44 Cula Vedalla Sutta

The Shorter Discourse
of QA

§ 1. Thus I have heard.
On one occasion the Blessed one was living at Rajagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels’ Sanctuary. Then the lay follower Visakha went to the bhikkhuni Dhammadinna,459and after paying homage to her, he sat down at one side and asked her:

[459. Visakha was a wealthy merchant of Rajagaha and a nonreturner, Dhammadinna, his former wife in lay life, had attained arahantship soon after her ordination as a bhikkhunl. She was declared by the Buddha the foremost bhikkhuni disciple in expounding the Dhamma.]

PERSONALITY

§ 2.  “Lady, ‘personality, personality’ is said.
What is called personality by the Blessed One?”

“Friend Visakha, these five aggregates affected by clinging are called personality by the Blessed One; that is, the material form aggregate affected by clinging, the feeling aggregate affected by clinging, the perception aggregate affected by clinging, the formations aggregate affected by clinging, and the consciousness aggregate affected by clinging. These five aggregates affected by clinging are called personality by the Blessed One.”460

Saying, “Good, lady,” the lay follower Visakha delighted and rejoiced in the bhikkhuni Dhammadinna’s words. Then he asked her a further question: –

[460:-[460. MA explains the compound panc’upadanakkhandha as the five aggregates that become the condition for clinging (MT: as its objects). Since these five aggregates are, in brief, the entire noble truth of suffering (MN 9.15; 28.3), it will be seen that the first four questions pose an inquiry into the Four Noble Truths expressed in terms of personality rather than suffering.]

§ 3. “Lady, ‘origin of personality, origin of personality’ is said.
What is called the origin of personality by the Blessed One?”

“Friend Visakha, it is craving, which brings renewal of being, is accompanied by delight and lust, and delights in this and that; that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for being, and craving for non-being. This is called the origin of personality by the Blessed One.”

§ 4. “Lady, cessation of personalty, cessation of personality is said.
What is called the cessation of personality by the Blessed One?”

“Friend Visakha, it is the remainderless fading away and ceasing the giving up, relinquishing, letting go, and rejecting of that same craving. This is called the cessation of personality by the Blessed One.”

§ 5. “Lady, ‘the way leading to the cessation of personality, the way leading to the cessation of personality’ is said. What is called the way leading to the cessation of personality by the Blessed One?”

“Friend Visakha, it is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.”

§ 6 . “Lady, is that clinging the same as these five aggregates affected by clinging, or is the clinging something apart from the five aggregates affected by clinging?”

“Friend Visakha, that clinging is neither the same as these five aggregates affected by clinging [300] nor is clinging something apart from the five aggregates affected by clinging. It is the desire and lust in regard to the five aggregates affected by clinging that is the clinging there.”461

[461. MA: Because clinging is only one part of the aggregate of formations (as defined here, greed), it is not the same asthe five aggregates; and because clinging cannot be altogetherdisconnected from the aggregates, there is noclinging apart from the aggregates.]

PERSONALITY VIEW

§ 7. “Lady, how does personality view come to be?”

Here Friend Visakha, an untaught ordinary person, who has no regard  their Dhamma, who has no regard for true men and is unskilled and undisciplined in their Dhamma, regards material form as self, or self as possessed of material form, or material form as in self, or self as in material form. He regards feeling as self, or self as possessed of feeling, or feeling as in self, or self as in feeling. He regards perception as self, or self as possessed of perception, or perception as in self, or self as in perception. He regards formations as self, or self as possessed of formations, or formations as in self, or self as in formations. He regards consciousness as self, or self as possessed of consciousness, or consciousness as in self, or self as in consciousness. That is how personality view comes to be.”462

[462. These are the twenty kinds of personality view. MA quotes Pts i.144-45 to illustrate the four basic modes of personality view in regard to material form. One may regard material form as self, in the way the flame of a burning oil-lamp is identical with the colour (of the flame). Or one may regard self as possessing material form, as a tree possesses a shadow; or one may regard material form as in self, as the scent is in the flower; or one may regard self as in material form, as a jewel is in a casket.]

§ 8. “Lady, how does personality view not come to be?”

“Here, friend Visakha, a well-taught noble disciple, who has regard for noble ones and is skilled and disciplined in their Dhamma, who has regard for true men and is skilled and disciplined in their Dhamma, does not regard material form as self, or self as  possessed of material form, or material form as in self, or self as in material form. He does not regard feeling as self, or self as possessed of feeling, or feeling as in self, or self as in feeling. He does not regard perception as self, or self as possessed of perception, or perception as in self, or self as in perception. He does not regard formations as self, or self as possessed of formations, or formations as in self, or self as in formations. He does not regard consciousness as self, or self as possessed of consciousness, or consciousness as in self, or self as in consciousness. That is how personality view does not come to be.”

