The Connected Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

Chapter 35. Saḷāyatanasaṃyutta: Connected Discourses on the Six Sense Bases
Division III. The Third Fifty

II. The World and Cords of Sensual Pleasure

114 (1) Māra’s Snare (1)
“Bhikkhus, there are 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 entered Māra’s lair, who has come under Māra’s control; Māra’s snare has been fastened to him so that he is bound by the bondage of Māra 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, lovely, agreeable, pleasing, sensually enticing, tantalizing. If a bhikkhu seeks delight in them … [92] … 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 entered Māra’s lair, who has not come under Māra’s control; Māra’s snare has been unfastened from him so that he is not bound by the bondage of Māra 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, lovely, agreeable, pleasing, sensually enticing, tantalizing. [93] If a bhikkhu does not seek delight in them … the Evil One cannot do with him as he wishes.”

115 (2) Māra’s Snare (2)
“Bhikkhus, there are 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 is bound among forms cognizable by the eye, who has entered Māra’s lair, who has come under Māra’s control; [Māra’s snare has been fastened to him so that he is bound by the bondage of Māra] 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, lovely, agreeable, pleasing, sensually enticing, 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 is free among forms cognizable by the eye, who has not entered Māra’s lair, who has not come under Māra’s control; [Māra’s snare has been unfastened from him so that he is not bound by the bondage of Māra] 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, lovely, agreeable, pleasing, sensually enticing, tantalizing. If a bhikkhu does not seek delight in them … the Evil One cannot do with him as he wishes.”

116 (3) Going to the End of the World
“Bhikkhus, I say that the end of the world cannot be known, seen, or reached by travelling. Yet, bhikkhus, I also say that without reaching the end of the world there is no making an end to suffering.”
    Having said this, the Blessed One rose from his seat and entered his dwelling. Then, soon after the Blessed One had left, the bhikkhus considered: “Now, friends, the Blessed One has risen from his seat and entered his dwelling after reciting a synopsis in brief without expounding the meaning in detail. Now who will expound in detail the meaning of the synopsis that the Blessed One recited in brief?” Then they considered: “The Venerable Ānanda is praised by the Teacher and esteemed by his wise brothers in the holy life; the Venerable Ānanda is capable of expounding in detail the meaning of this synopsis recited in brief by the Blessed One without expounding the meaning in detail. Let us approach him and ask him the meaning of this.”
    Then those bhikkhus approached the Venerable Ānanda and exchanged greetings with him, after which they sat down to one side and told him what had taken place, [94] adding: “Let the Venerable Ānanda expound it to us.”
    [The Venerable Ānanda replied:] “Friends, it is as though a man needing heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood, would pass over the root and trunk of a great tree standing possessed of heartwood, thinking that heartwood should be sought among the branches and foliage. And so it is with you venerable ones: when you were face to face with the Teacher you passed by the Blessed One, thinking that I should be asked about the meaning. For, friends, knowing, the Blessed One knows; seeing, he sees; he has become vision, he has become knowledge, he has become the Dhamma, he has become the holy one; he is the expounder, the proclaimer, the elucidator of meaning, the giver of the Deathless, the lord of the Dhamma, the Tathāgata. That was the time when you should have asked the Blessed One the meaning. [95] As he explained it to you, so you should have remembered it.”
    “Surely, friend Ānanda, knowing, the Blessed One knows; seeing, he sees; he has become vision … the Tathāgata. That was the time when we should have asked the Blessed One the meaning, and as he explained it to us, so we should have remembered it. Yet the Venerable Ānanda is praised by the Teacher and esteemed by his wise brothers in the holy life; the Venerable Ānanda is capable of expounding the detailed meaning of this synopsis recited in brief by the Blessed One without expounding the meaning in detail. Let the Venerable Ānanda expound it without finding it troublesome.”
    “Then listen, friends, and attend closely to what I shall say.”
    “Yes, friend,” the bhikkhus replied. The Venerable Ānanda said this:
    “Friends, when the Blessed One rose from his seat and entered his dwelling after reciting a synopsis in brief without expounding the meaning in detail, that is: ‘Bhikkhus, I say that the end of the world cannot be known, seen, or reached by travelling. Yet, bhikkhus, I also say that without reaching the end of the world there is no making an end to suffering,’ I understand the detailed meaning of this synopsis as follows: That in the world by which one is a perceiver of the world, a conceiver of the world—this is called the world in the Noble One’s Discipline. And what, friends, is that in the world by which one is a perceiver of the world, a conceiver of the world? The eye is that in the world by which one is a perceiver of the world, a conceiver of the world. The ear … The nose … The tongue … The body … The mind is that in the world by which one is a perceiver of the world, a conceiver of the world. That in the world by which one is a perceiver of the world, a conceiver of the world—this is called the world in the Noble One’s Discipline. [96]
    “Friends, when the Blessed One rose from his seat and entered his dwelling after reciting a synopsis in brief without expounding the meaning in detail, that is: ‘Bhikkhus, I say that the end of the world cannot be known, seen, or reached by travelling. Yet, bhikkhus, I also say that without reaching the end of the world there is no making an end to suffering,’ I understand the meaning of this synopsis in detail to be thus. Now, friends, if you wish, go to the Blessed One and ask him about the meaning of this. As the Blessed One explains it to you, so you should remember it.”
    “Yes, friends,” those bhikkhus replied, and having risen from their seats, they went to the Blessed One. After paying homage to him, they sat down to one side and told the Blessed One all that had taken place after he had left, adding: [97] “Then, venerable sir, we approached the Venerable Ānanda and asked him about the meaning. The Venerable Ānanda expounded the meaning to us in these ways, with these terms, with these phrases.”
    “Ānanda is wise, bhikkhus, Ānanda has great wisdom. If you had asked me the meaning of this, I would have explained it to you in the same way that it has been explained by Ānanda. Such is the meaning of this, and so you should remember it.”

