SN 55.24: Sarakaani Sutta — Sarakaani (Who Took to Drink)

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SN 55.24: Sarakaani Sutta — Sarakaani (Who Took to Drink)

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jun 11, 2013 9:57 am

SN 55.24 PTS: S v 375 CDB ii 1811
Sarakaani Sutta: Sarakaani (Who Took to Drink)
translated from the Pali by Maurice O'Connell Walshe


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

[At Kapilavasthu] Now at that time Sarakaani the Sakyan, who had died, was proclaimed by the Blessed One to be a Stream-Winner, not subject to rebirth in states of woe, assured of enlightenment. At this, a number of the Sakyans, whenever they met each other or came together in company, were indignant and angry, and said scornfully: "A fine thing, a marvelous thing! Nowadays anyone can become a Stream-Winner, if the Blessed One has proclaimed Sarakaani who died to be Stream-Winner... assured of enlightenment! Why, Sarakaani failed in his training and took to drink!"

[Mahaanaama the Sakyan reported this to the Buddha who said:] "Mahaanaama, a lay-follower who has for a long time taken refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha — how could he go to states of woe? [And this can be truly said of Sarakaani the Sakyan.] How could he go to states of woe?

"Mahaanaama, take the case of a man endowed with unwavering devotion to the Buddha, declaring 'He is the Blessed One...,'[1] the Dhamma... the Sangha... He is joyous and swift in wisdom, one who has gained release.[2] By the destruction of the cankers he has by his own realization gained the cankerless heart's release, the release through wisdom, in this very life, and abides in it. The man is entirely released from the hell-state, from rebirth as an animal,[3] he is free from the realm of hungry ghosts, fully freed from the downfall, the evil way, from states of woe.

"Take the case of another man. He is endowed with unwavering devotion to the Buddha... the Dhamma... the Sangha... he is joyous and swift in wisdom but has not gained release. Having destroyed the five lower fetters,[4] he is reborn spontaneously[5] where he will attain Nibbaana without returning from that world. That man is entirely released from... states of woe.

"Take the case of another man. He is endowed with unwavering devotion to the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha. But he is not joyous in wisdom and has not gained release. Yet by destroying three fetters[6] and weakening lust, hatred and delusion, he is a Once-returner, who will return once more to this world and put an end to suffering. That man is entirely freed from... states of woe.

"Take the case of another man. He is endowed with unwavering devotion to the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha. But he is not joyous in wisdom and has not gained release. Yet by destroying three fetters he is a Stream-Winner, not subject to rebirth in states of woe, assured of enlightenment. That man is entirely freed... from states of woe.

"Take the case of another man. He is not even endowed with unwavering devotion to the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha. He is not joyous and swift in wisdom and has not gained release. But perhaps he has these things: the faculty of faith, of energy, of mindfulness, of concentration, of wisdom. And the things proclaimed by the Tathaagata are moderately approved by him with insight. That man does not go to the realm of hungry ghosts, to the downfall, to the evil way, to states of woe.

"Take the case of another man. He is not even endowed with unwavering devotion to the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha. He is not joyous and swift in wisdom and has not gained release. But he has just these things: the faculty of faith, of energy, of mindfulness, of concentration, of wisdom. Yet if he has merely faith, merely affection for the Tathaagata, that man, too, does not go to... states of woe.[7]

"Why, Mahaanaama, if these great sal trees could distinguish what is well spoken from what is ill spoken, I would proclaim these great sal trees to be Stream-Winners... bound for enlightenment, how much more so then Sarakaani the Sakyan! Mahaanaama, Sarakaani the Sakyan fulfilled the training at the time of death.'[8]

Notes

1. These are, of course, the standard formulations for referring to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. They seem to fit awkwardly into the context here and may have been interpolated.

