SN 35.23 Sabba Sutta: The All

Each week we study and discuss a different sutta or Dhamma text

Moderator: mikenz66

Re: SN 35.23 Sabba Sutta: The All

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:48 pm

Greetings Kirk,

Interesting thoughts.

Regarding "consciousness without feature", could this be intellect without object?

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


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14784
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: SN 35.23 Sabba Sutta: The All

Postby Sherab » Thu Feb 24, 2011 12:34 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Sherab,
You'll note the sutta extract you provide says "in accordance with the Dhamma"...

Of course. But what does it mean? The Buddha couldn't be referring to those who subscribe to his Dhamma. If he did, he was merely preaching to the converted. If he was referring to those recluse etc. who don't subscribe to his Dhamma, then the Buddha was merely setting up the playing field to ensure that he could not lose. Do you think the Buddha intended this?

retrofuturist wrote:To wit, I think when people project god-like omniscience onto the Buddha, they do so without an appreciation for the qualifications the Buddha gave on that which could be directly known.

You may be interested to know that I consider omniscience to be like omnipotence - logically impossible.
User avatar
Sherab
 
Posts: 163
Joined: Tue Jun 29, 2010 3:53 am

Re: SN 35.23 Sabba Sutta: The All

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:14 am

Greetings Sherab,
Sherab wrote:Of course. But what does it mean? The Buddha couldn't be referring to those who subscribe to his Dhamma. If he did, he was merely preaching to the converted. If he was referring to those recluse etc. who don't subscribe to his Dhamma, then the Buddha was merely setting up the playing field to ensure that he could not lose. Do you think the Buddha intended this?

I believe he was reframing it according to truth (Dhamma).

Based on a review of the suttas it is evident that the Buddha often either rejected questions because they were incorrectly framed, or provided Dhammic meanings or twists to words which may have had slightly different meanings in general society or in other contempory religions.

The Sabba Sutta is such an instance of the Buddha rephrasing a term "sabba" (all) used by other religionists so that it accorded with Dhamma.

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


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14784
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: SN 35.23 Sabba Sutta: The All

Postby Sherab » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:23 am

retrofuturist wrote:The Sabba Sutta is such an instance of the Buddha rephrasing a term "sabba" (all) used by other religionists so that it accorded with Dhamma.

How was "sabba" (all) used by other religionists?
User avatar
Sherab
 
Posts: 163
Joined: Tue Jun 29, 2010 3:53 am

Re: SN 35.23 Sabba Sutta: The All

Postby kirk5a » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:37 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Kirk,

Interesting thoughts.

Regarding "consciousness without feature", could this be intellect without object?

Metta,
Retro. :)

Hi Retro

Well, I'm not going to be able to shed much light on "consciousness without feature" myself, not having "experienced" it, and certainly not being a scholarly expert on that. But, what would "intellect without object" be? Eye without object would just occur in total darkness. So I suppose the parallel for intellect would just be no thoughts?

As regards this sutta "The All" all I know is that the Buddha did talk about this "consciousness without feature" a little bit here and there, and so it would seem to present a difficulty in interpreting "The All" as meaning - there is nothing else besides the 6 sense and their objects. Or so it seems to me, but I'm always open to having misunderstood :smile:

Wouldn't that fit with what Sariputta says in the Kotthita Sutta?
[Maha Kotthita:] "With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media, is it the case that there is not anything else?"

[Sariputta:] "Don't say that, my friend."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
User avatar
kirk5a
 
Posts: 1794
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:51 pm

Re: SN 35.23 Sabba Sutta: The All

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:04 am

kirk5a wrote:As regards this sutta "The All" all I know is that the Buddha did talk about this "consciousness without feature" a little bit here and there, and so it would seem to present a difficulty in interpreting "The All" as meaning - there is nothing else besides the 6 sense and their objects. Or so it seems to me, but I'm always open to having misunderstood :smile:

Wouldn't that fit with what Sariputta says in the Kotthita Sutta?
[Maha Kotthita:] "With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media, is it the case that there is not anything else?"

[Sariputta:] "Don't say that, my friend."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


And then the venerable Sāriputta goes on to say:

The statement, 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media [vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, & intellection] is it the case that there is anything else?' objectifies non-objectification. The statement, '... is it the case that there is not anything else ... is it the case that there both is & is not anything else ... is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectifies non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes. However far objectification goes, that is how far the six contact media go. With the remainderless fading & stopping of the six contact-media, there comes to be the stopping, the allaying of objectification.


