Classic and Contemporary Buddhist Works

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Teachings of the Buddha: Shining the Light of Wisdom and Full Understanding

by Bhikkhu Bodhi
November 21, 2013
Thu, 11/21/2013 - 09:30 -- bbodhi

Today's selection, drawn from The Saḷāyatanasaṃyutta: Connected Discourses on the Six Sense Bases, testifies that for Early Buddhism, liberation requires direct knowledge and full understanding of the internal and external sense bases and all the phenomena that arise from them. This seems to establish an apparent correspondence between Buddhism and empirical science, but the type of knowledge sought by the two disciplines differs. Whereas the scientist seeks impersonal, “objective” information, the Buddhist practitioner seeks direct insight into the nature of these phenomena as components of lived experience.

At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, without directly knowing and fully understanding the all, without developing dispassion towards it and abandoning it, one is incapable of destroying suffering.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is that all without directly knowing and fully understanding which, without developing dispassion towards which and abandoning which, one is incapable of destroying suffering?
    “Without directly knowing and fully understanding the eye, without developing dispassion towards it and abandoning it, one is incapable of destroying suffering. Without directly knowing and fully understanding forms … eye-consciousness … eye-contact … and whatever feeling arises with eye-contact as condition … without developing dispassion towards it and abandoning it, one is incapable of destroying suffering.
    “Without directly knowing and fully understanding the ear … the mind … and whatever feeling arises with mind-contact as condition … without developing dispassion towards it and abandoning it, one is incapable of destroying suffering.
    “This, bhikkhus, is the all without directly knowing and fully understanding which … one is incapable of destroying suffering.
    “Bhikkhus, by directly knowing and fully understanding the all, by developing dispassion towards it and abandoning it, one is capable of destroying suffering. [18]
    “And what, bhikkhus, is that all by directly knowing and fully understanding which, by developing dispassion towards which and abandoning which, one is capable of destroying suffering?
    “By directly knowing and fully understanding the eye … the mind … and whatever feeling arises with mind-contact as condition … by developing dispassion towards it and abandoning it, one is capable of destroying suffering.
    “This, bhikkhus, is the all by directly knowing and fully understanding which … one is capable of destroying suffering.”

SN 35:26

To read more from The Saḷāyatanasaṃyutta, click here.

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