MN 140. Dhātuvibhanga Sutta

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MN 140. Dhātuvibhanga Sutta

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun Oct 04, 2009 7:30 pm

(early cause i have an imagration interview tomorrow and i cant seem to find the save function :shrug: jc)MN 140 PTS: M iii 237
Dhatu-vibhanga Sutta: An Analysis of the Properties
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

I have heard that on one occasion, as the Blessed One was wandering among the Magadhans, he entered Rajagaha, went to the potter Bhaggava, and on arrival said to him, "If it is no inconvenience for you, Bhaggava, I will stay for one night in your shed."

"It's no inconvenience for me, lord, but there is a wanderer who has already taken up residence there. If he gives his permission, you may stay there as you like."

Now at that time a clansman named Pukkusati had left home and gone forth into homelessness through faith, out of dedication to the Blessed One. He was the one who had already taken up residence in the potter's shed. So the Blessed One approached Ven. Pukkusati and said to him, "If it is no inconvenience for you, monk, I will stay one night in the shed."

"The shed is roomy, my friend. Stay as you like."

So the Blessed One, entering the potter's shed and, setting out a spread of grass to one side, sat down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect, and setting mindfulness to the fore. He spent most of the night sitting [in meditation]. Ven. Pukkusati also spent most of the night sitting [in meditation]. The thought occurred to the Blessed One, "How inspiring is the way this clansman behaves! What if I were to question him?" So he said to Ven. Pukkusati, "Out of dedication to whom, monk, have you gone forth? Who is your teacher? Of whose Dhamma do you approve?"

"There is, my friend, the contemplative Gotama, a son of the Sakyans, gone forth from a Sakyan clan. Now, this excellent report about the honorable Gotama has been spread about: 'Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy & rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge & conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the worlds, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine & human beings, awakened, blessed.' I have gone forth out of dedication to that Blessed One. That Blessed One is my teacher. It is of that Blessed One's Dhamma that I approve."

"But where, monk, is that Blessed One — worthy & rightly self-awakened — staying now?"

"There is, my friend, a city in the northern lands named Savatthi. That is where the Blessed One — worthy & rightly self-awakened — is staying now."

"Have you ever seen that Blessed One before? On seeing him, would you recognize him?"

"No, my friend, I have never seen the Blessed One before, nor on seeing him would I recognize him."

Then the thought occurred to the Blessed One: "It is out of dedication to me that this clansman has gone forth. What if I were to teach him the Dhamma?" So he said to Ven. Pukkusati, "I will teach you the Dhamma, monk. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, friend," replied Ven. Pukkusati.

The Blessed One said: "A person has six properties, six media of sensory contact, eighteen considerations, & four determinations. He has been stilled where the currents of construing do not flow. And when the currents of construing do not flow, he is said to be a sage at peace. One should not be negligent of discernment, should guard the truth, be devoted to relinquishment, and train only for calm. This is the summary of the analysis of the six properties.

"'A person has six properties.' Thus was it said. In reference to what was it said? These are the six properties: the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, the wind property, the space property, the consciousness property. 'A person has six properties.' Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said.

"'A person has six media of sensory contact.' Thus was it said. In reference to what was it said? These are the six media of sensory contact: the eye as a medium of sensory contact, the ear... the nose... the tongue... the body... the intellect as a medium of sensory contact. 'A person has six media of sensory contact.' Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said.

"'A person has eighteen considerations.' Thus was it said. In reference to what was it said? These are the eighteen considerations: On seeing a form with the eye, one considers a form that can act as a basis for joy, a form that can act as a basis for sadness, or a form that can act as a basis for equanimity. On hearing a sound with the ear... On smelling an aroma with the nose... On tasting a flavor with the tongue... On feeling a tactile sensation with the body... On cognizing an idea with the intellect, one considers an idea that can act as a basis for joy, an idea that can act as a basis for sadness, or an idea that can act as a basis for equanimity. Thus there are six considerations conducive to joy, six conducive to sadness, & six conducive to equanimity. 'A person has eighteen considerations.' Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said.

"'A person has four determinations.' Thus was it said. In reference to what was it said? These are the four determinations: the determination for discernment, the determination for truth, the determination for relinquishment, the determination for calm. 'A person has four determinations.' Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said.

"'One should not be negligent of discernment, should guard the truth, be devoted to relinquishment, and train only for calm.' Thus was it said. In reference to what was it said? And how is one not negligent of discernment? These are the six properties: the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, the wind property, the space property, the consciousness property.

