Attha / yoni

Posted: December 20, 2018 by pathpress in Dhamma Article

by Ven. Ariyavaṃsa

I.

tasmā hi paṇḍito poso, sampassaṃ atthamattano.
yoniso vicine dhammaṃ, evaṃ tattha visujjhati.

MN 143

How are we to translate these lines of poetry into English? First of all, we must decide if we want to create something which will have some poetic value in English. If we are to do this, it is highly likely that we will find ourselves having to stray away from the Pāli. Alternatively, we can try to stay as closely as possible to the Pāli. This would be my preference. Our primary aim is not to produce some beautiful words and phrases but to understand the teachings spoken by the Tathāgatha and his noble disciples.

tasmātiha, bhikkhave, evaṃ sikkhitabbaṃ — ‘ye te suttantā tathāgatabhāsitā gambhīrā gambhīratthā lokuttarā suññatappaṭisaṃyuttā, tesu bhaññamānesu sussūsissāma, sotaṃ odahissāma, aññā cittaṃ upaṭṭhāpessāma, te ca dhamme uggahetabbaṃ pariyāpuṇitabbaṃ maññissāmā’ti. evañhi vo, bhikkhave, sikkhitabban”ti.

Therefore, bhikkhus, it should be learned like this: ‘When those discourses spoken by the Tathāgatha—which are deep, deep in meaning, beyond the world, connected with emptiness—are being spoken, we will listen, we will lend an ear, we will make the mind ready for discernment and we will think these things should be taken up, should be mastered.’ In this way, bhikkhus, it should be learned by you.

SN 20:7

If our translation is being guided by our wish to understand the meaning of the Pāli, then we are likely to produce something which we can no longer call poetry, but which attempts to capture the original text as literally as possible.

But when a translation is only literal it is not necessarily faithful. It is faithful only when its terms are words which speak from the language of the matter itself.

Heidegger 1984:14

To adapt something that Heidegger says in another essay (1998:188), we should not be aiming at a “trans-lation” in the sense of a “carrying-over” of the Pāli words into the proper force and weight of English. The intention is not to replace the Pāli but only to place us into the Pāli. In what follows, I will try to translate these words in a way that speaks from the language of the matter itself.

 

II.

First, let me say a little about the context. These lines are attributed to the young deva Anāthapiṇḍika. Shortly after having received a teaching from the venerable Sāriputta, Anāthapiṇḍika—an ariyasāvaka—died and reappeared in the Tusita heaven. One night, Anāthapiṇḍika, now a young god of beautiful appearance, came to Jeta’s Grove and addressed the Blessed One in verse. This is one of the four stanzas that he uttered. These verses are also found at SN 1:48 and SN 2:20.

We might translate the first line as follows:

tasmā hi paṇḍito poso, sampassaṃ atthamattano

Therefore, a wise man, seeing his own welfare

This, I believe, would be something like the standard translation. In the PTS dictionary, the primary meaning of attha is given as “interest, advantage, gain; (moral) good blessing, welfare; profit, prosperity, well-being”. However, although this may be accurate, I believe we may be able to get closer to the matter that Anāthapiṇḍika is speaking of if we consider this word attha more carefully. The Pāli attha is related to the Vedic artha, which itself is etymologically connected with the Greek αἰτία, which we might write as aitia. This word aitia (or sometimes aition) plays a key role in Aristotle’s writings.1 We also see it at work in the English word aetiology—the study of causation (in philosophy) or the study of the causation of disease (in medicine). The Latin equivalent of aitia is causa. The traditional English translation of aitia is “cause”.

In light of this, we might now translate the first line as follows:

tasmā hi paṇḍito poso, sampassaṃ atthamattano

Therefore, a wise man, seeing the cause of his self

This is certainly quite different from our previous attempt and begins to get closer. But the problem now lies in this word “cause”. What do we mean by this word?

Causa, casus, belongs to the verb cadere, “to fall”, and means that which brings it about that something falls out as a result in such and such a way.

Heidegger 1993:314

A cause is that which brings something about, that which obtains results or effects.

But everything that later ages seek in Greek thought under the conception and rubric “causality” in the realm of Greek thought and for Greek thought per se has simply nothing to do with bringing about and effecting. What we call cause [Ursache] and the Romans call causa is called aition by the Greeks, that to which something is indebted.

ibid.

For Aristotle, aitia (or aition) is that which is responsible for something being what it is. It is that which something owes thanks to, that which it is indebted to. It is that which determines something as the thing that it is—that without which this thing would not be possible. In order to understand what is being described here, one must understand that, for the Greeks, the relationship between a thing and its aitia is not temporal. They are not separated in time. Rather, the aitia is simultaneously present with that thing, for as long as that thing is there, being the thing that it is.

