MN 44 Brief Series of Questions

HeartDhamma

MN 44 Brief Series of Questions

Cūḷavedalla Sutta

 

Thus have I heard—

Once the Teacher lived in Rājagaha

In the bamboo forest at the squirrel feeding ground.

 

At that time, the lay follower Visākhā [1]

approached the nun Dhammadinna

Paid loving respects, sat down beside her and asked:

 

[1. Four Understandings and Self]

[A. Identity]

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayye, I hear it said:

‘Identity, identity.’ [2]

 

What did the Awakened One mean by ‘identity’?

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“The Awakened One taught that

Identity is merely the five fabrics of the self, [3]

 

(1) The fabric of matter,

(2) The fabric of experiences,

(3) The fabric of perception,

(4) The fabric of mental activities,

(5) And the fabric of consciousness. [4]

 

These five fabrics of the ego is what the Teacher meant by ‘identity.’”

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Sādhu Ayye” he replied.

Delighted and uplifted, he asked a further question:

 

[B. The Origin of the Identity]

“Ayye, I hear it said:

“The source of identity, the source of identity. [5]

 

What did the Awakened One mean by the source of identity?”

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“That is whatever is composed of longing, brother Visākhā,

ending in future becoming

wrapped in desire and attachment,

clinging to this and that, here and there, that is: [6]

 

(1) Longing for sensory stimulation,

(2) Longing for being,

(3) Longing for the end of being. [7]

 

This is this called the source of identity by the Awakened One.

 

[C. The Cessation of Personality]

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayye, I hear it said:

“The cessation of identity, the cessation of the identity.”

But Ayye, what is the cessation of identity?

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“It is the complete falling away of dissatisfaction

Its giving up,

independence and release;

unlatching. [8]

 

This is called the cessation of identity by the Awakened One.

 

[D. The Practice]

[Brother Visākhā]

Ayye, I hear it said:

“The practice leading to the end of identity,

the practice leading to the end of identity”

 

But what is this practice leading to the end of identity?

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“That is the Eight-spoked path of the Awakened ones, brother Visākhā,

That is the practice leading to the end of identity, that is:

Wise understanding,

wise intention,

wise speech,

wise behavior,

wise living,

wise practice

wise awareness

wise meditation.”

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Is this longing part of the five fabrics of grasping

or are the fabrics of grasping different from that longing.”

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“This longing is neither apart from the five fabrics of grasping,

nor are the five fabrics of grasping different from that longing.”

 

“The craving and desire

for any of these five fabrics of the ego, brother Visākhā,

that is the longing therein.

 

[Belief in Personal Identity]

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayye, what is the belief in personal identity?”

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

Brother Visākhā,

someone who does not learn the Dhamma of the awakened people, [9]

does not visit the awakened people,

does not know nor practices the Dhamma

of the awakened people,

 

Someone who does not visit the people of Truth,

does not know nor practices in the Dhamma

of the people of Truth

 

(1) Conceives self to be material

or self as being part of matter,

or matter as within self

or self as within matter. [10]

 

(2) conceives self to be experiences

or self as being part of experiences,

or experiences as within self

or self as within experiences.

 

(3) conceives self to be perception

or self as being part of perception,

or perception as within self

or self as within perception.

 

(4) conceives self to be activities

or self as being part of activities,

or activities as within self

or self as within activities.

 

(5) conceives self to be consciousness

or self as being part of consciousness,

or consciousness as within self

or self as within consciousness.

 

This is how there is the belief in personal identity brother Visākhā.

 

[Non-Belief in Personal Identity]

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“And how, Ayye, is there no belief in personal identity?”

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“Brother Visākhā,

someone who is learned in the Dhamma of the awakened people, [11]

who visits the awakened people,

who knows and practices the Dhamma of the awakened people,

 

Someone who visit the people of Truth,

who knows and practices the Dhamma of the people of Truth

 

(1) does not conceive self to be material

or self as being part of matter,

or matter as within self

or self as within matter.

 

(2) does not conceive self to be experiences

or self as being part of experiences,

or experiences as within self

or self as within experiences.

 

(3) does not conceive self to be perception

or self as being part of perception,

or perception as within self

or self as within perception.

 

(4) does not conceive self to be activities

or self as being part of activities,

or activities as within self

or self as within activities.

 

(5) does not conceive self to be consciousness

or self as being part of consciousness,

or consciousness as within self

or self as within consciousness.

 

This is how there is no belief in personal identity.”

 

[Eight-Spoked Path]

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayye, what is the eight-spoked path of the awakened ones?”

