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Saṃyutta Nikāya:
IV. Saḷāyatana Vagga
35: Saḷāyatana Saɱyutta
Paññāsaṃ Tatiyaṃ
2. Lokakāmaguṇa Vagga

Sutta 117

The Cords of Worldly Sense Pleasures

by Michael Olds

 


 

Introduction

This is not a translation. This is a patchwork of adaptations from the translations of Woodward and Bhk. Bodhi plus my own translation of certain terms and phrases all rolled into an intuitive understanding of the sutta. This is being done because I strongly feel the original Pali was edited incorrectly in a way which has spoiled the meaning. You can think of this as just a convenient way for me to explain the meaning of the sutta as I understand it.

 


 

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

Once upon a time, The Lucky Man, possibly while staying in Nātika at the Brick Hall.[ed1]

There he addressed the beggars gathered round:

"Bhikkhus!"

And "Bhaghava!" the beggars responded.

Then The Lucky Man said:

"Before I was awakened, beggars,
with the higher awakening,
when I was still a bodhisatva,
this thought occurred to me:

Those five cords of worldly sense pleasures
that previously have overlaid the heart
have passed,
are over with,
or are changed,
but still my mind could be disturbed
by those that are passing away,
or by those that are anticipated,
or by those which are present.

Therefore, as to those five cords of worldly sense pleasures
I should, for my own good,
be careful
and remember to guard my heart.

As to that, beggars,
those five cords of worldly sense pleasures
that previously overlaid your hearts —
they have passed,
are over with
or are changed,
but still your minds could be disturbed
by those that are passing away,
or by those that are anticipated,
or by those which are present.

That is what is to be experienced of the world, beggars.

Wherefore, beggars,
as to those five cords of worldy sense pleasures
you should, for your own good,
be careful
and remember to guard your hearts."

So saying the Lucky Man rose from his seat and entered the residence.

 


 

Now not long after the Lucky Man had gone,
it occurred to those beggars:

"The Bhagava, rose from his seat and entered his residence
having given us this teaching in brief,
without elaborating its meaning in detail:

'Those five cords of worldly sense pleasures
that previously overlaid your hearts —
they have passed,
are over with
or are changed,
but still your minds could be disturbed
by those that are passing away,
or by those that are anticipated,
or by those which are present.

That is what is to be experienced of the world, beggars.

Wherefore, beggars,
as to those five cords of worldy sense pleasures
you should, for your own good,
be careful
and remember to guard your hearts.'

Who now could elaborate to us in detail
the meaning of this teaching
given to us in brief by the Bhagava,
without elaborating its meaning in detail?"

Then it occurred to those beggars:

"There is this venerable Ānanda.

One who is praised by the Master
and honoured by those living the brahma life who understand.

The venerable Ānanda is capable of elaborating in detail
the meaning of this teaching
given to us in brief by the Bhagava,
without elaborating its meaning in detail.

Let us go visit the venerable Ānanda,
and face-to-face with Ānanda
question him as to the meaning of this thing."

 


 

So those beggars went to visit the venerable Ānanda,
came into his presence
and greeted him courteously,
and after the exchange of mutual courtesies,
sat down at one side.

So seated those beggars said to the venerable Ānanda:

"Friend Ānanda, The Bhagava, rose from his seat and entered his residence
having given us this teaching in brief,
without elaborating its meaning in detail:

'Those five cords of worldly sense pleasures
that previously overlaid your hearts —
they have passed,
are over with
or are changed,
but still your minds could be disturbed
by those that are passing away,
or by those that are anticipated,
or by those which are present.

That is what is to be experienced of the world, beggars.

Wherefore, beggars,
as to those five cords of worldy sense pleasures
you should, for your own good,
be careful
and remember to guard your hearts.'

Now, not long after the Bhagava had gone,
it occurred thus to us:

'The Bhagava, rose from his seat and entered his residence
having given us this teaching in brief,
without elaborating its meaning in detail:

"Those five cords of worldly sense pleasures
that previously overlaid your hearts —
they have passed,
are over with
or are changed,
but still your minds could be disturbed
by those that are passing away,
or by those that are anticipated,
or by those which are present.

