Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
I. Mūlapaṇṇāsa
5. Cūḷa Yamaka Vagga

Sutta 43

Mahā Vedalla Suttaɱ

The Greater Set of Questions-and-Answers

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

 


 

[1][chlm][pts][upal][olds] I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Savatthi, in Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's Monastery.

Then Ven. Maha Kotthita,
arising from his seclusion in the late afternoon,
went to Ven. Sariputta and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him.
After an exchange of friendly greetings and courtesies, he sat to one side.

Discernment

As he was sitting there, he said to Ven. Sariputta,
"Friend, 'One of poor discernment, one of poor discernment':
Thus is it said.
To what extent is one said to be
'one of poor discernment'?"

"'One doesn't discern, one doesn't discern':
Thus, friend, one is said to be
'one of poor discernment.'

And what doesn't one discern?
One doesn't discern, 'This is stress.'
One doesn't discern, 'This is the origination of stress.'
One doesn't discern, 'This is the cessation of stress.'
One doesn't discern, 'This is the practice leading to the cessation of stress.'

'One doesn't discern, one doesn't discern':
Thus one is said to be
'one of poor discernment.'"

Saying, "Very good, friend,"
Ven. Maha Kotthita — delighting in and approving of Ven. Sariputta's statement —
asked him a further question:

"Discerning, discerning':
Thus is it said.
To what extent, friend,
is one said to be 'discerning'?"

"'One discerns, one discerns':
Thus, friend, one is said to be 'discerning.'

And what does one discern?
One discerns, 'This is stress.'
One discerns, 'This is the origination of stress.'
One discerns, 'This is the cessation of stress.'
One discerns, 'This is the practice leading to the cessation of stress.'

'One discerns, one discerns':
Thus one is said to be 'discerning.'"

Consciousness

"'Consciousness, consciousness':
Thus is it said.
To what extent, friend,
is it said to be 'consciousness'?"

"'It cognizes, it cognizes':
Thus, friend, it is said to be 'consciousness.'

And what does it cognize?
It cognizes 'pleasant.'
It cognizes 'painful.'
It cognizes 'neither painful nor pleasant.'

'It cognizes, it cognizes':
Thus it is said to be 'consciousness.'"

"Discernment and consciousness, friend:
Are these qualities conjoined or disjoined?
Is it possible,
having separated them one from the other,
to delineate the difference between them?"

"Discernment and consciousness are conjoined, friend, not disjoined.
It's not possible,
having separated them one from the other,
to delineate the difference between them.
For what one discerns,
that one cognizes.
What one cognizes,
that one discerns.
Therefore these qualities are conjoined, not disjoined,
and it is not possible,
having separated them one from another,
to delineate the difference between them."

"Discernment and consciousness, friend:
What is the difference between these qualities
that are conjoined, not disjoined?"

"Discernment and consciousness, friend:
Of these qualities that are conjoined, not disjoined,
discernment is to be developed,
consciousness is to be fully comprehended."[1]

Feeling

"'Feeling, feeling': Thus is it said.
To what extent, friend,
is it said to be 'feeling'?"

"'It feels, it feels':
Thus, friend, it is said to be 'feeling.'

And what does it feel?
It feels pleasure.
It feels pain.
It feels neither pleasure nor pain.

'It feels, it feels':
Thus it is said to be 'feeling.'"

Perception

"'Perception, perception':
Thus is it said.
To what extent, friend,
is it said to be 'perception'?"

"'It perceives, it perceives':
Thus, friend, it is said to be 'perception.'

And what does it perceive?
It perceives blue.
It perceives yellow.
It perceives red.
It perceives white.

'It perceives, it perceives':
Thus it is said to be 'perception.'"

"Feeling, perception, and consciousness, friend:
Are these qualities conjoined or disjoined?
Is it possible,
having separated them one from another,
to delineate the difference among them?"

"Feeling, perception, and consciousness
are conjoined, friend, not disjoined.
It is not possible,
having separated them one from another,
to delineate the difference among them.
For what one feels, that one perceives.
What one perceives, that one cognizes.
Therefore these qualities are conjoined, not disjoined,
and it is not possible,
having separated them one from another,
to delineate the difference among them."