"And what is the earth property? The earth property can be either internal or external. What is the internal earth property? Anything internal, within oneself, that's hard, solid, & sustained [by craving]: head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, membranes, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, contents of the stomach, feces, or anything else internal, within oneself, that's hard, solid, and sustained: This is called the internal earth property. Now both the internal earth property & the external earth property are simply earth property. And that should be seen as it actually is present with right discernment: 'This is not mine, this is not me, this is not my self.' When one sees it thus as it actually is present with right discernment, one becomes disenchanted with the earth property and makes the earth property fade from the mind.

"And what is the liquid property? The liquid property may be either internal or external. What is the internal liquid property? Anything internal, belonging to oneself, that's liquid, watery, & sustained: bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, oil, saliva, mucus, oil-of-the-joints, urine, or anything else internal, within oneself, that's liquid, watery, & sustained: This is called the internal liquid property. Now both the internal liquid property & the external liquid property are simply liquid property. And that should be seen as it actually is present with right discernment: 'This is not mine, this is not me, this is not my self.' When one sees it thus as it actually is present with right discernment, one becomes disenchanted with the liquid property and makes the liquid property fade from the mind.

"And what is the fire property? The fire property may be either internal or external. What is the internal fire property? Anything internal, belonging to oneself, that's fire, fiery, & sustained: that by which [the body] is warmed, aged, & consumed with fever; and that by which what is eaten, drunk, consumed & tasted gets properly digested; or anything else internal, within oneself, that's fire, fiery, & sustained: This is called the internal fire property. Now both the internal fire property & the external fire property are simply fire property. And that should be seen as it actually is present with right discernment: 'This is not mine, this is not me, this is not my self.' When one sees it thus as it actually is present with right discernment, one becomes disenchanted with the fire property and makes the fire property fade from the mind.

"And what is the wind property? The wind property may be either internal or external. What is the internal wind property? Anything internal, belonging to oneself, that's wind, windy, & sustained: up-going winds, down-going winds, winds in the stomach, winds in the intestines, winds that course through the body, in-and-out breathing, or anything else internal, within oneself, that's wind, windy, & sustained: This is called the internal wind property. Now both the internal wind property & the external wind property are simply wind property. And that should be seen as it actually is present with right discernment: 'This is not mine, this is not me, this is not my self.' When one sees it thus as it actually is present with right discernment, one becomes disenchanted with the wind property and makes the wind property fade from the mind.

"And what is the space property? The space property may be either internal or external. What is the internal space property? Anything internal, belonging to oneself, that's space, spatial, & sustained: the holes of the ears, the nostrils, the mouth, the [passage] whereby what is eaten, drunk, consumed, & tasted gets swallowed, and where it collects, and whereby it is excreted from below, or anything else internal, within oneself, that's space, spatial, & sustained: This is called the internal space property. Now both the internal space property & the external space property are simply space property. And that should be seen as it actually is present with right discernment: 'This is not mine, this is not me, this is not my self.' When one sees it thus as it actually is present with right discernment, one becomes disenchanted with the space property and makes the space property fade from the mind.

"There remains only consciousness: pure & bright. What does one cognize with that consciousness? One cognizes 'pleasure.' One cognizes 'pain.' One cognizes 'neither pleasure nor pain.' In dependence on a sensory contact that is to be felt as pleasure, there arises a feeling of pleasure. When sensing a feeling of pleasure, one discerns that 'I am sensing a feeling of pleasure.' One discerns that 'With the cessation of that very sensory contact that is to be felt as pleasure, the concomitant feeling — the feeling of pleasure that has arisen in dependence on the sensory contact that is to be felt as pleasure — ceases, is stilled.' In dependence on a sensory contact that is to be felt as pain... In dependence on a sensory contact that is to be felt as neither pleasure nor pain, there arises a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain. When sensing a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, one discerns that 'I am sensing a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain.' One discerns that 'With the cessation of that very sensory contact that is to be felt as neither pleasure nor pain, the concomitant feeling — the feeling of neither pleasure nor pain that has arisen in dependence on the sensory contact that is to be felt as neither pleasure nor pain — ceases, is stilled.'

"Just as when, from the friction & conjunction of two fire sticks, heat is born and fire appears, and from the separation & disjunction of those very same fire sticks, the concomitant heat ceases, is stilled; in the same way, in dependence on a sensory contact that is to be felt as pleasure, there arises a feeling of pleasure... In dependence on a sensory contact that is to be felt as pain... In dependence on a sensory contact that is to be felt as neither pleasure nor pain, there arises a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain... One discerns that 'With the cessation of that very sensory contact that is to be felt as neither pleasure nor pain, the concomitant feeling... ceases, is stilled.'

"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. One 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. One discerns that 'If I were to direct equanimity as pure and bright as this toward the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness... the dimension of nothingness... the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, I would develop the mind along those lines, and thus this equanimity of mine — thus supported, thus sustained — would last for a long time.'

