Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

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

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mikenz66
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Re: Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 6:20 pm

Hi Santa,
santa100 wrote: Now although the sutta mentioned "He lived in discomfort and not at ease" but nowhere did it say "He grieves, is depressed and laments; beating his breast, he weeps and dejection befalls him". This clearly indicates that although the Buddha could still experiences the 3 types of Vedana/feelings of pleasant, painful, and neutral(ie. discomfort and not at ease), He certainly transcended all mental fabrications as a result of such feeling(ie. grieves, depressed, laments, beating his breast, etc.). ...
Thanks, that's an excellent analysis.

:anjali:
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Hanzze
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Re: Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

Post by Hanzze » Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:05 am

Just saw this sutta, and it might be useful (a interessting confersation with Mara on this topic):
form The Brahma Invitation
...
"When this was said, I told Mara the Evil One, 'I know you, Evil One. Don't assume, "He doesn't know me." You are Mara, Evil One. And it's not sympathetic to welfare that you speak thus to me. It's sympathetic to what is not welfare that you speak thus to me. You think this, Evil One: "Those to whom Gotama the contemplative will teach the Dhamma will defy my sovereignty. Without being rightly self-awakened, Evil One, your contemplatives & brahmans claimed to be rightly self-awakened. I, however, being rightly self-awakened claim to be rightly self-awakened. For when the Tathagata is teaching the Dhamma to his disciples, he is Such. When he is not teaching the Dhamma to his disciples, he is Such. When leading his disciples he is Such. When not leading his disciples he is Such. Why is that? The fermentations that defile, that lead to further becoming, that disturb, that ripen in stress, that tend to future birth, aging, & death: Those the Tathagata has abandoned, their root destroyed, like an uprooted palmyra tree, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. Just as a palmyra tree with its crown cut off is incapable of growing again; so, too, the fermentations that defile, that lead to further becoming, that disturb, that ripen in stress, that tend to future birth, aging, & death: Those the Tathagata has abandoned, their root destroyed, like an uprooted palmyra tree, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising.'"
Also here in add the translation of The Bull Elephant from Rhys Davids:
THE BLESSED ONE SEEKS SOLITUDE

(FROM THE UDANA, IV, 5)
(Closely following trans, by Maj. Strong)

Thus have I heard. On a certain occasion the Blessed
One dwelt at Kosambi, in the Ghosita monastery.

. Now at that time the Blessed One was living surrounded
by a crowd of monks and nuns, of male and female lay disciples,
of kings and their ministers, as well as by heretical sects and
their pupils, and he suffered annoyance and discomfort.

And this thought occurred to him : " Surrounded by
a crowd of monks and nuns, male and female votaries, of
kings and their ministers, as well as by heretical sects and
their pupils, I suffer annoyance and discomfort. What
if I were to live alone, remote from the crowd ? "

And the Blessed One, robing himself in the forenoon and
taking his alms-bowl and robe, entered Kosambi for alms.
Having walked about Kosambi for alms, he returned from his
rounds and after finishing his meal, he himself put in order his
sleeping place, and taking his alms-bowl and robe, and without
informing his servitor or giving notice to the Brethren he
departed, alone, without a companion, in the direction of
Palileyyaka, and wandering from place to place, he reached
Palileyyaka, and took up his abode there.

And the Blessed One sojourned in the dense grove Rakkhila,
in the vicinity of Palileyyaka, at the foot of the Bhadda
Sal tree.

Now a certain noble elephant lived there, who was much
worried by a crowd of male and female elephants, young
elephants and elephant calves. He had to feed on blades
of grass with their tips broken off, and they ate the young
branches which he himself had broken down. He had also
to drink water that had been polluted and when he plunged
(into the water) to cross over, the female elephants rubbed
their bodies against him. In consequence of this crowd
he was annoyed and lived ill at ease.

