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The Six Realms of Mastery

Outlining: SN 4 35 96: Losing Your Grip

This sutta delineates losing your grip[1], not losing your grip, and the six Realms of Mastery.

This is losing your grip:

In one who at the sight of an object by the eye is assailed by bad, unprincipled, unskillful recollections and ideas downbound to rebirth, allows in, does not let go of, does not dispel, does not end, does not cause them to stop becoming, this is losing your grip.

And again, it is the same in the case of the hearing of a sound by the ear ... the smell of a scent by the nose ... the savour of a taste by the tongue ... the feel of a touch by the body ... consciousness of an idea by the mind.

This is not losing your grip:

In one who at the sight of an object by the eye is assailed by bad, unprincipled, unskillful recollections and ideas downbound to rebirth, does not allow in, lets go of, dispels, ends, and causes them to stop becoming, this is not losing your grip.

And again it is the same in the case of the hearing of a sound by the ear ... the smell of a scent by the nose ... the savour of a taste by the tongue ... the feel of a touch by the body ... consciousness of an idea by the mind.

And these are are The Six Realms of Mastery:

In the case of this case, we have the case where at the sight of an object by the eye one is not assailed by bad, unprincipled, unskillful recollections and ideas downbound to rebirth.

And again it is the same in the case of the hearing of a sound by the ear ... the smell of a scent by the nose ... the savour of a taste by the tongue ... the feel of a touch by the body ... consciousness of an idea by the mind.

 

§

 

This sutta should be mentally associated with The Sixth Lesson or with Guarding the Realm of the Senses.
In the case of the case of the one who has Mastered the Six Realms, how are we to understand the idea of "is not assailed" insofaras we can see, even in the suttas, Mara "assailing" the Buddha and other Arahants with various bad, unprincipled, unskillful recolections and ideas downbound to rebirth."?
This is the meaning: Although, because these ideas do not "belong" to the Arahant, they may present themselves to his consciousness, he in no way considers them as belonging to himself and has no involvement with or identification with them as his own and therefore, he is, subjectively, unassailed. The difference between this Beggar and the Beggar who has not lost his grip is in the need of the latter to work at keeping off or breaking off identification.

 


 

From DN 33: Sangiti Suttanta

6.1 Six internal realms:
The realm of the eye, the realm of the ear, the realm of the nose, the realm of the tongue, the realm of the body, the realm of the mind.

6.2 Six external realms:
The realm of material forms, the realm of sounds, the relm of scents, the realm of flavors, the realm of the tactile, the realm of mental objects.

6.3 Six bodies of consciousness:
Eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, mind-consciousness.

6.4 Six bodies of contact:
Eye-contact, ear-contact, nose-contact, tongue-contact, body-contact, mind-contact.

6.5 Six bodies of sense experience:
Eye-contact sense experience, ear-contact sense experience, nose-contact sense experience, tongue-contact sense experience, body-contact sense experience, mind-contact sense experience.

6.6 Six bodies of perception:
Perception of material forms, perception of sounds, perception of scents, perception of flavors, perception of touch, perception of mental objects.

6.7 Six bodies of intent:
Intent with regard to material forms, intent with regard to sounds, intent with regard to scents, intent with regard to flavors, intent with regard to touch, intent with regard to mental objects.

6.8 Six bodies of hunger/thirst:
Material form-hunger/thirst, sound-hunger/thirst, scent-hunger/thirst, flavor-hunger/thirst, touch-hunger/thirst, mental-object-hunger/thirst.

 


 

Note on this group the differences between the way it is here and the way it is presented in DN 22: The MahaSatipatthana Suttanta, where it is: eye world (loka), material form world, sense consciousness (vinnana), contact (phassa), sense experience (vedana), perception (sanna), intention (sancetana), thirst (tanha), thinking about (vitakka), reacting to (vicara) (that is, that the list includes vitakka and vicara.) What is the importance of these groups? Focus. This is where that thirst that leads to dukkha arises and is stopped. In other words, this is the paticca samuppada between the six-fold sense sphere and tanha, or as it is in the Digha, between the six-fold sense sphere and upadana.

It is exactly at this level that I break ranks with the Abhidhamma. From here the Abhidhamma goes deeper into the analysis of the minute details of the evolution of becoming, such as to find itself, in my opinion, aserting certain things that are not acceptable dhamma (such as "ultimate realities"). To my mind this is like a man standing at a chasm. The chasm is a thousand thousand feet deep, but only a few inches wide. But instead of steping over the chasm the Abhidhammist (having to make himself very small even just to start) goes down the near side with the idea of coming up the far side. Problem is he gets stuck because the chasm isn't wide enough at the bottom for him to travel the full depth (it goes beyond verbal conceptualization). When the Buddha says "Well taught by me is the Dhamma," to my way of thinking it is exactly with regard to cases such as this. Enough to be helpful in solving the problem is enough.

What we are to do with the knowledge provided here is to understand that each of the senses has it's own chain of dependancies (connections, links), that each sense in it's turn feeds the mind with the conscious impressions it receives so that the mind is able to piece together a picture (sankaram), form conclusions, and take action. When we understand the process in this general way the only further thing we need to understand the details for is to see where our weaknesses are: "I am more vulnerable to sights than tastes" or the reverse, or some such. This is where we need to concentrate our efforts to "put it away!" Analyzing it to the end of the world will not take one one step closer to letting it go, and consequently is a dangerous waste of time...and in fact is being assailed by bad, unprincipled, unskillful recollections and ideas downbound to rebirth.

 


[1]Parihanam, which is etymologically related to "letting go" (Pahana), but which has the opposite effect.


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