SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

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SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 12, 2010 12:23 pm

Greetings,

Here's an interesting sutta... anyone wish to give their thoughts on the intended meaning?

SN 35.236 - The Simile Of Hands And Feet (Bodhi translation)

Bhikkhus, when there are hands, picking up and putting down are discerned. When there are feet, coming and going are discerned. When there are limbs, bending and stretching are discerned. When there is the belly, hunger and thirst are discerned.

So too, bhikkhus, where there is the eye, pleasure and pain arise internally with eye-contact as condition. When there is the ear, pleasure and pain arise internally with ear-contact as condition.... When there is the mind, pleasure and pain arise internally with mind-contact as condition.

Bhikkhus, when there are no hands, picking up and putting down are not discerned. When there are no feet, coming and going are not discerned. When there are no limbs, bending and stretching are not discerned. When there is no belly, hunger and thirst are not discerned.

So too, bhikkhus, where there is no eye, no pleasure and pain arise internally with eye-contact as condition. When there is no ear, no pleasure and pain arise internally with ear-contact as condition.... When there is no mind, no pleasure and pain arise internally with mind-contact as condition.


Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby Ben » Wed May 12, 2010 1:00 pm

Hi Retro
I'm sorry I don't have my copy of the SN by my side at the moment. In the absence of any explanatory notes by Bhikkhu Bodhi, the first thing that comes to mind is the similarity of this sutta to vedananupassana and cittanupassana.
kind regards

Ben
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but great rivers flow silently.

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sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 12, 2010 1:09 pm

Greetings Ben,

There is a brief explanatory note (from Spk) but I've intentionally omitted it, lest it prematurely sway perceptions.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby Prasadachitta » Wed May 12, 2010 1:56 pm

Hi Retro,

I know you want my thoughts but its difficult to say which ones are relatively mine and which ones are more a matter of recalling what I have read so here I will directly quote What I have been reading.

MN 1

Mulapariyaya Sutta...(as quoted in "The Magic of Mind" by Nanananda Bhikkhu)

"And the Thathagata, too, monks, who is an Arahant, Fully Enlightened, understands earth as earth through higher knowledge; knowing earth as earth through higher knowledge, he does not conceive earth to be earth; he does not conceive: "from earth"; he does not conceive: "on the earth"; he does not conceive: "earth is mine" ; he does not delight in earth. What is the reason for this? I say, it is because it has been well comprehended by him."

I think you can substitute eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and whatever. The Sutta even has nirvana as one of the many things that go where the word earth is above.

Nananada goes on a few more paragraphs ahead to comment...

"When consciousness is not arrested by any object at the point of focus, it peneatrates through the net of name-and-form out into an infinitude, and "viewpoints" give place to an all encompassing vision, In this respect, it is described as "lustrous-all-round", and the lustre is wisdom itself. The illumination brings about a "fading away" of all objects which earlier appeared to be "significant" due to the bewitching gleam of sense-consciousness. Consequently, this experience is sometimes referred to as "the cessation of the six sense-spheres"."


Makes sense to me.
:clap:

Metta

Gabe
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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby bodom » Wed May 12, 2010 2:29 pm

This is where the commentaries really serve there purpose in my opinion. I would have no clue as to what this sutta is referring to. Many sutta's are cryptic and packed with meaning and this is where Ven. Mahakaccana, the foremost disciple in the detailed exposition of brief sayings helped the bhikkhu's decipher what the Buddha was saying even while the Blessed one was still alive. How much more 2500 years after his death do we need explanation now? It is said that Mahakaccana's "approach to interpretation was to become characteristic of the later commentaries." BB, SN pg 1046, note 17.

If I had to take a stab in the dark, without referring to Bodhi's notes, as to the meaning, existence and the cessation of existence due to Paticcasamuppada.

:anjali:
Last edited by bodom on Wed May 12, 2010 2:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby Virgo » Wed May 12, 2010 2:43 pm

The meaning is that things arise because of conditions.

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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby gavesako » Wed May 12, 2010 3:29 pm

Compare http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html which uses a similar imagery when talking about the "establishing" of consciousness when there is a "support" (arammana) for it due to clinging. This is similar to the "field" (khetta) which is made up of kamma, but it can be abandoned here & now if there is no delight and craving.

See "khettam tam na hoti, vatthum tam na hoti, āyatanam tam na hoti, adhikaranam tam na hoti, yam paccayāssa tam uppajjati ajjhattam sukhadukkham." A II 158, Cetanāsutta:

"When there is a body, pleasure & pain arise internally with bodily intention as the cause; or when there is speech, pleasure & pain arise internally with verbal intention as the cause; or when there is intellect, pleasure & pain arise internally with intellectual intention as the cause.

