The Connected Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

Chapter 35. Saḷāyatanasaṃyutta: Connected Discourses on the Six Sense Bases
Division II. The Second Fifty

V. The Sixes

94 (1) Untamed, Unguarded
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, these six bases for contact—if untamed, unguarded, unprotected, unrestrained—are bringers of suffering. What six?
    “The eye, bhikkhus, as a base for contact—if untamed, unguarded, unprotected, unrestrained—is a bringer of suffering. The ear as a base for contact … The mind as a base for contact … is a bringer of suffering. These six bases for contact—if untamed, unguarded, unprotected, unrestrained—are bringers of suffering.
    “Bhikkhus, these six bases for contact—if well tamed, well guarded, well protected, well restrained—are bringers of happiness. What six?
    “The eye, bhikkhus, as a base for contact—if well tamed, well guarded, well protected, well restrained—is a bringer of happiness. The ear as a base for contact … The mind as a base for contact … is a bringer of happiness. These six bases for contact—if well tamed, well guarded, well protected, well restrained—are bringers of happiness.”
    This is what the Blessed One said. Having said this, the Fortunate One, the Teacher, further said this:

“Just six, O bhikkhus, are the bases for contact,
 Where one unrestrained meets with suffering.
 Those who know how to restrain them
 Dwell uncorrupted, with faith their partner.

“Having seen forms that delight the mind
 And having seen those that give no delight,
 Dispel the path of lust towards the delightful
 And do not soil the mind by thinking,
 ‘[The other] is displeasing to me.’ [71]

“Having heard sounds both pleasant and raucous,
 Do not be enthralled with pleasant sound.
 Dispel the course of hate towards the raucous,
 And do not soil the mind by thinking,
 ‘[This one] is displeasing to me.’

“Having smelt a fragrant, delightful scent,
 And having smelt a putrid stench,
 Dispel aversion towards the stench
 And do not yield to desire for the lovely.

“Having enjoyed a sweet delicious taste,
 And having sometimes tasted what is bitter,
 Do not greedily enjoy the sweet taste,
 Do not feel aversion towards the bitter.

“When touched by pleasant contact do not be enthralled,
 Do not tremble when touched by pain.
 Look evenly on both the pleasant and painful,
 Not drawn or repelled by anything.

“When common people of proliferated perception
 Perceive and proliferate they become engaged.
 Having dispelled every mind-state bound to the home life,
 One travels on the road of renunciation.

“When the mind is thus well developed in six,
 If touched, one’s mind never flutters anywhere.
 Having vanquished both lust and hate, O bhikkhus,
 Go to the far shore beyond birth and death!” [72]

95 (2) Māluṅkyaputta
Then the Venerable Māluṅkyaputta approached the Blessed One … and said to him: “Venerable sir, it would be good if the Blessed One would teach me the Dhamma in brief, so that, having heard the Dhamma from the Blessed One, I might dwell alone, withdrawn, diligent, ardent, and resolute.”
    “Here now, Māluṅkyaputta, what should I say to the young bhikkhus when a bhikkhu like you—old, aged, burdened with years, advanced in life, come to the last stage—asks me for an exhortation in brief?”
    “Although, venerable sir, I am old, aged, burdened with years, advanced in life, come to the last stage, let the Blessed One teach me the Dhamma in brief, let the Fortunate One teach me the Dhamma in brief. Perhaps I may understand the meaning of the Blessed One’s statement, perhaps I may become an heir to the Blessed One’s statement.”
    “What do you think, Māluṅkyaputta, do you have any desire, lust, or affection for those forms cognizable by the eye that you have not seen and never saw before, that you do not see and would not think might be seen?”
    “No, venerable sir.”
    “Do you have any desire, lust, or affection for those sounds cognizable by the ear … for those odours cognizable by the nose … for those tastes cognizable by the tongue … for those tactile objects cognizable by the body … [73] for those mental phenomena cognizable by the mind that you have not cognized and never cognized before, that you do not cognize and would not think might be cognized?”
    “No, venerable sir.”
    “Here, Māluṅkyaputta, regarding things seen, heard, sensed, and cognized by you: in the seen there will be merely the seen; in the heard there will be merely the heard; in the sensed there will be merely the sensed; in the cognized there will be merely the cognized.
    “When, Māluṅkyaputta, regarding things seen, heard, sensed, and cognized by you, in the seen there will be merely the seen, in the heard there will be merely the heard, in the sensed there will be merely the sensed, in the cognized there will be merely the cognized, then, Māluṅkyaputta, you will not be ‘by that.’ When, Māluṅkyaputta, you are not ‘by that,’ then you will not be ‘therein.’ When, Māluṅkyaputta, you are not ‘therein,’ then you will be neither here nor beyond nor in between the two. This itself is the end of suffering.”
    “I understand in detail, venerable sir, the meaning of what was stated by the Blessed One in brief:

