Under the rose-apple tree

Under the rose-apple tree

Monday, 8 February 2016

The Emptiness of No Self (2): Anattalakkhaṇasuttaṁ

The Mahākhandhako, which serves as a kind of introduction to the Pali vinaya, records that after the Buddha's first turning of the Dharma-wheel, in which he expounded the four noble truths culminating in the middle path, Kauṇḍinya was the first to understand the Buddha's Dharma. The Buddha was thus prompted to observe:

“Aññāsi vata bho Koṇḍañño, aññāsi vata bho Koṇḍañño” ti.
“Koṇḍañña surely knows, Koṇḍañña surely knows.”

Iti hidaṁ āyasmato Koṇḍaññassa Aññā Koṇḍañño tveva nāmaṁ ahosi.
Thus to the venerable Koṇḍañña came the name Aññā Koṇḍañña 
(Sanskrit: Ājñāta-kauṇḍinya, “Knowing Kauṇḍinya”).

[None of the group-of-five, however, is yet affirmed as an arhat (worthy one). At this point there is only one who has no dust in his eyes, and that is the Buddha.

After the going forth of Kauṇḍinya, the Buddha teaches further:] 

“Yaṁ kiñci samudayadhammaṁ, sabban-taṁ nirodhadhamman”-ti.
“Whatever has the nature of arising, all that has the nature of ceasing.”

[And so the other four in the group-of-five follow Kauṇḍinya in understanding the Dharma and going forth as bhikhus under the Buddha.

After that, having caused those bhikkhus to understand what the middle path is, the Buddha proceeds to teach by the middle. And what he teaches by the middle, in short, is emptiness. Thus, on the subject of no self, the Buddha delivers the second discourse – Anattalakkhaṇasuttaṁ.] 

Atha kho Bhagavā pañcavaggiye bhikkhū āmantesi:
Then the Gracious One addressed the group-of-five monks (saying):
“Rūpaṁ bhikkhave anattā,
“Bodily form, monks, is not self...”
...na ca labbhati rūpe:
“It is not possible (to say), with regard to bodily form:
‘Evaṁ me rūpaṁ hotu, evaṁ me rūpaṁ mā ahosī.’ ti
Let my bodily form be thus, let my bodily form be not thus.’ ”

[Similarly for the other of the five bodily aggregates:] 

Vedanā anattā,
“Feeling is not Self...”

Saññā anattā,
“Perception is not self...”

Saṅkhārā anattā,
“Habitual doings are not self...”

Viññāṇaṁ anattā,
“Divided consciousness is not self...”
 na ca labbhati viññāṇe:
“It is not possible (to say), with regard to consciousness:
‘Evaṁ me viññāṇaṁ hotu, evaṁ me viññāṇaṁ mā ahosī.’ ti
‘Let my consciousness be thus, let my consciousness be not thus.’ ”

[The Buddha's first argument against the independent existence of a separate self is thus based on the fact that none of us has complete autonomy. The second argument appeals to the monks' sense of propriety. To identify with bodily aggregates that are implicated with suffering, does not befit one whose central task, as recently outlined in the four noble truths, is the alleviation of suffering.] 

Taṁ kiṁ maññatha bhikkhave:
What do you think of this, monks:
“Rūpaṁ niccaṁ vā aniccaṁ vā?” ti
Is bodily form permanent or impermanent?”
“Aniccaṁ Bhante.”
“Impermanent, Venerable Sir.”
“Yaṁ panāniccaṁ dukkhaṁ vā taṁ sukhaṁ vā?” ti
But that which is impermanent, is that full of suffering or ease?”
“Dukkhaṁ Bhante.”
“Full of suffering, Venerable Sir.”
“Yaṁ panāniccaṁ dukkhaṁ vipariṇāmadhammaṁ,
“But that which is impermanent, full of suffering and changeable,
kallaṁ nu taṁ samanupassituṁ:
is it proper to regard it thus:
‘Etaṁ mama esoham-asmi eso me attā?’ ” ti
‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self?’ ”
“No hetaṁ Bhante.”
“Certainly not, Venerable Sir.”

[Similarly, the Buddha asks:] 

“Vedanā niccā vā aniccā vā?” ti
“Is feeling permanent or impermanent?”...

“Saññā niccā vā aniccā vā?” ti
“Is perception permanent or impermanent?” ...

“Saṅkhārā niccā vā aniccā vā?” ti
“Are habitual doings permanent or impermanent?” ...

“Viññāṇaṁ niccaṁ vā aniccaṁ vā?” ti
“Is divided consciousness permanent or impermanent?” ...

[The answer in each case is:] 

“No hetaṁ Bhante.”
“Certainly not, Venerable Sir.”

“Tasmātiha bhikkhave yaṁ kiñci rūpaṁ atītānāgatapaccuppannaṁ,
“Therefore monks, whatever bodily form there is in the past, future or present,
ajjhattaṁ vā bahiddhā vā, oḷārikaṁ vā sukhumaṁ vā hīnaṁ vā paṇītaṁ vā,
inner or outer, gross or fine, inferior or excellent,
yaṁ dūre vā santike vā sabbaṁ rūpaṁ:
whether far or near, regarding all form:
‘Netaṁ mama, nesoham-asmi, na me so attā,’ ti
This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self,’
evam-etaṁ yathābhūtaṁ sammappaññāya daṭṭhabbaṁ.
in just this way, as it really is, it should be seen with full wisdom.

[And similarly for the other four bodily aggregates...]

Evaṁ passaṁ bhikkhave sutavā ariyasāvako rūpasmim-pi nibbindati,
Seeing in this way, monks, the learned, noble disciple, grows weary of bodily form,
vedanāya pi nibbindati, saññāya pi nibbindati,
and weary of feeling, and weary of perception,
saṅkhāresu pi nibbindati, viññāṇasmim-pi nibbindati,
and weary of habitual doings, and weary of divided consciousness;
nibbindaṁ virajjati, virāgā vimuccati,
through weariness he becomes dispassionate; through dispassion he is liberated;
vimuttasmiṁ vimuttam-iti ñāṇaṁ hoti:
in liberation, there is the knowledge that such is liberation:

‘Khīṇā jāti
‘Destroyed is (re)birth,
vusitaṁ brahmacariyaṁ
accomplished is the spiritual life,
kataṁ karaṇīyaṁ
done is what was to be done,
nāparaṁ itthattāyā’ ti pajānātī’ ti.
there is no more of this mundane state’ - this he knows.”

Idam-avoca Bhagavā,
The Glorious One said this,
attamanā pañcavaggiyā bhikkhū Bhagavato bhāsitaṁ abhinanduṁ.
and the group-of-five monks were uplifted and greatly rejoiced in what was said by the Glorious One.
Imasmiñ-ca pana veyyākaraṇasmiṁ bhaññamāne,
Moreover, as this sermon was being given,
pañcavaggiyānaṁ bhikkhūnaṁ anupādāya āsavehi cittāni vimucciṁsu,
the group-of-five monks' minds, through not clinging, were freed from the polluting influences,
tena kho pana samayena cha loke arahanto honti.
and at that time there were six worthy ones in the world.

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