AN 7.72 [AN 7.68] Aggikkhandhopama Sutta. The Mass of Fire Comparison.

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AN 7.72 [AN 7.68] Aggikkhandhopama Sutta. The Mass of Fire Comparison.

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:39 pm

AN 7.72 AN 7.68 Aggikkhandhopama Sutta. The Mass of Fire Comparison.
Translated by the Yahoo! Pali Group


https://suttacentral.net/an7.72

Thus have I heard. Once the Blessed One was wandering among the Kosala people together with a large company of monks. Entering a major path, the Blessed One saw in a certain spot a great mass of fire, burning, blazing, glowing. After seeing it and stepping down from the path he sat on the appointed seat at the root of a tree. After sitting down the Blessed One said to the monks: “Do you see, monks, that great mass of fire, burning, blazing, glowing?"—” Yes, venerable Sir.”

[1] “What do you think, monks? Which would in fact be the better? Embracing that great mass of fire, burning, blazing, glowing, and sitting or lying down close to it? Or, embracing a kshatriya or brahman or householder woman with young and tender hands and feet, and sitting or lying down close to her?"—"This, venerable Sir, would surely be the better: Embracing a kshatriya or brahman or householder woman with young and tender hands and feet, and sitting or lying down close to her. For it would be painful, venerable Sir, to embrace that great, burning, blazing, glowing mass of fire, and sit or lie down close to it.”

“Let me tell you, monks, let me explain to you, monks, that this would surely be the better for one who is of poor conduct, an evil-minded one, a filthy doer of complete wickedness who acts in an underhand manner, who pretends to be a recluse yet is not a recluse, who pretends to lead the holy life yet does not lead the holy life, an inwardly-putrid, impure-natured one: Embracing that great mass of fire, burning, blazing, glowing, and sitting or lying down close to it. What is the reason for this? Because on account of that, monks, he would go to death, or to a pain like that of death, but he would not, on account of that, on the break-up of the body after death be reborn into a place of woe, a realm of misery, a place of suffering, a purgatory.”

“But, monks, if one who is of poor conduct, an evil-minded one, a filthy doer of complete wickedness who acts in an underhand manner, who pretends to be a recluse yet is not a recluse, who pretends to lead the holy life yet does not lead the holy life, an inwardly-putrid, impure-natured one, were to embrace a kshatriya or brahman or householder woman with young and tender hands and feet, and sit or lie down close to her—for him, monks, there would be a long period of harm and suffering, and on the break-up of the body after death he would be reborn into a place of woe, a realm of misery, a place of suffering, a purgatory.”

[2] “What do you think, monks? Which would in fact be the better? If a strong man, having twisted a firm horse-hair rope around both calves, were to rub, so that the rope cut the skin, and having cut the skin it cut the under-skin, and having cut the under-skin it cut the flesh, and having cut the flesh it cut the sinew, and having cut the sinew it cut the bone, and having cut the bone it left the marrow exposed? Or, to derive enjoyment from the homage of rich kshatriyas, or rich brahmans, or rich householders?"—"This, venerable Sir, is surely the better: To derive enjoyment from the homage of rich kshatriyas, or rich brahmans, or rich householders. For it would be painful, venerable Sir, if a strong man, having twisted a firm hair-rope around both calves, were to rub, so that the rope cut the skin and so on until it left the marrow exposed.”

“Let me tell you, monks, let me explain to you, monks, that this would surely be the better for one who is of poor conduct, an impure-natured one: If a strong man, having twisted a firm horse-hair rope around both calves, were to rub, so that the rope cut the skin and so on until it left the marrow exposed. What is the reason for this? Because on account of that, monks, he would go to death, or to a pain like that of death, but on account of that he would not, on the break-up of the body after death, be reborn into a place of woe, a realm of misery, a place of suffering, a purgatory.”

“But, monks, if one who is of poor conduct, an evil-minded one, a filthy doer of complete wickedness, an impure-natured one, were to derive enjoyment from the homage of rich kshatriyas, or rich brahmans, or rich householders—for him, monks, there would be a long period of harm and suffering, and on the break-up of the body after death he would be reborn into a place of woe, a realm of misery, a place of suffering, a purgatory.”

[3] “What do you think, monks? Which would in fact be the better? If a strong man were to strike the nether-quarters with a sharp, oil-cleaned sword? Or, to derive enjoyment when rich kshatriyas, brahmans, or householders press the palms together in prayer?”

“Let me tell you, monks, let me explain to you, that this would surely be the better for one who is of poor conduct, an impure-natured one: If a strong man were to strike the nether-quarters with a sharp, oil-cleaned sword.”

[4] “What do you think, monks? Which would in fact be the better? If a strong man were to wrap the body with a red-hot sheet of iron, burning, blazing, glowing? Or, to derive enjoyment from the robes given in faith by rich kshatriyas, brahmans, or householders?”