“Having seen a form with mindfulness muddled,
 Attending to the pleasing sign,
 One experiences it with infatuated mind
 And remains tightly holding to it.

“Many feelings flourish within,
 Originating from the visible form,
 Covetousness and annoyance as well
 By which one’s mind becomes disturbed.
 For one who accumulates suffering thus
 Nibbāna is said to be far away.

“Having heard a sound with mindfulness muddled … [74]

“Having smelt an odour with mindfulness muddled …

“Having enjoyed a taste with mindfulness muddled …

“Having felt a contact with mindfulness muddled …

“Having known an object with mindfulness muddled …
 For one who accumulates suffering thus
 Nibbāna is said to be far away.

“When, firmly mindful, one sees a form,
 One is not inflamed by lust for forms;
 One experiences it with dispassionate mind
 And does not remain holding it tightly.

“One fares mindfully in such a way
 That even as one sees the form,
 And while one undergoes a feeling,
 [Suffering] is exhausted, not built up.
 For one dismantling suffering thus,
 Nibbāna is said to be close by.

“When, firmly mindful, one hears a sound,
 One is not inflamed by lust for sounds; … [75]

“When, firmly mindful, one smells an odour,
 One is not inflamed by lust for odours; ...

“When, firmly mindful, one enjoys a taste,
 One is not inflamed by lust for tastes; ...

“When, firmly mindful, one feels a contact,
 One is not inflamed by lust for contacts; ...

“When, firmly mindful, one knows an object,
 One is not inflamed by lust for objects; ...
 For one diminishing suffering thus
 Nibbāna is said to be close by.

“It is in such a way, venerable sir, that I understand in detail the meaning of what was stated by the Blessed One in brief.”
    “Good, good, Māluṅkyaputta! It is good that you understand in detail the meaning of what was stated by me in brief.
    (The Buddha here repeats the above verses in full.) [76]
    “It is in such a way, Māluṅkyaputta, that the meaning of what was stated by me in brief should be understood in detail.”
    Then the Venerable Māluṅkyaputta, having delighted and rejoiced in the Blessed One’s words, rose from his seat, and, after paying homage to the Blessed One, keeping him on his right, he departed.
    Then, dwelling alone, withdrawn, diligent, ardent, and resolute, the Venerable Māluṅkyaputta, 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 Māluṅkyaputta became one of the arahants.

