Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
I. Mūlapaṇṇāsa
1. Mūlapariyāya Vagga

The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha

Sutta 1

Mūla-Pariyā'ya Suttaɱ

The Root of All Things

Translated from the Pali by Ñanamoli Thera.
edited and revised by Bhikkhu Bodhi.

© 1995 Bhikkhu Bodhi
Published by
Wisdom Publications
Boston, MA 02115

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

 


 

[1][chlm][pts][than][olds][upal] THUS HAVE I HEARD.[1]

On one occasion the Blessed One was living in Ukkaṭṭhā in the Subhaga Grove at the root of a royal sāla tree. There he addressed the bhikkhus thus: "Bhikkhus."[2] — "Venerable sir," they replied. The Blessed One said this:

[2][pts][than][olds][upal] "Bhikkhus, I shall teach you a discourse on the root of all things.[3] Listen and attend closely to what I shall say." - "Yes, venerable sir," the bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:

THE ORDINARY PERSON

[3][pts][than][olds][upal] "Here, bhikkhus, an untaught ordinary person,[4] who has no regard for noble ones and is unskilled and undisciplined in their Dhamma, who has no regard for true men and is unskilled and undisciplined in their Dhamma, perceives earth as earth.[5] Having perceived earth as earth, he conceives [himself as] earth, he conceives [himself] in earth, he conceives [himself apart] from earth, he conceives earth to be 'mine,' he delights in earth.[6] Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.[7]

[4][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives water as water. Having perceived water as water, he conceives [himself as] water, he conceives [himself] in water, he conceives [himself apart] from water, he conceives water to be 'mine,' he delights in water. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

[5][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives fire as fire. Having perceived fire as fire, he conceives [himself as] fire, he conceives [himself] in fire, he conceives [himself apart] from fire, he conceives fire to be 'mine,' he delights in fire. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

[6][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives air as air. Having perceived air as air, he conceives [himself as] air, he conceives [himself] in air, he conceives [himself apart] from air, he conceives air to be 'mine,' he delights in air. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say. [2]

[7][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives beings as beings.[8] Having perceived beings as beings, he conceives beings, he conceives [himself] in beings, he conceives [himself apart] from beings, he conceives beings to be 'mine,' he delights in beings. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

[8][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives gods as gods.[9] Having perceived gods as gods, he conceives gods, he conceives [himself] in gods, he conceives [himself apart] from gods, he conceives gods to be 'mine,' he delights in gods. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

[9][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives Pajāpati as Pajāpati.[10] Having perceived Pajāpati as Pajāpati, he conceives Pajāpati, he conceives [himself] in Pajāpati, he conceives [himself apart] from Pajāpati, he conceives Pajāpati to be 'mine,' he delights in Pajāpati. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

[10][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives Brahmā as Brahmā,[11] Having perceived Brahmā as Brahmā, he conceives Brahmā, he conceives [himself] in Brahmā, he conceives [himself apart] from Brahmā,he conceives Brahmā to be 'mine,' he delights in Brahmā. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

[11][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives the gods of Streaming Radiance as the gods of Streaming Radiance.[12] Having perceived the gods of Streaming Radiance as the gods of Streaming Radiance, he conceives the gods of Streaming Radiance, he conceives [himself] in the gods of Streaming Radiance, he conceives [himself apart] from the gods of Streaming Radiance, he conceives the gods of Streaming Radiance to be 'mine,' he delights in the gods of Streaming Radiance. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

[12][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives the gods of Refulgent Glory as the gods of Refulgent Glory.[13] Having perceived the gods of Refulgent Glory as the gods of Refulgent Glory, he conceives the gods of Refulgent Glory, he conceives [himself] in the gods of Refulgent Glory, he conceives [himself apart] from the gods of Refulgent Glory, he conceives the gods of Refulgent Glory to be 'mine,' he delights in the gods of Refulgent Glory. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

[13][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives the gods of Great Fruit as the gods of Great Fruit.[14] Having perceived the gods of Great Fruit as the gods of Great Fruit, he conceives the gods of Great Fruit, he conceives [himself] in the gods of Great Fruit, he conceives [himself apart] from the gods of Great Fruit, he conceives the gods of Great Fruit to be 'mine,' he delights in the gods of Great Fruit. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

[14][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives the Overlord[15] as the Overlord.15 Having perceived the Overlord as the Overlord, he conceives the Overlord, he conceives [himself] in the Overlord, he conceives [himself apart] from the Overlord, he conceives the Overlord to be 'mine,' he delights in the Overlord. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

