Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
III. Upari Paṇṇāsa
5. Saḷāyatana Vagga

Sutta 152

Indriya-Bhāvanā Suttaɱ

Becoming Indra

or
The Powers of the Aristocrats

Freely translated by Michael Olds

 


 

Introduction:

Indriiyani is a word and idea that is older than Buddhism. "The Indrianis" are sometimes translated "Sense Organs". (PED remarks that this is erroneous. It is both correct and erroneous.) In the straight-forward sense to say the Indrianas indicate the sense organs is correct, but what we have here is an idea that must be seen from an older higher perspective. Here you have "fresh man" observing the world as though for the first time, through the eyes (senses) of his god: Indra. So while modern man hears "seeing" as an indifferent, ordinary phenomena; what Indriani represents is the view that "seeing" is a god-like power. Where God sees The All through his mighty eye, Man sees "his world" like God sees The All...that is the pre-Buddhist sense of Indriani and why there was an early tendancy to translate the term as "sense organ."

Then, as with this sutta, the Buddha puts a twist on the idea (which was, if this sutta is good evidence, lost to those using it at the time anyway). The Buddha takes the concept and raises it, as a power, even above what Indra might have enjoyed.

 


 

[1][chlm][pts][than][ntbb][upal] I HEAR TELL:

Once upon a time Bhagava, Dark-Jungle Town, Mukhelu Grove residing. There, Uttara, a brahman youth who was the student of Pārāsariya and who (putting one and one together) was most likely the person who became known later as Thera Parapara, having approached the Lucky Man, having greeted him respectfully and exchanged polite talk, took a low seat to one side and waited in eager anticipation of the afternoon's discourse.

Then the Lucky man said this to Uttara the brahman youth: "Tell me, Uttara, does Pārāsariya teach Becoming Indra?"

"Yes, Good Gotama, Pārāsariya does teach Becoming Indra."

"How, exactly, Uttara, does Pārāsariya teach Becoming Indra?"

"Here, Good Gotama, Pārāsariya teaches 'See no material form with the eye, hear no sound with the ear.'

"In this case, Uttara, a blind man will have become Indra, a deaf man will have become Indra, for a blind man sees no material form with the eye, a deaf man hears no sound with the ear."

At this Uttara fell silent, shaken, bowled over, downcast, overwhelmed, at-a-loss, speechless.

Bhagava, seeing the shaken, bowled over, downcast, overwhelmed, at-a-loss, speechless state of Uttara, addressed the Venerable Ānanda: "The way Pārāsariya teaches Becoming Indra is one thing, Ānanda, the way Becoming Indra is taught in the Discipline of the Aristocrats is something altogether unsurpassed."

"Now is the Time, Bhagava! Now is the Time, Well-gone! When the Becoming Indra in the unsurpassed way it is taught in the Discipline of the Aristocrats is presented it will be remembered by the Bhikkhus!

"Very well, Ānanda. Pay attention! Give ear! I will speak!"

"So be it, Bhagava!"

"What is The Unsurpssed Becoming Indra in the Discipline of the Aristocrats?

Here, Ānanda, when a Beggar sees a material form with the eye, from this there arises the liked, the disliked, the liked-and-disliked.[1]

He understands the situation this way: 'Present in me now is that which is liked, disliked, liked-and-disliked. This is occuring as a consequence of confouning, it is a biproduct, the rebound of an earlier conjuration...but this, this is calm, this is high, that is, objective detachment.' That way the birth of the liked, the birth of the disliked, the birth of the liked-and-disliked is aborted and objective detachment stands fast.

In the same way, Ānanda, as a man with eyes in his head that can see, could open his eyes, or having opened his eyes could close them, such is the rapidity, such is the speed, such is the small amount of trouble involved in aborting the birth of the liked, the birth of the disliked, the birth of the liked-and-disliked and standing fast in objective detachment.[2]

This is The Way, Ānanda, in the Discipline of the Aristocrats, The Unsurpassed Becoming Indra is taught with regard to eye-consciousness and visible objects.

Again, Ānanda, when a Beggar hears a sound with the ear, from this there arises the liked, the disliked, the liked-and-disliked.

He understands the situation this way: 'Present in me now is that which is liked, disliked, liked-and-disliked. This is occuring as a consequence of confouning, it is a biproduct, the rebound of an earlier conjuration...but this, this is calm, this is high, that is, objective detachment.' That way the birth of the liked, the birth of the disliked, the birth of the liked-and-disliked is aborted and objective detachment stands fast.

In the same way, Ānanda, as a strong man can easily [SNAP FINGERS] snap his fingers, such is the rapidity, such is the speed, such is the small amount of trouble involved in aborting the birth of the liked, the birth of the disliked, the birth of the liked-and-disliked and standing fast in objective detachment.

This is The Way, Ānanda, in the Discipline of the Aristocrats, The Unsurpassed Becoming Indra is taught with regard to ear-consciousness and sounds.

Again, Ānanda, when a Beggar smells a smell with the nose, from this there arises the liked, the disliked, the liked-and-disliked.