"From ignorance as a requisite condition, then either of one's own accord one fabricates bodily fabrication on account of which that pleasure & pain arise internally, or because of others one fabricates bodily fabrication on account of which that pleasure & pain arise internally. Either alert one fabricates bodily fabrication on account of which that pleasure & pain arise internally, or unalert one fabricates bodily fabrication on account of which that pleasure & pain arise internally. (Similarly with verbal & intellectual fabrications.)

"Now, ignorance is bound up in these things. From the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance, there no longer exists [the sense of] the body on account of which that pleasure & pain internally arise. There no longer exists the speech... the intellect on account of which that pleasure & pain internally arise. There no longer exists the field, the site, the dimension, or the issue on account of which that pleasure & pain internally arise."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby chownah » Thu May 13, 2010 2:19 pm

I think this sutta meshes very nicely with a bunch of others such as the one that talks about the All and the one that talks about the Thatagata not construeing things.

Instead of experiencing sensations as being "just so" or "just such" we worldlings construe a host of things in order to support our mistaken sense of self....we construe hands and so we attribute certain sensations to be a sign of our "self" being active in picking up and putting down....we construe limbs and so we attribute certain sensations as the self bending.....we construe a belly and so we attribute certain sensations as being our hunger and thirst.

This first part concerning body parts is a mundane introduction to the meaning of this sutta which then proceeds to use the same arguement only this time concerning the six sense doors. The first sense doors are the body sense doors (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body) and notably the mind is discussed last. The extension of the opening arguemt to include the body sense doors is to extend the arguement from the mundate world view to the more pertinent essential ingredients which constitute the All....even the construeing of the five body sense doors is to be seen and understood for what they are.....and....finally the last sense door i.e. the mind is dealt with using the same arguement and thus the discussion is lead to its conslusion which is that when this arguement is applied to the end it can eliminate pleasure and pain which sounds alot like the end of dukkha to me....I guess.

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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby Zom » Thu May 13, 2010 6:57 pm

I think the meaning of this sutta is quite plain - where there is no body and no mind - there is no contacts that produce feelings. No feelings - no dukkha.

There he said to the monks, "This Unbinding (nibbana) is pleasant, friends. This Unbinding is pleasant."
When this was said, Ven. Udayin said to Ven. Sariputta, "But what is the pleasure here, my friend, where there is nothing felt?"


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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby Dan74 » Fri May 14, 2010 12:57 am

Good question, good answers!!!

:anjali:
_/|\_
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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby tiltbillings » Fri May 14, 2010 1:21 am

Ben wrote:Hi Retro
I'm sorry I don't have my copy of the SN by my side at the moment. In the absence of any explanatory notes by Bhikkhu Bodhi, the first thing that comes to mind is the similarity of this sutta to vedananupassana and cittanupassana.
kind regards

Ben

The first thing that came to mind for me was the Heart Sutra. Oh, damn, I must be a closet Mahayanist. There has to be a cure for that.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby Dan74 » Fri May 14, 2010 1:38 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Ben wrote:Hi Retro
I'm sorry I don't have my copy of the SN by my side at the moment. In the absence of any explanatory notes by Bhikkhu Bodhi, the first thing that comes to mind is the similarity of this sutta to vedananupassana and cittanupassana.
kind regards

Ben

The first thing that came to mind for me was the Heart Sutra.


You said it, not me. ;)

Oh, damn, I must be a closet Mahayanist. There has to be a cure for that.


I am sure PeterB will be happy to lend his professional services! :D

"It all started many years ago when a friend bought me a book by the Dalai Lama. I hid it in the bottom of my wardrobe and took it out at night when the parents were asleep. I had all but forgotten about it and those days when recently I accidentally downloaded a talk by Thich Nhat Hanh. I meant to listen to one of Bhikkhu Bodhi's sutta talks but accidentally clicked on the wrong link. No honestly..."

By which stage Peter is writing a long prescription...

.....

Last edited by Dan74 on Fri May 14, 2010 1:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
_/|\_
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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby tiltbillings » Fri May 14, 2010 1:40 am

Dan74 wrote:
You said it, not me. ;)
Occasionally the Mahayanists do get it right, which is a good thing.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby Dan74 » Fri May 14, 2010 1:44 am

_/|\_
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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby retrofuturist » Fri May 14, 2010 1:45 am

Greetings,

My understanding of this sutta is along the lines of what Gabriel, Venerable Gavesako and Chownah have spoken.

I also agree with what Virgo has said, but it's so generic that we could both agree on that comment, yet understand the sutta in entirely different ways.

