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Saŋyutta Nikaya
Nidāna Vagga

12. Nidānasaŋyutta
Sutta 65

Nagaram

The Lost Citadel

Translated from the Pali by Michael Olds

 


 

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

Once upon a time Bhagava, Savatthi-town come-a revisit'n.

There he says to the Beggars gathered round:

"A world of woe!" he says, "Woe is the World!

To me, Beggars, while still a youth with coal black hair,
not yet The SammāSaɱBuddhassaman,
still a bodhisattva,
came the thought:

This is a world of woe!

Summed up,
coming down to aging, sickness and death,
grief and lamentation,
pain and misery
and despair!"

"Here in this world
we have getting born and dying,
reaching lofty states
and being laid low,
but where can we find the escape
from all this Du K-kha?"

"To me, Beggars," he says,
"came the thought:

What is there
right here in front of our eyes
that leads to[2] Aging and Death?"

"Tracking the etiology of this,[3] Beggars,
I could see:

'Where we have birth,
there also we have aging sickness and death,
grief and lamentation,
pain and misery
and despair.'

Birth exists here in front of our eyes
and we can see for ourselves
that Birth is necessary
for the existence of all this pain.

Without "Birth"
we would have no Aging, Sickness and Death,
Grief and Lamentation,
Pain and Misery
and Despair."

"But what can we do to escape Birth?"

"Then this thought occurred to me:

'What is there
right here in front of our eyes
that leads to Birth?

"Tracking the etiology of this, Beggars,
I could see:

'Where we have "Being"[4],
there also we have Birth.'

"Being" exists here in front of our eyes
and we can see for ourselves
that "Being" is necessary
for the existence of Birth.

Without "Being"
we would have no birth of any sort
by any sort of individuality
whether in Hell
or as a Ghost
or as a Deamon
or as Man
or as a God
or in some wholly mental state."

"But what can we do to escape "Being"?"

"Then this thought occurred to me:

'What is there right here in front of our eyes
that leads to "Being"?

"Tracking the etiology of this, Beggars,
I could see:

'Where we have "Upkeep"[5],
there also we have "Being".'

Upkeep exists here in front of our eyes
and we can see for ourselves
that upkeep is necessary for the existence of being.

Without the continual upkeep
of pleasure-seeking,
effort to be,
or effort to escape painful circumstances,
we would have no "Being"
whether as a being in Hell
or as a Ghost
or as a Deamon
or as Man
or as a God
or as a wholly mental being."

"But what can we do to escape upkeep?"

"Then this thought occurred to me:

'What is there right here in front of our eyes
that leads to Upkeep?

"Tracking the etiology of this, Beggars,
I could see:

'Where we have "Hunger and Thirst,"
both literal and figurative,
there also we have "Upkeep".'

"Hunger and Thirst" exists here in front of our eyes
and we can see for ourselves
that Hunger and Thirst is necessary
for the existence of Upkeep.

Without Hunger and Thirst for pleasures,
without the Hunger and Thirst for being,
without the Hunger and Thirst for Escape from painful circumstances,
we would have no Upkeep of pleasure-seeking,
effort to be
or effort to escape painful circumstances."

"But what can we do to escape "Hunger and Thirst"?"

"Then this thought occurred to me:

'What is there right here in front of our eyes
that leads to Hunger and Thirst?

"Tracking the etiology of this, Beggars,
I could see:

'Where we have the experience of sensations
of pleasure or pain or neither pleasure nor pain,
there also we have Hunger and Thirst.'

The experience of sensations
of pleasure or pain or neither pleasure nor pain
is a thing that exists here in front of our eyes
and we can see for ourselves
that these sensations
are the reason for the existence of Hunger and Thirst.

Without the experience
of sensations of pleasure or pain or neither pleasure nor pain
we would have no Hunger and Thirst for pleasures,
Hunger and Thirst for being,
Hunger and Thirst for escape
from painful circumstances."

"But what can we do to escape the experience of sensations
of pleasure or pain or neither pleasure nor pain?"

"Then this thought occurred to me:

'What is there right here in front of our eyes
that leads to the experience of sensations
of pleasure or pain or neither pleasure nor pain?

