT NOTE:

How do I find the Study Guide please?
There's something I'd like to cross-reference....

many thanks!
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: MN 63. Cuḷamālunkya Sutta

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Apr 29, 2009 12:56 am

Greetings Fede,

Fede wrote:How do I find the Study Guide please?
There's something I'd like to cross-reference....

Pressing Out Pure Honey
http://www.dharma.org/bcbs/Pages/docume ... eHoney.pdf

As for the sutta, I love suttas like this that tell us not to ask irrelevant questions and to simply focus on that which is relevant. I see it has some overlap with the Simsapa Sutta which I have quoted in the my signature. In fact, the extract in my signature is also contained here in MN63 so I believe I shall reference it as such.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: MN 63. Cuḷamālunkya Sutta

Postby Fede » Wed Apr 29, 2009 6:17 am

Thank you Retro.
Bookmarked.
:namaste:
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: MN 63. Cuḷamālunkya Sutta

Postby BlackBird » Wed Apr 29, 2009 8:51 am

Very good, I can learn from this.
Thank you Retro.

With metta
Jack :heart:
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: MN 63. Cuḷamālunkya Sutta

Postby Nibbida » Sun May 03, 2009 11:51 pm

'The soul & the body are the same,' 'The soul is one thing and the body another,'


I find this quote particularly interesting. If you ask a Buddhist about the existence of a soul, the quick answer will probably be anatta, that there is no essential self such as a soul. And yet the Buddha still says that this is not a useful thing to spend endless hours speculating upon. I don't see this as contradictory. Regardless of what may or may not exist, it seems that endless speculative debate won't get us one iota closer to liberation. Even if the "correct" answer was handed down, believing it would become a matter of blind faith.

Instead, there is no way around the process of direct observation of the aggregates. In order to gain insight into anatta (and anicca and dukkha), there is no substitute for observing the processes of mind and body closely and directly. Talking about it may be useful insofar that a person may gain a basic understanding, and spending precious time haggling over it is counterproductive.

If I remember correctly, there is another sutta stating that the self neither exists nor doesn't exist, in truth. But anatta is emphasized because our natural tendency is to fall into the trap of thinking a permanent separate self exists. I believe Matthew Flickstein said that in a talk, but I will try to find it and post the link.

I may be off base here. Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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