"One discerns that 'If I were to direct equanimity as pure & bright as this towards the dimension of the infinitude of space and to develop the mind along those lines, that would be fabricated. One discerns that 'If I were to direct equanimity as pure and bright as this towards the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness... the dimension of nothingness... the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception and to develop the mind along those lines, that would be fabricated.' One neither fabricates nor mentally fashions for the sake of becoming or un-becoming. This being the case, one is not sustained by anything in the world (does not cling to anything in the world). Unsustained, one is not agitated. Unagitated, one is totally unbound right within. One discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'

"Sensing a feeling of pleasure, one discerns that it is fleeting, not grasped at, not relished. Sensing a feeling of pain... Sensing a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, one discerns that it is fleeting, not grasped at, not relished. Sensing a feeling of pleasure, one senses it disjoined from it. Sensing a feeling of pain... Sensing a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, one senses it disjoined from it. When sensing a feeling limited to the body, one discerns that 'I am sensing a feeling limited to the body.' When sensing a feeling limited to life, one discerns that 'I am sensing a feeling limited to life.' One discerns that 'With the break-up of the body, after the termination of life, all that is sensed, not being relished, will grow cold right here.'

"Just as an oil lamp burns in dependence on oil & wick; and from the termination of the oil & wick — and from not being provided any other sustenance — it goes out unnourished; even so, when sensing a feeling limited to the body, one discerns that 'I am sensing a feeling limited to the body.' When sensing a feeling limited to life, one discerns that 'I am sensing a feeling limited to life.' One discerns that 'With the break-up of the body, after the termination of life, all that is sensed, not being relished, will grow cold right here.'

"Thus a monk so endowed is endowed with the highest determination for discernment, for this — the knowledge of the passing away of all suffering & stress — is the highest noble discernment.

"His release, being founded on truth, does not fluctuate, for whatever is deceptive is false; Unbinding — the undeceptive — is true. Thus a monk so endowed is endowed with the highest determination for truth, for this — Unbinding, the undeceptive — is the highest noble truth.

"Whereas formerly he foolishly had taken on mental acquisitions and brought them to completion, he has now abandoned them, their root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. Thus a monk so endowed is endowed with the highest determination for relinquishment, for this — the renunciation of all mental acquisitions — is the highest noble relinquishment.

"Whereas formerly he foolishly had greed — as well as desire & infatuation — he has now abandoned them, their root destroyed made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. Whereas formerly he foolishly had malice — as well as ill-will & hatred — he has now abandoned them... Whereas formerly he foolishly had ignorance — as well as delusion & confusion — he has now abandoned them, their root destroyed made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. Thus a monk so endowed is endowed with the highest determination for calm, for this — the calming of passions, aversions, & delusions — is the highest noble calm. 'One should not be negligent of discernment, should guard the truth, be devoted to relinquishment, and train only for calm.' Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said.

"'He has been stilled where the currents of construing do not flow. And when the currents of construing do not flow, he is said to be a sage at peace.' Thus was it said. With reference to what was it said? 'I am' is a construing. 'I am this' is a construing. 'I shall be' is a construing. 'I shall not be'... 'I shall be possessed of form'... 'I shall not be possessed of form'... 'I shall be percipient'... 'I shall not be percipient'... 'I shall be neither percipient nor non-percipient' is a construing. Construing is a disease, construing is a cancer, construing is an arrow. By going beyond all construing, he is said to be a sage at peace.

"Furthermore, a sage at peace is not born, does not age, does not die, is unagitated, and is free from longing. He has nothing whereby he would be born. Not being born, will he age? Not aging, will he die? Not dying, will he be agitated? Not being agitated, for what will he long? It was in reference to this that it was said, 'He has been stilled where the currents of construing do not flow. And when the currents of construing do not flow, he is said to be a sage at peace.' Now, monk, you should remember this, my brief analysis of the six properties."

Then the thought occurred to Ven. Pukkusati: "Surely, the Teacher has come to me! Surely, the One Well-gone has come to me! Surely, the Rightly Self-awakened One has come to me!" Getting up from his seat, arranging his upper robe over one shoulder, and bowing down with his head at the Blessed One's feet, he said, "A transgression has overcome me, lord, in that I was so foolish, so muddle-headed, and so unskilled as to assume that it was proper to address the Blessed One as 'friend.' May the Blessed One please accept this confession of my transgression as such, so that I may achieve restraint in the future."

"Yes, monk, a transgression overcame you in that you were so foolish, so muddle-headed, and so unskilled as to assume that it was proper to address me as 'friend.' But because you see your transgression as such and make amends in accordance with the Dhamma, we accept your confession. For it is a cause of growth in the Dhamma & Discipline of the noble ones when, seeing a transgression as such, one makes amends in accordance with the Dhamma and achieves restraint in the future."