[15][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives the base of infinite space as the base of infinite space.[16] Having perceived the base of infinite space as the base of infinite space, he conceives [himself as] the base of infinite space, he conceives [himself] in the base of infinite space, he conceives [himself apart] from the base of infinite space, he conceives the base of infinite space to be 'mine,' he delights in the base of infinite space. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

[16][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives the base of infinite consciousness as the base of infinite consciousness. Having perceived the base of infinite consciousness as the base of infinite consciousness, [3] he conceives [himself as] the base of infinite consciousness, he conceives [himself] in the base of infinite consciousness, he conceives [himself apart] from the base of infinite consciousness, he conceives the base of infinite consciousness to be 'mine,' he delights in the base of infinite consciousness. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

[17][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives the base of nothingness as the base of nothingness. Having perceived the base of nothingness as the base of nothingness, he conceives [himself as] the base of nothingness, he conceives [himself] in the base of nothingness, he conceives [himself apart] from the base of nothingness, he conceives the base of nothingness to be 'mine,' he delights in the base of nothingness. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

[18][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception as the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception. Having perceived the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception as the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, he conceives [himself as] the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, he conceives [himself] in the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, he conceives [himself apart] from the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, he conceives the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception to be 'mine,' he delights in the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

[19][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives the seen as the seen.[17] Having perceived the seen as the seen, he conceives [himself as] the seen, he conceives [himself] in the seen, he conceives [himself apart] from the seen, he conceives the seen to be 'mine,' he delights in the seen. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

[20][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives the heard as the heard. Having perceived the heard as the heard, he conceives [himself as] the heard, he conceives [himself] in the heard, he conceives [himself apart] from the heard, he conceives the heard to be 'mine,' he delights in the heard. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

[21][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives the sensed as the sensed. Having perceived the sensed as the sensed, he conceives [himself as] the sensed, he conceives [himself] in the sensed, he conceives [himself apart] from the sensed, he conceives the sensed to be 'mine,' he delights in the sensed. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

[22][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives the cognized as the cognized. Having perceived the cognized as the cognized, he conceives [himself as] the cognized, he conceives [himself] in the cognized, he conceives [himself apart] from the cognized, he conceives the cognized to be 'mine,' he delights in the cognized. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

[23][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives unity as unity.[18] Having perceived unity as unity, he conceives [himself as] unity, he conceives [himself] in unity, he conceives [himself apart] from unity, he conceives unity to be 'mine,' he delights in unity. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

[24][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives diversity as diversity. Having perceived diversity as diversity, he conceives [himself as] diversity, he conceives [himself] in diversity, he conceives [himself apart] from diversity, he conceives diversity to be 'mine,' he delights in diversity. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

[25][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives all as all[19] Having perceived all as all, he conceives [himself as] all, [4] he conceives [himself] in all, he conceives [himself apart] from all, he conceives all to be 'mine,' he delights in all. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

[26][pts][than][olds][upal] "He perceives Nibbāna as Nibbāna.[20] Having perceived Nibbāna as Nibbāna, he conceives [himself as] Nibbāna, he conceives [himself] in Nibbāna, he conceives [himself apart] from Nibbāna, he conceives Nibbāna to be 'mine,' he delights in Nibbāna. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.

THE DISCIPLE IN HIGHER TRAINING

[27][pts][than][olds][upal] "Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu who is in higher training,[21] whose mind has not yet reached the goal, and who is still aspiring to the supreme security from bondage, directly knows earth as earth.[22] Having directly known earth as earth, he should not conceive [himself as] earth, he should not conceive [himself] in earth, he should not conceive [himself apart] from earth, he should not conceive earth to be 'mine,' he should not delight in earth. Why is that? So that he may fully understand it, I say.[23]

[28-49][pts][than][olds][upal] "He directly knows water as water ... He directly knows all as all. ..

[50][pts][than][olds][upal] "He directly knows Nibbāna as Nibbāna. Having directly known Nibbāna as Nibbāna, he should not conceive [himself as] Nibbāna, he should not conceive [himself] in Nibbāna, he should not conceive [himself apart] from Nibbāna, he should not conceive Nibbāna to be 'mine,' he should not delight in Nibbāna. Why is that? So that he may fully understand it, I say.