"Tracking the etiology of this, Beggars,
I could see:

'Where we have contact[6]
in the form of the coming together
of consciousness,
sense organ
and sense object,
there also we have the experience of sensations
of pleasure or pain or neither pleasure nor pain.'

Contact in the form of the coming together
of consciousness,
sense organ
and sense object
exists here in front of our eyes
and we can see for ourselves
that contact in the form of the coming together
of consciousness,
sense organ
and sense object
is necessary for the existence of the experience of sensations
of pleasure or pain or neither pleasure nor pain.

Without contact in the form of the coming together
of consciousness,
sense organ
and sense object
we would have no experience of sensations
of pleasure or pain or neither pleasure nor pain."

"But what can we do to escape contact in the form of
the coming together of consciousness,
sense organ
and sense object?"

"Then this thought occurred to me:

'What is there right here in front of our eyes
that leads to contact in the form of
the coming together of consciousness,
sense organ
and sense object?

"Tracking the etiology of this, Beggars,
I could see:

'Where we have envelopment in experience
through the six senses,[7]
there also we have contact in the form of
the coming together of consciousness,
sense organ
and sense object.'

Envelopment in Experience
through the six senses
exists here in front of our eyes
and we can see for ourselves
that envelopment in experience
through the six senses
is necessary for the existence of contact in the form of
the coming together of consciousness,
sense organ
and sense object.

Without envelopment in experience
through the six senses
we would have no contact in the form of
the coming together of consciousness,
sense organ
and sense object."

"But what can we do to escape envelopment in experience
through the six senses?"

"Then this thought occurred to me:

'What is there right here in front of our eyes
that leads to envelopment in experience
through the six senses?

"Tracking the etiology of this, Beggars,
I could see:

'Where we have the interoperation[7a] of names and forms,
there also we have envelopment in experience
through the six senses.'

The interoperation of names and forms
exists here in front of our eyes
and we can see for ourselves
that the interoperation of names and forms is necessary
for the existence of envelopment in experience
through the six senses.

Without the interoperation of names and forms
we would have no envelopment in experience
through the six senses."

"But what can we do to escape
the interoperation of names and forms?"

"Then this thought occurred to me:

'What is there right here in front of our eyes
that leads to the interoperation of names and forms?

"Tracking the etiology of this, Beggars,
I could see:

'Where we have individualized consciousness, [8]
there also we have the interoperation of names and forms.'

individualized consciousness exists here in front of our eyes
and we can see for ourselves
that individualized consciousness is necessary
for the existence of the interoperation of names and forms.

Without individualized consciousness,
we would have no interoperation of names and forms."

"But what can we do to escape individualized consciousness?"

"Then this thought occurred to me:

'What is there right here in front of our eyes
that leads to individualized consciousness?

"Tracking the etiology of this, Beggars,
I could see:

'Where we have interoperation of names and forms,
there also we have individualized consciousness.'

Interoperation of names and forms exists here in front of our eyes
and we can see for ourselves
that interoperation of names and forms is necessary
for the existence of individualized consciousness.

Without interoperation of names and forms
we would have no individualized consciousness."

This individualized consciousness,
is delimited by the interoperation of names and forms.

To have consciousness as an individual
it is necessary to have the interoperation of names and forms
and it is not necessary to have anything more
than the interoperation of names and forms
to have consciousness as an individual.

It is only to this point
that there is that which is understood to be "a being,"
"a being born"
aging, sickness and death,
grief and lamentation,
pain and misery,
and despair.

What I saw, Beggars,
was that to have consciousness as an individual
it is necessary to have the interoperation of names and forms;

To have interoperation of names and forms
it is necesssary to have consciousness as an individual;

To have envelopment in experience through the six senses
it is necessary to have interoperation of names and forms;

To have contact between consciousness,
sense organ and sense object
it is necessary to have envelopment in experience
through the six senses;

To have sensations
of pleasure and pain and of neither pleasure nor pain
it is necessary to have contact
between consciousness, sense organ and sense object;

To have hunger and thirst
for pleasures, being, and escape from unpleasant circumstances
it is necessary to have sensations
of pleasure and pain and of neither pleasure nor pain;

To have upkeep
in the form of pleasure-seeking,
effort to be
and effort to escape unpleasant circumstances
it is necessary to have hunger and thirst
for pleasures,
being,
and escape from unpleasant circumstances;

To have being
in any realm of being
as any sort of being
it is necessary to have upkeep
in the form of pleasure-seeking,
effort to be
and effort to escape unpleasant circumstances;

To have birth
in any realm of being
as any sort of being
it is necessary to have the possibility of "being"
in some realm of being
as some sort of being;

To have aging, sickness and death,
grief and lamentation,
pain and misery,
and despair
it is necessary to have birth
in some realm of being
as some sort of being.