The Noble Eightfold Path

§ 9. “Lady, what is the Noble Eightfold Path?”

“Friend Visakha, it is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.”

§ 10 . “Lady, is the Noble Eightfold Path conditioned or unconditioned?”

“Friend Visakha, the Noble Eightfold Path is [301] conditioned.”

§  11. “Lady, are the three aggregates included by the Noble Eightfold Path,
or is the Noble Eightfold Path included by the three aggregates?”463


[463. The word khandha here has a different meaning than in the more common context of the five aggregates affected by clinging. It here refers to a body of training principles, the three divisions of the Noble Eightfold Path into virtue (sila), concentration (samadhi), and wisdom (patina).]

“The three aggregates are not included by the Noble Eightfold Path, friend Visakha, but the Noble Eightfold Path is included by the three aggregates. Right speech, right action, and right livelihood – these states are included in the aggregate of virtue. Right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration – these states are included in the aggregate of concentration. Right view and right intention – these states are included in the aggregate of wisdom.”

CONCENTRATION

§ 12. “Lady, what is concentration.?
What is the basis of concentration?
What is the equipment of concentration?
What is the development of concentration?”

“Unification of mind, friend Visakha, is concentration; the four foundations of mindfulness are the basis of concentration; the four right kinds of striving are the equipment of concentration; the repetition, development, and cultivation of these same states is the development of concentration therein.”464

[464. The four foundations of mindfulness are the basis of concentration (samadhinimitta) in the sense of being its condition (MA). Here it would seem in correct to translate nimitta as “sign,” in the sense of either distinguishing mark or object. The four right kinds of striving are explained at MN 77.16.]

FORMATIONS

§ 13. “Lady, how many formations are there?”
“There are these three formations, friend Visakha:
the bodily formation,
the verbal formation, and
the mental formation.”

§ 14. “But, lady, what is the bodily formation?
What is the verbal formation?
What is the mental formation?”

“In-breathing and out-breathing, friend Visakha, are the bodily formation; applied thought and sustained thought are the verbal formation; perception and feeling are the mental formation.”465

[465 MA: Dhammadinna anticipated Visakha’s intention to ask  about the formations that cease when one enters  the attainment of cessation.  Thus she explained the three formations in this way rather than as wholesome and  unwholesome volitions of body, speech, and mind, the meaning relevant within the context of dependent origination.]

§ 15. “But, lady, why are in-breathing and out-breathing the bodily formation?
Why are applied thought and sustained thought the verbal formation?
Why are perception and feeling the mental formation?”

“Friend Visakha, in-breathing and out-breathing are bodily, these are states bound up with the body; that is why in-breathing and out-breathing are the bodily formation. First one applies thought and sustains thought, and subsequently one breaks out into speech; that is why applied thought and sustained thought are the verbal formation. Perception and feeling are mental, these are states bound up with the mind; that is why perception and feeling are the mental formation. ” 466

[466. MA explains further that the bodily formation and the mental formation are said to be formations “bound up” with the body and the mind in the sense that they are formed by the body and by the mind, while the verbal formation is a formation in the sense that it forms speech. The verb form vitakketva vicaretva has been rendered in a way that maintains consistency with the rendering of the nouns vitakka and vicara as “applied thought” and “sustained thought.]

ATTAINMENT OF CESSATION

§ 16. “Lady, how does the attainment of the cessation of perception
and feeling come to be?”

“Friend Visakha, when a bhikkhu is attaining the cessation of  perception and feeling, it does not occur to him: ‘I shall attain the cessation of perception and feeling,’ or ‘I am attaining the cessation of perception and feeling,’ or ‘I have attained the cessation of perception and feeling’; but rather his mind has previously been developed in such a way that it leads him to that state.”467 [302]

[ 467. Cessation can be attained only by a non-returner or an arahant with mastery over the eight jhanic attainments. The meditator enters each attainment in turn, emerges from it, and contemplates it with insight as impermanent, suffering, and not self. After completing this procedure with the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, and attending to certain preliminaries, the meditator determines to be without mind for a particular length of time. His determination, backed by his previous accomplishments and preparations, leads him into the attainment of cessation. See Vsm XXIII, 32-43.]

§ 17. “Lady, when a bhikkhu is attaining the cessation of perception and feeling,
which states cease first in him: the bodily formation, the verbal formation, or the mental formation?”

“Friend Visakha, when a bhikkhu is attaining the cessation of perception and feeling, first the verbal formation ceases, then the bodily formation, then the mental formation.”468

[468. Applied and sustained thought cease first in the second jhana; in-and-out breathing cease next in the fourth jhana; and perception and feeling cease last in the attainment of cessation itself.]