This commitment appears most starkly to modern eyes in Aristotle’s discussion of projectile motion. What keeps the projectile moving after it leaves the hand? “Impetus,” “momentum,” much less “inertia,” are not possible answers. There must be a mover, distinct (at least in some sense) from the thing moved, which is exercising its motive capacity at every moment of the projectile’s flight.

Hankinson 2009:217

Fortunately, we need not concern ourselves here with what this “mover” might be. All we need to understand is that Aristotle’s aitia is quite different from what is normally meant by the word “cause”. It has nothing to do with our modern-day laws of causality which attempt to explain the natural world and which form the basis of what we now call natural science. It is not to be found from within the natural attitude. One must adopt a phenomenological attitude. What this means is that the relationship between a thing and its aitia can only be understood with respect to this thing’s meaning. The aitia is that because of which this thing makes sense to me in the way that I make sense of it. It is that which is responsible for the meaning of this thing and will only be discerned as a negative aspect of this thing whose meaning it is responsible for. One will only find the aitia through (and simultaneously present with) this positive thing which is indebted to that aitia.

In order to put aside our scientific concept of causality that pertains to natural entities in the natural world, it may be helpful to re-examine the ancient doctrine of the four causes which has been taught by philosophers for centuries:

1. the causa materialis, the material, the matter out of which, for example, a silver chalice is made;

2. the causa formalis, the form, the shape into which the material enters;

3. the causa finalis, the end, for example, the sacrificial rite in relation to which the required chalice is determined as to its form and matter;

4. the causa efficiens, which brings about the effect that is the finished, actual chalice, in this instance, the silversmith.

Heidegger 1993:313-4

“But suppose,” Heidegger continues, “that causality, for its part, is veiled in darkness with respect to what it is” (ibid). What Heidegger wants to point out is that when one reads about these four causes, one can no longer see what it is they are describing. One cannot help but interpret this doctrine in the light of our modern understanding of causality. As a result, what Aristotle meant by this fourfold causality remains obscured. Let us, therefore, consider Heidegger’s phenomenological interpretation of Aristotle’s understanding of these four “causes”:

Silver is that out of which the silver chalice is made. As this matter (hyle), it is co-responsible for the chalice. The chalice is indebted to, i.e. owes thanks to, the silver for that of which it consists. But the sacrificial vessel is indebted not only to the silver. As a chalice, that which is indebted to the silver appears in the aspect of a chalice, and not in that of a brooch or a ring. Thus the sacred vessel is at the same time indebted to the aspect (eidos) of chaliceness. Both the silver into which the aspect is admitted as chalice and the aspect in which the silver appears are in their respective ways co-responsible for the sacrificial vessel.

But there remains yet a third something that is above all responsible for the sacrificial vessel. It is that which in advance confines the chalice within the realm of consecration and bestowal. Through this the chalice is circumscribed as sacrificial vessel. Circumscribing gives bounds to the thing. With the bounds the thing does not stop; rather, from within them it begins to be what after production it will be. That which gives bounds, that which completes, in this sense is called in Greek telos, which is all too often translated as “aim” or “purpose”, and so misinterpreted. The telos is responsible for what as matter and what as aspect are together co-responsible for the sacrificial vessel.

Finally, there is a fourth participant in the responsibility for the finished sacrificial vessel’s lying before us ready for use; i.e. the silversmith—but not at all because he, in working, brings about the finished sacrificial chalice as if it were the effect of a making; the silversmith is not a causa efficiens.

The Aristotelian doctrine neither knows the cause that is named by this term, nor uses a Greek word that would correspond to it.

The silversmith considers carefully and gathers together the three aforementioned ways of being responsible and indebted. To consider carefully [überlegen] is in Greek legein, logos. Legein is rooted in apophainesthai, to bring forward into appearance. The silversmith is co-responsible as that from which the sacred vessel’s being brought forth and subsistence take and retain their first departure. The three previously mentioned ways of being responsible owe thanks to the pondering of the silversmith for the “that” and the “how” of their coming into appearance and into play for the production of the sacrificial vessel.

Thus four ways of owing hold sway in the sacrificial vessel that lies ready before us. They differ from one another, yet they belong together.

ibid: 315-6

Let us now consider the possibility that the Pāli attha is to be understood in a similar manner. One may even be tempted to wonder how closely these four causes relate to the Buddha’s doctrine of the five aggregates. To what extent is Aristotle’s hyle similar to rūpa? Is the eidos—the thing’s aspect; what is seen in the act of seeing; the thing’s intelligible appearance—the same as saññā? Or is it more like namā? Are we to think of a thing’s telos, that which gives bounds to the thing, in terms of those saṅkhārā which determine the significance of this thing? This gathering, bringing-forth, coming into appearance that Aristotle saw in legein and apophainesthai—is this viññāṇa? And what of vedanā? Such questions may have some superficial value, but ultimately they are scholarly questions. If one wants to actually make use of the Buddha’s teaching for one’s own welfare, one must adopt a vertical view and look “straight down into the abyss of [one’s] personal existence” (Ñāṇavīra 2010:3). To do this one does not need to find all of the horizontal connections between Greek and Indian thought. One simply needs to take up, out of faith, the doctrine of the five aggregates and apply this description to this very experience right here. Only in this way will one come to understand what is meant by the word attha.

