Majjhima Nikāya
Sīhanāda Vagga
(Suttas M 11 to M 20)


CONTENTS
M 11 CūlasīhanādasuttaLesser Discourse on the Lion's Roar
M 12 Mahāsīhanādasutta Greater Discourse on the Lion's Roar
M 13 MahādukkhandasuttaGreater Stems of Anguish
M 14 CūladukkhandasuttaLesser Stems of Anguish
M 15 Anumānasutta Measuring the Speaker
M 16 CetokhilasuttaDiscourse on Mental Barrenness
M 17 VanapattasuttaThe Forest Grove
M 18 MadhupiṇḍikasuttaDiscourse on the Honey Ball
M 19 DvedhāvitakkasuttaDiscourse on Two-fold Thought
M 20 VitakkasanthānasuttaDiscourse on Forms of Thought


M11 Cūlasīhanāda Sutta
Lion's Roar (Lesser)*

[139] This discourse was given at Sāvatthi in the Jethavana. It is an address to the bhikkhus. The Buddha tells them that they (the bhikkhus) can boldly declare that only in the Buddha's dispensation are there (true) recluses; in other doctrines are empty of recluses. This is the "lion's roar" that the bhikkhus can utter.

[140] The Buddha identifies four conditions that make his doctrine unique viz. the confidence in the Teacher, confidence in the Doctrine, fulfilment of the precepts, and "dear and agreeable" companions be they lay folks or recluses.

[141] He then states that other teachers too may say this. But when they do so they should be questioned about eight other qualities. In their reply relating to these qualities they may say that their goal is one (eka) not many, and that they are free from lust (rāga), free from hate (dosa), free from delusions (moha), free from cravings (taṇha), free from clinging (upādāna), they are with vision (viddasuno), that they do not favour or oppose (anuruddahappativiruddha) nor delight in and enjoy proliferation (papañcārāma papañcaratino).

[142] The Buddha then enunciates two opposing wrong views (diṭṭhi) that of being (bhava) and that of non-being (vibhava). The Buddha condemns both views and says that those who do not understand the origin (samudaya), the disappearance (atthaṅgama), the gratification (assāda), the anger (ādīnava) and the escape (nissaraṇa) from from these wrong views are affected by lust, hate, delusion, craving, clinging, are without vision and given to favouring-and-opposing and delight in-and-enjoy proliferation. This means that the other religionists even though they may claim that they are free of these negative traits their claims are wrong as they do not deny the two wrong views. As a consequence they are not freed from birth (jāti), aging and death (jarā maraṇa), from sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair (soka parideva dukkha domanassa upāyāsa); consequently they are not freed from suffering (dukkha).

[143] The Buddha then goes into a long discourse on one of these eight factors, viz. clinging or grasping (upādāna). He begins by enumerating the four kinds of clinging: sensual pleasures (kāma), views (diṭṭhi), rules and observances (sīlabbata), and the doctrine of self (attavāda). The first of these is ethical, the second and fourth are philosophical and the third is religious.

The Buddha says that some teachers show an understanding of only the first of these kinds of clinging. Others show an understanding of the first two, and still others show an understanding of the first three kinds of clinging. But no teacher shows an understanding of all four kinds of clinging. This shows their lack of confidence in Dhmma.

[144] It is only the Buddha (Tathāgata) who has a full understanding of these four kinds of craving (sense-pleasue, view, rule and ritual, and self). They all come from grasping. This is the reason why the Bhikkhus have confidence in their teacher, in the doctrine, in moral and ethical habits and finally become agreeable to their companions. These are the four conditions that enable the bhikkhus to utter the lion's roar.

[145] The Buddha concludes the discourse with a reaffirmation of the doctrine of dependent origination. Clinging comes from craving. Craving in turn is dependent on feelings, that on sensory impingement, that on the six sensory bases, that on name-and-form, that on consciousness, and finally that on Ignorance.

Summary Analysis.

This sutta is basically a doctrinal sutta. Its main purpose is the show that the Buddha's Dhamma differs from that of other Teachers very similar to his own system but crucially different. These teachers are not named but they lack a proper understanding of being (bhava) and its opposite non-being. The Buddha rejects both which is the essence of the Buddha's view of self (atta).

Going further into the system of these other teachers the Buddha shows that it arises from their not understanding the causal formual which the Buddha alone expounds. This formula is merely mentioned at the end of the sutta and there is no explanation of the crucial link that conciousness leads to birth. This remains the fundamental weakness of the Buddha's system for conciousness immediately and karma ultimately determines Birth, which is essentially a rebirth theory.

M12 Mahāsīhanāda Sutta
Lion's Roar (Greater)

[146] This is a Vesāli sutta. Sunakkatta who had left the Buddha's order was making a statement against the Buddha and his order to the Vesali Assembly (parisati). Sunakkatta's speech as given in this sutta can be summarized as follows: "The Buddha has no superhuman abilities, nor any knowledge or vision worthy of the Ariyans. His Dhamma is based on reasoning using his own method. When practised it leads anyone to the complete destruction of suffering." This came to the ears of Sāriputta who conveyed it to the Buddha The rest of the sutta is the Buddha's answer to Sunakkhatta.

[147] The Buddha said that Sunakatta was speaking in anger and his last claim (that the Buddha's Dhamma when practiced leads to the complete destruction of suffering) he said was actually a compliment. What annoyed the Buddha most seems to be Sunakkatt's claim that the Buddha had no supernormal powers. He immediately mentions some of his supernormal abilities such as walking through walls, diving into the earth, walking on water, flying through the air, etc. The rest of the discourse is a series of stylized lists of the various accomplishments that the Buddhas (and himself as a Buddha) is capable of. These lists are as follows:

[148] 1. The Ten Powers of a Buddha.  These are that a Buddha:
  1. understands the possible as possible and the impossible as impossible.
  2. understands the results of actions past, present or future.
  3. understands the ways leading to all destinations.
  4. understands the world with its many elements (like heavens, hells or the earth).
  5. understands how beings have different inclinations.
  6. understands the disposition of the faculties of beings.
  7. understands the defilement, the cleansing and the emergence of the jhānas, liberations, concentrations and attainments.
  8. recollects past lives up to a hundred thousand births and more in great detail and recollects the many evolutions and devolutions of the universe.
  9. sees with the divine eye the passing away and rebirth of being in accordance with their karma.
  10. destroys the taints (āsavā) and thereby enters Nirvana here and now.
With these powers the Buddha claims the leader's place and utters the lion's roar.