“Let me tell you, monks, let me explain to you, that this would surely be the better for one who is of poor conduct, an impure-natured one: If a strong man were to wrap the body with a red-hot sheet of iron.”

[5] “What do you think, monks? Which would in fact be the better? If a strong man, having opened the mouth with a red-hot iron spike, were to hurl into the mouth a red-hot iron ball, burning, blazing, glowing, so that one’s lips would burn, then the mouth would burn, then the tongue would burn, then the throat would burn, then the chest would burn, [1596] and when it was received by the lower intestine, it would be expelled from the lower part of the body? Or, to derive enjoyment from the food received on alms-round and given in faith by rich kshatriyas, brahmans, or householders?”

“Let me tell you, monks, let me explain to you, that this would surely be the better for one who is of poor conduct, an impure-natured one: If a strong man, having opened the mouth with a red-hot iron spike were to hurl into the mouth a red-hot iron ball.”

[6] “What do you think, monks? Which would in fact be the better? If a strong man, having gripped the head or shoulder, were to force one sit or lie on a red-hot iron bed or chair? Or, to derive enjoyment from a chair given in faith by rich kshatriyas, or brahmans, or householders?”

“Let me tell you, monks, let me explain to you, that this would surely be the better for one who is of poor conduct, an impure-natured one: If a strong man, having gripped the head or shoulder, were to force one sit or lie on a red-hot iron bed or chair.”

[7] “What do you think, monks? Which would in fact be the better? If a strong man, having gripped one, heels up, head down, were to force one down into a red-hot iron cauldron, burning, blazing, glowing, and where there is boiling scum on top, he were to go once up, once down, and then once sideways? Or, to derive enjoyment from an abode given in faith by rich kshatriyas, or brahmans, or householders?”

“Let me tell you, monks, let me explain to you, that this would surely be the better for one who is of poor conduct, an impure-natured one: If a strong man, having gripped one, heels up, head down, were to force one down into a red-hot iron cauldron.”

“Because of what I have said here, monks, you should train yourselves such that the gifts of those whose requisites we use—the robes, alms-bowl, chair, bed, and medicine as a support when sick—will have great fruits, great merits [for the people who give them], and our going forth will not be in vain, will be fruitful, will have a result. Thus should you train yourselves, thoroughly seeing that for your own benefit, monks, it is right to strive with heedfulness; thoroughly seeing that for the benefit of others, monks, it is right to strive with heedfulness; and thoroughly seeing that for the benefit of both, monks, it is right to strive with heedfulness.” [1597]

Thus spoke the Blessed One. And while this explanation was being delivered, hot blood rose out of the mouths of sixty monks; another sixty monks abandoned the training and returned to the lower life, saying, “It is too difficult to do, Blessed One, it is too difficult to do"; while the minds of another sixty monks abandoned clinging and were liberated from the aasava-s. [1598]

Notes

[1596] Bhikkhu Bodhi translates this as "stomach": 'I read with Ee udaraṃ, as against Ce and Be uraṃ, “chest.”'

[1597] See SN 12:22, II 29, 16–21. There "heedfulness" is "diligence".

[1598] Mp, commenting on AN 1:53
[this may be a misprint, since that sutta does not appear to have any connection with the current one]
discusses this passage more fully as follows:

“Those bhikkhus who vomited hot blood had commit-
ted pārājika offenses. Those who returned to lay life had been
going around violating the lesser and minor training rules. And
those who attained arahantship had purified their behavior. The
Teacher’s discourse was fruitful for all three.

[Question:] Granted it was fruitful for those who attained arahantship, how was it
fruitful for the others?

[Reply:] Because if they had not heard this discourse,
[the first kind] would have become heedless and
would not have been able to abandon their condition. Their evil
behavior would have increased and dragged them down to
the realms of misery. But when they heard this discourse, they
were filled with a sense of urgency. Having abandoned their
condition, some became sāmaṇeras (novices), fulfilled the ten
precepts, applied themselves to careful attention, and became
stream-enterers, once-returners, or non-returners, while some
were reborn in the deva world. Thus it was fruitful even for those
who had committed pārājikas. If the others had not heard this
discourse, as time went on, they would have gradually commit-
ted saṅghādisesas and pārājikas. They would have been reborn in
the realms of misery and experienced great suffering. But having
heard it, thinking that they could not fulfill the practice all their
lives, they gave up the training and returned to lay life. They
became settled in the three refuges, observed the five precepts,
fulfilled the duty of a lay follower, and became stream-enterers,
once-returners, or non-returners, while some were reborn in the
deva world. Thus the discourse was fruitful for them, too.”