"Spk" (which I assume is the SN commentary) that Bhikkhu Bodhi refers to in his notes, seems to be of the perspective that it's comparing pre-parinibbana existence to post-parinibbana. In other words, the arahant dies, therefore will not be reborn with eyes, ears and so on. To me that's too crude, and misses the point... but then again, I generally think the commentarial tradition interprets things in an objectified ontological manner which would be better understood phenomenologically / experientially... so that is little surprise really.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby bodom » Fri May 14, 2010 2:01 am

retrofuturist wrote:"Spk" (which I assume is the SN commentary) that Bhikkhu Bodhi refers to in his notes, seems to be of the perspective that it's comparing pre-parinibbana existence to post-parinibbana. In other words, the arahant dies, therefore will not be reborn with eyes, ears and so on.


Sounds about right to me. Why read anymore into it than that? Speculation and papanca are endless. Guess we wont know until were enlightened will we?

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby retrofuturist » Fri May 14, 2010 2:24 am

Greetings Bodom,

bodom wrote:Sounds about right to me. Why read anymore into it than that? Speculation and papanca are endless. Guess we wont know until were enlightened will we?


I don't think there's any more "speculation and pananca" in one interpretation than there is in the next... one is just understanding the words in an ontological framework, and one is understanding them in a phenomenological framework.

The question really is just which framework is more useful for practicing the Dhamma. Since all we can ever know is the loka of our experience, I know which framework I find more useful. It is hard for scholars to incorporate the phenomenological perspective into their works, because they are trying to be, by nature of 'scholarship', personally independent of that which they describe and that is the very antithesis of the phenomenological approach.

H. J. Blackham wrote:The peculiarity of existentialism, then, is that it deals with the separation of man from himself and from the world, which raises the questions of philosophy, not by attempting to establish some universal form of justification which will enable man to readjust himself but by permanently enlarging and lining the separation itself as primordial and constitutive for personal existence. The main business of this philosophy therefore is not to answer the questions which are raised but to drive home the questions themselves until they engage the whole man and are made personal, urgent, and anguished. Such questions cannot be merely the traditional questions of the schools nor merely disinterested questions of curiosity concerning the conditions of knowledge or of moral or aesthetic judgements, for what is put in question by the separation of man from himself and from the world is his own being and the being of the objective world. ...These questions are not theoretical but existential, the scission which makes the existing individual aware of himself and of the world in which he is makes him a question to himself and life a question to him. ...Existential philosophies insist that any plain and positive answer is false, because the truth is in the insurmountable ambiguity which is at the heart of man and of the world

SN 35.236 is an excellent example by how, when you view a sutta from a different perspective, you can take out a completely different teaching to what someone else will see. If it was taken ontologically as was done by Spk, it would say little more than after death an arahant has no body and no mind and thus no sensations (but what do to with that ontological teaching?). If it was taken phenomenologically, there's actual practical instruction that can be derived, as exemplified by venerable Gavesako, chownah, Gabriel, and his excellent channelling of Bhikkhu Nanananda.

Note also the signficance of the term 'discerned' in the original sutta.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby bodom » Fri May 14, 2010 3:03 am

Whether written ontologically or phenomenologically, Its all just commentaries atop of commentaries until these things are realised for one's self.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby retrofuturist » Fri May 14, 2010 3:13 am

Greetings Bodom,

bodom wrote:Whether written ontologically or phenomenologically, Its all just commentaries atop of commentaries until these things are realised for one's self.


Indeed, but how are we to know the Dhamma... objectively in a scholarly sense, or directly in a phenomenological sense? 8-)

I guess that's for each person to decide for themselves according to their own reason and logic. I raise it mainly because often people see no other way of looking at anything other than ontologically... I think it's probably a by-product of the Western educational system.

Dependent origination, which was mentioned in another topic as the key distinguishing feature of Buddhism vis-a-vis other spiritual traditions, looks very different viewed phenomenlogically compared to when viewed ontologically. So much so that two people taking opposing perspectives talk straight past each other... see Bhikkhu Bodhi's critique of venerable Nanavira's Note of Paticcasamuppada by way of example. I have realised the futility of such discussions and abandon them when I can see someone is fixed in their ontological perspective. No offense to them, it's just that the conversation serves no further purpose.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: SN 35.236 The Simile Of Hands And Feet

Postby bodom » Fri May 14, 2010 3:25 am

The Dhamma obviously needs to be understood in its conceptual framework before one can practice it. Its the old cliche simile of the map. Once you get to where your going you dont need the map anymore. Once you reach arahantship what use are the suttas?

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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