[149] If anyone says that Gotama has no super-human powers and his doctrine is of his own devising merely based on logic such a person will end up in hell.

[150] The Four Convictions (vesārajja).

1. The Buddha is fully enlightened with nothing about which he is not fully enlightened.
2. The Buddha has no taints still not destroyed.
3. The Buddha no obstructions that will hinder those engaged in them.
4. One taught by the Buddha in the Dhamma will not reach full enlightenment.

[151] 3. The Eight Assemblies (parisā).

[NOTE: The discussion of Assemblies may have been occasioned by Sunakatta addressing the Vesali Assembly.] The Buddha has addressed six kinds of Assemblies. These are: Assemblies of (1) nobles, (2) brahmans, (3) householders, (4) recluses, (5) the retinue of the Four Great Regents, (6) the Thirty-Three [gods], (7) Mara's assembly, (8) Brahmas. This means that any category of beings be human or divine can form an assembly.

The Buddha then goes on to say that he himself had addressed hundreds of each of the assemblies mentioned. This may be to remind Sāriputta that in contrast to him Sunakatta had addressed only one assembly

[152] 4. The Four ways Beings are born.

There are four ways in which beings come to be born. There are: (1) from an egg, (2) from a womb, (3) from moisture, and (4) from spontaneous generation.  [NOTE: The first two methods of propagation could be established by common observation and are usually included under sexual reproduction. It is the other two methods that needs a special comment. It is a scientific fact that moisture does not produce life. But this was not known in ancient times. It was thought that insects, and other tiny forms of life observed in water are generated from moisture. So this kind of generation could be attributed to the scientific ignorance of the tim. Spontaneous generation is used to explain birth of beings in heavens and hells. It also applies to the origin of hungry ghosts (prethas) and demons in the terrestrial world. It is another problem facing the rebirth hypothesis. In fact it is because of the rebrith theory that the question of the modes of birth arise. Towards the conclusion of the discussion on spontaneous uprising the Buddha comments that those who unjustly defame him would end up in hell. Though no direct reference to Sunakatta is made this implication arises in the final words in this section.]

[153] 5. The Five Destinations (gatiya).

The five destinations of being given here are: (1) Hell, (2) The Animal realm, (3) ghosts, (4) Humans, and (5) gods. The Buddha claims that he knows the path leading to these destination and if anyone takes any of these paths the Buddha will know with his divine vision that after death he or she will be born in that particular destination. Lastly the Buddha says that he knows the path leading to Nibbāna. However he does not include Nibbāna as the sixth destination.

[154] After enumerating these destinations the Buddha gives in some more detail the nature of each of them. He does this by encompassing his mind with the mind of a person (cetasā ceto paricca pajānāmi) born into each of these destinations. Very graphic descriptions are given of those destined to Hell saying that a person reaching such a destination is like one cast into a pit of burning coals experiencing excruciating pain. The animal destination is compared to a man forced into a pit of stinking filth.. The pain experienced will be less than that of a Hell being.. In the realm of the ghosts the pain is less and the simile is made of an exhausted man having to take shelter under a tree with little foliage. The human destination is much better and the comparison is to that of a man seeking shelter under a tree with dense foliage. Finally the greatest pleasure is reserved to those born in a heavenly destination.

There is also a description of a person who had reached Nibbāna, i.e. one beyond the five destinations reserved for non fully-enlightened beings. [But unfortunately this consists of the stereotyped passage about Nibbāna found in other places in the Canon.] This mentions a person having followed the Path who "by the destruction of the taints, enter and abide in the freedom of mind, the freedom through intuitive wisdom that are taint-less, having realised them here-now by his own super-knowledge (yathā āsavānaṃ khayā anāsaṃ cetovimuttiṃ paññāvimuttiṃ diṭṭheva dhamme sayaṃ abhiññā sacchikatvā upasampajja viharissatīti)". He is compared to a person who in a thick forest comes to a clear lotus pool enjoys the clear water and lies down "experiencing feeling that are exclusively pleasant (ekantasukhā vedanā vedayamānaṃ)". This would make Nibbāna to be a super heaven as is the way most Buddhists have conceived of it.

[155-157] Then comes a long section detailing the austerities that the Buddha says he underwent during the period of his search for enlightenment. Here the austerities are exaggerated to an extent greater than in other places. To quote just on such austerity the Buddha says that during this period he would creep into a cattle enclosure when the cowherds have left and eat the dung of young calves! [NOTE: Most of the Austerities given in this section of the Sutta are skipped in this Abstract. They are probably given to show the superhuman endurance that the Bodhisattva had done in his search for enlightenment. .]

[158-161] Some views of recluses and Brahmans examined and refuted, such as:

  1. Purity is through food.
  2. Purity is through faring on (in Samsāra)
  3. Purity is though abodes (e.g. the Pure Abodes)
  4. Purity is through oblations
  5. Purity is through tending the sacrificial fire
  6. Purity is only possible for people when they are young.

[162] Finally the bhikkhu Nagasamala who had been fanning the Buddha while he spoke expressed his wonder and delight at the discourse and said that his hair stood on end. He wanted to know what name was to be give to the sutta and the Buddha suggested "Hair-raising Disquisition" !

