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

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