SN 12.45 At Ñātika: cessation of craving and cessation of existence

SN 12.45 (5) At Ñātika

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Ñātika in the Brick Hall. Then, while the Blessed One was alone in seclusion, he uttered this Dhamma exposition:125 “In dependence on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as condition, feeling [comes to be]; with feeling as condition, craving; with craving as condition, clinging…. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.

“In dependence on the ear and sounds … In dependence on the mind and mental phenomena, mind-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as condition, feeling [comes to be]; with feeling as condition, craving; with craving as condition, clinging…. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.

“In dependence on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as condition, feeling [comes to be]; with feeling as condition, craving. But with the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving comes cessation of clinging; with the cessation of clinging, cessation of existence…. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering. [75]

“In dependence on the ear and sounds … In dependence on the mind and mental phenomena, mind-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as condition, feeling [comes to be]; with feeling as condition, craving. But with the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving comes cessation of clinging; with the cessation of clinging, cessation of existence…. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.”

Now on that occasion a certain bhikkhu was standing listening in on the Blessed One. The Blessed One saw him standing there listening in and said to him: “Did you hear that Dhamma exposition, bhikkhu?”

“Yes, venerable sir.”

“Learn that Dhamma exposition, bhikkhu, master it and remember it. That Dhamma exposition is beneficial and relevant to the fundamentals of the holy life.”

SN 22.53 (1) Engagement

At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, one who is engaged is unliberated;69 one who is disengaged is liberated. Consciousness, bhikkhus, while standing, might stand engaged with form; based upon form, established upon form, with a sprinkling of delight, it might come to growth, increase, and expansion. Or consciousness, while standing, might stand [engaged with feeling … engaged with perception …] engaged with volitional formations; based upon volitional formations, established upon volitional formations, with a sprinkling of delight, it might come to growth, increase, and expansion.70

69 Engaged: one who has approached (upagato) the five aggregates by way of craving, conceit, and views.
70 The passage is quoted at DN III 228,6-13 in explanation of the “four stations of consciousness” (catasso viññaṇaṭṭhitiyo ); see too Nidd II 1. We find here still another indication of how consciousness grows and evolves in dependence on the other four aggregates. This sutta and the next should be compared with 12:38-40, 12:64, and 22:3. As to why consciousness is not “engaged” with itself, see above n. 19, which makes essentially the same point.

“Bhikkhus, though someone might say: ‘Apart from form, apart from feeling, apart from perception, apart from volitional formations, I will make known the coming and going of consciousness, its passing away and rebirth, its growth, increase, and expansion’—that is impossible.

“Bhikkhus, if a bhikkhu has abandoned lust for the form element, with the abandoning of lust the basis is cut off: there is no support for the establishing of consciousness.71 If he has abandoned lust for the feeling element … for the perception element … for the volitional formations element … for the consciousness element, with the abandoning of lust the basis is cut off: there is no support for the establishing of consciousness.

“When that consciousness is unestablished, not coming to growth, nongenerative, [54] it is liberated.72 By being liberated, it is steady; by being steady, it is content; by being content, he is not agitated. Being unagitated, he personally attains Nibbāna. He understands: ‘Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more for this state of being.’”

72 Anabhisaṅkhacca vimuttaṃ. The “nongenerative consciousness” is the consciousness that does not generate volitional formations (saṅkhāra). it is “liberated” because it does not generate rebirth.

SN 22.56 (4) Phases of the Clinging Aggregates

At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, there are these five aggregates subject to clinging. What five? The form aggregate subject to clinging, [59] the feeling aggregate subject to clinging, the perception aggregate subject to clinging, the volitional formations aggregate subject to clinging, the consciousness aggregate subject to clinging.

“So long as I did not directly know as they really are the five aggregates subject to clinging in four phases,80 I did not claim to have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment in this world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, in this generation with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans. But when I directly knew all this as it really is, then I claimed to have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment in this world with … its devas and humans.

“And how, bhikkhus, are there four phases? I directly knew form, its origin, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation. I directly knew feeling … perception … volitional formations … consciousness, its origin, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation.

