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 [Dhamma Talk]


MN 35

Saccaka, who has been boasting and bragging that he can defeat the Buddha in debate when he meets him in debate is upset after his first utterance. The Buddha then teaches him Dhamma.

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Index to available translations: MN 35



This is a wonderful example of old time debate. It also shows how politely and reasonably such a debate was conducted even when the consequences were as hair-raising as they are shown to be in this sutta. There is no attempt to bring the debate to a pre-mature conclusion simply because Saccaka feels bad. What our board monitors need to see is that by terminating debate for the sake of maintaining good feelings is preventing the discovery of deeper truths. We hang on to our beliefs; getting them destroyed is painful; going through that pain is the only way of reaching higher wisdom.

This debate also shows how a really wise debator takes defeat and turns it into an advantage.

This sutta concludes with an exchange which should put to rest all doubt about the impossibility of transference of kamma. Saccaka, in gratitude for his instruction, invites the Buddha and the sangha for a meal. To prepare the meal he asks his friends to donate to him what they feel they owe him. He then gives what he has received to the Buddha and the Saṅgha. Then he asks that the merit for such a meal be received by the doners. The Buddha explains that the doners have given to Saccaka and will receive kammic consequences that accord with the rebound from one such as him whereas Saccaka, who gave to the Buddha will receive the kammic consequences of one who has given to a Buddha. No transference of kamma.

MN 35

Saccaka, who has been boasting and bragging that he can defeat the Buddha in debate when he meets him in debate is upset after his first utterance. The Buddha then teaches him Dhamma.



MN 35 & 36

Read the Sutta

Index to available translations: MN 36



The Buddha teaches Saccaka about training the body and training the heart.

Note that this sutta is given before Gotama's breakfast! There is some very interesting information here about what constitutes the development of body and the development of the heart. This sutta also relates some of Gotama's very early practices and the recollection which finally lead him to the path to awakening.

Ms. Horner, Bhk. Bodhi, Bhk. Thanissaro, and Sister Upalavana all translate 'citta-bhāvanā' as 'development of mind.'

Ms. Horner notes commentary here as saying that development of body kāya-bhāvanā, is vipassanā, insight, and development of mind, citta-bhāvanā is samatha, calm.

This would make vipassana practice = Satipatthana practice (the setting up of mind or memory) the development of body, and the development of calm through jhāna practice, the development of mind. This seems a little backward to me.

If, in stead of translating citta-bhāvanā as 'development of mind' we translate it as 'development of heart', the use of jhāna practice to calm the heart is more easily understood. But how does Satipatthana practice amount to development of body?

I suggest that the message of the sutta is that the development of the body and heart occur symultaneously in the practice of letting go lust for sense-pleasures and lust for things that make for sense-pleasures.

In this sutta we once again come upon Gotama's description of his extreme austerities in his attempt to attain Awakening, his subsequent rejection of such practices, and his recollection of an insident in his youth that pointed to a successful practice.

Sitting there he finds himself in a very peaceful state of mind which he describes in a formula that later becomes know as 'the First Jhāna' — 'knowing'; it is a point at which two things are seen with absolute clarity: 1. it is got by letting go of (separating from) lesser states; and 2. it is a higher form of happiness than sense pleasure; that is at this point one knows for certain one is on the right track.

Separated from Sensuaity,
Separated from Unskillful things,
With Thinking and With Pondering
with the Pleasureable-Enthusiasm born of Separation,
One enters and abides in the First Knowing.

Here we have, side-by-side, both the formula and an illuminating image of this entry point to the attaining of Awakening.

At ease sitting at the root of the rose-apple tree, the young prince is seen just prior to his entry into puberty (separated from sensuality). He is separated from his father and the commencement of the ceremony (separated from unskillful things), yet is observant of the situation. What you need to know is that the Plowing Ceremony is a 'rite of spring', a 'fertility rite', a ceremony that would introduce a youth to sensual pleasures.

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