Summary Analysis

Compared to the shorter discourse on the Lion's roar this greater version is a disappointment for one concerned with the the rationality of the Buddha's teaching. Most of it is concerned with contesting the view of the Sunnakatta that the Buddha had shown no super-normal powers. This leads the Buddha to exaggerate his super-normal powers even if he had any. There are only a few instances in the Pali Canon where he is shown to have actually exercised these supernormal powers like diving into the ground or flying through the air. In other areas, such as in the description of his austerities during the search there is gross exaggeration.

It is reasonable to conclude that most of this sutta is a later addition to exaggerate the non-human nature of the Buddha. Perhaps those who compiled the Canon felt that the claims in the shorter version of Discourse on the Lion's Roar is not sufficient to establish the uniqueness of the Buddha. Whatever it is it poses a great difficulty for anyone searching for the rational content of the Buddha's Dhamma.

Perhaps one feels that Sunakkatta's criticisms were not far from the mark. In fact this Sunakkatta may have been a fictitious person conjured by the Canonical authors to give the exaggerated view of the Buddha. Even so they have still made Sunakkata to say that the Buddha's teaching leads to the end of sorrow (dukkha) which it does if correctly understood and practiced.


M13 Mahādukkhakkhanda Sutta
Stems of Anguish (Greater)

[163] In the preamble to this sutta given at Jetavana we are told that the monks went to see some other teachers (aññatitthiyā). There these other teachers posed the question to the monks that they (the other teachers) like Gotama describe the comprehension of sensuality (kāma), of forms (rūpa), and of feelings (vedanā), so what is the difference between Gotama's teaching and theirs?

[164-165] The monks reported this back to the Buddha. The Buddha then said that the other teachers should have been asked a counter question: What is the allure or satisfaction (assāda), the drawback or peril (ādīnava) and the escape (nissaraṇa) with regard to the three dangers (sensuality, form and sensation) which they had claimed to have raised. The monks had not done this in their encounter with the other teachers. The rest of the discourse is a detailed exposition by the Buddha on these three dangers.

[166] 1. Sensuality (kāma). Here the allure is traced to the "strings" of sensuality viz.: (1) Material shapes cognisable by the eye, agreeable, pleasant, liked, enticing, (2) Sounds cognisable by the ear, (3) Smells cognisable by the nose, (4) tastes cognisable by the tongue, and (5) touches cognisable by the body.

[167-170] As to the drawbacks of sensuality the Buddha begins by considering a layperson (kulaputta), also translated as Clansman, who has to make a livelihood. The Buddha then lists various stresses he may face such as having to face cold and heat, being harassed by mosquitoes, flies, wind-and-sun, creeping insects, and even dying from hunger and thirst. If he makes no wealth he will be sorrowful and lament while if he does make wealth he would face difficulty in trying to protect it from kings, thieves and natural disasters. All this is ascribed to sensuality.  [NOTE: It is however questionable that discomforts that arise from the natural effects of the environment or features of the social order could be ascribed to sensuality. It might not be possible to attribute cold and heat and insect bites to sensuality as they could be completely out of control of the person concerned. Similarly such things as robbery and confiscation by the King too may be outside the control of person concerned. It is true that all these ill effects are felt through the sense organs.]

Even though the allure and drawbacks of sensuality are illustrated through the example of a person engaged in earning a livelihood the third aspect, i.e. the escape from sensuality is not dealt with in this sutta. There may be no escape from the ill effects of nature or of the social system. Even if the layperson becomes a monk his sense organs will still register the ill effects of nature. As he is not earning a livelihood he may not get his requisites like alms-food. This could then be regarded as drawbacks of samana-hood.

[171-173] 2. Form (rūpa). The allure of form is illustrated by considering the case of a a young girl of great beauty who derives great pleasure from her comely appearance. The drawback is that this beauty will not last forever and when she is old and sick she would have opposite sensations from those she had in her youth. In the extreme case (which would in fact be a certainty) the woman would end up as a corpse. These transformations are vividly illustrated in the sutta.

The argument here is from the well known Buddhist characteristic of impermanence (anicca). All forms are subject to change but this change though generally be one of decline it could even be one of change for the better (as when a monk becomes a stream winner. [NOTE: Once again there is no explicit discussion of how to escape these laws of existence.]


[174] 3. Feelings (vedanā).  This is the shortest section in this sutta. The satisfaction of feelings is illustrated by an example – that of the monk. When this monk has reached the first jhāna his feeling is one of total unaffliction (abyābajjha) i.e. one of not hurting anyone. This is enhanced when he reaches the second jhāna, and likewise the third jhāna. These jhānas are described in the stereotyped description that appears in all places where these meditations are referred to.

Summary Analysis
The three terms that are the subject of this sutta are common terms in the exposition of the Dhamma. But they are not discussed in a comprehensive way. In the discussion of sensuality the example of a layperson making a livelihood is given. In that of shape the example given is that of a young beautiful girl who grows into old age and death. In the case of feelings it is the feelings of a monk reaching successively the three jhanas. While these may be suitable for the purpose of emphasising the most common application of sensuality, shape and feeling. They do not discuss these concepts more generally than in the special cases given.

There is no general discussion of the question of escape from sensuality, shape and feeling. There is no discussion of how the layperson earning a livelihood or the young girl gradually becoming old and ugly. Even in the case of the monk reaching the three jhānas as escaped totally from his condition. In his case total escape would be realizing Nibbāna which is not always identical with reaching the trances (jhānas) which may only be temporary while in the meditative state concerned.

M14 Chūladukkhakkhanda Sutta
Stems of Anguish (Smaller)

[175] This discourse was given at Kapilavastu to the Sakyan Mahānāma who told the Buddha that he understood the Buddha's Dhamma as saying that Greed (lobha), Aversion (dosa) and Delusion (moha) were defilements of the mind, yet he found that these defilements sometimes invade his mind and remains there. Mahānāma then asked what mental quality is lacking (ajjhataṃ) when greed, aversion and delusion invade his mind and remain.