The eye of discernment

"Friend, what can be known
with the purified intellect-consciousness
divorced from the five [sense] faculties?"

"Friend, with the purified intellect-consciousness
divorced from the five faculties
the dimension of the infinitude of space
can be known [as] 'infinite space.'
The dimension of the infinitude of consciousness
can be known [as] 'infinite consciousness.'
The dimension of nothingness
can be known [as] 'There is nothing.'

"With what does one know
a quality that can be known?"

"One knows a quality that can be known
with the eye of discernment."

"And what is the purpose of discernment?"

"The purpose of discernment is direct knowledge,
its purpose is full comprehension,
its purpose is abandoning."

Right view

"Friend, how many conditions are there
for the arising of right view?"

"Friend, there are two conditions
for the arising of right view:
the voice of another and appropriate attention.
These are the two conditions
for the arising of right view."

"And assisted by how many factors
does right view have awareness-release
as its fruit and reward,
and discernment-release
as its fruit and reward?"

"Assisted by five factors,
right view has awareness-release
as its fruit and reward,
and discernment-release
as its fruit and reward.

There is the case where right view is assisted by virtue,
assisted by learning,
assisted by discussion,
assisted by tranquility,
assisted by insight.
Assisted by these five factors,
right view has awareness-release
as its fruit and reward,
and discernment-release
as its fruit and reward."

Becoming

"Friend, how many kinds of becoming are there?"

"Friend, there are these three kinds of becoming:
sensual becoming,
form becoming,
formless becoming."

"And how is further becoming in the future
brought about?"

"The delight, now here, now there,
of beings hindered by ignorance
and fettered by craving:
That's how further becoming in the future
is brought about."

"And how is further becoming in the future
not brought about?"

"Through the fading of ignorance,
the arising of clear knowing,
and the cessation of craving:
That's how further becoming in the future
is not brought about."

The first jhana

"What, friend, is the first jhana?"

"There is the case, friend, where a monk
— quite withdrawn from sensual pleasures,
withdrawn from unskillful qualities —
enters and remains in the first jhana:
rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal,
accompanied by directed thought and evaluation.
This is called the first jhana."

"And how many factors does the first jhana have?"

"The first jhana has five factors.

There is the case where,
in a monk who has attained the five-factored first jhana,
there occurs directed thought,
evaluation,
rapture,
pleasure,
and singleness of mind.

It's in this way
that the first jhana has five factors."

"And how many factors are abandoned in the first jhana,
and with how many is it endowed?"

"Five factors are abandoned in the first jhana,
and with five is it endowed.

There is the case where,
in a monk who has attained the first jhana,
sensual desire is abandoned,
ill will is abandoned,
sloth and torpor is abandoned,
restlessness and anxiety is abandoned,
uncertainty is abandoned.
And there occur directed thought,
evaluation,
rapture,
pleasure,
and singleness of mind.

It's in this way that five factors are abandoned in the first jhana,
and with five it is endowed."

The five faculties

"Friend, there are these five faculties
each with a separate range,
a separate domain,
and they do not experience
one another's range and domain:
the eye-faculty,
the ear-faculty,
the nose-faculty,
the tongue-faculty,
and the body-faculty.

Now what do these five faculties
— each with a separate range,
a separate domain,
not experiencing one another's range and domain:
the eye-faculty,
the ear-faculty,
the nose-faculty,
the tongue-faculty,
and the body-faculty —
have as their [common] arbitrator?
What experiences [all] their ranges and domains?"

"Friend, these five faculties
— each with a separate range,
a separate domain,
not experiencing one another's range and domain:
the eye-faculty,
the ear-faculty,
the nose-faculty,
the tongue-faculty,
and the body-faculty —
have the intellect as their [common] arbitrator.
The intellect is what experiences [all] their ranges and domains."

"Now, these five faculties
— the eye-faculty,
the ear-faculty,
the nose-faculty,
the tongue-faculty,
and the body-faculty:
In dependence on what
do they remain standing?"