96 (3) Decline
 “Bhikkhus, I will teach you about one who is subject to decline, about one who is not subject to decline, and about the six mastered bases. Listen to that….
    “And how, bhikkhus, is one subject to decline? Here, bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu has seen a form with the eye, there arise in him evil unwholesome states, memories and intentions connected with the fetters. If the bhikkhu tolerates them and does not abandon them, dispel them, put an end to them, and obliterate them, he should understand this thus: ‘I am declining away from wholesome states. For this has been called decline by the Blessed One.’
    “Further, bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu has heard a sound with the ear … cognized a mental phenomenon with the mind, [77] there arise in him evil unwholesome states, memories and intentions connected with the fetters. If the bhikkhu tolerates them and does not abandon them, dispel them, put an end to them, and obliterate them, he should understand this thus: ‘I am declining away from wholesome states. For this has been called decline by the Blessed One.’
    “It is in such a way, bhikkhus, that one is subject to decline.
    “And how, bhikkhus, is one not subject to decline? Here, bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu has seen a form with the eye, there arise in him evil unwholesome states, memories and intentions connected with the fetters. If the bhikkhu does not tolerate them, but abandons them, dispels them, puts on end to them, and obliterates them, he should understand this thus: ‘I am not declining away from wholesome states. For this has been called nondecline by the Blessed One.’
    “Further, bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu has heard a sound with the ear … cognized a mental phenomenon with the mind, there arise in him evil unwholesome states, memories and intentions connected with the fetters. If the bhikkhu does not tolerate them, but abandons them, dispels them, puts an end to them, and obliterates them, he should understand this thus: ‘I am not declining away from wholesome states. For this has been called nondecline by the Blessed One.’
    “It is in such a way, bhikkhus, that one is not subject to decline.
    “And what, bhikkhus, are the six mastered bases? Here, bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu has seen a form with the eye, there do not arise in him evil unwholesome states, nor any memories and intentions connected with the fetters. The bhikkhu should understand this thus: ‘This base has been mastered. For this has been called a mastered base by the Blessed One.’
    “Further, bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu has heard a sound with the ear … cognized a mental phenomenon with the mind, there do not arise in him evil unwholesome states, nor any memories and intentions connected with the fetters. The bhikkhu should understand this thus: ‘This base has been mastered. For this has been called a mastered base by the Blessed One.’ These, bhikkhus, are called the six mastered bases.” [78]

97 (4) Dwelling Negligently
“Bhikkhus, I will teach you about one who dwells negligently, and about one who dwells diligently. Listen to that….
    “And how, bhikkhus, does one dwell negligently? If one dwells without restraint over the eye faculty, the mind is soiled among forms cognizable by the eye. If the mind is soiled, there is no gladness. When there is no gladness, there is no rapture. When there is no rapture, there is no tranquillity. When there is no tranquillity, one dwells in suffering. The mind of one who suffers does not become concentrated. When the mind is not concentrated, phenomena do not become manifest. Because phenomena do not become manifest, one is reckoned as ‘one who dwells negligently.’
    “If one dwells without restraint over the ear faculty, the mind is soiled among sounds cognizable by the ear…. If one dwells without restraint over the mind faculty, the mind is soiled among mental phenomena cognizable by the mind…. Because phenomena do not become manifest, one is reckoned as ‘one who dwells negligently.’
    “It is in such a way, bhikkhus, that one dwells negligently.
    “And how, bhikkhus, does one dwell diligently? If one dwells with restraint over the eye faculty, the mind is not soiled among forms cognizable by the eye. If the mind is not soiled, gladness is born. When one is gladdened, rapture is born. When the mind is uplifted by rapture, the body becomes tranquil. One tranquil in body experiences happiness. The mind of one who is happy becomes concentrated. When the mind is concentrated, [79] phenomena become manifest. Because phenomena become manifest, one is reckoned as ‘one who dwells diligently.’
    “If one dwells with restraint over the ear faculty, the mind is not soiled among sounds cognizable by the ear…. If one dwells with restraint over the mind faculty, the mind is not soiled among mental phenomena cognizable by the mind…. Because phenomena become manifest, one is reckoned as ‘one who dwells diligently.’
    “It is in such a way, bhikkhus, that one dwells diligently.”

98 (5) Restraint
“Bhikkhus, I will teach you restraint and nonrestraint. Listen to that….
    “And how, bhikkhus, is there nonrestraint? 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 should understand this thus: ‘I am declining away from wholesome states. For this has been called decline by the Blessed One.’
    “There are, bhikkhus, sounds cognizable by the ear … mental phenomena cognizable by the mind that are desirable, lovely, agreeable, pleasing, sensually enticing, tantalizing. If a bhikkhu seeks delight in them, welcomes them, and remains holding to them, he should understand this thus: ‘I am declining away from wholesome states. For this has been called decline by the Blessed One.’
    “Such, bhikkhus, is nonrestraint.
    “And how, bhikkhus, is there restraint? 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 should understand this thus: [80] ‘I am not declining away from wholesome states. For this has been called nondecline by the Blessed One.’
    “There are, bhikkhus, sounds cognizable by the ear … mental phenomena cognizable by the mind 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 should understand this thus: ‘I am not declining away from wholesome states. For this has been called nondecline by the Blessed One.’
    “Such, bhikkhus, is restraint.”