This so-called "consciousness without feature" (as it is translated in here) is just a state where no one would be able to find any description for... since there are no objects that we can "stick" onto it, so to speak. That is why no one can ever measure a Tathāgata... even not another Tathāgata can.

:anjali:
Last edited by beeblebrox on Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
beeblebrox
 
Posts: 939
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:41 pm

Re: SN 35.23 Sabba Sutta: The All

Postby kirk5a » Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:15 am

Sounds good beeblebrox (are u related to Zaphod?) :smile:

So then what's the right way to read this sutta "The All" as you see it? Which of my 3 earlier interpretations? Or another one.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
User avatar
kirk5a
 
Posts: 1794
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:51 pm

Re: SN 35.23 Sabba Sutta: The All

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:37 am

kirk5a wrote:Sounds good beeblebrox (are u related to Zaphod?) :smile:


Very distantly related. :tongue: This is Greg.

So then what's the right way to read this sutta "The All" as you see it? Which of my 3 earlier interpretations? Or another one.


At first, I thought it was likely the third one:

kirk5a wrote:So is this sutta saying

1) "there isn't anything other than the six senses and their objects" ?

OR

2) "it isn't possible to experience anything other than the six senses and their objects" ?

OR

3) It isn't possible to describe anything beyond the six senses and their objects?

Just reading it as literally as possible, I see it saying #3, not the former. And if it is saying the former, then how does it not run head on into "consciousness without feature" and/or nibbana? I mean, he certainly wasn't saying the six senses and their objects are eternal. And surely he wasn't saying it's not possible to experience "consciousness without feature" and/or nibbana.


And then it occurred to me: it's really none of the above... and not even this, since this would be objectifying too, leading to dukkha. The mind boggles... truly.

:anjali:
User avatar
beeblebrox
 
Posts: 939
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:41 pm

Re: SN 35.23 Sabba Sutta: The All

Postby kirk5a » Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:55 am

beeblebrox wrote:
And then it occurred to me: it's really none of the above... and not even this, since this would be objectifying too. The mind boggles... truly.

:anjali:

:smile: Ok. So then, what might be the practical application of this sutta for us mere mortals? Does it help our practice somehow? Or is it just another thing to put on the "mind boggling" shelf sigh... lol
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
User avatar
kirk5a
 
Posts: 1794
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:51 pm

Re: SN 35.23 Sabba Sutta: The All

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:08 am

kirk5a wrote:So then, what might be the practical application of this sutta for us mere mortals? Does it help our practice somehow? Or is it just another thing to put on the "mind boggling" shelf sigh... lol


My mind hasn't recovered from the boggling yet... so might be a while before I can come up with an answer. :tongue:

:anjali:
User avatar
beeblebrox
 
Posts: 939
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:41 pm

Re: SN 35.23 Sabba Sutta: The All

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:16 am

Here's some notes from Bhikkhu Bodhi and the Commentary (Spk) that Thanissaro Bhikhu comments on in the first post. Which does indeed seem rather convoluted.

"Bhikkhus, I will teach you the all."

Spk: The all (sabba) is fourfold:
(i) the all-inclusive all (sabbasabba), i.e. everything knowable, all of thiwhc comes into the range of the Buddha's knowledge of omniscience;
(ii) the all of the sense bases (ayatanasabba), i.e., the phenomena of the four plandes;
(iii) the all of personal identidy (sakkayasabba), i.e., the phenomena of the three planes; and
(iv) the partial all (padesasabba), i.e. the five physical sense objects. Each of these, from (i) to (iv), has a successively narrower range than it's predecessor. In this sutta the all of the sense bases is intended.

The four planes are the three mundane planes (sensuous, form, formless) and teh supramundane plane (the four paths, their fruits, and Nibbana).


"If anyone, bhikkhus, should speak thus: 'Having rejected this all, I shall make known another all' --- that would be a mere empty boast on his part."

Spk: It would be just a mere utterance. But if one passes over the twelve sense bases, one cannot point out any real phenomenon.

"If he were questioned he could not be able to reply and, further, he would meet with vexation. For what reason? Because, Bhikkhus, that would not be within his domain."