THE ARAHANT - I

[51][pts][than][olds][upal] "Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu who is an arahant with taints destroyed, who has lived the holy life, done what had to be done, laid down the burden, reached the true goal, destroyed the fetters of being, and is completely liberated through final knowledge,[24] directly knows earth as earth. Having directly known earth as earth, he does not conceive [himself as] earth, he does not conceive [himself] in earth, he does not conceive [himself apart] from earth, he does not conceive earth to be 'mine,' he does not delight in earth. Why is that? Because he has fully understood it, I say.[25]

[52-74][pts][than][olds][upal] "He directly knows water as water ... Nibbāna as Nibbāna ... Why is that? Because he has fully understood it, I say.

THE ARAHANT - II

[75][pts][than][olds][upal] "Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu who is an arahant ... completely liberated through final knowledge, [5] directly knows earth as earth. Having directly known earth as earth, he does not conceive [himself as] earth, he does not conceive [himself] in earth, he does not conceive [himself apart] from earth, he does not conceive earth to be 'mine,' he does not delight in earth. Why is that? Because he is free from lust through the destruction of lust.[26]

[76-98][pts][than][olds][upal] "He directly knows water as water...Nibbāna as Nibbāna ... Why is that? Because he is free from lust through the destruction of lust.

THE ARAHANT - III

[99][pts][than][olds][upal] "Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu who is an arahant ... completely liberated through final knowledge, directly knows earth as earth. Having directly known earth as earth, he does not conceive [himself as] earth, he does not conceive [himself] in earth, he does not conceive [himself apart] from earth, he does not conceive earth to be 'mine,' he does not delight in earth. Why is that? Because he is free from hate through the destruction of hate.

[100-122][pts][than][olds][upal] "He directly knows water as water ... Nibbāna as Nibbāna ... Why is that? Because he is free from hate through the destruction of hate.

THE ARAHANT — IV

[123][pts][than][olds][upal] "Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu who is an arahant ... completely liberated through final knowledge, directly knows earth as earth. Having directly known earth as earth, he does not conceive [himself as] earth, he does not conceive [himself] in earth, he does not conceive [himself apart] from earth, he does not conceive earth to be 'mine,' he does not delight in earth. Why is that? Because he is free from delusion through the destruction of delusion.

[124-146][pts][than][olds][upal] "He directly knows water as water ... Nibbāna as Nibbāna ... Why is that? Because he is free from delusion through the destruction of delusion.

THE TATHĀGATA — I

[147][pts][than][olds][upal] "Bhikkhus, the Tathāgata,[27] accomplished and fully enlightened, directly knows earth as earth. Having directly known earth as earth, he does not conceive [himself as] earth, he does not conceive [himself] in earth, he does not conceive [himself apart] from earth, he does not conceive earth to be 'mine,' he does not delight in earth. [6] Why is that? Because the Tathāgata has fully understood it to the end, I say.[28]

[148-170][pts][than][olds][upal] "He directly knows water as water ... Nibbāna as Nibbāna ... Why is that? Because the Tathāgata has fully understood it to the end, I say.

THE TATHĀGATA — II

[171][pts][than][olds][upal] "Bhikkhus, the Tathāgata, accomplished and fully enlightened, directly knows earth as earth. Having directly known earth as earth, he does not conceive [himself as] earth, he does not conceive [himself] in earth, he does not conceive [himself apart] from earth, he does not conceive earth to be 'mine,' he does not delight in earth. Why is that? Because he has understood that delight is the root of suffering, and that with being [as condition] there is birth, and that for whatever has come to be there is ageing and death.[29] Therefore, bhikkhus, through the complete destruction, fading away, cessation, giving up, and relinquishing of cravings, the Tathāgata has awakened to supreme full enlightenment, I say.[30]

[172-194][pts][than][olds][upal] "He directly knows water as water ... Nibbāna as Nibbāna ... Why is that? Because he has understood that delight is the root of suffering, and that with being [as condition] there is birth, and that for whatever has come to be there is ageing and death. Therefore, bhikkhus, through the complete destruction, fading away, cessation, giving up, and relinquishing of cravings, the Tathāgata has awakened to supreme full enlightenment, I say."

That is what the Blessed One said. But those bhikkhus did not delight in the Blessed One's words.[31]

 


[1]For a fuller treatment of this important and difficult sutta, see Bhikkhu Bodhi, Discourse on the Root of Existence. This work contains, besides a translation of the sutta, a lengthy analytical study of its philosophical significance and copious extracts from the very helpful commentarial literature that has accumulated around it. Ñm's rendering of this sutta in Ms was highly conjectural; thus, while I have retained most of his terminology, I have substituted my own rendering of the syntax to bring out the meaning that accords with the traditional interpretation and that seems warranted by the original Pali text as well. The key passages as Ñm rendered them will be given in the Notes.