The attha is not the cause of some effect. It is not the white snooker ball that causes the black to fall into the corner pocket. Neither is it that which is operative between kamma and vipāka.2 Rather, a thing’s attha is that which is simultaneously present with this thing and which is responsible for this thing being what it is, having the meaning that it has. What we are thinking when we are thinking a thing’s attha is the domain of the a priori conditions for the possibility of this thing being the thing that it is. This transcendental move is the hallmark of phenomenology. Phenomenology involves an inquiry into the transcendental conditions that make it possible for us to have this meaningful experience with the things we encounter. It is an investigation not so much of things, but of the attha of things.

We can now translate our first line as follows:

tasmā hi paṇḍito poso, sampassaṃ atthamattano

Therefore, a wise man, seeing that which is responsible for his assumption of his own existence

The wise man sees his own attha. He sees that which his very existence is dependent upon, that which his existence owes thanks to, that without which his existence would be inconceivable. But this existence is not something out there in nature. Rather, it is the essential meaning of his experience. His experience is understood as being “my experience” because he assumes that he exists. The attha of his attā is that because of which this assumption of self is possible at all. And this is not something to be found at some previous moment in time. It is simply these five assumed aggregates that have manifested dependent upon which he keeps assuming that he exists. These five assumed aggregates can only be discerned through this phenomenon of “my experience” and as having simultaneously arisen with it. It is only possible to see one’s own attha if one learns how to look in a direction that has nothing to do with time. When one does this, it becomes possible to understand what the Buddha meant when he described the Dhamma as akālika.

 

III.

Let us now consider the second line. I would expect the standard translation to be something like the following:

yoniso vicine dhammaṃ, evaṃ tattha visujjhati.

He should carefully examine the Dhamma; In this way he is purified there.

Here vicine is the optative third person singular of the verb vicināti, which means “he considers, he discriminates, he selects”. The word dhammaṃ certainly can be used to refer to the Buddha’s teaching. But yoniso does not mean “carefully”. This really misses the heart of the matter that is being spoken about. Yoniso literally means “from the womb” or “from the origin”. We mainly know it from the expression yoniso manasikāra—“attention from the origin”. Whenever one attends (manasi karoti) to something (dhammaṃ), one can either attend yoniso or ayoniso. Or the way in which one reflects (paṭisaṅkhāti) can be described as yoniso or ayoniso (e.g. MN 2). Or one examines (upaparikkhati) something yoniso or ayoniso (SN 22:95). Or, as we see in this verse, we might say that one can either consider a thing (vicināti dhammaṃ) yoniso or ayoniso.

But what is meant when we say that one considers a thing from its origin? We have already seen this. To consider a thing from its origin involves recognising the attha of the thing and seeing that this thing is inseparable from its attha. The origin of a thing is that because of which this thing is what it is.

Origin here means that from which and by which something is what it is and as it is. What something is, as it is, we call its essence. The origin of something is the source of its essence.

Heidegger 1993:143

If one considers a thing from the perspective of its origin, one recognises that because of which this thing is here in the way that it is here, and sees this thing in the light of its origination. To attend to something from the perspective of its origin—i.e. while simultaneously recognising the source of its essence—is to be engaged in the phenomenological attitude. But although we say “from the origin” (yoniso is the ablative)3 one must also understand that this origin is inconceivable without this thing also being there. The origin can only be found as the negative of this thing, and so it requires that positive thing to be there in order for it to be discerned. Although there can be no foreground without a background, so too there can be no background without a foreground. The origin of a thing is that because of which this thing has manifested; and yet the thing is that because of which this origin is discernible. When there is this, there is this. They are simultaneously present, dependently originated.

And so, here is a translation of these two lines of verse which, I believe, begins to speak from the language of the matter that was being articulated by the young deva Anāthapiṇḍika:

tasmā hi paṇḍito poso, sampassaṃ atthamattano. yoniso vicine dhammaṃ, evaṃ tattha visujjhati.

Therefore, a wise man, seeing that which is responsible for his assumption of his own existence should consider the thing from its origin. In this way he is purified there.