2. These terms are used of Saariputta at SN 2.9 [I can't locate this, perhaps it is a mis-print] (not translated here). Cf. the distinction between difficult and easy progress in VM XXI, 117.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... on2011.pdf
    117. [Progress.] But if [insight] has from the start only been able to suppress
    defilements with difficulty, with effort and with prompting, then it is called “of
    difficult progress.” The opposite kind is called “of easy progress.” And
    when the manifestation of the path, the goal of insight, is slowly effected after
    defilements have been suppressed, then it is called “of sluggish directknowledge.” The opposite kind is called “of swift direct-knowledge.” So this
    equanimity about formations stands at the arrival point and gives its own name
    to the path in each case, and so the path has four names [according to the kind
    of progress] (see D III 228)


3. Theosophists and others maintain that rebirth as an animal, after a human existence, is impossible. This view is not supported by the Buddhist texts of any school.

4. This means that he is an anaagaamin or "Non-Returner" who, having destroyed the five lower fetters, will not return to this world.

5. I.e., not born from a womb by spontaneously arising in another world (in this case the "Pure Abodes" (suddhaavaasaa), where they will attain to final release without returning to this world).

6. These are the first three of the five lower fetters (orambhaagiya-sa.myojanaani Vol. I, n. 83)
    Orambhaagiya-sa.myojana: the five fetters belonging to the lower, the sensual realms of existence, these being:
    Sakkaaya-di.t.thi — views about the "existing group" of mental and physical phenomena (i.e., the five aggregates), that they constitute a "self" or a "person" or an "ego" thought of as being permanent or existing in unbroken continuity from the past into the future;
    Vicikicchaa — wavering doubt;
    Siilabbata-paraamaasa — holding to habits and customs, mere external observances, thinking they will bring release of themselves;
    Kaamaraaga — sensual passions and attachments;
    Vyaapaada — ill-will, aversion.
    A person who has eliminated these five fetters is called an anaagaamii, a never-returner. After death he does not come back again to this world, but is born in one of the five Pure Abodes (Suddhaavaasa) of the realm of form (ruupaloka) and there realizes final deliverance. The last five of these seven fruits refer to the five grades of anaagaamii in descending order, the highest is "one who attains final deliverance early," down to the "one going upstream."
, i.e., sakkaaya-di.t.thi "personality-view" or belief in a permanent, really existing self; vicikicchaa "doubt" (once the "personality-view" has been shattered, there can be no further fundamental doubt about the Dhamma); and siilabbata-paraamaasa "attachment to rites and rituals" (siila + vata). It is noteworthy that even at this (second) stage on the Path, sensuality (kaamaraaga) and ill-will (vyaapaada), the fourth and fifth fetters, are only weakened but not destroyed. Their destruction is, however, inevitable.

7. An encouraging message for many! Cf. the end of MN 22, and also the charming image of the new-born calf in MN 34. The Commentary (MA) to MN 22 says such people are termed "lesser stream-winners" (cuulasotaapannaa). This term is discussed in VM XIX, 27.
    27. When a man practicing insight has become possessed of this knowledge,
    he has found comfort in the Buddhas’ Dispensation, he has found a foothold, he
    is certain of his destiny, he is called a “lesser stream-enterer.”
      So would a bhikkhu overcome
      His doubts, then ever mindfully
      Let him discern conditions both
      Of mind and matter thoroughly.
    The stress laid here on the importance of faith is interesting in view of later developments such as the Pure Land Schools (e.g., Jodo-Shishu or "Shin-Buddhism" in Japan).
8. Sarakaani in fact became a Stream-winner at the moment of death.
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Re: SN 55.24: Sarakaani Sutta — Sarakaani (Who Took to Drink

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jun 15, 2013 4:26 am

Some comments from Piya Tan on this sutta, and some comments on "faith followers" and "truth followers" (precursors to stream entry):
http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-con ... 4-piya.pdf

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Re: SN 55.24: Sarakaani Sutta — Sarakaani (Who Took to Drink

Postby PadmaPhala » Sat Jun 15, 2013 12:59 pm

anatman/anatta samaadhi is the key for this.
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Re: SN 55.24: Sarakaani Sutta — Sarakaani (Who Took to Drink

