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Samyutta Nikaya:
III. Khandha Vagga:
22: Khandhasamyutta

Sutta 85

Yamaka

Yamaka

Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi

"OBhikkhu Bodhi 2000., The Connected Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2000)
This selection from The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya by Bhikkhu Bodhi is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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[109] [931]

[1][wrrn][pts][than][olds] On one occasion the Venerable Sariputta was dwelling at Savatthi in Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's Park.

Now on that occasion the following pernicious view had arisen in a bhikkhu named Yamaka: "As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed is annihilated and perishes with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death."[151]

A number of bhikkhus heard that such a pernicious view had arisen in the bhikkhu Yamaka. Then they approached the Venerable Yamaka and exchanged greetings with him, after which they sat down to one side and said to him:

"Is it true, friend Yamaka, that such a pernicious view as this has arisen in you: [110]
'As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed is annihilated and perishes with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death'?"

"Exactly so, friends. As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed is annihilated and perishes with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death."

"Friend Yamaka, do not speak thus. Do not misrepresent the Blessed One. It is not good to misrepresent the Blessed One. The Blessed One would not speak thus:
'A bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed is annihilated and perishes with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death.'"

Yet, although he was admonished by the bhikkhus in this way, the Venerable Yamaka still obstinately grasped that pernicious view, adhered to it, and declared:
"As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed is annihilated and perishes with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death."

Since those bhikkhus were unable to detach the Venerable Yamaka from that pernicious view, they rose from their seats, approached the Venerable Sariputta, and told him all that had occurred, adding:

"It would be good if the Venerable Sariputta would approach the bhikkhu Yamaka out of compassion for him."

The Venerable Sariputta consented by silence.

Then, in the evening, the Venerable Sariputta emerged from seclusion. He approached the Venerable Yamaka and exchanged greetings with him, after which he sat down to one side and said to him:

"Is it true, friend Yamaka, that such a pernicious view as this has arisen in you: 'As I understand the Ohamma taught by the Blessed One, [111] a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed is annihilated and perishes with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death'?"

"Exactly so, friend."

"What do you think, friend Yamaka, is form permanent or impermanent?" - "Impermanent, friend." ... - "Therefore ... Seeing thus ... He understands: '... there is no more for this state of being:'[152]

"What do you think, friend Yamaka, do you regard form as the Tathagata?" - "No, friend:' - "Do you regard feeling ... perception ... volitional formations ... consciousness as the Tathagata?" - "No, friend."

"What do you think, friend Yamaka, do you regard the Tathagata as in form?" - "No, friend." - "Do you regard the Tathagata as apart from form?" - "No, friend." - "Do you regard the Tathagata as in feeling? As apart from feeling? As in perception? As apart from perception? As in volitional formations? As apart from volitional formations? As in consciousness? As apart from consciousness?" - "No, friend:'

"What do you think, friend Yamaka, do you regard form, feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness [taken together] as the Tathagata?" - "No, friend." [112]

"What do you think, friend Yamaka, do you regard the Tathagata as one who is without form, without feeling, without perception, without volitional formations, without consciousness?" - "No, friend."[153]

"But, friend, when the Tathagata is not apprehended by you as real and actual here in this very life,[154] is it fitting for you to declare: 'As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed is annihilated and perishes with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death'?"

"Formerly, friend Sariputta, when I was ignorant, I did hold that pernicious view, but now that I have heard this Dhamma teaching of the Venerable Sariputta I have abandoned that pernicious view and have made the breakthrough to the Dhamma."[155]

"If, friend Yamaka, they were to ask you: 'Friend Yamaka, when a bhikkhu is an arahant, one whose taints are destroyed, what happens to him with the breakup of the body, after death?' - being asked thus, what would you answer?"

