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The Connected Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

Chapter 12. Nidānasaṃyutta: Connected Discourses on Causation

II. Nutriment

11 (1) Nutriment
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park….
    “Bhikkhus, there are these four kinds of nutriment for the maintenance of beings that have already come to be and for the assistance of those about to come to be. What four? The nutriment edible food, gross or subtle; second, contact; third, mental volition; fourth, consciousness. These are the four kinds of nutriment for the maintenance of beings that have already come to be and for the assistance of those about to come to be.
    “Bhikkhus, these four kinds of nutriment have what as their source, [12] what as their origin, from what are they born and produced? These four kinds of nutriment have craving as their source, craving as their origin; they are born and produced from craving.
    “And this craving has what as its source, what as its origin, from what is it born and produced? This craving has feeling as its source, feeling as its origin; it is born and produced from feeling.
    “And this feeling has what as its source…? Feeling has contact as its source…. And this contact has what as its source…? Contact has the six sense bases as its source…. And these six sense bases have what as their source…? The six sense bases have name-and-form as their source…. And this name-and-form has what as its source…? Name-and-form has consciousness as its source…. And this consciousness has what as its source…? Consciousness has volitional formations as its source…. And these volitional formations have what as their source, what as their origin, from what are they born and produced? Volitional formations have ignorance as their source, ignorance as their origin; they are born and produced from ignorance.
    “Thus, bhikkhus, with ignorance as condition, volitional formations [come to be]; with volitional formations as condition, consciousness…. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering. But with the remainderless fading away and cessation of ignorance comes cessation of volitional formations; with the cessation of volitional formations, cessation of consciousness…. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.”

12 (2) Moḷiyaphagguna
At Sāvatthī. [13] “Bhikkhus, there are these four kinds of nutriment for the maintenance of beings that have already come to be and for the assistance of those about to come to be. What four? The nutriment edible food, gross or subtle; second, contact; third, mental volition; fourth, consciousness. These are the four kinds of nutriment for the maintenance of beings that have already come to be and for the assistance of those about to come to be.”
    When this was said, the Venerable Moḷiyaphagguna said to the Blessed One: “Venerable sir, who consumes the nutriment consciousness?”
    “Not a valid question,” the Blessed One replied. “I do not say, ‘One consumes.’ If I should say, ‘One consumes,’ in that case this would be a valid question: ‘Venerable sir, who consumes?’ But I do not speak thus. Since I do not speak thus, if one should ask me, ‘Venerable sir, for what is the nutriment consciousness [a condition]?’ this would be a valid question. To this the valid answer is: ‘The nutriment consciousness is a condition for the production of future renewed existence. When that which has come into being exists, the six sense bases [come to be]; with the six sense bases as condition, contact.’”
    “Venerable sir, who makes contact?”
    “Not a valid question,” the Blessed One replied. “I do not say, ‘One makes contact.’ If I should say, ‘One makes contact,’ in that case this would be a valid question: ‘Venerable sir, who makes contact?’ But I do not speak thus. Since I do not speak thus, if one should ask me, ‘Venerable sir, with what as condition does contact [come to be]?’ this would be a valid question. To this the valid answer is: ‘With the six sense bases as condition, contact [comes to be]; with contact as condition, feeling.’”
    “Venerable sir, who feels?”
    “Not a valid question,” the Blessed One replied. “I do not say, ‘One feels.’ If I should say, ‘One feels,’ in that case this would be a valid question: ‘Venerable sir, who feels?’ But I do not speak thus. Since I do not speak thus, if one should ask me, ‘Venerable sir, with what as condition does feeling [come to be]?’ this would be a valid question. To this the valid answer is: ‘With contact as condition, feeling [comes to be]; with feeling as condition, craving.’”
    “Venerable sir, who craves?”
    “Not a valid question,” the Blessed One replied. “I do not say, ‘One craves.’ [14] If I should say, ‘One craves,’ in that case this would be a valid question: ‘Venerable sir, who craves?’ But I do not speak thus. Since I do not speak thus, if one should ask me, ‘Venerable sir, with what as condition does craving [come to be]?’ this would be a valid question. To this the valid answer is: ‘With feeling as condition, craving [comes to be]; with craving as condition, clinging; with clinging as condition, existence…. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.’
    “But, Phagguna, with the remainderless fading away and cessation of the six bases for contact comes cessation of contact; with the cessation of contact, cessation of feeling; with the cessation of feeling, cessation of craving; with the cessation of craving, cessation of clinging; with the cessation of clinging, cessation of existence; with the cessation of existence, cessation of birth; with the cessation of birth, aging-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair cease. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.”