In order to see the Dhamma, a puthujjana must not only recognise the phenomenon of self that has manifested (in whichever way it has manifested), he must also recognise that because of which this phenomenon of self has manifested in this way. In other words, he must be approaching things phenomenologically. He must see that which all notions of “This is mine, this I am, this is my self” depend upon. By recognising that which allows for this meaning to be there—the origin of this meaningful experience of self-&-world—he is now ready to enter the stream of Dhamma. It was because of yoniso manasikāra that the Bodhisatta Vipassī had a breakthrough of understanding and discovered the Dhamma for himself.

atha kho, bhikkhave, vipassissa bodhisattassa vāsūpagatassa rahogatassa paṭisallīnassa evaṃ cetaso parivitakko udapādi — ‘kicchaṃ vatāyaṃ loko āpanno, jāyati ca jīyati ca mīyati ca cavati ca upapajjati ca, atha ca panimassa dukkhassa nissaraṇaṃ nappajānāti jarāmaraṇassa, kudāssu nāma imassa dukkhassa nissaraṇaṃ paññāyissati jarāmaraṇassā’ti?

atha kho, bhikkhave, vipassissa bodhisattassa etadahosi — ‘kimhi nu kho sati jarāmaraṇaṃ hoti, kiṃpaccayā jarāmaraṇan’ti? atha kho, bhikkhave, vipassissa bodhisattassa yoniso manasikārā ahu paññāya abhisamayo — ‘jātiyā kho sati jarāmaraṇaṃ hoti, jātipaccayā jarāmaraṇan’ti. atha kho, bhikkhave, vipassissa bodhisattassa etadahosi — ‘kimhi nu kho sati jāti… bhavo… upādānaṃ… taṇhā… vedanā… phasso… saḷāyatanaṃ… nāmarūpaṃ… viññāṇaṃ hoti, kiṃpaccayā viññāṇan’ti? atha kho, bhikkhave, vipassissa bodhisattassa yoniso manasikārā ahu paññāya abhisamayo — ‘nāmarūpe kho sati viññāṇaṃ hoti, nāmarūpapaccayā viññāṇan’ti.

atha kho, bhikkhave, vipassissa bodhisattassa etadahosi — ‘paccudāvattati kho idaṃ viññāṇaṃ nāmarūpamhā, nāparaṃ gacchati. ettāvatā jāyetha vā jiyyetha vā miyyetha vā cavetha vā upapajjetha vā, yadidaṃ nāmarūpapaccayā viññāṇaṃ, viññāṇapaccayā nāmarūpaṃ, nāmarūpapaccayā saḷāyatanaṃ, saḷāyatanapaccayā phasso, phassapaccayā vedanā, vedanāpaccayā taṇhā, taṇhāpaccayā upādānaṃ, upādānapaccayā bhavo, bhavapaccayā jāti, jātipaccayā jarāmaraṇaṃ sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā sambhavanti. evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa samudayo hoti’. ‘samudayo samudayo’ti kho, bhikkhave, vipassissa bodhisattassa pubbe ananussutesu dhammesu cakkhuṃ udapādi, ñāṇaṃ udapādi, paññā udapādi, vijjā udapādi, āloko udapādi.

atha kho, bhikkhave, vipassissa bodhisattassa etadahosi — ‘kimhi nu kho asati jarāmaraṇaṃ na hoti, kissa nirodhā jarāmaraṇanirodho’ti? atha kho, bhikkhave, vipassissa bodhisattassa yoniso manasikārā ahu paññāya abhisamayo — ‘jātiyā kho asati jarāmaraṇaṃ na hoti, jātinirodhā jarāmaraṇanirodho’ti. atha kho, bhikkhave, vipassissa bodhisattassa etadahosi — ‘kimhi nu kho asati jāti… bhavo… upādānaṃ… taṇhā… vedanā… phasso… saḷāyatanaṃ… nāmarūpaṃ… viññāṇaṃ na hoti, kissa nirodhā viññāṇanirodho’ti?

atha kho, bhikkhave, vipassissa bodhisattassa yoniso manasikārā ahu paññāya abhisamayo — ‘nāmarūpe kho asati viññāṇaṃ na hoti, nāmarūpanirodhā viññāṇanirodho’ti. atha kho, bhikkhave, vipassissa bodhisattassa etadahosi — ‘adhigato kho myāyaṃ maggo sambodhāya yadidaṃ — nāmarūpanirodhā viññāṇanirodho, viññāṇanirodhā nāmarūpanirodho, nāmarūpanirodhā saḷāyatananirodho, saḷāyatananirodhā phassanirodho, phassanirodhā vedanānirodho, vedanānirodhā taṇhānirodho, taṇhānirodhā upādānanirodho, upādānanirodhā bhavanirodho, bhavanirodhā jātinirodho, jātinirodhā jarāmaraṇaṃ sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā nirujjhanti. evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa nirodho hoti’.‘nirodho nirodho’ti kho, bhikkhave, vipassissa bodhisattassa pubbe ananussutesu dhammesu cakkhuṃ udapādi, ñāṇaṃ udapādi, paññā udapādi, vijjā udapādi, āloko udapādi.

