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he talks about the phrase found in many suttas, from the First Discourse onward:
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This "Dhamma Eye" is one of the stock descriptions of a stream enterer.Now during this utterance, there arose in the venerable Kondañña the spotless, immaculate vision of the True Idea: "Whatever is subject to arising is all subject to cessation."
Whether one agrees with the exact conclusion regarding how arising-and-ceasing is experienced, it seems undeniable that the mundane observation that "things arise and cease" is not what is being talked about in these sutta passages.Ajahn Pasanno wrote: [There are several phrasings and translations:]
- And just as a clean cloth from which all stains have been
removed receives the dye perfectly, so in the Brahmin Kþ¥adanta, as
he sat there, there arose the pure and spotless Dhamma-eye, and he
knew: “Whatever things have an origin must come to cessation.”
Then Kþ¥adanta, having seen, attained, experienced and penetrated
the Dhamma, having passed beyond doubt, transcended
uncertainty, having gained perfect confidence in the Teacher’s
doctrine without relying on others.
~ D 5.29-30 (Maurice Walshe trans.)
- Just as a clean cloth with all marks removed would take
dye evenly, so too, while the householder Upali sat there, the
spotless immaculate vision of the Dhamma arose in him: “All that
is subject to arising is subject to cessation.” Then the householder
Upali saw the Dhamma, attained the Dhamma, understood the
hamma, fathomed the Dhamma; he crossed beyond doubt, did
away with perplexity, gained intrepidity, and became
independent of others in the Teacher’s Dispensation.
~ M 56.18 (Bhikkhu Ñanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi trans.)
Here, the key factor in turning away from the stream of the world and
- To Upali the householder, as he was sitting right there,
there arose the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: Whatever is
subject to origination is all subject to cessation. Then – having
seen the Dhamma, having reached the Dhamma, known the
Dhamma, reached a footing in the Dhamma, having crossed over
& beyond doubt, having had no more questioning – Upæli the
householder gained fearlessness and was independent of others
with regard to the Teacher’s message.
~ M 56.18 (Thanissaro Bhikkhu trans.)
entering the stream of Dhamma is the insight into impermanence, along with the
seeing of a causal connection between all phenomena. We can recognize that
seeing the truth of “All that is subject to arising is subject to cessation,” is not
beyond our own or anybody else’s capabilities. Having made this point, the
discourse goes onto describe the results, the first being the transcending of doubt and uncertainty.
Due to the different nature of the English and Pali languages, there are
difficulties in translation that may obscure crucial aspects of the Dhamma. If we
translate the stream-entry vision literally from Pali, we have something like ‘what-
ever arising-dhamma cessation-dhamma.’ This is terrible English but beautiful
insight. English grammar requires subject and verb. Thus ‘something’ arises and
ceases. Hence ‘dhamma’ comes across as a thing, or an attribute of things. A thing
has existence in time, so whatever thing arises, or is subject to arising, subsequent-
ly ceases. This is not really news to the reflective mind. However if we consider
stream-entry as something profound, it would be useful to consider the experience
to be one in which the very process that brings ‘things’ to awareness is seen into.
That is, the mind is experiencing an ‘event-stream’ dynamic of arising and ceasing
that rules out substantiality
It is like writing in water – the experience is of arising and ceasing
occupying the same time frame. In this light, perhaps a better rendering would be
‘Whatever is experienced as arising, is experienced as ceasing’; or ‘Any experience
of arising is an experience of ceasing,’ the enigmatic ring of which may alert the
reader to the profundity of the experience.
This would also result in a direct understanding of dependent arising: that
is of a reality not of things existing in a void, but a dynamic of forces, currents and
tendencies. There is no void. The ‘unconditioned dhamma’ some texts allude to is
the experience of an awareness that doesn’t support or give rise to conditions.