13 (3) Ascetics and Brahmins (1)
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, those ascetics or brahmins who do not understand aging-and-death, its origin, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation; who do not understand birth … existence … clinging … craving … feeling … contact … the six sense bases … name-and-form … consciousness … volitional formations, their origin, their cessation, and the way leading to their cessation: [15] these I do not consider to be ascetics among ascetics or brahmins among brahmins, and these venerable ones do not, by realizing it for themselves with direct knowledge, in this very life enter and dwell in the goal of asceticism or the goal of brahminhood.
    “But, bhikkhus, those ascetics and brahmins who understand aging-and-death, its origin, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation; who understand birth … volitional formations, their origin, their cessation, and the way leading to their cessation: these I consider to be ascetics among ascetics and brahmins among brahmins, and these venerable ones, by realizing it for themselves with direct knowledge, in this very life enter and dwell in the goal of asceticism and the goal of brahminhood.”

14 (4) Ascetics and Brahmins (2)
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, as to those ascetics and brahmins who do not understand these things, the origin of these things, the cessation of these things, and the way leading to the cessation of these things: what are those things that they do not understand, whose origin they do not understand, whose cessation they do not understand, and the way leading to whose cessation they do not understand?
    “They do not understand aging-and-death, its origin, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation. They do not understand birth … existence … clinging … craving … feeling … contact … the six sense bases … name-and-form … consciousness … volitional formations, their origin, their cessation, and the way leading to their cessation. These are the things that they do not understand, whose origin they do not understand, [16] whose cessation they do not understand, and the way leading to whose cessation they do not understand.
    “These I do not consider to be ascetics among ascetics or brahmins among brahmins, and these venerable ones do not, by realizing it for themselves with direct knowledge, in this very life enter and dwell in the goal of asceticism or the goal of brahminhood.
    “But, bhikkhus, as to those ascetics and brahmins who understand these things, the origin of these things, the cessation of these things, and the way leading to the cessation of these things: what are those things that they understand, whose origin they understand, whose cessation they understand, and the way leading to whose cessation they understand?
    “They understand aging-and-death, its origin, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation. They understand birth … volitional formations, their origin, their cessation, and the way leading to their cessation. These are the things that they understand, whose origin they understand, whose cessation they understand, and the way leading to whose cessation they understand.
    “These I consider to be ascetics among ascetics and brahmins among brahmins, and these venerable ones, by realizing it for themselves with direct knowledge, in this very life enter and dwell in the goal of asceticism and the goal of brahminhood.”

15 (5) Kaccānagotta
At Sāvatthī. [17] Then the Venerable Kaccānagotta approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him: “Venerable sir, it is said, ‘right view, right view.’ In what way, venerable sir, is there right view?”
    “This world, Kaccāna, for the most part depends upon a duality—upon the notion of existence and the notion of nonexistence. But for one who sees the origin of the world as it really is with correct wisdom, there is no notion of nonexistence in regard to the world. And for one who sees the cessation of the world as it really is with correct wisdom, there is no notion of existence in regard to the world.
    “This world, Kaccāna, is for the most part shackled by engagement, clinging, and adherence. But this one [with right view] does not become engaged and cling through that engagement and clinging, mental standpoint, adherence, underlying tendency; he does not take a stand about ‘my self.’ He has no perplexity or doubt that what arises is only suffering arising, what ceases is only suffering ceasing. His knowledge about this is independent of others. It is in this way, Kaccāna, that there is right view.
    “‘All exists’: Kaccāna, this is one extreme. ‘All does not exist’: this is the second extreme. Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathāgata teaches the Dhamma by the middle: ‘With ignorance as condition, volitional formations [come to be]; with volitional formations as condition, consciousness…. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering. But with the remainderless fading away and cessation of ignorance comes cessation of volitional formations; with the cessation of volitional formations, cessation of consciousness…. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.” [18]

