A Sea of Troubles

“Yaṃ pubbe taṃ visosehi, pacchā te māhu kiñcanaṃ.
Majjhe ce no gahessasi, upasanto carissasi.

“Sabbaso nāmarūpasmiṃ, yassa natthi mamāyitaṃ.
Asatā ca na socati, sa ve loke na jīyati.

“Yassa natthi idaṃ meti, paresaṃ vāpi kiñcanaṃ.
Mamattaṃ so asaṃvindaṃ, natthi meti na socati.”


What has passed, let it wither
What comes after, treat it as trifling
If you don’t get lost in what’s in the middle
You will live and move in peace.

One who does not see as “mine”
Anything having name and form,
Doesn’t taste grief
Is not of the decaying world

Whoever doesn’t think, “this is mine”
Has passed over a sea of troubles
One who knows nothing of my-making
Is not grieved by having nothing.

Sn 4.25. 955-957


The Unafflicted Heart

“Evametaṃ, gahapati, evametaṃ, gahapati! Āturo hāyaṃ, gahapati, kāyo aṇḍabhūto pariyonaddho. Yo hi, gahapati, imaṃ kāyaṃ pariharanto muhuttampi ārogyaṃ paṭijāneyya, kimaññatra bālyā? Tasmātiha te, gahapati, evaṃ sikkhitabbaṃ — ‘āturakāyassa me sato cittaṃ anāturaṃ bhavissatī’ti. Evañhi te, gahapati, sikkhitabban”ti…

“Kathañca, gahapati, āturakāyo hi kho hoti no ca āturacitto? Idha, gahapati, sutavā ariyasāvako ariyānaṃ dassāvī ariyadhammassa kovido ariyadhamme suvinīto sappurisānaṃ dassāvī sappurisadhammassa kovido sappurisadhamme suvinīto na rūpaṃ attato samanupassati, na rūpavantaṃ vā attānaṃ; na attani vā rūpaṃ, na rūpasmiṃ vā attānaṃ. ‘ahaṃ rūpaṃ, mama rūpan’ti na pariyuṭṭhaṭṭhāyī hoti. Tassa ‘ahaṃ rūpaṃ, mama rūpan’ti apariyuṭṭhaṭṭhāyino, taṃ rūpaṃ vipariṇamati aññathā hoti. Tassa rūpavipariṇāmaññathābhāvā nuppajjanti sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā.”


So it is, Gahapati, so it is! I’d say your body has become overwhelmed by disease. Who, carrying around a body like that, would think for a second that it was healthy, other than out of foolishness? Therefore, Gahapati, you should practice this way: “Though afflicted in body, mindful, my heart will dwell unafflicted.”  That’s the way you should train yourself, Gahapati…


How, Gahapati, can one be afflicted in body but unafflicted in heart? It happens when  a learned disciple of the noble ones, one with noble vision, practicing the noble Dhamma, well versed in the teachings of the noble ones,  a well-trained righteous one, one with the vision of the righteous, practicing the Dhamma of the righteous, well versed in the teachings of the righteous, does not perceive the body as the self, does not see the self has having bodily form, does not locate the self in the body, does not locate the self in bodily form.  [The thought]“This is my body, I have a body” does not arise.  Because “This is my body, I have a body” does not arise, when that body changes for the worse, the fact that it is changing for the worse does not cause grief, sobbing, suffering, sadness, and despair.

Nakulapitu Sutta, SN 22.1

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

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

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