138 EXPOSITION OF THE SUMMARY

MN 03-04-08 Uddesa Vibhanga Sutta

Sutta Exposition by Venerable Bhikku Bodhi

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

Sutta Exposition by Ven Ajahn Brahmali

§  2.“Bhikkhus, I shall teach you a summary and an exposition. Listen and attend closely to what I shall say.”—“Yes, venerable sir,” the bhikkhus replied.
The Blessed One said this:

§  3. “Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu should examine things in such a way that while he is examining them, his consciousness is not distracted and scattered externally nor stuck internally, and by not clinging he does not become agitated. If his consciousness is not distracted and scattered externally nor stuck internally, and if by not clinging he does not become agitated, then for him there is no origination of suffering—of birth, ageing, and death in the future.”  

§  4. That is what the Blessed One said. Having said this, the Sublime One rose from his seat and went into his dwelling.1249

[1249:- It is strange that the Buddha, having announced that he will teach a summary and an exposition, should recite only the summary and leave without giving the exposition. Although elsewhere the Buddha departs suddenly after making an enigmatic statement (e.g., in MN 18) , on those occasions he had not previously declared his intention to give an exposition. MA offers no explanation.]

§  5. Then, soon after the Blessed One had gone, the bhikkhus considered:
“Now, friends, the Blessed One has risen from his seat and gone into his dwelling after giving a summary in brief without expounding the detailed meaning. Now who will expound this in detail?”

Then they considered:
“The venerable Mahā Kaccāna is praised by the Teacher and esteemed by his wise companions in the holy life. He is capable of expounding the detailed meaning. Suppose we went to him and asked him the meaning of this.”

§  6. Then the bhikkhus went to the venerable Mahā Kaccāna and exchanged greetings with him. When this courteous and amiable talk was finished, they sat down to one side and they told him what had taken place, adding: “Let the venerable Mahā Kaccāna expound it to us.”

§  7. [The venerable Mahā Kaccāna replied:]
“Friends, it is as though a man needing heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood, [195] thought that heartwood should be sought for among the branches and leaves of a great tree standing possessed of heartwood, after he had passed over the root and the trunk.

And so it is with you, venerable sirs, that you think that I should be asked about the meaning of this, after you passed the Blessed One by when you were face to face with the Teacher. For knowing, the Blessed One knows; seeing, he sees; he is vision, he is knowledge, he is the Dhamma, he is the holy one; he is the sayer, 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. As he told you, so you should have remembered it.”

§  8. “Surely, friend Kaccāna, knowing, the Blessed One knows; seeing, he sees; he is vision…the Tathāgata. That was the time when we should have asked the Blessed One the meaning. As he told us, so we should have remembered it. Yet the venerable Mahā Kaccāna is praised by the Teacher and esteemed by his wise companions in the holy life. The venerable Mahā Kaccāna is capable of expounding the detailed meaning of this summary given in brief by the Blessed One without expounding the detailed meaning. Let the venerable Mahā Kaccāna expound it without finding it troublesome.”

§  9“Then listen, friends, and attend closely to what I shall say.”
“Yes, friend,” the bhikkhus replied.
The venerable Mahā Kaccāna said this:



§  10.“How, friends, is consciousness called ‘distracted and scattered externally’?1250

Here, when a bhikkhu has seen a form with the eye, if his consciousness follows after the sign of form, is tied and shackled by gratification in the sign of form,1251 is fettered by the fetter of gratification in the sign of form, then his consciousness is called ‘distracted and scattered externally.’
“When he has heard a sound with the ear…
When he has smelt an odour with the nose…
When he has tasted a flavour with the tongue…
When he has touched a tangible with the body…
When he has cognized a mind-object with the mind, if his consciousness follows after the sign of the mind-object, is tied and shackled by gratification in the sign of the mind-object, is fettered by the fetter of gratification in the sign of the mind-object, then his consciousness is called ‘distracted and scattered externally.’

[1250:- MA: Consciousness is “distracted and scattered externally,” i.e., among external objects, when it occurs by way of attachment towards an external object.]

[1251 MṬ: The form itself is called the sign of form (rūpanimitta) in that it is the cause for the arising of defilements. One “follows after it” by way of lust.]

