Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The world, the world! (sutra)

Amber Larson and Dhr. Seven (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly; F.L. Woodward (trans.), Kindred Sayings, The Chapter on Channa and Others (Samyutta Nikaya, IV, Pali Text Society)
Saving the world, protesting economic and social injustices, Occupy L.A. (Wisdom Quarterly)
(84) Ven. Ananda came to see the Exalted One [Buddha]...and asked:

"'The world! The world!' it is said. venerable sir, please explain, how far does this saying go?"

"Ananda, what is transitory (paloka-dhamma = bhijjanaka, worldly phenomena, impermanent) by nature is called 'the world' in this noble doctrine and discipline [Arya-Dhamma-Vinaya].
"And what, Ananda, is transitory by nature? The eye, Ananda, is transitory by nature...visible objects... [The same is said for all six senses including the] mind is transitory by nature, mind-states, mind-consciousness, mind-contact [contact = the coming together of sense base, sense object, AND consciousness], whatever pleasure or pain (weal or woe) or neutral state experienced arises owing to mind-contact -- that, too, is transitory by nature. 

"Ananda, what is transitory by nature is called 'the world' in this noble doctrine and discipline."

Empty (void)
(85) Then Ven. Ananda...said to the Exalted One: "'The world IS empty! The world is empty!' it is said. Venerable sir, how far does this saying go?"

"Ananda, because the world is devoid of a self or anything belonging to a self (atta-niya, a self's property or possessions), therefore it is said, 'The world is empty.' And what, Ananda, is devoid of a self or what belongs to a self?

"Eye, visible objects, eye-consciousness... mind, mind-objects, mind consciousness are devoid of a self. Ananda, that is why it is said, 'The world is empty!'"

In Brief
Massive, sitting, golden Shakyamuni Buddha statue, Thailand (WQ)
(86) ...Then Ven. Ananda said to the Exalted One: "Well, for me, venerable sir, if the Exalted One would teach me a teaching in brief, a teaching which on hearing from the Exalted One I might dwell solitary, remote, earnest, ardent, and aspiring."
"Now what do you think, Ananda? Is the eye permanent or impermanent?" -- "Impermanent, venerable sir."

"What is impermanent, is that pleasant or painful (weal or woe)?" "Painful, venerable sir."

"Now what is impermanent, painful (woeful, disappointing), changeable by nature, is it fitting to regard that as, 'This is mine. This I am. This is my self'?" -- "Surely not, venerable sir."
"Eye, visible objects, eye-consciousness, eye-contact -- is that permanent or impermanent?" [This same is said of all six senses, types of sense objects, consciousness, and contact between the three].

"Then of what is impermanent, disappointing, and changeable by nature, is it fitting to regard that as, 'This is mine. This I am. This is my self'?" -- "Surely not, venerable sir."

"So seeing, Ananda, the well-taught noble disciple... [is] freed of conceits; one grasps at nothing in the world [does not cling to anything in the world or anything regarding an illusory ego]. Being free from grasping, one is not troubled. Being untroubled, one is by oneself set free. Thus one realizes, 'Rebirth is destroyed, lived is the highest life, done is the task. There is no more of this [suffering] to come.'
"This, Ananda, is the proper approach to the uprooting of all conceits [delusions]."
The Heart of Wisdom Sutra
The later Mahayana tradition says all of this much more cryptically in the "Perfection of Wisdom" literature (Prajna Paramita), epitomized in the Heart Sutra.
There the Five Aggregates of Clinging are laid bare: form, feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness are empty. 
That is, they are devoid of a "self" through and through. Illusion exists. These constituents of being/becoming are generally regarded as a "self" by untaught, ordinary worldlings.
But because they are impermanent and unsatisfactory (disappointing), it is incorrect to regard them as personal. They are impersonal (not-self), beyond our control, brought into transient or momentary existence by causes and conditions. They do not arise by themselves but are brought into being by causes and conditions, which is to say they are dependently originated or arisen. 
All of this happens again and again based on ignorance. When liberating-insight arises, enlightenment dawns, and all suffering is brought to an end.

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