Then, bhikkhus, for the Bodhisatta Vipassī, who had gone to his dwelling, gone into solitude, in seclusion, this reflection arose in his mind: “Indeed, the world has entered into misery: one is born, ages, dies, passes away and is reborn. And yet one does not understand the escape from this suffering. Oh, when will the escape from this suffering be seen?”

Then, bhikkhus, for the Bodhisatta Vipassī there was this: “When there is what is there ageing-&-death, with the support of what, ageing-&-death?” Then, bhikkhus, for the Bodhisatta Vipassī, because of attention from the origin, there was a breakthrough in understanding: “When there is birth there is ageing-&-death, with the support of birth, ageing-&-death.” Then, bhikkhus, for the Bodhisatta Vipassī there was this: “When there is what is there birth… being… assuming… craving… feeling… contact… the six domains… name-&-matter… consciousness, with the support of what is there consciousness?”

Then, bhikkhus, for the Bodhisatta Vipassī, because of attention from the origin, there was a breakthrough in understanding: “When there is name-&-matter there is consciousness, with the support of name-&-matter, consciousness.” Then, bhikkhus, for the Bodhisatta Vipassī there was this: “This consciousness keeps coming back because of name-&-matter, it goes no further. In this way one can be born, one can age, one can die, one can pass away or one can be reborn, that is: with the support of name-&-matter, consciousness. With the support of consciousness, name-&-matter. With the support of name-&-matter, the six domains. With the support of the six domains, contact. With the support of contact, feeling. With the support of feeling, craving. With the support of craving, assuming. With the support of assuming, being. With the support of being, birth. With the support of birth, ageing-&-death, sorrow-lamentation-pain-unhappiness-&-despair arises. In this way there is the origination of this whole heap of suffering.” “Origination, origination,” bhikkhus: for the Bodhisatta Vipassī, in things unheard of before, the eye arose, knowledge arose, understanding arose, wisdom arose, light arose.

Then, bhikkhus, for the Bodhisatta Vipassī there was this: “When there is not what is there not ageing-&-death, with the cessation of what, cessation of ageing-&-death?” Then, bhikkhus, for the Bodhisatta Vipassī, because of attention from the origin, there was a breakthrough in understanding: “When there is not birth there is not ageing-&-death, with the cessation of birth, cessation of ageing-&-death.” Then, bhikkhus, for the Bodhisatta Vipassī there was this: “When there is not what is there not birth… being… assuming… craving… feeling… contact… the six domains… name-&-matter… consciousness, with the cessation of what, cessation of consciousness?”

Then, bhikkhus, for the Bodhisatta Vipassī, because of attention from the origin, there was a breakthrough in understanding: “When there is not name-&-matter there is not consciousness, with the cessation of name-&-matter, cessation of consciousness.” Then, bhikkhus, for the Bodhisatta Vipassī there was this: “This path of awakening has been found by me, that is: with the cessation of name-&-matter, cessation of consciousness. With the cessation of consciousness, cessation of name-&-matter. With the cessation of name-&-matter, cessation of the six domains. With the cessation of the six domains, cessation of contact. With the cessation of contact, cessation of feeling. With the cessation of feeling, cessation of craving. With the cessation of craving, cessation of assuming. With the cessation of assuming, cessation of being. With the cessation of being, cessation of birth. With the cessation of birth, ageing-&-death, sorrow-lamentation-pain-unhappiness-&-despair ceases. In this way there is the cessation of this whole heap of suffering.” “Cessation, cessation,” bhikkhus: for the Bodhisatta Vipassī, in things unheard of before, the eye arose, knowledge arose, understanding arose, wisdom arose, light arose.

DN 14

For someone who is destined to be a Buddha, like the Bodhisatta Vipassī, it is by attending to things from the origin that he finds himself entering upon the path of awakening. However, for everyone other than a Buddha, what is required is not only yoniso manasikāra, but also some external instruction: parato ghosa.

dveme, bhikkhave, paccayā sammādiṭṭhiyā uppādāya. katame dve? parato ca ghoso, yoniso ca manasikāro. ime kho, bhikkhave, dve paccayā sammādiṭṭhiyā uppādāyā”ti.

Bhikkhus, there are these two supports for the arising of right view. Which two? The voice from beyond and attention from the origin. These, bhikkhus, are the two supports for the arising of right view.

AN 2:126

The voice from beyond provides an understanding of things (sammappaññā) which comes from outside of one’s current understanding. It is an external perspective on one’s situation. And we find this understanding being described by the following words:

yaṃ kiñci samudayadhammaṃ, sabbaṃ taṃ nirodhadhamman”ti.

“Whatever has the nature of origination, all that has the nature of cessation.”

