The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

148. Chachakka Sutta: The Six Sets of Six

1. Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. There he addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Bhikkhus.”—“Venerable sir,” they replied. The Blessed One said this:
    2. “Bhikkhus, I shall teach you the Dhamma that is good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, with the right meaning and phrasing; I shall reveal a holy life that is utterly perfect and pure, that is, the six sets of six. Listen and attend closely to what I shall say.”—“Yes, venerable sir,” the bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:

(Synopsis)
3. “The six internal bases should be understood. The six external bases should be understood. The six classes of consciousness should be understood. The six classes of contact should be understood. The six classes of feeling should be understood. The six classes of craving should be understood.

(Enumeration)
4. (i) “‘The six internal bases should be understood.’ So it was said. And with reference to what was this said? There are the eye-base, the ear-base, the nose-base, the tongue-base, the body-base, and the mind-base. So it was with reference to this that it was said: ‘The six internal bases should be understood.’ This is the first set of six. [281]
    5. (ii) “‘The six external bases should be understood.’ So it was said. And with reference to what was this said? There are the form-base, the sound-base, the odour-base, the flavour-base, the tangible-base, and the mind-object-base. So it was with reference to this that it was said: ‘The six external bases should be understood.’ This is the second set of six.
    6. (iii) “‘The six classes of consciousness should be understood.’ So it was said. And with reference to what was this said? Dependent on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises; dependent on the ear and sounds, ear-consciousness arises; dependent on the nose and odours, nose-consciousness arises; dependent on the tongue and flavours, tongue-consciousness arises; dependent on the body and tangibles, body-consciousness arises; dependent on the mind and mind-objects, mind-consciousness arises. So it was with reference to this that it was said: ‘The six classes of consciousness should be understood.’ This is the third set of six.
    7. (iv) “‘The six classes of contact should be understood.’ So it was said. And with reference to what was this said? Dependent on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact. Dependent on the ear and sounds, ear-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact. Dependent on the nose and odours, nose-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact. Dependent on the tongue and flavours, tongue-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact. Dependent on the body and tangibles, body-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact. Dependent on the mind and mind-objects, mind-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact. So it was with reference to this that it was said: ‘The six classes of contact should be understood.’ This is the fourth set of six.
    8. (v) “‘The six classes of feeling should be understood.’ So it was said. And with reference to what was this said? Dependent on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with contact as condition there is feeling. Dependent on the ear and sounds, ear-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with contact as condition there is feeling. Dependent on the nose and odours, nose-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with contact as condition there is feeling. Dependent on the tongue and flavours, tongue-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with contact as condition there is feeling. Dependent on the body and tangibles, body-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with contact as condition there is feeling. Dependent on the mind and mind-objects, mind-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with contact as condition there is feeling. So it was with reference to this that it was said: ‘The six classes of feeling should be understood.’ [282] This is the fifth set of six.
    9. (vi) “‘The six classes of craving should be understood.’ So it was said. And with reference to what was this said? Dependent on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with contact as condition there is feeling; with feeling as condition there is craving. Dependent on the ear and sounds, ear-consciousness arises … with feeling as condition there is craving. Dependent on the nose and odours, nose-consciousness arises … with feeling as condition there is craving. Dependent on the tongue and flavours, tongue-consciousness arises … with feeling as condition there is craving. Dependent on the body and tangibles, body-consciousness arises … with feeling as condition there is craving. Dependent on the mind and mind-objects, mind-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with contact as condition there is feeling; with feeling as condition there is craving. So it was with reference to this that it was said: ‘The six classes of craving should be understood.’ This is the sixth set of six.

