Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
I. Mūlapaṇṇāsa
3. Tatiya Vagga

Sutta 30

Cula Sāropama Suttaɱ

The Shorter Heartwood-simile Discourse

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
Provenance, terms and conditons

 


 

[1][chlm][pts][upal] I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī in Jeta's Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery.

Then Piṅgalakoccha the brahman went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side.

As he sitting there, he said to the Blessed One,

"Master Gotama, these contemplatives and brahmans, each with his group, each with his community, each the teacher of his group, an honored leader, well-regarded by people at large — i.e., Pūraṇa Kassapa, Makkhali Gosāla, Ajita Kesakambalin, Pakudha Kaccāyana, Sañjaya Velaṭṭhaputta, and the Nigaṇṭha Nāṭaputta:

Do they all have direct knowledge as they themselves claim, or do they all not have direct knowledge, or do some of them have direct knowledge and some of them not?"

"Enough, brahman. Put this question aside.

I will teach you the Dhamma.

Listen and pay close attention.

I will speak."

"Yes, sir," Piṅgalakoccha the brahman responded to the Blessed One.

The Blessed One said,

"Brahman, it's as if a man in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood — passing over the heartwood of a great standing tree possessed of heartwood, passing over the sapwood, passing over the inner bark, passing over the outer bark — cutting away the twigs and leaves, were to go off carrying them, thinking, 'heartwood.'

A man with good eyesight, seeing him, would say,

'Ah, how this good man didn't know heartwood, didn't know sapwood, didn't know inner bark, didn't know outer bark, didn't know twigs and leaves!

That's why he, in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood — passing over the heartwood of a great standing tree possessed of heartwood, passing over the sapwood, passing over the inner bark, passing over the outer bark — cutting away the twigs and leaves, went off carrying them, thinking, "heartwood."

Whatever heartwood-business he had with heartwood, his purpose won't be served.'

"Or, brahman, it's as if a man in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood — passing over the heartwood of a great standing tree possessed of heartwood, passing over the sapwood, passing over the inner bark — cutting away the outer bark, were to go off carrying it, thinking, 'heartwood.'

A man with good eyesight, seeing him, would say,

'Ah, how this good man didn't know heartwood, didn't know sapwood, didn't know inner bark, didn't know outer bark, didn't know twigs and leaves!

That's why he, in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood — passing over the heartwood of a great standing tree possessed of heartwood, passing over the sapwood, passing over the inner bark — cutting away the outer bark, went off carrying it, thinking, "heartwood."

Whatever heartwood-business he had with heartwood, his purpose won't be served.'

"Or, brahman, it's as if a man in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood — passing over the heartwood of a great standing tree possessed of heartwood, passing over the sapwood — cutting away the inner bark, were to go off carrying it, thinking, 'heartwood.'

A man with good eyesight, seeing him, would say,

'Ah, how this good man didn't know heartwood, didn't know sapwood, didn't know inner bark, didn't know outer bark, didn't know twigs and leaves!

That's why he, in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood — passing over the heartwood of a great standing tree possessed of heartwood, passing over the sapwood — cutting away the inner bark, went off carrying it, thinking, "heartwood."

Whatever heartwood-business he had with heartwood, his purpose won't be served.'

"Or, brahman, it's as if a man in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood — passing over the heartwood of a great standing tree possessed of heartwood — cutting away the sapwood, were to go off carrying it, thinking, 'heartwood.'

A man with good eyesight, seeing him, would say,

'Ah, how this good man didn't know heartwood, didn't know sapwood, didn't know inner bark, didn't know outer bark, didn't know twigs and leaves!

That's why he, in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood — passing over the heartwood of a great standing tree possessed of heartwood — cutting away the sapwood, went off carrying it, thinking, "heartwood."

Whatever heartwood-business he had with heartwood, his purpose won't be served.'

"Or, brahman, it's as if a man in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood, cutting away just the heartwood of a great standing tree possessed of heartwood, were to go off carrying it, knowing, 'heartwood.'

A man with good eyesight, seeing him, would say,

'Ah, how this good man did know heartwood, did know sapwood, did know inner bark, did know outer bark, did know twigs and leaves!

That's why he, in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood, cutting away just the heartwood of a great standing tree possessed of heartwood, were to go off carrying it, knowing, "heartwood."

Whatever heartwood-business he had with heartwood, his purpose will be served.'