117 (4) Cords of Sensual Pleasure
“Bhikkhus, before my enlightenment, while I was still a bodhisatta, not yet fully enlightened, the thought occurred to me: ‘My mind may often stray towards those five cords of sensual pleasure that have already left their impression on the heart but which have passed, ceased, and changed, or towards those that are present, or slightly towards those in the future.’ Then it occurred to me: ‘Being set on my own welfare, I should practise diligence, mindfulness, and guarding of the mind in regard to those five cords of sensual pleasure that have already left their impression on the heart, which have passed, ceased, and changed.’
    “Therefore, bhikkhus, in your case too your minds may often stray towards those five cords of sensual pleasure that have already left their impression on the heart but which have passed, ceased, and changed, or towards those that are present, or slightly towards those in the future. Therefore, bhikkhus, [98] being set on your own welfare, you should practise diligence, mindfulness, and guarding of the mind in regard to those five cords of sensual pleasure that have already left their impression on the heart but which have passed, ceased, and changed.
    “Therefore, bhikkhus, that base should be understood, where the eye ceases and perception of forms fades away. That base should be understood, where the ear ceases and perception of sounds fades away.… That base should be understood, where the mind ceases and perception of mental phenomena fades away. That base should be understood.”
    Having said this, the Blessed One rose from his seat and entered his dwelling. Then, soon after the Blessed One had left, the bhikkhus considered … (all as in preceding sutta down to:) [99–100] … The Venerable Ānanda said this:
    “Friends, when the Blessed One rose from his seat and entered his dwelling after reciting a synopsis in brief without expounding the meaning in detail—that is: ‘Therefore, bhikkhus, that base should be understood, where the eye ceases and perception of forms fades away…. That base should be understood, where the mind ceases and perception of mental phenomena fades away. That base should be understood’—I understand the detailed meaning of this synopsis as follows: This was stated by the Blessed One, friends, with reference to the cessation of the six sense bases.
    “Friends, when the Blessed One rose from his seat and entered his dwelling after reciting a synopsis in brief without expounding the meaning in detail … I understand the meaning of this synopsis in detail to be thus. Now, friends, if you wish, go to the Blessed One and ask him about the meaning of this. As the Blessed One explains it to you, so you should remember it.”
    “Yes, friends,” those bhikkhus replied, and having risen from their seats, they went to the Blessed One. After paying homage to him, they sat down to one side and told the Blessed One all that had taken place after he had left, adding: [101] “Then, venerable sir, we approached the Venerable Ānanda and asked him about the meaning. The Venerable Ānanda expounded the meaning to us in these ways, with these terms, with these phrases.”
    “Ānanda is wise, bhikkhus, Ānanda has great wisdom. If you had asked me the meaning of this, I would have explained it to you in the same way that it has been explained by Ānanda. Such is the meaning of this, and so you should remember it.”

