102 The Five and Three

This sutta is a “middle length” counterpart of the longer Brahmajāla Sutta, included in the Dı̄gha Nikāya and published in translation with its commentaries in Bodhi, Discourse on the All-Embracing Net of Views. Detailed explanations for almost all the views mentioned in this sutta will be found in the Introduction and Part Two of that work. There exists a Tibetan translation of the Pan̄catraya Sūtra, the counterpart of this text belonging to the Mūlasarvāstivāda school, whose collections were preserved in Sanskrit. This text is discussed by Peter Skilling at Mahāsūtras II, pp. 469–511. Skilling highlights the interesting contrasts between this version of the text and the Pali version.

Exposition by Ven Bhikku Yuttadhammo
MN 03-01-02 PANNATHTHAYA SUTTA

§ 1. THUS HAVE I HEARD.935
On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Sā̄vatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. There he addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Bhikkhus.”—“Venerable sir,” they replied. The Blessed One said this

SPECULATIONS ABOUT THE FUTURE

§ 2. “Bhikkhus, there are some recluses and brahmins who speculate about the future and hold views about the future, who assert various doctrinal propositions concerning the future.

(I) Some assert thus: ‘The self is percipient and unimpaired after death.’
(II) Some assert thus: ‘The self is non-percipient and unimpaired after death.’
(III) Some assert thus: ‘The self is neither percipient nor non-percipient and unimpaired after death.’
(IV) Or they describe the annihilation, destruction, and extermination of an existing being [at death].
(V) Or some assert Nibbāna here and now.936

[936: Skilling points out that in the Tibetan Pan̄catraya, assertions of Nirvā˚a here and now are not comprised under views about the future but constitute a separate category. The Brahmajāla Sutta places assertions of supreme Nibb̄ana here and now among views about the future, but the arrangement in the Tibetan counterpart seems to be more logical.]

“Thus
(a) they either describe an existing self that is unimpaired after death;
(b) or they describe the annihilation, destruction, and extermination of an existing being [at death];
(c) or they assert Nibbāna here and now.

Thus these [views] being five become three, and being three become five. This is the summary of the ‘five and three.’

§ 3 . (I) “Therein, bhikkhus, those recluses and brahmins [229] who describe the self as percipient and unimpaired after death describe such a self, percipient and unimpaired after death, to be either:
material;
or immaterial;
or both material and immaterial;
or neither material nor immaterial;
or percipient of unity;
or percipient of diversity;
or percipient of the limited;
or percipient of the immeasurable.937
Or else, among those few who go beyond this, some make assertions about the consciousness-kasiṇa, immeasurable and imperturbable. 938

[937:- In the Brahmajāla Sutta sixteen varieties of this view are mentioned, the eight given here and two other tetrads: the self as finite, infinite, both, and neither; and the self as experiencing exclusively pleasure, exclusively pain, a mixture of both, and neither. In the present sutta these two tetrads are incorporated under speculations about the past in §14 , but at SN 24:37- 44/iii.219-20 they describe the self after death ]

[938:- Evidently, in the above list the views of the self as immaterial, percipient of unity, and percipient of the immeasurable are based on attainment of the base of infinite space. MṬ explains the consciousness-kasi˚a as the base of infinite consciousness, stating that these theorists declare that base to be the self.]

§ 4. “The Tathāgata, bhikkhus, understands this thus: ‘Those good recluses and brahmins who describe the self as percipient and unimpaired after death describe such a self to be either material… or they describe it to be percipient of the immeasurable. Or else, [230] some make assertions about the base of nothingness, immeasurable and imperturbable; [for them] “there is nothing” is declared to be the purest, supreme, best, and unsurpassed of those perceptions—
whether perceptions of form or of the formless, of unity or diversity.939

[939:- The perception within the third immaterial meditation—the base of nothingness—is the subtlest and most refined of all mundane perceptions. Although there is still a kind of perception in the fourth immaterial attainment, it is so subtle that it is no longer appropriate to designate it perception.]

That is conditioned and gross, but there is cessation of formations.’ Having known ‘There is this,’ seeing the escape from that, the Tathāgata has gone beyond that.940

[940:- MA paraphrases thus: “All those types of perceptions together with the views are conditioned, and because they are conditioned, they are gross. But there is Nibbāna, called the cessation of formations, that is, of the conditioned. Having known ‘There is this,’ that there is Nibbāna, seeing the escape from the conditioned, the Tathāgata has gone beyond the conditioned.”]

