008 SELF EFFACEMENT

[Sallekha – Self Effacement : is the idea that you have abolished the idea of me and myself]

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MN 01-01-08- Sallekha Sutta

§ 1. THUS HAVE I HEARD.
.On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Savatthi in  Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s Park.101

§2.Then, when it was evening, the venerable Maha Cunda rose from meditation and went to the Blessed One. After paying homage to the Blessed One he sat down at one side and said to him: 2 “Venerable sir, various views arise in the world associated either with doctrines of a self or with doctrines about the world.102

[101:- For a more thorough treatment of this sutta and the following one, with helpful introductions and lengthy explanatory notes, see Nyanaponika Thera, The Simile of the Cloth and The Discourse on Effacement ]

[102:-Views associated with doctrines of a self (attavada patisamyutta), according to MA, are the twenty types of personality view enumerated at MN 44.7, though they may also be understood to include the more elaborate doctrines about a self discussed in MN 102. Views associated with doctrines about the world (lokavada patisamyutta) are the eight views: the world is eternal, non-eternal, both, or neither; the world is infinite, finite, both, or neither. See MN 63 and MN 72 for the Buddha’s rejection of these views.]

§3. Now does the abandoning and relinquishing of those views come about in a bhikkhu who is attending only to the beginning [of his meditative training]?”103

[103:-MA: This question refers to one who has only reached the initial stages of insight meditation without attaining stream-entry. The type of abandonment under discussion is abandoning by eradication, which is effected only by the path of stream-entry. Ven. Maha Cunda posed this question because some meditators were overestimating their achievement, thinking they had abandoned such views while they had not really eradicated them.]
“Cunda, as to those various views that arise in the world associated either with doctrines of a self or with doctrines about the world: if [the object] in relation to which those views arise, which they underlie, and which they are exercised upon104 [MA explains that the word “arise” (uppajjanti) refers here to the arising of views that have not arisen before; “underlie” (anusenti) to their gathering strength through continued adherence to them; and being “exercised” (samudacaranti) to their gaining bodily or verbal expression. The “object” upon which they are based is the five aggregates (khandha) that constitute a person or living being – material form, feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness.] is seen as it actually is with proper wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self,’ then the abandoning and relinquishing of those views comes about.105 [By this statement* the Buddha shows the means by which these views are eradicated: contemplation of the five aggregates as “not mine,” etc., with the wisdom of insight culminating in the path of stream-entry.]

THE EIGHT ATTAINMENTS

§ 4. “It is possible here, Cunda, that quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, some bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhana, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. He might think thus: ‘I am abiding in effacement.’
But it is not these attainments that are called ‘effacement’ in the Noble One’s Discipline: these are called ‘pleasant abiding here and now’ [41] in the Noble One’s Discipline.106

[106:-MA explains that the Buddha, having answered the Elder’s question, now speaks of another type of overestimate – those who attain the eight meditative attainments and believe that they are practising true effacement (sallekha). The word sallekha, originally meaning austerity or ascetic practice, is used by the Buddha to signify the radical effacing or removal of defilements. Though the eight attainments are elsewhere placed securely within the Buddhist training (see MN 25.12-19, MN 26.34-41), it is here said that they should not be called effacement because the bhikkhu who attains them does not use them as a basis for insight – as described for example in MN 52 and MN 64 – but only as a means of enjoying bliss and peace.]

§ 5. “It is possible here that with the stilling of applied and sustained thought, some bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the second jhana, which has self-confidence and singleness of mind without applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of concentration. He might think thus: ‘I am abiding in effacement.’ But…these are called ‘pleasant abidings here and now’ in the Noble One’s Discipline.

§ 6. “It is possible here that with the fading away as well of rapture, some bhikkhu abides in equanimity, and mindful and fully aware, still feeling pleasure with the body, he enters upon and abides in the third jhana, on account of which noble ones announce:

‘He has a pleasant abiding who has equanimity and is mindful.’ He might think thus: ‘I am abiding in effacement.’ But…these are called ‘pleasant abidings here and now’ in the Noble One’s Discipline.

§7. “It is possible here that with the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous disappearance of joy and grief, some bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the fourth jhana, which has neither-pain-nor-pleasure and purity of mindfulness due to equanimity. He might think thus: ‘I am abiding in effacement.’ But it is not these attainments that are called ‘effacement’ in the Noble One’s Discipline: these are called ‘pleasant abidings here and now’ in the Noble One’s Discipline.