That is what is to be experienced of the world, beggars.

Wherefore, beggars,
as to those five cords of worldy sense pleasures
you should, for your own good,
be careful
and remember to guard your hearts."

Who now could elaborate to us in detail
the meaning of this teaching
given to us in brief by the Bhagava
without elaborating its meaning in detail?'

Then it occurred to us:

'There is this venerable Ānanda.

One who is praised by the Master
and honoured by those living the brahma life who understand.

The venerable Ānanda is capable of elaborating in detail
the meaning of this teaching
given to us in brief by the Bhagava
without elaborating its meaning in detail.

Let us go visit the venerable Ānanda,
and face-to-face with Ānanda
question him as to the meaning of this thing.'

Let the venerable Ānanda elaborate in detail
the meaningof this teaching
given to us in brief by the Bhagava
without elaborating its meaning in detail."

 


 

Then the venerable Ānanda said: -

"Friends, imagine a man in need of sound timber,
in quest of sound timber,
going about searching for sound timber,
and he comes upon a tree,
sturdy,
with thoroughly sound timber:
and,
leaving the root,
leaving the trunk,
he were to think that sound timber
was to be found in the leaves and branches.

This is just what has happened to you venerable ones.

Though you had the Master face-to-face
you passed over the Bhagava,
and think that I am the one
to be questioned on this matter.

Friends, that bhagava is one who,
knowing, knows:
who, seeing, sees:
become the eye,
become knowledge,
become Dhamma,
become Brahma,
he is the teacher and elaborator,
dispenser of good,
giver of deathlessness,
Lord of the Dhamma,
Tathāgata.

Surely that was the time
for you to ask the Bhagava this question.

What the Bhagava said to you,
that you should bare in mind."

"It is true, friend Ānanda,
that bhagava is one who,
knowing, knows:
who, seeing, sees:
become the eye,
become knowledge,
become Dhamma,
become Brahma,
he is the teacher and elaborator,
dispenser of good,
giver of deathlessness,
Lord of the Dhamma,
Tathāgata.

Surely that was the time
for us to have asked the Bhagava this question.

What the Bhagava said to us,
that we should have born in mind."

Still we thought:

'Here is this venerable Ānanda,
One who is praised by the Master
and honoured by those living the brahma life who understand.

The venerable Ānanda is capable of elaborating in detail
the meaning of this teaching
given to us in brief by the Bhagava
without elaborating its meaning in detail.'

Let the venerable Ānanda elaborate in detail
the meaning of this teaching
given to us in brief by the Bhagava
without elaborating its meaning in detail,
and save us the trouble."

"Then listen carefully.

Apply your minds.

I will speak."

"Very good, friend," replied those beggars to the venerable Ānanda, who said: -

"As to that teaching spoken in brief by the Bhagava
without elaborating its meaning in detail:

'Those five cords of worldly sense pleasures
that previously overlaid your hearts —
they have passed,
are over with
or are changed,
but still your minds could be disturbed
by those that are passing away,
or by those that are anticipated,
or by those which are present.

That is what is to be experienced of the world, beggars.

Wherefore, beggars,
as to those five cords of worldy sense pleasures
you should, for your own good,
be careful
and remember to guard your hearts.'

I understand the meaning in detail, friends, this way:

That is, that it was spoken, friends,
by the Bhagava concerning
the sixfold realm of the senses,
and could be said this way:

'Those five cords of worldly sense pleasures
that previously overlaid your hearts —
they have passed,
are over with
or are changed,
but still your minds could be disturbed
by those that are passing away,
or by those that are anticipated,
or by those which are present.

That is what is to be experienced of the world, beggars.

Wherein eye and perception of objects fade away, -
that is what is to be experienced of the world
wherein ear and perception of sounds fade away, -
that is what is to be experienced of the world
wherein nose and perception of scents fade away, -
that is what is to be experienced of the world
wherein tongue and perception of savours fade away, -
that is what is to be experienced of the world
wherein body and perception of touch fade away -
that is what is to be experienced of the world
wherein mind and things fade away -
that is what is to be experienced of the world

Wherefore, friends,
as to those five cords of worldy sense pleasures
you should, for your own good,
be careful
and remember to guard your hearts.'

