Samyutta Nikaya Masthead

[Home]  [Sutta Indexes]  [Glossology]  [Site Sub-Sections]

"Until such a time as I had understood the senses,
understood the origin of the senses,
understood the ending of the senses,
understood the way to the ending of the senses, beggars,
I did not consider myself completely awake;
but when I had understood the senses,
understood the origin of the senses,
understood the ending of the senses,
understood the way to the ending of the senses, beggars,
I considered myself completely awake."
[— SN 4.35.13]


Saṃyutta Nikāya
II. Nidāna Vagga
14. Dhātu-Saṃyuttaṃ
I. Nānatta Vagga Paṭhama
1. Ajjhatta-Pañcakaṃ

Sutta 1



Translated from the Pāḷi
Michael M. Olds


Translator's Introduction

Although it may not be immediately obvious, this is the most important set of suttas (this and the following related suttas) corroborating my exposition of what I have called 'Pajapati's Problem'.

I have described dimensions of Pajapati's problem in discussions contained on this site: Pajapati's Problem and Pajapati's Problem 2

To my mind this problem, namely the notion of 'One and only one God' who is also The Creator is the single most mentally debilitating force in the United States today. It may be so also in the rest of the world, but I do not know this from experience. It does not matter here whether one was raised a Christian a Catholic Christian or fundamentalist Babtist Christian or Mormon or Muslim or an Atheist or an Agnostic or a Hindu or even Buddhist for that matter. The notion is drummed into us from our earliest schooling as an 'advance in the thinking of mankind.' It is not an advance, it is a perversion.

To free ourselves from the fear instilled by this pernicious point of view, even without becoming aware of the method for its complete abandonment would release a mental energy of incalculable dimensions. Make the effort my friends!

The simple, but mind-altering key is found here in the following suttas and can be summarized with the following quote from another discussion here which uses a slightly different set of terms for the translation:

Different data give rise to differing touches. Or:
Because there are differing data, there is differentiated contact. Or:
The upshot of the percussion of differing data is differing touch.

Horner: Because of the diversity in elements, brethren, arises diversity of contact.

Bodhi: Bhikkhus, it is in dependence on the diversity of elements that there arises diversity of contacts.

Eye contact becomes, rebounding off eye-data. Or:
The upshot of eye-data-percussion is eye touch ... etc.
Ear contact becomes, rebounding off ear-data
Nose contact becomes, rebounding off nose-data
Tongue contact becomes, rebounding off tongue-data
Body contact becomes, rebounding off body-data
Mind contact becomes, rebounding off mind-data

Get it straight. As simple and straight-forward as this may seem, it is of absolutely vital importance when it comes to the way the ordinary common man's "sub-conscious" perceives the world and the self, which is exactly the other way around, that is: "Because I exist, the diversity of elements exists."

[It's 'because of the diversity of thought-data percussing the mind that there is the appearance of a thinking being; not that because of a thinking being there is the diversity of thought data.]

Unless the reader is very unusual, he will be thinking: 'But this is how I see this.'

This is the difference: the ordinary common man understands that 'different data give rise to differing touches' as a matter of conforming to the 'world' view of how things are. He thinks this is how he thinks because he identifies with thinking in words, not 'seeing' how he thinks by inference from how he behaves.

A person would be considered mad here to be running around saying 'Because I see, things exist.'

But what reveals his unconscious thinking — his true way of seeing things, is how he behaves, which is contrary to the way he would behave if he really believed that 'different data give rise to differing touches' was the reality: he is upset when he does not see, hear, smell, taste, touch, or think what he wants, as if there should be some power over these functions vested in him. His more sophisticated behaviors are built on these initial fundamental reactions, and so on.

For a Buddhist, one seeking full awakening of the mind:

Getting a grip on the way it really is is one of the fundamental building blocks to an understanding of 'Not Self'.

That's really all I have got to say. That is really all I have ever had to say. I have been saying this since I first perceived the solution to the problem one day in 1984. Few listen. I understand that underlying what appears to be a colossal mental laziness is fear. I sympathize; but I have no sympathy. Few even try. God helps those who help themselves! (That's a little joke).

