Snp 5.6 Upasiva-manava-puccha: Upasiva's Questions

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Snp 5.6 Upasiva-manava-puccha: Upasiva's Questions

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 07, 2010 5:44 am

Snp 5.6 PTS: Sn 1069-1076
Upasiva-manava-puccha: Upasiva's Questions
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Listen at: http://www.suttareadings.net/audio/index.html#snp.5.06

[Upasiva:]
Alone, Sakyan, & with nothing to rely on, I can't venture across the great flood. Tell me, All-around Eye, the support to rely on for crossing over this flood.

[The Buddha:]
Mindfully focused on nothingness, [1] relying on 'There isn't,' you should cross over the flood. Abandoning sensual pleasures, abstaining from conversations, keep watch for the ending of craving, night & day.

[Upasiva:]
One free from passion for all sensual pleasures relying on nothingness, letting go of all else, released in the highest emancipation of perception: Does he stay there unaffected?

[The Buddha:]
One free from passion for all sensual pleasures relying on nothingness, letting go of all else, released in the highest emancipation of perception: He stays there unaffected.

[Upasiva:]
If he stays there, O All-around Eye, unaffected for many years, right there would he be cooled & released? Would his consciousness be like that?

[The Buddha:]
As a flame overthrown by the force of the wind goes to an end that cannot be classified,[2] so the sage free from naming activity goes to an end that cannot be classified.

[Upasiva:]
He who has reached the end: Does he not exist, or is he for eternity free from dis-ease? Please, sage, declare this to me as this phenomenon has been known by you.

[The Buddha:]
One who has reached the end has no criterion [3] by which anyone would say that — for him it doesn't exist. When all phenomena are done away with,[4] all means of speaking are done away with as well.

Notes


1. "Nothingness" here denotes the dimension of nothingness, one of the four levels of mental absorption on formless themes. One attains this level, after surmounting the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, by focusing on the perception, "There is nothing." MN 26 tells us that Alara Kalama, the Buddha's first teacher when the latter was still a Bodhisatta, had attained this level of mental absorption and had thought that it was the highest possible attainment. The Bodhisatta left him upon realizing that it was not true liberation from stress and suffering. Nevertheless, the dimension of nothingness can be used as a basis for the insight leading to that liberation. On this point, see Sn.V.14 [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.5.14.than.html] and AN 9.36. [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an09/an09.036.than.html]

2. For a discussion of this passage in light of early Buddhist theories of fire, see The Mind Like Fire Unbound, Chapter 1.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... e/2-1.html

3. For a discussion of the meaning of "criterion" in this passage, see The Mind Like Fire Unbound, Chapter 1. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... e/2-1.html
The important term in the last verse is pamāṇa: 'criterion'. It is a pregnant term, with meanings both in philosophical and in ordinary usage. In philosophical discourse, it refers to a means of knowledge or a standard used to assess the validity of an assertion or object. In the Buddha's time and later, various schools of thought specialized in discussing the nature and role of such criteria. The Maitri Upaniṣad contains one of their basic tenets:


4. Although Upasiva refers to the goal as a phenomenon (dhamma), the Buddha describes it as the transcending of all phenomena. For some of the implications of this statement, see AN 3.134. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Snp 5.6 Upasiva-manava-puccha: Upasiva's Questions

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 07, 2010 5:52 am

6: Upasãvamàõavapucchà
The Young Man Upasãva's Questions

Anandajoti Bhikkhu
http://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/T ... avaggo.pdf
Listen at: http://www.archive.org/details/The-Way-to-the-Beyond

Alone, Sakyan, with nothing to depend on, said venerable Upasãva,
I am not able to cross over the great flood [1].
Please tell me of a support, All-Seeing Visionary,
depending on which I can cross over this flood.

[1] The great flood of existence.

ßLooking to nothingness, and being mindful, Upasãva, said the Gracious One.
depending on nothing, cross over the flood. [2]
Having given up sense pleasures, abstaining from talk,
day and night you must look for the end of suffering.

[2] Paraphrase: having developed the sphere of nothingness (àkiÿcaÿÿàyatanaü), emerging and gaining insight into impermanence, cross over the flood.

He who is passionless regarding all sense pleasures, said venerable Upasãva,
who is depending on nothingness, having given up all else,
intent on the highest freedom which still has perception -
will he remain there without going away? [1]

[1] He is asking about the state of the Non-Returner (Anàgàmã) in the âkiÿcaÿÿàyatana Brahmàloka. The next higher state (nevasaÿÿànàsaÿÿàyatanaü) cannot be said to have perception or no perception.

He who is passionless regarding all sense pleasures, Upasãva, said the Gracious One,
who is depending on nothingness, having given up all else,
intent on the highest freedom which still has perception -
he will remain there without going away. [2]

[2] It means he will not return to this world.

