Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
III. Upari Paṇṇāsa
5. Saḷāyatana Vagga

The Middle Length Sayings
III. The Final Fifty Discourses
5. The Division of the Sixfold Sense(-field)

Sutta 152

Indriya-Bhāvanā Suttaɱ

Discourse
on the
Development of the Sense Organs[1]

Translated from the Pali by I.B. Horner, M.A.
Associate of Newham College, Cambridge
First Published in 1954

Copyright The Pali Text Society
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[1][chlm][than][ntbb][upal][olds] [298] THUS have I heard:

At one time the Lord was staying near Kajaŋgalā in the Mukhelu Grove.[2]

Then the brahman youth Uttara,
a pupil of Pārāsariya,[3]
approached the Lord;
having approached [347] him,
he exchanged greetings with the Lord,
and when he had conversed in a friendly and courteous way
he sat down at a respectful distance.

The Lord spoke thus
to the brahman youth Uttara,
a pupil of Pārāsariya,
as he was sitting down
at a respectful distance:

"Uttara, does Pārāsariya the brahman teach
the development of the sense-organs
to his disciples?"

"Good Gotama, the brahman Pārāsariya teaches
the development of the sense-organs
to his disciples."

"But in what way, Uttara,
does Pārāsariya the brahman teach
the development of the sense-organs
to his disciples?"

"As to this, good Gotama,
one should not see material shapes with the eye,
one should not hear sounds with the ear.
It is thus, good Gotama,
that the brahman Pārāsariya teaches
the development of the sense-organs
to his disciples."

"This being so, Uttara,
then according to what Pārāsariya the brahman says
a blind man must have his sense-organ developed,
a deaf man must have his sense-organ developed.
For a blind man, Uttara,
does not see material shape with his eye,
nor does a deaf man hear a sound with his ear."

When this had been said,
the brahman youth Uttara,
a pupil of Pārāsariya,
sat silent, ashamed,
his shoulders drooped,
his face downcast,
brooding,
speechless.

Then the Lord,
knowing that Uttara,
a pupil of Pārāsariya,
was sitting silent, ashamed,
his shoulders drooped,
his face downcast,
brooding,
speechless,
addressed the venerable Ānanda, saying:

"Ānanda, the brahman Pārāsariya teaches his disciples
the development of the sense-organs in one way;[4]
but in the discipline for an ariyan
the incomparable development of the sense-organs
is otherwise."[4a]

"It is the right time for this, Lord,
it is the right time for this, Well-farer,
that the Lord [299] should teach
the incomparable development of the sense-organs
(as it is) in the discipline for an ariyan.
When the monks have heard the Lord,
they will remember."

"Well than, Ānanda,
listen, attend carefully and I will speak."

"Yes, revered sir,"
the venerable Ānanda answered the Lord in assent.

The Lord spoke thus:

"And what, Ānanda,
is the incomparable development of the sense-organs
in the discipline for an ariyan?

As to this, Ānanda,
when a monk has seen a material shape with the eye
there arises what is liked,
there arises what is disliked,
there arises what is both [348] liked and disliked.[5]

He comprehends thus:
'This that is liked is arising in me,
this that is disliked is arising,
this that is both liked and disliked is arising,
and this that arises
is because it is constructed, is gross.
(But) this is the real,
this the excellent,
that is to say equanimity.'

So whether what is arising in him
is liked, disliked or both liked and disliked,
it is (all the same) stopped in him,
and equanimity remains.[6]

Ānanda, it is as if a man with vision,
having opened his eyes
should close them,
or having closed them
should open them.
Even so, Ānanda,
such is the speed,
such the swiftness,
such the ease
with which anything that has arisen,
whether it is liked, disliked or both liked and disliked,
is (all the same) stopped in him,
and equanimity remains.

In the discipline for an ariyan, Ānanda,
this is called
the incomparable development of the sense-organs
in regard to material shapes
cognisable by the eye.

And again, Ānanda,
when a monk has heard a sound with the ear
there arises what is liked,
there arises what is disliked,
there arises what is both liked and disliked.

He comprehends thus:
'This that is liked is arising in me,
this that is disliked is arising,
this that is both liked and disliked is arising,
and this that arises
is because it is constructed, is gross.
(But) this is the real,
this the excellent,
that is to say equanimity.'

So whether what is arising in him
is liked, disliked or both liked and disliked,
it is (all the same) stopped in him,
and equanimity remains.

Ānanda, as a strong man
can snap his fingers with ease.
Even so, Ānanda,
such is the speed,
such the swiftness,
such the ease
with which anything that has arisen,
whether it is liked, disliked or both liked and disliked,
is (all the same) stopped in him,
and equanimity remains.

In the discipline for an ariyan, Ānanda,
this is called
the incomparable development of the sense-organs
in regard to sounds
cognisable by the ear.

