Anguttara Nikaya


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Aŋguttara Nikāya
X. Dasaka-Nipāta
III. Mahā Vagga

Sutta 29

Paṭhama Kosala Suttaɱ

Set-backs and Reversals

Translated from the Pali by Michael Olds

 


 

[1][pts][than][bodh] I HEAR TELL:

One time the Lucky Man addressed the beggars, saying:

"Beggars!"

And the beggars responding "Bhante!"
The Lucky Man said this to them:

[2] "As far as the Kosalān Kāsis, beggars,
extends the territory ruled by Pasenadi of Kosala,
there Raja Pasenadi of Kosala
is seen to be the formost king.

Yet even for Raja Pasenadi of Kosala, beggars,
there is alteration,
there is reversal.

Seeing this, beggars,
the well-taught student of the Aristocrats
finds satisfaction.

With satisfaction,
loss of interest in the topmost
let alone for the lower.

 

§

 

[3] As far, beggars, as the moon and sun revolve in their orbits,
their radiance illuminating the ten directions
so far extends the thousand-fold world.[1]

In this thousand-fold world,
a thousand moons,
a thousand suns,
a thousand Sineru-king-of-Mountains,
a thousand Rose-apple-peninsulas,
a thousand Aparagoyānānaɱ,
a thousand Uttara-Kurūnaɱ,
a thousand Pubba-videhānaɱ,[2]
a thousand four great bodies of water,
a thousand four great kings,
a thousand Tāvatiɱsa Realms,[3]
a thousand Yāmā Realms,
a thousand Nimmāṇaratī Realms,
a thousand Paranimmita-vasavattī Realms,
a thousand Brahma Worlds.

As far, beggars, as the thousand-fold world is evident,
so far is the realm of Mahā-Brahmā said to extend.

Yet even for Mahā-Brahmā, beggars,
there is alteration,
there is reversal.

Seeing this, beggars,
the well-taught student of the Aristocrats
finds satisfaction.

With satisfaction,
loss of interest in the topmost
let alone for the lower.

 

§

 

[4] There comes a time, beggars,
when this world rolls up into itself.

When, beggars, this world has rolled up,
beings, for the most part,
roll on to the Ābhassara Realm,
there they are mind-made,
rapture-fed,
self-radiant,
sky-walkers,
supported by well-being,
lasting there a long long time.

When the world devolves, beggars,
it is the gods of the Ābhassarā Realm
that are considered the topmost.

Yet even for the Ābhassarā Devas, beggars,
there is alteration,
there is reversal.

Seeing this, beggars,
the well-taught student of the Aristocrats
finds satisfaction.

With satisfaction,
loss of interest in the topmost
let alone for the lower.

 

§

 

[5] There are, beggars, these ranges
of the ten concentration-devices.[4]

What ten?

[1] One has perception of the earth-device
as above,
below,
across,
undivided,
immeasurable.

[2] One has perception of the water-device
as above,
below,
across,
undivided,
immeasurable.

[3] One has perception of the firelight-device
as above,
below,
across,
undivided,
immeasurable.

[4] One has perception of the wind-device
as above,
below,
across,
undivided,
immeasurable.

[5] One has perception of the blue-device
as above,
below,
across,
undivided,
immeasurable.

[6] One has perception of the yellow-device
as above,
below,
across,
undivided,
immeasurable.

[7] One has perception of the blood-red-device
as above,
below,
across,
undivided,
immeasurable.

[8] One has perception of the white-device
as above,
below,
across,
undivided,
immeasurable.

[9] One has perception of the space-device
as above,
below,
across,
undivided,
immeasurable.

[10] One has perception of the re-knowing-knowing-knowledge-device[5]
as above,
below,
across,
undivided,
immeasurable.

These then, beggars, are the ten devices.

Of these ten device-ranges beggars,
this is the topmost,
that is to say:
perception of the re-knowing-knowing-knowledge-device
as above,
below,
across,
undivided,
immeasurable.

There are, beggars, beings with just such perception as this.

Yet even for beings with just such perception as this, beggars,
there is alteration,
there is reversal.

Seeing this, beggars,
the well-taught student of the Aristocrats
finds satisfaction.

With satisfaction,
loss of interest in the topmost
let alone for the lower.

 

§

 

[6] There are, beggars, these eight spheres of mastery.[6]

What eight?

[1] Perceiving internal form,
one sees external forms as discrete,
beautiful or ugly.

Mastering such,
he thus perceives:

'I know, I see'[7]

This is the first sphere of mastery.

[2] Perceiving internal form,
one sees external forms as measureless,
beautiful or ugly.

Mastering such,
he thus perceives:

'I know, I see'

This is the second sphere of mastery.

[3] Perceiving no internal form[8]
one sees external forms as discrete,
beautiful or ugly.

Mastering such,
he thus perceives:

'I know, I see'

This is the third sphere of mastery.

[4] Perceiving no internal form
one sees external forms as measureless,
beautiful or ugly.

Mastering such,
he thus perceives:

'I know, I see'

This is the fourth sphere of mastery.

[5] Perceiving no internal form
one sees external forms as blue,
blue in color,
seen as blue,
shimmering blue.