§ 5 . (II) “Therein, bhikkhus, those recluses and brahmins who describe the self as non-percipient and unimpaired after death describe such a self, non-percipient and unimpaired after death, to be either:
material;
or immaterial;
or both material and immaterial;
or neither material nor immaterial.941

[941:- The second tetrad of §3 is dropped here since the self is conceived as nonpercipient. In the Brahmajāla Sutta eight varieties of this view are mentioned, these four plus the finite-infinite tetrad.]

§ 6 . “Therein, bhikkhus, these criticise those recluses and brahmins who describe the self as percipient and unimpaired after death. Why is that? Because they say: ‘Perception is a disease, perception is a tumour, perception is a dart;
this is peaceful, this is sublime, that is, non-perception.’

§ 7 . “The Tathāgata, bhikkhus, understands this thus:
‘Those good recluses and brahmins who describe the self as non-percipient and unimpaired after death describe such a self, non-percipient and unimpaired after death, to be either material…or neither material nor immaterial. That any recluse or brahmin could say:
“Apart from material form, apart from feeling, apart from perception, apart from formations, I shall describe the coming and going of consciousness, its passing away and reappearance, its growth, increase, and maturation”—
that is impossible.942

[942:- MA points out that this statement is made with reference to those planes of existence where all five aggregates exist. In the immaterial planes consciousness occurs without the aggregate of material form, and in the non-percipient plane there is material form without consciousness. But consciousness never occurs without the three other mental aggregates.]

That is conditioned and gross, but there is [231] cessation of formations.’ Having known ‘There is this,’ seeing the escape from that, the Tathāgata has gone beyond that.

§ 8 . (III) “Therein, bhikkhus, those recluses and brahmins who describe the self as neither percipient nor non-percipient and unimpaired after death describe such a self, neither percipient nor non-percipient and unimpaired after death, to be either:
material;
or immaterial;
or both material and immaterial;
or neither material nor immaterial.943

[943:- The Brahmajāla Sutta mentions eight varieties of this view, these four plus the finite-infinite tetrad.]

§ 9 . “Therein, bhikkhus, these criticise those good recluses and brahmins who describe the self as percipient and unimpaired after death, and they criticise those good recluses and brahmins who describe the self as non-percipient and unimpaired after death.

Why is that?
Because they say: ‘Perception is a disease, perception is a tumour, perception is a dart, and non-perception is stupefaction;944 this is peaceful, this is sublime, that is, neither-perception-nornon- perception. ’

[944:- Sammoha, here obviously having a different meaning than the usual “confusion” or “delusion]

§ 10 . “The Tathāgata, bhikkhus, understands this thus:
‘Those good recluses and brahmins who describe the self as neither percipient nor non-percipient and unimpaired after death describe such a self, neither percipient nor non-percipient and unimpaired after death, to be either material…or neither material nor immaterial.

If any recluses or brahmins describe the entering upon this base to come about through a measure of formations regarding what is seen, heard, sensed, and cognized, that is declared to be a disaster for entering upon this base.945 [232]

That is conditioned and gross, but there is cessation of formations.’ Having known ‘There is this,’ seeing the escape from that, the Tathāgata has gone beyond that.

[945:- MA explains the compound diṭṭhasutamutaviññātabba as meaning “what is to be cognized as the seen, heard, and sensed” and takes it to refer to sense-door cognitions. However, it can also comprise all grosser mind-door cognitions as well. To enter the fourth immaterial attainment, all the ordinary “mental formations” involved in other cognitive processes must be overcome, for their persistence is an obstacle to entering this attainment. Hence it is called “not percipient” (n’eva saññı̄).]

For this base, it is declared, is not to be attained as an attainment with formations; this base, it is declared, is to be attained as an attainment with a residue of formations.946

[946:- Sasankhārāvasesasamāpatti. Within the fourth immaterial attainment a residue of extremely subtle mental formations remains. Hence it is called “not non-percipient” (n̄saññı̄).]

§ 11 . (IV) “Therein, bhikkhus, those recluses and brahmins who describe the annihilation, destruction, and extermination of an existing being [at death]947 criticise those good recluses and brahmins who describe the self as percipient and unimpaired after death, and they criticise those good recluses and brahmins who describe the self as non-percipient and unimpaired after death, and they criticise those good recluses and brahmins who describe the self as neither percipient nor non-percipient and unimpaired after death.