And this thought occurred to the noble elephant : " Sur-
rounded by a crowd of male elephants, female elephants,
young elephants and elephant calves, I have to feed on blades
of grass with their tips broken off and they eat the young
branches I myself have broken down. I have also to drink
water that has been polluted and when I plunge to cross
over, the female elephants rub their bodies against me. In
consequence of this crowd I am annoyed and live ill at ease.
What if I were to live alone, remote from the crowd ? "

And the noble elephant leaving the herd went to the deep
groves of Rakkhila in the vicinity of Palileyyaka, to the
foot of the Bhadda Sal tree, where the Blessed One was.
And when he arrived there, he removed the grass from the
spot which the Blessed One occupied, and brought with his
trunk drinking water for the Blessed One.

And as the Blessed One was rejoicing in the calm of solitude
and isolation this thought arose : " Formerly I lived a life
of annoyance and discomfort surrounded by monks and

nuns . . . Now no longer surrounded by monks and nuns
... I live in comfort and at ease."

And in the mind of the noble elephant this thought arose :
" Formerly, I lived a life of annoyance and discomfort
surrounded by male elephants and female elephants . . .
Now no longer surrounded I live in comfort and at ease."

And the Blessed One, with reference to his own solitude,
and perceiving what was passing in the mind of that noble
elephant, breathed forth this solemn utterance :

" The heart of the noble elephant (with tusks like plough-poles)
Is at one with the heart of the Noble One
In that alone he delights in the forest."
Not to much posts training: 2. Post/ 4.10. 9:03 am (accordiny messurement 7 posts the last 24h) current value: 8 post
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

Mal
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Re: Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

Post by Mal » Thu Oct 04, 2012 12:57 pm

santa100 wrote:Notice that the mind and practice of enlightened ones aren't like those of us worldlings. They do not delight in "socializing". They naturally incline toward the pleasure of renunciation, of seclusion, of peace, and of self-awakening.
But the Bull elephant also retreated to the forest. Many worldlings incline toward renunciation, seclusion, peace, and self-awakening, not just enlightened ones.
santa100 wrote: So, the Buddha just made the natural choice to live in seclusion instead of living with a large crowd. Now although the sutta mentioned "He lived in discomfort and not at ease" but nowhere did it say "He grieves, is depressed and laments; beating his breast, he weeps and dejection befalls him".
Does he feel a bit miffed then? Is it enlightened to feel a bit miffed?

If so, he seems less enlightened than Seneca. In a famous letter Seneca remained living next to a noisy bath house, to test his Stoic resolve. He overcame his discomfort, until he felt at ease there. He didn't retreat to the forest.
santa100 wrote: This clearly indicates that although the Buddha could still experiences the 3 types of Vedana/feelings of pleasant, painful, and neutral(ie. discomfort and not at ease),
Can you justify equating "pain" with "discomfort and not at ease"? I thought the Buddha could use his "superpower mindfulness" to remain totally at ease and comfortable with physical pain? And if he can't do that, where is "the end to suffering" promised by 4NT?
santa100 wrote: "But there is this (mental) dwelling discovered by the Tathagata where, not attending to any themes, he enters & remains in internal emptiness. If, while he is dwelling there by means of this dwelling, he is visited by monks, nuns, lay men, lay women, kings, royal ministers, sectarians & their disciples, then — with his mind bent on seclusion, tending toward seclusion, inclined toward seclusion, aiming at seclusion, relishing renunciation, having destroyed those qualities that are the basis for mental fermentation — he converses with them only as much as is necessary for them to take their leave."
As it's a *mental* dwelling why does he need to retreat to the forest? Isn't his "mind bent on seclusion" in his mental dwelling? He "converses with them " from that position of mental seclusion, there is nothing to say he moves to the seclusion of the forest. Of course he converses with them "as much as is necessary". But that *isn't* surely because "wants to be alone", like some dumb actress, it would, surely, be that to talk more would be to indulge in gossip - which is never enlightened.

santa100
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Re: Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

