Anguttara Nikaya


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Anguttara Nikāya
Navaka Nipāta

Sutta 37

Ānanda Suttaɱ

Ananda

Translated from the Pali by Michael Olds

 


 

Translator's Introduction

Another in a growing collection of suttas which describes an impersonal consciousness. Not 'Bodhi Mind'! Not something that is always there and simply needs to be realized, not something which when attained is the same as that which was left behind, but a stable, happy, fear-free mind-made freedom-sustained serenity where eye is such that of the realm of shapes there is no resultant personal experience.

 


 

[1][pts][ati][upal] I HEAR TELL:

Once upon a time The Ancient Ananda, Kosambi revisiting, Ghosita park.

There then, The Ancient Ananda said this to the beggars:

'Friends, Beggars!'

Then, 'Friend!' said the beggars to The Ancient Ananda in response.

The Ancient Ananda said this:

SNAP

2. 'How snappy[1], friends!
How striking, friends!
That is, in so far as that The Lucky Man,
knower, seer, arahant, highest-self-awakened one,
awoke to this excellent opportunity for beings
to get away from their ensnarement,
overcome grief and lamentation,
desolve pain and misery,
master the method for
seeing Nibbana for one's self,

where eye will be such that
of the realm of shapes
there will be no resultant personal experience[2],

where ear will be such that
of the realm of sounds
there will be no resultant personal experience,

where nose will be such that
of the realm of scents
there will be no resultant personal experience,

where tongue will be such that
of the realm of tastes
there will be no resultant personal experience,

where body will be such that
of the realm of touches
there will be no resultant personal experience.'

3. This said, The Ancient Udayi said this to the Ancient Ananda:

'Is there perceiving, then, friend Ananda,
in a realm where there is no resultant personal experience,
or is there no perceiving?'

'There is perceiving, friend,
in a realm where there is no resultant personal experience,
not no perceiving.'

'What perceiving is there then, friend,
in a realm where there is no resultant personal experience?'[3]

4. Here, friend, a beggar
rising above all perception of shapes,
putting away perception of reaction,
not attending in mind to perception of diversity,
thinking, 'Endless space'
arises in and inhabits the realm of space.

Thus then, friend, there is perceiving
but of that realm there is no resultant personal experience.

5. Again, deeper than that, friend, a beggar,
rising above the whole realm of space,
thinking, 'Endless consciousness'
arises in and inhabits the realm of consciousness.

Thus then, friend, there is perceiving
but of that realm there is no resultant personal experience.

6. Again, deeper than that, friend, a beggar,
rising above the whole realm of consciousness,
thinking, 'There is no what-have-you'
arises in and inhabits the realm where nothing's had.[4]

Thus then, friend, there is perceiving
but of that realm there is no resultant personal experience.

7. Once upon a time, friends, I was Sakate-land residing,
Deer Park, Anjana Forest.

There then, friends, Jatilagahiya bhikkhuni approached and drew near.

Having drawn near she gave greeting and stood to one side:

Standing to one side, then, friends, the bhikkhuni Jatilagahiya said this to me:

That serinity, bhante Ananda,
which is not bent on nor bent away,
not with own-made-restraint held in restraint,
on it's freedom standing,
on it's stand content,
on it's contentment unafraid,
of this serinity, bhante Ananda, what is the fruit spoken of by The Lucky Man?

When, friends, the bhikkhuni Jatilagahiya had thus spoken, I said this:

That serinity, sister,
which is not bent on nor bent away,
not with own-made-restraint held in restraint,
on it's freedom standing,
on it's stand content,
on it's contentment unafraid,
of this serinity, sister, answer-knowledge[5] is the fruit spoken of by The Lucky Man.[6]

Thus then, friends, there is perceiving
but of that realm there is no resultant personal experience.

 


[1] Acchariya. Think of the magician snapping his fingers and something appears or disappears. In India, the snap of the fingers is used in place of applause to signify approval in the sense of 'heavenly'. Celestial nymphs snap their fingers in unison to create the rhythm to which they dance. There are groups here today that make enchanting music with the fingersnap. Hare: 'Wonderful'; Bhk. Thanissaro: 'amaizing'.

[2] Paṭisaŋvedi. paṭi = 'resultant', 'rebounding', 'consequential'; saŋ = 'con', 'com', 'co', 'with', 'own', 'one's own', 'self-'; vedi = experience.
Hare: 'sensing'; Bhk. Thanissaro: 'being sensative to'; Str. Upalavana: 'feelings for'.
The point is that what is being described is the state which when perceived as freedom, is freedom: that is free from being identified with and the subsequent experience of change and pain as happening to one's self. No identification with the eye, no thinking of the sphere of shapes as 'what I see', no resultant experience of seeing as 'I see.' You see?

[3] "Kiɱ saññī" Bhk. Thanissaro has "one is percipient of what?" But if it were a matter of 'one' perceiving, then it would require the 'resultant personal experience' which is what is being shown to be missing in this state. The question to be expected would be 'What is perceiving' in the case where there is no 'resultant personal experience,' but Ananda's responses to that question do not fit. The answer would need to take the form: There is perceiving, but there is no resultant personal experience of perception.
See MN 43; PTS, Horner, Middle Length Sayings, #43 n.9 sites the commentators as saying this indicates the Fourth Jhana. I believe this is actually the non-state above the nirodha-saññā-vedanā, 'the ending of perception and sensation,' where it has been see that that jhana too is own-made. A state of 'temporary' arahantship.

[4] Kiñcī 'A little something what-have-you' and ākiñcañña 'having nothing'. This is a radically new translation for me. I have usually followed the others as one time I nearly got there. Where? To the sphere that wasn't there. But I think this sutta carries the implication that there is no ownership there, no possessing of anything. Nothing to possess or possible to possess. That should be reflected in the translation.
Hare: 'nothing' and 'sphere of nothingness'; Bhk. Thanissaro: 'nothing' and 'dimension of nothingness.'
So now I guess it's: I nearly had it today! What? The sphere that's not to be had.
I would really find it amusing to wake up to find out that this state was invented in order to trap those who would claim to have attained it! I just emerged from the Akincanna, the sphere of Nothingness. Oh you did, did you! I think it was you that was had.

[5] Añña. Answer-knowledge. Omnicience in the Buddhist sense of knowing whatever one wishes whenever one wishes to know it. Not being aware of all things at all times. A synonym for Arahantship.

[6] Bhk. Thanissaro has the sense of this reversed, making the serinity described by Sister Jatilagahiya as the fruit of Añña [his 'gnosis'] rather than Añña as the fruit of this serinity. But at this point Sister Jatilagahiya has not given any indication that she perceives this serinity as not having 'resultant personal experience' or that it is Añña. And if the bare state itself were Añña she would not have asked the question. In AN 11.7 the sequence appears to be as put by Bhk. Thanissaro or is ambiguous. This possible paradox can be resolved understanding the sequence as: attaining this impersonal serinity, recognizing it to be freedom, subsequently abiding in that serinity. The person having the perception:

'This is it!
This is the culmination!
That is, the calming of all own-making,
the resolution of all involvements,
the withering away of thirst,
dispassion,
extinction,
Nibbāna.'

would need to have attained the state before having this perception and would need to have this perception before having the state could be called Nibbāna or having Añña.

 


 

References:
See especially AN 11.7
MN 38 The Greater Discourse at Assapura, bhk. Thanissaro, trans.
Forum: What is 2?


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