Blue Flax

In the same way as the flax-flower is blue
blue in color,
seen as blue,
shimmering blue.

blue-benares-muslin

Further, in the same way as Benares muslin
smoothed on both sides is blue
blue in color,
seen as blue,
shimmering blue.

Even so, perceiving no internal form
one sees external forms as blue,
blue in color,
seen as blue,
shimmering blue.

Mastering such,
he thus perceives:

'I know, I see'

This is the fifth sphere of mastery.

[6] Perceiving no internal form
one sees external forms as yellow,
yellow in color,
seen as yellow,
shimmering yellow.

yellow pterospermum_acerifolium

In the same way as pterospermum acerifolium is yellow
yellow in color,
seen as yellow,
shimmering yellow.

yellow-benares-muslin

Further, in the same way as Benares muslin
smoothed on both sides is yellow
yellow in color,
seen as yellow,
shimmering yellow.

Even so, perceiving no internal form
one sees external forms as yellow,
yellow in color,
seen as yellow,
shimmering yellow.

Mastering such,
he thus perceives:

'I know, I see'

This is the sixth sphere of mastery.

[7] Perceiving no internal form
one sees external forms as blood-red,
blood-red in color,
seen as blood-red,
shimmering blood-red.

blood-red pentapetes_phoenicea

In the same way as pentapetes_phoenicea is blood-red
blood-red in color,
seen as blood-red,
shimmering blood-red.

blood-red-benares-muslin

Further, in the same way as Benares muslin
smoothed on both sides is blood-red
blood-red in color,
seen as blood-red,
shimmering blood-red.

Even so, perceiving no internal form
one sees external forms as blood-red,
blood-red in color,
seen as blood-red,
shimmering blood-red.

Mastering such,
he thus perceives:

'I know, I see'

This is the seventh sphere of mastery.

[8] Perceiving no internal form
one sees external forms as white,
white in color,
seen as white,
shimmering white.

In the same way as the medicine-star is white
white in color,
seen as white,
shimmering white.

white-benares-muslin

Further, in the same way as Benares muslin
smoothed on both sides is white
white in color,
seen as white,
shimmering white.

Even so, perceiving no internal form
one sees external forms as white,
white in color,
seen as white,
shimmering white.

Mastering such,
he thus perceives:

'I know, I see'

This is the eighth sphere of mastery.

Of these eight spheres of mastery beggars,
this is the topmost,
that is to say:
perceiving no internal form
seeing external forms as white,
white in color,
seen as white,
shimmering white.

Mastering such,
he thus perceives:

'I know, I see'

There are, beggars, beings with just such perception as this.

Yet even for beings with just such perception as this, beggars,
there is alteration,
there is reversal.

Seeing this, beggars,
the well-taught student of the Aristocrats
finds satisfaction.

With satisfaction,
loss of interest in the topmost
let alone for the lower.

 

§

 

[7] There are, beggars, four Walking-the-Walk's.

What four?

[1] Painful walking-the-walk with sluggish understanding,
[2] painful walking-the-walk with swift understanding,
[3] pleasant walking-the-walk with sluggish understanding,
[4] pleasant walking-the-walk with swift understanding.

These then, beggars, are those four walking-the-walks.

Of these four walking-the-walks beggars,
this is the topmost,
that is to say:
pleasant walking-the-walk with swift understanding.

There are, beggars, beings with just such walking-the-walk as this.

Yet even for beings with just such walking-the-walk as this, beggars,
there is alteration,
there is reversal.

Seeing this, beggars,
the well-taught student of the Aristocrats
finds satisfaction.

With satisfaction,
loss of interest in the topmost
let alone for the lower.

 

§

 

[8] There are, beggars, these four perceptions.

What four?

[1] One identifies the discrete,
[2] one identifies the wide-spread,
[3] one identifies the immeasurable,
[4] thinking: 'There is nothing whatever', one identifies The Realm of No Things There.

These, beggars, are these four perceptions.

Of these four perceptions beggars,
this is the topmost,
that is to say:
thinking: 'There is nothing whatever',
one identifies The Realm of No Things There.

There are, beggars, beings with just such perception as this.

Yet even for beings with just such perception as this, beggars,
there is alteration,
there is reversal.

Seeing this, beggars,
the well-taught student of the Aristocrats
finds satisfaction.

With satisfaction,
loss of interest in the topmost
let alone for the lower.

 

§

 

[9] This, beggars is the topmost view
of views attained by outsiders,
that is to say:

'If there were
no I
There would be no
My
Not becomming
Me
There will be
no becomming
My'

With such a view, beggars
it is to be expected that the thought:
'Becoming is not repellant'
will not become for him
that the thought:
'The end of becoming is repellant'
will not become for him.[9]

There are, beggars, beings with just such views as this.

Yet even for beings with just such views as this, beggars,
there is alteration,
there is reversal.

Seeing this, beggars,
the well-taught student of the Aristocrats
finds satisfaction.

With satisfaction,
loss of interest in the topmost
let alone for the lower.

 

§

 

[10] There are, beggars, some shamen and brahmins
who hold purification as the highest good.

