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The Art of Disengagement[1]

The Aranavibhanga Sutta

What I am presenting here is the summary at the beginning which describes the Art of Disengagement, the remainder of the sutta analyzes the items in this summary.

The full translation is available here:

But Please Note: This version of this sutta can be understood as a translation only in the broadest interpretations of the word "translation". It is really a new sutta, based on the original.




The Pali

Araṇavibhaṅga suttaṃ|| ||

Evaṃ me sutaṃ:
Ekaṃ samayaṃ Bhagavā Sāvatthiyaṃ viharati Jetavane Anāthapiṇḍikassa ārāme. Tatra kho Bhagavā bhikkhū āmantesi:|| ||

Bhikkhavo ti.|| ||

Bhadante ti te bhikkhū Bhagavato paccassosuṃ.|| ||

Bhagavā etad avoca:|| ||

Araṇavibhaṅgaṃ vo bhikkhave, desissāmi. Taṃ suṇātha sādhukaṃ manasi karotha. Bhāsissāmīti.|| ||

Evaṃ bhante' ti kho te bhikkhū Bhagavato paccassosuṃ.|| ||

Bhagavā etad avoca:|| ||

Na kāma-sukham-anuyuñjeyya hīnaṃ gammaṃ pothujjanikaṃ anariyaṃ ananthasaɱhitaṃ. Na ca attakila-mathānuyogaṃ anuyuñjeyya dukkhaṃ anariyaṃ anatthasaṃhitaṃ.
Ete te ubho ante anupagamma majjhimā paṭipadā Tathāgatena abhisambuddhā cakkhukaraṇī ñāṇakaraṇī upasamāya abhiññāya sambodhāya nibbānāya saṃvattati.|| ||

Ussādanañ ca jaññā, apasādanañ ca jaññā. Ussādanañ ca ñatvā apasādanañ ca ñatvā nevussādeyya nāpasādeyya dhammameva deseyya.|| ||

Sukhavinicchayaṃ jaññā, sukhavinicchayaṃ ñatvā ajjhattaṃ sukhamanuyuñjeyya.|| ||

Rahovādaṃ na bhāseyya, sammukhā na khīṇaṃ bhaṇe.|| ||

Ataramāno ca bhāseyya, no taramāno.|| ||

Janapadaniruttiṃ nābhiniveseyya, samaññaṃ nāti dhāveyyāti.|| ||

Ayamuddeso araṇavibhaṅgassa.|| ||





Araṇavibhangha: araṇa: PED: 1. Original meaning: removed from, remote, far; living in solitude, far from the madding crowd; 2. (a+rana): quietude, peace
> araṇavihārin: far from, away; "The P. Commentators expln it as opp. of raṇa fight, battle, i.e. peacefulness, friendliness ... syn of metta. one who lives in seclusion, an anchoret, hermit; hence a harmless, peaceful person

Vibhangha: Analysis, breakdown

Anuyuñjati: anu (along-up, after) + yuñjati: (Latin: jungo to unite, put together, junctus, English: junction, Lith. jungin. The Indogermanic root ieug is an enlarged form of ieue "to unite," as in Sk. yanti, yuvati, pp yuta; > yoga. to yoke; to join with, to engage in, to exert oneself, to endeavor. PED: 1. to practice, give oneself up to, attend, pursue; 2. to ask a question, to call to account, to take to task.

Pothujjanika: (fr. puthujjana): belonging to ordinary man, common, ordinary. puthu: palm of hand, breadth, broad, platus, broad Plateau, planta sole of foot, flado pancake, AngloSaxon, flet, ground, English: flat. Salt of the earth.

Attakila-mathānuyogaṃ: atta: self kila-mattha mortification; tiredness, fatigue, exhaustion

Ussādanañca jaññā, apasādanañca jaññā: ussādana > ussādeti: to dismiss, to raise, cause to rise up on haul up, pile up > ussada: prominence, used in characterisation of the nirayas, as "projecting, prominent hells, 2. protuberance, bump, swelling, 3. rubbing in anointing, ointment, 4. a crowd, 5. qualification, characteristic, mark, attribute +dana: given
apasādana: putting down, blame, disparagement, deprecation,

Sukhavinicchayaṃ: sukha: pleasant, sweet; vinicchaya: 1. discrimination, distinction, thought, firm opinion; thorough knowledge of; 2. decision; investigation, trial, judgment, 3. court house, hall of judgment; 4. judgment, detailed analysis, deliberation, consideration, ascertainment

Rahovāda: raho: Remember the name of the Buddha's son: Rāhula, the Obstruction: The God that obscures the sun. Secret, hidden, private. Vāda: talk.