The Buddha answers that in the case where the defilements remain there is indeed a quality of the mind that prevents the abandonments of these defilements. The Buddha does not give a name to this quality but says how it can be abandoned. This is by leaving the household life (agāraṃ ajjhāvasṃ) and not partaking of sensuality (kāma). It will be noticed that sensuality is not the subjective quality in question but something which allows the sensuality to remain. The Buddha then cites his own personal experience before his enlightenment when he was able to attain a rapture and pleasure apart from sensuality and unskilled states of mind (aññatreva kāmehi aññatra akusalehi dhammehi pītisukhaṃ ajjhagama). It is then this "rapture and joy" which is the quality that banishes the mental defilements of lobha, dosa and moha. The quality that Mahānāma is seeking is the opposite of this rapture and joy.

[176-178] This leads the Buddha to a discourse on sensuality in the same manner as in the longer discourse on the Stems of  Anguish (Mahādukhkhandasutta Majjhima 13) citing the same example of the livelihood of a layman (or clansman). But now some additional examples are given of the addiction to sensuality. It is cited as the cause for wars between kings and nobles, robbery, thieving, adultery and other criminal acts. In this connection torture and punishment imposed on criminals by kings are mentioned in great detail. It is however it is not clear if the Kings do this out of sensuality.

[179] The Sutta ends with the Buddha recalling an encounter with the Nigantas (Jains) at the Vulture Peak in Rajagaha. He had asked them why they practiced all kinds of austerities inflicting pain on themselves. He was told that this was on the instruction of their teacher Nataputta (Mahavira) who had told them that it was a way of expiating past bad kamma. If they had expiated all past kamma and not done any (bad) kamma in the present life then they would be free from stress.

[180] Then the Buddha asks the Nigantas a series of questions, like whether they were aware that they had existed in a past life, that they had done evil deeds in that life, that current austerities will exhaust in whole or part the effects of those past kammas, that with current non doing of evil actions they would be freed in the future. To all these questions the Nigantas answered in the negative.

In their reply the Nigantas claimed that pleasure will not be gained through pleasure but only through pain. If pleasure comes from pleasure then King Bimbisara of Magadha would attain to pleasure as he now lives at greater pleasure than Gotama. The Buddha then asks if King Bimbisara can dwell sensitive to pure pleasure for up to seven days and nights. When the Nigantas said that King Bimbisara could not do so the Buddha contended that he (the Buddha) could do so for seven days without moving the body or uttering a word. With that the Buddha asserted that Gotama dwells in greater pleasure than King Bimbisara.

Summary Analysis.
This sutta is free for a great extent of the super-normal abilities of the Buddha which characterised the Greater Sutta with the same name. This is because the question posed to the Buddha in this sutta is different to that posed in the earlier ('greater') sutta.

An interesting addition in this sutta is the Buddha's conversation with the Nigantas as reported by the Buddha himself. Both Buddhists and Jains believe in the theory of kamma and rebirth. That is why the Buddha asked the Nigantas if they recalled their past lives which they said that they did not. The same question could be asked of followers of the Buddha too. In the Buddha's dhamma only the fully enlightened Arhats have the knowledge of past births (pubbenivāsanta sati). So as there were few arhats then, and none now, belief in rebirth cannot be by personal experience. Similarly the Jain belief that past bad kamma can be cancelled by austerities now is simply taken on the word of the teacher. Much of Buddhist belief in this area is simply based on what is stated in the Canon. So it is not clear if the Buddha's dialogue with the Nigantas as reported in this sutta places Buddhism on a higher level as far as this particular doctrine is concerned. Compared to the Greater Stems of Anguish discourse this smaller version has some interesting aspects.

M15 Anumāna Sutta
Measuring the Speaker

[181] This is a discourse by Moggallana given to the bhikkhus at Sunsumāragiri. Moggallana said that even if requested by another monk who wants to be spoken to a monk should not do so if the monk making the request is deceitful (dubbaco), unruly (dovacassa), or not submitting to advice (anusāsana). This involves taking a measure of the speaker. This explains the translation of the title given here but others have used different titles. Moggallana begins his discourse by giving 16 characteristics that make a monk "unruly" as a result of which normal discourse with him should not be undertaken. These are:
  1. Having evil desires (pāpicco) and being controlled by them.
  2. Being angry (kodano) to the extent of being overpowered by anger.
  3. Praises oneself (attukasaṃsako) and disparages (paravambhī) others.
  4. One who finds faults due to anger (kodahetu upanāhī).
  5. Cursing others from anger (kodhahetu abhisaṅgī).
  6. Utters angry words (kodhasāmantā vāca nicchāretā).
  7. Retorts in anger (codakena codakaṃ paṭippharati).
  8. When reprimanded retorts (apasādeti).
  9. When reprimanded reprimands in return (paccāropeti).
  10. Dodges the question by asking another (aññenaññaṃ paṭicarati), etc.
  11. Does not succeed in explaining his movements (apadāne na sampāyati).
  12. Harsh (makkhī) and spiteful (paāsī).
  13. Envious (issukī) and grudging (maccārī).
  14. Treacherous (satho) and deceitful (māyāvī ).
  15. Stubborn (thaddo) and proud (atimānī).
  16. Holds tenaciously to worldliness (sandiññhiparāmāsī).
[182] Moggallāna then goes on to outline the characteristics of a Bhikkhu with whom discourse and instruction could be given. These are simply the opposite of the 16 characteristics given above with a greater degree of explanation.

[183] He says that the person should be measured against oneself self (attanāva attānaṃ evaṃ anuminitabbaṃ) The example given of this principle is that if a person is disagreeable to one then one should not be disagreeable to another. Several examples of this is given replacing 'disagreeable' with 'wrathful', 'retorts when reproved', 'stubborn', and many others.