[2]MA explains that the Buddha delivered this sutta to dispel the conceit that had arisen in five hundred bhikkhus on account of their erudition and intellectual mastery of the Buddha's teachings. These bhikkhus were formerly brahmins learned in the Vedic literature, and the Buddha's cryptic utterances may well have been intended to challenge the brahmanic views to which they may still have adhered.

[3]Sabbadhammamūlapariyāya. MA explains that the word "all" (sabba) is being used here in the restricted sense of the "all of personality" (sakkāyasabba), that is, with reference to all states or phenomena (dhammā) comprised within the five aggregates affected by clinging (see MN 28.4). Supramundane states - the paths, fruits, and Nibbāna - are excluded. The "root of all things" - that is, the special condition that maintains the continuity of the process of repeated existence - MA explains to be craving, conceit, and views (which are the underlying springs of "conceiving"), and these in turn are underlaid by ignorance, suggested in the sutta by the phrase "he has not fully understood it."

[4]The "untaught ordinary person" (assutavā puthujjana) is the common worldling, who possesses neither learning nor spiritual accomplishment in the Dhamma of the noble ones, and allows himself to be dominated by the multitude of defilements and wrong views. See Bodhi, Discourse on the Root of Existence, pp. 40-46.

[5]Paṭhavi~ paṭhavito sañjānāti. Although perceiving "earth as earth" seems to suggest seeing the object as it really is, the aim of Buddhist insight meditation, the context makes it clear that the ordinary person's perception of "earth as earth" already introduces a slight distortion of the object, a distortion that will be blown up into fullfledged misinterpretation when the cognitive process enters the phase of "conceiving." MA explains that the ordinary person seizes upon the conventional expression "it is earth," and applying this to the object, perceives it through a "perversion of perception" (saññāvipallāsa). The latter is a technical expression explained as perceiving the impermanent as permanent, the painful as pleasurable, what is not self as self, and what is foul as beautiful (AN 4:49/ii.52). Ñm reads the ablative suffix -to of the Pali as signifying derivation and translates the phrase: "From earth he has a percept of earth."

[6]The Pali verb "conceives" (manati), from the root man, "to think," is often used in the Pali suttas to mean distortional thinking - thought that ascribes to its object characteristics and a significance derived not from the object itself, but from its own subjective imaginings. The cognitive distortion introduced by conceiving consists, in brief, in the intrusion of the egocentric perspective into the experience already slightly distorted by spontaneous perception. According to the commentaries, the activity of conceiving is governed by three defilements, which accounts for the different ways it comes to manifestation - craving (taṇhā), conceit (māna), and views (diṭṭhi).
MA paraphrases this text thus: "Having perceived earth with a perverted perception, the ordinary person afterwards conceives it - construes or discriminates it through the gross proliferating tendencies (papañca) of craving, conceit, and views, which are here called 'conceivings.' ... He apprehends it in diverse ways contrary [to reality]."
The four ways of conceiving (maññanā): The Buddha shows that the conceiving of any object may occur in any of four ways, expressed by the text as a fourfold linguistic pattern: accusative, locative, ablative, and appropriative. The primary significance of this modal pattern - enigmatic in the Pali as well - seems to be ontological. I take the pattern to represent the diverse ways in which the ordinary person attempts to give positive being to his imagined sense of egohood by positing, below the threshold of reflection, a relationship between himself as the subject of cognition and the perceived phenomenon as its object. According to the fourfold pattern given, this relationship may be one either of direct identification ("he conceives X"), or of inherence ("he conceives in X"), or of contrast or derivation ("he conceives from X"), or of simple appropriation ("he conceives X to be 'mine'").
But care is needed in interpreting these phrases. The Pali does not supply any direct object for the second and third modes, and this suggests that the process at work in conceiving proceeds from a deeper and more general level than that involved in the forming of an explicit view of self, as described for example at MN 2.8 or MN 44.7. The activity of conceiving thus seems to comprise the entire range of subjectively tinged cognition, from the impulses and thoughts in which the sense of personal identity is still inchoate to elaborate intellectual structures in which it has been fully explicated.
Ñm, however, understands the implicit object of conceiving to be the percept itself, and accordingly translates: "having had from earth a percept of earth, he conceives [that to be] earth, he conceives [that to be] in earth, he conceives [that to be apart] from earth' etc.
The fifth phrase, "he delights in X' explicitly connects conceiving with craving, which is elsewhere said to "delight here and there." This, moreover, hints at the danger in the worldling's thought processes, since craving is pointed to by the Buddha as the origin of suffering.
MA gives prolific examples illustrating all the different modes of conceiving, and these clearly establish that the intended object of conceiving is the misplaced sense of egoity.