"Lord, may I receive full acceptance (ordination as a monk) from the Blessed One?"

"And are your robes & bowl complete?"

"No, lord, my robes & bowl are not complete."

"Tathagatas do not give full acceptance to one whose robes & bowl are not complete."

Then Ven. Pukkusati, delighting & rejoicing in the Blessed One's words, got up from his seat, bowed down to the Blessed One and, keeping him on his right, left in search of robes and a bowl. And while he was searching for robes & a bowl, a runaway cow killed him.

Then a large number of monks approached the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As they were sitting there, they said to the Blessed One, "Lord, the clansman Pukkusati, whom the Blessed One instructed with a brief instruction, has died. What is his destination? What is his future state?"

"Monks, the clansman Pukkusati was wise. He practiced the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma and did not pester me with issues related to the Dhamma. With the destruction of the first five fetters, he has arisen spontaneously [in the Pure Abodes], there to be totally unbound, never again to return from that world."

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

See also: MN 106.


from the study guide
SUMMARY
This is a profound and touching account of the Buddha’s meeting with Pukkusāti
(a former king), who had gone forth but had never met the Buddha. The Buddha
could tell he was ripe for awakening, so he gave him a private teaching without
Pukkusāti’s knowing he was the Buddha. Primarily, the discourse is about four
foundations: wisdom, truth, relinquishment and peace. It also includes a great
deal on feeling (vedanā). The last section is about mental conceiving. When
Pukkusāti went out to look for a proper robe and bowl for his ordination, he was
killed by a cow and reborn in the Avihā heaven as an nonreturner.
NOT ES
This is a good discourse to sit with and reflect upon. There is a lot here that
needs time to season. Also, it is worthwhile to note that this is what the Buddha
decided to teach a bhikkhu ripe for awakening. The important teaching is on the
four foundations. The Buddha describes what makes a “person”:
Pressing Out Pure Ho ney 142
six elements,
six bases of contact,
eighteen kinds of mental exploration (see MN137)
possession of the four foundations.
[Ed: Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu notes that the Buddha always refused to
answer the question of what a person is. Therefore, an alternative translation
for “a person is six elements, etc.,” would be that a person has six elements,
etc. This seems more accurate.]
QUOTE: [30] “The tides of conceiving do not sweep over one who stands upon
these [foundations], and when the tides of conceiving no longer sweep over
[one], [one] is called a sage at peace.”
[1128]
The four foundations:
1. [1325]
Wisdom—the knowledge of the destruction of all suffering. This is
wisdom possessed by an arahant. “One should not neglect wisdom…”
How should one not neglect wisdom?
a) He teaches the six elements (four physical elements plus the space
and consciousness elements, as in MN28 and MN62) and to see
anattā in each.
b) [19] With consciousness (the knowing faculty), one knows the origin
and cessation of the feeling that arises through contact. In dependence
on contact, a feeling arises. One knows the feeling as pleasant,
unpleasant, or neither. With the cessation of that same contact, the
feeling ceases.
SIMILE: “…just as from the contact and friction of two firesticks,
heat is
generated and fire is produced, and with the separation and disjunction
of these two firesticks,
the corresponding heat ceases and
subsides…”
c) [20] Equanimity, purified, bright, malleable, wieldy, and radiant. (Note
1275: This equanimity is that of the 4th jhāna and is a result of not
clinging to feelings.) SIMILE: When a goldsmith takes some gold and
refines it in the furnace so it is malleable and radiant, [she] then can
make any kind of ornament out of it that [she] wishes. [21, 22] In the
same way, one can direct one’s equanimity to the four immaterial
states and realize that one could remain there for a long time. But this
would be conditioned. If, disenchanted with even refined conditioned
states, one does not form any condition or have any intention tending
toward either being or nonbeing,
then one is free and will personally
attain Nibbāna. QUOTE: “He understands thus: ‘Birth is destroyed, the
holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is
no more coming to any state of being.’”
d) [23] An arahant still experiences feeling. How does she or he
experience feeling? By understanding “It is impermanent, there is no
holding to it.” Detached, she or he knows feeling as terminating with
the body, terminating with life. (Note 1281 says, “[An arahant]
continues to experience feeling only as long as the body with its life
faculty continues, but not beyond that.”)
Pressing Out Pure Ho ney 143
QUOTE and SIMILE [24]: “On the dissolution of the body, with the ending of
life, all that is felt, not being delighted in, will become cool right here.
Bhikkhu, just as an oillamp
burns in dependence on oil and a wick, and
when the oil and wick are used up, if it does not get any more fuel, it is
extinguished from lack of fuel…” The fuel here is the craving for sense
pleasures (pleasurable feeling), and/or for being and nonbeing.
[Ed: My interpretation of this section uses the translator’s Note 1273:
Taking the equanimity that remains when one is not caught up and
reacting to feeling, one directs that equanimity to the formless jhānas.
When one understands that these are conditioned, one does not form any
condition nor any intention toward being or nonbeing,
and there is no
clinging. When there is no clinging, there is no agitation. When there is no
agitation, one can personally attain Nibbāna. So, in this interpretation, the
release from clinging and agitation goes through the formless jhānas.
[19] says, “There remains only consciousness.” In the note, the word
‘remains’ is interpreted to mean, ‘as yet to be spoken about.’ This does not
follow the progression into equanimity, when the Buddha says at the end
of [20],“then there remains only equanimity.” I have an alternative
interpretation of this section: After seeing the emptiness of elements,
consciousness remains. With consciousness, one sees the arising and
ceasing of feeling. One sees that the feeling arises dependent on contact,
and ceases when the contact ceases. When this is seen, there is no
clinging. “Then there remains only equanimity, purified and bright,
malleable, wieldy and radiant.” Read in this way, this passage can be used
to reflect on how this sequence appears in our own momenttomoment
experience, and becomes a powerful teaching for us.]
2. [26] Truth QUOTE: “[One’s] deliverance, being founded upon truth, is
unshakeable. For that is false, bhikkhu, which has a deceptive nature,
and that is true which has an undeceptive nature—Nibbāna. Therefore, a
bhikkhu possessing [this truth] possesses the supreme foundation of
Truth…namely, Nibbāna, which has an undeceptive nature.”
3. [27] Relinquishment—of all attachments
4. [28] Peace—the supreme noble peace, namely pacification of lust
(covetousness and desire), hate (anger and ill will) and delusion
(ignorance)
[31] “I am” is conceiving. QUOTE: “By overcoming all conceivings, bhikkhu,
one is called a sage at peace. And the sage at peace is not born, does not age,
does not die; he is not shaken and is not agitated. For there is nothing present in
him by which he might be born.”
PRACT ICE
Reflect on how the four foundations of wisdom, truth, relinquishment, and peace
are manifesting in your life. Understand how this relates to the truth of nonclinging.
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 140. Dhātuvibhanga Sutta