“And what, bhikkhus, is form? The four great elements and the form derived from the four great elements: this is called form. With the arising of nutriment there is the arising of form. With the cessation of nutriment there is the cessation of form. This Noble Eightfold Path is the way leading to the cessation of form; that is, right view … right concentration.81

“Whatever ascetics and brahmins, having thus directly known form, its origin, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation, are practising for the purpose of revulsion towards form, for its fading away and cessation, they are practising well. Those who are practising well have gained a foothold in this Dhamma and Discipline.82

“And whatever ascetics and brahmins, having thus directly known form, its origin, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation, through revulsion towards form, through its fading away and cessation, are liberated by nonclinging, they are well liberated. Those who are well liberated are consummate ones. As to those consummate ones, there is no round for describing them.83

83 This paragraph shows those beyond training (asekha), the arahants. Spk: They are well liberated (suvimuttā) by the liberation of the fruit of arahantship; consummate ones (kevalino ), complete, having done all their duties. There is no round for describing them (vaṭṭaṃ tesaṃ natthi paññāpanāya): there is no remaining round (of rebirths) for the description of them. Or else “round” means basis (kāraṇa), so there is no basis for description. At this point the plane of the one beyond training (asekhabhūmi, i.e., of the arahant) has been discussed.

“And what, bhikkhus, is feeling? [60] There are these six classes of feeling: feeling born of eye-contact, feeling born of ear-contact, feeling born of nose-contact, feeling born of tongue-contact, feeling born of body-contact, feeling born of mind-contact. This is called feeling. With the arising of contact there is the arising of feeling.84 With the cessation of contact there is the cessation of feeling. This Noble Eightfold Path is the way leading to the cessation of feeling; that is, right view … right concentration.

“Whatever ascetics and brahmins, having thus directly known feeling, its origin, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation, are practising for the purpose of revulsion towards feeling, for its fading away and cessation, they are practising well. Those who are practising well have gained a foothold in this Dhamma and Discipline.

“And whatever ascetics and brahmins, having thus directly known feeling … and the way leading to its cessation … As to those consummate ones, there is no round for describing them.

“And what, bhikkhus, is perception? There are these six classes of perception: perception of forms, perception of sounds, perception of odours, perception of tastes, perception of tactile objects, perception of mental phenomena. This is called perception. With the arising of contact there is the arising of perception. With the cessation of contact there is the cessation of perception. This Noble Eightfold Path is the way leading to the cessation of perception; that is, right view … right concentration.

“Whatever ascetics and brahmins … As to those consummate ones, there is no round for describing them.

“And what, bhikkhus, are volitional formations? There are these six classes of volition:85 volition regarding forms, volition regarding sounds, volition regarding odours, volition regarding tastes, volition regarding tactile objects, volition regarding mental phenomena. This is called volitional formations. With the arising of contact there is the arising of volitional formations. With the cessation of contact there is the cessation of volitional formations. This Noble Eightfold Path is the way leading to the cessation of volitional formations; that is, right view … right concentration.

“Whatever ascetics and brahmins … [61] … As to those consummate ones, there is no round for describing them.

“And what, bhikkhus, is consciousness? There are these six classes of consciousness: eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, mind-consciousness. This is called consciousness. With the arising of name-and-form there is the arising of consciousness. With the cessation of name-and-form there is the cessation of consciousness. This Noble Eightfold Path is the way leading to the cessation of consciousness; that is, right view … right concentration. 86

86 It is significant that while contact is the proximate condition for feeling, perception, and volitional formations, name-and-form in its entirety is the proximate condition for consciousness. This ties up with the idea, as stated in 22:3, that the other four aggregates are the “home” of consciousness. See too in this connection 12:65 and 12:67.

“Whatever ascetics and brahmins, having thus directly known consciousness, its origin, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation, are practising for the purpose of revulsion towards consciousness, for its fading away and cessation, they are practising well. Those who are practising well have gained a foothold in this Dhamma and Discipline.

“And whatever ascetics and brahmins, having thus directly known consciousness, its origin, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation, through revulsion towards consciousness, through its fading away and cessation, are liberated by nonclinging, they are well liberated. Those who are well liberated are consummate ones. As to those consummate ones, there is no round for describing them.”