This, friends is what I understand to be the meaning
of that teaching spoken in brief by the Bhagava
but not elaborated in detail.

But if you wish, friends,
the venerable ones should approach the Bhagava
and question him about the matter, and,
according as the Bhagava explains it,
so should you remember it."

"Very good, friend," replied those beggars to the venerable Ānanda.

 


 

Then rising up from their seats
they went to the Lucky Man,
saluted him
and sat down at one side.

So seated they addressed the Exalted one:

"As to that teaching spoken in brief by the Bhagava
but not elaborated in detail:

'Those five cords of worldly sense pleasures
that previously overlaid your hearts —
they have passed,
are over with
or are changed,
but still your minds could be disturbed
by those that are passing away,
or by those that are anticipated,
or by those which are present.

That is what is to be experienced of the world, beggars.

Wherefore, beggars,
as to those five cords of worldy sense pleasures
you should, for your own good,
be careful
and remember to guard your hearts,'

not long after the Lucky Man had risen from his seat and entered his residence,
it occurred thus to us:

'The Bhagava, rose from his seat and entered his residence
having given us this teaching in brief,
without elaborating its meaning in detail:

"Those five cords of worldly sense pleasures
that previously overlaid your hearts —
they have passed,
are over with
or are changed,
but still your minds could be disturbed
by those that are passing away,
or by those that are anticipated,
or by those which are present.

That is what is to be experienced of the world, beggars.

Wherefore, beggars,
as to those five cords of worldy sense pleasures
you should, for your own good,
be careful
and remember to guard your hearts."

Who now could elaborate to us in detail
the meaning of this teaching
given to us in brief by the Bhagava?'

Then it occurred to us:

'There is this venerable Ānanda.

One who is praised by the Master
and honoured by those living the brahma life who understand.

The venerable Ānanda is capable of elaborating in detail
the meaning of this teaching
given to us in brief by the Bhagava.

Let us go visit the venerable Ānanda,
and face-to-face with Ānanda
question him as to the meaning of this thing.'

So we went to visit the venerable Ānanda,
came into his presence
and greeted him courteously,
and after the exchange of mutual courtesies,
sat down at one side.

So seated we said to the venerable Ānanda:

'Friend Ānanda, The Bhagava, rose from his seat and entered his residence
having given us this teaching in brief,
without elaborating its meaning in detail:

"Those five cords of worldly sense pleasures
that previously overlaid your hearts —
they have passed,
are over with
or are changed,
but still your minds could be disturbed
by those that are passing away,
or by those that are anticipated,
or by those which are present.

That is what is to be experienced of the world, beggars.

Wherefore, beggars,
as to those five cords of worldy sense pleasures
you should, for your own good,
be careful
and remember to guard your hearts."

Now, not long after the Bhagava had gone,
it occurred thus to us:

"The Bhagava, rose from his seat and entered his residence
having given us this teaching in brief,
without elaborating its meaning in detail:

'Those five cords of worldly sense pleasures
that previously overlaid your hearts —
they have passed,
are over with
or are changed,
but still your minds could be disturbed
by those that are passing away,
or by those that are anticipated,
or by those which are present.

That is what is to be experienced of the world, beggars.

Wherefore, beggars,
as to those five cords of worldy sense pleasures
you should, for your own good,
be careful
and remember to guard your hearts.'

Who now could elaborate to us in detail
the meaning of this teaching
given to us in brief by the Bhagava
without elaborating its meaning in detail?"

Then it occurred to us:

"There is this venerable Ānanda.

One who is praised by the Master
and honoured by those living the brahma life who understand.

The venerable Ānanda is capable of elaborating in detail
the meaning of this teaching
given to us in brief by the Bhagava
without elaborating its meaning in detail.

Let us go visit the venerable Ānanda,
and face-to-face with Ānanda
question him as to the meaning of this thing."

Let the venerable Ānanda elaborate in detail
the meaningof this teaching
given to us in brief by the Bhagava
without elaborating its meaning in detail.'

