AN 10.6 Concentration

Then the Venerable Ānanda approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him:
“Bhante, could a bhikkhu obtain such a state of concentration that (1) he would not be percipient of earth in relation to earth;1968 (2) of water in relation to water; (3) of fire in relation to fire; (4) of air in relation to air; (5) of the base of the infinity of space in relation to the base of the infinity of space; (6) of the base of the infinity of consciousness in relation to the base of the infinity of consciousness; (7) of the base of nothingness in relation to the base of nothingness; (8) of the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception in relation to the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception; (9) of this world in relation to this world; (10) of the other world in relation to the other world, but he would still be percipient?”

1968 “He would not take earth as object and be percipient through an arisen perception ‘earth.’” It seems that what is being denied here is a jhāna based on the earth kasiṇa. The same holds below for water, fire, and air. This is confirmed by the next four steps, which negate the four formless bases. In other words, this concentration is not a jhāna based on the kasiṇas or formless attainments.


“He could, Ānanda.”
“But how, Bhante, could he obtain such a state of concentration?” [8]
“Here, Ānanda, a bhikkhu is percipient thus: ‘This is peaceful, this is sublime, that is, the stilling of all activities, the relinquishing of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, nibbāna.’1969 It is in this way, Ānanda, that a bhikkhu could obtain such a state of concentration that he would not be percipient of earth in relation to earth; of water in relation to water; of fire in relation to fire; of air in relation to air; of the base of the infinity of space in relation to the base of the infinity of space; of the base of the infinity of consciousness in relation to the base of the infinity of consciousness; of the base of nothingness in relation to the base of nothingness; of the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception in relation to the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception; of this world in relation to this world; of the other world in relation to the other world, but he would still be percipient.”


AN 11:7 (7) Perception


Then the Venerable Ānanda approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him:
“Bhante, could a bhikkhu obtain such a state of concentration that (1) he would not be percipient of earth in relation to earth; (2) of water in relation to water; (3) of fire in relation to fire; (4) of air in relation to air; (5) of the base of the infinity of space in relation to the base of the infinity of space; (6) of the base of the infinity of consciousness in relation to the base of the infinity of consciousness; (7) of the base of nothingness in relation to the base of nothingness; (8) of the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception in relation to the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception; (9) of this world in relation to this world; (10) of the other world in relation to the other world; (11) of anything seen, heard, sensed, cognized, reached, sought after, and examined by the mind, but he would still be percipient?”
“He could, Ānanda.” [319]
“But how, Bhante, could he obtain such a state of concentration?”
“Here, Ānanda, a bhikkhu is percipient thus: ‘This is peaceful, this is sublime, that is, the stilling of all activities, the relinquishing of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, nibbāna.’ It is in this way, Ānanda, that a bhikkhu could obtain such a state of concentration that he would not be percipient of earth in relation to earth; of water in relation to water; of fire in relation to fire; of air in relation to air; of the base of the infinity of space in relation to the base of the infinity of space; of the base of the infinity of consciousness in relation to the base of the infinity of consciousness; of the base of nothingness in relation to the base of nothingness; of the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception in relation to the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception; of this world in relation to this world; of the other world in relation to the other world; of anything seen, heard, sensed, cognized, reached, sought after, and examined by the mind, but he would still be percipient.”
Then the Venerable Ānanda, having delighted and rejoiced in the Blessed One’s statement, got up from his seat, paid homage to the Blessed One, [320] circumambulated him keeping the right side toward him, and approached the Venerable Sāriputta.2205 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:
“Friend Sāriputta, could a bhikkhu obtain such a state of concentration that he would not be percipient of earth in relation to earth … of anything seen, heard, sensed, cognized, reached, sought after, and examined by the mind, but he would still be percipient?”
“He could, friend Ānanda.”
“But how, friend Sāriputta, could he obtain such a state of concentration?”
“Here, friend Ānanda, a bhikkhu is percipient thus: ‘This is peaceful, this is sublime, that is, the stilling of all activities, the relinquishing of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, nibbāna.’ It is in this way, friend Ānanda, that a bhikkhu could obtain such a state of concentration that he would not be percipient of earth in relation to earth … he would not be percipient of anything seen, heard, sensed, cognized, reached, sought after, examined by the mind, but he would still be percipient.”
“It’s astounding and amazing, friend, that the meaning and the phrasing of both teacher and disciple coincide and agree with each other and do not diverge in regard to the foremost state.2206 Just now, friend, I approached the Blessed One [321] and asked him about this matter. The Blessed One answered me in exactly the same terms and phrases that the Venerable Sāriputta used. It’s astounding and amazing, friend, that the meaning and the phrasing of both teacher and disciple coincide and agree with each other and do not diverge in regard to the foremost


SN 47:9 (9) Ill

Thus have I heard.137 On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Vesālī in Beluvagāmaka. There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus:

“Come, bhikkhus, enter upon the rains wherever you have friends, acquaintances, and intimates in the vicinity of Vesālī. I myself will enter upon the rains right here in Beluvagāmaka.”