99 (6) Concentration
“Bhikkhus, develop concentration. A bhikkhu who is concentrated understands things as they really are.
    “And what does he understand as they really are? He understands as it really is: ‘The eye is impermanent.’ He understands as it really is: ‘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.’…
    “He understand as it really is: ‘The mind is impermanent.’… He understand as it really is: ‘Whatever feeling arises with mind-contact as condition … that too is impermanent.’
    “Bhikkhus, develop concentration. A bhikkhu who is concentrated understands things as they really are.”

100 (7) Seclusion
“Bhikkhus, make an exertion in seclusion. A secluded bhikkhu understands things as they really are.”
    (The rest is identical with the preceding sutta.) [81]

101 (8) Not Yours (1)
“Bhikkhus, whatever is not yours, abandon it. When you have abandoned it, that will lead to your welfare and happiness. And what is it, bhikkhus, that is not yours? The eye is not yours: abandon it. When you have abandoned it, that will lead to your welfare and happiness. Forms are not yours … Eye-consciousness is not yours … Eye-contact is not yours … Whatever feeling arises with eye-contact as condition—whether pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant—that too is not yours: abandon it. When you have abandoned it, that will lead to your welfare and happiness.
    “The ear is not yours … [82] … The mind is not yours … Whatever feeling arises with mind-contact as condition … that too is not yours: abandon it. When you have abandoned it, that will lead to your welfare and happiness.
    “Suppose, bhikkhus, people were to carry off the grass, sticks, branches, and foliage in this Jeta’s Grove, or to burn them, or to do with them as they wish. Would you think: ‘People are carrying us off, or burning us, or doing with us as they wish’?”
    “No, venerable sir. For what reason? Because, venerable sir, that is neither our self nor what belongs to our self.”
    “So too, bhikkhus, the eye is not yours … Whatever feeling arises with mind-contact as condition … that too is not yours: abandon it. When you have abandoned it, that will lead to your welfare and happiness.”

102 (9) Not Yours (2)
(This sutta is identical with the preceding one except that it omits the simile.) [83]

103 (10) Uddaka
“Bhikkhus, Uddaka Rāmaputta used to make this declaration:

“‘This, surely a knowledge-master—
  This, surely a universal conqueror—
  This, surely he has excised
  The tumour’s root not excised before!’

“Bhikkhus, though Uddaka Rāmaputta was not himself a knowledge-master, he declared: ‘I am a knowledge-master.’ Though he was not himself a universal conqueror, he declared: ‘I am a universal conqueror.’ Though he had not excised the tumour’s root, he declared: ‘I have excised the tumour’s root.’ But here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu speaking rightly might say:

“‘This, surely a knowledge-master—
  This, surely a universal conqueror—
  This, surely he has excised
  The tumour’s root not excised before!’

“And how, bhikkhus, is one a knowledge-master? When a bhikkhu understands as they really are the origin, the passing away, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in regard to the six bases for contact, such a bhikkhu is a knowledge-master.
    “And how, bhikkhus, is a bhikkhu a universal conqueror? When, having understood as they really are the origin, the passing away, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in regard to the six bases for contact, a bhikkhu is liberated by nonclinging, such a bhikkhu is a universal conqueror.
    “And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu excise the tumour’s root not excised before? ‘The tumour,’ bhikkhus: this is a designation for this body consisting of the four great elements, originating from mother and father, built up out of rice and gruel, subject to impermanence, to rubbing and pressing, to breaking apart and dispersal. ‘The tumour’s root’: this is a designation for craving. When craving has been abandoned by a bhikkhu, cut off at the root, [84] made like a palm stump, obliterated so that it is no more subject to future arising, in such a case the bhikkhu has excised the tumour’s root not excised before.
    “Bhikkhus, though Uddaka Rāmaputta was not himself a knowledge-master, he declared: ‘I am a knowledge-master.’… But here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu speaking rightly might say:

“‘This, surely a knowledge-master—
  This, surely a universal conqueror—
  This, surely he has excised
  The tumour’s root not excised before!’”
 

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

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