MN 2 All the Distractions

MN 2 All the Distractions

 

Sabbāsava Sutta #

 

A teaching on how to give up the different kinds of mental distractions, in many aspects and perspectives. From the way one lives, to the way one meditates.

 

Thus have I heard,

Once the Awakened One was living at Sāvatthi

In Jeta’s grove, at Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery.

At that time, the Awakened One addressed the monks saying:

 

”Monks”

”Bhadante” the monks replied.

 

The Awakened One said this:

 

“Monks, I will teach you the complete mastery of all distractions.[1]

Listen carefully and apply your mind to what I will say.”

 

“Yes Bhante” the monks replied.

 

The Awakened One said:

 

[The Buddha]

“The calming of the mental distractions[2]

is for one who is conscious and observant

Not for one who is not conscious and not watchful.”[3]

 

By being conscious and observant of what

does the end of the distractions [come to be]?

 

  1. When there is wise attention and
  2. When there is unwise attention.[4]

 

Being unwise with one’s attention:

New distractions come to be;

And old distractions increase.[5]

 

Being wise with one’s attention:

New distractions do not come to be;

And old distractions are given up.

 

Monks,

(1) There are distractions

that should be given up

                  by discernment. [6]

 

(2) There are distractions

that should be given up

                  by self-mastery,

 

(3) There are distractions

that should be given up

                  by reflection,

 

(4) There are distractions

that should be given up

                  by endurance,

 

(5) There are distractions

that should be given up

                  by avoiding,

 

(6) There are distractions

that should be given up

                  by release.

 

(7) There are distractions

that should be given up

                  by development. [7]

 

[1. Given up by Discernment] #

 

How are distractions given up by discernment?

 

[Unwise Meditator]

 

Here, a person

            does not learn the Dhamma

                        of the awakened people,[8]

does not visit the awakened people,

does not know nor practices the Dhamma

            of the awakened people,

 

does not visit the people of Truth,

does not know nor practices in the Dhamma

            of the people of Truth.

 

[That person is] not likely to understand:

  1. What things are proper for attention,
  2. And what things are improper for attention.[9]

 

[Therefore,] Unknowingly,

[…]

One attends to things improper for attention,

And one does not attend to things proper for attention.

 

[Attending to Improper Things]

 

How does one attend to things improper for attention?

 

One attends to the things which make

 

(1) New distractions of outward desires arise:

And old distractions of outward desires grow.[10]

 

(2) New distractions of becoming arise,

And old distractions of becoming grow.[11]

 

(3) New distractions from blindness arise,

And old distractions from blindness grow.[12]

 

In this way, one attends to things improper for attention.

 

[Not attending to Proper Things]

 

How does one not attend to things proper for attention?

 

One does not attend to the things which make

 

(1) New distractions of outward desires not to arise,

And old distractions of outward desires to fade away;

 

(2) New distractions of becoming not to arise,

And old distractions of becoming to fade away;

 

(3) New distractions from carelessness not to arise,

And old distractions from carelessness to fade away.

 

In this way,

One does not attend to things proper for attention,

One attends to things improper for attention.

 

And not attending to things proper for attention

New distractions arise

And old distractions multiply.[13]

 

[Attending to Blind Beliefs]

 

Then, one unwisely attends in this way:

 

[Past]

Did I exist for a long time?

Did I not exist for a long time?

Why did I exist all this time?

For what reason did I exist in the past?

Having become what, how have I existed in the past?

 

[Future]

Will I exist in the future?

Will I not exist in the future?

How will I exist in the future?

For what reason will I exist in the future?

Having become what, how will I exist in the future?

 

[Present]

And one is perplexed regarding one’s own present self:

Am I?

Am I not?

Why am I?

What am I?

Where has this ‘being’ come from?

Where will it go?

 

[Belief Arises]

To one who attends unwisely,

Six views or some similar opinion take hold:

The belief:

“There is a Self for me”

                        arises as undeniable truth. [14]

The belief:

“There isn’t a Self for me” [15]

                        arises as undeniable truth.

The belief:

“Self is the witness of Self”

                        arises as undeniable truth.

The belief:

“No Self is witness of no Self”

                        arises as undeniable truth.

The belief:

“No Self is witness of Self”

                        arises as undeniable truth.

Or else the belief:

“I am this self who speaks and feels,

Who is continually experiencing the result

            of good and bad actions;

 

And thus my self is permanent,

Steady, eternal, of unchanging nature

And it will stand continually in eternity.”[16]

 

Monks, I say, that this is,

Running after dogma,[17]

Thickening the dogma,

A wilderness of dogma,

The distortion of dogma,

A flutter of dogma,

The shackles of dogma.[18]

 

Bonded by the shackles of blind beliefs monks,

That person is not liberated from rebirth,

Aging, death, sorrow, depression,

Difficulties, anxiety and uneasiness.[19]

 

I say that person is not liberated from trouble.[20]

 

[Wise Meditator]

 

Here, a wise meditator

                      Visits the awakened people,

learns, understands and practices

the Dhamma of the awakened people;

 

Visits people of truth,

Understands and practices

the Dhamma from people of truth.

That person is likely to understand:

 

  1. What things are proper for attention,
  2. And what things are improper for attention.

 

[Therefore,] Knowingly…

One attends to things proper for attention,

And does not attend to things improper for attention.

 

[Not Attending to Improper Things]

 

How does one not attend to things improper for attention?

 

One does not attend to the things which make

 

(1) New outwards desires arise,

And old outward desires grow.

(2) New distractions of becoming arise,

And old distractions of becoming grow.

(3) New distractions of blindness arise,

And old distractions of blindness grow.

 

In this way, one does not attend to things improper for attention.

 

[Attending to Proper Things]

 

How does one attend to things proper for attention?

 

One attends to the things which make:

 

(1) New outward desires to not arise

And old outward desires to fade away; [21]

(2) New distractions of becoming to not arise,

And old distractions of becoming to fade away; [22]

(3) New distractions from carelessness to not arise,

And old distractions of carelessness to fade away. [23]

This is how one attend to the things proper for attention.

Thus, not attending to things improper for attention,

And attending to things proper for attention.

New distractions do not come to be

And old distractions fade away.

 

 

[Wise Understanding]

 

One wisely attends to things knowing:

“This is tension,” [24]

One wisely attends to things knowing:

“This is the increase tension,”

One wisely attends to things knowing:

“This is the release from tension,”

One wisely attends to things knowing:

“This is the way to release the tension.”

 

Attending in such a wise way, three fetters fade away:

 

  1. Belief in a personal self,
  2. Doubt, [25]
  3. Adherence to [blind] practices and observances. [26]

 

This is how distractions are given up by discernment.

 

[2. Given up by Self-Mastery] #

 

How are distractions given up by self-mastery?

 

[The Seeing Faculty]

 

(1) Reflecting wisely, one practices,

Guarded by the mastery of the seeing faculty.[27]

Because if one were to practice,

Unguarded by the mastery of the seeing faculty,

This would bring up tension

and overwhelming distractions [in one’s mind].[28]

Therefore, one practices,

guarded by the mastery of the seeing faculty.

 

In this way,

tension and overwhelming distractions

do not manifest.

 

[The Hearing Faculty]

 

(2) Reflecting wisely, one practices,

Guarded by the mastery of the hearing faculty.

Because if one were to practice,

Unguarded by the mastery of the hearing faculty,

This would bring up tension

and overwhelming distractions

 Therefore, one practices,

Guarded by the mastery of the hearing faculty.

 

In this way,

tension and overwhelming distractions

do not manifest.

 

[The Smelling Faculty]

 

(3) Reflecting wisely, one practices,

Guarded by the mastery of the smelling faculty.

Because if one were to practice,

Unguarded by the mastery of the smelling faculty,

This would bring up tension

and overwhelming distractions [in one’s mind].

Therefore, one practices,

Guarded by the mastery of the smelling faculty.

 

In this way,

tension and overwhelming distractions

do not manifest.

 

[The Tasting Faculty]

 

(4) Reflecting wisely, one practices,

Guarded by the mastery of the tasting faculty.

Because if one were to practice,

Unguarded by the mastery of the tasting faculty,

This would bring up tension

and overwhelming distractions [in one’s mind].

Therefore, one practices,

Guarded by the mastery of the tasting faculty.

 

In this way,

tension and overwhelming distractions

do not manifest.

 

[The Touching Faculty]

 

(5) Reflecting wisely, one practices,

Guarded by the mastery of the touching faculty.

Because if one were to practice,

Unguarded by the mastery of the touching faculty,

This would bring up tension

and overwhelming distractions [in one’s mind].

Therefore, one practices,

Guarded by the mastery of the touching faculty.

 

In this way,

tension and overwhelming distractions

do not manifest.

 

[The Thinking Faculty]

 

(6) Reflecting wisely, one practices,

Guarded by the mastery of the thinking faculty.

Because if one were to practice,

Unguarded by the mastery of the thinking faculty,

This would bring up tension

and overwhelming distractions [in one’s mind],

Therefore, one practices,

Guarded by the mastery of the thinking faculty.

 

In this way,

tension and overwhelming distractions

do not manifest.

 

֎

 

In this way,

when one practices, unguarded by self-mastery:

Tension and overwhelming distractions [29] come to be;

But when one practices, guarded by self-mastery:

Tension and overwhelming distractions do not come to be.[30]

 

This is how distractions are given up by self-mastery.

 

[3. Given up by Reflection] #

 

How are distractions given up by reflection?

 

(1) While wearing robes, one reflects wisely:

‘This is only to protect [this body] from cold,

To protect from heat,

To protect from flies, mosquitos,

                  wind, sun, insects

                              and lurking animals,

This is only for covering the private parts.’

 

(2) While eating almsfood, one reflects wisely:

‘This is not for playing around,

Not for intoxication,

Not for looking pretty,

Not for personal pride,

This is only for sustaining

                  and maintaining the body,

For allaying discomfort,

For the love of the spiritual life.’

 

‘In this way,

I will appease any overwhelming feelings (of hunger)

And will not create new feelings (of overeating),

I this way, I will become blameless and live at ease.’

 

(3) While living in some residence, one reflects wisely:

‘This is only to shelter from the cold,

To shelter from the heat,

To protect from flies, mosquitos,

                  wind, sun, insects

                              and lurking animals,

This is only to ease the disturbances of the seasons

And for the purpose of meditation.’

 

(4) While using medicine for illnesses and medical assistance or treatments, one reflects wisely:

‘This is only to relief any arisen hurtful,

                  oppressive feelings

[In service] of the highest kindness of heart.

 

֎

 

In this way, when one is unreflective:

Tension and overwhelming distractions come to be;

But when one is reflective:

Tension and overwhelming distractions do not come to be. [31]

 

This is how distractions are given up by reflection.

 

[4. Given up by Endurance] #

 

How are distractions given up by endurance?[32]

 

Reflecting wisely, one patiently bears with

Heat and cold,

Hunger and thirst,

Flies, mosquitos,

                        wind, sun, insects

                                    and lurking animals,

 

Ways of speech that are hurtful and unwelcomed

And experienced bodily feelings that are

Painful

Sharp,

Burning,

Severe,

Disagreeable,

Repulsive &

Life threatening.

One is forbearing in nature.

 

֎

 

In this way, when one is not forbearing:

Tension and overwhelming distractions would come to be;

But when one is forbearing:

Tension and overwhelming distractions do not come to be.

 

This is how distractions are given up by endurance.

 

[5. Given up by Avoiding] #

 

How are distractions given up by avoiding? [33]

Reflecting wisely, just as someone would avoid:

A mad elephant,

A mad horse

A mad bull,

A mad dog,

A snake,

A stump, 

A thorny bush,

A hole,

A steep cliff,

A cesspool,

A sewage spill. 

 

Similarly, [one avoids]

An unsuitable seat

An unsuitable location,

Associating with those people bent on harm,

[and any action] wise brothers and sisters in the spiritual life

would recognize as harmful behavior.[34]

 

Therefore, reflecting wisely, one avoids

Unsuitable seats,

Unsuitable locations,

And people bent on harm.

 

֎

 

In this way, when one does not avoid:

Tension and overwhelming distractions come to be;

But when one avoids:

Tension and overwhelming distractions do not come be.[35]

 

This is how distractions are given up by avoiding.

 

[6. Given up by Release] #

 

How are distractions given by release?[36]

 

Reflecting wisely,

(1) When a thought of outward distraction comes up,

One does not continue along with it,

One abandons it, releases it, lets it go,

One undoes it and brings it to an end.[37]

 

(2) When a thought of anger comes up,

One does not continue along with it,

One abandons it, releases it, lets it go,

One undoes it and brings it to an end.

 

(3) When a thought of harm comes up,

One does not continue along with it,

One abandons it, releases it, lets it go,

One undoes it and brings it to an end.

 

(4) One after the other,

When harmful and unwholesome states come up,

One does not continue along with them,

On abandons them, releases them, lets them go,

One undoes them and brings them to an end.

 

֎

 

In this way,

When one does not release:

Tension and overwhelming distractions come to be;

But when one releases:

Tension and overwhelming distractions do not come to be.[38]

 

This is how distractions are given up by release.

 

[7. Given up by Development] #

 

How are distractions given up by development?[39]

 

Reflecting wisely:

 

(1) One develops the support for awakening

                                                                                            of Awareness, [40]

Which is caused by

letting go,

not holding,

releasing,

and culminates in relaxing.[41]

 

(2) One develops the support for awakening

                                                                                of discerning states,

Which is caused by

letting go,

not holding,

releasing

and culminates in relaxing.

 

(3) One develops the support for awakening

                                                                                            of dedication,

Which is caused by

letting go,

not holding,

releasing

and culminates in relaxing.

 

(4) One develops the support for awakening

                                                                                                        of joy,

Which is caused by

letting go,

not holding,

releasing

and culminates in relaxing.

 

(5) One develops the support for awakening

                                                                                                        of calm,

Which is caused by

letting go,

not holding,

releasing

and culminates in relaxing.

 

(6) One develops the support for awakening

                                                                        of collected mental harmony,

Which is caused by

letting go,

not holding,

releasing

and culminates in relaxing.

 

(7) One develops the support for awakening

                                                                                of Steadiness of mind,

Which is caused by

letting go,

not holding,

releasing

and culminates in relaxing.

 

֎

 

In this way,

When one does not develop [the mind]:

Tension and overwhelming distractions come to be;

 

But when one develops [the mind]:

Tension and overwhelming distractions do not come to be.[42]

 

This is how distractions are given up by development.

 

[Conclusion] #

 

Monks, when one

Has given up the distractions to be given up by discernment;

Has given up the distractions to be given up by self-mastery;

Has given up the distractions to be given up by reflection;

Has given up the distractions to be given up by endurance;

Has given up the distractions to be given up by avoiding;

Has given up the distractions to be given up by release;

Has given up the distractions to be given up by development;

 

one is called, a monk who lives,

protected by the mastery of all distractions;

Who has cut away tension,

flung of the shackles,

perfectly gone beyond arrogance,

who has made an end of trouble.

 

 

This is what the Awakened One said.

Glad at heart, the monks rejoiced in the Awakened One’s words.

 

 

[1] Sabbāsavasaṃvarapariyāyaṃ vo, bhikkhave, desessāmi.

[2] Āsavā: The mental movements, conditioned mental inclinations.

[3] Jānato ahaṃ passato āsavānaṃ khayaṃ vadāmi, no ajānato no apassato.

[4] Yoniso ca manasikāraṃ, ayoniso ca manasikāraṃ. Profound statement on the necessity of discernment.

[5] Ayoniso manasikaroto anuppannā ceva āsavā uppajjanti, uppannā ca āsavā pavaḍḍhanti;

[6] Atthi, bhikkhave, āsavā dassanā pahātabbā.

[7] 1- Dassanā; 2- Saṃvarā; 3- Paṭisevanā; 4- Adhivāsanā; 5- Parivajjanā; 6- Vinodanā; 7- Bhāvanā

[8] Ariya is here translated as ‘Awakened’. The Dhamma of Awakened people. Dhamma here as ‘Teaching’ or ‘Way’.

[9] manasikaraṇīye dhamme nappajānāti, amanasikaraṇīye dhamme nappajānāti.

[10] Kāmāsavo: Constantly wanting all kinds of things outside, discontent, having no steady awareness.

[11] Bhavāsavo: This is the planning mind, projecting in the future.

[12] Avijjāsavo: Carlessness. The ego-trip, me, myself and I. Not knowing what is for one’s own benefit and others’ benefit. Not seeing the awakened understanding.

[13] Pavaḍḍhanti

[14] ‘Atthi me attā’ti vā assa saccato thetato diṭṭhi uppajjati;

[15] natthi me attā. More speculative views, even about ‘non-self’! In all cases, these are simply more opinions and concepts which do not lead to liberation of mind.

[16] Quite the ego trip.

[17] Ditthi here is translated as dogma but could be translated as the classic ‘Views’. Interesting alternative perspectives: ‘opinions’ or ‘blind beliefs.’

[18] Diṭṭhigataṃ, diṭṭhigahanaṃ, diṭṭhikantāraṃ, diṭṭhivisūkaṃ, diṭṭhivipphanditaṃ, diṭṭhisaṃyojanaṃ.

[19] na parimuccati jātiyā jarāya maraṇena sokehi paridevehi dukkhehi domanassehi upāyāsehi;

[20] ‘na parimuccati dukkhasmā

[21] Letting go of distractions, relaxing the tension, bringing up a smile, and attending to the feeling of Boundless Love, Boundless compassion, Boundless joy, Boundless calm, attending on the body as body with an uplifted mind, on sensations as sensations, on mind as mind, on mental activity as mental activity, with a happy, uplifted, liberated and collected mind.

[22] See footnote 20.

[23] See footnote 20.

[24] So ‘idaṃ dukkhan’ti yoniso manasi karoti.

[25] About the Teaching

[26] Sakkāyadiṭṭhi, vicikicchā, sīlabbataparāmāso.

[27] Not holding to any contact, feeling or opinion, concept, judgements and thought about the seeing faculty. Letting go and relaxing constantly, remain with a wholesome vehicle of awareness.

[28] Uppajjeyyuṃ āsavā vighātapariḷāhā. Being the ‘masters’ of our minds, not the victims.

[29] Disturbances of mind.

[30] Yañhissa, bhikkhave, saṃvaraṃ asaṃvutassa viharato uppajjeyyuṃ āsavā vighātapariḷāhā, saṃvaraṃ saṃvutassa viharato evaṃsa te āsavā vighātapariḷāhā na honti.

[31] appaṭisevato uppajjeyyuṃ āsavā vighāta pariḷāhā, paṭisevato evaṃsa te āsavā vighātapariḷāhā na honti.

[32] adhivāsanā

[33] Parivajjeti [pari+vajjeti, Caus. of vṛj] to shun, avoid, keep away from

[34] Yathārūpe anāsane nisinnaṃ, yathārūpe agocare carantaṃ, yathārūpe pāpake mitte bhajantaṃ viññū sabrahmacārī pāpakesu ṭhānesu okappeyyuṃ,

[35] aparivajjayato uppajjeyyuṃ āsavā vighātapariḷāhā, parivajjayato evaṃsa te āsavā vighātapariḷāhā na honti.

[36] Vinodanā

[37] Uppannaṃ kāmavitakkaṃ nādhivāseti pajahati vinodeti byantīkaroti anabhāvaṃ gameti.

[38] avinodayato uppajjeyyuṃ āsavā vighātapariḷāhā, vinodayato evaṃsa te āsavā vighātapariḷāhā na honti.

[39] Mental development, meditation.

[40] paṭisaṅkhā yoniso satisambojjhaṅgaṃ bhāveti

[41] vivekanissitaṃ virāganissitaṃ nirodhanissitaṃ vossaggapariṇāmiṃ;

[42] abhāvayato uppajjeyyuṃ āsavā vighātapariḷāhā, bhāvayato evaṃsa te āsavā vighātapariḷāhā na honti.