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

This is the eight-spoked path of the awakened brother Visākhā

Wise understanding,

wise intention,

wise speech,

wise behavior,

wise living,

wise practice

wise awareness

wise meditation.

 

[Brother Visākhā]

Ayye, is the eight-spoked path constructed or unconstructed? [12]

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“It is constructed brother Visākhā.”

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Is this eight-spoked way of the awakened comprised of the three trainings

or are the three trainings comprised in the eight-spoked path?”

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“The eight-spoked path is not comprised of the three trainings brother Visākhā,

rather, it is the three trainings that are comprised of the eight-spoked path.

 

(1) Wise speech, wise behavior, and wise living,

are comprised in the training of virtue.

(2) Wise practice, wise awareness and wise meditation,

are comprised in the training of meditation.

(3) Wise understanding and wise intention

are comprised in the training of discernment.

 

[Samādhi]

[Brother Visākhā]

Ayye, what is meditation?

What is the object of meditation? [13]

What are the requirements for meditation? [14]

What is the development of meditation? [15]

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“Brother Visākha, tranquil unity of the mind, that is meditation; [16]

The four foundations of presence are the object of meditation; [17]

The four wise undertakings are the requirements for meditation. [18]

The practice, development, and cultivation of these things, [19]

This is the development of meditation.”

 

[Activities] [20]

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayye, how many kinds of activities are there? [21]

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“There are three kinds of activities brother Visākhā-

(1) Activities of body

(2) Activities of speech,

(3) Activities of mind. “ [22]

 

[What are the activities]

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayye, what are the activities of body,

What are the activities of speech,

What are the activities of mind?”

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

(1)” Breathing in and breathing out:

These are the activities of the body;

(2) Thinking and reflecting:

These are the activities of the speech;

(3) Perception and experience

These are the activities of the mind.”

 

[The Reason for the activities]

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayye, why is breathing in and breathing out

the activities of the body?”

Why are thinking and reflecting

the activities of the mind,

And why are perceptions and experience

the activities of the mind?”

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

(1)” Breathing in and breathing out, this is bodily.

These things are bound up with the body;

Therefore, breathing in and breathing out are the activities of the body.

(2) Having first thought and reflected,

Then one breaks into speech;

Therefore, thinking and reflection are the activities of the speech.

(3) Perception and knowing belong to the mind,[23]

These things are bound up with the mind;

Therefore, perception and felt experience are the activities of the mind.”

 

[2. The Release from Perceptual Awareness]

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayye, how can the release from perceptual awareness be experienced?”

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“When one enters upon the release from perceptual awareness, one does not think:

 

(1) ‘I will enter the release from perceptual awareness’ or

(2) ‘I am entering the release from perceptual awareness’ or

(3) ‘I am in the release from perceptual awareness.’

 

Rather, it is because one has previously cultivated one’s mind

In the appropriate way, that it leads one to that state.” [24]

 

[Entering]

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayye, when one is entering the release from perceptual awareness,

Which thing ceases first:

The activities of the body,

The activities of speech,

Or the activities of mind?”

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“When one is entering the release from perceptual awareness;

The activities of speech fades away first;

Then the activities of the body;

Then the activities of the mind.”

 

[Emerging]

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayye, how does one emerge from the release of perceptual awareness?”

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

Coming out of the attainment of the release from perceptual awareness, one does not think:

(1)’ I will emerge from the release of perceptual awareness’ or

(2) ‘I am emerging from the release of perceptual awareness’ or

(3) ‘I have emerged from the release of perceptual awareness.’

 

Rather, it is because one has previously cultivated one’s mind

In the appropriate way, that it leads one to that state.”

 

[Activities when Emerging]

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayye, while emerging from the release of perceptual awareness,

What things manifest first:

Bodily activities,

Verbal activities,

Or mental activities?”

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“Brother Visākhā,

when emerging from the release of perceptual awareness:

First the mental activities become manifest,

Then the bodily activities,

Then the verbal activities.”

 

[Three Contacts]

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayye, when one has emerged from the release of perceptual awareness,

how many kinds of contacts impinge [on their minds].”

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

Brother Visākhā,

When one has emerged from the release of perceptual awareness,

Three kinds of contacts impinge [on their minds]: [25]

 

(1) The contact with emptiness, [26]

(2) The contact with signlessness, [27]

(3) The contact with undirectedness.” [28]

 

[Inclination of a Released Mind]

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayye, once emerged out of the release from perceptual awareness,

What does the mind lean, tilt and incline to?”