[947:- The Brahmajāla explains seven types of annihilationism, here all collected together as one]

Why is that?
All these good recluses and brahmins, rushing onwards, assert their attachment thus: ‘We shall be thus after death, we shall be thus after death.’ Just as a merchant going to market thinks: ‘Through this, that will be mine; with this, I will get that’; so too, these good recluses and brahmins seem like merchants when they declare:
‘We shall be thus after death, we shall be thus after death.’

§ 12 . “The Tathāgata, bhikkhus, understands this thus:
‘Those good recluses and brahmins who describe the annihilation, destruction, and extermination of an existing being [at death], through fear of identity and disgust with identity, keep running and circling around that same identity.948

[948:- The “fear and disgust with identity” is an aspect of vibhavataṇhā , the craving for non-existence. The annihilationist view to which it gives rise still involves an identification with self—a self that is annihilated at death—and thus, despite his denial, it binds the theorist to the round of existence.]

Just as a dog bound by a leash tied to a firm post or pillar [233] keeps on running and circling around that same post or pillar; so too, these good recluses and brahmins, through fear of identity and disgust with identity, keep running and circling around that same identity.

That is conditioned and gross, but there is cessation of formations.’ Having known ‘There is this,’ seeing the escape from that, the Tathāgata has gone beyond that.

§ 13 . “Bhikkhus, any recluses or brahmins who speculate about the future and
hold views about the future, who assert various doctrinal propositions
concerning the future, all assert these five bases or a certain one among them.949

[949:- So far only four of the original five classes of speculations about the future have been analysed, yet the Buddha speaks as if they were all explicated. MA tries to resolve the problem by explaining that assertions of “Nibbāna here and now” were comprised by the terms “percipient of unity” and “percipient of diversity” in §3. This explanation, however, is not convincing. Ñm, in Ms, had added the heading “Nibbāna Here and Now” over §17, and §§17–21 do seem to correspond with the last four of the five doctrines of Nibb̄na here and now in the Brahmajāla. However, this interpretation seems contradicted by §13 and by the phrase used in §17, §19, and §21, “with the relinquishing of views about the past and the future,” which would exclude the doctrines of Nibb̄na here and now from views about the future (though it is placed among such views in the preamble).

The problem seems insoluble, and raises the suspicion that the text was to some degree corrupted in the course of its oral transmission. The insertion of the views about the past just below is also problematic. Not only are such views not mentioned in the preamble, but the placing of the past after the future inverts the normal time sequence. Skilling suggests this passage may have been part of an oral commentary on the sutta which, at some point, was absorbed into the text.]

SPECULATIONS ABOUT THE PAST

§ 14 . “Bhikkhus, there are some recluses and brahmins who speculate about the past and hold views about the past, who assert various doctrinal propositions concerning the past.

(1) Some assert thus:
‘The self and the world are eternal:
only this is true, anything else is wrong.’950

[950:- This view includes all four of the eternalists who speculate about the past mentioned in the Brahmajāla.]


(2) Some assert thus:
‘The self and the world are not eternal:
only this is true, anything else is wrong.’951

[951:-Since this is a view referring to the past, it may be taken to imply that at some point in the past the self and the world arose spontaneously out of nothing. Thus it would comprise the two doctrines of fortuitous origination of the Brahmajāla, as MA maintains.]

(3) Some assert thus:
‘The self and the world are both eternal and not eternal:
only this is true, anything else is wrong.’952

[952:- This includes the four types of partial eternalism]

(4) Some assert thus:
‘The self and the world are neither eternal nor not eternal:
only this is true, anything else is wrong.’953

[953:-This may include the four types of endless equivocation or “eel-wriggling” of the Brahmajāla.]

(5) Some assert thus:
‘The self and the world are finite: only this is true,
anything else is wrong.’954

[954:-Views 5–8 correspond exactly to the four extensionists of the Brahmajāla]

(6) Some assert thus: ‘The self and the world are infinite: only this is true,
anything else is wrong.’
(7) Some assert thus:
‘The self and the world are both finite and infinite:
only this is true, anything else is wrong.’
(8) Some assert thus:
‘The self and the world are neither finite nor infinite:
only this is true, anything else is wrong.’
(9) Some assert thus:
‘The self and the world are percipient of unity:
only this is true, anything else is wrong.’955

[955:- The eight views (9–16) are, in the Brahmajāla, included among the doctrines of percipient immortality comprised under speculations about the future.]

