The Connected Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

Chapter 35. Saḷāyatanasaṃyutta: Connected Discourses on the Six Sense Bases
Division IV. The Fourth Fifty

III. The Ocean

228 (1) The Ocean (1)
“Bhikkhus, the uninstructed worldling speaks of ‘the ocean, the ocean.’ But that is not the ocean in the Noble One’s Discipline; that is only a great mass of water, a great expanse of water.
    “The eye, bhikkhus, is the ocean for a person; its current consists of forms. One who withstands that current consisting of forms is said to have crossed the ocean of the eye with its waves, whirlpools, sharks, and demons. Crossed over, gone beyond, the brahmin stands on high ground.
    “The ear, bhikkhus, is the ocean for a person…. The mind is the ocean for a person; its current consists of mental phenomena. One who withstands that current consisting of mental phenomena is said to have crossed the ocean of the mind with its waves, whirlpools, sharks, and demons. Crossed over, gone beyond, the brahmin stands on high ground.”
    This is what the Blessed One said. Having said this, the Fortunate One, the Teacher, further said this:

“One who has crossed this ocean so hard to cross,
 With its dangers of sharks, demons, waves,
 The knowledge-master who has lived the holy life,
 Reached the world’s end, is called one gone beyond.”

229 (2) The Ocean (2)
“Bhikkhus, the uninstructed worldling speaks of ‘the ocean, the ocean.’ [158] But that is not the ocean in the Noble One’s Discipline; that is only a great mass of water, a great body of water.
    “There are, bhikkhus, forms cognizable by the eye that are desirable, lovely, agreeable, pleasing, sensually enticing, tantalizing. This is called the ocean in the Noble One’s Discipline. Here this world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, this generation with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans, for the most part is submerged, become like a tangled skein, like a knotted ball of thread, like matted reeds and rushes, and cannot pass beyond the plane of misery, the bad destinations, the nether world, saṃsāra.
    “There are sounds cognizable by the ear … mental phenomena cognizable by the mind that are desirable, lovely, agreeable, pleasing, sensually enticing, tantalizing. Here this world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, this generation with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans, for the most part is submerged, become like a tangled skein, like a knotted ball of thread, like matted reeds and rushes, and cannot pass beyond the plane of misery, the bad destinations, the nether world, saṃsāra.

“One who has expunged lust and hate
 Along with [the taint of] ignorance,
 Has crossed this ocean so hard to cross
 With its dangers of sharks, demons, waves.

“The tie-surmounter, death-forsaker, without acquisitions,
 Has abandoned suffering for no renewed existence.
 Passed away, he cannot be measured, I say:
 He has bewildered the King of Death.”

230 (3) The Fisherman Simile
 “Bhikkhus, suppose a fisherman would cast a baited hook into a deep lake, [159] and a fish on the lookout for food would swallow it. That fish who has thus swallowed the fisherman’s hook would meet with calamity and disaster, and the fisherman could do with it as he wishes. So too, bhikkhus, there are these six hooks in the world for the calamity of beings, for the slaughter of living beings.
    “There are, bhikkhus, forms cognizable by the eye that are desirable, lovely, agreeable, pleasing, sensually enticing, tantalizing. If a bhikkhu seeks delight in them, welcomes them, and remains holding to them, he is called a bhikkhu who has swallowed Māra’s hook. He has met with calamity and disaster, and the Evil One can do with him as he wishes.
    “There are, bhikkhus, sounds cognizable by the ear … mental phenomena cognizable by the mind that are desirable … tantalizing. If a bhikkhu seeks delight in them … the Evil One can do with him as he wishes.
    “There are, bhikkhus, forms cognizable by the eye that are desirable, lovely, agreeable, pleasing, sensually enticing, tantalizing. If a bhikkhu does not seek delight in them, does not welcome them, and does not remain holding to them, he is called a bhikkhu who has not swallowed Māra’s hook, who has broken the hook, demolished the hook. He has not met with calamity and disaster, and the Evil One cannot do with him as he wishes.
    “There are, bhikkhus, sounds cognizable by the ear … mental phenomena cognizable by the mind that are desirable … tantalizing. If a bhikkhu does not seek delight in them … the Evil One cannot do with him as he wishes.”