SN 56:11

Whoever sees this for himself can now be called an ariyasāvaka, a noble disciple of the Buddha, and he is now in a position to practise in line with the Dhamma. To do this, he applies this perception of impermanence (aniccasaññā) to this very attha of his attā. He develops the understanding that everything which could possibly be the origin of all notions of “This is mine, this I am, this is my self”—namely: the pañcupādānakkhandhā—is impermanent, subject to change and responsible for all this suffering. One who sees that because of which this thing is what it is, as it is, sees the origination of this thing. But an ariyasāvaka, for whom there is aniccasaññā, also sees the impermanence of this origination. He sees that that because of which this thing is what it is, as it is, could be swept away at any moment. And if that because of which this thing is there were not there, this thing would no longer remain standing. In this way, the ariyasāvaka not only sees the origination of this thing, he also—simultaneously—sees its cessation.

vuttaṃ kho panetaṃ bhagavatā — ‘yo paṭiccasamuppādaṃ passati so dhammaṃ passati; yo dhammaṃ passati so paṭiccasamuppādaṃ passatīti. paṭiccasamuppannā kho panime yadidaṃ pañcupādānakkhandhā. yo imesu pañcasu upādānakkhandhesu chando ālayo anunayo ajjhosānaṃ so dukkhasamudayo. yo imesu pañcasu upādānakkhandhesu chandarāgavinayo chandarāgappahānaṃ, so dukkhanirodho’ti.

But this has been said by the Blessed One: ‘Whoever sees dependent origination sees the Dhamma, whoever sees the Dhamma sees dependent origination.’ And these five are dependently arisen, that is the five assumed aggregates. Whatever desire, attachment, acceptance, holding in these five assumed aggregates—this is the origin of suffering. Whatever removal of desire-&-passion, abandoning of desire-&-passion—this is the cessation of suffering.

MN 28

This phenomenon of self which has manifested owes thanks to, is indebted to, is determined by these five assumed aggregates. By understanding that his very existence depends upon these things that are dependently arisen, subject to change, completely out of his control, the ariyasāvaka removes all desire-&-passion for these things and, thereby, uproots all notions of “This is mine, this I am, this is my self’. In order to do this, all he needs to do is to keep attending to his existential situation phenomenologically, from the origin, from the perspective of its attha.

nāhaṃ, bhikkhave, aññaṃ ekadhammampi samanupassāmi yena anuppannā vā micchādiṭṭhi uppajjati uppannā vā micchādiṭṭhi pavaḍḍhati yathayidaṃ, bhikkhave, ayonisomanasikāro. ayoniso, bhikkhave, manasi karoto anuppannā ceva micchādiṭṭhi uppajjati uppannā ca micchādiṭṭhi pavaḍḍhatī”ti.

Bhikkhus, I do not see even one other thing because of which unarisen wrong view arises or arisen wrong view increases as this attention-not-from-the-origin. Bhikkhus, attending-not-from-the-origin, unarisen wrong view arises and arisen wrong view increases.

AN 1:309

 

nāhaṃ, bhikkhave, aññaṃ ekadhammampi samanupassāmi yena anuppannā vā sammādiṭṭhi uppajjati uppannā vā sammādiṭṭhi pavaḍḍhati yathayidaṃ, bhikkhave, yonisomanasikāro. yoniso, bhikkhave, manasi karoto anuppannā ceva sammādiṭṭhi uppajjati uppannā ca sammādiṭṭhi pavaḍḍhatī”ti.

Bhikkhus, I do not see even one other thing because of which unarisen right view arises or arisen right view increases as this attention-from-the-origin. Bhikkhus, attending-from-the-origin, unarisen right view arises and arisen right view increases.

AN 1:310

Yoniso manasikāra, the Buddha tells us, is of utmost importance. It is that by which an instructed bhikkhu (sutavā bhikkhu) can become a sotāpanna and that by which a sotāpanna can practise for arahatship.4 If a puthujjana attends to the teachings of the Buddha in the right way, yoniso, then it is possible that he will come to recognise what is being described—in which case, he will no longer be a puthujjana. He can now be called a paṇḍita posa (“a wise man”). He should now follow the advice of the young deva Anāthapiṇḍika and make the effort to keep on attending to things in this way. If he does, he can make an end to this whole heap of suffering in this very life—just like the Bodhisatta Vipassī.

atha kho, bhikkhave, vipassī bodhisatto aparena samayena pañcasu upādānakkhandhesu udayabbayānupassī vihāsi — ‘iti rūpaṃ, iti rūpassa samudayo, iti rūpassa atthaṅgamo; iti vedanā, iti vedanāya samudayo, iti vedanāya atthaṅgamo; iti saññā, iti saññāya samudayo, iti saññāya atthaṅgamo; iti saṅkhārā, iti saṅkhārānaṃ samudayo, iti saṅkhārānaṃ atthaṅgamo; iti viññāṇaṃ, iti viññāṇassa samudayo, iti viññāṇassa atthaṅgamo’ti, tassa pañcasu upādānakkhandhesu udayabbayānupassino viharato na cirasseva anupādāya āsavehi cittaṃ vimuccī”ti.