Postby Raga Mala » Sun Oct 04, 2009 8:58 pm

Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
:bow: :bow: :bow:

Lately I've been taking a liking to Suttas from the Majjhima and Digha Nikaya which, like this one, tend to contain a series of interconnected teachings, rather than being a thorough exposition on one topic.

This text, to me, rings true to the scenario set up in its opening lines: the Buddha was giving an impromptu teaching to this one individual. As such, while the Buddha opens with the six properties, six sense media, eighteen considerations and four determinations, in the process of discussing those things he hits on points that are broader and, to me, amazing...

1. The linking of discernment with the six properties is more-or-less an Anatta rundown/exposition, as is the discernment of "limits" (that which is body/that which is life). Brilliant!

2. This line of thought leads the Buddha to proclaim on the value of discernment: "His release, being founded on truth, does not fluctuate, for whatever is deceptive is false; Unbinding — the undeceptive — is true. Thus a monk so endowed is endowed with the highest determination for truth, for this — Unbinding, the undeceptive — is the highest noble truth." Followed by all the "whereas, formerly..."'s.

This is a great text. Thanks for sharing, jc
"It is easier to shout 'STOP!' than to do it." -Treebeard
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Re: MN 140. Dhātuvibhanga Sutta

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 04, 2009 9:15 pm

Note that Ven. Pukkusati was clearly highly accomplished (spending most of the night meditating), and according the Commentary was adept at fourth jahna (signalled by "equanimity" in the Sutta). So part of the Sutta is saying that he has the skill to develop the formless attainments, but that would just lead to a long time in the formless realms and would still be fabricated. So he is directed to proceed to enlightenment.

"One discerns that 'If I were to direct equanimity [i.e. proceed from the fourth jhana] as pure & bright as this towards the dimension of the infinitude of space and to develop the mind along those lines, that would be fabricated. One discerns that 'If I were to direct equanimity as pure and bright as this towards the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness... the dimension of nothingness... the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception and to develop the mind along those lines, that would be fabricated.' One neither fabricates nor mentally fashions for the sake of becoming or un-becoming. This being the case, one is not sustained by anything in the world (does not cling to anything in the world). Unsustained, one is not agitated. Unagitated, one is totally unbound right within. One discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'

Mike
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Re: MN 140. Dhātuvibhanga Sutta

Postby BlackBird » Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:23 pm

Thank you for explaining the meaning there Mike. I didn't pick up on that.

:anjali:
Jack
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'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 140. Dhātuvibhanga Sutta

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:41 pm

Greetings,

The introduction to this sutta also brings an interesting perspective to the recent discussion we had on...

Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2196

Ven. Pukkusati had never met his Teacher (well, not until that night!)

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 140. Dhātuvibhanga Sutta

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Oct 05, 2009 4:02 am

BlackBird wrote:Thank you for explaining the meaning there Mike. I didn't pick up on that.

Thanks, but It's not my explanation. It's the Commentary, as explained in Bhikkhu Bodhi's footnotes and talks on the Sutta, which I studied recently. The Commentary also states that the Buddha deliberately sought out Ven. Pukkusati. That, of course, you can take or leave, and it really doesn't matter, but the statements about the jhanic attainments seem consistent enough. There is some controversy about the part:
There remains only consciousness: pure & bright.

which is discussed by Sharda in the Study Guide.

But however you interpret it, it is certainly a deep and useful Sutta to contemplate...

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Re: MN 140. Dhātuvibhanga Sutta

Postby zavk » Thu Oct 08, 2009 12:47 am

Hi friends,

(I’ve taken a few days to compose this, so it is quite long. But I hope you are able to make some sense of it.)

I don't usually post here but this sutta has really resonated with me. What really grabbed my attention was not so much the analytical content (the six properties, the eighteen considerations, etc) but the narrative about how Ven. Pukkusati went forth in faith, about how the Buddha chanced upon Pukkusati, about how this unexpected encounter gave rise to the spontaneous awakening in Pukkusati. This is not to say that those teachings about the six properties and so forth are not important. I am certainly inspired to further reflect on them. But as I was reading the sutta, I also discerned a certain allegorical message in the narrative itself. I'll try to articulate this.

Before I share my reading of the sutta, I’d like to address one possible objection to my interpretation. It might be objected that I am giving too much attention to the story: Why fixate on the story when there is so much else to reflect on?

    Firstly, I do not have enough knowledge of the materials in the nikayas and/or the commentaries to engage with the analytical content at the level that, say, Mike has. So at this stage of my study, what resonates more strongly with me is the narrative of the sutta.

    Secondly, I do not think it is possible to unambiguously say that the narrative plays ‘second fiddle’ to the analytical content. Anthropological and literary scholarship on narrative suggests that stories and story-telling play a vital role in shaping and maintaining the knowledge, values—and especially, the existential outlook—of most (if not all) cultures. It is therefore not too much a stretch of the imagination to speculate that the stories underpinning the suttas play an important role in maintaining the Dhamma. Indeed, it is not unreasonable to suggest that one reason the teachings have survived millennia is because of the ways in which it takes shape as stories, recounted and recited from one generation to the next, capturing and fascinating the imaginations of listeners/readers anew again and again.

Having said that, I’d like to share my reading of the sutta. Hopefully, it makes at least a small contribution to this study group.

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

We first learn that Ven, Pukkusati had 'gone forth into homelessness through faith, out of dedication to the Blessed One.' The sutta gives emphasis to faith here. It appears that Ven. Pukkusati has developed the spiritual faculty of faith or saddha to a high degree. The sutta also tells us that Ven. Pukkusati was meditating earnestly through the night. So we might also reason that the other spiritual faculties (dilligence, mindfulness, etc..) are also highly developed. Ven. Pukkusati has committed himself to the Dhamma and appears to have made much progress. Up till this point, he doesn't appear to be concerned or worried about the fact that he hasn't met the Buddha. When asked by the Buddha if he had met the Blessed One, he answers calmly and plainly, without yearning or regret: "No, my friend, I have never seen the Blessed One before, nor on seeing him would I recognize him."

This suggests a high degree of equanimity and underscores yet again Ven. Pukkusati's development of faith and the other spiritual faculties of the Dhamma. By chance, the Buddha has come to Ven. Pukkusati. Or as Mike points out, the commentary says that the Buddha sought him out. Either way, I think we can interpret this encounter in an allegorical manner.

I'd like to suggest that we can not only read this encounter as a physical face-to-face meeting between the Buddha and Ven Pukkusati, but also as an allegory for the spontaneous arising of the Bodhi mind in Ven. Pukkusati's experience. This arising of the Bodhi mind or liberating wisdom came about unexpectedly--as a surprise.

The figure of the Buddha arriving unexpectedly, then, symbolizes the moment of awakening: the sudden arising of the Bodhi mind. However, we are told that this sudden arising of awakening was preceded by faith (and we might assume the other spiritual faculties too). Faith has laid the groundwork for this sudden arising of enlightenment. If we recall Ven. Pukkusati's cool, calm response ('No, my friend, I have never seen the Blessed One before...'), we might also say that this sudden arising of enlightenment burst forth from the grounds prepared by equanimity.

Read in this manner, the discourse given by the Buddha can then be interpreted not so much as a face-to-face verbal exchange between the two of them but as the spontaneous arising of insight/wisdom in Ven. Pukkusati's mind.