231 (4) The Milk-Sap Tree
“Bhikkhus, in regard to forms cognizable by the eye, if in any bhikkhu or bhikkhunī [160] lust still exists and has not been abandoned, if hatred still exists and has not been abandoned, if delusion still exists and has not been abandoned, then even trifling forms that enter into range of the eye obsess the mind, not to speak of those that are prominent. For what reason? Because lust still exists and has not been abandoned, hatred still exists and has not been abandoned, delusion still exists and has not been abandoned. The same in regard to sounds cognizable by the ear … mental phenomena cognizable by the mind.
    “Suppose, bhikkhus, there was a milk-sap tree—an assattha or a banyan or a pilakkha or an udumbara—fresh, young, tender. If a man breaks it here and there with a sharp axe, would sap come out?”
    “Yes, venerable sir. For what reason? Because there is sap.”
    “So too, bhikkhus, in regard to forms cognizable by the eye … even trifling forms that enter into range of the eye obsess the mind, not to speak of those that are prominent. For what reason? Because lust still exists and has not been abandoned, hatred still [161] exists and has not been abandoned, delusion still exists and has not been abandoned. The same in regard to sounds cognizable by the ear … mental phenomena cognizable by the mind.
    “Bhikkhus, in regard to forms cognizable by the eye, if in any bhikkhu or bhikkhunī lust does not exist and has been abandoned, if hatred does not exist and has been abandoned, if delusion does not exist and has been abandoned, then even prominent forms that enter into range of the eye do not obsess the mind, not to speak of those that are trifling. For what reason? Because lust does not exist and has been abandoned, hatred does not exist and has been abandoned, delusion does not exist and has been abandoned. The same in regard to sounds cognizable by the ear … mental phenomena cognizable by the mind.
    “Suppose, bhikkhus, there was a milk-sap tree—an assattha or a banyan or a pilakkha or an udumbara—dried up, desiccated, past its prime. If a man breaks it here and there with a sharp axe, would sap come out?” [162]
    “No, venerable sir. For what reason? Because there is no sap.”
    “So too, bhikkhus, in regard to forms cognizable by the eye … even prominent forms that enter into range of the eye do not obsess the mind, not to speak of those that are trifling. For what reason? Because lust does not exist and has been abandoned, hatred does not exist and has been abandoned, delusion does not exist and has been abandoned. The same in regard to sounds cognizable by the ear … mental phenomena cognizable by the mind.”

