SN 13.1: Nakhasikha Sutta — The Tip of the Fingernail

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SN 13.1: Nakhasikha Sutta — The Tip of the Fingernail

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jun 14, 2012 9:55 am

SN 13.1 PTS: S ii 133 CDB i 621
Nakhasikha Sutta: The Tip of the Fingernail
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi at Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Then the Blessed One, picking up a little bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monks, "What do you think, monks? Which is greater: the little bit of dust I have picked up with the tip of my fingernail, or the great earth?"

"The great earth is far greater, lord. The little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail is next to nothing. It's not a hundredth, a thousandth, a one hundred-thousandth — this little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail — when compared with the great earth."

"In the same way, monks, for a disciple of the noble ones who is consummate in view, an individual who has broken through [to stream-entry], the suffering & stress that is totally ended & extinguished is far greater. That which remains in the state of having at most seven remaining lifetimes is next to nothing: it's not a hundredth, a thousandth, a one hundred-thousandth, when compared with the previous mass of suffering. That's how great the benefit is of breaking through to the Dhamma, monks. That's how great the benefit is of obtaining the Dhamma eye."
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Re: SN 13.1: Nakhasikha Sutta — The Tip of the Fingernail

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jun 14, 2012 9:56 am

Thus have I heard. At one time the Lord was staying near Saavatthii, at the Jeta Grove in Anaathapi.n.dika's monastery. Then the Lord, taking up a little dust on the tip of his nail, said "What do you think, bhikkhus, which is greater? This little dust on the tip of my nail or the great earth?"

"This great earth is surely greater, sir. Compared with it the little dust on the tip of the Lord's nail is insignificant, it does not amount to a hundredth part, a thousandth part, a hundred thousandth part, set beside the great earth."

"Even so, bhikkhus, for a noble disciple who has [right] view, for a person possessing realization, this is the greater suffering: that which is completely finished and exhausted. Insignificant is what is left over set beside the former heap of suffering that is completely finished and exhausted, it does not amount to a hundredth part, a thousandth part, a hundred thousandth part — [being born again merely] seven times at the most.

"So great a gain, bhikkhus, is realization of the Dhamma, so great a gain is to it to obtain Dhamma-vision."[*]

Note

[*] This discourse refers to the attainment of stream-entry, the first stage of sanctity, where a disciple is unable to fall away and is assured of deliverance. A stream-enterer is born into a state of conditioned existence only seven more times at outside before realizing final liberation.
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Re: SN 13.1: Nakhasikha Sutta — The Tip of the Fingernail

Postby Sam Vara » Thu Jun 14, 2012 10:35 am

I remember this one and several others like it which make similar comparisons. Doubtless there is a debate to be had about literal meaning, lifetimes, and so on, but however this is interpreted it seems to be mainly about encouragement. Ignorant as we are, we would have had no inkling of "Stream Entry" without the Buddha making it known to us. And as such, the technicalities of the situation seem to fall away. The comparison between something demonstrably tiny and something unimaginably vast is the key here. The monks' attempts to get a scale for the ratio (Thousands? Hundreds of Thousands?!) are actually quite poignant. Here is salvation, at one's fingertips, and the rational mind attempts to do its usual thing...
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Re: SN 13.1: Nakhasikha Sutta — The Tip of the Fingernail

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jun 16, 2012 11:39 pm

“So too, bhikkhus, for a noble disciple, a person accomplished in view who has made the breakthrough, the suffering that has been destroyed and eliminated is more, while that which remains is trifling.
The expression diṭṭhisampanna denotes one who has seen the truth of the Dhamma, beginning with the sotāpanna. See the closing paragraph of SN 12:27, etc.
[e.g. see the end of: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.031.than.html]
MN III 64,16-65,12, [http://www.metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/2Majjhima-Nikaya/Majjhima3/115-bahudhatuka-e.html]
and
AN III 438-40 [http://www.metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/4Anguttara-Nikaya/Anguttara4/6-chakkanipata/009-sitivaggo-e.html]
list various qualities of the diṭṭhisampanna, e.g., being incapable of regarding any formation as permanent, etc., being incapable of parricide and matricide, etc. Spk glosses abhisametāvino: “for one who abides having made the breakthrough to the noble truths by means of wisdom” (paññāya ariyasaccāni abhisametvā ṭhitassa). On abhisamaya, see n. 13:
    [Note 13 of Nidana Vagga] As a technical term, abhisamaya appears in the Nikāyas in two main contexts:
    (i) As signifying the initial breakthrough to the Dhamma, dhammābhisamaya , it is identical with the obtaining of the vision of the Dhamma (dhammacakkhupaṭilābha), and thus with the attainment of stream-entry; see SN 13:1 [current sutta] (II 134,4-5).
    (ii) As signifying the complete breaking through of conceit (sammā mānābhisamaya) it is equivalent to the attainment of arahantship; see SN 36:5 [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn36/sn36.005.nypo.html](IV 207,14-15) and I, v. 725c.
    (iii) A third suttanta use is to denote the Buddha’s discovery of the Dhamma, as here and in the verb form abhisameti at SN 12:20 [http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=11574] below. In the commentaries abhisamaya is synonymous with paṭivedha, penetration, both terms being used interchangeably to characterize the four functions of the supramundane path; see Vism 689-91 (Ppn 22:92-97).

Spk: What is the suffering that has been destroyed? That which might have arisen if the first path had not been developed. The suffering that might have arisen in the plane of misery during the next seven existences, and that which might have arisen anywhere at all beginning with the eighth rebirth—all that has been destroyed.
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Re: SN 13.1: Nakhasikha Sutta — The Tip of the Fingernail

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:27 am

The latter does not amount to a hundredth part, [134] or a thousandth part, or a hundred thousandth part of the former mass of suffering that has been destroyed and eliminated, as there is a maximum of seven more lives. Of such great benefit, bhikkhus, is the breakthrough to the Dhamma, of such great benefit is it to obtain the vision of the Dhamma.”
BB: Both dhammābhisamaya and dhammacakkhupaṭilābha signify the attainment of stream-entry. On the benefit of stream-entry, see Dhp 178.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ml#dhp-178
    Sole dominion over the earth,
    going to heaven,
    lordship over all worlds:
    the fruit of stream-entry excels them.
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