Aŋguttara Nikāya


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Aŋguttara Nikāya
VIII. Navaka Nipāta
IV. Mahā Vagga

Sutta 34

Nibbāna-Sukha Suttaɱ

Unbinding

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
Proofed against and modified in accordance with the revised edition at dhammatalks.org
Provenance, terms and conditons

 


 

[1][pts] I have heard that on one occasion Ven. Sāriputta was staying near Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels' Feeding Sanctuary.

There he said to the monks, "This Unbinding is pleasant, friends.

This Unbinding is pleasant."

 

§

 

When this was said, Ven. Udayin said to Ven. Sāriputta, "But what is the pleasure here, my friend, where there is nothing felt?"

"Just that is the pleasure here, my friend: where there is nothing felt.

There are these five strings of sensuality.

Which five?

Forms cognizable via the eye — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, enticing, linked to sensual desire;

sounds cognizable via the ear...

aromas cognizable via the nose...

flavors cognizable via the tongue...

tactile sensations cognizable via the body — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, enticing, linked to sensual desire.

Whatever pleasure or joy arises in dependence on these five strings of sensuality,
that is sensual pleasure.

 

§

 

"Now there is the case where a monk — quite secluded from sensuality,[1] secluded from unskillful qualities — enters and remains in the first jhāna: rapture and pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation.

If, as he remains there, he is beset with attention to perceptions dealing with sensuality, that is an affliction for him.

Just as pain would arise in a healthy person as an affliction, even so the attention to perceptions dealing with sensuality that beset the monk is an affliction for him.

Now, the Blessed One has said that whatever is an affliction is stress.

So by this line of reasoning it may be known how Unbinding is pleasant.

"Then there is the case where a monk, with the stilling of directed thought and evaluation, enters and remains in the second jhāna: rapture and pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought and evaluation — internal assurance.

If, as he remains there, he is beset with attention to perceptions dealing with directed thought, that is an affliction for him...

"Then there is the case where a monk, with the fading of rapture, remains equanimous, mindful and alert, senses pleasure with the body, and enters and remains in the third jhāna, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous and mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.'

If, as he remains there, he is beset with attention to perceptions dealing with rapture, that is an affliction for him...

"Then there is the case where a monk, with the abandoning of pleasure and pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation and distress — enters and remains in the fourth jhāna: purity of equanimity and mindfulness, neither-pleasure-nor-pain.

If, as he remains there, he is beset with attention to perceptions dealing with equanimity,[2] that is an affliction for him...

"(perceiving,)" here is simply 'ti' which is most often translated 'thinking' or is the equivalant of quotation marks, or 'he said'. What appears to be the motive for this strange case is the idea that 'vitakka' (thinking) has been abandoned at the attainment of the second jhāna. The Sphere of Endless Space, however, is not got only from the jhānas, or fourth jhāna, but those previous to the Buddha and the introduction of the Four Jhānas also attained this sphere. This sphere is attained through inattention to perceptions of resistance always accompanied by the 'ti' of "Endless is Space". It is with this thought or conscious perception that one enters the Sphere. Then is this a thought that directs the attention to the perception? Or is this a perception that spontaneously arises upon inattention to perceptions of resistance? If a perception, is it subsequently put into words by the meditator? Or how does it become conscious? and is that a thought? If it is a spontaneously arising perception, how is this then a formula, a recipe, an instruction as to how to attain the sphere? If this is a perception, how does one recognize the perception without the thought at least arising along with the perception. If the thought arises along with the perception, what is the advantage of translating the 'ti' as perception? Just asking. Something similar occurs with the Sphere of Endless Consciousness and the Sphere of No Things to Be Had There ...

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

"Then there is the case where a monk, with the complete transcending of perceptions of [physical] form, with the disappearance of perceptions of resistance, and not attending to perceptions of multiplicity, (perceiving,) 'Infinite space,' enters and remains in the dimension of the infinitude of space.

If, as he remains there, he is beset with attention to perceptions dealing with form, that is an affliction for him...

"Then there is the case where a monk, with the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of space, (perceiving,) 'Infinite consciousness,' enters and remains in the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness.

If, as he remains there, he is beset with attention to perceptions dealing with the dimension of the infinitude of space, that is an affliction for him...

"Then there is the case where a monk, with the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, (perceiving,) 'There is nothing,' enters and remains in the dimension of nothingness.

If, as he remains there, he is beset with attention to perceptions dealing with the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, that is an affliction for him...

"Then there is the case where a monk, with the complete transcending of the dimension of nothingness, enters and remains in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.

If, as he remains there, he is beset with attention to perceptions dealing with the dimension of nothingness, that is an affliction for him.

Now, the Blessed One has said that whatever is an affliction is stress.

So by this line of reasoning it may be known how pleasant Unbinding is.

"Then there is the case where a monk, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, enters and remains in the cessation of perception and feeling. And, having seen [that] with discernment, his mental effluents are completely ended. So by this line of reasoning it may be known how Unbinding is pleasant."

 


[1] AN 6:63 defines sensuality as follows: "There are these five strands of sensuality. Which five? Forms cognizable via the eye—agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, enticing, linked to sensual desire; sounds cognizable via the ear... aromas cognizable via the nose... flavors cognizable via the tongue... tactile sensations cognizable via the body—agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, enticing, linked to sensual desire. But these are not sensuality. They are called strands of sensuality in the discipline of the noble ones.

"The passion for his resolves is a man’s sensuality, not the beautiful sensual pleasures   found in the world. The passion for his resolves is a man’s sensuality. The beauties remain as they are in the world, While, in this regard, the enlightened   subdue their desire."

[2] In other words, even though the fourth jhāna is characterized by equanimity, the act of taking mental note of that fact would disturb the stillness of the jhāna. This point is also found in AN 9:41.

 


 

Of Related Interest:

MN 121;
AN 9:42;
Dhp 202–203;
Dhp 381;
Ud 2:1–2;
Ud 8:1–4

 


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