"In the same way, brahman, there is the case where a certain son of good family,[1] out of conviction, goes forth from the home life into homelessness, (thinking,)

'I am beset by birth, by aging-and-death, by sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, and despairs, beset by stress, overcome with stress.

Perhaps the end of this entire mass of stress might be discerned!'

Having thus gone forth, he encounters gain, offerings, and fame.

He is gratified with that gain, offerings, and fame, his resolve fulfilled.

Because of that gain, offerings, and fame he exalts himself and disparages others:

'I am a person with gain, offerings, and fame, but these other monks are unknown and of little influence.'

He doesn't generate desire or exert himself for the realization of those qualities that are higher and more sublime than gain, offerings, and fame.

He is drooping and lax.

"Just as like the man who, in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood — passing over the heartwood of a great standing tree possessed of heartwood, passing over the sapwood, passing over the inner bark, passing over the outer bark — cutting away the twigs and leaves, went off carrying them, thinking, 'heartwood': Whatever heartwood-business he had with heartwood, his purpose won't be served.

This individual, I tell you, is similar to that.

"Furthermore, there is the case where an individual, out of conviction, goes forth from the home life into homelessness, (thinking,)

'...Perhaps the end of this entire mass of stress might be discerned!'

Having thus gone forth, he encounters gain, offerings, and fame.

He is not gratified with that gain, offerings, and fame, his resolve not fulfilled.

He generates desire and exerts himself for the realization of those qualities that are higher and more sublime than gain, offerings, and fame.

He is not drooping or lax.

He achieves consummation in virtue.

He is gratified with that consummation in virtue, his resolve fulfilled.

Because of that consummation in virtue he exalts himself and disparages others:

'I am a person of virtue, with fine qualities, but these other monks are unvirtuous, with evil qualities.'

He doesn't generate desire or exert himself for the realization of those qualities that are higher and more sublime than consummation in virtue.

He is drooping and lax.

"Just as like the man who, in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood — passing over the heartwood of a great standing tree possessed of heartwood, passing over the sapwood, passing over the inner bark — cutting away the outer bark, went off carrying it, thinking, 'heartwood': Whatever heartwood-business he had with heartwood, his purpose won't be served.

This individual, I tell you, is similar to that.

"Furthermore, there is the case where an individual, out of conviction, goes forth from the home life into homelessness, (thinking,)

'...Perhaps the end of this entire mass of stress might be discerned!'

Having thus gone forth, he encounters gain, offerings, and fame.

He is not gratified with that gain, offerings, and fame, his resolve not fulfilled.

Because of that gain, offerings, and fame he does not exalt himself or disparage others.

He generates desire and exerts himself for the realization of those qualities that are higher and more sublime than gain, offerings, and fame.

He is not drooping or lax.

He achieves consummation in virtue.

He is gratified with that consummation in virtue, but his resolve is not fulfilled.

Because of that consummation in virtue he does not exalt himself or disparage others.

He generates desire and exerts himself for the realization of those qualities that are higher and more sublime than consummation in virtue.

He is not drooping or lax.

He achieves consummation in concentration.

He is gratified with that consummation in concentration, his resolve fulfilled.

Because of that consummation in concentration he exalts himself and disparages others:

'I am concentrated, my mind at singleness, but these other monks are unconcentrated, their minds scattered.'

He doesn't generate desire or exert himself for the realization of those qualities that are higher and more sublime than consummation in concentration.

He is drooping and lax.

"Just as like the man who, in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood — passing over the heartwood of a great standing tree possessed of heartwood, passing over the sapwood — cutting away the inner bark, went off carrying it, thinking, 'heartwood': Whatever heartwood-business he had with heartwood, his purpose won't be served.

This individual, I tell you, is similar to that.

"Furthermore, there is the case where an individual, out of conviction, goes forth from the home life into homelessness, (thinking,)

'I am beset by birth, by aging-and-death, by sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, and despairs, beset by stress, overcome with stress. Perhaps the end of this entire mass of stress might be discerned!'

Having thus gone forth, he encounters gain, offerings, and fame.

He is not gratified with that gain, offerings, and fame, his resolve not fulfilled.

Because of that gain, offerings, and fame he does not exalt himself or disparage others.

He generates desire and exerts himself for the realization of those qualities that are higher and more sublime than gain, offerings, and fame.

He is not drooping or lax.

He achieves consummation in virtue.