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“Once emerged out of the release from perceptual awareness,

One’s mind leans towards release,

slopes towards release,

It inclines towards release.” [29]

 

[Experience]

[Description]

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayya, how many kind of experiences are there?”

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“There are three kinds of experiences:

Pleasant experience

unpleasant experience,

and neutral experience.”

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“But Ayya, what are pleasant experiences

what are unpleasant experiences,

and what are neutral experiences?”

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

(1) That which is bodily or mentally

experienced as pleasant and agreeable;

This is called pleasant experience. [30]

 

(2) That which is bodily or mentally

experienced as unpleasant and disagreeable;

This is called unpleasant experience.

 

(3) That which is bodily or mentally

experienced as neither agreeable nor disagreeable;

This is called neutral experience.”

 

[The Good and the Bad]

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayye, what is good and what is bad in pleasant experiences?

What is good and what is bad in unpleasant experiences?

And what is good and what is bad in neutral experiences?”

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“Pleasant experiences are good when they last,

they are bad when they leave. [31]

Unpleasant experiences are good when they leave,

they are bad when they last.

Neutral experiences are good when there is awareness of them,

they are bad when there is no awareness.”

 

[Inclinations]

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“What inclinations come about through pleasant experiences? [32]

What inclinations come about through unpleasant experiences?

What inclinations come about through neutral experiences?”

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“The inclination to crave comes with pleasant experiences.

The inclination to be repelled comes with pleasant experiences.

The inclination to lacking awareness comes with pleasant experiences.” [33]

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Are all pleasant experiences underlined with the inclination to crave?

Are all unpleasant experiences underlined with the inclination to be repelled?

Are all neutral experiences underlined with the inclination of lacking awareness?”

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“No Brother Visākhā, not all of them.”

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“What should be abandoned in relation to pleasant experiences?

What should be abandoned in relation to unpleasant experiences?

What should be abandoned in relation to neutral experiences?”

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“The inclination to crave should be abandoned

in regards to pleasant experiences.

The inclination to be repelled should be abandoned

in regards to unpleasant experiences.

The inclination to lack awareness should be abandoned

in regards to neutral experiences.”

 

[Wholesome Inclinations]

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Should the inclination to crave be abandoned

in regards to all pleasant experiences?

Should the inclination to be repelled be abandoned

in regards to all unpleasant experiences?

Should the inclination to lack awareness be abandoned

in regards to all neutral experiences?”

 

[First Jhāna]

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“No brother Visākhā, not in regards to all of them.”

For example,

By letting go of sensory engagement,

letting go of unwholesome states of mind,

with wholesome thoughts and contemplations,

One experiences the blissful happiness born of letting go,

and understands and lives in the first level of meditation.

 

Then one lets go of craving,

no inclinations to crave are found there.

 

[Wishing for Liberation]

 

Then one might think:

‘Oh, when will I experience and live in the same plane

as the awakened ones, at present, live?’

 

From this longing for the highest liberation,

grief arises, and because of that grief,

distress becomes manifest.

 

Then one lets go of repulsion,

and the inclination to be repulsed is no longer found.”

 

[Fourth Jhāna]

 

Later on, one might meditate,

Unattached to pleasant experiences,

Unstirred by unpleasant ones,

As mental excitement and heaviness settle,

One’s mind is balanced,

Purified by unmoving presence,

Understanding and living

in the fourth level of meditation.” 

 

Then one lets go of unawareness,

and no inclinations to lacking awareness is found there.“

 

[Opposites]

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayye, what is the counterpart of pleasant experiences?”

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“Their counterpart is unpleasant experiences brother Visākhā.”

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayye, what is the counterpart of unpleasant experiences?”

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“Their counterpart is pleasant experiences brother Visākhā.”

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayye, what is the counterpart of neutral experiences?”

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“Their counterpart is lack of discernement brother Visākhā.”

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayye, what is the counterpart of lacking discernment?”

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“Its counterpart is discernment brother Visākhā.”

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayye, what is the counterpart of discernment?”

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“Its counterpart is liberation brother Visākhā.”

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayye, what is the counterpart of liberation?”

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“Its counterpart is nibbāna brother Visākhā.”

 

[Brother Visākhā]

“Ayye, what is the counterpart of nibbāna?”

 

[Ayya Dhammadinna]

“You have brought this line of reasoning too far brother Visākhā,

you were not able to see the limit to your questions.