“Yes, venerable sir,” those bhikkhus replied, and they entered upon the rains wherever they had friends, acquaintances, and intimates in the vicinity of Vesālī, while the Blessed One entered upon the rains right there in Beluvagāmaka.

Then, when the Blessed One had entered upon the rains, a severe illness arose in him and terrible pains bordering on death assailed him. But the Blessed One endured them, mindful and clearly comprehending, without becoming distressed. Then the thought occurred to the Blessed One: “It is not proper for me to attain final Nibbāna without having addressed my attendants and taken leave of the Bhikkhu Saṅgha. Let me then suppress this illness by means of energy and live on, having resolved upon the life formation.”138 [153] Then the Blessed One suppressed that illness by means of energy and lived on, having resolved upon the life formation.

The Blessed One then recovered from that illness. Soon after he had recovered, he came out from his dwelling and sat down in the seat that had been prepared in the shade behind the dwelling. The Venerable Ānanda then approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him: “It’s splendid, venerable sir, that the Blessed One is bearing up, splendid that he has recovered!139 But, venerable sir, when the Blessed One was ill my body seemed as if it were drugged, I had become disoriented, the teachings were not clear to me. Nevertheless, I had this much consolation: that the Blessed One would not attain final Nibbāna without having made some pronouncement concerning the Bhikkhu Saṅgha.”

“What does the Bhikkhu Saṅgha now expect from me, Ānanda? I have taught the Dhamma, Ānanda, without making a distinction between inside and outside.140 The Tathāgata has no closed fist of a teacher in regard to the teachings. If, Ānanda, anyone thinks, ‘I will take charge of the Bhikkhu Saṅgha,’ or ‘The Bhikkhu Saṅgha is under my direction,’ it is he who should make some pronouncement concerning the Bhikkhu Saṅgha. But, Ānanda, it does not occur to the Tathāgata, ‘I will take charge of the Bhikkhu Saṅgha,’ or ‘The Bhikkhu Saṅgha is under my direction, ’ so why should the Tathāgata make some pronouncement concerning the Bhikkhu Saṅgha? Now I am old, Ānanda, aged, burdened with years, advanced in life, come to the last stage. My age is now turning eighty. Just as an old cart keeps going by a combination of straps,141 so it seems the body of the Tathāgata keeps going by a combination of straps. [154]

“Whenever, Ānanda, by nonattention to all signs and by the cessation of certain feelings, the Tathāgata enters and dwells in the signless concentration of mind, on that occasion, Ānanda, the body of the Tathāgata is more comfortable.142 Therefore, Ānanda, dwell with yourselves as your own island, with yourselves as your own refuge, with no other refuge; dwell with the Dhamma as your island, with the Dhamma as your refuge, with no other refuge. And how, Ānanda, does a bhikkhu dwell with himself as his own island, with himself as his own refuge, with no other refuge; with the Dhamma as his island, with the Dhamma as his refuge, with no other refuge? Here, Ānanda, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings … mind in mind … phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world.

“Those bhikkhus, Ānanda, either now or after I am gone, who dwell with themselves as their own island, with themselves as their own refuge, with no other refuge; with the Dhamma as their island, with the Dhamma as their refuge, with no other refuge—it is these bhikkhus, Ānanda, who will be for me topmost of those keen on the training.”143

SN 47:13 (3) Cunda

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park.157 Now on that occasion the Venerable Sāriputta was dwelling among the Magadhans at Nālakagāma—sick, afflicted, gravely ill—and the novice Cunda was his attendant.158 Then, because of that illness, the Venerable Sāriputta attained final Nibbāna.

The novice Cunda, taking the Venerable Sāriputta’s bowl and robe, went to Sāvatthī, to Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. There he approached the Venerable Ānanda, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him: [162] “Venerable sir, the Venerable Sāriputta has attained final Nibbāna. This is his bowl and robe.”

“Friend Cunda, we should see the Blessed One about this piece of news. Come, friend Cunda, let us go to the Blessed One and report this matter to him.”

“Yes, venerable sir,” the novice Cunda replied.