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Re: AN 7.72 [AN 7.68] Aggikkhandhopama Sutta. The Mass of Fire Comparison.

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Nov 24, 2017 10:18 pm

Some very clever and forceful parallels between the forbidden activities and the physical tortures with which they are unfavourably compared. It's a pattern that is repeated elsewhere in the suttas ("Better that you should do this, than do that") and also crops up in the New Testament ("whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.") In fact, it's probably the most basic and effective teaching for misguided consequentialists.

#2 is interesting, in that the link between the two experiences is not immediately apparent. What has enjoying the homage of lay people got to do with a rope cutting into one's calves? Perhaps it is something to do with the bondage that the monk thereby enters, or possibly the hobbling of livestock.

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Re: AN 7.72 [AN 7.68] Aggikkhandhopama Sutta. The Mass of Fire Comparison.

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Nov 25, 2017 1:27 am

Yes, it's certainly strong stuff.

The morning and evening chants reflect some of the ideas expressed in the sutta about how to regard the requisites:
Whatever alms food I used today without consideration,
was not used playfully, nor for intoxication, nor for putting on bulk, nor
for beautification,
but simply for the survival & continuance of this body, for ending its
afflictions, for the support of the holy life...

Page 21 of: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... anting.pdf
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Re: AN 7.72 [AN 7.68] Aggikkhandhopama Sutta. The Mass of Fire Comparison.

Post by L.N. » Sat Nov 25, 2017 3:07 am

These descriptions of grotesque physical suffering seem to me to illustrate by contrast the bliss which results from following the 8fold path. I am reminded of the story of Subha.

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Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

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Re: AN 7.72 [AN 7.68] Aggikkhandhopama Sutta. The Mass of Fire Comparison.

Post by binocular » Sat Nov 25, 2017 12:38 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:39 pm
AN 7.72 AN 7.68 Aggikkhandhopama Sutta. The Mass of Fire Comparison.
Translated by the Yahoo! Pali Group


https://suttacentral.net/an7.72
/.../
“Let me tell you, monks, let me explain to you, monks, that this would surely be the better for one who is of poor conduct, an evil-minded one, a filthy doer of complete wickedness who acts in an underhand manner, who pretends to be a recluse yet is not a recluse, who pretends to lead the holy life yet does not lead the holy life, an inwardly-putrid, impure-natured one: Embracing that great mass of fire, burning, blazing, glowing, and sitting or lying down close to it. What is the reason for this? Because on account of that, monks, he would go to death, or to a pain like that of death, but he would not, on account of that, on the break-up of the body after death be reborn into a place of woe, a realm of misery, a place of suffering, a purgatory.”

“But, monks, if one who is of poor conduct, an evil-minded one, a filthy doer of complete wickedness who acts in an underhand manner, who pretends to be a recluse yet is not a recluse, who pretends to lead the holy life yet does not lead the holy life, an inwardly-putrid, impure-natured one, were to embrace a kshatriya or brahman or householder woman with young and tender hands and feet, and sit or lie down close to her—for him, monks, there would be a long period of harm and suffering, and on the break-up of the body after death he would be reborn into a place of woe, a realm of misery, a place of suffering, a purgatory.”
/.../
What is the significance of the qualifier "one who is of poor conduct, an evil-minded one, a filthy doer of complete wickedness who acts in an underhand manner, who pretends to be a recluse yet is not a recluse, who pretends to lead the holy life yet does not lead the holy life, an inwardly-putrid, impure-natured one" ?

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Re: AN 7.72 [AN 7.68] Aggikkhandhopama Sutta. The Mass of Fire Comparison.

Post by Dhammanando » Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:28 pm

binocular wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 12:38 pm
What is the significance of the qualifier "one who is of poor conduct, an evil-minded one, a filthy doer of complete wickedness who acts in an underhand manner, who pretends to be a recluse yet is not a recluse, who pretends to lead the holy life yet does not lead the holy life, an inwardly-putrid, impure-natured one" ?
It's just a stock description of a very bad bhikkhu. In the Āsaṃsasutta a bhikkhu of this description is called "without hope", as contrasted with the bhikkhu "with hope" and the bhikkhu "beyond hope".

Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation, using "one without expectation", "one full of expectation", and "one who has overcome expectation," ...
https://suttacentral.net/en/an3.13

And Nyanatiloka's German rendering of a parallel passage in the Puggalapaññatti, using „hoffnungslos“, „hoffnungsvoll“ and „hoffnungsgestillt“ ...
https://suttacentral.net/de/pp2.3

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Re: AN 7.72 [AN 7.68] Aggikkhandhopama Sutta. The Mass of Fire Comparison.