118 (5) Sakka’s Question
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Rājagaha on Mount Vulture Peak. Then Sakka, lord of the devas, approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, stood to one side, and said to him:
    “Venerable sir, what is the cause and reason [102] why some beings here do not attain Nibbāna in this very life? And what is the cause and reason why some beings here attain Nibbāna in this very life?”
    “There are, lord of the devas, 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, his consciousness becomes dependent upon them and clings to them. A bhikkhu with clinging does not attain Nibbāna.
    “There are, lord of the devas, 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, his consciousness becomes dependent upon them and clings to them. A bhikkhu with clinging does not attain Nibbāna.
    “This is the cause and reason, lord of the devas, why some beings here do not attain Nibbāna in this very life.
    “There are, lord of the devas, forms cognizable by the eye … 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, his consciousness does not become dependent upon them or cling to them. A bhikkhu without clinging attains Nibbāna.
    “This is the cause and reason, lord of the devas, why some beings here attain Nibbāna in this very life.” [103]

119 (6) Pañcasikha
(The same except that the interlocutor is Pañcasikha, son of the gandhabbas.)

120 (7) Sāriputta
On one occasion the Venerable Sāriputta was dwelling at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. Then a certain bhikkhu approached the Venerable Sāriputta and exchanged greetings with him. When they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and said to the Venerable Sāriputta:
    “Friend Sāriputta, a bhikkhu who was my co-resident has given up the training and returned to the lower life.”
    “So it is, friend, when one does not guard the doors of the sense faculties, is immoderate in eating, and is not devoted to wakefulness. That a bhikkhu who does not guard the doors of the sense faculties, who is immoderate in eating, [104] and who is not devoted to wakefulness will maintain all his life the complete and pure holy life—this is impossible. But, friend, that a bhikkhu who guards the doors of the sense faculties, who is moderate in eating, and who is devoted to wakefulness will maintain all his life the complete and pure holy life—this is possible.
    “And how, friend, does one guard the doors of the sense faculties? Here, having seen a form with the eye, a bhikkhu does not grasp its signs and features. Since, if he left the eye faculty unrestrained, evil unwholesome states of covetousness and displeasure might invade him, he practises the way of its restraint, he guards the eye faculty, he undertakes the restraint of the eye faculty. Having heard a sound with the ear … Having smelt an odour with the nose … Having savoured a taste with the tongue … Having felt a tactile object with the body … Having cognized a mental phenomenon with the mind, a bhikkhu does not grasp its signs and features. Since, if he left the mind faculty unrestrained, evil unwholesome states of covetousness and displeasure might invade him, he practises the way of its restraint, he guards the mind faculty, he undertakes the restraint of the mind faculty. It is in this way, friend, that one guards the doors of the sense faculties.
    “And how, friend, is one moderate in eating? Here, reflecting carefully, a bhikkhu takes food neither for amusement nor for intoxication nor for the sake of physical beauty and attractiveness, but only for the support and maintenance of this body, for ending discomfort, and for assisting the holy life, considering: ‘Thus I shall terminate the old feeling and not arouse a new feeling, and I shall be healthy and blameless and live in comfort.’ It is in this way, friend, that one is moderate in eating.
    “And how, friend, is one devoted to wakefulness? Here, during the day, while walking back and forth and sitting, a bhikkhu purifies his mind of obstructive states. In the first watch of the night, while walking back and forth and sitting, he purifies his mind of obstructive states. [105] In the middle watch of the night he lies down on his right side in the lion’s posture with one foot overlapping the other, mindful and clearly comprehending, after noting in his mind the idea of rising. After rising, in the last watch of the night, while walking back and forth and sitting, he purifies his mind of obstructive states. It is in this way, friend, that one is devoted to wakefulness.
    “Therefore, friend, you should train yourself thus: ‘We will guard the doors of the sense faculties; we will be moderate in eating; we will be devoted to wakefulness.’ Thus, friend, should you train yourself.”