(10) Some assert thus:
‘The self and the world are percipient of diversity:
only this is true, anything else is wrong.’
(11) Some assert thus:
‘The self and the world are percipient of the limited:
only this is true, anything else is wrong.’
(12) Some assert thus: ‘The self and the world are percipient of the
immeasurable: only this is true, anything else is wrong.’
(13) Some assert thus:
‘The self and the world [experience] exclusively pleasure:
only this is true, anything else is wrong.’
(14) Some assert thus:
‘The self and the world [experience] exclusively pain:
only this is true, anything else is wrong.’ [234]
(15) Some assert thus:
‘The self and the world [experience] both pleasure and pain:
only this is true, anything else is wrong.’
(16) Some assert thus:
‘The self and the world [experience] neither pleasure nor pain:
only this is true, anything else is wrong.’

§ 15 . (1) “Therein, bhikkhus, as to those recluses and brahmins who hold such a doctrine and view as this: ‘The self and the world are eternal: only this is true, anything else is wrong,’ that apart from faith, apart from approval, apart from oral tradition, apart from reasoned cogitation, apart from reflective acceptance of a view, they will have any pure and clear personal knowledge of this—that is impossible.956

[956:- That is, they must accept their doctrine on some ground other than knowledge, one involving belief or reasoning. At MN 95.14, it is said that these five grounds of conviction yield conclusions that can turn out to be either true or false. ]

Since they have no pure and clear personal knowledge, even the mere fragmentary knowledge that those good recluses and brahmins clarify [about their view] is declared to be clinging on their part.957 That is conditioned and gross, but there is cessation of formations. Having known‘There is this,’ seeing the escape from that, the Tathāgata has gone beyond that.

[957:- MA: That is not really knowledge but wrong understanding; thus it is declared to be clinging to views]

§ 16. (2–16) “Therein, bhikkhus, as to those recluses and brahmins who hold such a doctrine and view as this:
‘The self and the world are not eternal…
both eternal and not eternal…
neither eternal nor not eternal…
finite…
infinite…
both finite and infinite…
neither finite nor infinite…
percipient of unity…
percipient of diversity…
percipient of the limited…
percipient of the immeasurable…
[experience] exclusively pleasure…
[experience] exclusively pain…
[experience] both pleasure and pain…
[experience] neither pleasure nor pain:
only this is true, anything else is wrong,
’ that apart from faith, apart from approval, apart from oral tradition, apart from reasoned cogitation, apart from reflective acceptance of a view, they will have any pure and clear personal knowledge of this—that is impossible. [235] Since they have no pure and clear personal knowledge, even the mere fragmentary knowledge that those good recluses and brahmins clarify [about their view] is declared to be clinging on their part.

That is conditioned and gross, but there is cessation of formations. Having known ‘There is this,’ seeing the escape from that, the Tathāgata has gone beyond that.958

[958:-MA says that at this point all sixty-two of the views set forth in the Brahmajāla Sutta have been incorporated, yet this sutta has an even wider range since it includes an exposition of identity view (most notably implied by §24). ]

NIBBANA HERE AND NOW

[959:- This section title, and the following Roman numeral “V”, were inserted by Ñm on the supposition that this passage presents the doctrines of Nibbāna here and now, mentioned but not explicated earlier.]

§ 17. (V) “Here, bhikkhus,960 some recluse or brahmin, with the relinquishing of views about the past and the future and through complete lack of resolve upon the fetters of sensual pleasure, enters upon and abides in the rapture of seclusion.961 He thinks: ‘This is the peaceful, this is the sublime, that I enter upon and abide in the rapture of seclusion.’ That rapture of seclusion ceases in him. With the cessation of the rapture of seclusion, grief arises, and with the cessation of grief, the rapture of seclusion arises.962

[960:- MA: This section is intended to show how all sixty-two speculative views arise predominated over by identity view. ]

[961 Pavivekaṁ pı̄tiṁ. This refers to the first two jhānas, which include pı̄ti.]

[962 MA explains that this is the grief caused by the loss of the jhāna. The grief does not arise immediately upon the cessation of the jhāna, but only after reflection upon its disappearance.]

Just as the sunlight pervades the area that the shadow leaves, and the shadow pervades the area that the sunlight leaves, so too, with the cessation of the rapture of seclusion, grief arises,
and with the cessation of grief, the rapture of seclusion arises.

§ 18. “The Tathāgata, bhikkhus, understands this thus: ‘This good recluse or brahmin, with the relinquishing of views about the past and the future…
and with the cessation of grief, the rapture of seclusion arises.

That is conditioned and gross, but there is cessation of formations.’ Having known ‘There is this,’ seeing the escape from that, the Tathāgata has gone beyond that.

