Majjhima Nikaya


[Site Map]  [Home]  [Sutta Indexes]  [Glossology]  [Site Sub-Sections]

The Pali is transliterated as IAST Unicode (āīūṃṅñṭḍṇḷ). Alternatives:
[ ASCII (aiumnntdnl) | Mobile (āīūŋńñţđņļ) | Velthuis (aaiiuu.m'n~n.t.d.n.l) ]

 

Majjhima Nikāya
I. Mūlapaṇṇāsa
4. Mahā Yamaka Vagga

Sacred Books of the Buddhists
Volume V
Dialogues of the Buddha
Part IV

Further Dialogues of the Buddha
Volume I

Translated from the Pali
by Lord Chalmers
G.C.B.
Sometime Governor of Ceylon

London
Humphrey Milford
Oxford University Press
1926
Public Domain

Sutta 38

Mahā-Taṇhā-Saŋkhaya Suttaɱ

Consciousness a Process Only

 


[183]

[1][pts][ntbb][than][upal] THUS have I heard:

Once when the Lord was staying at Sāvatthī in Jeta's grove in Anāthapiṇḍika's pleasaunce,
an Almsman named Sati, a fishermans son,
[184] came to entertain the pernicious view that,
as he understood the Lord's teaching of the Doctrine,
our consciousness runs on
and continues without break of identity.

Hearing of this,
a number of Almsmen
went to ask Sati
whether he was correctly reported
as entertaining a view so pernicious.

Certainly he did,
was his avowal.

Then those Almsmen plied Sati with question,
enquiry,
and argument
so as to wean him from his error.

Do not, they said,
do not say this;
do not misrepresent the Lord;
there are no grounds whatever for such a charge;
the Lord would not say such a thing.

(On the contrary),
in many a figure has it been laid down by the Lord
that consciousness only arises by causation
and that, without assignable conditions,
consciousness does not come about.

But, say what they would,
Sati would not yield to their expostulations
but stoutly held and clung to his pernicious view
that, as he understood the Lord's teaching of the Doctrine,
our consciousness ran on
and continued without break of identity.

So when they had failed to wean Sati from his error,
the Almsmen went to the Lord
and laid the whole of the facts before him;
and he sent an Almsman to summon Sati to his presence.

When Sati had duly come
and had taken his seat to one side after due obeisance,
the Lord asked him whether he was correctly reported
as entertaining this pernicious view.

Yes, Sati certainly did hold it.

Said the Lord:

What, Sati, is the nature of this consciousness?

Sir, it is that speaking and sentient (Self)
which experiences the ripened fruits
of good and bad conduct
in this or that earlier existence.

Pray, to whom, foolish man,
do you aver that I ever so taught the Doctrine?

Have I not, foolish man,
laid it down in many a figure
that consciousness only arises by causation
and that, without assignable conditions,
consciousness does not come about?

And yet you, foolish man,
employ what you have misunderstood [185] not only to misrepresent me
but also to undermine yourself
and breed for yourself
a store of demerit, -
to your lasting hurt and harm.

Turning then to the Almsmen, the Lord said:

What think you?

Has this Sati, the fisherman's son,
got even a spark of illumination
in this Doctrine and Rule?

How could he, sir?

For, it is not the fact.

Hereat, Sati sat silent and glum,
with his shoulders hunched up
and eyes downcast,
much exercised in his mind
but finding no words to utter.

Seeing him in this plight,
the Lord said to him:

And now, foolish man,
you shall be shewn up
in respect of this pernicious view of yours;
I will question the Almsmen.

Accordingly, the Lord said to them:

Do you understand me ever to have preached the Doctrine
in the sense of this Almsman Sati,
who employs what he has misunderstood
not only to misrepresent me
but also to undermine himself
and to breed for himself
a store of demerit, -
to his lasting hurt and harm?

No, sir.

For in many a figure
has the Lord taught us
that consciousness only arises by causation
and that, without assignable conditions,
consciousness does not come about.

Quite right;
you rightly understand my teaching;
for, indeed, I have, as you say,
so taught in many a figure.

Yet here is this Sati, the fisherman's son,
who employs ...
hurt and harm.

Whatsoever form of consciousness arises
from an assignable condition,
is known by that condition's name.

If the eye and visible shapes condition consciousness,
that is called visual consciousness;
and so on with the senses and objects of hearing,
smelling,
tasting,
and touch,
and of mind with its mental objects.

It is just like a fire,
where that which makes the fire burn
gives the fire its name.

Wood makes a wood-fire,
sticks a stick-fire,
grass a grass-fire,
cowdung a cow-dung-fire,
husks a husk-fire,
and rubbish a rubbish-fire.

In just the same way, every form of consciousness [186] arising from an assignable cause
is known by that condition's name.

Do you recognize, Almsmen,
an organism as such?

Yes, sir.

Do you recognize it
as the product of a particular sustenance?