121 (8) Exhortation to Rāhula
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. Then, while the Blessed One was alone in seclusion, a reflection arose in his mind thus: “The states that ripen in liberation have come to maturity in Rāhula. Let me lead him on further to the destruction of the taints.”
    Then, in the morning, the Blessed One dressed and, taking bowl and robe, walked for alms in Sāvatthī. When he had returned from the alms round, after his meal he addressed the Venerable Rāhula thus: “Take a sitting cloth, Rāhula. Let us go to the Blind Men’s Grove for the day’s abiding.”
    “Yes, venerable sir,” the Venerable Rāhula replied and, having taken a sitting cloth, he followed close behind the Blessed One.
    Now on that occasion many thousands of devatās followed the Blessed One, thinking: “Today the Blessed One will lead the Venerable Rāhula on further to the destruction of the taints.” Then the Blessed One plunged into the Blind Men’s Grove and sat down at the foot of a certain tree on a seat that was prepared for him. The Venerable Rāhula paid homage to the Blessed One and sat down to one side. [106] The Blessed One then said to him:
    “What do you think, Rāhula, is the eye permanent or impermanent?” – “Impermanent, venerable sir.” – “Is what is impermanent suffering or happiness?” – “Suffering, venerable sir.” – “Is what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change fit to be regarded thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self’?” – “No, venerable sir.”
    “Are forms permanent or impermanent?… Is eye-consciousness … Is eye-contact … Is anything included in feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness arisen with eye-contact as condition permanent or impermanent?” – “Impermanent, venerable sir.” (The rest as in the preceding paragraph.)
    “Is the ear … the mind permanent or impermanent?… [107] … Are mental phenomena … Is mind-consciousness … Is mind-contact … Is anything included in feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness arisen with mind-contact as condition permanent or impermanent?” – “Impermanent, venerable sir.” – “Is what is impermanent suffering or happiness?” – “Suffering, venerable sir.” – “Is what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change fit to be regarded thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self’?” – “No, venerable sir.”
    “Seeing thus, Rāhula, the instructed noble disciple experiences revulsion towards the eye, revulsion towards forms, revulsion towards eye-consciousness, revulsion towards eye-contact; revulsion towards anything included in feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness arisen with eye-contact as condition. He experiences revulsion towards the ear … towards the mind … towards anything included in feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness arisen 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 is what the Blessed One said. Elated, the Venerable Rāhula delighted in the Blessed One’s statement. And while this discourse was being spoken, the Venerable Rāhula’s mind was liberated from the taints by nonclinging, and in those many thousands of devatās there arose the dust-free, stainless vision of the Dhamma: “Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation.”

122 (9) Things That Fetter
(Identical with §109, but by way of the six external sense bases.) [108]

123 (10) Things That Can Be Clung To
(Identical with §110, but by way of the six external sense bases.)
 

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