[184] In conclusion Moggallāna says that a Bhikkhu should reflect to see if i there are evil things in him that are not dispelled he should dispel those things. [NOTE: In this whole sutta there is no single reference to the Buddha, yet the values that are exulted are those of the Buddha.] The monks finally express their appreciation of Moggallana's words in the usual stereotyped way that they appreciate a discourse of the Buddha.

Summary Analysis
This sutta can be classified as a purely ethical discourse. There is nothing that is of a philosophical and religious nature nor is there reference to super-normal abilities or divine personage.

M16 Cetokhila Sutta
Mental Barrenness

[185] This sutta was given to the bhikkhus at Jetavana monastery by the Buddha. He starts by telling the bhikkhus that to lead to growth and development in the dispensation they should dispel the five mental barrenness's (cetokhilā) and cut the mental bonds (cetasovinibandhā). The term 'ceto' is related to 'citta' from which the notion of 'mental' comes. 'Khila' is literally translated as barrenness (like in a barren land) but in relation to the mind a modern rendering would be 'obstruction' and this rendering will be used in this Abstract.

Like other suttas this sutta is repeated in other parts of the Canon sometimes with small changes. In the Aṅguttara it occurs in five places with the obstructions and the bonds separated into two suttas placed next to each other. There are references to the obstructions and the bonds in the Dīgha too.

[186] The Buddha then outlines the five mental obstructions of a monk. These are:
  1. The monk doubts the Teacher (satthari kaṅkhati vicikiccha). This also equated to the monk becoming perplexed (nādhimuccati) and unconvinced (na sampasīdati).
  2. The monk doubts the Teaching (dhamma) again the using the identical terms used for doubt in the teacher. It should be noted that the saddhā generally translated as 'faith' but being more akin to 'confidence' is not used in this sutta.
  3. The monk doubts the community of monks (saṅgha). The Chinese translation of this sutta is said to qualify this doubt only to monks praised by the Buddha. There have been instances of monks even in the Buddha's time who do not deserve to be trusted.
  4. The monk doubts the Training (sikkhā). This doubt leads his mind to lack of earnestness (ātappa), application (anuyoga) , to non perseverance (sātacca) and to non-striving. These have also been mentioned in relation to the other obstructions but it is particularly relevant in the case of a monk with doubtful training.
  5. The monk is hurt and displeased because of his doubt in the Sangha. His mind shows the same inclinations as in the doubt about the training.
[186] The five mental bonds are given as:
  1. Sensuality. This describes a monk attached to lust (kāme avītarāgo), with desire (avigataccando), with affection (avigatapemo), with thirst (avigatapipāso), with fever (avigatapariāho), with craving (avigatataṇho).
  2. Body. This describes a monks with lust, desire, love, thirst, fever and craving (as described above but specifically to the physical body.
  3. Material shapes. This describes a monks with lust, desire, love, thirst, fever and craving (as described above but specifically to form or shape.
  4. This bond describes a monk addicted to over-eating food, torpor (middhasukha), touch (passasukha) and sleep (seyyasukha).
  5. This bond describes a monk who undertakes the holy life with the aspiration to be with a specific god or gods in general (devo vā bhavissāmi devaññataro vā).
[187] If the five arrows in the mind and the five bonds cut a bhikkhu can develop and grow in this dispensation. The five arrows in the mind are dispelled when (1) the bhikkhu accepts the Teacher with assurance, (2) accepts the Teaching with assurance, (3) accepts the Community of Bhikkkhus with assurance, (4) accepts the Training with assurance, and (5) is not angry with the co-associates in the holy life.

[188] The five bonds are cut when the bhikkhu (1) has dispelled greed, interest, love, thirst and burning for sensuality, (2) likewise for the body, (3) lkewise for material things, (4) does not partake food as much as he likes and so is not yoked to the pleasure of torpor, touch and sleep, (5) does not aspire may I be with those gods, or may I be a certain god. This way the five bonds are cut.

[189] The Buddha next advises the monks to develop the five paths to powers (bala) or bases of psychic power. This is done cultivating the basis for spiritual power that is accomplished by: At the conclusion of the sutta the Buddha says that with these fifteen things (i.e. overcoming the five obstructions, cutting off the five bonds and developing the five bases of psychic power a bhikkhu can attain to enlightenment, i.e. reach Nibbāna the supreme goal of Buddhism.

The Buddha then gives the Parable of the Hatchlings: "Suppose there were a hen with eight, or ten, or twelve eggs, which she has properly sat on, properly brooded, properly incubated. Even though she may not wish 'Oh that my chicks would pierce their shells with the points of their claws or with their beaks, and hatch out safely !' yet the chicks are capable of piercing their shells with the points of their claws or with their beaks, and hatching out safely. So the monk who is thus endowed with striving the fifteenth is capable of breaking out, is capable of self-awakening, is capable of attaining the supreme security from the yoke."

Summary Analysis.
Mental obstructions and bondages play a large part in the Buddha's psychological analysis. Hence the repetition of this these concepts in several places in the Canon. The interesting aspect is that Buddha attaches the five bases of psychic power to this to get his fifteen factors that will ensure that the aspiring Bhikkhu can reach Nibbāna. It is generally held that the only path to Nibbāna in Buddhism is the traverse of the Noble Eightfold Path. To do this there should be much more accomplishments than the fifteen factors mentioned in this sutta. Whether these two ways of achieveing Nibbāna are identical or nor is a moot point in the Dhamma.