"If they were to ask me this, friend, I would answer thus: 'Friends, form is impermanent; what is impermanent is suffering; what is suffering has ceased and passed away. Feeling ... Perception ... Volitional formations ... Consciousness is impermanent; what is impermanent is suffering; what is suffering has ceased and passed away.' Being asked thus, friend, I would answer in such a way."[156]

"Good, good, friend Yamaka! Now, friend Yamaka, I will make up a simile for you in order to convey this same meaning even more clearly. Suppose, friend Yamaka, there was a householder or a householder's son, a rich man, with much wealth and property, protected by a bodyguard. Then some man would appear who wanted to ruin him, to harm him, to endanger him, to take his life. [113] It would occur to that man: 'This householder or householder's son is a rich man, with much wealth and property, protected by a bodyguard. It won't be easy to take his life by force. Let me get close to him and then take his life.'

"Then he would approach that householder or householder's son and say to him: 'I would serve you, sir.' Then the householder or householder's son would appoint him as a servant. The man would serve him, rising up before him, retiring after him, doing whatever he wants, agreeable in his conduct, endearing in his speech. The householder or householder's son would consider him a friend,[157] a bosom friend, and he would place trust in him. But when the man becomes aware that the householder or householder's son has placed trust in him, then, finding him alone, he would take his life with a sharp knife.

"What do you think, friend Yamaka, when that man had approached that householder or householder's son and said to him: 'I would serve you, sir,' wasn't he a murderer even then, though the other did not recognize him as 'my murderer'? And when the man was serving him, rising up before him, retiring after him, doing whatever he wants, agreeable in his conduct, endearing in his speech, wasn't he a murderer then too, though the other did not recognize him as 'my murderer'? And when the man came upon him while he was alone and took his life with a sharp knife, wasn't he a murderer then too, though the other did not recognize him as 'my murderer'?"

"Yes, friend."

"So too, friend Yamaka,[158] the uninstructed worldling, who is not a seer of the noble ones and is unskilled and undisciplined in their Dhamma, who is not a seer of superior persons and is unskilled and undisciplined in their Dhamma, regards form as self, or self as possessing form, or form as in self, or self as in form.

"He regards feeling as self ... perception as self ... volitional formations as self ... consciousness as self, [114] or self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in self, or self as in consciousness.

"He does not understand as it really is impermanent form as 'impermanent form'[159] ... impermanent feeling as 'impermanent feeling' ... impermanent perception as 'impermanent perception' ... impermanent volitional formations as 'impermanent volitional formations' ... impermanent consciousness as 'impermanent consciousness.'

"He does not understand as it really is painful form as 'painful form' ... painful feeling as 'painful feeling' ... painful perception as 'painful perception' ... painful volitional formations as 'painful volitional formations' ... painful consciousness as 'painful consciousness.'

"He does not understand as it really is selfless form as 'selfless form' ... selfless feeling as 'selfless feeling' ... selfless perception as 'selfless perception' ... selfless volitional formations as 'selfless volitional formations' ... selfless consciousness as 'selfless consciousness.'

"He does not understand as it really is conditioned form as 'conditioned form' ... conditioned feeling as 'conditioned feeling' ... conditioned perception as 'conditioned perception' ... conditioned volitional formations as 'conditioned volitional formations' ... conditioned consciousness as 'conditioned consciousness.'

"He does not understand as it really is murderous form as 'murderous form' ... murderous feeling as 'murderous feeling' ... murderous perception as 'murderous perception' ... murderous volitional formations as 'murderous volitional formations' ... murderous consciousness as 'murderous consciousness.'

"He becomes engaged with form, clings to it, and takes a stand upon it as 'my self.'[160] He becomes engaged with feeling ... with perception ... with volitional formations ... with consciousness, clings to it, and takes a stand upon it as 'my self.' These same five aggregates of clinging, to which he becomes engaged and to which he clings, lead to his harm and suffering for a long time.

"But, friend, the instructed noble disciple, who is a seer of the noble ones ... does not regard form as self, or self as possessing form, or form as in self, or self as in form.

"He does not regard feeling as self ... perception as self ... volitional formations as self ... consciousness as self, or self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in self, or self as in consciousness.

[115] "He understands as it really is impermanent form as 'impermanent form' ... impermanent consciousness as 'impermanent consciousness.'

"He understands as it really is painful form as 'painful form' ... painful consciousness as 'painful consciousness.'