232 (5) Koṭṭhita
On one occasion the Venerable Sāriputta and the Venerable Mahākoṭṭhita were dwelling at Bārāṇasī in the Deer Park at Isipatana. Then, in the evening, the Venerable Mahākoṭṭhita emerged from seclusion and approached the Venerable Sāriputta. He exchanged greetings with the Venerable Sāriputta and, when they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and said to him:
    “How is it, friend Sariputta, is the eye the fetter of forms or are forms the fetter of the eye? Is the ear the fetter of sounds or are sounds the fetter of the ear?… [163] Is the mind the fetter of mental phenomena or are mental phenomena the fetter of the mind?”
    “Friend Koṭṭhita, the eye is not the fetter of forms nor are forms the fetter of the eye, but rather the desire and lust that arise there in dependence on both: that is the fetter there. The ear is not the fetter of sounds nor are sounds the fetter of the ear, but rather the desire and lust that arise there in dependence on both: that is the fetter there…. The mind is not the fetter of mental phenomena nor are mental phenomena the fetter of the mind, but rather the desire and lust that arise there in dependence on both: that is the fetter there.
    “Suppose, friend, a black ox and a white ox were yoked together by a single harness or yoke. Would one be speaking rightly if one were to say: ‘The black ox is the fetter of the white ox; the white ox is the fetter of the black ox’?”
    “No, friend. The black ox is not the fetter of the white ox nor is the white ox the fetter of the black ox, but rather the single harness or yoke by which the two are yoked together: that is the fetter there.”
    “So too, friend, the eye is not the fetter of forms … nor are mental phenomena the fetter of the mind, but rather the desire and lust that arise there in dependence on both: that is the fetter there.
    “If, friend, the eye were the fetter of forms or if forms were the fetter of the eye, this living of the holy life could not be discerned for the complete destruction of suffering. But since the eye is not the fetter of forms nor are forms the fetter of the eye [164]—but rather the desire and lust that arise there in dependence on both is the fetter there—the living of the holy life is discerned for the complete destruction of suffering.
    “If, friend, the ear were the fetter of sounds or if sounds were the fetter of the ear … If the mind were the fetter of mental phenomena or if mental phenomena were the fetter of the mind, this living of the holy life could not be discerned for the complete destruction of suffering. But since the mind is not the fetter of mental phenomena nor are mental phenomena the fetter of the mind—but rather the desire and lust that arise there in dependence on both is the fetter there—the living of the holy life is discerned for the complete destruction of suffering.
    “In this way too, friend, it may be understood how that is so: There exists in the Blessed One the eye, the Blessed One sees a form with the eye, yet there is no desire and lust in the Blessed One; the Blessed One is well liberated in mind. There exists in the Blessed One the ear, the Blessed One hears a sound with the ear … There exists in the Blessed One the nose, the Blessed One smells an odour with the nose … There exists in the Blessed One the tongue, the Blessed One savours a taste with the tongue … There exists in the Blessed One the body, the Blessed One feels a tactile object with the body … There exists in the Blessed One the mind, the Blessed One cognizes [165] a mental phenomenon with the mind, yet there is no desire and lust in the Blessed One; the Blessed One is well liberated in mind.
    “In this way, friend, it can be understood how the eye is not the fetter of forms nor forms the fetter of the eye, but rather the desire and lust that arise there in dependence on both is the fetter there; how the ear is not the fetter of sounds nor sounds the fetter of the ear…; how the mind is not the fetter of mental phenomena nor mental phenomena the fetter of the mind, but rather the desire and lust that arise there in dependence on both is the fetter there.”

233 (6) Kāmabhū
On one occasion the Venerable Ānanda and the Venerable Kāmabhū were dwelling at Kosambī in Ghosita’s Park. Then, in the evening, the Venerable Kāmabhū emerged from seclusion and approached the Venerable Ānanda. He exchanged greetings with the Venerable Ānanda and, when they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and said to him:
    “How is it, friend Ānanda, is the eye the fetter of forms or are forms the fetter of the eye?… Is the mind the fetter of mental phenomena or are mental phenomena the fetter of the mind?”
    “Friend Kāmabhū, the eye is not the fetter of forms nor are forms the fetter of the eye … The mind is not the fetter of mental phenomena nor are mental phenomena the fetter of the mind, but rather the desire and lust that arise there in dependence on both: that is the fetter there. [166]
    “Suppose, friend, a black ox and a white ox were yoked together by a single harness or yoke. Would one be speaking rightly if one were to say: ‘The black ox is the fetter of the white ox; the white ox is the fetter of the black ox’?”
    “No, friend. The black ox is not the fetter of the white ox nor is the white ox the fetter of the black ox, but rather the single harness or yoke by which the two are yoked together: that is the fetter there.”
    “So too, friend, the eye is not the fetter of forms … nor are mental phenomena the fetter of the mind, but rather the desire and lust that arise there in dependence on both: that is the fetter there.”

