Majjhima Nikaya


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"I, Ānanda, Live in the Fullness of Emptiness
Empty of Empty Habits
Not an Empty Habitat"

Majjhima Nikāya
3. Upari Paṇṇāsa
3. Suññata Vagga

Sutta 121

Cūḷa Suññata Suttaṃ

A Little Spell of Emptiness

Translated from the Pali
by
Michael M. Olds

 


 

[1][chlm][pts][nymo][ntbb][than] I Hear Tell:

Once Upon A Time, The Lucky Man, Sāvatthi-Town,
East-Park,
The Palace[1] of Migara's Mother came-a revisiting.

[2][pts][nymo][ntbb][than] At this time, Ānanda,
just emerging from his afternoon's sit down practice,
went to the Teacher,
greeted him,
and sat down to one side.

There he said:

[3][pts][nymo][ntbb][than] "Bhante, at one time, The Lucky Man was residing among the Sakyans
in the market town of Nagaraka,
and I, also, was there.

In that place,
I recall having heard, learnt, studied, grasped,
face-to-face with the Lucky Man,
this statement made by him:

'At this time, Ānanda, I reside in the fullness of emptiness.'

Did I hear this correctly?"

"Yes, Ānanda, you heard, learnt, studied, grasped this correctly.

Previously, as well as now,
I reside in the fullness of emptiness.

[4][pts][nymo][ntbb][than] In the same way, Ānanda,
as this Palace of Migara's Mother
is empty of the disturbances of the city:
empty of elephants,
cows,
horses asses;
empty of dealings with gold and silver;
empty of groups of men and women,
and there is only this that remains to disturb the emptiness:
that is, the vibration emanating from the Beggars here;
in the same way, a Beggar,
paying no attention to the disturbances of the city,
paying no attention to human beings,
pays attention only to the vibration emanating from the forest.

He takes to paying attention only to perception of the forest,
and cleans out,
tidies up
and liberates his mind.

He understands:

'This way there is no disturbance
emanating from perception of the city.'

He understands:

'This way there is no disturbance
emanating from perception of human beings.'

He understands:

'This way there is only that disturbance
emanating from perception of the forest.'

Thus he understands:

'This way is empty of disturbance
emanating from perception of the city.'

He understands:

'This way is empty of disturbance
emanating from perception of human beings.'

He understands:

'This way there is only this that disturbs the emptiness:
that is,
the vibration which emanates
off perception of the forest.'

In this way he regards that which is present
as empty of that which is not present;
and, with regard to what remains,
he understands that:

'That being; this is.'

Thus, Ānanda, there is in the case of this case,
a sitting-down-to-empty-out
that results in surpassing purity.

[5][pts][nymo][ntbb][than] And again, Ānanda, deeper than that,
paying no attention to human beings,
paying no attention to the forest,
he takes to paying attention
only to perception of earth,
and cleans out,
tidies up
and liberates his mind.

In the same way as he would regard a bull's hide,
stretched out to cure,
held down by a hundred pegs,
it's life done gone;
when he pays attention to earth,
he does not think about anything on earth
such as dry land
or rivers
or swamps
or marshes with plants with branches and thorns
or mountains
or plains,
but he only just pays attention
to the vibration emanating from
perception of earth.

He takes to paying attention
only to perception of earth,
and cleans out,
tidies up
and liberates his mind.

He understands:

'This way there is no disturbance
emanating from perception of human beings.'

He understands:

'This way there is no disturbance
emanating from perception of the forest.'

Thus he understands:

'This way is empty of disturbance
emanating from perception of human beings.'

He understands:

'This way is empty of disturbance
emanating from perception of the forest.'

He understands:

'This way there is only this
that disturbs the emptiness:
that is,
the vibration emanating from
perception of earth.'

In this way he regards that which is present
as empty of that which is not present;
and, with regard to what remains,
he understands that:

'That being; this is.'

Thus, Ānanda, there is in the case of this case,
a sitting-down-to-empty-out
that results in surpassing purity.

[6][pts][nymo][ntbb][than] And again, Ānanda, deeper than that,
paying no attention to the forest,
paying no attention to earth,
he takes to paying attention only
to perception of The Sphere of Space,
and cleans out,
tidies up
and liberates his mind.