Then, bhikkhus, the Bodhisatta Vipassī, on a later occasion, dwelled as one who sees growth-&-decay in the five assumed aggregates: ‘This is matter, this is the origin of matter, this is the disappearing of matter. This is feeling, this is the origin of feeling, this is the disappearing of feeling. This is perception, this is the origin of perception, this is the disappearing of perception. This is determinations, this is the origin of determinations, this is the disappearing of determinations. This is consciousness, this is the origin of consciousness, this is the disappearing of consciousness.’ Dwelling as one who sees growth-&-decay in these five assumed aggregates, it was not long before his mind was liberated from the taints by not assuming.

DN 14

 

References from the Pāli Canon

DN: Dīgha Nikāya

MN: Majjhima Nikāya

SN: Saṃyutta Nikāya

AN: Aṅguttara Nikāya

 

Other references

Hankinson, R. J. (2009) “Causes”. In G. Anagnostopoulos (ed.) A Companion to Aristotle. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell. p.213-229.

Heidegger, M. (1998) Pathmarks (ed. W. McNeill). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Heidegger, M. (1993) Basic Writings (Revised and Expanded Edition) (ed. D. F. Krell). Oxon: Routledge.

Heidegger, M. (1984) The Early Greeks (trans. D. F. Krell and F. A. Capuzzi). New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Ñāṇavīra, Bhikkhu (2010) Clearing the Path. Path Press Publications.

 

Endnotes:

1 The reason Aristotle seems to use aitia and aition interchangeably is probably because both of these words began life as an adjective: aitios. See Hankinson (2009:213).

2 As Venerable Ñāṇavīra puts it: “the ripening of kamma as vipāka takes time—vipāka always follows kamma after an interval and is never simultaneous with it” (2010:17).

3 The ablative generally indicates the locus from which an action begins (e.g. uṭṭhāyāsanā: “having got up from his seat”). But it can also express the cause or origin from which something has arisen (e.g. kiṃpaccayā bhavo: “from what support is there existence?”) With this latter meaning in mind, perhaps we may be justified in translating yoniso manasikāra as “attention which is indebted to that which this thing which I am attending to right now is indebted to”.

4 See SN 22:123. Indeed, as this sutta tells us, yoniso manasikāra is also that by which an arahat can, by gaining jhāna, have a pleasant dwelling in this very life.

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Peripheral Awareness

Posted: November 8, 2018 by pathpress in Bhikkhu's Notebook, Dhamma Article

by Ajahn Nyanamoli Thero

Mindfulness done correctly is when the mind is anchored in something. That something must be a thing that is not directly attended to, but instead, has to be a reference point to the attended thing (hence we call it “anchor”). If a thing is not directly attended to but there, we call that thing to be a “background”. It’s a background to a thing we attend (which makes that thing a “foreground”). This is the basic principle of mindfulness, on which we can expand here below. Read the rest of this entry »

Series of Talks on “Notes on Dhamma”

Posted: September 24, 2018 by pathpress in News

vlcsnap-2018-09-18-18h47m14s284 New Series of Talks on Ven. Nanavira Thera’s “Notes on Dhamma” will be posted on YouTube at the link below. Bhante Nanamoli is clarifying each individual Note and responding to the questions related to it. This means we can expect one video per Note. Later there might be more recordings in response to further requests for clarification, if so happens.

 

THE TALKS: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUPMn2PfEqIzfbkNHwmDmPW6T314crv44

Notes on Dhamma: http://www.nanavira.org/notes-on-dhamma

Hillside Hermitage: http://www.hillsidehermitage.org/

Kāyagatā sati – Mindfulness of the body

Posted: September 21, 2018 by pathpress in Dhamma Article

by Ven. Ariyavaṃsa

The Buddha tells us that there is one thing which, when developed, leads to the following:

  • great existential dread (AN 1:576)1
  • great benefit (AN 1:577)
  • great safety from bondage (AN 1:578)
  • mindfulness-&-awareness (AN 1:579)
  • the attainment of knowing-&-seeing (AN 1:580)
  • a pleasant dwelling in this very life (AN 1:581)
  • the realisation of the fruit of wisdom-&-liberation (AN 1:582)
  • the realisation of the fruit of stream-entry (AN 1:596)
  • the realisation of the fruit of once-returning (AN 1:597)
  • the realisation of the fruit of non-returning (AN 1:598)
  • the realisation of the fruit of arahatship (AN 1:599)

Read the rest of this entry »

Kāmā

Posted: July 17, 2018 by pathpress in Dhamma Article

by Ven. Ariyavaṃsa

dujjānaṃ kho etaṃ, kaccāna, tayā aññadiṭṭhikena aññakhantikena aññarucikena aññatrayogena aññatrācariyakena—kāmā vā kāmasukhaṃ vā…

This is difficult to understand, Kaccāna, for you with another view, with another belief, with another influence, with an association elsewhere, with a teacher from elsewhere—kāmā or the pleasure of kāmā

