Classic and Contemporary Buddhist Works

The Connected Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

Chapter 22. Khandhasaṃyutta: Connected Discourses on the Aggregates
Division I. The Root Fifty

III. The Burden

22 (1) The Burden
At Sāvatthī…. There the Blessed One said this:
    “Bhikkhus, I will teach you the burden, the carrier of the burden, the taking up of the burden, and the laying down of the burden. Listen to that….
    “And what, bhikkhus, is the burden? It should be said: the five aggregates subject to clinging. What five? The form aggregate subject to clinging, the feeling aggregate subject to clinging, the perception aggregate subject to clinging, the volitional formations aggregate subject to clinging, the consciousness aggregate subject to clinging. This is called the burden.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is the carrier of the burden? It should be said: the person, this venerable one of such a name and clan. This is called the carrier of the burden. [26]
    “And what, bhikkhus, is the taking up of the burden? It is this craving that leads to renewed existence, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there; that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence, craving for extermination. This is called the taking up of the burden.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is the laying down of the burden? It is the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, nonreliance on it. This is called the laying down of the burden.”
    This is what the Blessed One said. Having said this, the Fortunate One, the Teacher, further said this:

“The five aggregates are truly burdens,
 The burden-carrier is the person.
 Taking up the burden is suffering in the world,
 Laying the burden down is blissful.

 Having laid the heavy burden down
 Without taking up another burden,
 Having drawn out craving with its root,
 One is free from hunger, fully quenched.”

23 (2) Full Understanding
At Sāvatthī. [27] “Bhikkhus, I will teach you things that should be fully understood and also full understanding. Listen to that….
    “And what, bhikkhus, are the things that should be fully understood? Form, bhikkhus, is something that should be fully understood; feeling … perception … volitional formations … consciousness is something that should be fully understood. These are called the things that should be fully understood.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is full understanding? The destruction of lust, the destruction of hatred, the destruction of delusion. This is called full understanding.”

24 (3) Directly Knowing
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, without directly knowing and fully understanding form, without becoming dispassionate towards it and abandoning it, one is incapable of destroying suffering. Without directly knowing and fully understanding feeling … perception … volitional formations … consciousness, without becoming dispassionate towards it and abandoning it, one is incapable of destroying suffering.
    “Bhikkhus, by directly knowing and fully understanding form, by becoming dispassionate towards it and abandoning it, one is capable of destroying suffering. By directly knowing and fully understanding feeling … perception … volitional formations … consciousness, by becoming dispassionate towards it and abandoning it, one is capable of destroying suffering.”

25 (4) Desire and Lust
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, abandon desire and lust for form. Thus that form will be abandoned, cut off at the root, made like a palm stump, obliterated so that it is no more subject to future arising.
    “Abandon desire and lust for feeling … for perception … for volitional formations … for consciousness. Thus that consciousness will be abandoned, cut off at the root, made like a palm stump, obliterated so that it is no more subject to future arising.”

26 (5) Gratification (1)
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, before my enlightenment, while I was still a bodhisatta, not yet fully enlightened, it occurred to me: ‘What is the gratification, what is the danger, what is the escape in the case of form? What is the gratification, what is the danger, what is the escape in the case of feeling … perception … volitional formations … consciousness?’ [28]
    “Then, bhikkhus, it occurred to me: ‘The pleasure and joy that arise in dependence on form: this is the gratification in form. That form is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change: this is the danger in form. The removal and abandonment of desire and lust for form: this is the escape from form.
    “‘The pleasure and joy that arise in dependence on feeling … in dependence on perception … in dependence on volitional formations … in dependence on consciousness: this is the gratification in consciousness. That consciousness is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change: this is the danger in consciousness. The removal and abandonment of desire and lust for consciousness: this is the escape from consciousness.’
    “So long, bhikkhus, as I did not directly know as they really are the gratification, the danger, and the escape in the case of these five aggregates subject to clinging, I did not claim to have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment in this world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, in this generation with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans. But when I directly knew all this as it really is, then I claimed to have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment in this world with … its devas and humans.
    “The knowledge and vision arose in me: ‘Unshakable is my liberation of mind; this is my last birth; now there is no more renewed existence.’” [29]