He is gratified with that consummation in virtue, but his resolve is not fulfilled.

Because of that consummation in virtue he does not exalt himself or disparage others.

He generates desire and exerts himself for the realization of those qualities that are higher and more sublime than consummation in virtue.

He is not drooping or lax.

He achieves consummation in concentration.

He is gratified with that consummation in concentration, but his resolve is not fulfilled.

Because of that consummation in concentration he does not exalt himself or disparage others.

He generates desire and exerts himself for the realization of those qualities that are higher and more sublime than consummation in concentration.

He is not drooping or lax.

He achieves knowledge and vision.

He is gratified with that knowledge and vision, his resolve fulfilled.

Because of that knowledge and vision he exalts himself and disparages others:

'I dwell knowing and seeing, but these other monks dwell not knowing and not seeing.'

He doesn't generate desire or exert himself for the realization of those qualities that are higher and more sublime than knowledge and vision.

He is drooping and lax.

"Just as like the man who, in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood — passing over the heartwood of a great standing tree possessed of heartwood — cutting away the sapwood, went off carrying it, thinking, 'heartwood': Whatever heartwood-business he had with heartwood, his purpose won't be served.

This individual, I tell you, is similar to that.

"Furthermore, there is the case where an individual, out of conviction, goes forth from the home life into homelessness, (thinking,)

'I am beset by birth, by aging-and-death, by sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, and despairs, beset by stress, overcome with stress.

Perhaps the end of this entire mass of stress might be discerned!'

Having thus gone forth, he encounters gain, offerings, and fame.

He is not gratified with that gain, offerings, and fame, his resolve not fulfilled.

Because of that gain, offerings, and fame he does not exalt himself or disparage others.

He generates desire and exerts himself for the realization of those qualities that are higher and more sublime than gain, offerings, and fame.

He is not drooping or lax.

He achieves consummation in virtue.

He is gratified with that consummation in virtue, but his resolve is not fulfilled.

Because of that consummation in virtue does not exalt himself or disparage others.

He generates desire and exerts himself for the realization of those qualities that are higher and more sublime than consummation in virtue.

He is not drooping or lax.

He achieves consummation in concentration.

He is gratified with that consummation in concentration, but his resolve is not fulfilled.

Because of that consummation in concentration he does not exalt himself or disparage others.

He generates desire and exerts himself for the realization of those qualities that are higher and more sublime than consummation in concentration.

He is not drooping or lax.

He achieves knowledge and vision.

He is gratified with that knowledge and vision, but his resolve is not fulfilled.

Because of that knowledge and vision he does not himself or disparage others.

He generates desire and exerts himself for the realization of those qualities that are higher and more sublime than knowledge and vision.

He is not drooping or lax.

"And which, brahman, are the qualities that are higher and more sublime than knowledge and vision?

"There is the case where a monk — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities — enters and remains in the first jhāna: rapture and pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation.

This is a quality higher and more sublime than knowledge and vision.[2]

"Furthermore, with the stilling of directed thoughts and evaluations, he enters and remains in the second jhāna: rapture and pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought and evaluation — internal assurance.

This too is a quality higher and more sublime than knowledge and vision.

"Furthermore, with the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, and alert, and senses pleasure with the body.

He enters and remains in the third jhāna, of which the noble ones declare, 'Equanimous and mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.'

This too is a quality higher and more sublime than knowledge and vision.

"Furthermore, with the abandoning of pleasure and stress — as with the earlier disappearance of joys and distresses — he enters and remains in the fourth jhāna: purity of equanimity and mindfulness, neither-pleasure-nor-pain.

This too is a quality higher and more sublime than knowledge and vision.

"Furthermore, with the complete transcending of perceptions of (physical) form, with the disappearance of perceptions of resistance, and not heeding perceptions of diversity, (perceiving,) 'Infinite space,' he enters and remains in the dimension of the infinitude of space.

This too is a quality higher and more sublime than knowledge and vision.

"Furthermore, with the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of space, (perceiving,) 'Infinite consciousness,' he enters and remains in the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness.

This too is a quality higher and more sublime than knowledge and vision.

"Furthermore, with the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, (perceiving,) 'There is nothing,' he enters and remains in the dimension of nothingness.

This too is a quality higher and more sublime than knowledge and vision.

"Furthermore, with the complete transcending of the dimension of nothingness, he enters and remains in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.