M17. Vanapatta Sutta
The Forest Grove

[190] This short sutta (given to monks at the Jetavana monastery) deals with the choice that a monk living in a forest grove has to be make in certain circumstances. The choice is whether he is to continue living under the given circumstances or leave that lodging. The circumstances relevant to make the choice are the following five:

  1. Mindfulness (sati). Whether this is established or not. The ways to doing this is described in the Satipaṭṭhāna sutta given in both the Majjhima (M10) and Dīgha Nikāyas.
  2. Mind (citta). Whether it is concentrated or not. Concentration here is one-pointedness of mind and is highly recommended for those practicing the Dhamma.
  3. Taints (āsavā). Whethers they are destroyed or not. These are sometimes called Cankers and are the factors impelling one to engage in wrong activity.
  4. Bonds. Whether the security from these is attained or not. The five basic bonds are described in the Majjhima (M12) and other places. An alternative way of saying this is that "yoke" (which ties one to Samsāra) is not ended (yogakkhemaṃ).
  5. Necessities of life (jīvitaparikkhārā). Whether they can be obtained easily or with difficulty. These necessities are alms food, robes, lodgings and medicine.
The first four of these factors could be considered the spiritual requirements and only the last the material requirements.

[191-198] The sutta basically consists of eight scenarios (identified below by the letters A to H) depending on the place of residence and the five circumstances listed above. Only the first four (A to D) are set in a forest thicket. The next scenario (E) it is clearly stated that the place of residence to be a village or hamlet or town or state but supported by a particular person. In the next scenarios (F to H) the place is not specified but could be assumed to be in a village as in scenario E. In these three scenarios the monk is supported by a particular person. For each of these scenarios the Buddha says what the monk should do. The following are these scenarios:
  1. (In a forest thicket). Here Mindfulness is not established, Mind is not composed, Taints are not totally destroyed, Bonds are not broken and Necessities not easily available. In these circumstances the monk should leave that dwelling.
  2. (In a forest thicket). Here Mindfulness is not established, Mind is not composed, Taints are not totally destroyed, Bonds are not broken and Necessities can be got without difficulty. In these circumstances the monk should leave that dwelling.
  3. (In a forest thicket). Here Mindfulness is established, Mind is composed, Taints are not totally destroyed, Bonds are not broken and Necessities can be got with difficulty. In these circumstances the monk should not leave that dwelling.
  4. (In a forest thicket). Here Mindfulness is established, Mind is composed, Taints are destroyed, Bonds are broken and Necessities can be got without difficulty. In these circumstances the monk should not leave that dwelling but stay there as long as life lasts.
  5. (In a village, hamlet, town or state but supported by a person). Here Mindfulness is not established, Mind is not composed, Taints are not destroyed, Bonds are not broken and Necessities can be got with difficulty. In these circumstances the monk should leave that dwelling even not telling the person supporting him.
  6. (Place not stated but supported by a person) Here Mindfulness is not established, Mind is not composed, Taints are not destroyed, Bonds are not broken and Necessities can be got with difficulty. In these circumstances the monk should leave that dwelling even not telling the person supporting him.
  7. (Place not stated but supported by a person) Here Mindfulness is established, Mind is composed, Taints are destroyed, Bonds are broken and Necessities can be got with difficulty. In these circumstances the monk should not leave that dwelling.
  8. (Place not stated but supported by a person) Here Mindfulness is established, Mind is composed, Taints are destroyed, Bonds are broken and Necessities can be got without difficulty. In these circumstances the monk should follow his benefactor and even if chased should follow his benefactor.
Summary Analysis.
From an analytical point of view there are many unsatisfactory features in this sutta. Even though the title says that it considers the choice to be made in a forest thicket only four of the eight scenarios given are set in a forest thicket. Of the four in two (A and B) the bhikkhu is advised to leave. In both these the bhikkhu has not established mindfulness etc. and this failure may be reason for being asked to leave. In the other two (C and D) the spiritual components are established but the only difference is the ease with which the requisites could got. In the forest thicket it is not stated how the monk gets his alms whether he has houses of laypersons to visit is not stated. Clearly even if the monk has the spiritual accomplishments if there is no one to give alms he will have to leave.
       In the other non-forest scenarios (E to H) we are told that the monk depends on a certain person. Does this mean that the monk does not do the alms-round but expects the person to bring him alms. Nothing is said about a person living in a village or town who does not rely on a single person but does the daily alms-round which would have been the normal situation as the Buddha is also said to do this reguarly.
he Buddha
       Of the four non-forest scenarios in two (E and F) the monk is asked to leave. The main reason for this is that the spiritual requiements are not fulfilled. It is not clear that leaving this setting means leaving the monkhood entirely and becoming an failed monk. Or it may be that he is asked to go to some other place and try to get his spiritual accomplishments.
        In the last two non-forest scenarios (G ande H) the spiritual requirements are satisfied and it is not explained why the monk should be tied to his single benefactor when living in a village he could get the support of many lay households.
         This sutta seems to apply only to monks because of the insistence on the availability of the four necessities. For lay persons they are expected to supply their own necessities by following the right livelihood.

M18. Madupinika Sutta
The Honey Ball

[NOTE: This Sutta could be divided into four parts. The first part is a brief exchange between the Buddha and a Sakyan Dandapani. The Buddha then In the second part the Buddha relates the incident to the Bhikkhus and gives further clarification of his original brief reply. The Buddha then retires with the monks not completely satisfied. Then the monks decide to go to the Venerable Mahā Kaccāyana for further clarification. This third part contains the main teaching of this sutta. Finally in the fourth part the monks return to the Buddha who endorses the explanation of Venerable Mahā Kaccāyana. Ananda his chief attendant then names the sutta as the Honeyball sutta after an Indian sweetmeat of the time.]