Post by santa100 » Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:07 pm

Mal wrote:
"But the Bull elephant also retreated to the forest. Many worldlings incline toward renunciation, seclusion, peace, and self-awakening, not just enlightened ones."
And that's a great and helpful attribute toward the path. The big difference is that not only the Buddha "inclines" toward these things, He actually "brought them to fruition", something we wordlings have not done yet. For example, you might incline toward living in seclusion, but have you made up your mind to completely eradicate all defilements and put a complete ending to samsara like He did?
Mal wrote:
"Does he feel a bit miffed then? Is it enlightened to feel a bit miffed?
If so, he seems less enlightened than Seneca. In a famous letter Seneca remained living next to a noisy bath house, to test his Stoic resolve. He overcame his discomfort, until he felt at ease there. He didn't retreat to the forest."
How do you know for sure if that's the Buddha "himself" who feels a bit miffed, or just the "body" of Him that does? If you cannot nail this down, then it'd be pre-mature to jump to your conclusion like above.
Mal wrote:
"Can you justify equating "pain" with "discomfort and not at ease"? I thought the Buddha could use his "superpower mindfulness" to remain totally at ease and comfortable with physical pain? And if he can't do that, where is "the end to suffering" promised by 4NT?"
Again, how can you know for sure that it's the Buddha "himself" who felt this pain? What's wrong with using common language expression, which for sure has much limitation? An enlightened being, by definition, is one who had eradicated all notion of "I", "mine", and "myself", thus there's no "Buddha, Himself" to feel the pain. However, that does not mean his "body" cannot experience a painful feeling.
Mal wrote:
"As it's a *mental* dwelling why does he need to retreat to the forest? Isn't his "mind bent on seclusion" in his mental dwelling? He "converses with them " from that position of mental seclusion, there is nothing to say he moves to the seclusion of the forest. Of course he converses with them "as much as is necessary". But that *isn't* surely because "wants to be alone", like some dumb actress, it would, surely, be that to talk more would be to indulge in gossip - which is never enlightened"
That's a natural thing for enlightened one to do. After giving the large crowd what they needed to hear, why does He need to stay with them longer than needed?

Mal
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Re: Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

Post by Mal » Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:17 pm

santa100 wrote: How do you know for sure if that's the Buddha "himself" who feels a bit miffed, or just the "body" of Him that does?
Are you taking the Buddha to be suffering actual physical discomfort here? Taking "hemmed in by" to mean squashed in the crush of the crowd? I was taking it as a metaphor for purely mental torment - claustrophobia, or feeling frustration at all the gossip and interruptions.

So is the Buddha's *mind* feeling a bit miffed, but the Buddha is not?

santa100
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Re: Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

Post by santa100 » Thu Oct 04, 2012 4:22 pm

Mal wrote:
"Are you taking the Buddha to be suffering actual physical discomfort here? Taking "hemmed in by" to mean squashed in the crush of the crowd? I was taking it as a metaphor for purely mental torment - claustrophobia, or feeling frustration at all the gossip and interruptions."
My take has been that the Buddha still experiences inputs from Vedana/feeling. Vedana is typically divided into 3 types: painful, pleasant, and neutral, which can apply to both the mental and physical domains. However, let's be very clear that a painful feeling(mental or physical) is simply an input process that is "felt". How one "reacts" to this signal is a whole separate process. So while you see words like "discomfort" or "un-ease" being used in the sutta, you never see words like "grieves, depressed, laments, weeps, dejection, beating his breast" being applied to the Buddha because those are the "reactive" agents which He's completedly transcended. From that, words like "claustrophobia" or "frustration" certainly do not apply to the case of the Buddha.
Mal wrote:
"So is the Buddha's *mind* feeling a bit miffed, but the Buddha is not?"
It sounds like a logical observation. But just to be more precise, I'd say it's an unpleasant vedana input process that has been experienced by the Aggregates of a temporarily labeled entity called Buddha... :smile: If "I", "mine", and "myself" have been completely transcended, where can one possibly find a Buddha "himself" to feel a bit miffed!

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