And again, Ānanda, when a monk has smelt a smell with the nose
there arises what is liked,
there arises what is disliked,
there arises what is both liked and disliked.

He comprehends thus:
'This that is liked is arising in me,
this that is disliked is arising,
this that is both liked and disliked is arising,
and this that arises
is because it is constructed, is gross.
(But) this is the real,
this the excellent,
that is to say equanimity.'

So whether what is arising in him
is liked, disliked or both liked and disliked,
it is (all the same) stopped in him,
and equanimity remains.

As, [300] Ānanda, the rain-drops slide off a lotus-leaf
that is slightly on the slant
and do not remain.
Even so, Ānanda,
such is the speed,
such the swiftness,
such the ease
with which anything that has arisen,
whether it is liked, disliked or both liked and disliked,
is (all the same) stopped in him,
and equanimity remains.

In the discipline for an ariyan, Ānanda,
this is called
the incomparable development of the sense-organs
in regard to smells
cognisable by the nose.

And again, Ānanda, when a monk has tasted a flavour with the tongue
there arises what is liked,
there arises what is disliked,
there arises what is both liked and disliked.

He comprehends thus:
'This that is liked is arising in me,
this that is disliked is arising,
this that is both liked and disliked is arising,
and this that arises
is because it is constructed, is gross.
(But) this is the real,
this the excellent,
that is to say equanimity.'

So whether what is arising in him
is liked, disliked or both liked and disliked,
it is (all the same) stopped in him,
and equanimity remains.

As, Ānanda, when a fleck of mucus
has collected on the tip of his tongue
a strong man can easily spit it out.
Even so, Ānanda,
such is the speed,
such the swiftness,
such the ease
with which anything that has arisen,
whether it is liked, disliked or both liked and disliked,
is (all the same) stopped in him,
and equanimity remains.

In the discipline for an ariyan, Ānanda,
this is called
the incomparable development of the sense-organs
in regard to flavours
cognisable by the tongue.

And again, Ānanda, when a monk has felt a touch with the body
there arises what is liked,
there arises what is disliked,
there arises what is both liked and disliked.

He comprehends thus:
'This that is liked is arising in me,
this that is disliked is arising,
this that is both liked and disliked is arising,
and this that arises
is because it is constructed, is gross.
(But) this is the real,
this the excellent,
that is to say equanimity.'

So whether what is arising in him
is liked, disliked or both liked and disliked,
it is (all the same) stopped in him,
and equanimity remains.

As, Ānanda, a strong man
can stretch out his bent arm
or can bend back his outstretched arm.
Even so, Ānanda,
such is the speed,
such the swiftness,
such the ease
with which anything that has arisen,
whether it is liked, disliked or both liked and disliked,
is (all the same) stopped in him,
and equanimity remains.

In the discipline for an ariyan, Ānanda,
this is called
the incomparable development of the sense-organs
in regard to touches
cognisable by the body.

And again, Ānanda, when a monk has cognised a mental state with the mind
there arises what is liked,
there arises what is disliked,
there arises what is both liked and disliked.

He comprehends thus:
'This that is liked is arising in me,
this that is disliked is arising,
this that is both liked and disliked is arising,
and this that arises
is because it is constructed, is gross.
(But) this is the real,
this the excellent,
that is to say equanimity.'

So whether what is arising in him
is liked, disliked or both liked and disliked,
it is (all the same) stopped in him,
and equanimity remains.

It is, Ānanda, as if a man
might let two or three drops of water
fall into a red-hot iron vessel daily.
Slow, Ānanda,
would be the falling
of the drops of water,
yet quickly
would they be destroyed and consumed.
Even so, Ānanda,
such is the speed,
such the swiftness,
such the ease
with which anything that has arisen,
whether it is liked, disliked or both liked and disliked,
is (all the same) stopped in him,
and equanimity remains.

In the discipline for an ariyan, Ānanda,
this is called
the incomparable development of the sense-organs
in regard to mental states
cognisable by the mind.

Even so, Ānanda, is the incomparable development of the sense-organs
in the discipline for an ariyan.

And what, Ānanda,
is a learner's course?

As to this, Ānanda,
when a monk has seen a material shape with the eye
there arises what is liked,
there arises what is disliked,
there arises what is both liked and disliked.

Because there has arisen
what is liked,
because there has arisen
what is disliked,
because there has arisen
what is both liked and disliked,
he is troubled about it,
ashamed of it,
loathes it.

[301] When he has heard
a sound with the ear,
smelt a smell
with the nose,
tasted a flavour
with the tongue,
felt a touch with the body,
cognised a mental state
with the mind
there arises what is liked,
there arises what is disliked,
there arises what is both liked and disliked.

Because there has arisen
what is liked,
because there has arisen
what is disliked,
because there has arisen
what is both liked and disliked,
he is troubled about it,
ashamed of it,
loathes it.

Just so, Ānanda,
is a learner's course.