If he remains there without going away
for a great number of years, All-Seeing Visionary,
will he become cool and free right there,
or will the consciousness of such a one fall away? [3]

[3] The discussion now turns to the one who has attained Arahatta.

As a flame overthrown by the force of the wind, Upasãva, said the Gracious One,
goes to rest and can no longer be discerned,
just so the Sage free from the mental body
goes to rest and can no longer be discerned.

The one who has come to rest, is he then nothing? said venerable Upasãva,
or is he actually eternally healthy? [1]
Please explain this to me, O Sage,
for this Teaching has been understood by you.

[1] Upasãva is still thinking in terms of annihilation (uccheda) or eternal life (sassata). The Buddha points out that the truth is outside of conditioned reality.

There is no measure of the one who has come to rest, Upasãva, said the Gracious One,
there is nothing by which they can speak of him,
when everything has been completely removed,
all the pathways for speech are also completely removed.
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Re: Snp 5.6 Upasiva-manava-puccha: Upasiva's Questions

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Dec 08, 2010 5:57 am

Here is Bhikkhu Nanananda's comment on verse 1074:
As a flame overthrown by the force of the wind, Upasãva, said the Gracious One,
goes to rest and can no longer be discerned,
just so the Sage free from the mental body
goes to rest and can no longer be discerned.


From Nibbana Sermon 1:
http://lirs.ru/do/sutra/Nibbana_Sermons,Nanananda.pdf
Commenting on Vacchagotta's tetralemma:
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 ...?
[MN72 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.072.than.html]

Bhikkhu Nananada wrote:The Buddha solves or dissolves this presumptuous
tetralemma by bringing in the fire simile. He points out that
when a fire goes out with the exhaustion of the fuel, it is absurd
to ask in which direction the fire has gone. All that one can say
about it, is that the fire has gone out: Nibbuto tveva saṅkhaṃ
gacchati, "it comes to be reckoned as `gone out'."

It is just a reckoning, an idiom, a worldly usage, which is
not to be taken too literally. So this illustration through the fire
simile drives home to the worldling the absurdity of his presumptuous
tetralemma of the Tathāgata.

In the Upasīvasutta of the Pārāyaṇavagga of the Sutta
Nipāta we find the lines:
    Accī yathā vātavegena khitto,
    atthaṃ paleti na upeti saṅkhaṃ,
    "Like the flame thrown out by the force of the wind
    Reaches its end, it cannot be reckoned."
Here the reckoning is to be understood in terms of the four
propositions of the tetralemma. Such reckonings are based on
a total misconception of the phenomenon of fire.
[I find this last sentence hard to understand. Perhaps the translation from Sinhalese to English has obscured it.]

It seems that the deeper connotations of the word Nibbāna
in the context of paṭicca samuppāda were not fully appreciated
by the commentators. And that is why they went in search of
a new etymology. They were too shy of the implications of
the word `extinction'. Probably to avoid the charge of nihilism
they felt compelled to reinterpret certain key passages on Nibbāna.
They conceived Nibbāna as something existing out there
in its own right. They would not say where, but sometimes they
would even say that it is everywhere. With an undue grammatical
emphasis they would say that it is on coming to that
Nibbāna that lust and other defilements are abandoned: Nibbānaṃ
āgamma rāgādayo khīṇāti ekameva nibbānaṃ rāgakkhayo
dosakkhayo mohakkhayo ti vuccati. [ Vibh-a 53]


From Nibbana Sermon 11:

Commenting on Snp 4.11:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .irel.html

Bhikkhu Nananada wrote:The question now posed is this: Ettāvataggaṃ nu vadanti
h'eke, yakkhassa suddhiṃ idha paṇḍitāse, udāhu aññam pi
vadanti etto? "Do some, who are reckoned as wise men here,
declare the highest purity of the soul with this much alone, or
else do they posit something beyond this?" The interlocutor is
trying to get the solution restated in terms of the two views of
existence and non-existence. The term yakkha is used in this
context in the sense of an individual soul. It betrays an assumption
based on a wrong view. The question concerns the
purity of the individual soul. The interlocutor wants to ascertain
whether wise men in the world declare this state as the highest
purity of the soul, or whether they go beyond this in postulating
something more. Here is an attempt to get the answer already
given restated in terms of the soul theory, a sort of anti-climax.
The two concluding verses that follow, give the lie to this presumptuous
question.

    "Some, who are regarded as wise men here,
    Call this itself the highest purity of the individual soul,
    But there are again some among them, who speak of an annihilation,
    Claiming to be experts in the cessation without residue."

    "Knowing that they are dependent on speculative views,
    The sage with discernment, with regard to whatever is speculative,
    Emancipated as he is through understanding, does not enter into dispute,
    A truly wise man does not fall back either on existence or on non-existence."
The concluding verse amounts to a refutation of both these
extreme views. The truly wise sage, who is released with proper
discernment of the nature of dogmatic involvement, has no disputes
with those who are at loggerheads with each other on the
issue of existence and non-existence. This, in effect, means
that Nibbāna as a goal avoids both extremes of eternalism and nihilism.