[199] This discourse given when the Budha was in Kapilavastu and has four parts. There he had a brief exchange with a Sakyan Dandapani. Dandapani asks the Buddha what the Buddha's doctrine (vāda) was and what he teaches (kimakkhāyī). The Buddha answered: "Friend, I say and teach in such a way so as not to quarrel with anyone in this world with its gods, its Māras, and its Brahmā's, this generation with its recluses and brahmins, its rulers and people; and in such a way that perceptions no more lie latent in that brahmin who abides detached from sensual pleasures, free from doubt, having cut off worry, free from craving for any kind of existence. This is what I say, friend, this is what I teach. ("Yathāvāī kho, āvuso, sadevake loke samārake sabrahmake sassamaṇabrāhmaṇiyāṇ pajāya sadevamanussāya na kenaci loke viggayha tiṭṭhati, yathā ca pana kāmehi visaṃyuttaṃ viharantaṃ taṃ brāhmaṇaṃ akathaṃkathiṃ chinnakukkuccaṃ bhavābhave vītataṇhaṃ saññā nānusenti. evaṃvādī kho ahaṃ, āvuso, evamakkhāyī". This statement appears to be beyond the comprehension of Dandapani who departs shaking his head.

[200-201] The next section of the sutta deals with the Buddha's report of this incident to the monks. In this the Buddha reiterated his previous cryptic answer to Dandapani's question saying that perceptions (saññā) will not obsess a Brahmin who is detached from sense pleasures. Answering a further question from a certain Bhikkhu the Buddha said that if perceptions do not find anything for support then there is an end to obsessions of passions (rāgā), resistance (paṭighā), views (diṭṭhī), uncertainty (vicikicchā), conceit (mānānusa), passion for becoming (bhavarāga) and ignorance (avijjā). This is what puts an end to quarrels, arguments and other evils. Then the Buddha retired.

[202] The Bhikkhus were still not satisfied and they decided to seek further clarification from Venrable Mahā Kaccāyana, a leading disciple of the Buddha. They related what the Buddha had said and asked Ven Kaccāyana to analyse them (vibhajatāyasmā mahākaccā). The analysis of Venerable Kaccāyana forms the third part of this sutta.

[203] Ven Kaccāyana began with the Heartwood Simile, i.e. a person seeking the heartwood (sāratthika) of a tree should pass over the lesser parts of the tree. Similarly the Buddha knows essence (sāra) of any problem because he is "the Eye (cakkhubhto), the Knowledge (ñāṇabhūto), the Dhamma (dhammabhūto), the Brahma (brahmabhūto), the speaker (vattā), the proclaimer (pavattā), the elucidator of meaning (atthassa ninnetā), the giver of the Deathless (amatassa dātā), the lord of the Dhamma (dhammassāmī), the Tathāgata". As such the Buddha should have been asked for the full explanation. The monks ignore this and ask Ven Kaccāyana to give the full explanation.

[204] Kaccāyana then goes on to elaborate what in the Pali text is called "papañcasaññāsaṅkhā ". This has been translated in various ways such as "number of obsessions and perceptions" (Horner), or "perceptions and categories of objectification" (Thanissaro) or "apperceptual proliferation" (Pia Tan). The root idea is that there is a proliferation of things which become obsessive to the person perceiving them. We shall simply use the term (mental) proliferation (papañca) to denote this. This is an important psychological term both in the Sutta Piṭka (for example in the Pariññāsutta in the Saṃyutta Nikāya) and the Abhidhamma.

Kaccāyana then goes on to show how proliferation is generated by the six organs of sense. These organs with their specific objects (given within brackets) are: eye (form, sight), ear (sound), nose (smell), tongue (taste), body (touch), and mind (mind object). Each of these with their object generate the consciousness related to than organ. The process can be described with reference to the first organ the eye. It runs as follows:
"Dependent on the eye and form, eye-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as condition, there is feeling. What one feels, one perceives. What one perceives, one thinks about. What one thinks about, one mentally proliferates. What a person mentally proliferates is the source through which apperceptual proliferation impacts one regarding past, future and present forms cognizable through the eye." (Translation of Pia Tan)
This same formula is used with a few changes to the the other five organs of sense. The sequence is as follows: the organ and its object leads to the organ consciousness. These three lead to Contact, that to Feeling, that to perception, that to thought, and that to mental proliferation. This proliferation extends to past, future and present objects cognizable through that organ.

The reverse of this process is then described. With reference to the eye the formula would read as follows:
"... when there is no eye, no form and no eye-consciousness, it is not possible to discern the manifestation of contact. When there is no manifestation of contact, it is not possible to discern the manifestation of feeling. When there is no manifestation of feeling, it is not possible to discern the manifestation of perception. When there is no manifestation of perception, it is not possible to discern the manifestation of thinking. When there is no manifestation of thinking, it is not possible to discern the manifestation of the impact of apperceptual proliferation through the eye." (Translation of Pia Tan)
This process is repeated to the other organs of sense (ear, nose, tongue, body and mind). If a person does not show attachment to the objects of these six sense organs the chain is broken and there is no mental proliferation. This is Ven. Kaccāna's detailed exposition of the Buddha's concise statement that if perceptions do not find anything for support then there is an end to obsessions of passions, resistance, views, uncertainty, conceit, passion-for-becoming and ignorance. This is what puts an end to quarrels, conflicts, disputes, strife, malicious words, and false speech. Then evil unwholesome states cease without remainder. Ven. Kaccāyana concludes his exposition by asking the monks to consult the Buddha for further explantion if needed.

[205] In the fourth and final part of this sutta the monks go back to the Buddha who says that he would have explained in the same as Ven Kaccāyana had done. Ven Ananda who was present then smiled and said that just as a hungry man would be pleased at finding a honeyball, so too would a monk who examines this discourse with understanding. This gave the name to this Sutta.

Summary Analysis
This is one of the principal suttas where the concept of mental proliferation is explained in the Pali Canon. While the sequence of how sense impressions lead to the kind of thinking could be justified in terms of modern psychology there are significant differences between the ancient ideas given in this exposition and modern views.

The first four organs (eye, ear, nose and tongue) can be easily identified. But the fifth body is less so. After all all the first four organs are in the human body. One might tend to identify it with the external covering of the body (the skin) but this is not as distinct as the other organs. Modern physiology might identify it with the nervous system but this was not know in ancient times. Finally there is no physical organ that could be identified with the mind. The old Vedic notion that the relevant organ is the heart is sometimes retained Buddhism. But it clearly plays no part in the physiology of mental phenomena. The role of the brain was not known in the ancient world.