He understands the situation this way: 'Present in me now is that which is liked, disliked, liked-and-disliked. This is occuring as a consequence of confouning, it is a biproduct, the rebound of an earlier conjuration...but this, this is calm, this is high, that is, objective detachment.' That way the birth of the liked, the birth of the disliked, the birth of the liked-and-disliked is aborted and objective detachment stands fast.

In the same way, Ānanda, as drops of rain roll-off a downturned lotus leaf without sticking, such is the rapidity, such is the speed, such is the small amount of trouble involved in aborting the birth of the liked, the birth of the disliked, the birth of the liked-and-disliked and standing fast in objective detachment.

This is The Way, Ānanda, in the Discipline of the Aristocrats, The Unsurpassed Becoming Indra is taught with regard to nose-consciousness and scents.

Again, Ānanda, when a Beggar tastes a taste with the tongue, from this there arises the liked, the disliked, the liked-and-disliked.

He understands the situation this way: 'Present in me now is that which is liked, disliked, liked-and-disliked. This is occuring as a consequence of confouning, it is a biproduct, the rebound of an earlier conjuration...but this, this is calm, this is high, that is, objective detachment.' That way the birth of the liked, the birth of the disliked, the birth of the liked-and-disliked is aborted and objective detachment stands fast.

In the same way, Ānanda, as a gob of spit formed on the end of the tongue of a strong man is easily expelled, such is the rapidity, such is the speed, such is the small amount of trouble involved in aborting the birth of the liked, the birth of the disliked, the birth of the liked-and-disliked and standing fast in objective detachment.

This is The Way, Ānanda, in the Discipline of the Aristocrats, The Unsurpassed Becoming Indra is taught with regard to tongue-consciousness and tastes.

Again, Ānanda, when a Beggar feels a touch with the body, from this there arises the liked, the disliked, the liked-and-disliked.

He understands the situation this way: 'Present in me now is that which is liked, disliked, liked-and-disliked. This is occuring as a consequence of confouning, it is a biproduct, the rebound of an earlier conjuration...but this, this is calm, this is high, that is, objective detachment.' That way the birth of the liked, the birth of the disliked, the birth of the liked-and-disliked is aborted and objective detachment stands fast.

In the same way, Ānanda, as a strong man can stretch out his arm, if folded, or, if stretched out can bend it back, such is the rapidity, such is the speed, such is the small amount of trouble involved in aborting the birth of the liked, the birth of the disliked, the birth of the liked-and-disliked and standing fast in objective detachment.

This is The Way, Ānanda, in the Discipline of the Aristocrats, The Unsurpassed Becoming Indra is taught with regard to body-consciousness and touches.

Again, Ānanda, when a Beggar becomes conscious of a mental object with the mind, from this there arises the liked, the disliked, the liked-and-disliked.

He understands the situation this way: 'Present in me now is that which is liked, disliked, liked-and-disliked. This is occuring as a consequence of confouning, it is a biproduct, the rebound of an earlier conjuration...but this, this is calm, this is high, that is, objective detachment.' That way the birth of the liked, the birth of the disliked, the birth of the liked-and-disliked is aborted and objective detachment stands fast.

In the same way, Ānanda, as if during the day an iron cauldron had been heated red-hot and into it one or two drops of watter were to fall . . . long is the time between drops; and then [SNAP FINGERS] they're gone like a shot, such is the rapidity, such is the speed, such is the small amount of trouble involved in aborting the birth of the liked, the birth of the disliked, the birth of the liked-and-disliked and standing fast in objective detachment.

This is The Way, Ānanda, in the Discipline of the Aristocrats, The Unsurpassed Becoming Indra is taught with regard to mind-consciousness and mental objects.

This is The Way, Ānanda, in the Discipline of the Aristocrats, The Unsurpassed Becoming Indra is taught.

But how, Ānanda, is a beginner to practice, having come This Way?

Here, Ānanda, when a Beggar sees a material form with the eye, from this there arises the liked, the disliked, the liked-and-disliked.

So when the liked, the disliked, the liked-and-disliked has arisen he becomes aware of the danger, exercises humility and avoidance.[3]

When a Beggar hears a sound with the ear, smells a scent with the nose, tastes a taste with the tongue, feels a touch with the body or becomes conscious of a mental object with the mind, from this there arises the liked, the disliked, the liked-and-disliked.[4]

So when the liked, the disliked, the liked-and-disliked has arisen he becomes aware of the danger, exercises humility and avoidance.

This is The Way, Ānanda, a beginner is taught to practice The Unsurpassed Becoming Indra in the Discipline of the Aristocrats.

And how, Ānanda, is it with an Aristocrat who has Become Indra?

Here, Ānanda, when a Beggar sees a material form with the eye, from this there arises the liked, the disliked, the liked-and-disliked.

Sucha one as suchas sucha may wishum wishes suchas such:

"Let me live not perceiving what goes against the grain in what goes against the grain." And suchis such as suchas is for such a such'n such as suchis such.