234 (7) Udāyī
On one occasion the Venerable Ānanda and the Venerable Udāyī were dwelling at Kosambī in Ghosita’s Park. Then, in the evening, the Venerable Udāyī emerged from seclusion and approached the Venerable Ānanda. He exchanged greetings with the Venerable Ānanda and, when they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and said to him:
    “Friend Ānanda, in many ways [the nature of] this body has been declared, disclosed, and revealed by the Blessed One thus: ‘For such a reason this body is nonself.’ Is it possible to explain [the nature of] this consciousness in a similar way—to teach, proclaim, establish, disclose, analyse, and elucidate it thus: ‘For such a reason this consciousness is nonself’?”
    “It is possible, friend Udāyī. Doesn’t eye-consciousness arise in dependence on the eye and forms.” [167]
    “Yes, friend.”
    “If the cause and condition for the arising of eye-consciousness would cease completely and totally without remainder, could eye-consciousness be discerned?”
    “No, friend.”
    “In this way, friend, this has been declared, disclosed, and revealed by the Blessed One thus: ‘For such a reason this consciousness is nonself.’
    “Doesn’t ear-consciousness arise in dependence on the ear and sounds?… Doesn’t mind-consciousness arise in dependence on the mind and mental phenomena?”
    “Yes, friend.”
    “If the cause and condition for the arising of mind-consciousness would cease completely and totally without remainder, could mind-consciousness be discerned?”
    “No, friend.”
    “In this way too, friend, this has been declared, disclosed, and revealed by the Blessed One thus: ‘For such a reason this consciousness is nonself.’
    “Suppose, friend, a man needing heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood, would take a sharp axe and enter a forest. There he would see the trunk of a large plantain tree, straight, fresh, without a fruit-bud core. [168] He would cut it down at the root, cut off the crown, and unroll the coil. As he unrolls the coil, he would not find even softwood, let alone heartwood.
    “So too, a bhikkhu does not recognize either a self or anything belonging to a self in these six bases for contact. Since he does not recognize anything thus, he does not cling to anything in the world. Not clinging, he is not agitated. Being unagitated, he personally attains Nibbāna. He understands: ‘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.’”

