MN 106 Conducive to Steadfastness

MN 106 Conducive to Steadfastness

 

Āneñjasappāya Sutta #

 

A teaching on the various ways of practice to achieve successively loftier states of mental release, from the steadfast to Nibbāna.

 

Thus I have heard,

 

Once the Awakened One was living with the Kurus,

In a town called Kammāsadhamma.

There, the Awakened One addressed the monks saying:

 

‘Monks’

‘Bhadante’ The monks replied

 

[Sensory Gratification] #

 

The Awakened One said this:

 

“Monks,

Sensory gratification is

Fleeting,

Hollow,

Deceptive,

The way of thieves,[1]

It is a makeshift illusion,

The mutterings of those who are lost.”[2]

 

(1) “Sensory gratification here and now

Or sensory gratification that is to come;[3]

 

(2) Sensory perceptions here and now,

Or sensory perceptions that are to come,[4]

 

Both alike belong to the realm of the [unwholesome],

The domain of [the unwholesome],

The bait of [the unwholesome],

The pasture of [the unwholesome].[5]

 

[1. The Way to Steadfastness] #

 

This is where,

Harmful unwholesome mental states like

Jealousy,

Resentment,

And violence are given rise.[6]

 

And these constitute an obstacle

for the wise meditator in training. [7]

 

Therefore, monks, a wise meditator understands:

 

(1) ‘Sensory gratification here and now

Or sensory gratification that is to come;

 

(2) Sensory perceptions here and now

Or sensory perceptions that are to come,

 

Both alike belong to the realm of the [unwholesome],

The domain of the [unwholesome,]

The bait of the [unwholesome,]

The pasture of the [unwholesome].

 

This is where,

Harmful unwholesome mental states like

Jealousy,

Resentment,

And violence are given rise.

And these constitute an obstacle

for the wise meditator in training.’

 

[1.1. Boundless Mind] #

 

‘Perhaps could I meditate,

With a vast and completely expanded mind,

Having gone beyond the world, [8]

With a resolved mind. [9]

 

For if I were to meditate,

With a completely expanded mind,

Having gone beyond the world,

With a resolved mind.

 

Harmful unwholesome mental states of

Jealousy,

Resentment,

And violence would not come to be.

 

Those being given up,

My mind will be unenclosed,

Limitless and well developed. [10]

 

“Practicing in this way

And often meditating in this way,

The mind becomes clear and calm. [11]

 

With this clear and serene awareness,

One arrives at the Steadfast at that time; [12]

 

Separating from the body after death, [13]

One is directly liberated by discernment;

 

And it is possible that if their consciousness rolls onwards

It goes into the steadfast state.[14]

 

Monks this is called the first way

conducive to the Unshakeable.[15]

 

[1.2. The Four Great Elements] #

 

Further monks, a wise meditator understands:

(1) ‘Sensory gratification here and now

Or sensory gratification that is to come;

 

(2) Sensory perceptions here and now,

Or sensory perceptions that are to come,

 

(3) Those things are material;

All things material belong to the four elements

One who is attached to matter is merely holding on to the four elements.[16]

 

“Practicing in this way

And often meditating in this way,

the mind becomes clear and calm.[17]

 

With this clear and serene awareness,

One arrives at the Steadfast at that time;

 

Separating from the body after death,

One is directly liberated by discernment;

 

And it is possible that if their consciousness rolls onwards

It goes into the Steadfast state.

 

Monks, this is called the second way conducive to the Steadfast.”

 

[1.3. Constantly Changing] #

 

Further monks, a wise meditator understands:

(1) ‘Sensory gratification here and now

or sensory gratification that is to come;

 

(2) Sensory perceptions here and now,

sensory perceptions that are to come,

 

(3) Matter here and now,

and matter that is to come;

 

(4) Material perceptions here and now,

or material perceptions that are to come,

 

Both alike are constantly changing.[18]

And for what is constantly changing;

It is not reasonable to take wish for in it,

To look forward to it,

And to remain attached.’[19]

 

“Practicing in this way

And often meditating in this way,

The mind becomes clear and calm.[20]

With this clear and serene awareness,

One arrives at the Steadfast at that time;

 

Separating from the body after death,

One is directly liberated by discernment;

 

And it is possible that if their consciousness rolls onwards

It goes into the Steadfast state.