This is what gives rise to this whole mess of Dukkha.

"What I saw, Beggars was what had not been known before:
the idea that
"this thing is self-generated!"[9]

This Dukkha is a thing
that is self-generated!

And at that I saw the light,
I got the point,
I had discovered the key
and gained the wisdom:
'things are self-generated!'

 

§

 

At that point, Beggars, came the thought:

'What would it take to eliminate
Aging, sickness and death,
grief and lamentation,
pain and misery
and despair?'

"Tracking the etiology of this, Beggars,
I could see:
'Where we do not have birth
in any realm of being
as any sort of being,
there also we do not have
Aging, sickness and death,
grief and lamentation,
pain and misery
and despair.'

It would take the elimination of Birth
in any realm of being
as any sort of being
to eliminate Aging, Sickness and Death,
Grief and Lamentation,
Pain and Misery
and Despair.

Without birth in any realm of being
as any sort of being
there would be nothing to give rise to Aging, sickness and death,
grief and lamentation,
pain and misery
and despair."

At that point, Beggars, came the thought:

'What would it take to eliminate birth
in any realm of being
as any sort of being?'

"Tracking the etiology of this, Beggars,
I could see:

'Where we do not have being
in any realm of being
as any sort of being,
there also we do not have birth
in any realm of being
as any sort of being.'

It would take the elimination of being
in any realm of being
as any sort of being
to eliminate birth
in any realm of being
as any sort of being."

At that point, Beggars, came the thought:

'What would it take to eliminate being
in any realm of being
as any sort of being?'

"Tracking the etiology of this, Beggars,
I could see:

'Where we do not have upkeep
of pleasure-seeking,
effort to be
and effort to escape from unpleasant circumstances,
there also we do not have being
in any realm of being
as any sort of being.'

It would take the elimination of upkeep
of pleasure-seeking,
effort to be
and effort to escape from unpleasant circumstances
to eliminate being
in any realm of being
as any sort of being."

At that point, Beggars, came the thought:

'What would it take to eliminate upkeep
of pleasure-seeking,
effort to be
and effort to escape from unpleasant circumstances?'

"Tracking the etiology of this, Beggars,
I could see:

'Where we do not have
hunger and thirst for pleasures,
hunger and thirst for being,
and hunger and thirst for escape from unpleasant circumstances,
there also we do not have upkeep
of pleasure-seeking,
effort to be
and effort to escape from unpleasant circumstances.'

It would take the elimination
of hunger and thirst for pleasures,
hunger and thirst for being,
and hunger and thirst for escape from unpleasant circumstances
to eliminate upkeep of pleasure-seeking,
effort to be
and effort to escape from unpleasant circumstances."

At that point, Beggars, came the thought:

'What would it take to eliminate
hunger and thirst for pleasures,
hunger and thirst for being,
and hunger and thirst for escape from unpleasant circumstances?'

"Tracking the etiology of this, Beggars,
I could see:

'Where we do not have sensations
of pleasure and pain and of neither pleasure nor pain,
there also we do not have hunger and thirst for pleasures,
hunger and thirst for being,
and hunger and thirst for escape from unpleasant circumstances.'

It would take the elimination of sensations
of pleasure and pain and of neither pleasure nor pain
to eliminate hunger and thirst for pleasures,
hunger and thirst for being,
and hunger and thirst for escape from unpleasant circumstances."

At that point, Beggars, came the thought:

'What would it take to eliminate sensations
of pleasure and pain and of neither pleasure nor pain?'

"Tracking the etiology of this, Beggars,
I could see:

'Where we do not have contact
in the form of the coming together
of consciousness,
sense organ
and sense object,
there also we do not have sensations
of pleasure and pain and of neither pleasure nor pain.'

