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Saŋyutta Nikāya,
V: MahāVagga
51. Iddhipāda Saŋyutta
II. Pāsādakampana-vaggo dutiyo

Sutta 11

Before

Translated from the Pali by Michael Olds

 


 

[1][pts] I HEAR TELL:

Once upon a time Bhagava, Sāvatthī-town revisiting,
Anathapindika's Jeta-forest park.

[2][pts] There to the Beggars gathered round he said:

"Beggars!"

And "Bhante!" they responded.

And the Lucky Man said:

[3][pts] "Before my awakening, beggars,
not fully-self-awakened,
just an awakening-being[1],
this thought came to me:

'What, then, drives the development of,
what are the results of developing,
the power-paths?'

Regarding this, beggars, such is what came to me:

[4][pts] 'In this case a beggar develops the power-path
that is wish-serenity-connected-exertion-own-making thus:[2]

"Let my wishing not be too sluggish,
not be too unrestrained,
not be inwardly cramped,
not be scattered abroad."

Live after-before-perceiving:

As before so after
as as after so before.

As above, so below,
as below, so above.

As by day, so by night,
as by night, so by day.

Thus with clear thinking,
disentangled thinking,
the heart becomes radiant.

[5][pts] He develops the power-path
that is energy-serenity-connected-exertion-own-making thus:

"Let my energy not be too sluggish,
not be too unrestrained,
not be inwardly cramped,
not be scattered abroad."

Live after-before-perceiving:

As before so after
as as after so before.

As above, so below,
as below, so above.

As by day, so by night,
as by night, so by day.

Thus with clear thinking,
disentangled thinking,
the heart becomes radiant.

[6][pts] He develops the power-path
that is heart-serenity-connected-exertion-own-making thus:

"Let my heart not be too sluggish,
not be too unrestrained,
not be inwardly cramped,
not be scattered abroad."

Live after-before-perceiving:

As before so after
as as after so before.

As above, so below,
as below, so above.

As by day, so by night,
as by night, so by day.

Thus with clear thinking,
disentangled thinking,
the heart becomes radiant.

[7][pts] He develops the power-path
that is investigation-serenity-connected-exertion-own-making thus:

"Let my investigation not be too sluggish,
not be too unrestrained,
not be inwardly cramped,
not be scattered abroad."

Live after-before-perceiving:

As before so after
as as after so before.

As above, so below,
as below, so above.

As by day, so by night,
as by night, so by day.

Thus with clear thinking,
disentangled thinking,
the heart becomes radiant.

 


 

[8][pts] Thus developed, then beggars,
a beggar thus making a big thing of the four power-paths,
the result will not be just one of the various sorts of power.

Being one he also becomes many,
being many he also becomes one.

Manifest here, transported beyond notice,
transported through walls,
transported through fortifications unsticking,
he goes whithersoever as if in space.

He jumps into and out of the earth
as though in water;
goes on water without parting it
as though on solid ground.

He goes through space cross-legged like a bird on the wing.

He touches and feels with the hand the Moon and Sun,
as great and powerful as they are.

He turns up in the body
even in the Brahma world.

[9][pts] Thus developed, then beggars,
a beggar thus making a big thing of the four power-paths,
with purified godlike hearing,
beyond that of ordinary men,
hears both sounds:
godly and man-made,
far or near.

[10][pts] Thus developed, then beggars,
a beggar thus making a big thing of the four power-paths —
of other beings,
of other men,
heart encompassing heart,
he knows:

Of a lustful heart, he knows:
"This is a lustful heart."

Of a lust-free heart, he knows:
"This is a lust-free heart."

Of a hateful heart, he knows:
"This is a hateful heart."

Of a hate-free heart, he knows:
"This is a hate-free heart."

Of a clogged up heart, he knows:
"This is a clogged up heart."

Of an unclogged heart, he knows:
"This is an unclogged heart."

Of an deranged heart, he knows:
"This is a deranged heart."

Of a balanced heart, he knows:
"This is a balanced heart"

Of a constricted heart, he knows:
"This is a constricted heart."

Of an unconstricted heart, he knows:
"This is an unconstricted heart."

Of a state of heart that is less than superior, he knows:
"This is a state of heart that is less than superior."

Of a state of heart that is superior, he knows:
"This state of heart is nothing less than superior."

Of useless heart, he knows:
"This is a useless heart."

Of a beneficial heart, he knows:
"This is a beneficial heart."

Of a heart that is not free, he knows:
"This is a heart that is not free."

Of a heart that is freed, he knows:
"This is a heart that is freed."

[11][pts] Thus developed, then beggars,
a beggar thus making a big thing of the four power-paths,
recollects not just one arrangement of previous inhabitations.[3]

For example:

Just one birth,
just two births,
just three births,
just four births,
just five births,
just ten births,
just twenty births,
just thirty births,
just fourty births,
just fifty births,
one hundred births in all,
a thousand births in all,
a hundred-thousand births in all,
not just one evolution of a kappa,
not just one devolution of a kappa,
not just one evolution and devolution of a kappa.