Then the venerable Ānanda said: -

'Friends, imagine a man in need of sound timber,
in quest of sound timber,
going about searching for sound timber,
and he comes upon a tree,
sturdy,
with thoroughly sound timber:
and,
leaving the root,
leaving the trunk,
he were to think that sound timber
was to be found in the leaves and branches.

This is just what has happened to you venerable ones.

Though you had the Master face-to-face
you passed over the Bhagava,
and think that I am the one
to be questioned on this matter.

Friends, that bhagava is one who,
knowing, knows:
who, seeing, sees:
become the eye,
become knowledge,
become Dhamma,
become Brahma,
he is the teacher and elaborator,
dispenser of good,
giver of deathlessness,
Lord of the Dhamma,
Tathāgata.

Surely that was the time
for you to ask the Bhagava this question.

What the Bhagava said to you,
that you should bare in mind.'

'It is true, friend Ānanda,
that bhagava is one who,
knowing, knows:
who, seeing, sees:
become the eye,
become knowledge,
become Dhamma,
become Brahma,
he is the teacher and elaborator,
dispenser of good,
giver of deathlessness,
Lord of the Dhamma,
Tathāgata.

Surely that was the time
for us to have asked the Bhagava this question.

What the Bhagava said to us,
that we should have born in mind.'

Still we thought:

"Here is this venerable Ānanda,
One who is praised by the Master
and honoured by those living the brahma life who understand.

The venerable Ānanda is capable of elaborating in detail
the meaning of this teaching
given to us in brief by the Bhagava
without elaborating its meaning in detail."

Let the venerable Ānanda elaborate in detail
the meaning of this teaching
given to us in brief by the Bhagava
without elaborating its meaning in detail,
and save us the trouble.'

'Then listen carefully.

Apply your minds.

I will speak.'

'Very good, friend,' we replied to the venerable Ānanda, who said: -

'As to that teaching spoken in brief by the Bhagava
without elaborating its meaning in detail:

"Those five cords of worldly sense pleasures
that previously overlaid your hearts —
they have passed,
are over with
or are changed,
but still your minds could be disturbed
by those that are passing away,
or by those that are anticipated,
or by those which are present.

That is what is to be experienced of the world, beggars.

Wherefore, beggars,
as to those five cords of worldy sense pleasures
you should, for your own good,
be careful
and remember to guard your hearts",

I understand the meaning in detail, friends, this way:

That is, that it was spoken, friends,
by the Bhagava concerning
the sixfold realm of the senses,
and could be said this way:

"Those five cords of worldly sense pleasures
that previously have left their impression on your hearts —
they have passed,
are over with
or are changed,
but still your minds could be disturbed
by those that are passing away,
or by those that are anticipated,
or by those which are present.

That is what is to be experienced of the world, beggars.

Wherein eye and perception of objects fade away, -
that is what is to be experienced of the world
wherein ear and perception of sounds fade away, -
that is what is to be experienced of the world
wherein nose and perception of scents fade away, -
that is what is to be experienced of the world
wherein tongue and perception of savours fade away, -
that is what is to be experienced of the world
wherein body and perception of touch fade away -
that is what is to be experienced of the world
wherein mind and things fade away -
that is what is to be experienced of the world

Wherefore, friends,
as to those five cords of worldy sense pleasures
you should, for your own good,
be careful
and remember to guard your hearts."

This, friends is what I understand to be the meaning
of that teaching spoken in brief by the Bhagava
but not elaborated in detail.

But if you wish, friends,
the venerable ones should approach the Bhagava
and question him about the matter, and,
according as the Bhagava explains it,
so should you remember it.'

'Very good, friend,' we replied to the venerable Ānanda
and then rising up we came to the Bhagava."

And the Lucky Man replied: -

"A sage, beggars, is Ānanda.

Of great wisdom, beggars, is Ānanda.

If you were to put this question to me,
I should explain it even as Ānanda explained it to you.

This is the meaning of that teaching,
and so should you bear it in mind."

 


[ed1]This Nidana taken from the first previous sutta with a complete Nidana [SN SALV 35.113]. Text for this sutta has no Nidana.

 


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