"These five faculties
— the eye-faculty,
the ear-faculty,
the nose-faculty,
the tongue-faculty,
and the body-faculty —
remain standing in dependence on vitality."[2]

"And vitality remains standing
in dependence on what?"

"Vitality remains standing
in dependence on heat."

"And heat remains standing
in dependence on what?"

"Heat remains standing
in dependence on vitality."

"Just now, friend Sariputta, we understood you to say,
'Vitality remains standing in dependence on heat.'
And just now we understood you to say,
'Heat remains standing in dependence on vitality.'
Now how is the meaning of these statements to be seen?"

"In that case, friend,
I will give you analogy,
for there are cases where it is through an analogy
that an intelligent person understands the meaning of a statement.

Suppose an oil lamp is burning.
Its radiance is discerned
in dependence on its flame,
and its flame is discerned
in dependence on its radiance.

In the same way,
vitality remains standing
in dependence on heat,
and heat remains standing
in dependence on vitality.

Vitality-fabrications

"Friend, are vitality-fabrications[3]
the same thing as feeling-states?
Or are vitality-fabrications one thing,
and feeling-states another?"

"Vitality-fabrications are not the same thing
as feeling-states, friend.
If vitality-fabrications were the same thing
as feeling-states,
the emergence of a monk
from the attainment of the cessation of feeling and perception
would not be discerned.
It's because vitality-fabrications are one thing
and feeling-states another
that the emergence of a monk
from the attainment of the cessation of perception and feeling
is discerned."

"When this body lacks how many qualities
does it lie discarded and forsaken,
like a senseless log?"

"When this body lacks these three qualities
— vitality, heat, and consciousness —
it lies discarded and forsaken
like a senseless log."

"What is the difference between one who is dead,
who has completed his time,
and a monk who has attained the cessation of perception and feeling?"

"In the case of the one who is dead,
who has completed his time,
his bodily fabrications have ceased and subsided,
his verbal fabrications ...
his mental fabrications have ceased and subsided,
his vitality is exhausted,
his heat subsided,
and his faculties are scattered.
But in the case of a monk
who has attained the cessation of perception and feeling,
his bodily fabrications have ceased and subsided,
his verbal fabrications ...
his mental fabrications have ceased and subsided,
his vitality is not exhausted,
his heat has not subsided,
and his faculties are exceptionally clear.
This is the difference between one who is dead,
who has completed his time,
and a monk who has attained the cessation of perception and feeling."

Awareness-release

"Friend, how many conditions are there for the attainment
of the neither-pleasant-nor-painful awareness-release?"

"Friend, there are four conditions for the attainment
of the neither-pleasant-nor-painful awareness-release.

There is the case where a monk,
with the abandoning of pleasure and stress
— as with the earlier disappearance of elation and distress —
enters and remains in the fourth jhana:
purity of equanimity and mindfulness,
neither-pleasure-nor-pain.

These are the four conditions for the attainment
of the neither-pleasant-nor-painful awareness-release.

"How many conditions are there for the attainment
of the theme-less awareness-release?"

"There are two conditions for the attainment
of the theme-less awareness-release:
lack of attention to all themes
and attention to the theme-less property.
These are the two conditions for the attainment
of the theme-less awareness-release."

"And how many conditions are there for the persistence
of the theme-less awareness-release?"

"There are three conditions for the persistence
of the theme-less awareness-release:
lack of attention to all themes,
attention to the theme-less property,
and a prior act of will.
These are the three conditions for the persistence
of the theme-less awareness-release."

"And how many conditions are there
for the emergence from
the theme-less awareness-release?"

"There are two conditions
for the emergence from
the theme-less awareness-release:
attention to all themes
and lack of attention to the theme-less property.
These are the two conditions
for the emergence from
the theme-less awareness-release."

"The limitless awareness-release,
the nothingness awareness-release,
the emptiness awareness-release,
the theme-less-awareness-release:
Are these qualities different in meaning
and different in name,
or are they one in meaning
and different only in name?"