The Upasīvasutta in the Pārāyanavagga of the Sutta Nipāta
provides further proof of the plausibility of the above interpretation.
There, Nibbāna as the cessation of consciousness in the
arahant, is compared to the extinction of a flame.

    "As flame flung on by force of wind,
    Reaches its end, comes not within reckoning,
    So the sage, released from name-and-form,
    Reaches his end, comes not within reckoning."

When a flame goes out, it cannot be reckoned as having
gone in any of the directions, like north, east, south, and west.
All what can be said about it, is that it has gone out.

Even after the Buddha has given this reply, the brahmin
youth Upasīva, entrenched as he is in the eternalist view, raises
a question which is similar to the one already quoted. He, too,
is trying to understand it in terms of the two extreme views of
existence and non-existence.

    "Has he reached his end, or is he no more,
    Or is he eternally well,
    That to me, sage, in full explain,
    For this Dhamma is well within your ken."

In the discourses we find similar instances of attempts to
determine, in terms of those two extreme views, even a conclusive
statement of the Buddha on the question of Nibbāna.
[e.g. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.09.0.than.html]
...
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Re: Snp 5.6 Upasiva-manava-puccha: Upasiva's Questions

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Dec 09, 2010 9:34 am

Here is Bhikkhu Nanananda's comment on the verse (1076):

There is no measure of the one who has come to rest, Upasãva, said the Gracious One,
there is nothing by which they can speak of him,
when everything has been completely removed,
all the pathways for speech are also completely removed.


In Nibbana Sermon 3, commenting on this section of the Maha-nidana Sutta (DN 15):
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"This is the extent to which there is birth, aging, death, passing away, and re-arising.
This is the extent to which there are means of designation, expression, and delineation.
This is the extent to which the sphere of discernment extends, the extent to which the cycle revolves for the manifesting (discernibility) of this world — i.e., name-and-form together with consciousness.

Bhikkhu Nanananda wrote:In our quotation from the MahāNidānasutta it was said that all pathways for verbal expression, terminology and designation exist so long as the vortex of saṃsāra is kept going. The implication, therefore, is that they have no existence beyond it.
This is the significance of the word ettāvatā, "in so far only".

    Ettāvatā jāyetha vā jīyetha vā mīyetha vā cavetha vā upapajjetha vā.
    "In so far only can one be born, or grow old, or die, or pass away, or reappear."

So the concepts of birth, decay-and-death, passing away and
reappearing, are meaningful only in the context of the saṃsāric
vortex between consciousness and name-and-form. If somehow
or other this interrelation could be broken, this saṃsāric
vortex, the whirlpool, could be stopped, then, after that, nothing
remains to be said, nothing remains to be predicated. And
as it is said in the Upasīvasutta of the Sutta Nipāta:

    Yena naṃ vajju, taṃ tassa natthi,
    "that by which they would speak of him, that for him exists not".
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Re: Snp 5.6 Upasiva-manava-puccha: Upasiva's Questions

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Dec 13, 2010 8:53 am

Any comments on this Sutta?

:anjali:
Mike
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Re: Snp 5.6 Upasiva-manava-puccha: Upasiva's Questions

Postby cooran » Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:51 am

Hello Mike,

In the beginning, I experienced strong exasperation whenever I read the Blessed One’s final response in this sutta. (‘’Why can’t He just give a straight Yay or Nay???’’)

But working at gaining a deeper knowledge of Anatta has eased the dosa .. somewhat.

With metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Snp 5.6 Upasiva-manava-puccha: Upasiva's Questions

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Dec 13, 2010 7:22 pm

Hi Chris,

Thank you for the insight into your reactions. Is it possible that the intention of such teachings is to provoke a certain sense of off-balance in the listeners?

:anjali:
Mike
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Re: Snp 5.6 Upasiva-manava-puccha: Upasiva's Questions

Postby cooran » Mon Dec 13, 2010 8:24 pm

Is it possible that the intention of such teachings is to provoke a certain sense of off-balance in the listeners?


Don’t know, Mike. I think any explanation, detailed or brief, can be distorted by perceiving it through our own veils of delusion. Maybe the Blessed One particularly wanted to guard against that.

H. Saddhatissa’s translation of the last two verses is:
‘’’Please explain this clearly to me, Sir’, said Upasiva. ‘You, a wise man, know precisely the way these things work: has the man disappeared, does he simply not exist, or is he in some state of perpetual well-being?’’

‘When a person has gone out, then there is nothing by which you can measure him. That by which he can be talked about is no longer there for him; you cannot say that he does not exist. When all ways of being, all phenomena are removed, then all ways of description have also been removed.’

with metta
Chris
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