The notions implicit in this sutta that mental proliferation is the cause of war, quarrels and other forms of wrong action that are attributed to them is also questionable. It seems to assume that humans act on instrict as many animals do. Humans do not react to sense impressions in the way that insects and animals are programmed by their genetic constitution to do.


M19. Dvedhāvitakka Sutta
The Two-Fold Talk

[NOTE: This sutta begins with a recollection of the Buddha of the days before his enlightenment when he was still a Bodhisattva. He recalls that he decided to divide his thinking into two sorts. One imbued with sensuality, ill will and harmfulness and the other with renunciation. The rest of the sutta deals with what happens when one or the other of these two sorts take hold.]

[206] This sutta was delivered to the monks at Jetavana. It begins with a recollection of the Buddha of the days before his enlightenment when he was still a Bodhisattva. He recalls that he decided to divide his thinking into two sorts. One imbued with sensuality (kāmavitakko), ill- will and harmfulness and the other with renunciation (nekkhammavitakko) , non-ill will and harmlessness.

[207] He first considers the case when sensuality, ill will and harmfulness arose in him as a Bodhisattva. He noted that this led to his own hurt or affliction (ābādhāya) or to the affliction of others or to the affliction of both. It obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, and does not lead to Nibbāna. he then abandoned this thinking, dispelled it and wiped it out of existence. The Buddha then advised his monks to do likewise if sensuality thinking arises in them.

[208] The Buddha then considers the case when as a Bodhisattava he developed thinking imbued with renunciation, good will and harmlessness. He noticed that this leads neither to his own affliction, nor to the affliction of others, nor to the affliction of both. It fosters discernment, promotes lack of vexation, and leads to Nibbāna. He then gives the parable of a cowherd at a time when the crops are ripening who has to hit the cows with his stick to prevent them from straying into fields. The reason for this is that he himself would be punished for harming others crops. Similarly he sees the peril, vanity and defilement in unskilled states of mind, and the advantage of cleansing and renouncing them for skilled states of mind.

[209-214] Going back to his Bodhisattava recollections the Buddha said that his thoughts turned to renunciaton and he ramined calm. It ws like a cowherd after the crops are harvested when he can rest without worry of the cows eating the crops.

[215] The Buddha then gives the final parable of the deer. He postulates a pleasant forest grove in which there is a tract of marshy land. There is a large herd of deer who come regularly to feed in the pleasant grove. Then a man comes along and builds a path to the grove for the benefit of the deer. Then along comes another man who closes the path already build and builds a false path to the marshy land and places a female decoy and a male decoy to entice the deer along the false path. This leads to the ruin of the deer. The Buddha then explains this parable. The deer is humanity the first man is the Buddha and path he builds is the noble Eightfold path. The second man is Mara and the marshy land is Sensuality. The male decoy is passion and the female decoy is ignorance. These lead humanity to ruin. .

The Buddha concludes the discussion with this admonition and instruction to the monks: "Whatever, monks, is to be done from compassion by a Teacher seeking the welfare of his disciples, that has been done by me out of compassion for you. These, monks, are the roots of trees, these are empty places. Meditate, monks; do not be slothful, be not remorseful later. This is our instruction to you".


M20. Vitakkasanthāna Sutta
Distracting Thoughts

[216] This discourse was given by the Buddha to the monks at the Jetavana monastery. He said that five subjects (nimittāni) should be reflected on by a monk at the right time.

When evil, unskilled thoughts imbued with desire, aversion and delusion arise when he is considering a particular subject he should reflect on a different skilful subject. This will lead to the abandonment of the unskilful thought and the mind becomes unified and concentrated.

[217] If unskilful thoughts continue to rise the Bhikkhu he should reflect on the disadvantages of unskilful thoughts thus: "These thoughts of mine are unskilful (akusalā), blameworthy (sāvajjā) and lead to sorrow (dukkavipākā)". Then the unskillful thoughts disappear and the mind becomes firm (santiṭṭhati), settled(sannisīdati), unified (ekodi hoti) and concentrated (samādhiyati). The analogy of the aversion of a well dressed person to having a dead snake, dog or human around the person's neck is evoked to show the disgust the monk should feel for unskilful thoughts.

[218] If the unskilful thought still continue to rise he should pay no attention (asati-amanasikāro āpajjitabbo) to those thoughts. Then they will dissappera. The analogy of a keen sighted person shutting his eyes to avoid seeing (undesirable) sights is evoked in comparison.

[219] If the unskilful thoughts still continue the Bhikkhu should reflect on the mental removal of the source (manasikātabbaṃ) of the unskilful thought. This is compared to a person finding no reason for walking fast sequentially walks slowly, stands, sits down, lies down, and so on in order to reach a restful posture.

[220] If unskilful thoughts still continue the Bhikkhu should with clenched teeth and the tongue pressing on the palate, restrain, subdue and beat down the (evil) mind by the (good) mind. Then the evil unskilful thoughts will disappear. This is compared to a strong man subduing a weaker man.

[221] The Buddha concludes the sutta by a summary of them methods he had advcated and hoped that the monks could follow his instructins.

Summary Analysis

This sutta illustrates the difficulty of getting rid of a bad thought. The Buddha finally says at the conclusion of the sutta if unskilful thoughts continue to arise in spite of reflection on the source of unskilful thoughts, in spite of restraint, in spite of subduing and beating down the (evil) mind by the (good) mind, the use of force with clenched teeth and the tongue pressing on the palate will prevail.

But if that too does not succeed are we to admit defeat? After all mental tenencies cannot be eliminated by physical actions. The Buddha does not go that far and the problem remains unresolved except in the case where the unskilful thought is of a minor order.