Sammukhā na khīṇaṃ bhaṇe
sam: own, with; mukha: Mug, face;
Khīna: destroyed, left, gone, without, Horner notes: ...explained at MA. v. 30 as ākiṇṇa, confused, troubled, and as kiliṭṭḥa, soiled. It means that one should not say what is detrimental annoying or improper.
Bhaṇe: speak, recite, repeat, preach

Ataramāno ca bhāseyya, no taramāno: tarati: (> ter to turn round, move quickly...Old High German dweran: twirl; Latin trua, German quirl, twirling-stick, also Latin torqueo, turba and perhaps German sturen, zerstoren, English storm ?mo: torque) to be in a hurry, to make haste > trauma? drama? tarati 1: to get to the other side. Latin termen, terminus, trans; English: through. So don't be in too big a hurry to finish speaking.

Janapadaniruttim: janapada nirutti:
Janapada: inhabited country, the country (opp. town or market-place), the continent; politically: a province, district, country. (see: Buddhas India: The 16 provinces of Buddhist India)
Jana: Latin: genus. A creature, living being, an individual a creature, person, man. (bahujjana: the many-folk)
So pada being path or footprint you can see the tracker pointing to a path and saying: People live here. 'Man-Path.'

Nirutti: PED: one of the Vedangas (Chalangas), explanation of words, grammatical analysis, etymological interpretation; pronunciation, dialect, way of speaking, expression.

Nābhiniveseyya: na abhi niveseyya:
Abhinivesa: "settling in", i.e. wishing for, tendency towards, inclination, adherence, liking, loving, being given or inclined to

Samaññā: (sam: own; aññā: known) designation, name

Lokasamaññā a common appellation, a popular expression.

Dhāveyyā Horner: deviate, N/B: override.




Analyzing Disengagement


Once Upon a Time, Bhagava, Savatthi-town, Anāthapiṇḍika's Park, Jeta Grove revisiting, said this to the Beggars gathered round:

Beggars! he says.

And "Broke Tooth!" they respond.

I will analyze for you the art of disengagement. Listen up good, pay attention, I will speak!

"Even so, Bhante!"

And what is the Art of Disengagement?

It is not submitting to the ploy of sweet pleasures — stuff that has been left behind, ordinary, plain, unaristocratic, not connected to attainment.[2]

And it is not being employed in exhosting the self in painful, unaristocratic toil unconnected to attainment.[3]

Working towards neither of these extreme ends, the Art of Disengagement is the walking of that Middle Path awakened to by the Tathāgata, made visible, made known, peaceful, conducing to higher knowledge, self-awakening, Nibbāna.[4]

The Art of Disengagement, beggars, is knowing what it is to take sides and to be biased either for or against, and it is the non advocacy of either side, the not being biased either for or against, but simply teaching dhamma.

The Art of Disengagement, beggars, is understanding how to judge what is pleasant and knowing how to judge what is pleasant, being occupied solely by inward pleasantness.

It is knowing about what should be spoken of and what should be left unsaid, knowing the appropriate time to speak about private matters and when and when not to confront another with what is upleasant to hear.[5]

It is the art of speaking clearly, without hurry or drama, without either denegrating the local idiom or adhering rigidly only to what is acceptable speach in certain circles.

This, Beggars, is The Art of Disengagement.


[1] [MN 139] The Majjhima Nikaya, III.139: Aranavibhangasutta

[2] See: Dhammatalk: Stumbling Block

[3] Generally considered to be the sort of austerities the Buddha engaged in prior to his englightenment.

[4] The Magga, or Downbound Confounded Rebounding Conjuration, or The Four Truths.

[5] See: Samma Vaca


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