235 (8) The Exposition on Burning
“Bhikkhus, I will teach you a Dhamma exposition on the theme of burning. Listen to that….
    “And what, bhikkhus, is the Dhamma exposition on the theme of burning? It would be better, bhikkhus, for the eye faculty to be lacerated by a red-hot iron pin burning, blazing, and glowing, than for one to grasp the sign through the features in a form cognizable by the eye. For if consciousness should stand tied to gratification in the sign or in the features, and if one should die on that occasion, it is possible that one will go to one of two destinations: hell or the animal realm. Having seen this danger, I speak thus.
    “It would be better, bhikkhus, for the ear faculty to be lacerated by a sharp iron stake burning, blazing, and glowing, than for one to grasp the sign through the features in a sound cognizable by the ear. For if consciousness should stand tied to gratification in the sign or in the features, and if one should die on that occasion, it is possible that one will go to one of two destinations: hell or the animal realm. Having seen this danger, I speak thus. [169]
    “It would be better, bhikkhus, for the nose faculty to be lacerated by a sharp nail cutter burning, blazing, and glowing, than for one to grasp the sign through the features in an odour cognizable by the nose. For if consciousness should stand tied to gratification in the sign or in the features, and if one should die on that occasion, it is possible that one will go to one of two destinations: hell or the animal realm. Having seen this danger, I speak thus.
    “It would be better, bhikkhus, for the tongue faculty to be lacerated by a sharp razor burning, blazing, and glowing, than for one to grasp the sign through the features in a taste cognizable by the tongue. For if consciousness should stand tied to gratification in the sign or in the features, and if one should die on that occasion, it is possible that one will go to one of two destinations: hell or the animal realm. Having seen this danger, I speak thus.
    “It would be better, bhikkhus, for the body faculty to be lacerated by a sharp spear burning, blazing, and glowing, than for one to grasp the sign through the features in a tactile object cognizable by the body. For if consciousness should stand tied to gratification in the sign or in the features, and if one should die on that occasion, it is possible that one will go to one of two destinations: hell or the animal realm. Having seen this danger, I speak thus.
    “It would be better, bhikkhus, to sleep—for sleep, I say, is barren for the living, fruitless for the living, insensibility for the living—than to think such thoughts as would induce one who has come under their control to bring about a schism in the Saṅgha. [170] Having seen this danger, I speak thus.
    “In regard to this, bhikkhus, the instructed noble disciple reflects thus: ‘Leave off lacerating the eye faculty with a red-hot iron pin burning, blazing, and glowing. Let me attend only to this: So the eye is impermanent, forms are impermanent, eye-consciousness is impermanent, eye-contact is impermanent, whatever feeling arises with eye-contact as condition—whether pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant—that too is impermanent.
    “‘Leave off lacerating the ear faculty with a sharp iron stake burning, blazing, and glowing. Let me attend only to this: So the ear is impermanent, sounds are impermanent, ear-consciousness is impermanent, ear-contact is impermanent, whatever feeling arises with ear-contact as condition … that too is impermanent.
    “‘Leave off lacerating the nose faculty with a sharp nail cutter burning, blazing, and glowing. Let me attend only to this: So the nose is impermanent, odours are impermanent, nose-consciousness is impermanent, nose-contact is impermanent, whatever feeling arises with nose-contact as condition … that too is impermanent.
    “‘Leave off lacerating the tongue faculty with a sharp razor burning, blazing, and glowing. Let me attend only to this: So the tongue is impermanent, tastes are impermanent, tongue-consciousness is impermanent, tongue-contact is impermanent, whatever feeling arises with tongue-contact as condition … that too is impermanent.
    “‘Leave off lacerating the body faculty with a sharp spear burning, blazing, and glowing. Let me attend only to this: So the body is impermanent, [171] tactile objects are impermanent, body-consciousness is impermanent, body-contact is impermanent, whatever feeling arises with body-contact as condition … that too is impermanent.
    “‘Leave off sleeping. Let me attend only to this: So the mind is impermanent, mental phenomena are impermanent, mind-consciousness is impermanent, mind-contact is impermanent, whatever feeling arises with mind-contact as condition … that too is impermanent.’
    “Seeing thus, bhikkhus, the instructed noble disciple experiences revulsion towards the eye, forms, eye-consciousness, eye-contact, and whatever feeling arises with eye-contact as condition—whether pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant … towards the mind, mental phenomena, mind-consciousness, mind-contact, and whatever feeling arises with mind-contact as condition…. Experiencing revulsion, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion [his mind] is liberated. When it is liberated there comes the knowledge: ‘It’s liberated.’ He understands: ‘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.’
    “This, bhikkhus, is the Dhamma exposition on the theme of burning.”

236 (9) The Simile of Hands and Feet (1)
“Bhikkhus, when there are hands, picking up and putting down are discerned. When there are feet, coming and going are discerned. When there are limbs, bending and stretching are discerned. When there is the belly, hunger and thirst are discerned.
    “So too, bhikkhus, when there is the eye, pleasure and pain arise internally with eye-contact as condition. When there is the ear, pleasure and pain arise internally with ear-contact as condition…. When there is the mind, pleasure and pain arise internally with mind-contact as condition.
    “When, bhikkhus, there are no hands, picking up and putting down are not discerned. When there are no feet, coming and going are not discerned. When there are no limbs, bending and stretching are not discerned. When there is no belly, hunger and thirst are not discerned.
    “So too, bhikkhus, when there is no eye, [172] no pleasure and pain arise internally with eye-contact as condition. When there is no ear, no pleasure and pain arise internally with ear-contact as condition…. When there is no mind, no pleasure and pain arise internally with mind-contact as condition.”

237 (10) The Simile of Hands and Feet (2)
“Bhikkhus, when there are hands, there is picking up and putting down….
    “So too, bhikkhus, when there is the eye, pleasure and pain arise internally with eye-contact as condition…. When there is the mind, pleasure and pain arise internally with mind-contact as condition.
    “When, bhikkhus, there are no hands, there is no picking up and putting down….
    “So too, bhikkhus, when there is no eye … no mind, no pleasure and pain arise internally with mind-contact as condition.”
 

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