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 [Dhamma Talk]


SN 3.22.53

In this sutta individualized consciousness is shown as being dependent on a person's attachment to and taking up of form, sensation, perception, and own-making, and that when attachment is let go consciousness is liberated.

Read the Sutta

Recommended translation: Taking Up, Olds translation
Index of Available translations: SN 3.22.53



What is being taught in this sutta is what is called 'The Four Sticking-Points of Consciousness', [catasso viññāṇa-ṭ-ṭhitiyo PED: "[pp. of tiṭṭhati = Gr. στατός, Latin status, Celt. fossad (firm) (ed: ? fossilized)] standing, i.e. (see ṭhāna I) either upright (opp. nisinna, etc.), or immovable, or being, behaving in general."] usually translated 'The Four Stations of Consciousness'. I suggest 'sticking-points' here more clearly points to the idea that when consciousness is 'stuck' on these four it is not free, but that when unstuck, it is the equivalent of Nibbāna.

With consciousness anchored to these four 'sticking-points' it is bound up in individuality, is said to have come into existence, to have been own-made and to be subject to further own-made existence, and is not free.

Free from this attachment to these four things and lust, anger and blindness related to consciousness itself it is not bound up in individuality, has not come into existence, is not subject to further own-made existence, and is free.

In my previous translation, blindly misunderstanding an abridgment of the four as an abridgment of the five khandhas, I had included "consciousness" as a fifth station. The distinction between the five khandhas and the four sticking points is important. Understanding that there is a distinction, allows for the idea that consciousness, free from lust can be freed from existence.

The āsavas in connection with consciousness must be eliminated, but consciousness connected with the āsavas is always consciousness fueled by thoughts and obsessions concerning the four 'sticking points'. It is not, in and of itself a sticking point. But in a turn of words not uncommon in the suttas consciousness, when freed from the āsavas, is said to be 'stuck' on consciousness of freedom.

It is in this sutta we get the very important idea that there is no individualized consciousness apart from form, sensation, perception and own-making. That is that identified-with consciousness is conditioned. But here also we see that consciousness (when freed from attachment to the four sticking-points) is equated with Nibbāna.

The difficult idea to understand is that the consciousness that results from the elimination of the āsavas is conditioned by not-doing.

That which is not-done is not own-made and that which results from non-doing is similarly not own-made.

That which is not own-made has not come into existence.

Not having come into existence it does not pass out of existence.

The object of this consciousness (that which it is 'stuck' on) is freedom from existence.

This is the nature of that freed consciousness.

It is also important these days (Sunday, July 31, 2016 9:19 AM) to see that that latter consciousness was not there all the time waiting for you to become aware of it (as with the idea of the Bodhi mind) (it was conditioned, it arose consequent upon not-doing). It is something that must be cultivated such that it becomes a habitat of mind: Nibbāna. The way to do that is the Aristocratic Eight-dimensional High Way.

Its: "All own-made things (saṇkhāraed) are unstable."
It is not: "All conditioned things (paṭiccaed) are unstable."

Look it up.


The Four Sticking-Points of Consciousness
Catassa viññāṇa-ṭ-ṭhitiya

Rūp'upāya: Form-fueled
Vedan'upāya: Sense-experience-fueled
Saññ'upāya: Perception-fueled
Saṅkhār'upāya: Own-made-fueled

Consciousness, bound up in these or any one of these four rolls on to further own-made existence subject to ending.

Consciousness, freed from lust, anger and blindness concerned with any of The Five Stockpiles is not bound up in any of these Four Sticking-Points and is free, it is disconnected from own-making, it is, as it were, 'stuck' on freedom, thus stuck it is happy, healed, well, and is aware that rebirth has been left behind, the holy life has been lived, duty's doing has been done and there is no more being any sort of an 'it' at any place of 'atness'.

—SN 3.22.53

There could hardly be a clearer statement that consciousness, when freed of the āsavas, is another name for Nibbāna. That this consciousness cannot be said to have existence, and is not 'pinned down' explains the much-debated term: 'viññāṇa anidassana', another term for Nibbāna.




SN 3.22.54

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