27 (6) Gratification (2)
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, I set out seeking the gratification in form. Whatever gratification there is in form—that I discovered. I have clearly seen with wisdom just how far the gratification in form extends.
    “Bhikkhus, I set out seeking the danger in form. Whatever danger there is in form—that I discovered. I have clearly seen with wisdom just how far the danger in form extends.
    “Bhikkhus, I set out seeking the escape from form. Whatever escape there is from form—that I discovered. I have clearly seen with wisdom just how far the escape from form extends.
    “Bhikkhus, I set out seeking the gratification in … the danger in … the escape from feeling … from perception … from volitional formations … from consciousness. Whatever escape there is from consciousness—that I discovered. I have clearly seen with wisdom just how far the escape from consciousness extends.
    “So long, bhikkhus, as I did not directly know as they really are the gratification, the danger, and the escape in the case of these five aggregates subject to clinging, I did not claim to have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment in this world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, in this generation with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans. But when I directly knew all this as it really is, then I claimed to have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment in this world with … its devas and humans.
    “The knowledge and vision arose in me: ‘Unshakable is my liberation of mind; this is my last birth; now there is no more renewed existence.’”

28 (7) Gratification (3)
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, if there were no gratification in form, [30] beings would not become enamoured with it; but because there is gratification in form, beings become enamoured with it. If there were no danger in form, beings would not experience revulsion towards it; but because there is danger in form, beings experience revulsion towards it. If there were no escape from form, beings would not escape from it; but because there is an escape from form, beings escape from it.
    “Bhikkhus, if there were no gratification in feeling … in perception … in volitional formations … in consciousness, beings would not become enamoured with it … but because there is an escape from consciousness, beings escape from it.
    “So long, bhikkhus, as beings have not directly known as they really are the gratification as gratification, the danger as danger, and the escape as escape in the case of these five aggregates subject to clinging, they have not escaped from this world with its devas, Māra, [31] and Brahmā, from this generation with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans; they have not become detached from it, released from it, nor do they dwell with a mind rid of barriers. But when beings have directly known all this as it really is, then they have escaped from this world with … its devas and humans; they have become detached from it, released from it, and they dwell with a mind rid of barriers.”

29 (8) Delight
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, one who seeks delight in form seeks delight in suffering. One who seeks delight in suffering, I say, is not freed from suffering. One who seeks delight in feeling … in perception … in volitional formations … in consciousness seeks delight in suffering. One who seeks delight in suffering, I say, is not freed from suffering.
    “One who does not seek delight in form … in consciousness does not seek delight in suffering. One who does not seek delight in suffering, I say, is freed from suffering.”

30 (9) Arising
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, the arising, continuation, production, [32] and manifestation of form is the arising of suffering, the continuation of disease, the manifestation of aging-and-death. The arising of feeling … of perception … of volitional formations … of consciousness is the arising of suffering, the continuation of disease, the manifestation of aging-and-death.
    “The cessation, subsiding, and passing away of form … of consciousness is the cessation of suffering, the subsiding of disease, the passing away of aging-and-death.”

31 (10) The Root of Misery
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, I will teach you misery and the root of misery. Listen to that….
    “And what, bhikkhus, is misery? Form is misery; feeling is misery; perception is misery; volitional formations are misery; consciousness is misery. This is called misery.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is the root of misery? It is this craving that leads to renewed existence, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there; that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence, craving for extermination. This is called the root of misery.”

32 (11) The Fragile
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, I will teach you the fragile and the unfragile. Listen to that….
    “And what, bhikkhus, is the fragile, and what the unfragile? [33] Form is the fragile; its cessation, subsiding, passing away is the unfragile. Feeling is the fragile … Perception is the fragile … Volitional formations are the fragile … Consciousness is the fragile; its cessation, subsiding, passing away is the unfragile.”
 

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

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