 

Monks, this is called the third way conducive to the Steadfast.”

 

[2. Conducive to Bare Awareness] #

 

[2.1 All are Only Perceptions] #

 

Further monks, a wise meditator understands:

(1) ‘Sensory gratification here and now

Or sensory gratification that is to come;

(2) Sensory perceptions here and now,

Or sensory perceptions that are to come,

(3) Matter here and now,

Or matter that is to come

(4) Material perceptions here and now,

Or material perceptions that are to come,

(5) And perception of the Unshakeable –

All are just perceptions.[21]

 

Where these [perceptions] are completely given up,

That is peaceful, that is sublime, that is

 

— The plane of Bare Awareness. [22]

 

“Practicing in this way

And often meditating in this way,

The mind becomes clear and calm.

 

With this clear and serene awareness,

One experiences the plane of Bare Awareness at that time;

 

Separating from the body after death;

One is directly liberated by discernment;

 

It is possible that their consciousness rolls onwards

And arrives at the plane of Bare Awareness.

 

Monks this is called the first way

conducive to the plane of Bare Awareness.”

 

[2.2 Empty of a Self] #

 

Further monks,

A wise meditator goes

To the forest,

At the root of a tree or

To an empty cabin and understands:

‘This is empty of Self

or anything that belongs to a Self’[23]

 

Practicing in this way

And often meditating in this way,

the mind becomes clear and calm.

 

With this clear and serene awareness,

One experiences the plane of Bare Awareness at that time;

 

Separating from the body after death;

One is directly liberated by discernment;

 

It is possible that their consciousness rolls onwards

And arrives at the plane of Bare Awareness.

 

Monks this is called the second way

conducive to the plane of Bare Awareness.

 

[2.3. The End of Possessions] #

 

Further monks,

A wise meditator understands:

‘I do not belong to anyone anywhere.

Nor is there anything belonging to me anywhere at all.’[24]

 

“Practicing in this way

And often meditating in this way,

The mind becomes clear and calm.

 

With this clear and serene awareness,

One experiences the plane of Bare Awareness at that time;

 

Separating from the body after death;

One is directly liberated by discernment;

 

It is possible that their consciousness rolls onwards

And arrives at the plane of Bare Awareness.

 

Monks this is called the second way

conducive to Bare Awareness.”

 

[3. The Limit of Awareness] #

 

[3.1. Bare Awareness as Only Perception] #

 

Further monks,

A wise meditator understands:

(1) Sensory gratification here and now

Or sensory gratification that is to come;

 

(2) Sensory perceptions here and now,

Or sensory perception that are to come,

(3) Matter here and now,

Or matter that is to come

 

(4) Material perceptions here and now,

Or material perceptions that are to come,

 

(5) The perception of the Unshakeable,

(6) And the perception of the plane of Bare Awareness;

All are just perceptions.[25]

 

Where these [perceptions] are completely given up,

That is peaceful,

that is sublime, that is

 

— The plane between awareness and its release.

 

Practicing in this way

And often meditating in this way,

The mind becomes clear and calm.

 

With this clear and serene awareness,

One experiences the plane between awareness and its release;

 

Separating from the body after death;

One is directly liberated by discernment;

 

It is possible that their consciousness rolls onwards

And arrives at the plane between awareness and its release.

 

Monks this is called the first way

conducive to the plane between awareness and its release.”

 

[4. Nibbāna] #

 

When this was said, the venerable Ānanda asked the Buddha:

 

[Ānanda]

“Bhante, if a monk practices like this thinking:

 

‘There is nothing and nothing of me;

There will not be [anything], nor will I be;

All of that which is;

I am giving up.’[26]

 

Thus, one gains steadiness of mind.

Could some monk here be completely liberated,

And some others not.”[27]

 

[The Buddha]

“It is possible Ānanda.”

 

[Ānanda]

“What is the cause Bhante,

What is the condition for this?”

 

[The Buddha]

“Here Ānanda, one practices in this way thinking:

‘There is nothing and nothing of me;

There will not be [anything], nor will I be;

All of that which is;

I am giving up.’

 

Thus, one gains steadiness of mind.

 

Then one takes pleasure in it,

Looks forward to it,

And to remain attached to it.[28]

 

When one takes pleasure in it,

Looks forward to it,

And remains attached to this steady mental calm;

 

One’s mind remains dependent upon it by clinging.[29]

 

Ānanda,

one with clinging is not completely liberated.”[30]

 

[Ānanda]

“Bhante, what does one’s mind then clings to?[31]

 

[The Buddha]

The plane between awareness and its release.”

 

[Ānanda]

“Bhante, this surely must be the best kind of clinging?”[32]

 

[The Buddha]

“Surely Ānanda, this is the best kind of clinging, namely;

 — The plane between awareness and its limit.

 

[The Buddha]

“Here Ānanda, one practices in this way thinking:

‘There is nothing and nothing of me;

There will not be [anything], nor will I be;

All of that which is;

I am giving up.

 

Thus, one gains steadiness of mind.

 

Then, one takes no pleasure in it,

Does not look forward to it,

And does not remain attached to it.

 

When one takes no pleasure in it,

Does not look forward to it,

And does not remain attached

            to that steady mental calm;

 

One’s mind is independent from it

because of not clinging.

 

Ānanda,

one without clinging is completely liberated.”[33]

 

[Ānanda]

“How wonderful Bhante, how incredible Bhante!”

“Surely, Bhante, the Awakened One has explained

the crossing of the flood

From one support to the next![34]

Bhante, now, what is the Unbinding of the Ariyas?[35]

 

[Unbinding of the Ariyas] #

 

[The Buddha]

“Here Ānanda, a wise meditator understands:

 

(1) Sensory gratification here and now

Or sensory gratification that is to come;

 

(2) Sensory perceptions here and now,

Or sensory perceptions that are to come;

 

(3) Matter here and now,

Or matter that is to come;

 

(4) Material perception here and now,

Or material perceptions that are to come;

 

(5) The perception of the Unshakeable;

(6) The perception of the plane of Bare Awareness;[36]

(7) And the plane between awareness and its release

            —This is personality, as far as personality goes. [37]

 

But this is the deathless, namely

 

            — The unbinding of the mind through not clinging. [38]

 

[Instruction of the Teacher] #

 

[The Buddha]

“Thus Ānanda, I have explained

The path conducive to the immovable,

The path conducive to the plane of Clear Awareness,

The path conducive to the plane between awareness and its release,

The path to crossing the flood

            from one support to the next,

 

And the Unbinding of the Ariyas.”

 

“Ānanda,

What should be done by a teacher for his students,

Holding their best interest at heart,

Out of loving compassion,

 

That, I have done for you.

 

There are these roots of trees monks,

There are these empty huts;

 

Meditate monks!

Do not be neglectful.

Lest you become remorseful when the time has passed.

 

This is my advice to you.”

This is what the Awakened One said.

 

With an uplifted mind,

The venerable Ānanda delighted in the Awakened One’s words.

 

 

 

[1] “Aniccā, bhikkhave, kāmā tucchā musā   mosadhammā.

[2] Māyākatametaṃ, bhikkhave, bālalāpanaṃ.

[3] Ye ca diṭṭhadhammikā kāmā, ye ca samparāyikā kāmā; Samparāya [fr. saṁ+parā+i] future state, the next world.

[4] yā ca diṭṭhadhammikā kāmasaññā, yā ca samparāyikā kāmasaññā—

[5] ubhayametaṃ māradheyyaṃ, mārassesa visayo, mārassesa nivāpo, mārassesa gocaro.

[6] Etthete pāpakā akusalā mānasā abhijjhāpi byāpādāpi sārambhāpi saṃvattanti.

[7] Teva ariyasāvakassa idhamanusikkhato antarāyāya sambhavanti.

[8] ‘The world’ in the Buddha’s language is the senses. Therefore, going beyond the senses.

[9] Yannūnāhaṃ vipulena mahaggatena cetasā vihareyyaṃ abhibhuyya lokaṃ adhiṭṭhāya manasā.

[10] Tesaṃ pahānā aparittañca me cittaṃ bhavissati appamāṇaṃ subhāvitan’ti.

[11] Tassa evaṃpaṭipannassa tabbahulavihārino āyatane cittaṃ pasīdati. Pasīdati [pa+sad] 1. to become bright, to brighten up. (mukha — vaṇṇo p.). — 2. to be purified, reconciled or pleased; to be clear & calm, to become of peaceful heart (mano or cittaṁ p.); to find one’s satisfaction in (loc.), to have faith. Pasīdana (nt.) [fr. pasīdati] calming, happiness, purification. Bhante Sujato chooses to translate Pasīdati as confidence here. “Practicing in this way and meditating on it often their mind becomes confident in this dimension.” BS. Bhante Bhikkhu Bodhi also: “When he practises in this way and frequently abides thus, his mind acquires confidence in this base.” BB.

[12] Āneñjaṃ: ‘The Steadfast or Imperturbable’ is a state equivalent to the fourth jhāna and the immaterial planes of meditation (AN 4.190 Uposatha Sutta). It is explained in MN 125 Dantabhūmi Sutta, where the very last step of the of a disciple in higher monastic training (Anagāmī and arahant training) is to train in ‘Immobility’ with painful sensations. This happens only when the mental faculties have been properly developed and are ready for this last part of the practice and one has previously acquired strong confidence and understanding of the teaching because one has previously tasted the ‘nutritious food’ of meditation (The bliss and joy of meditation). Otherwise, ‘forcing equanimity’ towards pain too early in the training by not moving for example, can be very detrimental.  Like a young child needs her parents to hold her hand to learn to walk. When she falls and hurts herself, the parents are loving and compassionate and help her get back on her feet. The parents don’t say: ‘Stop moving and crying! Can’t you see that pain is just in your mind? Don’t move!… Of course, they do not say that. They feel compassion for their child and they help her up. They explain to her kindly that this is what happens when we are not looking where we are walking. When we let the mind wander after the thousand distractions of this world (Especially for a young mind), carried away by distractions she was not aware of what she was doing. Showing her the hurt, the cause of it, the release from it and the proper path of life for it not to happen again. Yes, sensations are impersonal, we do not choose them, therefore, it is unwise to cling to them, one must train to let them go, releasing awareness from their grip. But a young mind still becomes overwhelmed. Why? Because it is young and undeveloped. Mental stability and one’s ability to remain within mental composure is a gradual process, a gradual training which occurs by development in wholesome states. This process can be entirely pain-free if done properly. Then, when the mind is developed, whether or not one wishes to be balanced in mind, painful feelings might arise but the mind will remain unshaken, naturally. Why? Because the mind is properly developed. The pain is completely optional, from the beginning. Forcing one to not move can in fact create much more tension than not, and interestingly, this is nowhere to be found in the suttas as some kind of meditation instructions that the Buddha gave. Not moving happens naturally after some time, this sutta explains how to arrive to this ‘Unshakeability’. When mental collectedness is strong, the mind becomes very steady, therefore the body also, no need to force this process. This is the natural way of how the seven supports of awakening work.

[13] Sampasāde sati etarahi vā āneñjaṃ samāpajjati paññāya vā adhimuccati kāyassa bhedā paraṃ maraṇā. “Once there is full confidence, he either attains to the imperturbable now or else he resolves [upon it] with wisdom.” Bhante Bhikkhu Bodhi.

[14] Ṭhānametaṃ vijjati yaṃ taṃsaṃvattanikaṃ viññāṇaṃ assa āneñjūpagaṃ. Taṃsaṃvattanikaṃ viññāṇaṃ: Evolving consciousness.

[15] Ayaṃ, bhikkhave, paṭhamā āneñjasappāyā   paṭipadā akkhāyati.

[16] Yaṃ kiñci rūpaṃ sabbaṃ rūpaṃ cattāri ca mahābhūtāni, catunnañca mahābhūtānaṃ upādāyarūpan’ti.

[17] Pasīdati [pa+sad] 1. to become bright, to brighten up. (mukha — vaṇṇo p.). — 2. to be purified, reconciled or pleased; to be clear & calm, to become of peaceful heart (mano or cittaṁ p.); to find one’s satisfaction in (loc.), to have faith. Pasīdana (nt.) [fr. pasīdati] calming, happiness, purification.

[18] Ubhayametaṃ aniccaṃ.

[19] Yadaniccaṃ taṃ nālaṃ abhinandituṃ, nālaṃ abhivadituṃ, nālaṃ ajjhositun’ti.

[20] Pasīdati [pa+sad] 1. to become bright, to brighten up. (mukha — vaṇṇo p.). — 2. to be purified, reconciled or pleased; to be clear & calm, to become of peaceful heart (mano or cittaṁ p.); to find one’s satisfaction in (loc.), to have faith. Pasīdana (nt.) [fr. pasīdati] calming, happiness, purification.

[21] yā ca āneñjasaññā— sabbā saññā.

[22] Yatthetā aparisesā nirujjhanti etaṃ santaṃ etaṃ paṇītaṃ— yadidaṃ ākiñcaññāyatanan’ti.

[23] ‘suññamidaṃ  attena vā attaniyena vā’ti.

[24] ‘nāhaṃ kvacani kassaci kiñcanatasmiṃ, na ca mama kvacani kismiñci kiñcanaṃ natthī’ti.

[25] yā ca ākiñcaññāyatanasaññā— sabbā saññā.

[26] ‘no cassa, no ca me siyā; na bhavissati, na me bhavissati; yadatthi yaṃ, bhūtaṃ—taṃ pajahāmī’ti.

[27] Evaṃ upekkhaṃ paṭilabhati. Parinibbāyeyya nu kho so, bhante, bhikkhu na vā parinibbāyeyyā”ti?

[28] So taṃ upekkhaṃ abhinandati, abhivadati, ajjhosāya tiṭṭhati.

[29] tannissitaṃ hoti viññāṇaṃ tadupādānaṃ.

[30] Saupādāno, ānanda, bhikkhu na parinibbāyatī”ti.

[31] “Kahaṃ pana so, bhante, bhikkhu upādiyamāno upādiyatī”ti?

[32] Upādānaseṭṭhaṃ kira so, bhante, bhikkhu upādiyamāno upādiyatī

[33] Anupādāno, ānanda, bhikkhu parinibbāyatī”ti.

[34] “Acchariyaṃ, bhante, abbhutaṃ, bhante. Nissāya nissāya kira no, bhante, bhagavatā oghassa nittharaṇā akkhātā.

[35] Katamo pana, bhante, ariyo vimokkho”ti?

[36] yā ca ākiñcaññāyatanasaññā— sabbā saññā.

[37] yā ca nevasaññānāsaññāyatanasaññā— esa sakkāyo yāvatā sakkāyo.

[38] Etaṃ amataṃ yadidaṃ anupādā cittassa vimokkho.