HeartDhamma

SN III 22.101 The Chisel’s Handle

Vāsijaṭa Sutta

 

I say it is by being aware and discerning

that there comes to be the stilling of the mind,

not by being careless and undiscerning.

 

By being aware and discerning of what?

 

(1) This is matter,

            arising,

and passing away; [2]

 

(2) This is experience,

            arising,

            and passing away;

 
(3) This is perception,

            arising,

            and passing away;

 

(4) These are activities,

            arising,

            and passing away;

 

(5) This is consciousness,

            arising,

            and passing away.

 

It is by being aware and discerning in such a way

that there comes to be the stilling of the mind.[3]

 

 [Not Developed in Mind]

 

Monks, for a monk or nun

who is not fully given and devoted to meditation and mental development [4]

Even though they may wish:

 

“Oh, may my mind be liberated from distractions through letting go!”[5]

Their minds are still not liberated from distractions through letting go.

 

For what reason?

 

‘Because they are not developed in mind´ [6]

 

Not developed in what ?

 

Not developed in the four resting places of awareness

Not developed in the four wise endeavors

Not developed in the four roads to psychic potential

Not developed in the five governing faculties

Not developed in the five strengths

Not developed in the seven supports of awakening

Not developed in the eighth-spoked path of the awakened.

 

 

Suppose, monks, there was a hen,

with eight, ten or twelve eggs.

 

And she would not be properly brood her eggs,

Nor would she incubate them,

Nor would she care and foster their growth.

 

Even if the wish came up for that hen:

”Oh, may my chicks break through their eggshells

with their claws and beaks

And hatch out safe and healthy!”

 

Her chicks would still not break through their eggshells

 with their claws and beaks

And hatch out safe and healthy.

 

For what reason?

 

Because, monks, that hen

Did not properly brood her eight, ten or twelve eggs,

Nor did she incubate them,

Nor did she care and foster their growth.

 

In just the same way monks,

for a monk or nun

who is not fully given and devoted to meditation and mental development,

Even though they may wish:

 

“Oh, may my mind be liberated from distractions through letting go!”

Their minds are still not liberated from distractions through letting go.

 

For what reason?

 

Because they are not developed in mind’.

 

Not developed in what ?

 

Not developed in the four resting places of awareness

Not developed in the four wise endeavors

Not developed in the four roads to psychic potential

Not developed in the five governing faculties

Not developed in the five strengths

Not developed in the seven supports of awakening

Not developed in the eighth-spoked path of the awakened.

 

 

[Developed in mind]

 

Monks, for a monk or nun

who is fully given and devoted to meditation and mental development,

Even though they would not even wish:

 

“Oh, may my mind be liberated from distractions through letting go!”

Their minds become liberated from distractions through letting go.

 

For what reason?

 

Because they are developed in mind´

 

Developed in what?

 

Developed in the four resting places of awareness

developed in the four wise endeavors

developed in the four roads to psychic potential

developed in the five governing faculties

developed in the five strengths

developed in the seven supports of awakening

developed in the eighth-spoked path of the awakened.

 

 

Suppose, monks, there was a hen,

with eight, ten or twelve eggs.

 

And she would properly brood her eggs,

incubate them,

and care and foster their growth.

 

Even if the wish did not even occur to that hen:

 

”Oh, may my chicks break through their eggshells

with their claws and beaks

And hatch out safe and healthy!”

 

Her chicks would still break through their eggshells

with their claws and beaks

And hatch out safe and healthy.

 

For what reason?

 

Because, monks, that hen

properly brooded her eight, ten or twelve eggs,

incubate them,

Cared and fostered their growth.

 

 

In just the same way, monks,

for a monk or a nun

who is fully given and devoted to meditation

Even though they would not even wish:

 

“Oh, may my mind be liberated from distractions through letting go!”

Their minds become liberated from distractions through letting go.

 

For what reason?

 

Because they are developed in mind´

 

Developed in what?

 

Developed in the four resting places of awareness

developed in the four wise endeavors

developed in the four roads to psychic potential

developed in the five governing faculties

developed in the five strengths

developed in the seven supports of awakening

developed in the eighth-spoked path of the awakened.

 

[Analogy of the Carpenter]

 

Just as a carpenter or his apprentice, monks,

Would look at the handle of their chisels

and see the grooves made by their fingers and thumb.

 

They would not think:

 

“Today, this much was worn away,

This much yesterday,

And this much earlier. 

 

They would only know that it is visibly getting worn away.[7]

 

 

In just the same way, monks,

for a monk or a nun

who is fully given and devoted to meditation and mental development,

One does not think:

 

“Today, this many distractions have been worn away[8]

This many yesterday

And this many before.”

 

One only knows that they are wearing away,

as they are being worn.

 

 

[Analogy of the Ship]

 

Just as a ship, navigating the ocean during the rainy months,

Would become worn by the rain,

along with all of its sails, riggings and mast.

 

And in the winter, it would be hoisted onto dry land

and its mast and rigging would be further damaged

by the wind and sun.

 

Then, when the rainy season would come again,

and the clouds would pour down in torrents,

In no long time, it would give out,[9]

Being rotten and decayed.

 

In just the same way monks,

for a monk or a nun

who is fully given and devoted to meditation and mental development,

In no long time,

their bondages give out,[10]

after becoming worn and decayed.

 

 

[1] Vāsijaṭasutta → vāsijaṭopamasuttaṁ (bj) Sāvatthinidānaṁ.

[2] ‘Iti rūpaṁ, iti rūpassa samudayo, iti rūpassa atthaṅgamo;

[3] — evaṁ kho, bhikkhave, jānato evaṁ passato āsavānaṁ khayo hoti.

[4] Bhāvanānuyogaṁ ananuyuttassa

[5] ‘aho vata me anupādāya āsavehi cittaṁ vimucceyyāti, I translate anupādāya here as letting go instead of the more classical “non-clinging”.

[6] ´Abhāvitattā tissa vacanīyaṁ.

[7] Atha khvassa khīṇe khīṇantveva ñāṇaṁ hoti.

[8] ‘ettakaṁ vata me ajja āsavānaṁ khīṇaṁ…: Very interesting use of the word khīna here, which is the famous and highly repetitive term that has come to be translated as “Destruction”. In this context, it is clearly taking a much softer meaning, simply as the wearing away of the chisels’ handle, its becoming used up. Which could also very well be used for the term khīnāsavā. The wearing away of the mental outflows.

[9] paṭippassambhanti: Interesting choice of word for “the rigging to give out or collapse” as this word is usually used to say “eased, calmed, allayed, tranquilized… relaxed.”

 

[10] appakasireneva saṁyojanāni paṭippassambhanti pūtikāni bhavantī”ti.

This is a gift of Dhamma

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