This too is a quality higher and more sublime than knowledge and vision.

"Furthermore, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, he enters and remains in the cessation of perception and feeling.

And, having seen [that] with discernment, his fermentations are completely ended.

This too is a quality higher and more sublime than knowledge and vision.

"These are the qualities higher and more sublime than knowledge and vision.

"Just as like the man who, in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood, cutting away just the heartwood of a great standing tree possessed of heartwood, went off carrying it, knowing, 'heartwood': Whatever heartwood-business he had with heartwood, his purpose will be served.

This individual, I tell you, is similar to that.

"Brahman, this holy life doesn't have as its reward gain, offerings, and fame,
doesn't have as its reward consummation of virtue,
doesn't have as its reward consummation of concentration,
doesn't have as its reward knowledge and vision,
but the unprovoked[3] awareness-release:
That is the purpose of this holy life,
that is its heartwood,
that its final end."

When this was said, Piṅgalakoccha the brahman said to the Blessed One:

"Magnificent, lord!

Magnificent!

Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to show the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has the Blessed One — through many lines of reasoning — made the Dhamma clear.

I go to the Blessed One for refuge, to the Dhamma, and to the Community of monks.

May the Blessed One remember me as a lay follower who has gone to him for refuge, from this day forward, for life."

 


[1] Here I follow the Thai edition, which reads "son of good family" in this instance, and "individual" in all the remaining instances. Both the Sri Lankan and the Burmese editions read "individual" here and in all the remaining instances.

[2] The Commentary explains that the first jhāna is listed as higher than knowledge and vision here because it is being presented in its role as a step toward cessation. The same principle holds for the other stages of concentration up through the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.

[3] Akuppa. This term is sometimes translated as "unshakable," but it literally means, "unprovoked." The reference is apparently to the theory of dhātu, or properties underlying physical or psychological events in nature. The physical properties according to this theory are four: earth (solidity), liquid, heat, and wind (motion). Three of them — liquid, heat, and wind — are potentially active. When they are aggravated, agitated, or provoked — the Pali term here, 'pakuppati', is used also on the psychological level, where it means angered or upset — they act as the underlying cause for natural activity. When the provocation ends, the corresponding activity subsides.

"Now there comes a time, friends, when the external liquid property is provoked, and at that time the external earth property vanishes...

"There comes a time, friends, when the external liquid property is provoked and washes away village, town, city, district, and country. There comes a time when the water in the great ocean drops down one hundred leagues, two hundred... three hundred ... four hundred... five hundred... six hundred... seven hundred leagues. There comes a time when the water in the great ocean stands seven palm-trees deep, six... five... four... three... two palm-trees deep, one palm-tree deep. There comes a time when the water in the great ocean stands seven fathoms deep, six... five... four... three... two fathoms deep, one fathom deep. There comes a time when the water in the great ocean stands half a fathom deep, hip-deep, knee-deep, ankle deep. There comes a time when the water in the great ocean is not even the depth of the first joint of a finger...

"There comes a time, friends, when the external fire property is provoked and consumes village, town, city, district, and country; and then, coming to the edge of a green district, the edge of a road, the edge of a rocky district, to the water's edge, or to a lush, well-watered area, goes out from lack of sustenance. There comes a time when people try to make fire using a wing-bone and tendon parings...

"There comes a time, friends, when the external wind property is provoked and blows away village, town, city, district, and country. There comes a time when, in the last month of the hot season, people try to start a breeze with a fan or bellows, and even the grass at the fringe of a thatch roof doesn't stir."
MN 28

A similar theory attributes the irruption of mental states to the provocation of the properties of sensuality, form, or formlessness.

"In dependence on the property of sensuality there occurs the perception of sensuality. In dependence on the perception of sensuality there occurs the resolve for sensuality... the desire for sensuality... the fever for sensuality... the quest for sensuality. Questing for sensuality, monks, an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person conducts himself wrongly through three means: through body, through speech, and through mind."
—SN 14.12

Even unbinding is described as a property (Iti 44). However, there is a crucial difference in how unbinding is attained, in that the unbinding property is not provoked. Any events that depend on the provocation of a property are inherently unstable and inconstant, subject to change when the provocation ends. But because true release is not caused by the provocation of anything, it is not subject to change.

 


 

References:

See also: MN 29; SN 17.3;
SN 17.5;
SN 17.8;
AN 8.7;
AN 8.8;
AN 10.58.


 

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