Month: August 2015

Pali Canon

The Floods of Imagination

I was reading the Buddha’s exposition of the Six Elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Space and Consciousness) and was surprised to find it all coming back around again to anicca, not-self. Here’s the penultimate verse:

‘Paññaṃ nappamajjeyya, saccamanurakkheyya, cāgamanubrūheyya, santimeva so sikkheyyā’ti — iti yaṃ taṃ vuttaṃ, idametaṃ paṭicca vuttaṃ.

‘Paññaṃ nappamajjeyya, saccamanurakkheyya, cāgamanubrūheyya, santimeva so sikkheyyā’ti — iti yaṃ taṃ vuttaṃ, idametaṃ paṭicca vuttaṃ.
“‘yattha ṭhitaṃ maññassavā nappavattanti, maññassave kho pana nappavattamāne muni santoti vuccatī’ti — iti kho panetaṃ vuttaṃ. Kiñcetaṃ paṭicca vuttaṃ? ‘asmī’ti, bhikkhu, maññitametaṃ, ‘ayamahamasmī’ti maññitametaṃ, ‘bhavissan’ti maññitametaṃ, ‘na bhavissan’ti maññitametaṃ, ‘rūpī bhavissan’ti maññitametaṃ, ‘arūpī bhavissan’ti maññitametaṃ, ‘saññī bhavissan’ti maññitametaṃ, ‘asaññī bhavissan’ti maññitametaṃ, ‘nevasaññīnāsaññī bhavissan’ti maññitametaṃ. Maññitaṃ, bhikkhu, rogo maññitaṃ gaṇḍo maññitaṃ sallaṃ. Sabbamaññitānaṃ tveva, bhikkhu, samatikkamā muni santoti vuccati. Muni kho pana, bhikkhu, santo na jāyati, na jīyati, na mīyati, na kuppati, na piheti. Tañhissa, bhikkhu, natthi yena jāyetha, ajāyamāno kiṃ jīyissati, ajīyamāno kiṃ mīyissati, amīyamāno kiṃ kuppissati, akuppamāno kissa pihessati?

Not neglecting wisdom, preserving what is true, practicing relinquishment, one trains for peace – I have said this; this is what I was talking about.

One who stands thus is not swept away by the floods of imagination; to the contrary, such a monk is called one at peace – this I have also said.  Why did I say this? Bhikkhu, “I am” is imagined;  “I am coming to be” is imagined;  “I shall exist” is imagined; “I shall not exist” is imagined;  “I have a form” is imagined; “I have no form” is imagined; “I am conscious” is imagined; “I am unconscious” is imagined; “I am neither conscious nor unconscious” is imagined. Bhikkhu, such imagination is a disease; imagination is an infection; imagination is a spike.  I’m talking about a monk who has passed beyond all imaginations. To the contrary, such a monk is not born, does not age, does not die,  is unmoved, is without desire.  For if one is not born, how can one age? How can one die? How can one be moved? How can one have desire?

MN 140

Pali Text

Ocean of Tears

How long have you suffered? Long enough to know better, the Buddha says in today’s Pali exercise:

Etadeva, bhikkhave, bahutaraṃ yaṃ vo iminā dīghena addhunā sandhāvataṃ saṃsarataṃ amanāpasampayogā manāpavippayogā kandantānaṃ rodantānaṃ assu passannaṃ paggharitaṃ, na tveva catūsu mahāsamuddesu udakaṃ…

Taṃ kissa hetu? Anamataggoyaṃ, bhikkhave, saṃsāro. Pubbā koṭi na paññāyati avijjānīvaraṇānaṃ sattānaṃ taṇhāsaṃyojanānaṃ sandhāvataṃ saṃsarataṃ. Yāvañcidaṃ, bhikkhave, alameva sabbasaṅkhāresu nibbindituṃ, alaṃ virajjituṃ, alaṃ vimuccitun ti.

Indeed, bhikkhus, the tears you have shed in ages of passing through, wandering on, united to the awful, separated from the pleasing, weeping, lamenting, is greater than the water in the four great oceans…

Why? From an unknown beginning, bhikkhus, is this wandering on.  We cannot see when beings hindered by ignorance and attached to the fetters of craving began this passing through, this wandering on. Time enough, bhikkhus, to weary of every sort of conditioned thing, time enough to become detached, time enough to be released.

SN 15.3

Pali Text

Making an “I”

The Buddha explains the deeper problem with comparing ourselves to others in today’s Pali exercise:
“Ahaṅkārapasutāyaṃ pajā, paraṃkārūpasaṃhitā.
Etadeke nābbhaññaṃsu, na naṃ sallanti addasuṃ.
“Etañca sallaṃ paṭikacca passato.
Ahaṃ karomīti na tassa hoti.
Paro karotīti na tassa hoti.
“Mānupetā ayaṃ pajā, mānaganthā mānavinibaddhā.
Diṭṭhīsu sārambhakathā, saṃsāraṃ nātivattatī”ti

Humans are busy making an “I,” and thus make “other.”
Some don’t see the foolishness of this, nor do they see the arrow in it.
For those who see the arrow in advance,
There is no making an “I;”
What’s more, there is no making “other.”
This human race is possessed by comparisons, bound by comparisons, tied to comparisons.
Angrily debating their views, they never get beyond endless wandering.
Udana 6.6

Pali Text

Untimely Death

In today’s Pali exercise, the great Nagasena Bhikkhu explains to king Milinda that not all deaths are the result of one’s kamma. But visiting such deaths on others will cause one to suffer the same fate:

Tatra, mahārāja, yadidaṃ kammavipākena kālaṅkiriyā, sā yeva tattha sāmayikā kālaṅkiriyā, avasesā asāmayikā kālaṅkiriyāti. Bhavati ca —

“‘Jighacchāya pipāsāya, ahidaṭṭhā visena ca.
Aggiudakasattīhi, akāle tattha mīyati.
Vātapittena semhena, sannipātenutūhi ca.
Visamopakkamakammehi, akāle tattha mīyatī’ti.