It would take the elimination of contact
in the form of the coming together
of consciousness,
sense organ
and sense object
to eliminate sensations
of pleasure and pain and of neither pleasure nor pain."

At that point, Beggars, came the thought:

'What would it take to eliminate contact
in the form of the coming together
of consciousness,
sense organ
and sense object?'

"Tracking the etiology of this, Beggars,
I could see:

'Where we do not have envelopment
in experience through the six senses,
there also we do not have contact
in the form of the coming together
of consciousness,
sense organ
and sense object.'

It would take the elimination of envelopment
in experience through the six senses
to eliminate contact
in the form of the coming together
of consciousness,
sense organ
and sense object."

At that point, Beggars, came the thought:

'What would it take to eliminate envelopment
in experience through the six senses?'

"Tracking the etiology of this, Beggars,
I could see:

'Where we do not have individualized consciousness,
there also we do not have envelopment
in experience through the six senses.'

It would take the elimination of individualized consciousness
to eliminate envelopment
in experience through the six senses."

At that point, Beggars, came the thought:

'What would it take to eliminate envelopment
in experience through the six senses?'

"Tracking the etiology of this, Beggars,
I could see:

'Where we do not have interoperation of names and forms,
there also we do not have envelopment
in experience through the six senses.'

It would take the elimination
of interoperation of names and forms
to eliminate envelopment
in experience through the six senses."

At that point, Beggars, came the thought:

'What would it take to eliminate
interoperation of names and forms?'

"Tracking the etiology of this, Beggars,
I could see:

'Where we do not have individualized consciousness,
there also we do not have interoperation of names and forms.'

It would take the elimination of individualized consciousness
to eliminate interoperation of names and forms."

What I saw, Beggars, was that
the interoperation of names and forms is eliminated
when individualized consciousness is eliminated;

Individualized consciousness is eliminated
when the interoperation of names and forms is eliminated;

Envelopment in experience through the six senses is eliminated
when the interoperation of names and forms is eliminated;

Contact in the form of the coming together
of consciousness,
sense organ
and sense object is eliminated
when envelopment in experience through the six senses is eliminated;

Sensations of pleasure and pain and of neither pleasure nor pain are eliminated
when contact is eliminated;

Hunger and thirst for pleasures,
hunger and thirst for being,
and hunger and thirst for escape from unpleasant circumstances is eliminated
when sensations of pleasure and pain and of neither pleasure nor pain are eliminated;

The Upkeep of pleasure-seeking,
effort to be
and effort to escape from unpleasant circumstances is eliminated
when hunger and thirst for pleasures,
hunger and thirst for being,
and hunger and thirst for escape from unpleasant circumstances is eliminated;

Being in any realm of being
as any sort of being is eliminated
when upkeep is eliminated;

Birth in any realm of being
as any sort of being is eliminated
when being in any realm of being
as any sort of being is eliminated.

Aging, sickness and death,
grief and lamentation,
pain and misery
and despair are eliminated
when birth in any realm of being
as any sort of being is eliminated.

This is how this whole Dukkha mess is eliminated!

"What I saw, Beggars
was what had not been known before:

The idea that "it can be eliminated!"

This Dukkha is a thing that can be eliminated.

And at that I saw the light,
I got the point,
I had discovered the key
and gained the wisdom:
'these things can be eliminated!'

In the same way as if a man who was crossing through the jungle
were to come across an ancient path,
one walked by the Old Timers,
and taking that path,
traveling along that path a while,
he were to come across an ancient citadel,
the fortified inner city
of some Ancient King,
complete with pleasure gardens,
orchards,
ponds,
and ancient ruins...
a really splendid old place.

Then, taking this discovery to the King,
and describing its wonders
and swearing to being an eye-witness to it's existence,
he begs of the king
that he restore this citadel
to it's former glory.

And that the king does,
and thereafter that citadel becomes populous
and comes to growth and prosperity
as in Ancient Times Gone By.

In the same way, Beggars,
I have seen an Ancient Path
traversed by Old-Time Men of Knowledge
in Days Gone By.

And what is that path?

It is this very Aristocratic Eight-Dimensional High Way, that is:

High Views,
High Principles,
High Talk,
High Works,
High Lifestyle,
High Self Control,
High Memory,
and High Serenity.