MN 80

1. “Let’s make some distinctions…”1

The Pali word kāmā is perhaps most frequently rendered in English as “sensual pleasures”. This translation is, I think, rather misleading, given the fact that the Buddha explicitly distinguished between kāmā and the pleasure that arises dependent on them. Read the rest of this entry »

Kammaṭṭhāna

Posted: July 11, 2018 by pathpress in Dhamma Article

by Ven. Ariyavaṃsa

The word kammaṭṭhāna is usually translated as “meditation object” and it plays a central role in the Visuddhimagga, Burmese-style meditation systems, the Thai Forest tradition, and in many people’s meditation practice. According to the Visuddhimagga, one should develop samādhi by focusing on a single object. Here is Venerable Ñāṇamoli’s translation of the relevant passage:

kenaṭṭhena samādhīti samādhānaṭṭhena samādhi. kimidaṃ samādhānaṃ nāma? ekārammaṇe cittacetasikānaṃ samaṃ sammā ca ādhānaṃ, ṭhapananti vuttaṃ hoti. tasmā yassa dhammassānubhāvena ekārammaṇe cittacetasikā samaṃ sammā ca avikkhipamānā avippakiṇṇā ca hutvā tiṭṭhanti, idaṃ samādhānanti veditabbaṃ.

In what sense is it “concentration”? It is concentration in the sense of concentrating. What is this thing called concentrating? It is centering consciousness and consciousness-concomitants evenly and rightly on a single object—placing, is what is meant. So it is the state, in virtue of which consciousness and its concomitants remain evenly and rightly on a single object undistracted and unscattered—that should be understood as “concentrating”.

Vsm (Ch. III, §3)

In order to do this, we are later told (Ch. III, § 28), we should approach a kalyāṇamitta, one who can give us a kammaṭṭhāna. With the right kammaṭṭhāna—the one, from a list of forty, which most suits our own particular temperament—we are then supposed to focus our mind on this, so as to become concentrated. Read the rest of this entry »

Video Dhamma by Ajahn Nyanamoli Thero

Posted: April 3, 2018 by pathpress in News

28616798_10155128502431697_5701584613323861205_oSome are already familiar with Dhamma teaching by Ajahn Nyanamoli shared here on Path Press website. In addition today we can find on YouTube also number of short video clips from Hillside Hermitage, Sri Lanka, where Ajahn Nyanamoli is responding to simple questions on Dhamma. Few are already shared HERE, and more will follow soon.

NEW: The Silent Sages of Old [PDF]

Posted: March 1, 2018 by pathpress in eBook, News

SSoOlogoOpen/Download the PDF:  pdf-download

The Editor’s Introduction

This small selection of Suttas is by no means comparably small in its importance and significance. For the realization of Dhamma is beyond any descriptive words or concepts: truth is not subject to measurement, comparison or classification. The Buddha and his noble disciples were skilled in the use of words as a means to guide seekers toward the very same realization of Dhamma that they had experienced – to a liberation from all troubles and burdens – but there is not always a need for elaborate explanation of all that one might experience in life. Rather, more meaningful is that which words inspire: the courage to go ‘against the stream’ of the world, and to put aside its mundane values. To move to silent abodes, forests or mountains, where silence and solitude afford the space to uncover hidden weaknesses, and where there may develop an opportunity to examine and understand the phenomena of subjective experience at a most fundamental and universal level. In short, the invitation implicit in these Suttas is to actually do the work which can bear the fruit of liberation.

The book presented here thus contains words which perhaps touch the deep truths of life in a most condensed way. The silent sages of the past were not interested in speculative studies, nor were they concerned with any kind of accumulation, either mental or physical. That was their nature. But they were, perhaps, in their individual ways, appreciative of some few words of the Buddha which they had come to hold in their hearts, and to recite regularly among shady trees, mossy rocks or calming streams – thus bringing the Buddha close to themselves (Cf. Itivuttaka 92).

But this translation does not just honor the old hermits of a distant and forgotten era, when monks used to live close to nature and its dangers. This translation was actually made by just such a sagely hermit of the present age, living in a remote and simple jungle three-walled hut. He is living proof that real striving to be closer to the Dhamma is still a present reality. Moreover, the translator’s skill with the Pali language, perfected to a high scholarly level, has become, after almost five decades of secluded life, even part of his thinking mind. His remarkable linguistic expertise and precision speaks for itself in the pages that follow, confirming his remarkable qualification to translate those ancient words into a modern language. This fact alone makes The Silent Sages of Old of great value, a book that can rightly be treasured.

The Venerable Translator and all other forest monks and friends who have been involved in this project wish to join in the spirit of the Silent Sages and therefore remain anonymous.

PRINTING: If anyone wishes to print the book for free distribution, please feel very welcome to contact us and we would be happy to assist you.