Of those who hold purification[10] as the highest good, beggars,
the topmost is he who
passing entirely past the Realm of Nothing's Had There
rises up into and abides in
The Realm of Neither-perception-nor-non-perception.

Having seen such for themselves
with higher intuition,
they teach this as Dhamma.

There are, beggars, beings with just such experience as this.

Yet even for beings with just such experience as this, beggars,
there is alteration,
there is reversal.

Seeing this, beggars,
the well-taught student of the Aristocrats
finds satisfaction.

With satisfaction,
loss of interest in the topmost
let alone for the lower.

 

§

 

[11] There are, beggars, some shamen and brahmins
who hold the greatest good to be
Nibbāna in this seen thing.

These assert full realization of the highest good
in Nibbāna in this seen thing.

The topmost full realization of the highest good
in Nibbāna in this seen thing, beggars,
is seeing as it really is the
self-arising,
settling down,
satisfaction in,
wretchedness of,
and finding release without grasping from
the six realms of contact.

I, beggars, am one who so holds,
who so declares.

Yet some ingenuous,
vain,
misguided,
unreasonable
shamen and brahmin
having become intractable, say:

'The Samaṇo Gotamo
does not teach
the full comprehention of sensual desire,
the full comprehention of form,
the full comprehention of sense experience.'

But, beggars, it is just
the full comprehention of sensual desire,
the full comprehention of form,
the full comprehention of sense experience
that I, beggars,
in this seen thing
being stilled,
quenched,
become cool,
fully comprehending thorough-Nibbāna without grasping,
do teach.

 


[1] Does this confine the 'Thousand-fold World' to the solar system, implying an overlap or parallel worlds of which we perceive only ours? Perception of the Thousand-fold World is described as like holding a sparkling gem in the palm of one's hand. Multiple-thousand-fold Worlds are described as like holding several such gems. So conceivably the idea was of multiple solar systems each of which was itself a thousand-fold parallel world. This is certainly something that must be seen with the clairvoiant eye and should not be made to fit into, but rather fit around our modern scientific "knowledge."

[2] Rose-apple-peninsula, Aparagoyānānaɱ, Uttara-Kurūnaɱ, and Pubba-videhānaɱ are the four great land masses of this world. Bhikkhu Thanissaro translates: Rose-apple (continent - India), Deathless Ox-cart (continent), northern Kuru (continent), eastern Videha (continent). These are difficult to fit into our map of the world, but as a guess I would make these out to be: Indo-Eur-Asia; Africa; North America and South America (not necessarily in that order).

[3] From here to Brahma Worlds, Bhk. Thanissaro has translated these names as follows: (heavens of the) Four Great Kings, (heavens of the) Thirty-three, (heavens of the) Hours, (heavens of the) Contented, heavens of the Devas Delighting in Creation, heavens of the Devas Wielding Power over the Creations of Others, and Brahmā worlds.
Woodward: Mighty Rulers, Four-Great-Rulers; Heavens of the Thirty-three, Yama-worlds, Heavens of the Devas of Delight, Heavens of the Devas who delight in creation, those Devas who delight in others' creations, Brahma-worlds.

[4] Kasiṇ'āyatanāni. Woodward: "ranges of the devices"; Bhk. Thanissaro: "totality-dimensions" (this is supported by PED, but as to the meaning remains a mystery); Bhk. Bodhi: kasiṇa bases. What we have in the examples, is ten devices with five ranges each, where the practitioner is to master all five, so that lumping all the ranges together it is speaking of the "ranges of ten devices". What this is not is "ten ranges of the devices."

[5] Viññāṇa-kasiṇam. Woodward: intellection-device; Bhk. Thanisaro: consciousness-totality; Bhk. Bodhi: consciousness kasiṇa. Here, working back from the context 'consciousness' does not serve well as a device. What this likely is, in detail, is the knowledge and insight and wisdom that arises from Dhamma Vicaya, Dhamma Research. But if Dhamma research is not the device, then the next most-likely candidate is some sort of perception of the Realm of Consciousness, or the characteristic (aka 'element'): 'consciousness'.

[6] Abhibh'āyatana: abhibhū + āyatana; Abhibhū: from abhi + bhū, cp. abhibhavati.

[7] 'Jānāmi passāmī' ti. I take this to be an exclamation "I get it!" made after the insight that one has risen above the transient, painful and not-self nature of the perceived.

[8] The Pali here reads 'arūpasaññī'; Woodward translates 'unconscious of material quality'. Bhk. Bodhi: 'not percipient of forms'. Bhk. Thanissaro has: 'percipient of the formless'. The PTS Pali footnotes "4. T.M6 rūpa°" which doesn't help. This one is a little difficult to figure out from simple logic without having had the actual experience and I think the best course would be to follow the Pali. But which Pali? I have opted to follow Hardy's choice.

[9] This view is conducive to attainment of Nibbāna, but the person holding it is not yet Arahant and is still subject to reversals.

[10] Purification is not the highest good in this system. Here we hold that the best course is for attainment of the unshakable heart's release. See: MN 29, MN 30.


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