Traveling that Path, Beggars,
I came to know aging and death,
I came to know what gives rise to aging and death,
I came to know what eliminates aging and death,
I came to know the way to the ending of aging and death.

Traveling that Path, Beggars,
I came to know birth,
I came to know what gives rise to birth,
I came to know what eliminates birth,
I came to know the way to the ending of birth.

Traveling that Path, Beggars,
I came to know being,
I came to know what gives rise to being,
I came to know what eliminates being,
I came to know the way to the ending of being.

Traveling that Path, Beggars,
I came to know upkeep,
I came to know what gives rise to upkeep,
I came to know what eliminates upkeep,
I came to know the way to the ending of upkeep.

Traveling that Path, Beggars,
I came to know hunger and thirst,
I came to know what gives rise to hunger and thirst,
I came to know what eliminates hunger and thirst,
I came to know the way to the ending of hunger and thirst.

Traveling that Path, Beggars,
I came to know sensations,
I came to know what gives rise to sensations,
I came to know what eliminates sensations,
I came to know the way to the ending of sensations.

Traveling that Path, Beggars,
I came to know contact,
I came to know what gives rise to contact,
I came to know what eliminates contact,
I came to know the way to the ending of contact.

Traveling that Path, Beggars,
I came to know envelopment in the six senses,
I came to know what gives rise to envelopment in the six senses,
I came to know what eliminates envelopment in the six senses,
I came to know the way to the ending of envelopment in the six senses.

Traveling that Path, Beggars,
I came to know the interoperation of names and forms,
I came to know what gives rise to the interoperation of names and forms,
I came to know what eliminates the interoperation of names and forms,
I came to know the way to the ending of the interoperation of names and forms.

Traveling that Path, Beggars,
I came to know individualized consciousness,
I came to know what gives rise to individualized consciousness,
I came to know what eliminates individualized consciousness,
I came to know the way to the ending of individualized consciousness.

Traveling that Path, Beggars,
I came to know the own-making of the world,
I came to know what gives rise to the own-making of the world,
I came to know what eliminates the own-making of the world,
I came to know the way to the ending of the own-making of the world.

What I came to know, Beggars,
I taught to the Beggars,
to the Sisters,
to the laymen and laywomen,
that is to say,
this living of a god-like life
has been made known by me,
and has become great and prosperous
and has spread far and wide.

 


[1]In this re-telling I have tried to balance a good reading of the Pali with a clear presentation of the way I see this in actual meditation practice where the overall idea is that it is unacceptable just to throw up one's hands and say 'It can't be done!'. What needs to be expressed, and is not getting across in the various translations, is that what is being described in the Paticca Samuppada is a "process" — the process of things coming to be, and that because this is a process of things coming to be there is inherant in that the possibility of escaping that process in so far as it requires our cooperation to go on. (In other words, the world experienced by the individual is not something that once set rolling, either by past kamma, or by fate, or by 'the way the world works,' cannot be altered.) This is what the Buddha is describing himself as discovering in this sutta.
What I would really like to be doing with the opening of this is to be throwing in there a half dozen ways of describing how what we are to be looking for is something in the visible present-time here and now, real world that is within our power to change in order to escape the end result of this process in Aging and Death. We don't want to be thinking theory here at all, we want to be looking at what is, and what is actually present and how that is actually operating. So naturally my choice of words has again taken some turns which I will footnote as they come up.
This effort was stimulated by a mistranslation by Mrs. Rhys Davids where she speaks of the Buddha thinking: "What now being" where the Pali reads "what being", (Bodhi: 'When what exists') taking her clue from the commentary which is trying to explain the missing "Avijja > Sankara" by explaining that "This version" is dealing only with this present life. (Did they forget that they usually explain that from "upadana" to aging and death is the future life?)

[2] Samudaya: I am tempted to use "that has x as it's comeuppance." Sam = Own, Self, With; udaya = rising. Own-grown; Self-rising; Self-originating;

[3] Yoniso Manasikārā: Womb-so (such); Mind-so; Seek-make. Tracing things mentally to their point of origin (womb); Getting to the Bottom of the Mater; Getting to the root of the matter; Getting to the Heart of the Matter. But always in this system the idea is to find where things begin, the first mental impulse that starts a chain of events. Thinking things through to the end would be the counterpart to yoniso manasikara.

