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Saŋyutta Nikāya,
V: MahāVagga
51. Iddhipāda Saŋyutta

Sutta 13

Wishing

Translated from the Pali by Michael Olds

 


 

[1][pts] I HEAR TELL:

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

2. If for the purpose of a wish, beggars,
a beggar, obtain serenity,
obtain agreement with heart,[1]
this is called 'wish-sereinity'.

Generating desire[2],
exerting his heart,
seeking out the energy and self-control
to prevent the arising
of bad, unskillful things
not yet arisen;

generating desire,
exerting his heart,
seeking out the energy and self-control
to let go of
bad, unskillful things
that have arisen;

generating desire,
exerting his heart,
seeking out the energy and self-control
to give rise to
skillful things
not yet arisen;

generating desire,
exerting his heart,
seeking out the energy and self-control
for the non-confusion,
increased standing,
and completely fulfilled development of
skillful things
that have arisen —
this is called: 'exertion-own-making'

Thus this wish
and this wish-serenity
and this exertion-own-making
are called, beggars,
'wish-serenity-connected-exertion-own-making',

3. If for the purpose of energy,[3] beggars,
a beggar, obtain serenity,
obtain agreement with heart —
this is called 'energy-sereinity'.

Generating desire,
exerting his heart,
seeking out the energy and self-control
to prevent the arising
of bad, unskillful things
not yet arisen;

generating desire,
exerting his heart,
seeking out the energy and self-control
to let go of
bad, unskillful things
that have arisen;

generating desire,
exerting his heart,
seeking out the energy and self-control
to give rise to
skillful things
not yet arisen;

generating desire,
exerting his heart,
seeking out the energy and self-control
for the non-confusion,
increased standing,
and completely fulfilled development of
skillful things
that have arisen —
this is called: 'exertion-own-making'

Thus this wish
and this wish-serenity
and this exertion-own-making
are called, beggars,
'energy-serenity-connected-exertion-own-making',

4. If for the purpose of heart,[4] beggars,
a beggar, obtain serenity,
obtain agreement with heart —
this is called 'heart-sereinity'.

Generating desire,
exerting his heart,
seeking out the energy and self-control
to prevent the arising
of bad, unskillful things
not yet arisen;

generating desire,
exerting his heart,
seeking out the energy and self-control
to let go of
bad, unskillful things
that have arisen;

generating desire,
exerting his heart,
seeking out the energy and self-control
to give rise to
skillful things
not yet arisen;

generating desire,
exerting his heart,
seeking out the energy and self-control
for the non-confusion,
increased standing,
and completely fulfilled development of
skillful things
that have arisen —
this is called: 'exertion-own-making'

Thus this wish
and this wish-serenity
and this exertion-own-making
are called, beggars,
'heart-serenity-connected-exertion-own-making',

5. If for the purpose of investigation,[5] beggars,
a beggar, obtain serenity,
obtain agreement with heart —
this is called 'investigation-sereinity'.

Generating desire,
exerting his heart,
seeking out the energy and self-control
to prevent the arising
of bad, unskillful things
not yet arisen;

generating desire,
exerting his heart,
seeking out the energy and self-control
to let go of
bad, unskillful things
that have arisen;

generating desire,
exerting his heart,
seeking out the energy and self-control
to give rise to
skillful things
not yet arisen;

generating desire,
exerting his heart,
seeking out the energy and self-control
for the non-confusion,
increased standing,
and completely fulfilled development of
skillful things
that have arisen —
this is called: 'exertion-own-making'

Thus this wish
and this wish-serenity
and this exertion-own-making
are called, beggars,
'investigation-serenity-connected-exertion-own-making',

 


[1] Cittassa ekaggataṃ. With the heart in agreement. Woodward translates: 'one-pointedness of mind'; Bhk. Bodhi translates in the same way. I say this is a dog chasing it's tail. The term samadhi was originally translated 'concentration' because of this term and then the idea that samādhi was concentration is used to understand the meaning of this term.
The issue here is: is the intent of this sutta and the rest in this series the attaining of samādhi — 'if through the use of this he gains samādhi' — or is the purpose to show the paths to magic power: "if for this purpose he obtains and puts to use samādhi ..."
For this translation it is being held that serenity is a tool serving various needs when accomplishing a work of power.
You want to accomplish something. What you want needs to be formulated clearly (chando), it needs the full force of your energy (viriya), it needs agreement of your heart (citta), and the details for accomplishing your end need to be worked out (vīmaṃsā).
Samādhi is a state where energy is released, let go, in this case to accomplish an end.
Samādhi is a state of tranquillity of heart where the true will of the heart can be seen.
Samādhi is a state of detachment where the whole picture can be seen and so the details of accomplishing a goal can be pieced together.
Again, it is necessary to let go of the wish. Samādhi is the letting go, getting the heart into agreement with the intent of the wish is necessary for letting go as when the heart is not in agreement, not only is there no will to accomplish the deed, but the disagreement in heart is itself a hanging on, and, additionally, indicates that some detail or another is not correctly lined up yet.
And all along the appropriate effort needs to be made as described in the statements that come next.
Another issue entirely is whether this whole study is not pointing in a direction in contradiction to the goal of the system. I think it sticks to the goal following a fine line. The details of the powers being saught here are in themselves a path to the goal. They go stepwise from messing with the world to objectively observing the world. It seems to me a practical necessity to deal with the almost inevitable arising of magical phenomena as one progresses. Without dealing with them and using them to point the way, a great deal of confusion and doubt and fear will be the result.
The use of the power-paths in relation to attaining the goal is the subject of SN 5.51.15.

[2] Also chanda. There is as much flexibility in word use in Pali as there is in English.

[3] Viriya. I would like to have had 'energy building' here, the science of energy building. That is the meaning of the viriya iddhipada and the viriya sambojjhanga as well.

[4] Citta. I would like to have had 'developing the heart for' 'developing the will for' which is the meaning.

[5] Vīmaṃsa. Investigation in the sense of figuring out, puzzling out and piecing together. Skill in this needs to be extremely swift to the point where there is no 'thinking' at all involved.


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