§ 18. “Lady, how does emergence from the attainment
of the cessation of perception and feeling come to be?”

“Friend Visakha, when a bhikkhu is emerging from the attainment of the cessation of perception and feeling, it does not occur to him: ‘I shall emerge from the attainment of the cessation of perception and feeling,’ or ‘I am emerging from the attainment of the cessation of perception and feeling,’ or ‘I have emerged from the attainment of the cessation of perception and feeling’; but rather his mind has previously been developed in such a way that it leads him to that state.”469

469. When the time decided upon by the determination for the attainment has lapsed, by reason of that prior determination the meditator spontaneously emerges from the attainment of cessation and the mind-process resumes

 § 19. “Lady, when a bhikkhu is emerging from the attainment of the cessation of perception and feeling, which states arise first in him: the bodily formation, the verbal formation, or the mental formation?”

“Friend Visakha, whert a bhikkhu is emerging from the attainment of the cessation of perception and feeling, first the mental formation arises, then the bodily formation, then the verbal formation.”470

[470 MA: When one emerges from cessation, the consciousness of fruition attainment arises first, and the perception and feeling associated with that are the mental formation that arises first. Then, with the subsequent descent into the life continuum, the bodily formation, i.e., breathing, recommences. And subsequently, when the meditator resumes his ordinary activity, the verbal formation arises.]

§ 20. “Lady, when a bhikkhu has emerged from the attainment of the cessation of perception and feeling, how many kinds of contact touch him?”

“Friend Visakha, when a bhikkhu has emerged from the attainment of the cessation of perception and feeling, three kinds of contact touch him: voidness contact, signless contact, desireless contact.”471

[471 The first state of consciousness to arise on emerging fromcessation is that of fruition attainment, which is calledvoidness, the signless, and the desireless because of itsown inherent quality and because of its object, Nibbana.Here these three names for fruition are assigned to thecontact associated with fruition.]

§ 21 “Lady, when a bhikkhu has emerged from the attainment of the cessation of perception and feeling, to what does his mind incline, to what does it lean, to what does it tend?”

“Friend Visakha, when a bhikkhu has emerged from the attainment of the cessation of perception and feeling, his mind inclines to seclusion, leans to seclusion, tends to seclusion.”472

[472 MT: Nibbana, the object of the fruition consciousness thatarises on emerging from cessation, is called seclusion(viveka) because it is secluded from all conditioned things.]

FEELING

§ 22  “Lady, how many kinds of feeling are there?”

“Friend Visakha, there are three kinds of feeling: pleasant feeling, painful feeling, and neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling.”

§ 23. “But, lady, what is pleasant feeling? What is painful feeling?
What is neither painful-nor-pleasant feeling?”

“Friend Visakha,
whatever is felt bodily or mentally as pleasant and soothing is pleasant feeling. Whatever is felt bodily or mentally as painful and hurting is painful feeling. Whatever is felt bodily or mentally as neither soothing nor hurting [303] is neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling.”

§ 24. “Lady, what is pleasant and what is painful in regard to pleasant feeling? What is painful and what is pleasant in regard to painful feeling? What is pleasant and what is painful in regard to neither-pairtful-nor-pleasant feeling?”

“Friend Visakha, pleasant feeling is pleasant when it persists and painful when it changes. Painful feeling is painful when it persists and pleasant when it changes. Neither-painful-norpleasant feeling is pleasant when there is knowledge [of it] and painful when there is no knowledge [of it].”

UNDERLYING TENDENCIES

§ 25. “Lady, what underlying tendency underlies pleasant feeling? What underlying tendency underlies painful feeling? What underlying tendency underlies neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling?”

“Friend Visakha,
the underlying tendency to lust underlies pleasant feeling. The underlying tendency to aversion underlies painful feeling. The underlying tendency to ignorance underlies neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling.473

[473 MT: The three defilements are called anusaya, underlyingtendencies, in the sense that they have not been abandonedin the mental continuum to which they belongand because they are capable of arising when a suitablecause presents itself.]

§ 26. “Lady, does the underlying tendency to lust underlie all pleasant feeling?
Does the underlying tendency to aversion underlie all painful feeling?
Does the underlying tendency to ignorance underlie all neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling?”

“Friend Visakha,
the underlying tendency to lust does not underlie all pleasant feeling. The underlying tendency to aversion does not underlie all painful feeling. The underlying tendency to ignorance does not underlie all neither-painful-nor pleasant 
feeling.”

§ 27. “Lady, what should be abandoned in regard to pleasant feeling?
What should be abandoned in regard to painful feeling?
What should be abandoned in regard to neither-painful-norpleasant feeling?”