"The limitless awareness-release,
the nothingness awareness-release,
the emptiness awareness-release,
the theme-less-awareness-release:
There is a way of explanation
by which these qualities
are different in meaning
and different in name,
and there is a way of explanation
by which these qualities
are one in meaning
and different only in name.

"And what is the way of explanation
by which these qualities
are different in meaning
and different in name?

There is the case
where a monk keeps pervading the first direction[4]
— as well as the second direction,
the third, and the fourth —
with an awareness imbued with good will.
Thus he keeps pervading above, below,
and all around, everywhere and in every respect
the all-encompassing world
with an awareness imbued with good will:
abundant, expansive, limitless,
free from hostility,
free from ill will.

"He keeps pervading the first direction
— as well as the second direction,
the third, and the fourth —
with an awareness imbued with compassion ...
an awareness imbued with appreciation....

"He keeps pervading the first direction
— as well as the second direction,
the third, and the fourth —
with an awareness imbued with equanimity.
Thus he keeps pervading above, below,
and all around, everywhere and in every respect
the all-encompassing world
with an awareness imbued with equanimity:
abundant, expansive, limitless,
free from hostility,
free from ill will.

"This is called the limitless awareness-release.

"And what is the nothingness awareness-release?

There is the case where a monk,
with the complete transcending
of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness,
thinking, 'There is nothing,'
enters and remains
in the dimension of nothingness.
This is called the nothingness awareness-release.

"And what is the emptiness awareness-release?

There is the case where a monk,
having gone into the wilderness,
to the root of a tree,
or into an empty dwelling,
considers this:
'This is empty of self
or of anything pertaining to self.'[5]

This is called the emptiness awareness-release.

"And what is the theme-less awareness-release?

There is the case where a monk,
through not attending to all themes,
enters and remains in the theme-less concentration of awareness.[6]

This is called the theme-less awareness-release.

"This is the way of explaining
by which these qualities are different in meaning
and different in name.

"And what is the way of explaining
whereby these qualities are one in meaning
and different only in name?

"Passion, friend, is a making of limits.
Aversion is a making of limits.
Delusion is a making of limits.
In a monk whose fermentations are ended,
these have been abandoned,
their root destroyed,
like an uprooted palm tree,
deprived of the conditions of existence,
not destined for future arising.
Now, to the extent that there is limitless awareness-release,
the unprovoked awareness-release
is declared the foremost.
And this unprovoked awareness-release
is empty of passion,
empty of aversion,
empty of delusion.

"Passion is a something.
Aversion is a something.
Delusion is a something.
In a monk whose fermentations are ended,
these have been abandoned,
their root destroyed,
like an uprooted palm tree,
deprived of the conditions of existence,
not destined for future arising.
Now, to the extent that there is nothingness awareness-release,
the unprovoked awareness-release
is declared the foremost.
And this unprovoked awareness-release
is empty of passion,
empty of aversion,
empty of delusion.

"Passion is a making of themes.
Aversion is a making of themes.
Delusion is a making of themes.
In a monk whose fermentations are ended,
these have been abandoned,
their root destroyed,
like an uprooted palm tree,
deprived of the conditions of existence,
not destined for future arising.
Now, to the extent that there is theme-less awareness-release,
the unprovoked awareness-release
is declared the foremost.
And this unprovoked awareness-release
is empty of passion,
empty of aversion,
empty of delusion.

"This, friend, is the way of explaining
whereby these qualities are one in meaning
and different only in name."

That is what Ven. Sariputta said.
Gratified, Ven. Maha Kotthita delighted in Ven. Sariputta's words.

 


[1] Discernment is to be developed because it is part of the fourth noble truth, the path of practice leading to the end of suffering. Consciousness is to be fully comprehended because, as an object of clinging, it is part of the first noble truth, the truth of suffering and stress. See SN 56.11.

[2] Vitality (aayu) is the force that determines the length of one's life.

[3] Vitality-fabrications are the intentions to continue living. The Buddha entered total nibbana three months after abandoning his vitality-fabrications. See DN 16.

[4] The east.

[5] See MN 106.

[6] See MN 121.

 


 

References:

See also: MN 44;
MN 122;
SN 22.23;
SN 22.79


 

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