Yes, sir.

Do you recognize that,
by the cessation of its particular sustenance,
the organism's nature makes for cessation?

Yes, sir.

Does doubt of the fact
of each of these three points
lead to perplexity thereon?

Yes, sir.

Does recognition of the fact
as it really is,
in the fulness of knowledge,
dispel that perplexity in each case?

Yes, sir.

In each of the three cases,
is there right recognition,
if it be in the fulness of knowledge of the fact
as it really is?

Yes, sir.

If you insist on hugging and cherishing
this pure and undefiled conception
and if you refuse to relinquish or part with it, -
could you realize a state of consciousness
to cross with,
but not to keep,
as (Sutta 22) in the Allegory of the Raft?

No, sir.

Could you realize that Allegory,
if, while hugging and cherishing your conception,
you were yet ready to relinquish and part with it?

Yes, sir.

There are four Sustenances
which either maintain existing organisms
or help those yet to be.

First of these is material sustenance,
coarse or delicate;
Contact is the second;
cogitation is the third;
and perception is the fourth.

The derivation,
origin,
birth,
and production
of all four Sustenances alike
is Craving.

Craving in its turn arises from feeling,
feeling from Contact,
Contact from the sensory domains,
sensory [187] domains from Name and Form,
Name and Form from consciousness,
consciousness from plastic forces,
and these latter from ignorance.

Thus, ignorance conditions plastic forces,
which condition consciousness,
which conditions Name and Form,
which condition the sensory domains,
which condition Contact,
which conditions feeling,
which conditions Craving,
which Conditions dependence,
which conditions becoming,
which conditions birth,
which conditions decay and death,
with the distractions of grief,
tribulation,
and pain of body and mind. -

This is the uprising
of all that makes up the sum of Ill.

I have said that birth conditions decay and death.

Does it, or does it not, condition them?

Or how stands the matter?

Birth, sir, does condition decay and death;
and that is how the matter stands.

I have said that becoming conditions birth.

Does it, or does it not?

Or how stands the matter?

Becoming, sir, does condition birth;
and that is how the matter stands.

[Similar paragraphs for dependence, etc., down to ignorance.]

Good, Almsmen;
very good.

You and I then agree in affirming that: -

[1]This being so,
that comes about;
if this arises,
so does that; -

thus, ignorance conditions plastic force ...
(etc., as above) ...
the sum of Ill.

So too it is by the entire and passionless cessation of ignorance
that the plastic forces cease ...
(etc., for the successive links in the chain, down to) ...
the distractions of grief,
tribulation,
and pain of body and mind. -

This is the cessation of all that makes up the sum of Ill.

I have said that by the cessation of birth,
decay and death cease.

Do they, or do they not?

Or how stands the matter?

[188] By the cessation of birth,
decay and death also cease, sir;
and that is how the matter stands.

[Similar paragraphs for becoming, etc., down to ignorance.]

Good; very good.

You and I then agree in affirming that: -

This not being so,
that comes not about;
if this ceases,
so does that; -

thus with the cessation of ignorance
the plastic forces cease ...
(etc., for the successive links in the chain, down to) ...
cessation of all that makes up the sum of Ill.

Now, Almsmen, would you,
knowing and seeing all this,
hark back to the past, wondering
(i) whether you were, or whether you were not,
in existence during bygone ages,
(ii) what you were in those ages,
(iii) how you fared then, and
(iv) from what you passed on to what else?

No, sir.

Or, would you,
knowing and seeing all this,
hark forward to the future, wondering
(i) whether you will, or whether you will not,
be in existence during the ages to come,
(ii) what you will be in those ages,
(iii) how you will fare then, and
(iv) from what you will pass on to what else?

No, sir.

Or, again, would you,
knowing and seeing all this,
be perplexed in the present
about whether or not you exist,
what and how you are,
whence your being came,
and whither it will go?

No, sir.

Would you, knowing and seeing all this, say: -

We revere our teacher,
and it is because of our reverence for him
that we affirm this?

No, sir.

Would you, knowing and seeing all this, say: -

Oh, we were told this
by a recluse or recluses;
we do not affirm it ourselves?

No, sir.

Would you, knowing and seeing all this,
look out for another teacher?

No, sir.

Would you, knowing and seeing all this,
frequent [189] the ritual
and shows
and functions
of the ordinary run of recluses and brahmins
as being of the essence?

No, sir.

Do you not affirm
only what you have of yourselves known,
seen,
and discerned?

Yes, sir.

Quite right, Almsmen.

You have by me been introduced to this Doctrine,
which is immediate in its gifts here and now,
which is open to all,
which is a guide Onwards,
which can be mastered for himself
by every intelligent man.

All I have said
was to bring out
that this Doctrine was immediate in its gifts here and now,
open to all,
a guide Onwards
to be mastered for himself
by every intelligent man.

It is by the conjunction of three things
that conception comes about.