He understands:

'This way there is no disturbance
emanating from perception of the forest.'

He understands:

'This way there is no disturbance
emanating from perception of earth.'

Thus he understands:

'This way is empty of disturbance
emanating from perception of the forest.'

He understands:

'This way is empty of disturbance
emanating from perception of earth.'

He understands:

'This way there is only this
that disturbs the emptiness:
that is,
the vibration emanating from
perception of the Sphere of Space.'

In this way he regards that which is present
as empty of that which is not present,
and, with regard to what remains,
he understands that

'That being, this is.'

Thus, Ānanda, there is in the case of this case,
a sitting-down-to-empty-out
that results in surpassing purity.

[7][pts][nymo][ntbb][than] And again, Ānanda, deeper than that,
paying no attention to earth,
paying no attention to The Sphere of Space,
he takes to paying attention
only to perception of the Sphere of Consciousness,
and cleans out,
tidies up
and liberates his mind.

He understands:

'This way there is no disturbance
emanating from perception of earth.'

He understands:

'This way there is no disturbance
emanating from perception of The Sphere of Space.'

Thus he understands:

'This way is empty of disturbance
emanating from perception of earth.'

He understands:

'This way is empty of disturbance
emanating from perception of The Sphere of Space.'

He understands:

'This way there is only this
that disturbs the emptiness:
that is,
the vibration emanating from perception of the Sphere of Consciousness.'

In this way he regards that which is present
as empty of that which is not present,
and, with regard to what remains,
he understands that:

'That being, this is.'

Thus, Ānanda, there is in the case of this case,
a sitting-down-to-empty-out
that results in surpassing purity.

[8][pts][nymo][ntbb][than] And again, Ānanda, deeper than that,
paying no attention to The Sphere of Space,
paying no attention to The Sphere of Consciousness,
he takes to paying attention
only to perception of The Sphere Where Nothing's-to-be-Had-There,
and cleans out,
tidies up
and liberates his mind.

He understands:

'This way there is no disturbance
emanating from perception of The Sphere of Space.'

He understands:

'This way there is no disturbance
emanating from the perception of The Sphere of Consciousness.'

Thus he understands:

'This way is empty of disturbance
emanating from perception of the Sphere of Space.'

He understands:

'This way is empty of disturbance
emanating from perception of The Sphere of Consciousness.'

He understands:

'This way there is only this
that disturbs the emptiness:
that is,
the vibration emanating from perception of the Sphere Where Nothing's-to-be-Had-There.'

In this way he regards that which is present
as empty of that which is not present,
and, with regard to what remains,
he understands that:

'That being, this is.'

Thus, Ānanda, there is in the case of this case,
a sitting-down-to-empty-out
that results in surpassing purity.

[9][pts][nymo][ntbb][than] And again, Ānanda, deeper than that,
paying no attention to The Sphere of Consciousness,
paying no attention to The Sphere Where Nothing's-to-be-Had-There,
he takes to paying attention
only to perception of The Sphere of Neither-Perception-Nor-Non-Perception,
and cleans out,
tidies up
and liberates his mind.

He understands:

'This way there is no disturbance
emanating from perception of The Sphere of Consciousness.'

He understands:

'This way there is no disturbance
emanating from perception of The Sphere Where Nothing's-to-be-Had-There.'

Thus he understands:

'This way is empty of disturbance
emanating from perception of the Sphere of Consciousness.'

He understands:

'This way is empty of disturbance
emanating from the perception of The Sphere Where Nothing's-to-be-Had-There.'

He understands:

'This way there is only this
that disturbs the emptiness:
that is,
the vibration emanating from perception of the Sphere of Neither-Perception-Nor-Non-Perception.'

In this way he regards that which is present
as empty of that which is not present,
and, with regard to what remains,
he understands that:

'That being, this is.'

Thus, Ānanda, there is in the case of this case,
a sitting-down-to-empty-out
that results in surpassing purity.