 

This holy life is established upon nibbāna,

It culminates in nibbāna

and it ends in nibbāna.” [34]

 

Bear this in mind brother Visākhā,

and go to the Awakened One and ask him about the same questions,

As he will answer you, so you should remember it.

 

 

Then the lay supporter Visākhā was delighted

and rejoiced in the Bhikkhuni Dhammadinna’s words.

 

He paid his loving respects

and after circumbulating her in padakkhina homage,

he went to the Awakened One,

paid loving respects and sat down next to him.

 

He then reported his entire discussion with the Bhikkhuni Dhammadinna.

 

The Awakened One replied:

“The nun Dhammadinna is a learned woman, Visākhā,

her wisdom is vast.

 

If you had come to me with the same questions,

I would have answered in the same way as her.

That is the meaning.

So you should bear it in mind.”

 

This is what the Awakened One said.

Glad at heart, the lay follower Visākhā was rejoiced in his words.

 

 

  1. This is a different Visākhā than the chief female supporter of the Buddha and the saṅgha, Migāra’s mother. This is a male lay follower named Visākhā, who was a wealthy tradesman, said to be a non-returner, in Rajgaha. Ayye Dhammadinna was his former wife. She was an arahant at the time of their conversation.

  2. sakkāyo

  3. Pañca kho ime, āvuso visākha, upādānakkhandhā sakkāyo

  4. rūpupādānakkhandho, vedanupādānakkhandho, …

  5. sakkāyasamudayo

  6. “Yāyaṃ, āvuso visākha, taṇhā ponobbhavikā nandīrāgasahagatā tatratatrābhinandinī, seyyathidaṃ—

  7. kāmataṇhā bhavataṇhā vibhavataṇhā;

  8. “Yo kho, āvuso visākha, tassāyeva taṇhāya asesavirāganirodho cāgo paṭinissaggo mutti anālayo;

  9. Ariya is here translated as ‘Awakened’. The Dhamma of Awakened people. Dhamma here as ‘Teaching’ or ‘Way’.

  10. rūpaṃ attato samanupassati, rūpavantaṃ vā attānaṃ, attani vā rūpaṃ, rūpasmiṃ vā attānaṃ.

  11. Ariya is here translated as ‘Awakened’. The Dhamma of Awakened people. Dhamma here as ‘Teaching’ or ‘Way’.

  12. Ariyo panāyye, aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo saṅkhato udāhu asaṅkhato”ti? Saṅkhata also means conditioned, created, made-up, forced.

  13. nimitta:mark,sign; image; target,object; cause,condition.These meanings are used in,and adapted to,many contexts of which only the doctrinal ones are mentioned here. (Nyanatiloka)

  14. Parikkhāra, (fr. *parikkharoti, cp. late Sk. pariṣkāra) “all that belongs to anything,” make-up, adornment (so Nd2 585 bāhirā p. of the body). —(a) requisite, accessory, equipment, utensil, apparatus. (PTSD)

  15. “Katamo panāyye, samādhi, katame dhammā samādhinimittā, katame dhammā samādhiparikkhārā, katamā samādhibhāvanā”ti?

  16. Ekaggatā:[f.] tranquillity of mind; onepointedness. (Concise) Ekaggatā:Tranquillity of the mind,abstraction of the mind,contemplation (VRI) Ekagga : (adj.) calm; tranquil. (BuddhaSasana) Ekaggo:Calm,tranquil (VRI)

    Synonyms: Collected, cool, Poised, Possessed, Quiet, Still, Confident, Easy, Easygoing, Levelheaded, Nonchalant, Peaceful, Placid, Sanguine, Self-possessed, Serene, Sure, Temperate, together, tranquil, Unflappable, Unperturbable, Unperturbed, unruffled. “Yā kho, āvuso visākha, cittassa ekaggatā ayaṃ samādhi;

  17. cattāro satipaṭṭhānā samādhinimittā;

  18. cattāro sammappadhānā samādhiparikkhārā.

  19. Yā tesaṃyeva dhammānaṃ āsevanā bhāvanā bahulīkammaṃ, ayaṃ ettha samādhibhāvanā”ti.

  20. This section is nearly identical to SN 41.6 Dutiyakāmabhūsutta except that no mention is made here of Samatha and vipassanā at the end.