If there is coitus of parents
but if that is not the mother's period
and if there is no presiding deity of generation (gandhabba) present, -
then no conception takes place.

Or if there be coitus of parents
at the mother's period
but with no presiding deity present, -
again there is no conception.

But if there be a conjunction of all three factors,
then and only then
does conception take place.

For nine or ten months
the mother carries the heavy burden of the foetus
in her womb with great anxiety;
and with great anxiety
does she at the end of her time
bring forth her child.

When it is born,
she feeds it with her life-blood, -
as a mother's milk is termed
in the Rule of the Noble.

As the boy grows and develops his faculties,
he plays childish games -
such as toy ploughs,
tip-cat,
head-over-heels,
windmills,
pannets,
little carts,
and toy bows.[2]

As he grows older
and as his faculties develop,
pleasures of sense take hold
and possession of him,
visible shapes through the eye,
sounds through the ear,
and so on for odours,
tastes,
and touch, -
all of them desirable,
agreeable,
pleasing
and attractive.

The sight of [190] shapes
awakens a passion for attractive shapes
and a repugnance to the unattractive;
his life has no collectedness
as regards the body,
and mental poverty is his;
he knows not that real Deliverance of heart and mind
whereby evil and wrong states of consciousness cease.

A prey thus to fascinations
and to dislikes,
he rejoices in,
and welcomes,
and cleaves to,
every feeling -
pleasant,
unpleasant,
or indifferent -
which he experiences,
so that feelings bring delight;
delight brings dependence;
dependence conditions becoming;
becoming conditions birth;
birth conditions decay and death,
with the distractions of grief,
tribulation,
and pain of body and mind. -

This is the uprising of all that makes up the sum of Ill.

And as with visible shapes,
so too ... with sounds,
odours,
tastes,
touch
and mental objects.

Take the case, Almsmen,
that here in the world
there appears a Truth-finder,
Arahat all-enlightened, ...
(etc. as in Sutta 27, down to) ...
right states of consciousness
have purged his heart of all doubting.

When he has put from him the Five Hindrances,
those defilements of the heart
which weaken a man's insight,
then, divested of pleasures of sense
and divested of wrong states of mind,
he enters on,
and abides in,
the First Ecstasy
with all its zest and satisfaction,
a state bred of inward aloofness
but not divorced from observation and reflection.

And in succession
he wins the Second,
the Third,
and the Fourth Ecstasies.

No shapes,
or sounds,
or odours,
or tastes,
or touch,
or mental objects
now awaken in him
either likes or dislikes;
he neither rejoices in,
nor welcomes,
nor cleaves to
any feeling -
pleasant,
unpleasant,
or indifferent -
which he experiences,
so that feelings cease to delight him
and consequently all dependence ceases
and there ceases the whole succession of becoming,
birth,
decay,
and death,
with the distractions of grief,
tribulation,
and pain of body and mind. -

This is the cessation of all that makes up the sum of Ill.

[191] Treasure in your memories, Almsmen,
this succinct account
of Deliverance by the Extirpation of Craving, -
and also Sati, the fisherman's son,
fast in Craving's meshes
and in the doom which Craving entails.

 


S.B.E. XIII, 146 [Vinaya Texts, Mahavagga, First Khandhaka, 23]: 'And what is the doctrine, Sir, which your teacher holds, and preaches to you?'

'I am only a young disciple, friend; I have but recently received the ordination; and I have newly adopted this doctrine and discipline. I cannot explain to you the doctrine in detail; but I will tell you in short what it means.'

Then the paribbâgaka Sâriputta said to the venerable Assagi: 'Well, friend, tell me much or little as you like, but be sure to tell me the spirit (of the doctrine); I want but the spirit; why do you make so much of the letter?'

5. Then the venerable Assagi pronounced to the paribbâgaka Sâriputta the following text of the Dhamma: 'Of all objects which proceed from a cause, the Tathâgata has explained the cause, and He has explained theîr cessation also; this is the doctrine of the 'great Samana.'

And the paribbâgaka 'Sâriputta after having heard this text obtained the pure and spotless Eye of the Truth (that is, the following knowledge): 'Whatsoever is subject to the condition of origination is subject also to the condition of cessation.' (And he said): 'If this alone be the Doctrine (the Dhamma), now you have reached up to the state where all sorrow ceases (i.e. Nirvâna), (the state) which has remained unseen through many myriads of Kappas (world-ages) of the past.'

See also the translation of Bhk. Thanissaro.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[1] There is perhaps no more succinct statement than this of the fundamental Buddhist doctrine of the process of things. Cf. II, 32 and Assajl's stanza (which converted Sāriputta and Moggallāna) at S.B.E. XIII, 146.

[2] Cf. D. I, 6 and D.A. I, 86 for these (and other) games (Dial. I, 9-11).


Contact:
E-mail
Copyright Statement   Webmaster's Page