§  11 “And how, friends, is consciousness called ‘not distracted and scattered externally’?

Here, when a bhikkhu has seen a form with the eye, if his consciousness does not follow after the sign of form, is not tied and shackled by gratification in the sign of form, is not fettered by the fetter of gratification in the sign of form, then his consciousness is called ‘not distracted and scattered externally.’ [226]

“When he has heard a sound with the ear…
When he has smelt an odour with the nose…
When he has tasted a flavour with the tongue…
When he has touched a tangible with the body…
When he has cognized a mind-object with the mind, if his consciousness does not follow after the sign of the mind-object, is not tied and shackled by gratification in the sign of the mind object, is not fettered by the fetter of gratification in the sign of the mind-object,
then his consciousness is called ‘not distracted and scattered externally.’

§  12.“And how, friends, is the mind called ‘stuck internally’? 1252

Here, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. If his consciousness follows after the rapture and pleasure born of seclusion, is tied and shackled by gratification in the rapture and pleasure born of seclusion, then his mind is called ‘stuck internally.’

[1252:- MA: The mind is “stuck internally” by way of attachment to an internal object. The text of the sutta itself makes the shift from viññāṇa in the Buddha’s summary to citta in Mahā Kaccāna’s exposition.]

§  13, “Again, with the stilling of applied and sustained thought, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the second jhāna, which has self-confidence and singleness of mind without applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of concentration. If his consciousness follows after the rapture and pleasure born of concentration…then his mind is called ‘stuck internally.’

§  14 “Again, with the fading away as well of rapture, a bhikkhu abides in equanimity, and mindful and fully aware, still feeling pleasure with the body, he enters upon and abides in the third jhāna, on account of which noble ones announce: ‘He has a pleasant abiding who has equanimity and is mindful.’ If his consciousness follows after the equanimity…then his mind is called ‘stuck internally.’

§  15.“Again, 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 jhāna, which has neither-pain-nor-pleasure and purity of mindfulness due to equanimity. If his consciousness follows after the neither-pain-nor-pleasure, is tied and shackled by gratification in the neither-pain-nor-pleasure, is fettered by the fetter of gratification in the neither-pain-nor-pleasure, then his mind is called ‘stuck internally.’ That is how the mind is called ‘stuck internally.’ [227]

§  16 . “And how, friends, is the mind called ‘not stuck internally’?

Here, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhāna…If his consciousness does not follow after the rapture and pleasure born of seclusion, is not tied and shackled by gratification in the rapture and pleasure born of seclusion, is not fettered by the fetter of gratification in the rapture and pleasure born of seclusion, then his mind is called ‘not stuck internally.’

§ 17. “Again, with the stilling of applied and sustained thought, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the second jhāna…If his consciousness does not follow after the rapture and pleasure born of concentration…then his mind is called ‘not stuck internally.’

§ 18. “Again, with the fading away as well of rapture, a bhikkhu… enters upon and abides in the third jhāna…If his consciousness does not follow after the equanimity…then his mind is called ‘not stuck internally.’

§  19 . “Again, with the abandoning of pleasure and pain…a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the fourth jhāna…If his consciousness does not follow after the neither-pain-nor-pleasure, is not tied and shackled by gratification in the neither-pain- nor-pleasure, is not fettered by the fetter of gratification in the neither-pain nor- pleasure, then his mind is called ‘not stuck internally.’ That is how the mind is called ‘not stuck internally.’

§ 20. “How, friends, is there agitation due to clinging?1253

[1253:- All known editions of the Pali text of MN 138 read here anupādā paritassanā, literally “agitation due to non-clinging,” which obviously contradicts what the Buddha consistently teaches: that agitation arises from clinging, and ceases with the removal of clinging. However, this reading apparently predates the commentaries, for MA accepts anupādā as correct and offers the following explanation: “In what sense is there agitation due to nonclinging?

Through the non-existence of anything to cling to. For if there existed any formation that were permanent, stable, a self, or the belonging of a self, it would be possible to cling to it. Then this agitation would be agitation due to clinging (something to cling to). But because there is no formation that can be clung to thus, then even though material form, etc., are clung to with the idea ‘material form is self,’ etc., they are not clung to (in the way they are conceived).