16 (6) A Speaker on the Dhamma
At Sāvatthī. Then a certain bhikkhu approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him: “Venerable sir, it is said, ‘a speaker on the Dhamma, a speaker on the Dhamma.’ In what way, venerable sir, is one a speaker on the Dhamma?”
    “Bhikkhu, if one teaches the Dhamma for the purpose of revulsion towards aging-and-death, for its fading away and cessation, one is fit to be called a bhikkhu who is a speaker on the Dhamma. If one is practising for the purpose of revulsion towards aging-and-death, for its fading away and cessation, one is fit to be called a bhikkhu who is practising in accordance with the Dhamma. If, through revulsion towards aging-and-death, through its fading away and cessation, one is liberated by nonclinging, one is fit to be called a bhikkhu who has attained Nibbāna in this very life.
    “Bhikkhu, if one teaches the Dhamma for the purpose of revulsion towards birth … for the purpose of revulsion towards ignorance, for its fading away and cessation, one is fit to be called a bhikkhu who is a speaker on the Dhamma. If one is practising for the purpose of revulsion towards ignorance, for its fading away and cessation, one is fit to be called a bhikkhu who is practising in accordance with the Dhamma. If, through revulsion towards ignorance, through its fading away and cessation, one is liberated by nonclinging, one is fit to be called a bhikkhu who has attained Nibbāna in this very life.”

17 (7) The Naked Ascetic Kassapa
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrel Sanctuary. [19] Then, in the morning, the Blessed One dressed and, taking bowl and robe, entered Rājagaha for alms. The naked ascetic Kassapa saw the Blessed One coming in the distance. Having seen him, he approached the Blessed One and exchanged greetings with him. When they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he stood to one side and said to him: “We would like to ask Master Gotama about a certain point, if he would grant us the favour of answering our question.”
    “This is not the right time for a question, Kassapa. We have entered among the houses.”
    A second time and a third time the naked ascetic Kassapa said to the Blessed One: “We would like to ask Master Gotama about a certain point, if he would grant us the favour of answering our question.”
    “This is not the right time for a question, Kassapa. We have entered among the houses.”
    Then the naked ascetic Kassapa said to the Blessed One: “We do not wish to ask Master Gotama much.”
    “Then ask what you want, Kassapa.”
    “How is it, Master Gotama: is suffering created by oneself?”
    “Not so, Kassapa,” the Blessed One said.
    “Then, Master Gotama, is suffering created by another?”
    “Not so, Kassapa,” the Blessed One said.
    “How is it then, Master Gotama: is suffering created both by oneself and by another?”
    “Not so, Kassapa,” the Blessed One said. [20]
    “Then, Master Gotama, has suffering arisen fortuitously, being created neither by oneself nor by another?”
    “Not so, Kassapa,” the Blessed One said.
    “How is it then, Master Gotama: is there no suffering?”
    “It is not that there is no suffering, Kassapa; there is suffering.”
    “Then is it that Master Gotama does not know and see suffering?”
    “It is not that I do not know and see suffering, Kassapa. I know suffering, I see suffering.”
    “Whether you are asked: ‘How is it, Master Gotama: is suffering created by oneself?’ or ‘Is it created by another?’ or ‘Is it created by both?’ or ‘Is it created by neither?’ in each case you say: ‘Not so, Kassapa.’ When you are asked: ‘How is it then, Master Gotama: is there no suffering?’ you say: ‘It is not that there is no suffering, Kassapa; there is suffering.’ When asked: ‘Then is it that Master Gotama does not know and see suffering?’ you say: ‘It is not that I do not know and see suffering, Kassapa. I know suffering, I see suffering.’ Venerable sir, let the Blessed One explain suffering to me. Let the Blessed One teach me about suffering.”
    “Kassapa, [if one thinks,] ‘The one who acts is the same as the one who experiences [the result],’ [then one asserts] with reference to one existing from the beginning: ‘Suffering is created by oneself.’ When one asserts thus, this amounts to eternalism. But, Kassapa, [if one thinks,] ‘The one who acts is one, the one who experiences [the result] is another,’ [then one asserts] with reference to one stricken by feeling: ‘Suffering is created by another.’ When one asserts thus, this amounts to annihilationism. Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathāgata teaches the Dhamma by the middle: ‘With ignorance as condition, volitional formations [come to be]; with volitional formations as condition, consciousness…. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering. [21] But with the remainderless fading away and cessation of ignorance comes cessation of volitional formations; with the cessation of volitional formations, cessation of consciousness…. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.’”
    When this was said, the naked ascetic Kassapa said to the Blessed One: “Magnificent, venerable sir! Magnificent, venerable sir! The Dhamma has been made clear in many ways by the Blessed One, as though he were turning upright what had been turned upside down, revealing what was hidden, showing the way to one who was lost, or holding up a lamp in the dark for those with eyesight to see forms. I go for refuge to the Blessed One, and to the Dhamma, and to the Bhikkhu Saṅgha. May I receive the going forth under the Blessed One, may I receive the higher ordination?”
    “Kassapa, one formerly belonging to another sect who desires the going forth and the higher ordination in this Dhamma and Discipline lives on probation for four months. At the end of the four months, if the bhikkhus are satisfied with him, they may if they wish give him the going forth and the higher ordination to the state of a bhikkhu. But individual differences are recognized by me.”
    “If, venerable sir, one formerly belonging to another sect who desires the going forth and the higher ordination in this Dhamma and Discipline lives on probation for four months, and if at the end of the four months the bhikkhus, being satisfied with him, may if they wish give him the going forth and the higher ordination to the state of a bhikkhu, then I will live on probation for four years. At the end of the four years, if the bhikkhus are satisfied with me, let them if they wish give me the going forth and the higher ordination to the state of a bhikkhu.”
    Then the naked ascetic Kassapa received the going forth under the Blessed One, and he received the higher ordination. And soon, not long after his higher ordination, dwelling alone, withdrawn, diligent, ardent, and resolute, the Venerable Kassapa, [22] by realizing it for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life entered and dwelt in that unsurpassed goal of the holy life for the sake of which clansmen rightly go forth from the household life into homelessness. He directly knew: “Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more for this state of being.” And the Venerable Kassapa became one of the arahants.