Post by binocular » Sun Nov 26, 2017 1:53 pm

Thank you for your reply, Venerable.
Dhammanando wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:28 pm
binocular wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 12:38 pm
What is the significance of the qualifier "one who is of poor conduct, an evil-minded one, a filthy doer of complete wickedness who acts in an underhand manner, who pretends to be a recluse yet is not a recluse, who pretends to lead the holy life yet does not lead the holy life, an inwardly-putrid, impure-natured one" ?
It's just a stock description of a very bad bhikkhu.
I was thinking that it had something to do with there being different kammic consequences for what is externally the same action, if done by different people.
Ie. that if a good bhikkhu were to get intimately involved with a woman, were to derive enjoyment from the homage of rich kshatriyas, or rich brahmans, or rich householders, were to derive enjoyment from the robes given in faith by rich kshatriyas, brahmans, or householders etc., then this would not have the negative consequences it has as when a bad bhikkhu does those things.
It's a common enough notion in religions that if an advanced person does something lowly, it doesn't have the kind of negative consequences as when a lowly person does those same things.

Of course on the other hand, a good bhikkhu wouldn't get intimately involved with a woman etc. to begin with.

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Re: AN 7.72 [AN 7.68] Aggikkhandhopama Sutta. The Mass of Fire Comparison.

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Nov 26, 2017 6:21 pm

binocular wrote:
Sun Nov 26, 2017 1:53 pm
Of course on the other hand, a good bhikkhu wouldn't get intimately involved with a woman etc. to begin with.
Yes, that's (part of) the definition of a good bhikkhu...

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Re: AN 7.72 [AN 7.68] Aggikkhandhopama Sutta. The Mass of Fire Comparison.

Post by phil » Tue Nov 28, 2017 1:24 am

Maybe it's not an exact parallel, but I'm reminded of the discourse on the man suffering from leprosy who, because of his impaired faculties, believes that cauterizing his wounds is pleasant. We are the same way about sensual pleasure, until understanding comes along.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)

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Re: AN 7.72 [AN 7.68] Aggikkhandhopama Sutta. The Mass of Fire Comparison.

Post by L.N. » Tue Nov 28, 2017 4:18 am

phil wrote:
Tue Nov 28, 2017 1:24 am
Maybe it's not an exact parallel, but I'm reminded of the discourse on the man suffering from leprosy who, because of his impaired faculties, believes that cauterizing his wounds is pleasant. We are the same way about sensual pleasure, until understanding comes along.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
Thanks for sharing. A snippet:
"Now what do you think, Magandiya? Is the fire painful to the touch, very hot & scorching, only now, or was it also that way before?"

"Both now & before is it painful to the touch, very hot & scorching, master Gotama. It's just that when the man was a leper covered with sores and infections, devoured by worms, picking the scabs off the openings of his wounds with his nails, his faculties were impaired, which was why, even though the fire was actually painful to the touch, he had the skewed perception of 'pleasant.'"

"In the same way, Magandiya, sensual pleasures in the past were painful to the touch, very hot & scorching; sensual pleasures in the future will be painful to the touch, very hot & scorching; sensual pleasures at present are painful to the touch, very hot & scorching; but when beings are not free from passion for sensual pleasures — devoured by sensual craving, burning with sensual fever — their faculties are impaired, which is why, even though sensual pleasures are actually painful to the touch, they have the skewed perception of 'pleasant.'
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

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Re: AN 7.72 [AN 7.68] Aggikkhandhopama Sutta. The Mass of Fire Comparison.

Post by Mkoll » Tue Nov 28, 2017 6:32 am

Dhammanando wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:28 pm
binocular wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 12:38 pm
What is the significance of the qualifier "one who is of poor conduct, an evil-minded one, a filthy doer of complete wickedness who acts in an underhand manner, who pretends to be a recluse yet is not a recluse, who pretends to lead the holy life yet does not lead the holy life, an inwardly-putrid, impure-natured one" ?
It's just a stock description of a very bad bhikkhu. In the Āsaṃsasutta a bhikkhu of this description is called "without hope", as contrasted with the bhikkhu "with hope" and the bhikkhu "beyond hope".

Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation, using "one without expectation", "one full of expectation", and "one who has overcome expectation," ...
https://suttacentral.net/en/an3.13

And Nyanatiloka's German rendering of a parallel passage in the Puggalapaññatti, using „hoffnungslos“, „hoffnungsvoll“ and „hoffnungsgestillt“ ...
https://suttacentral.net/de/pp2.3
Very bad indeed, Bhante. But I read it as referring to a specific kind of very bad bhikkhu. To use synonyms: a charlatan, a deceiver, a fraud, an impostor. The Buddha seems to be singling out this kind of bhikkhu as one of the worst types of bhikkhu, if not the worst. I think it's reasonable to extrapolate that out to laypeople; I can't recall a sutta that does this though.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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