SN 2.18 Kakudha Sutta

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SN 2.18 Kakudha Sutta

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Oct 09, 2014 8:47 am

SN 2.18 Kakudha Sutta
Translated by Bhikkhu Nanananda ... #passage-9

Thus I have heard: The Exalted One was once staying at Saaketa, in the A~njana Grove, in the deer Park. Now Kakudha, son of the gods, when the night was far spent came into the presence of the Exalted One and stood at one side. So standing Kakudha, the son of gods, spake thus to the Exalted One:

"Do you rejoice, recluse?"

"On getting what, friend?"

"Then do you grieve recluse?"

"What is lost friend?"

"Well, then, recluse, you neither rejoice nor grieve?"

"That is so, friend."[23]

How now, O monk! You are not depressed
And yet you seem to have no joy?
How now! are you, seated, so lonely there
Not overwhelmed by discontent?

[The Exalted One:]
Yea, I, O fairy, am no wise depressed,
And yet no joy arises in me;
Nor yet, though I am seated lonely here,
Am I overwhelmed by discontent.

Joy is verily for him who is sad
Sadness is verily for the joyous one. [24]
But as for the monk — know this, O friend
He is neither joyful nor is he sad.

Long time it is since I beheld,
As now, a saint with his passions quelled.
This monk who, being neither glad nor yet sad,
Has got past the viscosity in the world.


[23] This lively dialogue clearly brings out the supreme equanimity of emancipated ones. They have given up attachment to all 'possessions' or 'assets' (akincana, nirupadhi) whereby one becomes subject to the polarization between joy and grief. 'There is nothing grasped or rejected by him' ('atta.m niratta.m na hi tassa atthi' —Sn. V. 787 - last verse of Snp 4.3). 'He is neither attached nor is he averse' 'na hi so raj jati na viraj jati' — Sn. V. 813 - last verse of Snp 4.6).

[24] The worldling is on a see-saw experiencing the alternation of pleasant and unpleasant feelings. (See above Note 17). He rarely finds himself balanced in the neutral position of 'neither pleasant-nor-unpleasant' feeling. As the arahant-nun, Dhammadinaa explains in the Cuula Vedalla Sutta (M. I. 303. MN 44) the pleasant and the unpleasant feelings are mutual counterparts. It is the neither-pleasant-not-unpleasant feeling that provides a way out of this polarization, since its counterpart is ignorance, which in turn has as its counterpart, knowledge. The counterpart of knowledge is release and that of release is Nibbaana.

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Sam Vara
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Re: SN 2.18 Kakudha Sutta

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Oct 09, 2014 10:31 am

Many thanks for this, Mike.

This is a very deep and suggestive sutta, especially considering its brevity. As is recognised in the notes, it certainly is clear about prioritising equanimity and the lack of passion over mental states such as joy. If we are subject to joy, we are subject to sadness. I'm wondering whether this includes joy as an enlightenment-factor, or whether that is a different Pali term which can also be represented by the broader term. (Edit: it apparently doesn't. The Pali version on Sutta Central has "Nandi", which is I believe more akin to "delight".)

This idea that
the pleasant and the unpleasant feelings are mutual counterparts
is intriguing. It really brings out the futility of pleasure-seeking for its own sake. Checking out the reference to the Culavedalla Sutta, the closest I can find to this idea is the passage:
"Pleasant feeling is pleasant in remaining, & painful in changing, friend Visakha. Painful feeling is painful in remaining & pleasant in changing. Neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling is pleasant in occurring together with knowledge, and painful in occurring without knowledge."
This expressed in a rather puzzling way, because it ignores the possibility of pleasant feelings changing by increasing, which would make them more pleasant rather than "painful in changing" (and the converse for painful feeling).

But the basic point here seems to be about the equanimous bliss of the unchanging. It is getting or losing that cause joy and grief:
"Do you rejoice, recluse?"

"On getting what, friend?"

"Then do you grieve recluse?"

"What is lost friend?"
Whatever is unaffected by these worldly winds is the goal. Presumably this is why the neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling is the key, and (according to the Culavedalla Sutta) "ignorance-obsession" regarding these states is to be abandoned.


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