§ 19 . “Here, bhikkhus, some recluse or brahmin, with the relinquishing of views about the past and the future, through complete lack of resolve upon the fetters of sensual pleasure, and with the surmounting of the rapture of seclusion, enters upon and abides in unworldly pleasure.963

[963:-Nirāmisaṁ sukhaṁ. This is the pleasure of the third jhāna]

He thinks: ‘This is the peaceful, this is the sublime, that I enter upon and abide in unworldly pleasure.’ That unworldly pleasure ceases in him. With the cessation of unworldly pleasure, the rapture of seclusion arises, and with the cessation of the rapture of seclusion, unworldly pleasure arises. [236]

Just as the sunlight pervades the area that the shadow leaves, and the shadow pervades the area that the sunlight leaves, so too, with the cessation of unworldly pleasure, the rapture of seclusion arises and with the cessation of the rapture of seclusion, unworldly pleasure arises.

§ 20. “The Tathāgata, bhikkhus, understands this thus:
‘This good recluse or brahmin, with the relinquishing of views about the past and the future…
and with the cessation of the rapture of seclusion, unworldly pleasure arises.

That is conditioned and gross, but there is cessation of formations.’
Having known ‘There is this,’ seeing the escape from that, the Tathāgata has gone beyond that.

§ 21. “Here, bhikkhus, some recluse or brahmin, with the relinquishing of views about the past and the future, through complete lack of resolve upon the fetters of sensual pleasure, and with the surmounting of the rapture of seclusion and unworldly pleasure, enters upon and abides in neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling.964

[964:- The fourth jhāna.]

He thinks: ‘This is the peaceful, this is the sublime, that I enter upon and abide in neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. ’ That neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling ceases in him. With the cessation of neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, unworldly pleasure arises, and with the cessation of unworldly pleasure, neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling arises.

Just as the sunlight pervades the area that the shadow leaves, and the shadow pervades the area that the sunlight leaves, so too, with the cessation of neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, unworldly pleasure arises, and with the cessation of unworldly pleasure, neither-painful- nor-pleasant feeling arises.

§ 22 . “The Tathāgata, bhikkhus, understands this thus: ‘This good recluse or brahmin, with the relinquishing of views about the past and the future… [237]…and with the cessation of unworldly pleasure, neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling arises. That is conditioned and gross, but there is cessation of formations.
’ Having known ‘There is this,’ seeing the escape from that, the Tathāgata has gone beyond that.

§ 23 . “Here, bhikkhus, some recluse or brahmin, with the relinquishing of views about the past and the future, through complete lack of resolve upon the fetters of sensual pleasure, and with the surmounting of the rapture of seclusion, unworldly pleasure, and neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, regards himself thus: ‘I am at peace, I have attained Nibbāna, I am without clinging.’965

[965:- Santo’ham asmi, nibbuto’ham asmi, anupādāno’ham asmi. In the Pali the expression aham asmi, “I am,” reveals that he is still involved with clinging, as the Buddha will point out.]

§ 24 . “The Tathāgata, bhikkhus, understands this thus: ‘This good recluse or brahmin, with the relinquishing of views about the past and the future…regards himself thus: “I am at peace, I have attained Nibbāna, I am without clinging.”

Certainly this venerable one asserts the way directed to Nibbāna. Yet this good recluse or brahmin still clings, clinging either to a view about the past or to a view about the future or to a fetter of sensual pleasure or to the rapture of seclusion or to unworldly pleasure or to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling.

And when this venerable one regards himself thus: “I am at peace, I have attained Nibbāna, I am without clinging,” that too is declared to be clinging on the part of
this good recluse or brahmin.966 That is conditioned and gross, but there is cessation of formations.’ Having understood ‘There is this,’ seeing the escape from that, the Tathāgata has gone beyond that.

[966:- MA takes this to be an allusion to identity view. Thus he is still clinging to a view.]

§ 25. “Bhikkhus, this supreme state of sublime peace has been discovered by the Tathāgata, that is, liberation through not clinging, 967 by understanding as they actually are the origination, the disappearance, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in the case of the six bases of contact.

Bhikkhus, that is the supreme state of sublime peace discovered by the Tathāgata, [238], that is, liberation through not clinging, by understanding as they actually are the origination, the
disappearance, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in the case of the six bases of contact.”968

[967:- MA states that elsewhere the expression “liberation through not clinging”]
[968:- The Brahmajāla Sutta too points to the understanding of the origination, etc., of the six bases of contact as the way to transcend all views.]

That is what the Blessed One said.
The bhikkhus were satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One’s words.

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