18 (8) Timbaruka
At Sāvatthī. Then the wanderer Timbaruka approached the Blessed One and exchanged greetings with him. When they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and said to him: “How is it, Master Gotama: are pleasure and pain created by oneself?”
    “Not so, Timbaruka,” the Blessed One said.
    “Then, Master Gotama, are pleasure and pain created by another?”
     “Not so, Timbaruka,” the Blessed One said.
    “How is it then, Master Gotama: are pleasure and pain created both by oneself and by another?”
    “Not so, Timbaruka,” the Blessed One said.
    “Then, Master Gotama, have pleasure and pain arisen fortuitously, being created neither by oneself nor by another?”
    “Not so, Timbaruka,” the Blessed One said.
    “How is it then, Master Gotama: is there no pleasure and pain?”
    “It is not that there is no pleasure and pain, Timbaruka; there is pleasure and pain.”
    “Then is it that Master Gotama does not know and see pleasure and pain?”
    “It is not that I do not know and see pleasure and pain, Timbaruka. I know pleasure and pain, I see pleasure and pain.”
    “Whether you are asked: ‘How is it, Master Gotama: are pleasure and pain created by oneself?’ or ‘Are they created by another?’ [23] or ‘Are they created by both?’ or ‘Are they created by neither?’ in each case you say: ‘Not so, Timbaruka.’ When you are asked: ‘How is it then, Master Gotama: is there no pleasure and pain?’ you say: ‘It is not that there is no pleasure and pain, Timbaruka; there is pleasure and pain.’ When asked: ‘Then is it that Master Gotama does not know and see pleasure and pain?’ you say: ‘It is not that I do not know and see pleasure and pain, Timbaruka. I know pleasure and pain, I see pleasure and pain.’ Venerable sir, let the Blessed One explain pleasure and pain to me. Let the Blessed One teach me about pleasure and pain.”
    “Timbaruka, [if one thinks,] ‘The feeling and the one who feels it are the same,’ [then one asserts] with reference to one existing from the beginning: ‘Pleasure and pain are created by oneself.’ I do not speak thus. But, Timbaruka, [if one thinks,] ‘The feeling is one, the one who feels it is another,’ [then one asserts] with reference to one stricken by feeling: ‘Pleasure and pain are created by another.’ Neither do I speak thus. Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathāgata teaches the Dhamma by the middle: ‘With ignorance as condition, volitional formations [come to be]; with volitional formations as condition, consciousness…. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering. But with the remainderless fading away and cessation of ignorance comes cessation of volitional formations; with the cessation of volitional formations, cessation of consciousness…. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.’”
    When this was said, the naked ascetic Timbaruka said to the Blessed One: “Magnificent, Master Gotama!… I go for refuge to Master Gotama, and to the Dhamma, and to the Bhikkhu Saṅgha. From today let Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge for life.”