Towards the end of the sutta, we are told that Ven. Pukkusati did not have his robes and bowl complete and that he duly went out in search for them. Taking an allegorical reading, we might see this gesture--of setting forth to find robes and bowl--as the ultimate act of renunciation, a final letting go. With this final letting go, Ven. Pukkusati is suddenly killed. Death has come upon him just as unexpectedly as the Buddha's visit (which we are reading not so much as a physical encounter but as the spontaneous arising of the Bodhi mind). But because he was able to fully let go, we learn that Ven. Pukkusati has been totally unbound:

"Monks, the clansman Pukkusati was wise. He practiced the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma and did not pester me with issues related to the Dhamma. With the destruction of the first five fetters, he has arisen spontaneously [in the Pure Abodes], there to be totally unbound, never again to return from that world."


Here, the Buddha's remarks lend further support to the reading that Ven. Pukkusati had practiced the Dhamma diligently. The comment that he did not 'pester' the Buddha with issues related to the Dhamma is interesting: How could Ven Pukkusati have pestered the Buddha if the two of them had never met before?

I would suggest that this comment is meant to underscore the fact that even though Ven. Pukkusati had never previously met the Buddha—even though he had never previously ‘proven’ that the Buddha was ‘real’ or not—he was nevertheless able to practice the Dhamma with diligence, faith and equanimity, and indeed make much progress. Up till the point of awakening and up till the point of death (both of which were unforeseeable and unexpected), Ven. Pukkusati practiced the Dhamma without expectation, demand and attachment, and in doing so prepared the ground for the ultimate flowering of nonclinging, of cessation, of Awakening.

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

We might see this story as a mirror for our own circumstances.

Are we not like Ven. Pukkusati, inspired by the ‘excellent report’ we have heard of the ‘Blessed One’ who ‘is worthy & rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge & conduct, well-gone...etc, etc..’? If asked if we have met the Blessed One or if we could recognise him, can we answer as Ven Pukkusait had, honestly and equanimously, without yearning or regret? Can we nevertheless pursue the Dhamma in good faith, with diligence and equanimity? The sutta appears to say that if we do so, we could very well make much progress and that perhaps we might--we just might—be surprised by the unexpected arrival of the Buddha, the spontaneous arising of Awakening.

Let me conclude by repeating that I am not contesting or denying what the commentaries and study guides have said about this sutta. I'm merely sharing what occurred to me as I was reading the sutta. My interpretation here is influenced by a post that I had written the other day where I suggested that faith or saddha is an important component of practice. Faith, I suggested, is that important component that stands on ethical grounds and which awaits without demand or attachment the surprise of the unexpected, the sudden arrival of awakening--which if expected and foreseen would be yet another product of conceiving and not the unconceived. (see viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2353&p=32840#p32832)

So perhaps, as the sutta suggests, the fullest expression of faith (represented in the figure of Ven. Pukkusati) is nonclinging (represented in both the sudden arrival of the Buddha and Ven. Pukkusati's death, which is also the transcendence of samsara). It is worth noting that even after the spontaneous arising of insight, Ven. Pukkusati did not stop having faith—it is not as if faith becomes redundant or irrelevant upon awakening. Rather, we see that upon the fruition of nonclinging, Ven. Pukkusati further commits himself in faith, dedicating himself to the Dhamma by seeking ordination with the Buddha.

We might then say: faith requires nonclinging, nonclinging necessitates faith. It is not possible to say where one ends and the other begins. This certainly puts a different spin on faith as it has been conceptualised by mainstream religions who have attempted to possess it, own it, and demarcate various boundaries around it.

With respect and metta. :anjali:
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Re: MN 140. Dhātuvibhanga Sutta

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Oct 08, 2009 1:18 am

HI zavk,

Thank you for the interesting discussion. It is a useful reminder to not just think of the narrative as "window dressing". This reminds me to mention another character, Bahiya of the bark cloth.
Ud 1.10 Bahiya Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .irel.html
Bahiya impatiently asks the Buddha to teach him and the Buddha tries to put him off until the end of his alms round but finally relents:
"Herein, Bahiya, you should train yourself thus: 'In the seen will be merely what is seen; in the heard will be merely what is heard; in the sensed will be merely what is sensed; in the cognized will be merely what is cognized.' In this way you should train yourself, Bahiya.

After that Bahiya is killed by a cow, and the Buddha makes a similar statement about him as he makes about Pukkusati.

Some interesting anecdotes from the Commentaries:
I don't recall all of the details, but from my memory of some of the talks I've heard about these two Suttas the commentaries state that both characters were part of a group who in a previous life were spiritual seekers together. That life ended when they climbed a mountain, discarded their ladders, and vowed to reach enlightenment. Some did, and some didn't and perished (including these two, obviously). At some earlier point in that life (or another?) they angered someone (I forget the details, perhaps they killed his cow, or caused him to be killed by a cow). That person was subsequently reborn as a cow in several lives and "paid them back".