[7]MA states that one who fully understands earth does so by the three types of full understanding: the full understanding of the known (ñātapariññā) - the definition of the earth element by way of its unique characteristic, function, manifestation, and proximate cause; the full understanding by scrutinization (tīraṇapariññā) - the contemplation of the earth element by way of the three general characteristics of impermanence, suffering, and non-self; and the full understanding of abandonment (pahānapariññā) - the abandoning of desire and lust for the earth element through the supreme path (of arahantship).

[8]Bhūtā. MA says that "beings" here signifies only living beings below the heaven of the Four Great Kings, the lowest of the sense-sphere heavens; the higher grades of living beings are covered by the terms to follow. MA exemplifies the application of the three types of conceiving to this situation as follows: When a person becomes attached to beings as a result of sight, hearing, etc., or desires rebirth in a certain class of beings, this is conceiving due to craving. When he ranks himself as superior, equal, or inferior to others, this is conceiving due to conceit. And when he thinks, "Beings are permanent, stable, eternal," etc., this is conceiving due to views.

[9]MA: The gods of the six sense-sphere heavenly worlds are meant, except for Māra and his retinue in the heaven of the gods who wield power over others' creations. See the account of Buddhist cosmology in the Introduction, pp.31-33.

[10]Prajāpati, "lord of creation," is a name given by the Vedas to Indra, Agni, etc., as the highest of the Vedic divinities. But according to MA, Pajāpati here is a name for Māra because he is the ruler of this "generation" (pajā) made up of living beings.

[11]Brahmā here is MahāBrahmā, the first deity to be born at the beginning of a new cosmic cycle and whose lifespan lasts for the entire cycle. The Ministers of Brahmā and the Assembly of Brahmā - the other deities whose position is determined by attainment of the first jhāna - are also included.

[12]MA: By mentioning these, all beings occupying the plane of the second jhāna - the gods of Limited Radiance and the gods of Immeasurable Radiance - should be included, for all these occupy a single level.

[13]MA: By mentioning these, all beings occupying the plane of the third jhāna - the gods of Limited Glory and the gods of Immeasurable Glory - should be included.

[14]These are divinities on the plane of the fourth jhāna.

[15]Abhibhū. MA says this term is a designation for the nonpercipient realm, called thus because it vanquishes (abhibhavati) the four immaterial aggregates. The identification sounds contrived, especially because the word "abhibhū" is a masculine singular noun. Elsewhere (MN 49.5) the word appears as part of Baka the Brahmā's claim to theocratic hegemony, yet MA rejects identifying the Abhibhū with Brahmā here as a redundancy.

[16]This and the next three sections deal with conceiving in relation to the four immaterial planes of existence - the cosmological counterparts of the four immaterial meditative attainments. With §18 the division of conceiving by way of planes of existence is completed.

[17]In these four sections the phenomena comprising personality are considered as objects of perception classified into the four categories of the seen, heard, sensed, and cognized. Here, sensed (muta) signifies the data of smell, taste, and touch, cognized (viññāta) the data of introspection, abstract thought, and imagination. The objects of perception are "conceived" when they are cognized in terms of "mine," "I," and "self," or in ways that generate craving, conceit, and views.

[18]In this section and the next, the phenomena comprising personality are treated as twofold - by way of unity and diversity. The emphasis on unity (ekatta), MA informs us, is characteristic of one who attains the jhānas, in which the mind occurs in a single mode on a single object. The emphasis on diversity (nānatta) prevails in the case of the non-attainer who lacks the overwhelming unitive experience of jhānas. Conceivings stressing diversity come to expression in philosophies of pluralism, those stressing unity in philosophies of the monistic type.

[19]In this section, all phenomena of personality are collected together and shown as singlefold. This idea of totality can form the basis for philosophies of the pantheistic or monistic type, depending on the relation posited between the self and the all.