“Friend Visakha,
the underlying tendency to lust should be abandoned in regard to pleasant feeling. The underlying tendency to aversion should be abandoned in regard to painful feeling. The underlying tendency to ignorance should be abandoned in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling.”

§ 28. “Lady, does the underlying tendency to lust have to be abandoned in regard to all pleasant feeling?
Does the underlying tendency to aversion have to be abandoned in regard to all painful feeling?
Does the underlying tendency to ignorance have to be abandoned in regard to all neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling?”

“Friend Visakha, the underlying tendency to lust does not have to be abandoned in regard to all pleasant feeling. The underlying tendency to aversion does not have to be abandoned in regard to all painful feeling. The underlying tendency to ignorance does not have to be abandoned in regard to all neither painful- nor-pleasant feeling.

“Here, friend Visakha, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhana, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. With that he abandons lust, and the underlying tendency to lust does not underlie that.474

 [474 MA explains that the bhikkhu suppresses the tendency tolust and attains the first jhana. Having made the tendencyto lust well suppressed by the jhana, he developsinsight and eradicates the tendency to lust by the path ofthe non-returner. But because it has been suppressed bythe jhana, it is said “the underlying tendency to lust doesnot underlie that.”]

“Here a bhikkhu considers thus: ‘When shall I enter upon and abide in that base that the noble ones now enter upon and abide in?’ In one who thus generates a longing for the supreme liberations, [304] grief arises with that longing as condition. With that  he abandons aversion, and the underlying tendency to aversion does not underlie that.475

[475 MA identifies “that base” (faMyatana), as well as “thesupreme liberations/’ with arahantship. The grief thatarises because of that longing is elsewhere called “thegrief based on renunciation” (MN 137.13). MA explainsthat one does not actually abandon the tendency to aversionby means of that grief; rather, spurred on by the longingfor the supreme liberations, one takes up the practicewith firm determination and eradicates the tendency toaversion by attaining the path of the non-returner.]

“Here, with the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous disappearance of joy and grief, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the fourth jhana, which has neither-pain nor- pleasure and purity of mindfulness due to equanimity. With that he abandons ignorance, and the underlying tendency to ignorance does not underlie that.”476

[476 MA: The bhikkhu suppresses the tendency to ignorance with the fourth jhana, makes it well suppressed, and then eradicates the tendency to ignorance by attaining the path of arahantship.]

COUNTERPARTS

§ 29. “Lady, what is the counterpart of pleasant feeling?”477

[477 The word “counterpart” (patibhaga) is used to express the relationships of both opposition and supplementation.]

“Friend Visakha, painful feeling is the counterpart of pleasant feeling.”

“What is the counterpart of painful feeling?”

“Pleasant feeling is the counterpart of painful feeling.”

“What is the counterpart of neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling?”

“Ignorance is the counterpart of neither-painful-nor pleasant feeling.”478

[478 Ignorance is its counterpart because neither-painful-norpleasantfeeling is subtle and difficult to recognise.]

“What is the counterpart of ignorance?”

“True knowledge is the counterpart of ignorance.”

“What is the counterpart of true knowledge?”

“Deliverance is the counterpart of true knowledge.”

“What is the counterpart of deliverance?”

“Nibbana is the counterpart of deliverance.”

“Lady, what is the counterpart of Nibbana?”

“Friend Visakha,
you have pushed this line of questioning too far; you were not able to grasp the limit to questions.479


[479 MT: Nibbana does have an opposite counterpart, namely,conditioned states. But in the strict sense it has no supplementarycounterpart, for how can there be anything to  supplement Nibbana, the unconditioned?]

For the holy life, friend Visakha, merges in Nibbana, culminates in Nibbana, ends in Nibbana. If you wish, friend Visakha, 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.”

CONCLUSION

§  30. Then the lay follower Visakha, having delighted and rejoiced in the bhikkhuni Dhammadinna’s words, rose from his seat, and after paying homage to her, keeping her on his right, he went to the Blessed One. After paying homage to him, he sat down at one side and told the Blessed One his entire conversation with the bhikkhuni Dhammadinna. When he finished speaking, the Blessed One told him:

§  31. “The bhikkhuni Dhammadinna is wise, Visakha, the bhikkhuni Dhammadinna has great wisdom. If you had asked me the meaning of this, I would have explained it to you [305] in the same way that the bhikkhunl Dhammadinna has explained Such is its meaning, and so you should remember it.”480

[480 MA: By saying this, the Buddha makes this sutta Word of the Conqueror, stamped as it were with the seal of the Conqueror]

That is what the Blessed One said.
The lay follower Visakha was satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One’s words.

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