That there:

Of such a name
of such a clan
of such color
of such food
of such experience of pleasure and pain,
of such the coming to life's end.

Shifting away from that,
re-appearing elsewhere.

In that habitation:

Of such a name
of such a clan
of such color
of such food
of such experience of pleasure and pain,
of such the coming to life's end.

Shifting away from that reborn here.

Thus with it's makeup in detail,
he recollects not just one arrangement of previous inhabitations.

[12][pts] Thus developed, then beggars,
a beggar thus making a big thing of the four power-paths,
he sees beings with purified godlike sight
surpassing that of mankind.

He knows of beings
their shifting away, re-appearance,
being left behind, advancing,
their beauty, their uglyness,
their experiencing of pleasure, experiencing of pain,
according to their intentional deeds:

"For sure these good beings were
committed to injurious bodily conduct,
committed to injurious verbal conduct,
committed to injurious mental conduct,
denegrated Aristocrats,
held low views,
were committed to behavior in accordance with low views,
for upon the break up of the body after death
they have arisen in states of woe,
pain,
punishment,
Niraya Hell.

For sure these good beings were
committed to beneficial bodily conduct,
committed to beneficial verbal conduct,
committed to beneficial mental conduct,
spoke well of Aristocrats,
were of high view,
were committed to behavior in accordance with high view,
for upon the break up of the body after death
they have arisen in worlds of heavonly pleasures."

Thus he sees beings with purified godlike sight
surpassing that of mankind.

And he knows of beings
their shifting away, re-appearance,
being left behind, advancing,
their beauty, their uglyness,
their experiencing of pleasure, experiencing of pain,
according to their intentional deeds.

[13][pts] Thus developed, then beggars,
a beggar thus making a big thing of the four power-paths,
through his own higher knowledge experiences
the destruction of the corrupting influences,
and without corrupting influences,
in this seen thing,
enters into and lives
in freedom of heart,
freedom of wisdom.

 


[1] Bodhisatta. Awakening-being. Before it became commonly understood in the Theravada tradition to be a person intent on becoming a Buddha, or in the Mahayana tradition, one who has taken the 'Bodhisatta Vow,' to give up attaining Arahantship until all beings can be saved. So here: you are intent on Awakening, you are a bodhisatta.

[2] I have changed the construction of this. In the original it reads:
3. "Idha bhikkhave chanda-samādhi-padhāna-saŋkhāra-samannāgataṃ iddhipādaṃ bhāveti.
Iti me chando na ca atilīno bhavissati ...

In this case [Here] a beggar develops the power-path
that is wish-serenity-connected-exertion-own-making.
"Thus my wishing will be not too sluggish ...

This does not make sense. Woodward has added ('with the intent') in brackets: "... with the co-factors of concentration and struggle, (with this intent): Thus shall not my thought be ..."

Bhk. Bodhi has added "...thinking:"

For me this points to one of the main functions of The Seven Dimensions of Self-Awakening, and is a tool for balancing energy in the development of the power path not a result of developing the power-path. This fits in with the way I read the intent of the sutta: that is, to describe how to develop the paths and the results to be expected. If we jump right into the results at the start of the sutta, we get no instructions as to how to develop the paths, only results. And see below § 8 that indicates that the above was instruction as to development.

[3] Aneka-vihitaṃ. Not-one-arrangement. This term, used also above at §8 here is generally ignored by translators as is the 'pi' in the list that follows: i.e., the 'just'. The result is a translation that suggests that what is happening here is the recollection of one or two or three births and so forth. Re-inserting the idea of 'arrangement' and 'just' we arrive at an understanding that is significantly different: the recollection of the arrangement of one's previous births as in an arrangement with only one birth, or as in an arrangement with only two births, or in multiple births, or, as at the end of the list, not in births as such but as in the evolution and devolution of the entire duration of the world or multiple such evolutions and devolutions. Different arrangements, as might be suggested by translating 'nivasa' not as 'lives' but 'vestments'. Clothing. My 'inhabitations'.
This would account for the missing 'jati' or 'birth' in the last three arrangments in the list. This would suggest that what was being referred to was the way in which Brahma is said to experience life, as an opening and shutting of his eyes, each opening being an evolution of the world and each closing it's devolution.
This understanding would clear up a couple of problems I have heard of with regard to the recollection of lives: The first is the experience of some who are able to recollect previous lives that the lives they are recollecting are always the same life with variations. The second is the problem encountered as one more and more clearly sees that there is no thing there that is the self ... and that is that there never was. What then can be called a 'previous life'? Related to this is the perception that follows that there is no way to distinguish the recollection of 'one's own' life from that of any 'other' — in other words, within the boundry set out by stream-winning, one can not say one has not been all. And Brhama, in fact, so we hear, does experience them all as 'himself'. "I am everything and everything is me." All such perceptions are actually recorded in the suttas. It is never said that these beliefs were not based on real experiences, on the contrary in the concluding section of DN 1, we have:

"All of these shaman and Brahman who speculate about the past and the future or both do so based on what they have experienced and are but the struggles of the downbound, blinded by desire, to explain what they do not understand."

I think this justifies this fairly radically different translation.


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