Thus, what is here called ‘agitation due to non-clinging’ is in meaning agitation due to clinging by way of views.” Ñm had followed this reading, and on the basis of MA’s explanation, had rendered the phrase “anguish [agitation] due to not finding anything to cling to.” He did not discuss the problem in his notes. A sutta in the Saṁyutta Nikāya (SN 22:7/iii, 16) is virtually identical with this passage of MN 138, except that here it reads, as we should expect, upādā paritassanā, “agitation due to clinging.” From the Saṁyutta text we may safely infer that the Majjhima reading is an ancient error that should be discounted. My rendering here is based on the reading of SN 22:7. Horner too follows the latter text in MLS.]

Here an untaught ordinary person who has no regard for noble ones and is unskilled and undisciplined in 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. That material form of his changes and becomes otherwise. With the change and becoming otherwise of that material form, his consciousness is preoccupied with the change of material form. Agitated mental states born of preoccupation with the change of material form arise together1254 and remain obsessing his mind. Because his mind is obsessed, he is anxious, distressed, and concerned, and due to clinging he becomes agitated.1255 [228]

[1254:- MA explains the unusual phrase paritassanā dhammasamuppādā as “the agitation of craving and the arising of (other) unwholesome states.”]

[1255 The agitation thus results from the lack of any permanent essence in things that could provide a refuge from the suffering precipitated by their change and instability.

] “He regards feeling as self…
He regards perception as self…
He regards formations as self…
He regards consciousness as self, or self as possessed of consciousness, or consciousness as in self, or self as in consciousness. That consciousness of his changes and becomes otherwise. With the change and becoming otherwise of that consciousness, his consciousness is preoccupied with the change of consciousness.

Agitated states of mind born of preoccupation with the change of
consciousness arise together and remain obsessing his mind. Because his mind is obsessed, he is anxious, distressed, and concerned, and due to clinging he becomes agitated. That is how there is agitation due to clinging.

§  21 . “And how, friends, is there non-agitation due to non-clinging? 1256

Here 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. That material form of his changes and becomes otherwise. With the change and becoming otherwise of that material form, his consciousness is not preoccupied with the change of material form.

Agitated mental states born of preoccupation with the change of material form do not arise together and remain obsessing his mind. Because his mind is not obsessed, he is not anxious, distressed, and concerned, and due to non-clinging he does not become agitated.

[1256:-This phrase is identical in both the Majjhima and Saṁyutta Ch 7 , Stts 7 and 8 versions.]

“He does not regard feeling as self…
He does not regard perception as self…
He does not regard formations as self…
He does not regard consciousness as self, or self as possessed of consciousness, or consciousness as in self, or self as in consciousness. That consciousness of his changes and becomes otherwise. With the change and becoming otherwise of that consciousness, his consciousness is not preoccupied with the change of consciousness.

Agitated mental states born of preoccupation with the change of consciousness do not arise together and remain obsessing his mind. Because his mind is not obsessed, he is not anxious, distressed, and concerned, and due to non-clinging he does not become agitated.
That is how there is non-agitation due to non-clinging.

§ 22 . “Friends, when the Blessed One rose from his seat and went into his dwelling after giving a summary in brief without expounding the detailed meaning, that is: ‘Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu should examine things in such a way that while he is examining them, his consciousness is not distracted and scattered externally nor stuck internally, and by not clinging he does not become agitated.

If his consciousness is not distracted and scattered externally nor stuck internally, and if by not clinging he does not become agitated, then for him there is no origination of suffering—of birth, ageing, and death in the future,’ I understand the detailed meaning of this summary to be thus. [229] 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.”

§ 23 .  Then the bhikkhus, having delighted and rejoiced in the venerable Mahā Kaccāna’s words, rose from their seats and went to the Blessed One. After paying homage to him, they sat down at one side and told the Blessed One all that had taken place after he had left, adding: “Then, venerable sir, we went to the venerable Mahā Kaccāna and asked him about the meaning. The venerable Mahā Kaccāna expounded the meaning to us with these terms, statements, and
phrases.”

§ 24. “Mahā Kaccāna is wise, bhikkhus, Mahā Kaccāna has great wisdom. If you had asked me the meaning of this, I would have explained it to you in the same way that Mahā Kaccāna has explained it. Such is its meaning, and so you should remember it.”

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

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