Spk: People become vexed when they go outside their domain. just as it is outside one's domain to cross a deep body of water while carrying a stone palace on one's head, or to drag the sun and moon off their course, and one would only meet with vexation if one makes the attempt, so too in this case.
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10670
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: SN 35.23 Sabba Sutta: The All

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Feb 24, 2011 3:46 pm

kirk5a wrote:So then, what might be the practical application of this sutta for us mere mortals? Does it help our practice somehow? Or is it just another thing to put on the "mind boggling" shelf sigh... lol


I think it's important to keep in mind that the Buddha's primary focus was on dukkha, and then pointing out its cessation. Attempting to go into "beyond the range," clinging to this idea, or trying to explain it is just another source of dukkha, of which we'll have to observe the cessation... which is especially painful if we didn't realize that it was dukkha in the first place (i.e., clung to it).

As long as there are six sense bases and their objects, the best that we can do really is to just pay attention to their rising, and then falling away. As soon as we think about Nibbāna, it instantly becomes an object... of the mind, and then we'll have to see this fall away also. We become distressed only if we think that it was actually Nibbāna itself, and that we lost our hold on it. It's only the object that we lost, not the actual Nibbāna.

If we try to see what's "beyond the range," it gets pulled into the sphere of our six sense bases and then stops being "beyond the range," and then we get vexed when it falls away (i.e., after thinking that we've successfully found it, and then explained it to others). I think that this was Buddha's point with the "All." If we just keep focused on the six sense bases and their objects, then it's one less dukkha, in a major way, for us to worry about.

:anjali:
User avatar
beeblebrox
 
Posts: 939
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:41 pm

Re: SN 35.23 Sabba Sutta: The All

Postby daverupa » Thu Feb 24, 2011 8:45 pm

I had a number of discussions with a self-described Mormon mystic (!) a while ago who was convinced that there was such a thing as the Holy Ghost which had a 'sense' different than the other senses. I described to him the idea of six senses, as opposed to five, and asked whether we might agree that his sense of their being such an indwelling spirit might fall under this mental category - he was okay with that idea, somewhat, although it made him uncomfortable...

I expect brahmins were similar conversation partners, where instead of Holy Ghost the phrase Atman or Brahma would be used. It seems to me that the All properly limits human claims to knowledge, and prevents such claims as "It wasn't a sight, smell, taste, touch, or sound, nor was it a mere mental impression, but it was something else and I knew that such a something else was God's Voice" from being given consideration in the Dhamma.

Such a stratagem might be seen by a theist as playing a bit fast and loose, but to my way of thinking the point seems to be that since such mysticisms (to be as broad as possible) can be subsumed under the mental category, the Dhamma remains unfazed by such "evidence of permanence" as mystics experiencing union with Brahma, visions of the Virgin Mary, etc.

In short, it guards against certain types of Wrong View which were almost universal in the Buddha's day, and which are still very prevalent. I think the Buddha remarked that in cases where such Dhamma teaching was not going to be taken well, teaching instead the brahmaviharas was the best one could do.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 4362
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: SN 35.23 Sabba Sutta: The All

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:07 pm

Bebblebrox, Dave,

Thanks for the interesting observations. Always good to consider the possible audience of a discourse...

:anjali:
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10670
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: SN 35.23 Sabba Sutta: The All

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:41 pm

Klaus Klostermaier's A SURVEY OF HINDUISM, pgs: 137-8 wrote:"In the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad we read a dialogue in which Yajnavalkya is asked the crucial question: Kati devah, how many are the devas [gods]? His [Yajnavalkya's] first answer is a quotation from a Vedic text:

'Three hundred and three and three thousand and three." Pressed on, he reduces the number first to thirty-three, then to six, then to three, to two, to one-and-a-half and finally to One.

'Which is the one deva [god]?' And he answers: "The prana (breath, life). The Brahman. He is called tyat(that).' Though the devas still figure in sacrificial practice and religious debate, the question 'Who is God?' is here answered in terms that has remained the Hindu answer ever since.

10. Verily, in the beginning this world was Brahma. It knew only itself (atmanam): "I am Brahma!" Therefore it became the All. Whoever of the gods became awakened to this, he indeed became it; likewise in the case of seers (rsi), likewise in the case of men. Seeing this, indeed, the seer Vamadeva began:-

I was Manu and the sun (surya)!

This is so now also. Whoever thus knows "I am Brahma!" becomes this All; even the gods have not power to prevent his becoming thus, for he becomes their self (atman).