[10][pts][nymo][ntbb][than] And again, Ānanda, deeper than that,
paying no attention to The Sphere Where Nothing's-to-be-Had-There,
paying no attention to The Sphere of Neither-Perception-Nor-Non-Perception,
he takes to paying attention
only to the serenity of mind that is Signless,
and cleans out,
tidies up
and liberates his mind.

He understands:

'This way there is no disturbance
emanating from perception of The Sphere Where Nothing's-to-be-Had-There.'

He understands:

'This way there is no disturbance
emanating from perception of the Sphere of Neither-Perception-Nor-Non-Perception.'

Thus he understands:

'This way is empty of disturbance
emanating from perception of The Sphere Where Nothing's-to-be-Had-There.'

He understands:

'This way is empty of disturbance
emanating from perception of The Sphere of Neither-Perception-Nor-Non-Perception.'

He understands:

'This way there is only this that disturbs the emptiness:
that is,
the six sense-realms bound to this body
reacting to life.'

In this way he regards that which is present
as empty of that which is not present,
and, with regard to what remains,
he understands that:

'That being, this is.'

Thus, Ānanda, there is in the case of this case,
a sitting-down-to-empty-out
that results in surpassing purity.

[11][pts][nymo][ntbb][than] And again, Ānanda, deeper than that,
paying no attention to The Sphere Where Nothing's-to-be-Had-There,
paying no attention to The Sphere of Neither-Perception-Nor-Non-Perception,
he takes to paying attention only to the serenity of mind that is Signless,
and cleans out,
tidies up
and liberates his mind.

He understands:

'This Mental High-Getting that is Signless
is something that has been own-made, thought out.

Whatever has been own-made
or thought out
is subject to change and coming to an end.'

Knowing and seeing this,
his heart is free
from the grip of sense pleasures,
his heart is freed
from the grip of living,
his mind is free
from the grip of blindness.

In Freedom
comes the knowledge of Freedom,
and he knows:

'Left Behind is Rebirth,
Lived is the Best of Lives,
Done is Duty's Doing,
Crossed over Am I;
No More It'n and At'n for Me!'

[12][pts][nymo][ntbb][than] He understands:

'This way there is no disturbance
emanating from the grip of sense pleasures.'

He understands:

'This way there is no disturbance
emanating from the grip of living.'

He understands:

'This way there is no disturbance
emanating from the grip of blindness.'

Thus he understands:

'This way is empty of the disturbance
emanating from the grip of sense pleasures.'

He understands:

'This way is empty of the disturbance
emanating from the grip of living.'

He understands:

'This way is empty of the disturbance
emanating from the grip of blindness.'

He understands:

'This way there is only this that disturbs the emptiness,
that is the six sense-realms bound to this body
reacting to life.'

In this way he regards that which is present
as empty of that which is not present,
and, with regard to what remains,
he understands that:

'That being, this is.'

Thus, Ānanda, there is in the case of this case,
a sitting-down-to-empty-out
that results in surpassing purity.

[13][pts][nymo][ntbb][than] And, Ānanda, all those Shamen or Brahmen
of the long distant past
who attained the highest surpassing purity of emptiness
and made it a habitat,
all of them did so
by attaining this same highest surpassing purity of emptiness
and making it a habitat.

And, Ānanda, all those Shamen or Brahmen
who in the far distant future
will attain the highest surpassing purity of emptiness
and make it a habitat,
all of them will do so
by attaining this same highest surpassing purity of emptiness
and making it a habitat.

And, Ānanda, all those Shamen or Brahmen
who at present
are able to attain the highest surpassing purity of emptiness
and make it a habitat,
all of them do so by attaining
this same highest surpassing purity of emptiness
and making it a habitat.

Wherefore, Ānanda, train yourself this way:

'I will attain
the highest surpassing purity of emptiness
and make a habitat of that.'"

Thus spake the Lucky Man.

And uplifted in mind, Ananda was delighted by the Lucky Man's talk.

 


 

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[1] Pasade > Palace, Balustrade, Terraced house; as we understand it today not much more elegant than what would have been a well constructed two-story adobe home in what we might call an "open space preserve" — a bit of forest nearby town. The Palace was apparently covered top to bottom in precious rugs and cloth coverings.


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