And what, Ānanda,
is the ariyan whose sense-organs are developed?

As to this, Ānanda,
when a monk has seen a material shape with the eye
there [350] arises what is liked,
there arises what is disliked,
there arises what is both liked and disliked;
when a monk has heard a sound with the ear
there arises what is liked,
there arises what is disliked,
there arises what is both liked and disliked;
when a monk has smelt a smell with the nose
there arises what is liked,
there arises what is disliked,
there arises what is both liked and disliked;
when a monk has tasted a flavour with the tongue
there arises what is liked,
there arises what is disliked,
there arises what is both liked and disliked;
when a monk has felt a touch with the body
there arises what is liked,
there arises what is disliked,
there arises what is both liked and disliked;
when a monk has cognised a mental state with the mind
there arises what is liked,
there arises what is disliked,
there arises what is both liked and disliked.

If he desire thus:
'May I abide
not perceiving impurity in impurity,'[7]
he abides there
not perceiving impurity.

If he desire:
'May I abide
perceiving impurity in purity,'
he abides there
perceiving impurity.

If he desire:
'May I abide
not perceiving impurity in impurity and in purity,'
he abides there
not perceiving impurity.

If he desire:
'May I abide
perceiving impurity in purity and impurity,'
he abides there
perceiving impurity.

If he desire:
'May I, having avoided both impurity and purity,
[302] abide in equanimity,
mindful and clearly conscious,'
he abides there
in equanimity,
mindful and clearly conscious.

Even so, Ānanda,
is the ariyan whose sense-organs are developed.

Thus, Ānanda,
there has been taught by me
the incomparable development of the sense-organs
(as it is) in the discipline for an ariyan,
there has been taught a learner's course,
there has been taught the ariyan
whose sense-organs are developed.

Whatever, Ānanda, is to be done
out of compassion by a teacher
seeking the welfare of his disciples
and compassionate for them,
that has been done by me for you.

These, Ānanda, are the roots of trees,
these are empty places.
Meditate, Ānanda,
do not be slothful,
do not be remorseful later.
This is our instruction for you."

Thus spoke the Lord.
Delighted, the venerable Ānanda
rejoiced in what the Lord had said.

Discourse on the Development of the Sense-organs:
The Tenth

Division of the Sixfold (Sense- )field:
The Fifth

TOLD ARE THE FINAL FIFTY

 


[1] One of the chief difficulties in this Discourse is the translation of the terms indriya and bhāvanā. The term indriya might be rendered "controlling faculties," as it appears to mean at Vin. i. 294 and which is apparently the only other canonical passage where the compound indriyabhāvanā occurs as such, although there is also a M. context (iii. 81) where we find pañcannaɱ indriyānaɱ bhāvanānuyogaɱ, the practice of the development (or, mind-development) of the five controlling faculties: of faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom. Since, in these two passages, the indriyas are associated at least with some (Vin. i. 294), if not all (M. iii. 81 f.) of the seven groups of the bodhipakkhiyadhammā (things helpful to enlightenment), it may be assumed that in such contexts indriya means controlling faculty. But on the other hand, indriya can also mean sense-organ, and I believe that, from the internal evidence of this Discourse, it has this meaning here. One may usefully cf. S. v. 73 f. which is partially concerned with indriyasaɱvara, control of the sense-organs of eye, etc., for this is a passage that states that whether the material shapes that a monk sees are liked or disliked, he remains unmoved (or, stands firm, ṭhita) in body and mind, his mind inwardly well established, susaṇṭhita, and freed. And this is presumably tantamount to the "equanimity remains," upekhā saṇṭhāti, of our M. Sta.
Bhāvanā, the second part of the compound, means developing or producing, with a strong secondary implication that such developing is done by the mind, and is therefore a mind-development such as gives the ariyan control over the sense-data he perceives so that, if he wish, he may abide not perceiving their impurity, etc., but with equanimity in regard to their impingement on him. He therefore trains his sense-organs not to respond in wrong ways to sensory stimuli, and develops such control over them that he will remain unaffected by them and indifferent as to whether he likes them, dislikes them or neither dislikes nor likes. That the impingement of sense-data is inevitable while a man is still alive is nowhere denied in the Pall canon; but response to them, even noticing them may be stopped in deep meditation where all is stilled.

[2] The Grove was full of trees of this name. Variant readings are: Mukhe'uvana, Muñcelu-, Suve'u-, and Ve'uvana.

[3] On the possible identity with Pārāpariya (verses at Thag. 72ff.) see Pss. Breth. p. 295, note; and DPPN., s.v. Indriyabhāvana Sutta and Pārāpariya Thera.

[4][4a] aññathā ... aññathā.

[5] manāpāmanāpaɱ.

[6] upekhā saṇṭhāti.

[7] At Pts. ii. 212 this and the following are called ariyā iddhi. The explanations that are given there are found also at MA. v. 108.


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