(Demonstration of Not Self)
10. (i) “If anyone says, ‘The eye is self,’ that is not tenable. The rise and fall of the eye are discerned, and since its rise and fall are discerned, it would follow: ‘My self rises and falls.’ That is why it is not tenable for anyone to say, ‘The eye is self.’ Thus the eye is not self.
    “If anyone says, ‘Forms are self’ … That is why it is not tenable for anyone to say, ‘Forms are self.’ Thus the eye is not self, forms are not self.
    “If anyone says, ‘Eye-consciousness is self’ … That is why it is not tenable for anyone to say, ‘Eye-consciousness is self.’ Thus the eye is not self, forms are not self, eye-consciousness is not self.
    “If anyone says, ‘Eye-contact is self’ … That is why it is not tenable for anyone to say, ‘Eye-contact is self.’ Thus the eye is not self, forms are not self, eye-consciousness is not self, eye-contact is not self.
    “If anyone says, ‘Feeling is self’ [283] … That is why it is not tenable for anyone to say, ‘Feeling is self.’ Thus the eye is not self, forms are not self, eye-consciousness is not self, eye-contact is not self, feeling is not self.
    “If anyone says, ‘Craving is self’ … That is why it is not tenable for anyone to say, ‘Craving is self.’ Thus the eye is not self, forms are not self, eye-consciousness is not self, eye-contact is not self, feeling is not self, craving is not self.
    11. (ii) “If anyone says, ‘The ear is self,’ that is not tenable. The rise and fall of the ear are discerned, and since its rise and fall are discerned, it would follow: ‘My self rises and falls.’ That is why it is not tenable for anyone to say, ‘The ear is self.’ Thus the ear is not self.
    “If anyone says, ‘Sounds are self,’ … ‘Ear-consciousness is self,’ … ‘Ear-contact is self,’ … ‘Feeling is self,’ … ‘Craving is self’ … That is why it is not tenable for anyone to say, ‘Craving is self.’ Thus the ear is not self, sounds are not self, ear-consciousness is not self, ear-contact is not self, feeling is not self, craving is not self.
    12. (iii) “If anyone says, ‘The nose is self,’ that is not tenable. The rise and fall of the nose are discerned, and since its rise and fall are discerned, it would follow: ‘My self rises and falls.’ That is why it is not tenable for anyone to say, ‘The nose is self.’ Thus the nose is not self.
    “If anyone says, ‘Odours are self,’ … ‘Nose-consciousness is self,’  … ‘Nose-contact is self,’ … ‘Feeling is self,’ … ‘Craving is self’ … That is why it is not tenable for anyone to say, ‘Craving is self.’ Thus the nose is not self, odours are not self, nose-consciousness is not self, nose-contact is not self, feeling is not self, craving is not self.
    13. (iv) “If anyone says, ‘The tongue is self,’ that is not tenable. The rise and fall of the tongue are discerned, and since its rise and fall are discerned, it would follow: ‘My self rises and falls.’ That is why it is not tenable for anyone to say, ‘The tongue is self.’ Thus the tongue is not self.
    “If anyone says, ‘Flavours are self,’ … ‘Tongue-consciousness is self,’ … ‘Tongue-contact is self,’ … ‘Feeling is self,’ … ‘Craving is self’ … That is why it is not tenable for anyone to say, ‘Craving is self.’ Thus the tongue is not self, flavours are not self, tongue-consciousness is not self, tongue-contact is not self, feeling is not self, craving is not self.
    14. (v) “If anyone says, ‘The body is self,’ that is not tenable. The rise and fall of the body are discerned, and since its rise and fall are discerned, it would follow: ‘My self rises and falls.’ That is why it is not tenable for anyone to say, ‘The body is self.’ Thus the body is not self.
    “If anyone says, ‘Tangibles are self,’ … ‘Body-consciousness is self,’ … ‘Body-contact is self,’ … ‘Feeling is self,’ … ‘Craving is self’ … That is why it is not tenable for anyone to say, ‘Craving is self.’ Thus the body is not self, tangibles are not self, body-consciousness is not self, body-contact is not self, feeling is not self, craving is not self.
    15. (vi) “If anyone says, ‘The mind is self,’ that is not tenable. The rise and fall of the mind are discerned, and since its rise and fall are discerned, it would follow: ‘My self rises and falls.’ That is why it is not tenable for anyone to say, ‘The mind is self.’ Thus the mind is not self.
    “If anyone says, ‘Mind-objects are self,’ … ‘Mind-consciousness is self,’ … ‘Mind-contact is self,’ … ‘Feeling is self,’ … [284] …  ‘Craving is self’ … That is why it is not tenable for anyone to say, ‘Craving is self.’ Thus the mind is not self, mind-objects are not self, mind-consciousness is not self, mind-contact is not self, feeling is not self, craving is not self.