§8. “It is possible here that with the complete surmounting of perceptions of form, with the disappearance of perceptions of sensory impact, with non-attention to perceptions of diversity, aware that ‘space is infinite,’ some bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the base of infinite space. He might think thus: ‘I am abiding in effacement.’ But it is not these attainments that are called ‘effacement’ in the Noble One’s Discipline: these are called ‘peaceful abidings’ in the Noble One’s Discipline.

§9. “It is possible here that by completely surmounting the base of infinite space, aware that ‘consciousness is infinite/ some bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the base of infinite consciousness. He might think thus: ‘I am abiding in effacement.’ But…these are called ‘peaceful abidings’ in the Noble One’s Discipline.

§10. “It is possible here that by completely surmounting the base of infinite consciousness, aware that ‘there is nothing some bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the base of nothingness. He might think thus: ‘I am abiding in effacement.’ But…these are called ‘peaceful abidings’ in the Noble One’s Discipline.

§11. “It is possible here that by completely surmounting the base of nothingness, some bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception. He might think thus: ‘I am abiding in effacement.’ [42] But these attainments are not called ‘effacement’ in the Noble One’s Discipline: these are called ‘peaceful abidings’ in the Noble One’s Discipline.

§ 12. “Now, Cunda, here effacement should be practised by you:107

[107:-The forty-four “modes of effacement” to be expounded fall, by and large, into several fixed sets of doctrinal categories as follows. Those not mentioned here do not fit into any fixed set.]

EFFACEMENT

(2)-(ll) are the ten courses of unwholesome and wholesome action (kamma – patha) – see MN 9.4, “And what, friends, is the unwholesome, what is the root of the unwholesome, what is the wholesome, what is the root of the wholesome?
Killing living beings is unwholesome;
taking what is not given is unwholesome;
misconduct in sensual pleasures is unwholesome;
false speech is unwholesome;
malicious speech is unwholesome;
harsh speech is unwholesome;
gossip is unwholesome;
covetousness is unwholesome;
ill will is unwholesome;
wrong view is unwholesome.
This is called the unwholesome

9.6; And what is the wholesome?
Abstention from killing living beings is wholesome;
abstention from taking what is not given is wholesome;
abstention from misconduct in sensual pleasures is wholesome;
abstention from false speech is wholesome;
abstention from malicious speech is wholesome;
abstention from harsh speech is wholesome;
abstention from gossip is wholesome;
uncovetousness is wholesome;
non-ill will is wholesome;
right view is wholesome. This is called the wholesome.


(12)-(18) are the last seven factors of the eightfold path – wrong and right – the first factor being identical with (11);
(19)-(20) are sometimes added to the two eightfold paths – see MN 117.34-36;
(21)-(23) are the last three of the five hindrances – see MN 10.36 – the first two being identical with (9)
and (10);
(24)-(33) are ten of the sixteen imperfections that defile the mind, mentioned in MN 7.3;
(37)-(43) are the seven bad qualities and the seven good qualities (saddhamma) mentioned in MN 53.11-17.]
(1) ‘Others will be cruel; we shall not be cruel here’: effacement should be practiced thus.108

[108:-MT: Non-cruelty (avihimsa), which is a synonym for compassion, is mentioned at the beginning because it is the root of all virtues, especially the root-cause of morality]