“Keci, mahārāja, sattā pubbe katena tena tena akusalakammavipākena maranti. Idha, mahārāja, yo pubbe pare jighacchāya māreti, so bahūni vassasatasahassāni jighacchāya paripīḷito chāto parikilanto sukkhamilātahadayo bubhukkhito visukkhito jhāyanto abbhantaraṃ pariḍayhanto jighacchāya yeva marati daharopi majjhimopi mahallakopi, idampi tassa sāmayikamaraṇaṃ.

So, great king, whomever [dies as] the fruit of one’s kamma, having fulfilled their time, that one indeed [dies] in due season, with no remaining time left to fulfill. It’s like this:

From hunger, from thirst, from snakebite or poison,
From fire, water or dagger, such ones die at the wrong time.
From wind, bile or phlegm, or from the action of all three, or from menstruation,
From inequity or from malpractice, such ones die at the wrong time.

However, great king, some die from those seven causes as the fruit of their past unskillful kamma. For instance, one who has caused others to die from hunger, he, after being oppressed by many hundreds of thousands of years of hunger, exhausted from hunger, with a withered heart, parched and burning inside from the thought of food, even so he will die of hunger, either as a boy, a middle-aged man or an old man, and that death will be at the appropriate time.
Mil 6.3.6

Replacing Unskillful Thoughts

When troubling images arise in the mind, the first thing to try is replacing it with an uplifting one; so the Buddha advises in today’s Pali exercise:

Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno yaṃ nimittaṃ āgamma yaṃ nimittaṃ manasikaroto uppajjanti pāpakā akusalā vitakkā chandūpasaṃhitāpi dosūpasaṃhitāpi mohūpasaṃhitāpi, tena, bhikkhave, bhikkhunā tamhā nimittā aññaṃ nimittaṃ manasi kātabbaṃ kusalūpasaṃhitaṃ. Tassa tamhā nimittā aññaṃ nimittaṃ manasikaroto kusalūpasaṃhitaṃ ye pāpakā akusalā vitakkā chandūpasaṃhitāpi dosūpasaṃhitāpi mohūpasaṃhitāpi te pahīyanti te abbhatthaṃ gacchanti. Tesaṃ pahānā ajjhattameva cittaṃ santiṭṭhati sannisīdati ekodi hoti samādhiyati. Seyyathāpi, bhikkhave, dakkho palagaṇḍo vā palagaṇḍantevāsī vā sukhumāya āṇiyā oḷārikaṃ āṇiṃ abhinihaneyya abhinīhareyya abhinivatteyya ; evameva kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno yaṃ nimittaṃ āgamma yaṃ nimittaṃ manasikaroto uppajjanti pāpakā akusalā vitakkā chandūpasaṃhitāpi dosūpasaṃhitāpi mohūpasaṃhitāpi, tena, bhikkhave, bhikkhunā tamhā nimittā aññaṃ nimittaṃ manasi kātabbaṃ kusalūpasaṃhitaṃ.

Bhikkhus, when an image arises in a bhikkhu’s mind which gives rise to wicked, unskillful thoughts – thoughts marked by desire, marked by anger, and marked by delusion – in response, he should replace that image by reflecting on another image, one marked by skillfulness. By keeping in mind the other image marked by skillfulness, that wicked, unskillful thought, marked by desire, marked by anger, and marked by delusion, vanishes and goes away. Once it is removed, the heart and mind is stilled, quieted, focused and concentrated.

Bhikkhus, just as a skilled carpenter or carpenter’s apprentice replaces a bad peg by knock-knock-knocking it out with a good one, so too, bhikkhus, when an image arises in a bhikkhu’s mind which gives rise to wicked, unskillful thoughts – thoughts marked by desire, marked by anger, and marked by delusion – in response, he should replace that image by reflecting on another image, one marked by skillfulness.
Vitakkasaṇṭhāna Suttaṃ MN 20

Pali Text

Searching for the House-Builder

The Buddha makes it clear throughout the Pali Canon that the self, rather than being an essential thing, is actually constantly being constructed. Seeing this wearisome, craving-driven self-building, we can put an end to it:

Anekajātisaṃsāraṃ, sandhāvissaṃ anibbisaṃ.
Gahakāraṃ gavesanto, dukkhā jāti punappunaṃ.
Gahakāraka diṭṭhosi, puna gehaṃ na kāhasi.
Sabbā te phāsukā bhaggā, gahakūṭaṃ visaṅkhataṃ.
Visaṅkhāragataṃ cittaṃ, taṇhānaṃ khayamajjhagā.

Wandering on through many births, passing through, not finding
Searching for the one who builds the house, giving birth to dukkha again and again

I see you, house-builder! You won’t build another house!
Every joist is broken, the ridge-pole undone.
Heart and mind have dismantled constructions, attachment is destroyed.
Dhp 153-4