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 [Dhamma Talk]


 

SN 5.48.42

The Buddha instructs Uddabha the Brahmin that mind is the home of the five senses, and seated in mind is the bringing to life of the five senses scope and pasturage; memory is the home of mind, and seated in memory is the bringing to life of the mind's scope and pasturage; recollectedness is the home of the memory, and seated in recollectedness is the bringing to life of the memory's scope and pasturage; freedom is the home of recollectedness, and seated in freedom is the bringing to life of recollectedness' scope and pasturage; Nibbana is the home of freedom, and seated in Nibbana is the bringing to life of freedom's scope and pasturage; and that to ask about the home of Nibbana is beyond the possibility of answering, and the scope and pasturage of Nibbana is beyond encompassing.

Read the Sutta

Recommended translation: Uṇṇābha the Brahmain, M. Olds translation,
Index of Available translations: SN 5.48.42

 


 

The Pali is abridged in this sutta in a way that has confused the translators.

The brahmin is asking throughout two questions:

what is the home of such and such (where do these things reside, where do they find resolution), and

seated in (based on) what is it that brings these things to life — the scope and pasturage of such and such.

('paccanubhonti' = paṭicca anu bho > bhava 'result-following-after-living'.

Woodward's 'who profit's by'; Bhk. Bodhi's: 'what is it that experiences' both of which break down at Nibbana where their is no 'who' or 'experiencer')

The translators answer the two questions only in the first instance and then ask only about the home. This tends to point the thinking only in the one direction where both directions are important to understanding how this sutta is a lesson which could have brought someone to non-returning: that is, that it is a version of the paticca samuppada.

I have expanded the Pali and my translation is fully spelled out.

Try this another way:

The home of the senses is the mind, and the only point at which the full scope and pasturage of the senses is attained is from the perspective of the mind;

the home of the mind is the memory and the only point at which the full scope and pasturage of the mind is attained is from the perspective of memory;

the home of the memory is recollectedness (being in full possession of awareness of memory) and the only point at which the full scope and pasturage of the memory is attained is from the perspective of recollectedness;

the home of recollectedness is freedom and the only point at which the full scope and pasturage of recollectedness is attained is from the perspective of freedom;

the home of freedom is Nibbana and the only point at which the full scope and pasturage of freedom is attained is from the perspective of Nibbana.

Woodward notes here that this is one of a very few suttas in which a layman is actually declared a non-returner. It is not exceptional that a layman becomes a non-returner but it is not often that an individual is so declared by the Buddha.

Also of note here is the distinction made between 'mind' (mano) and 'memory' (sati) and the description of the full functioning of sati as recollectedness (satiyā) and further the very interesting statement that freedom is what brings to life, re-animates, re-livens re-existences the range and pasturage of recollectedness.

Freedom from this body is necessary for rebirth in the next; and this also illustrates how it is that freedom in and of itself is not the same thing as arahantship; freedom must be seen as freedom and this is to be seen as the point, not a transition between lives. That recognition is what keeps off the tendency to rebirth experienced in freedom.


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