(The Origination of Identity)
16. “Now, bhikkhus, this is the way leading to the origination of identity. (i) One regards the eye thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self.’ One regards forms thus … One regards eye-consciousness thus … One regards eye-contact thus … One regards feeling thus … One regards craving thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self.’
    17–21. (ii–vi) “One regards the ear thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self.’ … One regards the nose thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self.’ … One regards the tongue thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self.’ … One regards the body thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self.’ … One regards the mind thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self.’ One regards mind-objects thus … One regards mind-consciousness thus … One regards mind-contact thus … One regards feeling thus … One regards craving thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self.’

(The Cessation of Identity)
22. “Now, bhikkhus, this is the way leading to the cessation of identity. (i) One regards the eye thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ One regards forms thus … One regards eye-consciousness thus … One regards eye-contact thus … One regards feeling thus … One regards craving thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’
    23–27. (ii–vi) “One regards the ear thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ … One regards the nose thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ … One regards the tongue thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ … One regards the body thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ … One regards the mind thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ One regards mind-objects thus … One regards mind-consciousness thus … One regards mind-contact thus … One regards feeling [285] thus … One regards craving thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’

(The Underlying Tendencies)
28. (i) “Bhikkhus, dependent on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with contact as condition there arises [a feeling] felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant. When one is touched by a pleasant feeling, if one delights in it, welcomes it, and remains holding to it, then the underlying tendency to lust lies within one. When one is touched by a painful feeling, if one sorrows, grieves and laments, weeps beating one’s breast and becomes distraught, then the underlying tendency to aversion lies within one. When one is touched by a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, if one does not understand as it actually is the origination, the disappearance, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in regard to that feeling, then the underlying tendency to ignorance lies within one. Bhikkhus, that one shall here and now make an end of suffering without abandoning the underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feeling, without abolishing the underlying tendency to aversion towards painful feeling, without extirpating the underlying tendency to ignorance in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, without abandoning ignorance and arousing true knowledge—this is impossible.
    29–33. (ii–vi) “Bhikkhus, dependent on the ear and sounds, ear-consciousness arises … Dependent on the mind and mind-objects, mind-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with contact as condition there arises [a feeling] felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant … Bhikkhus, that one should here and now make an end of suffering without abandoning the underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feeling … without abandoning ignorance and arousing true knowledge—this is impossible. [286]

(The Abandonment of the Underlying Tendencies)
34. (i) “Bhikkhus, dependent on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with contact as condition there arises [a feeling] felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant. When one is touched by a pleasant feeling, if one does not delight in it, welcome it, and remain holding to it, then the underlying tendency to lust does not lie within one. When one is touched by a painful feeling, if one does not sorrow, grieve and lament, does not weep beating one’s breast and become distraught, then the underlying tendency to aversion does not lie within one. When one is touched by a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, if one understands as it actually is the origination, the disappearance, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in regard to that feeling, then the underlying tendency to ignorance does not lie within one. Bhikkhus, that one shall here and now make an end of suffering by abandoning the underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feeling, by abolishing the underlying tendency to aversion towards painful feeling, by extirpating the underlying tendency to ignorance in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, by abandoning ignorance and arousing true knowledge—this is possible.
    35–39. (ii–vi) “Bhikkhus, dependent on the ear and sounds, ear-consciousness arises … Dependent on the mind and mind-objects, mind-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with contact as condition there arises [a feeling] felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant … Bhikkhus, that one shall here and now make an end of suffering by abandoning the underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feeling … by abandoning ignorance and arousing true knowledge—this is possible.

(Liberation)
40. “Seeing thus, bhikkhus, a well-taught noble disciple becomes disenchanted with the eye, disenchanted with forms, disenchanted with eye-consciousness, disenchanted with eye-contact, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with craving.
    “He becomes disenchanted with the ear … He becomes disenchanted with the nose … He becomes disenchanted with the tongue … He becomes disenchanted with the body … He becomes disenchanted with the mind, disenchanted with mind-objects, disenchanted with mind-consciousness, disenchanted with mind-contact, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with craving.
    41. “Being disenchanted, [287] he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion [his mind] is liberated. When it is liberated, there comes the knowledge: ‘It is liberated.’ He understands: ‘Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being.’”

That is what the Blessed One said. The bhikkhus were satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One’s words. Now while this discourse was being spoken, through not clinging the minds of sixty bhikkhus were liberated from the taints.
 

How to cite this document:
© Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2009)

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