Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
III. Upari Paṇṇāsa
3. Suññata Vagga

Sutta 121

Cūḷa Suññata Suttaɱ

The Lesser Discourse on Emptiness

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

 


 

[1][chlm][pts][nymo][ntbb][olds] I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Savatthi in the Eastern Monastery, the palace of Migara's mother.

[2][pts][nymo][ntbb][olds] Then in the evening, Ven. Ananda, coming out of seclusion, approached the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One:

[3][pts][nymo][ntbb][olds] "On one occasion, when the Blessed One was staying among the Sakyans in a Sakyan town named Nagaraka, there — face-to-face with the Blessed One — I heard and learned this: 'I now often remain in an attitude of emptiness.' Did I hear that correctly, learn it correctly, attend to it correctly, remember it correctly?"

[The Buddha:] "Yes, Ananda, you heard that correctly, learned it correctly, attended to it correctly, remembered it correctly. Now, as well as before, I often remain in an attitude of emptiness.

[4][pts][nymo][ntbb][olds] Just as this palace of Migara's mother is empty of elephants, cattle and mares, empty of gold and silver, empty of assemblies of women and men, and there is only this non-emptiness — the singleness based on the community of monks; even so, Ananda, a monk — not attending to the perception (mental note) of village, not attending to the perception of human being — attends to the singleness based on the perception of forest. His mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction, settles, and indulges in its perception of forest.

"He discerns that 'Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the perception of village are not present. Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the perception of human being are not present. There is only this modicum of disturbance: the singleness based on the perception of forest.' He discerns that 'This mode of perception is empty of the perception of village. This mode of perception is empty of the perception of human being. There is only this non-emptiness: the singleness based on the perception of forest.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, and pure.

The Perception of Earth

[5][pts][nymo][ntbb][olds] "Further, Ananda, the monk — not attending to the perception of human being, not attending to the perception of forest — attends to the singleness based on the perception of earth. His mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction, settles, and indulges in its perception of earth. Just as a bull's hide is stretched free from wrinkles with a hundred stakes, even so — without attending to all the ridges and hollows, the river ravines, the tracts of stumps and thorns, the craggy irregularities of this earth — he attends to the singleness based on the perception of earth. His mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction, settles, and indulges in its perception of earth.

"He discerns that 'Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the perception of human being are not present. Whatever disturbances would exist based on the perception of forest are not present. There is only this modicum of disturbance: the singleness based on the perception of earth.' He discerns that 'This mode of perception is empty of the perception of human being. This mode of perception is empty of the perception of forest. There is only this non-emptiness: the singleness based on the perception of earth.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, and pure.

The Infinitude of Space

[6][pts][nymo][ntbb][olds] "Further, Ananda, the monk — not attending to the perception of forest, not attending to the perception of earth — attends to the singleness based on the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of space. His mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction, settles, and indulges in its perception of the dimension of the infinitude of space.

"He discerns that 'Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the perception of forest are not present. Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the perception of earth are not present. There is only this modicum of disturbance: the singleness based on the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of space.' He discerns that 'This mode of perception is empty of the perception of forest. This mode of perception is empty of the perception of earth. There is only this non-emptiness: the singleness based on the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of space.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, and pure.

The Infinitude of Consciousness

[7][pts][nymo][ntbb][olds] "Further, Ananda, the monk — not attending to the perception of earth, not attending to the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of space — attends to the singleness based on the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness. His mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction, settles, and indulges in its perception of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness.

"He discerns that 'Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the perception of earth are not present. Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of space are not present. There is only this modicum of disturbance: the singleness based on the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness.' He discerns that 'This mode of perception is empty of the perception of earth. This mode of perception is empty of the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of space. There is only this non-emptiness: the singleness based on the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, and pure.

Nothingness

[8][pts][nymo][ntbb][olds] "Further, Ananda, the monk — not attending to the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of space, not attending to the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness — attends to the singleness based on the perception of the dimension of nothingness. His mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction, settles, and indulges in its perception of the dimension of nothingness.

"He discerns that 'Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of space are not present. Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness are not present. There is only this modicum of disturbance: the singleness based on the perception of the dimension of nothingness.' He discerns that 'This mode of perception is empty of the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of space. This mode of perception is empty of the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness. There is only this non-emptiness: the singleness based on the perception of the dimension of nothingness.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, and pure.

Neither Perception nor Non-Perception

[9][pts][nymo][ntbb][olds] "Further, Ananda, the monk — not attending to the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, not attending to the perception of the dimension of nothingness — attends to the singleness based on the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. His mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction, settles, and indulges in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.

"He discerns that 'Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness are not present. Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the perception of the dimension of nothingness are not present. There is only this modicum of disturbance: the singleness based on the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.' He discerns that 'This mode of perception is empty of the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness. This mode of perception is empty of the perception of the dimension of nothingness. There is only this non-emptiness: the singleness based on the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, and pure.

(Theme-Less Concentration)

[10][pts][nymo][ntbb][olds] "Further, Ananda, the monk — not attending to the perception of the dimension of nothingness, not attending to the perception of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception — attends to the singleness based on the theme-less concentration of awareness. His mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction, settles, and indulges in its theme-less concentration of awareness.

"He discerns that 'Whatever disturbances would exist based on the perception of the dimension of nothingness are not present. Whatever disturbances would exist based on the perception of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, are not present. And there is only this modicum of disturbance: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.' He discerns that 'This mode of perception is empty of the perception of the dimension of nothingness. This mode of perception is empty of the perception of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. There is only this non-emptiness: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, and pure.

Release

[11][pts][nymo][ntbb][olds] "Further, Ananda, the monk — not attending to the perception of the dimension of nothingness, not attending to the perception of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception — attends to the singleness based on the theme-less concentration of awareness. His mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction, settles, and indulges in its theme-less concentration of awareness.

"He discerns that 'This theme-less concentration of awareness is fabricated and mentally fashioned.' And he discerns that 'Whatever is fabricated and mentally fashioned is inconstant and subject to cessation.' For him — thus knowing, thus seeing — the mind is released from the effluent of sensuality, the effluent of becoming, the effluent of ignorance. With release, there is the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'

[12][pts][nymo][ntbb][olds] "He discerns that 'Whatever disturbances would exist based on the effluent of sensuality... the effluent of becoming... the effluent of ignorance, are not present. And there is only this modicum of disturbance: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.' He discerns that 'This mode of perception is empty of the effluent of sensuality... becoming... ignorance. And there is just this non-emptiness: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, pure — superior and unsurpassed.

[13][pts][nymo][ntbb][olds] "Ananda, whatever contemplatives and priests who in the past entered and remained in an emptiness that was pure, superior, and unsurpassed, they all entered and remained in this very same emptiness that is pure, superior, and unsurpassed. Whatever contemplatives and priests who in the future will enter and remain in an emptiness that will be pure, superior, and unsurpassed, they all will enter and remain in this very same emptiness that is pure, superior, and unsurpassed. Whatever contemplatives and priests who at present enter and remain in an emptiness that is pure, superior, and unsurpassed, they all enter and remain in this very same emptiness that is pure, superior, and unsurpassed.

"Therefore, Ananda, you should train yourselves: 'We will enter and remain in the emptiness that is pure, superior, and unsurpassed.'"

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, Ven. Ananda delighted in the Blessed One's words.

 


 

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