[20]MA understands "Nibbāna" here to refer to the five kinds of "supreme Nibbāna here and now" included among the sixty-two wrong views of the Brahmajāla Sutta (DN 1.3.19-25/i.36-38), that is, Nibbāna identified with the full enjoyment of sense pleasures or with the four jhānas. Enjoying this state, or yearning for it, he conceives it with craving. Priding himself on attaining it, he conceives it with conceit. Holding this imaginary Nibbāna to be permanent, etc., he conceives it with views.

[21]The sekha, the disciple in higher training, is one who has reached any of the three lower planes of sanctity stream-entry, once-returning, or non-returning - but must still train further in order to reach the goal, arahantship, the supreme security from bondage. MN 53 is devoted to expounding the training he must undertake. The arahant is sometimes described as asekha, one beyond training, in the sense that he has completed the training in the Noble Eightfold Path. Nm rendered sekha as "initiate" and asekha as "adept' which have been changed here to avoid their "esoteric" connotations.

[22]It should be noted that, whereas the ordinary man is said to perceive each of the bases, the one in higher training is said to directly know them (abhijanati). MA explains that he knows them with distinguished knowledge, knows them in accordance with their real nature as impermanent, suffering, and non-self. Nm rendered: "From earth he has direct knowledge of earth."

[23]The disciple in higher training is urged by the Buddha to refrain from conceiving and delight because the dispositions to these mental processes still remain within him. With his attainment of stream-entry he eradicated the fetter of personality view and thus can no longer conceive in terms of wrong views. But the defilements of craving and conceit are only uprooted by the path of arahantship, and thus the sekha remains vulnerable to the conceivings to which they are capable of giving rise. Whereas direct knowledge (abhiññii) is the province of both the sekha and the arahant, full understanding (pariññā) is the province exclusively of the arahant, as it involves the full abandoning of all defilements.

[24]This is the stock description of the arahant, repeated in many suttas.

[25]When ignorance has been abolished by the attainment of full understanding, the subtlest dispositions to craving and conceit are also eradicated. Thus the arahant can no longer engage in conceiving and delight.

[26]This section and the following two are stated to show that the arahant does not conceive, not only because he has fully understood the object, but because he has eradicated the three unwholesome roots _ lust (or greed), hate, and delusion. The phrase "free from lust through the destruction of lust" is used to stress that the arahant is not merely temporarily without lust, but has destroyed it at the most fundamental level. Similarly with hate and delusion.

[27]On this word, the epithet the Buddha uses most often when referring to himself, see the Introduction, p. 24. The commentaries give a long detailed etymology, into which they try to compress virtually the entire Dhamma. The passage has been translated in Bhikkhu Bodhi, Discourse on the All-Embracing Net of Views, pp. 331-44.

[28]Pariññātantaɱ Tathāgatassa. So BBS and SBJ eds. and MA, though PTS ed. reads simply pariññātam. MA glosses: "fully understood to the conclusion, fully understood to the limit, fully understood without remainder." It explains that while Buddhas and disciple-arahants are alike in abandoning all defilements, there is a distinction in their range of full understanding: whereas disciples can attain Nibbāna after comprehending with insight only a limited number of formations, Buddhas fully understand all formations without exception.

[29]This sentence gives a highly compressed statement of the formula of dependent origination (paṭicca samuppada), usually expounded in twelve factors (as in MN 38). As interpreted by MA, "delight" is the craving of the previous life that brought into being the "suffering" of the five aggregates in the present life, "being" the kammically determinative aspect of the present life that causes future birth, followed by future ageing and death. This passage shows the cause for the Buddha's elimination of conceiving to be his penetration of dependent origination on the night of his enlightenment. The mention of "delight" (nandī) as the root of suffering links up with the sutta's title; moreover, by referring to the earlier statement that the ordinary person delights in earth, etc., it shows suffering to be the ultimate consequence of delight.

[30]MA explains the sequence of ideas thus: The Tathāgata does not conceive earth and does not delight in earth because he has understood that delight is the root of suffering. Further, by understanding dependent origination, he has completely abandoned the craving here called "delight" and has awakened to supreme full enlightenment. As a result he does not conceive earth or delight in earth.

[31]The bhikkhus did not delight in the Buddha's words, apparently because the discourse probed too deeply into the tender regions of their own conceit, and perhaps their residual brahmanic views. At a later time, MA tells us, when their pride had been humbled, the Buddha expounded to these same bhikkhus the Gotamaka Sutta (AN 3:123/i.276), in the course of which they all attained arahantship.

 

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