So whoever worships another divinity [than his Self], thinking "He is one and I another," he knows not. He is like a sacrificial animal for the gods. Verily, indeed, as many animals would be of service to a man, even so each single person is of service to the gods. If even one animal is taken away, it is not pleasant. What, then, if many? Therefore it is not pleasing to those [gods] that men should know this.

11. Verily, in the beginning this world was Brahma, one only. [ -- Brhadaranyaka Upanisad 1.4.10-11 trans R.C. Zaehner Hindu Scriptures pgs 40-1]
The Buddha responds (SN IV 15):

"Monks, I will teach you the all. And what is the all? The eye and forms, the ear and sounds the nose and odors, the tongue and tastes, the body and touch, the mind and mental phenomena. This is called the all. If anyone, monks, should speak thus: ' Having rejected this all, I shall make known another all' --that would be a mere empty boast."
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19920
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: SN 35.23 Sabba Sutta: The All

Postby kirk5a » Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:07 pm

What is the Pali word that is being translated as "mind" by Ireland and "intellect" by Thanissaro? Thanks.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
User avatar
kirk5a
 
Posts: 1794
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:51 pm

Re: SN 35.23 Sabba Sutta: The All

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:19 pm

kirk5a wrote:What is the Pali word that is being translated as "mind" by Ireland and "intellect" by Thanissaro? Thanks.

Mano.

It would be better, bhikkhus, for the uninstructed worlding to take as self this body… rather than the mind. For what reason? The body … is seen standing for one year, for two years, for three, four, five, or ten years, for twenty, thirty, forty, or fify, for a hundred years, or even longer. But that which is called 'mind [citta],' 'mentality [mano],' or 'consciousness [vi~n~naana]' by day and by night arises as one thing and ceases as another. Just as a monkey roaming through a forest grabs hold of one branch, lets that go and grabs another, then lets that go and grans still another, so too that which is called 'mind [citta],' 'mentality [mano],' or 'consciousness [vi~n~naana]' by day and by night arises as one thing and ceases as another. Therein, bhikkhus, the instructed noble disciple attends closely and carefully to dependent origination itself thus: ‘When this exists, that comes to be; with the arising of this that arises…. SN II 94-5

Always frightened is this mind [citta.m],
The mind [mano] is always agitated.
SN I 53
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19920
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: SN 35.23 Sabba Sutta: The All

Postby kirk5a » Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:34 pm

Thanks. Ok help me understand this please. I'm working my way through "Samana - Luangta Maha Boowa" (awesome) and in it he says

"I understood clearly that nothing dies. The mind certainly doesn’t die; in
fact, it becomes more pronounced. The more fully we investigate the four elements,
breaking them down into their original properties, the more distinctly
pronounced the mind appears. So where is death to be found? And what is it
that dies? The four elements – earth, water, wind and fire – they don’t die. As
for the mind, how can it die? It becomes more conspicuous, more aware and
more insightful. The mind’s awareness never dies, so why is it so afraid of death?
Because it deceives itself. For eons and eons, it has fooled itself into believing
in death when actually nothing ever dies."
p.193

So which part of "the all" is this "mind's awareness" which never dies?
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
User avatar
kirk5a
 
Posts: 1794
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:51 pm

Re: SN 35.23 Sabba Sutta: The All

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:58 pm

kirk5a wrote:Thanks. Ok help me understand this please. I'm working my way through "Samana - Luangta Maha Boowa" (awesome) and in it he says

"I understood clearly that nothing dies. The mind certainly doesn’t die; in
fact, it becomes more pronounced. The more fully we investigate the four elements,
breaking them down into their original properties, the more distinctly
pronounced the mind appears. So where is death to be found? And what is it
that dies? The four elements – earth, water, wind and fire – they don’t die. As
for the mind, how can it die? It becomes more conspicuous, more aware and
more insightful. The mind’s awareness never dies, so why is it so afraid of death?
Because it deceives itself. For eons and eons, it has fooled itself into believing
in death when actually nothing ever dies."
p.193

So which part of "the all" is this "mind's awareness" which never dies?
It's not.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19920
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: SN 35.23 Sabba Sutta: The All

Postby kirk5a » Fri Feb 25, 2011 1:58 am

tiltbillings wrote:
kirk5a wrote:
So which part of "the all" is this "mind's awareness" which never dies?
It's not.

Like consciousness which "does not land" of SN 12.64? "It's not" part of "the all" in that sense?
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
User avatar
kirk5a
 
Posts: 1794
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:51 pm

PreviousNext

Return to Study Group

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests