MN 59 The Plurality of Felt Experiences

MN 59 The Plurality of Felt Experiences

 

Bahuvedanīya Sutta #

 

A remarkable teaching that compares the happiness derived from the senses to the increasingly more blissful happiness of the higher mind, the happiness of meditation.

 

Thus I have heard,

 

Once, the Awakened One was Living in Sāvatthi

In Jeta’s Grove, at Anāthapiṇḍika’s Monastery.[1]

 

At that time,

The Carpenter Pañcakaṅga went to visit the Elder Udāyī;

He approached, paid loving respects and sat down beside him.

Then the carpenter Paṇcakaṅga asked the Elder Udāyī:

 

“Bhante, how many sensations

were explained by the Awakened One?”

 

[Udāyī]

 “The Awakened One explained three kinds of sensations carpenter:

 

(1) Plaisant sensations,

(2) Unplaisant sensations and

(3) Neutral sensations.

These are the three kinds of sensations

explained by the Awakened One.”

When this was said, Paṇcakaṅga replied:

 

[Pañcakaṅga]

“But Bhante Udāyī,

The Teacher did not speak about three kinds of sensations,

He only spoke about two:

 

Pleasant and

Unpleasant.

 

Bhante, the Awakened One said that

these neutral sensations are delightful happiness

            partaking of peace.”

 

For a second time:… [Abridged]

 

For a third time,

the Elder Udāyī said [the same] to Paṇcakaṅga: … [Abridged]

“But Bhante Udāyī,

the Teacher did not speak about three kinds of sensations…”

 

[Abridged]

 

Never could the Elder Udāyī’s explanation

be received by Paṇcakaṅga,

Nor could Paṇcakaṅga’s explanation

be received by the Elder Udāyī.

 

 

[The Diversity of Expositions] #

 

Overhearing this friendly discussion

between the Elder Udāyī and the carpenter,

the Elder Ānanda went to the Awakened One,

sat down beside him,

reported this discussion

and informed the Awakened One.

 

[The Buddha]

“The statement of the Elder Udāyī,

which Paṇcakaṅga would not accept was true.”

“And the statement of Paṇcakaṅga,

which the Elder Udāyī would not accept was also true.“

 

“Ānanda,

I spoke of two kinds of sensations in one exposition.

I spoke of three kinds of sensations in another.

I spoke of five kinds of sensations in another.

I spoke of six kinds of sensations in another.

I spoke of eighteen kinds of sensations in another.

I spoke of thirty-six kinds of sensations in another.

And I spoke of a hundred and eight kinds of sensations

     In yet another.”

 

“I have taught the Dhamma

in all of these different ways Ānanda.” [2]

 

“And though I have taught Dhamma

            in all of these different ways,

            even if it was well-spoken

            and clearly expressed every time,

                        it is to be expected that:

 

Some will not approve,

Some will not concede,

Some will not appreciate.”

 

“These people will be living at strife,

            disputing and arguing,

Continually attacking each other

            with words like swords.”

 

“I have taught the Dhamma

in all of these different ways Ānanda.”

 

“When the Dhamma has been taught by me

            in all of these different ways,

            well-spoken

            and clearly expressed each time;

            It is to be expected that,

Some will approve,

Some will concede,

Some will appreciate.”

 

“These people will be living in unity,

in mutual joy,

without disputes,

Blending together

     like milk and water,

Continually looking upon one another

with caring eyes.” [3]

 

[The Happiness of Craving] #

 

Ānanda,

there are these five kinds of sensory desires.

What five?

 

Forms perceived by the eye which are

Desired and loved,

Seductive and enticing,

Mingled with desire and exciting. [4]

 

Sounds perceived by the ear which are

Desired and loved,

Seductive and enticing,

Mingled with desire and exciting.

 

Odors perceived by the nose which are

Desired and loved,

Seductive and enticing,

mingled with desire and exciting.

 

Flavors perceived by the tongue which are

Desired and loved,

Seductive and enticing,

Mingled with desire and exciting.

 

Tangibles perceived by the body which are

Desired and loved,

Seductive and enticing,

Mingled with desire and exciting.

 

These are the five kinds of sensory desires Ānanda.

 

Ānanda,

The happiness and delight that arises

rooted upon these five kinds of sensory desires;

 

This is called the happiness of [bottomless] desires.

Ānanda, those who say:

“This is the highest peace,

happiness

and delight

that can be experienced.” [5]

I do not agree with them. [6]

Why is that?

Because Ānanda,

There is another kind of happiness,

Beyond this and more exalted.[7]

And what is this other kind of happiness?

 

[1. First Jhāna] #

 

Here Ānanda,

Letting go of all sensory engagement,

letting go of unwholesome mental states,

still attended by thinking and reflection,

with the blissful happiness born of letting go,

 

One understands and abides 

in the first level of meditation.

 

This is that other kind of happiness,

Which is beyond and more exalted.

 

Ānanda, those who say:

“This is the highest peace,

happiness

and delight

that can be experienced.”

I do not agree with them.

Why is that?

Because Ānanda,

There is another kind of happiness,

Beyond this and more exalted.

 

What is this other kind of happiness?

 

[2. Second Jhāna] #

 

Here Ānanda,

With the calming of thinking and reflection,

With inner tranquilization,

His mind becoming unified,

Without thinking and reflection,

With the blissful happiness born of mental stillness,

 

One understands and abides

in the second level of meditation.

 

This is that other kind of happiness,

Which is beyond this and more exalted.

Ānanda, those who say:

“This is the highest peace,

happiness

and delight

that can be experienced.”

I do not agree with them.

Why is that?

Because Ānanda,

There is another kind of happiness,

Beyond this and more exalted.

What is this other kind of happiness?

 

[3. Third Jhāna] #

 

Here Ānanda,

With the calming of stronger joy,

Abiding in mental steadiness,

Present and fully aware,

Experiencing happiness within his body

That state, which the Ariyas describe as:

“Steady presence of mind:

This is a pleasant abiding.”

 

One understands and abides

in the third level of meditation.

 

This is that other kind of happiness,

Which is beyond this and more exalted.

Ānanda, those who say:

“This is the highest peace,

happiness

and delight

that can be experienced.”

I do not agree with them.

Why is that?

Because Ānanda,

There is another kind of happiness,

Beyond this and more exalted.

What is this other kind of happiness?

 

[4. Fourth Jhāna] #

 

Here Ānanda,

Unattached to pleasant experiences,29F

Unstirred by unpleasant ones,

As mental excitement and heaviness settle,

One’s mind is balanced,

Purified by unmoving presence,

 

One understands and abides

in the fourth level of meditation.

 

This is that other kind of happiness,

Which is beyond this and more exalted.

 

Ānanda, those who say:

“This is the highest peace,

happiness

and delight

that can be experienced.”

I do not agree with them.

Why is that?

Because Ānanda,

There is another kind of happiness,

Beyond this and more exalted.

What is this other kind of happiness?

 

[5. The Plane of Endless Space] #

 

Here Ānanda,

Leaving behind all perception of form, [8]

With the fading away of sensory awareness, [9]

Turning away from the perception of plurality, [10]

Aware of Endless Space. [11]

 

One understands and abides

in the plane of endless space.

 

This is that other kind of happiness,

Which is beyond this and more exalted.

Ānanda, those who say:

“This is the highest peace,

happiness

and delight

that can be experienced.”

I do not agree with them.

Why is that?

Because Ānanda,

There is another kind of happiness,

Beyond this and more exalted.

What is this other kind of happiness?

 

[6. Plane of Endless Consciousness] #

 

Here Ānanda,

leaving behind the plane of endless space,

aware of Endless Consciousness, [12]

 

One understands and abides

in the plane of Endless Consciousness.

 

This is that other kind of happiness,

which is beyond this

and more exalted.

Ānanda, those who say:

“This is the highest peace,

happiness

and delight

that can be experienced.”

I do not agree with them.

Why is that?

Because Ānanda,

There is another kind of happiness,

Beyond this, and more exalted.

What is this other kind of happiness?

 

[7. Plane of Bare Awareness] #

 

Here Ānanda,

Leaving behind the plane of endless consciousness,

Aware of nothing [in particular] [13]

 

One understands and abides

in the plane of bare awareness.

 

This is that other kind of happiness,

Which is beyond this and more exalted.

Ānanda, those who say:

“This is the highest peace,

happiness

and delight

that can be experienced.”

I do not agree with them.

 

Why is that?

Because Ānanda,

There is another kind of happiness,

Beyond this and more exalted.

What is this other kind of happiness?

 

[8. The limit of Awareness] #

 

Here Ānanda,

Leaving behind the plane of bare awareness,

One understands and abides

in the plane between awareness and its limit.[14]

This is that other kind of happiness,

Which is beyond this and more exalted.

Ānanda, those who say:

“This is the highest peace,

happiness

and delight

that can be experienced.”

I do not agree with them.

Why is that?

Because Ānanda,

There is another kind of happiness,

Beyond this and more exalted.

What is this other kind of happiness?

 

[9. The Release from Experiential Awareness] #

 

Here Ānanda,

Leaving behind the plane between awareness and its limit,

 

One understands and abides

in the release from perceptual awareness. [15]

 

This is that other kind of happiness,

Which is beyond this and more exalted.

 

 

Because of this Ānanda,

Those practitioners of other teachings might ask:[16]

 

“The sage Gotama speaks of

The end of perceptual awareness,

            and declares it as partaking of happiness.” [17]

 

“How can this be?”

“How can this be said?”

 

When this is asked Ānanda,

The wanderers of other teachings

            should be answered in this way:

 

‘Friend,

The Awakened One does not declare

Only pleasant sensations

As partaking of happiness.’ [18]

 

‘Friend,

In this way, wherever one goes,

happiness is found,

     whether here or there,

This, the Truth-Finder declares

      as [True] happiness.’ [19]

This is what the Awakened One said.

Glad at heart, the Venerable Ānanda rejoiced in his words.

 

 

[1] This sutta is identical to SN IV 36.19 Pañcakaṅga Sutta, to the exception of the first sentence and the last couple sentences. Which denotes its relevance.

[2] Evaṃ pariyāyadesito kho, ānanda, mayā dhammo.

[3] Samaggā sammodamānā avivadamānā khīrodakībhūtā aññamañña piyacakkhūhi sampassantā viharissantīti.

[4] Iṭṭhā kantā manāpā piyarūpā kāmūpasahitā rajanīyā.

[5] ‘Etapparamaṃ santaṃ sukhaṃ somanassaṃ paṭisaṃvedentī’ti

[6] Idaṃ nesāhaṃ nānujānāmi.

[7] Etamhā sukhā aññaṃ sukhaṃ abhikkantatarañca paṇītatarañca

[8] Bhikkhu sabbaso rūpasaññānaṃ samatikkamā

[9] Paṭighasaññānaṃ atthaṅgamā: Contact at the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body fade away.

[10] Nānattasaññānaṃ amanasikārā. In simple terms, very still, oneness of mind.

[11] ‘Ananto ākāso’ti

[12] ‘Anantaṃ viññāṇan’ti

[13] ‘Natthi kiñcī’ti

[14] Nevasaññānāsaññāyatanaṃ: Lit. Neither-Awareness-Nor-Unawareness. One here might pause in wonder. Since the Buddha’s Teaching is usually understood as “mindfulness”, here and in the next plane, there is question of the release from Awareness. An essential notion which has curiously remained widely unrevealed to the bulk of practitioners today. And that this release from awareness and feeling is the culmination of the Buddha’s Teaching: Nibbāna. This might appear baffling to some, that “mindfulness” is not the actual goal of the practice, nor is it even “a practice”. Mindfulness is a result from the practice, which is to abandon craving: Greed, hatred and Delusion. Craving is non-mindfulness; Mindfulness is non-craving. Mindfulness or presence arises when the mind is not latching upon or bend upon any object. This also beautifully demonstrate that in fact, even “mindfulness” needs to be let go of. This shows the depth of the practice of letting go and relaxing. This cannot be experienced by absorption concentration since the mind is then trained to latch on very strongly to one object or the other. This kind of absorption “mindfulness” is not about letting go, it is about forcing and controlling the mind.

[15] Saññāvedayitanirodhaṃ. Vedayita [pp. of vedeti] felt, experienced.

[16] Yaṃ aññatitthiyā paribbājakā evaṃ vadeyyuṃ:

[17] The wise meditators who experience this stage of meditation, know by direct knowledge the veracity of this statement. No happiness can equal the Release of the mind from perception and feeling, Nibbāna.

‘Etaṃ santaṃ etaṃ paṇītaṃ, yadidaṃ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho

Sabbūpadhipaṭinissaggo, taṇhākkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbānan’ti.

This is peaceful, this is sublime, that is, the appeasement of all mental activity

The giving up of all mental limitations, the destruction of craving, unclenching, release, Nibbāna.

-AN III 32 Ānanda Sutta

[18] ‘na kho, āvuso, bhagavā sukhaññeva vedanaṃ sandhāya sukhasmiṃ paññapeti.

[19] Yattha yattha, āvuso, sukhaṃ upalabbhati, yahiṃ yahiṃ, taṃ taṃ tathāgato sukhasmiṃ paññapetī’”ti.

The noblest source of happiness. The happiness of Nibbāna. Bliss, so subtle and exquisite, to be experienced by the wise, for oneself, by oneself, throught direct meditative experience, through the practice of the Ariya Dhamma of the Awakened One.

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