(2) ‘Others will kill living beings; we shall abstain from killing living beings here’: effacement should be practiced thus.
(3) ‘Others will take what is not given; we shall abstain from taking what is not given here’: effacement should be practiced thus.
(4) ‘Others will be uncelibate; we shall be celibate here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(5) ‘Others will speak falsehood; we shall abstain from false speech here’: effacement should be practiced thus.
(6) ‘Others will speak maliciously; we shall abstain from malicious speech here’: effacement should be practiced thus.
(7) ‘Others will speak harshly; we shall abstain from harsh speech here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(8) ‘Others will gossip; we shall abstain from gossip here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(9) ‘Others will be covetous; we shall be uncovetous here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(10) ‘Others will have ill will; we shall be without ill will here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(11) ‘Others will be of wrong view; we shall be of right view here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(12) ‘Others will be of wrong intention; we shall be of right intention here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(13) ‘Others will be of wrong speech; we shall be of right speech here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(14) ‘Others will be of wrong action; we shall be of right action here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(15) ‘Others will be of wrong livelihood; we shall be of right livelihood here’: effacement should be practiced thus.
(16) ‘Others will be of wrong effort; we shall be of right effort here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(17) ‘Others will be of wrong mindfulness; we shall be of right mindfulness here’: effacement should be practiced thus.
(18) ‘Others will be of wrong concentration; we shall be of right concentration here’: effacement should be practiced thus.
(19) ‘Others will be of wrong knowledge; we shall be of right knowledge here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(20) ‘Others will be of wrong deliverance; we shall be of right deliverance here’: effacement should be practiced thus.
(21) ‘Others will be overcome by sloth and torpor; we shall be free from sloth and torpor here’: effacement should be practiced thus.
(22) ‘Others will be restless; we shall not be restless here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(23) ‘Others will be doubters; we shall go beyond doubt here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(24) ‘Others will be angry; we shall not be angry here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(25) ‘Others will be revengeful; we shall not be revengeful here’: effacement should be practised thus. [43]
(26) ‘Others will be contemptuous; we shall not be contemptuous here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(27) ‘Others will be domineering; we shall not be domineering here’: effacement should Be practised thus.
(28) ‘Others will be envious; we shall not be envious here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(29) ‘Others will be avaricious; we shall not be avaricious here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(30) ‘Others will be fraudulent; we shall not be fraudulent here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(31) ‘Others will be deceitful; we shall not be deceitful here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(32) ‘Others will be obstinate; we shall not be obstinate here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(33) ‘Others will be arrogant; we shall not be arrogant here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(34) ‘Others will be difficult to admonish; we shall be easy to admonish here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(35) ‘Others will have bad friends; we shall have good friends here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(36) ‘Others will be negligent; we shall be diligent here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(37) ‘Others will be faithless; we shall be faithful here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(38) ‘Others will be shameless; we shall be shameful here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(39) ‘Others will have no fear of wrongdoing; we shall be afraid of wrongdoing here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(40) ‘Others will be of little learning; we shall be of great learning here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(41) ‘Others will be lazy; we shall be energetic here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(42) ‘Others will be unmindful; we shall be established in mindfulness here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(43) ‘Others will lack wisdom; we shall possess wisdom here’: effacement should be practised thus.
(44) ‘Others will adhere to their own views, hold on to them tenaciously, and relinquish them with difficulty;109


[109 MA: This is a description of those who hold firmly to a view that has occurred to them, believing “This alone is the truth”; they do not relinquish it even if spoken to by the Buddha with reasoned arguments.]

we shall not adhere to our own views or hold on to them tenaciously, but shall relinquish them easily’: effacement should be practiced thus.

INCLINATION OF MIND

§13. “Cunda, I say that even the inclination of mind towards wholesome states is of great benefit, so what should be said of bodily and verbal acts conforming [to such a state of mind?110

[110:- MA: The inclination of mind is of great benefit because it entails exclusively welfare and happiness, and because it is the cause of the subsequent actions that conform to it.]

Therefore, Cunda:
(1) Mind should be inclined thus: ‘Others will be cruel; we shall not be cruel here.’
(2) Mind should be inclined thus: ‘Others will kill living beings; we shall abstain from killing living beings here.’
(3-43) Mind should be inclined thus:…
(44) Mind should be inclined thus: ‘Others will adhere to their own views, hold on to them tenaciously, and relinquish them with difficulty; we shall not adhere to our own views or hold on to them tenaciously, but shall relinquish them easily.’

AVOIDANCE

§14. “Cunda, suppose there were an uneven path and another even path by which to avoid it; and suppose there were an uneven ford and another even ford by which to avoid it. [44] So too:

  1. A person given to cruelty has non-cruelty by which to avoid it.
  2.  One given to killing living beings has abstention from killing living beings by which to avoid it.
  3.  One given to taking what is not given has abstention from taking what is not given by which to avoid it.
  4.  One given to be uncelibate has celibacy by which to avoid it.
  5.  One given to false speech has abstention from false speech by which to avoid it.
  6.  One given to malicious speech has abstention from malicious speech by which to avoid it.
  7.  One given to harsh speech has abstention from harsh speech by which to avoid it.
  8.  One given to gossip has abstention from gossip by which to avoid it.
  9.  One given to covetousness has uncovetousness by which to avoid it.
  10.  One given to ill will has non-ill will by which to avoid it.
  11.  One given to wrong view has right view by which to avoid it.
  12.  One given to wrong intention has right intention by which to avoid it.
  13.  One given to wrong speech has right speech by which to avoid it.
  14.  One given to wrong action has right action by which to avoid it.
  15.  One given to wrong livelihood has right livelihood by which to avoid it.
  16.  One given to wrong effort has right effort by which to avoid it.
  17.  One given to wrong mindfulness has right mindfulness by which to avoid it.
  18.  One given to wrong concentration has right concentration by which to avoid it.
  19.  One given to wrong knowledge has right knowledge by which to avoid it.
  20.  One given to wrong deliverance has right deliverance by which to avoid it.
  21.  One given to sloth and torpor has freedom from sloth and torpor by which to avoid it.
  22.  One given to restlessness has non-restlessness by which to avoid it.
  23.  One given to doubt has the state beyond doubt by which to avoid it.
  24.  One given to anger has non-anger by which to avoid it.
  25.  One given to revenge has non-revenge by which to avoid it.
  26.  One given to contempt has non-contempt by which to avoid it.
  27.  One given to a domineering attitude has a non-domineering attitude by which to avoid it.
  28.  One given to envy has non-envy by which to avoid it.
  29.  One given to avarice has non-avarice by which to avoid it.
  30.  One given to fraud has non-fraud by which to avoid it.
  31.  One given to deceit has non-deceit by which to avoid it.
  32.  One given to obstinacy has non-obstinacy by which to avoid it.
  33.  One given to arrogance has non-arrogance by which to avoid it.
  34.  One given to being difficult to admonish has being easy to admonish by which to avoid it.
  35.  One given to making bad friends has making good friends by which to avoid it.
  36.  One given to negligence has diligence by which to avoid it.
  37.  One given to faithlessness has faith by which to avoid it.
  38.  One given to shamelessness has shame by which to avoid it.
  39.  One given to fearlessness of wrongdoing has fear of wrongdoing by which to avoid it.
  40.  One given to little learning has great learning by which to avoid it.
  41.  One given to laziness has the arousal of energy by which to avoid it.
  42.  One given to unmindfulness ha$Ahe establishment of mindfulness by which to avoid it.
  43.  One given to lack of wisdom has the acquisition of wisdom by which to avoid it.
  44.  One given to adhere to his own views, who holds on to them tenaciously and relinquishes them with difficulty, has nonadherence to his own views, not holding on to them tenaciously and relinquishing them easily, by which to avoid it.

THE WAY LEADING UPWARDS

15. “Cunda, just as all unwholesome states lead downwards and all wholesome states lead upwards, so too:
(1) A person given to cruelty has non-cruelty to lead him upwards.
(2) One given to killing living beings has abstention from killing living beings to lead him upwards.
(3-43) One given to.. .to lead him upwards.
(44) One given to adhere to his own views, who holds on to them tenaciously [45] and relinquishes them with difficulty, has non-adherence to his own views, not holding on to them tenaciously and relinquishing them easily, to lead him upwards.

THE WAY OF EXTINGUISHING

§16. “Cunda, that one who is himself sinking in the mud should pull out another who is sinking in the mud is impossible; that one who is not himself sinking in the mud should pull out another who is sinking in the mud is possible. That one who is himself untamed, undisciplined, [with defilements] unextinguished, should tame another, discipline him, and help extinguish [his defilements] is impossible; that one who is himself tamed, disciplined, [with defilements] extinguished, should tame another, discipline him, and help extinguish [his defilements] is possible.111

[111:-The Pali term rendered by “extinguished” is parinibbuto, which can also mean “attained to Nibbana”; and the Pali term rendered by “help extinguish” is parinibbapessati, which can also mean “help attain Nibbana” or “bring to Nibbana.” The Pali original for the expression to follow, “by which to extinguish it,” parinibbanaya, might have been rendered “for attaining Nibbana.” Though in all three cases the alternative rendering would be too strong to insist on literally, its implications contribute to the suggestiveness of the original in a way that cannot be captured in translation.]
So too:
(1) A person given to cruelty has non-cruelty by which to extinguish it.112 [MA points out that this statement can be understood in two ways: (1) one who is himself free from cruelty can use his non-cruelty to help extinguish the cruelty of another person; and (2) one who is himself cruel can develop non-cruelty to extinguish his own cruel disposition. All the following cases should be similarly understood in this twofold way.]
(2) One given to killing living beings has abstention from killing living beings by which to extinguish it.
(3-43) One given to…[46].. .by which to extinguish it.
(44) One given to adhere to his own views, who holds on to them tenaciously and relinquishes them with difficulty has non-adherence to his own views, not holding on to them tenaciously and relinquishing them easily, by which to extinguish it.

CONCLUSION

§ 17. “So, Cunda, the way of effacement has been taught by me, the way of inclining the mind has been taught by me, the way of avoidance has been taught by me, the way leading upwards has been taught by me, and the way of extinguishing has been taught by me.
18. “What should be done for his disciples out of compassion by a teacher who seeks their welfare and has compassion for them, that I have done for you, Cunda.113

[113:-MA: The compassionate teacher’s task is the correct teaching of the Dhamma; beyond that is the practice, which is the work of the disciples.]

There are these roots of trees, these empty huts. Meditate, Cunda, do not delay or else you will regret it later. This is our instruction to you.”
That is what the Blessed One said.

The venerable Maha Cunda was satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One’s words.

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