Combining that account with the Sutta stories, there is a message that the fruiting of kamma is rather unpredictable, and becoming and arahant does not guarantee freedom from past kamma. (See also Angulimala http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.086.than.html.)

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Re: MN 140. Dhātuvibhanga Sutta

Postby zavk » Thu Oct 08, 2009 1:23 am

Thanks Mike.

I'm aware of those stories but obviously not the connection between them. Very interesting!

The recurring trope of the cow is MOST intriguing! Hmmmm......
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Re: MN 140. Dhātuvibhanga Sutta

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Oct 08, 2009 1:51 am

zavk wrote:I'm aware of those stories but obviously not the connection between them.

Yes, I wasn't aware of a connection, and I had not seen it stated explicity. But I'd heard a talk by Patrick Kearney (which I think has disappeared from his web site now) about Bahiya, where he mentioned the mountain story, and one of the talks (I think from the BSWA site) about this MN Sutta that also mentioned the mountain story, as well as the cow vendetta story.

And your analysis of the Sutta made me think about how the Commentary stories often make interesting and useful points. Points that are valid whether or not they are "true stories". It would be a pity to dismiss them as: "Not the word of the Buddha, so not interesting."

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Re: MN 140. Dhātuvibhanga Sutta

Postby Jechbi » Thu Oct 08, 2009 6:00 am

Thanks, zavk. I had some thoughts along the same lines but didn't feel they were well-developed enough to post. One thing that caught my attention was this line:
"The shed is roomy, my friend. Stay as you like."
I was struck by the notion of spaceousness, an area clear of clutter, an empty, quiet place.

I also was struck by the detail that this was a potter's shed, in other words, a shed where containers are made. Containers wear out and break, and the potter keeps on making them again and again. Symbolic of samsara?

Any way, I agree that the sutta works on many levels, including dramatic storytelling, straight-up Dhamma instruction, symbolism ... and who knows what else?

:anjali:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: MN 140. Dhātuvibhanga Sutta

Postby zavk » Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:41 am

mikenz66 wrote:
zavk wrote:And your analysis of the Sutta made me think about how the Commentary stories often make interesting and useful points. Points that are valid whether or not they are "true stories". It would be a pity to dismiss them as: "Not the word of the Buddha, so not interesting."


YES! Absolutely! You have raised a point that is very close to my heart (and which informs much of my academic-professional work!).

Think about the stories we've heard from our grandparents, our parents, our teachers, the stories we've read in books or seen on screen, the stories that have inspired or frightened us. How many of them are 'factual'? Do the influences that they've had on us depend on whether they are 'factual' or not?

I think you'd agree with me that it is impossible to reach a definitive answer on whether the Pali canon is a factual recounting of what happened during the Buddha's time or if it contains the exact words of the Buddha. Some people would argue that it is, others may not. For me, these words are what we have and what matters is how we make sense of it. Arguments about their 'factuality' or 'authenticity' can lend us some sense of history but I think they can only go so far. To this extent, I've found it helpful to think of Dhammic teachings as 'stories'.

By saying 'stories', I am not saying that the Dhamma is 'made up' or 'fabricated'. I am rather pointing to the way we make sense of concepts, the way we make meaning--modern scholarship into narrativity and language have revealed much about these processes. These modes of thinking have greatly influenced the way I think about (the interpretation of) the Dhamma.

Incidentally, I recently thumbed through Terry Pratchett's Witches Abroad and stumbled across something that nicely sums up what I've said:

"People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it's the other way around. Stories exist independently of their players. If you know that, that knowledge is power [and I would add that this is the power that allows us to Awaken]."

Jechbi wrote:
"The shed is roomy, my friend. Stay as you like."
I was struck by the notion of spaceousness, an area clear of clutter, an empty, quiet place.


Yes, I like the way he responded too. It is as you suggest, an air of spaciousness. Pukkusati's response reflects a highly developed parami of generosity.

Your reading of the potter is interesting too. I suspect these tropes of the potter and the cow have some significance in the culture of the time.
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Re: MN 140. Dhātuvibhanga Sutta

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Oct 08, 2009 7:40 pm

zavk wrote:Your reading of the potter is interesting too. I suspect these tropes of the potter and the cow have some significance in the culture of the time.

And for more inspiration with potters see MN81 The Potter Ghatikara
http://awake.kiev.ua/dhamma/tipitaka/2S ... ra-e1.html
And Ajahn Brahm's talk on that Sutta here: http://www.bswa.org/audio/podcast/SuttaStudy.rss.php

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