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 [Dhamma Talk]


Food for Thought

After the Buddha has taught the four foods, Moliya Phagguna asks who it is that feeds on the consciousness food. Gotama responds correcting his thinking from 'who feeds?' to 'what results from feeding on?', which leads into the chain of interdependent factors (paṭicca samuppāda).


Saɱyutta Nikāya, Nidana Vagga,
Recommended translation:
2.12.12: Top-Knot-Phagguna, the M. Olds translation.
2.12.16: the M. Olds translation
Other available translations:
[SN 2.12.012] [SN 2.12.016]


#1: What's to Eat?

Food for Thought

SN 2.12.16 is a sutta which explains the meaning of the statement in 'The One Question' that the idea of 'food' must be understood both in its breadth and in its depth. The breadth is the way food is defined as the four foods; the depth is the way the four foods are shown to be related to the paṭicca samuppāda. In meditation you should try to 'see' this construction in three dimensions.

One Question
One Answer
One Explanation.

What is One?

Understanding the problem and the Dhamma as its solution through the thorough comprehension of this one subject will bring one to the complete destruction of pain in the absolute freedom of detachment.

Āhāra — Food.

All beings live on, on Food.

A-har a,
Hurrah, Hooray
We have Food
To Eat Today!

The Four Foods

Made-edible food, substantial or subtle;
contact is the second;
intentions the third;
consciousness the fourth.

With any of these four foods, together with consciousness, beings project themselves into further existence.

The living being is in a state of constant change. Consequently what is intended here is not the maintaining of a being, but the understanding that these foods further or bring about or have brought about further existence.

In dependence on edible food, the living being (defined as the six-sense realms);
in dependence on the six-sense realms, contact;
in dependence on contact, sense-experience;
in dependence on sense experience, intentions;
in dependence on intentions; conscious existence.

Reference: SN 2.12.12


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