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The Art of Disengagement[1]

The Araṇa-vibhaṅga 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:
Araṇa-vibhaṅga Sutta

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 Pāḷi

Araṇa-vibhaṅga 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:|| ||

"Araṇa-vibhaṅgaṃ vo bhikkhave, desissāmi.|| ||

Taṃ suṇātha||
sādhukaṃ manasi karotha.|| ||

Bhāsissāmī" ti.|| ||

"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.|| ||

Sukha-vini-c-chayaṃ jaññā,||
sukha-vini-c-chayaṃ ñatvā ajjhattaṃ sukham-anuyuñjeyya.|| ||

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

Ataramāno ca bhāseyya,||
no taramāno.|| ||

Jana-pada-niruttiṃ nābhiniveseyya,||
samaññaṃ nāti dhāveyyāti.|| ||

Ayamuddeso araṇa-vibhaṅgassa.|| ||





Araṇa-vibhaṅga: araṇa: PED: 1. Original meaning: removed from, remote, far; living in solitude, far from the madding crowd; 2. (a+rana): quietude, peace
> araṇa-vihārin: 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.

Vibhaṅgha: 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.

Ussādanañ ca jaññā, apasādanañ ca 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,

Sukha-vini-c-chayaṃ: sukha: pleasant, sweet; vini-c-chaya: 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

Raho-vāda: 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.

Janapada-niruttim: 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

Loka-samaññā 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 "Venerable!" 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 exhausting 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 persoal 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 unpleasant to hear.[5]

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

This, Beggars, is The Art of Disengagement.


[1] [MN 139] The Majjhima Nikāya, III.139: Araṇa-vibhaṅga Sutta

[2] See: Dhammatalk: Stumbling Block.

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

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

[5] See: Sammā Vaca


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