Then the Venerable Ānanda and the novice Cunda approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, and sat down to one side. The Venerable Ānanda then said to the Blessed One: “This novice Cunda, venerable sir, says that the Venerable Sāriputta has attained final Nibbāna, and this is his bowl and robe. Venerable sir, since I heard that the Venerable Sāriputta has attained final Nibbāna, my body seems as if it has been drugged, I have become disoriented, the teachings are no longer clear to me.”159

“Why, Ānanda, when Sāriputta attained final Nibbāna, did he take away your aggregate of virtue, or your aggregate of concentration, or your aggregate of wisdom, or your aggregate of liberation, or your aggregate of the knowledge and vision of liberation?”160

“No, he did not, venerable sir. But for me the Venerable Sāriputta was an advisor and counsellor, one who instructed, exhorted, inspired, and gladdened me.161 He was unwearying in teaching the Dhamma; he was helpful to his brothers in the holy life. We recollect the nourishment of Dhamma, the wealth of Dhamma, the help of Dhamma given by the Venerable Sāriputta.”

“But have I not already declared, Ānanda, that we must be parted, separated, and severed from all who are dear and agreeable to us? [163] How, Ānanda, is it to be obtained here: ‘May what is born, come to be, conditioned, and subject to disintegration not disintegrate!’? That is impossible. It is just as if the largest branch would break off a great tree standing possessed of heartwood: so too, Ānanda, in the great Bhikkhu Saṅgha standing possessed of heartwood, Sāriputta has attained final Nibbāna. How, Ānanda, is it to be obtained here: ‘May what is born, come to be, conditioned, and subject to disintegration not disintegrate!’? That is impossible.

“Therefore, Ānanda, dwell with yourselves as your own island, with yourselves as your own refuge, with no other refuge; dwell with the Dhamma as your island, with the Dhamma as your refuge, with no other refuge … (as in §9) … Those bhikkhus, Ānanda, either now or after I am gone, who dwell with themselves as their own island, with themselves as their own refuge, with no other refuge; who dwell with the Dhamma as their island, with the Dhamma as their refuge, with no other refuge—it is these bhikkhus, Ānanda, who will be for me topmost of those keen on the training.”


DN 16 Mahaparinibbana Sutta

2.23. And during the Rains the Lord was attacked by a severe sickness, with sharp pains as if he were about to die. But he endured all this mindfully, clearly aware and without complaining. He thought: ‘It is not fitting that I should attain final Nibbāna without addressing my followers and taking leave of the order of monks. I must hold this disease in check by energy and apply myself to the force of life.’ He did so, and the disease abated.

2.24. Then the Lord, having recovered from his sickness, as soon as he felt better, went outside and sat on a prepared seat in front of his dwelling. Then the Venerable Ananda came to him, saluted him, sat down to one side and said: ‘Lord, I have seen the Lord in comfort, and I have seen the Lord’s patient enduring. And, Lord, my body was like a drunkard’s. I lost my bearings and things were unclear to me because of the Lord’s sickness. The only thing that was some comfort to me was the thought: “The Lord will not attain final Nibbana until he has made some statement about the order of monks.ʺʹ [100]

2.25. ‘But, Ananda, what does the order of monks expect of me? I have taught the Dhamma, Ananda, making no “inner” and ʺouterʺ:388 the Tathagata has no “teacher’s fist” in respect of doctrines. If there is anyone who thinks: “I shall take charge of the orderʺ,389 or “The order should refer to me”, let him make some statement about the order, but the Tathagata does not think in such terms. So why should the Tathagata make a statement about the order?

ʹĀnanda, I am now old, worn out, venerable, one who has traversed life’s path, I have reached the term of life, which is eighty.390 Just as an old cart is made to go by being held together with straps,391 so the Tathagata’s body is kept going by being strapped up. It is only when the Tathagata withdraws his attention from outward signs,392 and by the cessation of certain feelings,393 enters into the signless concentration of mind,394 that his body knows comfort.

2.26. ‘Therefore, Ananda, you should live as islands395 unto yourselves, being your own refuge, with no on else as your refuge, with the Dhamma as an island, with the Dhamma as your refuge, with no other refuge. And how does a monk live as an island unto himself,… with no other refuge? Here, Ānanda, a monk abides contemplating the body as body, earnestly, clearly aware, mindful and having put away all hankering and fretting for the world, and likewise with regard to feelings, mind and mind-objects. That, Ananda, is how a monk lives as an island unto himself,… with no other refuge. [101] And those who now in my time or afterwards live thus, they will become the highest,396 if they are desirous of learning.’

392 Sabba-nimittānaṁ amanasikārā: ‘not attending to any signs’, i.e. ideas.
393 I.e. mundane feelings (DA).
395 Dīpa = Skt. dvīpa ‘island’ rather than Skt. dīpa ‘lamp’. But we do not really know whether the Buddha pronounced the two words alike or not! In the absence of such knowledge, it is perhaps best not to be too dogmatic about the meaning. In any case, it is just ‘oneself’ that one has to have as one’s ‘island’ (or lamp), not some ‘great self’ which the Buddha did not teach (cf. n.363, end).
396 Tamatagge. The meaning of this is rather obscure, to say the least. It seems to mean something like ‘the highest’, even if scholars cannot agree as to how this meaning is reached. See the long note (28) in LDB.

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