You say hello,
I say goodbye,
Hello, hello, hello, hello,
I don't know why you say hello,
I say goodbye.

Best of luck to all of you!

Los Altos


[1][pts][bodh] I Hear Tell:

Once upon a time, The Lucky Man, Sāvatthi Town revisiting,
Anāthapiṇḍika's Park, Jeta Grove.

"I will point out to you the diversity[2] of data, beggars,
give ear,
pay attention,[3]
I will speak!"

"Say on,[4] elder!" said the beggars to The Lucky Man in response.

The Lucky Man said this:

"And what, beggars, are the diverse data?

Eye data, form data, eye-consciousness data;
ear data, sound data, ear-consciousness data;
nose data, scent data, nose-consciousness data;
tongue data, taste data, tongue-consciousness data;
body data, impact data, body-consciousness data;
mind data, things data,[5] mind-consciousness data.

These beggars, are what are called the diverse data.[6]


[1] Dhātu. Data, (component, component part, but this is 'information' not 'object'), aspect, property, characteristic, whatever word you use, it means the basic categories into which things are divided for purposes of description. There is a danger in the use of the term 'element', the translation of Mrs. Rhys Davids and Bhk. Bodhi, in that this term implies the actual existence of a basic thing [the so-called 'ultimate' realities of the Abhidhamma, and DSG fanatics for example make this error] where what is being addressed is the information being received at the senses. If all eye-data were of an 'ultimate' nature, elemental, all eye consciousness of all visible objects would be the same [a uniform mass of light; rūpa] at all times for all beings, and we know from experience that this is not the case.

[2] Nānatta. Diversity. The this and that. In the Mūlapariyaya, MN 1, the view following — higher, more refined, more detached than — ekatta (unity, all is one, "I am everything, everything is me") and preceding The All and Nibbāna) with which one can mistakenly identify as self, as one's own, as a product of one's self or as the precursor to one's self. "You always want to be the one and only, and always end as only one of many."

PED: Nānatta (nt. m.) [Sanskrit nānatva; abstr. from nānā] diversity, variety, manifoldness, multiformity, distraction; all sorts of (opp. ekatta, cp. M I.364: "the multiformity of sensuous impressions," M.A.). Enumn of diversity as nānattā, viz. dhātu- phassa- vedanā- saññā- sankappa- chanda- pariḷāha- pariyesanā- lābha- D III.289; S II.140 sq., cp. IV.113 sq., 284 sq.; Ps I.87. - A IV.385; Ps I.63 sq., 88 sq.; S II.115 (vedanā-); Ps I.91 (samāpatti- and vihāra-); J II.265. In composition, substituted sometimes for nāna. Cp. Dialogues I.14, n. 2.
Nānā (adv.) [Ved. nānā, a redupl. (emphatic particle, see na1) "so and so," i.e. various, of all kinds] variously, differently.

[3] Sādhukaṃ manasi karotha. Do mind well; Mind ye well, make over your minds, give over your minds, give heed.

[4] Evaṃ. e = here; va = go, vent, went. So be it. Thus. Even so! Let it be so! Here goes!

[5] Dhamma-dhātu. There is no real legitimate way around this. Rhys Davids 'ideas' and Bhk. Bodhi's 'mental phenomena' both rely on deduction from the connection to mind-data interpreting mind-data in the usual western understanding; that is, anything that is not matter. This unwarrantedly excludes too much! The word means any 'thing' that has come into existence including material things. And taking a quick peek, you will note for yourself that material things are not omitted by the perceptions available to the mind. The mind is occupied with things. Any thing that has come into existence. Period. Eye-consciousness is a product of the contact of a visible object with a working eye in connection with consciousness; the mind, taking eye-consciousness together with the other sense-data-consciousnesses, puts together our picture of the world.

[6] This is consistent with the idea of 'The All': The eye and sights, the ear and sounds, the nose and scents, the tongue and tastes, the body and touch, the mind and things.



See: Pajapati's Problem
Pajapati's Problem 2
Its Elementary

Next: SN 2.14.2. Samphassam Suttaṃ Impact

Copyright Statement