"He understands as it really is selfless form as 'selfless form' ... selfless consciousness as 'selfless consciousness.'

"He understands as it really is conditioned form as 'conditioned form' ... conditioned consciousness as 'conditioned consciousness.'

"He understands as it really is murderous form as 'murderous form' ... murderous consciousness as 'murderous consciousness.'

"He does not become engaged with form, cling to it, and take a stand upon it as 'my self.' He does not become engaged with feeling ... with perception ... with volitional formations ... with consciousness, cling to it, and take a stand upon it as 'my self.'

These same five aggregates of clinging, to which he does not become engaged and to which he does not cling, lead to his welfare and happiness for a long time."

"So it is, friend Sariputta, for those venerable ones who have such compassionate and benevolent brothers in the holy life to admonish and instruct them. And now that I have heard this Dhamma teaching of the Venerable Sariputta, my mind is liberated from the taints by nonclinging."[161] [116]

This is what the Venerable Sariputta said. Elated, the Venerable Yamaka delighted in the Venerable Sariputta's statement.

 


[151] His position is not quite the same as that of the common annihilationist, since he does not hold that all beings are annihilated at death. He seems to hold an etemalist view in regard to unenlightened beings (since they have a lasting self which transmigrates) and annihilationism in regard to the arahant (since he utterly perishes at death).

Spk: If he had thought, "Formations arise and cease; a simple process of formations reaches nonoccurrence," this would not be a view (ditthigata) but knowledge in accordance with the Teaching. But since he thought, "A being is annihilated and destroyed," this becomes a view. What follows is paralleled by MN I 130-31 and I 256-57.

[152] Spk: At the end of this teaching on the three characteristics Yamaka became a stream-enterer. Sariputta asks the following questions to examine him and to get him to show that he has given up his wrong view.

Spk glosses Tathagata here as "a being" (satta), which I think does not quite hit the mark. I take the subject of the discussion to be, not a being in general, but the arahant conceived as a being, as a substantial self. Thus the catechism will show that Yamaka has abandoned his identity view (sakkayaditthi) regarding the arahant, and therewith his view of the arahant as a self that undergoes annihilation. We find a similar transition from the arahant (vimuttacitta bhikkhu) to the Tathagata at MN I 140,3-7 and I 486-88.

[153] The first three altematives - conceiving the aggregates individually as the Tathagata, the Tathagata as within the aggregates, and the Tathagata as apart from the aggregates-correspond to the first three modes of conceiving in the Mulapariyaya Sutta (M I I), which are set in relation to the sense bases at 35:30, 31. The fourth position conceives the aggregates collectively as the Tathagata (perhaps a view of supervenience); the fifth conceives the Tathagata as entirely transcendent, without any essential relation to the aggregates. These modes of conceiving can also be correlated with the twenty types of identity view.

[154] Ditth'eva dhamme saccato thetato Tathagato anupalabbhiyamano. Cp. MN I 138,5-6: Attani ca bhikkhave attaniye ca saccato thetato anupalabbhamane. MN I 140,6-7: Ditth'evaham bhikkhave dhamme Tathagatam ananuvejjo ti vadami.

[155] See n. 147.

[156] This passage can be read as a gloss on the Buddha's famous dictum, "I make known just suffering and the cessation of suffering" (see end of 22:86).

[157] Ee daheyya may be better than saddaheyya, in Be and Se.

[158] Spk: The uninstructed worldling attached to the round is like the gullible householder, the five fragile aggregates like the murderous enemy. When the enemy comes up to the householder and offers to serve him, that is like the time the aggregates are acquired at the moment of rebirth.

When the householder takes the enemy to be his friend, that is like the time the worldling grasps the aggregates, thinking, "They are mine." The honour the householder bestows on the enemy, thinking, "He is my friend," is like the honour the worldling bestows on the aggregates by bathing them, feeding them, etc. The murder of the householder by the enemy is like the destruction of the worldling's life when the aggregates break up.

[159] The next four paragraphs are also at 22:55.

[160] As in 12:15; see II, n. 31, n. 32.

[161] This last sentence is not in Be.


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