[4] Bhava Bhodi = "existence"; the meaning is living in a world. The Pali resists a static word for this and is really "becoming" or "behaving" or even more basically "bad-going".

[5] Upadana The usual translation is "grasping", Bhodi uses clinging. Bhikkhu Thanissaro goes to the meaning as "fuel". Bhante Punnaji goes to the end result in his "personalization." What we need to do here is to see that the previous event (in this sequence the next step, 'tanha' hunger/thirst, desire) dies out if it is not acted on, for the full rolling-out of the process described in the Paticca Samuppada, there must be some point where some action on the part of the individual keeps the ball rolling. With the usual "Avijja > Sankhara" missing from this version, the only place left is here. Then, in your sit down practice, actually look at what is going on: Sitting, things get still. Sitting still, things begin to die off. Resisting that dying off what does one do? In Bhikkhu Thanissaro's terms we fuel the fire (but Bhikkhu Thanissaro's use is of a static condition, of "upadana" as existing fuel, not of "fueling"). We invent something "further," to do. Reacting to desire (I want...) we conjure images of getting...we 'intend', or, reacting to, say, some discomfort in one's seat one acts to change the posture. and so forth. This I call "up-keep" Up Pas Dana "Given" (=kept, done). Previously I have used "going after getting," which will still do, but the idea of "upkeep" carries more of the idea that this is a thing that is keeping a process that has already been set going, rolling on. The converse is the perception you will get in sit down meditation that without upkeep, the whole thing (that is, at least, your personal end of it) will die off.

[6] Phassa: note here that part of the idea of contact is the presence of viññāṇā. And remember also that viññāṇā is inseparable from saññā and vedana, (sensation, perception and consciousness is just a description of three aspects of a unity)

[7] Saḷāyatana: 6-sphere; where six is understood to mean the six senses and their objects, so "the sphere of the six senses, or the scope of the six senses, or the more commonly heard "Realm of the Senses," where here I am turning sphere into "envelopment".

[7a] Using the term 'interoperation' here is taking a slight liberty as it does not exist as such in the Pali. I justify this by the fact that it is what it is that is going on in this case and the 'interoperation' part can be inferred from the fact that the terms 'nama' and 'rupa' are made into a compound: 'nameform'.

[8] Viññāṇā: Where above, as an aspect of contact, I used only "consciousness" for viññāṇā, here I feel the need to break out the meaning as I believe it really is, as is indicated in the word itself: VI = Re- or Double (dvi..sion). In the same way as the co- or con- is lost to our ears in consciousness or cognition, the "vi" is being lost to us in translation. consciousness is the awareness of knowing as an individual and is consequently consciousness of consciousness (because contact is the coming together of sense organ, sense object and consciousness and is really what we should be calling "sense-consciousness," and this in turn is processed by "mind-consciousness" using the previous as "mind-sense-object," we could even say that what we experience as consciousness, is Re-knowing-knowing...vi-na-na...or if you are from New York, vi-nya-.nya. This breakdown is being missed all round as far as I can see and yet it is essential for a comprehension of how it is possible for the arahant to break apart the experience of individualized experience created by the interoperation of nama/rupa.

bootstrap what?

[9] Samudaya again, here with emphasis on the "Saŋ". "Self-rising," if it wern't so easily understood in exactly the opposite of the Buddhist idea. There must be abetter word for this word, but I have not yet found it. The idea is "raised by it's bootstraps"; not created by some external power or god, with co-factors, to be sure, but arising in dependance on them, not caused by or created by them, something that should not be too difficult for those of us with computers to understand. An idiot invented a little pattern with four letters that could look at itself and create a program that could be used to create programs that could be used to experience Aging and Death, grief and lamentation, pain and misery and despair.

 


 

References:

Samyutta Nikaya, II: #65: Nagaram, pp 104

PTS: The Book of the Kindred Sayings, II #65: The City, Mrs. Rhys Davids, trans, pp72

WP: The Connected Discourses of the Buddha, I, II The Book of Causation #65: The City, Bhikkhu Bodhi, trans, pp600

ATI: Samyutta Nikaya XII.65 Nagara Sutta The City Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

 


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