Or he may wish: "Let me live perceiving what goes against the grain in what does not go against the grain."

Or he may wish: "Let me live not perceiving what goes against the grain in both what goes against the grain and what does not go against the grain."

Or he may wish: "Let me live perceiving what goes against the grain in both what goes against the grain and what does not go against the grain."

Or he may wish: "Let me live avoiding both what goes against the grain and what does not go against the grain, satisfied, clearly conscious, detached."

And suchis such as suchas is for such a such'n such as suchis such.

Here, Ānanda, when a Beggar hears a sound with the ear, smells a scent with the nose, tastes a taste with the tongue, feels a touch with the body, becomes conscious of a mental object with the mind, from this there arises the liked, the disliked, the liked-and-disliked.

If he should wish:

"Let me live not perceiving what goes against the grain in what goes against the grain," then he lives not perceiving what goes against the grain in what goes against the grain.

Or he may wish: "Let me live perceiving what goes against the grain in what does not go against the grain," then he lives perceiving what goes against the grain in what does not go against the grain.

Or he may wish: "Let me live not perceiving what goes against the grain in both what goes against the grain and what does not go against the grain," then he lives not perceiving what goes agains the grain in both what goes against the grain and what does not go against the grain.

Or he may wish: "Let me live perceiving what goes against the grain in both what goes against the grain and what does not go against the grain," then he lives perceiving what goes against the grain in both what goes against the grain and what does not go against the grain.

Or he may wish: "Let me live avoiding both what goes against the grain and what does not go against the grain, satisfied, clearly conscious, detached," then he lives avoiding both what goes against the grain and what does not go against the grain, satisfied, clearly conscious, detached.

This is The Way it is, Ānanda, for an Aristocrat who has Become Indra.

Thus, Ānanda, is theWay The Unsurpssed Becoming Indra is taught in the Discipline of the Aristocrats.

This is the way the beginner is taught to practice the Unsurpassed Becoming Indra in the Discipline of the Aristocrats.

This is the way how it is for an Aristocrat who has Become Indra is described.

That, Ānanda, which ought to be done by a teacher for his students, out of compassion for them, has been done by me. Here are the roots of trees. Here are places of solitude. Practice the Burnings, Ānanda, do not be careless, do not allow cause for later regret! This is our instruction to you!

This is what Bhagava said, and those Beggars gathered round were thrilled by what they heard.


[1] manaapa.m amanaapa.m manaapaamanaapa.m as contrasted with the more frequent sukha.m -n dukkha.m-n asukha.m-m-adukkha.m. Manaapa: PED: pleasing, pleasant, charming. I would make it Mind-up. But PED says often in combination with piya (loved), so I think "liked" which is how Horner and others usually translate it. N/B have: "agreeable". The third alternative is forumulated in the opposite way to asukha.m-m-adukkha.m (neither-pleasant-nor-unpleasant) liked-notliked.

Since we know that what results from the contact of eye and visible object is pleasant or unpleasant or neither-pleasant-nor-unpleasant sense experience, then I think we are to understand that "manapa" "amanapa" and "manaapaamanaapa" are the categories of subjective reaction to sense experience. This is supported by the similes which indicate that the situation being discussed is not one of being free altogether from the experience, but the getting rid of any reaction to it as soon as it appears.

So it goes like this: the eye comes into contact with a visible object, pleasant sensation arises; pleasant sensation is a thing that is liked; becoming aware of the presence of pleasant sensation, he is aware that it is something that is liked, he remembers the danger in sucha phenomena and because he is aware of the danger it is not possible for liking to develop; unliked, the original sense experiences passes away in accordance with it's dependance on the conditions which brought it into being.

[2]Note the similies are sense-sensative.

[3]Horner: "...he is troubled about it, ashamed of it, loathes it."

N/B: "...he is ashamed, humiliated and disgusted..."

N/B footnote: "Although the sekha has already entered upon the way to final deliverance, he is still prone to subtle states of liking, aversion, and dull indifference in regard to sense objects. He experiences these, however, as impediments to his progress, and thus becomes ashamed, humiliated, and disgusted by them."

This reflects the difference in interpretation between B/N and Horner and myself. The former consider that the arising of the Liked, etc. is already the state I am describing as Liking. As above, I am saying that contact of eye and visible object gives rise to sensation whether in the seeker or the arahant. The sensation is the Liked, the reaction to the sensation is Liking.

So in the case of the learner, what he is being instructed to do is to see the danger in the presence of that which is liked in it's potential for causing in him Liking.

The wording in the Pali for the initial situation is the same for these two cases and the case to follow.

[4]The Pali gives no indication that this section is an abbreviated version of an original in which each case was spelled out.

 


 

PTS: Psalms of the Early Buddhists II: Psalms of the Brethren, (Mrs) Rhys Davids, trans, pp295
PTS: Dictionary of Pali Proper Names II, G.P. Malalasekera, pp198
For a discussion of this sutta visit:
Powers of the Aristocrats


 

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