19 (9) The Wise Man and the Fool
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, for the fool, hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving, [24] this body has thereby originated. So there is this body and external name-and-form: thus this dyad. Dependent on the dyad there is contact. There are just six sense bases, contacted through which—or through a certain one among them—the fool experiences pleasure and pain.
    “Bhikkhus, for the wise man, hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving, this body has thereby originated. So there is this body and external name-and-form: thus this dyad. Dependent on the dyad there is contact. There are just six sense bases, contacted through which—or through a certain one among them—the wise man experiences pleasure and pain. What, bhikkhus, is the distinction here, what is the disparity, what is the difference between the wise man and the fool?”
    “Venerable sir, our teachings are rooted in the Blessed One, guided by the Blessed One, take recourse in the Blessed One. It would be good if the Blessed One would clear up the meaning of this statement. Having heard it from him, the bhikkhus will remember it.”
    “Then listen and attend closely, bhikkhus, I will speak.”
    “Yes, venerable sir,” the bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:
    “Bhikkhus, for the fool, hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving, this body has originated. For the fool that ignorance has not been abandoned and that craving has not been utterly destroyed. For what reason? Because the fool has not lived the holy life for the complete destruction of suffering. Therefore, with the breakup of the body, the fool fares on to [another] body. Faring on to [another] body, he is not freed from birth, aging, and death; not freed from sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair; not freed from suffering, I say.
    “Bhikkhus, for the wise man, hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving, this body has originated. For the wise man that ignorance has been abandoned and that craving has been utterly destroyed. For what reason? Because the wise man has lived the holy life [25] for the complete destruction of suffering. Therefore, with the breakup of the body, the wise man does not fare on to [another] body. Not faring on to [another] body, he is freed from birth, aging, and death; freed from sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair; freed from suffering, I say.
    “This, bhikkhus, is the distinction, the disparity, the difference between the wise man and the fool, that is, the living of the holy life.”

20 (10) Conditions
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, I will teach you dependent origination and dependently arisen phenomena. Listen and attend closely, I will speak.”
    “Yes, venerable sir,” those bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:
    “And what, bhikkhus, is dependent origination? ‘With birth as condition, aging-and-death [comes to be]’: whether there is an arising of Tathāgatas or no arising of Tathāgatas, that element still persists, the stableness of the Dhamma, the fixed course of the Dhamma, specific conditionality. A Tathāgata awakens to this and breaks through to it. Having done so, he explains it, teaches it, proclaims it, establishes it, discloses it, analyses it, elucidates it. And he says: ‘See! With birth as condition, bhikkhus, aging-and-death.’
    “‘With existence as condition, birth’ … ‘With clinging as condition, existence’ … ‘With craving as condition, clinging’ … ‘With feeling as condition, craving’ … ‘With contact as condition, feeling’ … ‘With the six sense bases as condition, contact’ … ‘With name-and-form as condition, the six sense bases’ … ‘With consciousness as condition, name-and-form’ … ‘With volitional formations as condition, consciousness’ … ‘With ignorance as condition, volitional formations’: whether there is an arising of Tathāgatas or no arising of Tathāgatas, that element still persists, the stableness of the Dhamma, the fixed course of the Dhamma, specific conditionality. A Tathāgata awakens to this and [26] breaks through to it. Having done so, he explains it, teaches it, proclaims it, establishes it, discloses it, analyses it, elucidates it. And he says: ‘See! With ignorance as condition, bhikkhus, volitional formations.’
    “Thus, bhikkhus, the actuality in this, the inerrancy, the not-otherwiseness, specific conditionality: this is called dependent origination.
    “And what, bhikkhus, are the dependently arisen phenomena? Aging-and-death, bhikkhus, is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to destruction, vanishing, fading away, and cessation. Birth is impermanent … Existence is impermanent … Clinging is impermanent … Craving is impermanent … Feeling is impermanent … Contact is impermanent … The six sense bases are impermanent … Name-and-form is impermanent … Consciousness is impermanent … Volitional formations are impermanent … Ignorance is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to destruction, vanishing, fading away, and cessation. These, bhikkhus, are called the dependently arisen phenomena.
    “When, bhikkhus, a noble disciple has clearly seen with correct wisdom as it really is this dependent origination and these dependently arisen phenomena, it is impossible that he will run back into the past, thinking: ‘Did I exist in the past? Did I not exist in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what did I become in the past?’ Or that he will run forward into the future, thinking: ‘Will I exist in the future? Will I not exist [27] in the future? What will I be in the future? How will I be in the future? Having been what, what will I become in the future?’ Or that he will now be inwardly confused about the present thus: ‘Do I exist? Do I not exist? What am I? How am I? This being—where has it come from, and where will it go?’
    “For what reason [is this impossible]? Because, bhikkhus, the noble disciple has clearly seen with correct wisdom as it really is this dependent origination and these dependently arisen phenomena.”
 

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© Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Connected Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2000)

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