Postby seaturtle » Sat Jun 22, 2013 9:32 pm

I wanted to comment on this sutta because I recently began studying the suttas by collecting ones that inspire me and journaling on them. This is one I like but haven't written about yet. I study the suttas as a way to develop faith and this sutta fits the theme. This sutta talks about stream-entry, but for me what I get is that no matter how far I stray from the path I can always begin again and when my wisdom starts feeling weak and doubt starts to grow I can lean on faith. I also like SN 45.2: Half of the Holy Life which says to me that  I can rely on the Buddha as a spiritual friend. There are times when I get stressed by household life and some of the teachings on the four noble truths, the eightfold path, and the development on mindfulness just feel dry or irrelevant to my daily struggles. Suttas like this one help me to remember the Budhha's compassion and energize my desire to stay on the path or begin again if I need to
To be born human and encounter the great joy
of the good Dharma is a chance rarer than
a turtle thrusting its neck through a yoke
floating freely in the great ocean.
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Re: SN 55.24: Sarakaani Sutta — Sarakaani (Who Took to Drink

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jun 22, 2013 10:00 pm

Thanks SeaTurtle. Yes, I think this sutta has some useful inspiration for times when we feel we are not following the Path well...

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Re: SN 55.24: Sarakaani Sutta — Sarakaani (Who Took to Drink

Postby lyndon taylor » Sat Jun 22, 2013 10:16 pm

I studied with a monk that to me seemed enlightened and very wise, taught me most of what I know about escaping from suffering, he knew very little about western medicine coming not long ago from Asia. And he had a very painful stomach disorder, or so I was told, and trouble sleeping. Forgive me for saying this but he used to drink, mixed with cocktail of Asian herbs, a fifth of alcohol before bedtime, I didn't know him to ever be drunk or drinking during the day.

Which brings up the possibility that this person who drank in the scripture was not using alcohol as an intoxicant, but rather as a medicine or a sleep aid. In the Buddha's age, and even to the present day in some Asian cultures who don't trust modern medicine, alcohol is one of the few medicines available along with natural herbs and bark, etc which we might even classify as drugs. Even opium flower is given to babies in Asia to help them sleep when they won't stop crying.

So I'm not claiming knowledge that this Arahat was only using alcohol as a medicine, but I am saying its entirely possible, even likely, in which case the sutra maybe should not be interpreted to be saying; "you can be a drunk, but if your devotion is strong enough and you destroy the three fetters, you can still be a stream winner"

Rather, perhaps, we should say in 21st century terms; "just because we need to take strong pain killers, or sleep aids, medications, this does not prevent us from being a stream winner".

To establish any case that you can drink purely for intoxication, and still become enlightened, You would, in my opinion, need a liitle more scriptural evidence than just this one text.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: SN 55.24: Sarakaani Sutta — Sarakaani (Who Took to Drink

Postby seaturtle » Sun Jun 23, 2013 12:01 am

I am not a scholar, and this is a sutta I find inspiring but have not though much about, so my interpretation may be uninformed. I tend to think that focusing on the use of alcohol is too narrow. The tone of the opening comments and the way the Buddha focused on the attainment of stream entry and not the precepts suggest that Sarakaani was not using alcohol medicinally. The last two classes mentioned were people who had not destroyed the three fetters but instead either accepted the teachings based on insight or mere love for the Buddha, so this sutta doesn't seem to say that one can drink for intoxication and still destroy the fetters.

I prefer to read this sutta as pointing out the power of faith - something I feel many western Buddhists either ignore or minimize. If one just read this sutta alone one might think that faith alone could save one from karma, but drawing on what I have learned from other suttas and other sources it is my understanding that faith is an energizing faculty. My way of reading this sutta is that it says one who has true faith (in the Buddha) will keep returning to the path, so in this case it seems possible the Buddha is saying Savakaani will overcome his addiction and move forward on the path in future lives, though I am not sure of this. Regardless, I don't read this sutta as saying I can do whatever I like and still expect to achieve stream entry just because I have faith. Instead I chose to use this sutta to remind myself that faith is a valid entrance to the path, and so I can choose to focus on the suttas that inspire me and nourish my faith in the Buddha when I begin to feel doubt.
To be born human and encounter the great joy
of the good Dharma is a chance rarer than
a turtle thrusting its neck through a yoke
floating freely in the great ocean.
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