SN 12.67 (7) The Sheaves of Reeds

On one occasion the Venerable Sāriputta and the Venerable Mahākoṭṭhita were dwelling at Bārāṇası̄ in the Deer Park at Isipatana.193 Then, in the evening, the Venerable Mahākoṭṭhita emerged from seclusion and approached the Venerable Sāriputta. He exchanged greetings with the Venerable Sāriputta and, when they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and said to him:

“How is it, friend Sāriputta: Is aging-and-death created by oneself, or is it created by another, [113] or is it created both by oneself and by another, or has it arisen fortuitously, being created neither by oneself nor by another?”194

“Friend Koṭṭhita, aging-and-death is not created by oneself, nor is it created by another, nor is it created both by oneself and by another, nor has it arisen fortuitously, being created neither by oneself nor by another. But rather, with birth as condition, aging-and-death [comes to be].”

“How is it, friend Sāriputta: Is birth created by oneself … Is existence … clinging … craving … feeling … contact … the six sense bases … name-and-form created by oneself, or is it created by another, or is it created both by oneself and by another, or has it arisen fortuitously, being created neither by oneself nor by another?”

“Name-and-form, friend Koṭṭhita, is not created by oneself, nor is it created by another, nor is it created both by oneself and by another, nor has it arisen fortuitously, being created neither by oneself nor by another; but rather, with consciousness as condition, name-and-form [comes to be].”

“How is it, friend Sāriputta: Is consciousness created by oneself, or is it created by another, or is it created both by oneself and by another, or has it arisen fortuitously, being created neither by oneself nor by another?”

“Consciousness, friend Koṭṭhita, is not created by oneself, nor is it created by another, nor is it created both by oneself and by another, nor has it arisen fortuitously, being created neither by oneself nor by another; but rather, with name-and-form as condition, consciousness [comes to be].”195 [114]

“Now we understand the Venerable Sāriputta’s statement thus: ‘Name-and-form, friend Koṭṭhita, is not created by oneself … but rather, with consciousness as condition, name-and-form [comes to be].’ Now we also understand the Venerable Sāriputta’s [other] statement thus: ‘Consciousness, friend Koṭṭhita, is not created by oneself … but rather, with name-and-form as condition, consciousness [comes to be].’ But how, friend Sāriputta, should the meaning of this statement be seen?”

“Well then, friend, I will make up a simile for you, for some intelligent people here understand the meaning of a statement by means of a simile. Just as two sheaves of reeds might stand leaning against each other, so too, with name-and-form as condition, consciousness [comes to be]; with consciousness as condition, name-and-form [comes to be]. With name-and-form as condition, the six sense bases [come to be]; with the six sense bases as condition, contact…. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.

“If, friend, one were to remove one of those sheaves of reeds, the other would fall, and if one were to remove the other sheaf, the first would fall. So too, with the cessation of name-and-form comes cessation of consciousness; with the cessation of consciousness comes cessation of name-and-form. With the cessation of name-and-form comes cessation of the six sense bases; with the cessation of the six sense bases, cessation of contact…. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.”

“It is wonderful, friend Sāriputta! It is amazing, friend Sāriputta! How well this has been stated by the Venerable Sāriputta. We rejoice in the Venerable Sāriputta’s statement on these thirty-six grounds:196 If, friend, a bhikkhu teaches the Dhamma for the purpose of revulsion towards aging-and-death, for its fading away and cessation, he can be called a bhikkhu who is a speaker on the Dhamma. [115] If a bhikkhu is practising for the purpose of revulsion towards aging-and-death, for its fading away and cessation, he can be called a bhikkhu who is practising in accordance with the Dhamma. If through revulsion towards aging-and-death, through its fading away and cessation, a bhikkhu is liberated by nonclinging, he can be called a bhikkhu who has attained Nibbāna in this very life.

“If, friend, a bhikkhu teaches the Dhamma for the purpose of revulsion towards birth … existence … clinging … craving … feeling … contact … the six sense bases … name-and-form … consciousness … volitional formations … ignorance, for its fading away and cessation, he can be called a bhikkhu who is a speaker on the Dhamma. If a bhikkhu is practising for the purpose of revulsion towards ignorance, for its fading away and cessation, he can be called a bhikkhu who is practising in accordance with the Dhamma. If through revulsion towards ignorance, through its fading away and cessation, a bhikkhu is liberated by nonclinging, he can be called a bhikkhu who has attained Nibbāna in this very life.”

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