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 [Dhamma Talk]


SN 4.35.206

The Buddha teaches a simile for the control of the six senses by way of contrasting the result of tying each of six different animals with six different tastes when they are each tied to the others versus when they are each tied to a central stake.

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Index of Available translations: [SN 4.35.206]



In the first case the animals, when tired of struggling against each other follow the strongest of them whereas when they are all tied to the central stake they cease to struggle at all.

Something similar to the way mankind switched from following war-lords to following the rule of law ... only mankind, being what it is (a blight on the face of the earth), seeing that laws were made by ignorant men, in the service of their avarice, not righteousness, turned it's struggle to subverting the rule of law.

Nevertheless, should one sincerely seek to free one's self from the domination of the senses, the lesson here points to the value of subjecting one's self to the discipline of minding the gates to embodyment (kāyagatā sati) (i.e., the senses).

The opening passage of this sutta is problematic and I believe the point has been missed (or at least has not been made clear) by Woodward, Bhkkhu Thanissaro and Bhikkhu Bodhi. I suggest the idea (not a translation) is this:

In the same way as a man with a festering wound when entering a jungle of thorns would come to pain resulting from the thorns scratching at his wound,
so a beggar retires from the world and finds there a person who accosts him saying:

"You, behaving as you do, are a blight on the face of the earth!"

And this is how this should be understood:
The beggar retiring from the world with minding the gates to embodyment unguarded, the blight on the face of the earth, stands for non-self-restraint;
the person who accosts him stands for the conscience, the effort for self-restraint.

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