  21. “Kati nu kho, bhante, saṅkhārā”ti? Saṅkhārā: Bhikkhu Bodhi Bhante translates as ‘Formations.’ Bhante Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu translates as ‘Fabrications.’ Bhikkhu Sujato Bhante translates as ‘ activities.’ Mrs. Rhys-Davids and F.L. Woodward, M.A. in their PTS translation of the Saṃyutta Nikāya translate as ‘activities.’ Lord Chalmers (Dialogues, v, 215) translates ‘plastic forces.’ Comy. = sañkharīyati, nibbattīyatī ti’

    Sankhāra [fr. saṁ+kṛ, not Vedic, but as saṁskāra Epic & Class. Sk. meaning “preparation” and “sacrament,” also in philosophical literature “former impression, disposition, ” cp. vāsanā] one of the most difficult terms in Buddhist metaphysics, in which the blending of the subjective — objective view of the world and of happening, peculiar to the East, is so complete, that it is almost impossible for Occidental terminology to get at the root of its meaning in a translation. We can only convey an idea of its import by representing several sides of its application, without attempting to give a “word” as a def. trsln. — Lit. “preparation, get up”; appld: coefficient (of consciousness as well as of physical life, cp. viññāṇa), constituent, constituent potentiality; (pl.) synergies, cause — combination. (PED)

  22. kāyasaṅkhāro, vacīsaṅkhāro, cittasaṅkhāro”ti.

  23. Cetasika (adj.) belonging to ceto, mental (opp. kāyika physical).

  24. Atha khvassa pubbeva tathā cittaṃ bhāvitaṃ hoti yaṃ taṃ tathattāya upanetī”ti.

  25. “Saññāvedayitanirodhasamāpattiyā vuṭṭhitaṃ kho, gahapati, bhikkhuṃ tayo phassā phusanti—

  26. Suññato phasso:

  27. Animitto phasso: Nimitta (nt.) [cp. Sk. nimitta, to mā, although etym. uncertain] 1. sign, omen, portent, prognostication. Miln 298; Vism 577. — 2. outward appearance, mark, characteristic, attribute, phenomenon (opp. essence). — 3. mark, aim. — 4. sexual organ (cp. lakkhaṇa) (n. & a°, as term of abuse); see also kāṭa & koṭacikā. — 5. ground, reason, condition, in nimittena (instr.) and nimittaṁ (acc.) as adv.=by means of, on account. adj. nimitta (—°) caused by, referring to. — animitta free from marks or attributes, not contaminated by outward signs or appearance, undefiled, ụnaffected, unconditioned (opp. sa°)

  28. Appaṇihito phasso”ti. Also translates as ‘unappliedness’. The commentaries seem to promulgate that these three contacts are in direct relation to the three characteristics of existence, that is: Selflessness, impermanence and unsatisfactoriness; while the Buddha never seem to make such declaration in the suttas. An interesting connection is found in the Vinaya at Pārājika 4 since it is in connection with claiming lofty achievements of the mind when conscious that it is not so. This is a very serious offence in a monk’s life which could easily mean the direct cancellation of their monkhood and affiliation with the saṅgha. Needless to say, this is a quite important topic to know as a monk. The old commentary which has become fused unto the original vinaya texts describes three claims concerning the liberations (Vimokkha), mental collectedness (Samādhi) and attainments (samāpatti), which all turn around the same three kinds of contacts. Vimokkhoti: suññato vimokkho animitto vimokkho appaṇihito vimokkho. Samādhīti: suññato samādhi animitto samādhi appaṇihito samādhi. Samāpattīti: suññatā samāpatti animittā samāpatti appaṇihitā samāpatti. I cannot find sources in the sutta that provide further explanation of the three contacts. Some attempts to define those ‘vimokkha’ are made in the later Pṭs 1.5.2. Vimokkha Katha and a brief appearance in the Kv 6.5 Nirodhasamāpattikathā. (Here are other sutta references where this trinity appears: AN 3.183–352 Rāgapeyyāla, SN 43.4 Suññatasamādhisutta, Th 1.92. Vijayattheragāthā, SN 43.12 Asaṅkhatasutta.)

  29. vivekaninnaṃ cittaṃ hoti, vivekapoṇaṃ vivekapabbhāran

  30. “Yaṃ kho, āvuso visākha, kāyikaṃ vā cetasikaṃ vā sukhaṃ sātaṃ vedayitaṃ— ayaṃ sukhā vedanā.

  31. “Sukhā kho, āvuso visākha, vedanā ṭhitisukhā vipariṇāmadukkhā;

  32. “Sukhāya panāyye, vedanāya kiṃ anusayo anuseti,

  33. rāgānusayo paṭighānusayo avijjānusayo

  34. Nibbānogadhañhi, āvuso visākha, brahmacariyaṃ, nibbānaparāyanaṃ nibbānapariyosānaṃ.

This is a gift of Dhamma

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