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Ākiñcaññāyatana

References:

Mulapariyaya Resources section of BuddhaDust
PTS: Middle Length Sayings I, #1: Discourse on the Synopsis of Fundamentals, Horner, trans., pp 3.
WP: Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: The Root of All Things, Bhikkhu Nanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi, trans., pp 83 Examining the Mulapariyaya -- Analysis

The Root Sequence, Bhikkhu Thanissaro, translation of the Mulapariyaya


Pali MO Hare Horner Punnaji Bodhi Rhys Davids (Mrs)Rhys Davids Thanissaro Walshe Woodward
Ākiñcaññāyatana the realm of nothing's had there nothingness the plane of no-thing the base of nothingness nothing at all the sphere of nothingness

 

Pali Text Society
Pali English Dictionary
Edited by T. W. Rhys Davids and William Stede
[EDITED ENTRY]

 

Ākiñcaññā: state of hving nothing, absence of (any) possessions; nothingness (the latter as philosophical -bhāva: "cherish no worldly wishes whatsoever"
+ayatana(=the sphere, or Realm or area of) nothingness

 


"I nearly got there today!"
"Where?"
"The Sphere that isn't there.

 

This is a location, not the jhana, although one arrives at this location by way of the jhana; or, it is a term for describing the state of living in this jhana. In either case it is arrived at by letting go of, paying no attention to The Sphere of Unlimited Space, paying no attention to The Sphere of Unlimited Consciousness, and paying attention only to perception of The Sphere Where No Thing's There. If you picture the Sphere of Unlimited Space as being empty of coarse material forms, and the Sphere of Unlimited Consciousness as dealing only with consciousness of the consciousness of things, then the state arrived at in this case is one up passed coarse material forms, empty space and consciousness of things.

I suggest this 'realm' is mistranslated 'nothingness'. 'Ākiñcaññā' should be understood as a term describing lack of possession. It's not that there is nothing there, it is that there is nothing there which can be or which is possessed, owned, had. To say 'There is nothing' is to hold a wrong view. PED definately brings out the idea of ownership: "From the frequent context in the older texts it has assumed the moral implication of something that sticks or adheres to the character of a man, and which he must get rid of, if he wants to attain to a higher moral condition." In entering these states one is not inclined to great verbosity, so the statement made upon entering here "n'atthi kiñcī" 'There is not a smidgen', needs to be heard from the point of view of the meditator striving ever after more and more refined states, or in this case, states ever more free from 'things' to which one is attached.

 

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