SN 22.53 Upaya Sutta: Approaching
Translated by Bhikkhu Ñananandahttp://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... passage-17
...at Saavatthi... Then the Exalted One said:
"The one who approaches is not released; the one who does not approach is released.
"Approaching[45a] form, monks, consciousness, in persisting, it would persist. With form as its support, with form as its foothold, sprinkled over with delight, it may come by growth, increase, abundance. Approaching feeling... Approaching perception... Approaching formations, monks, consciousness in persisting, would persist. With formations as its support, with formations as its foothold, sprinkled over with delight, it may come by growth, increase, abundance.
"Were a man, monks, to declare thus: 'Apart from form, apart from feeling, apart from perception, apart from formations, I will show forth the coming or the going or the decease or the rebirth or the growth or the increase or the abundance of consciousness' — to do that were impossible.
"If lust for the form-mode, monks, is abandoned by a monk, by that abandonment of lust the support is cut off and there is no establishment of consciousness. If lust for the feeling-mode... If lust for the perception-mode... If lust for the formations-mode... If lust for the consciousness-mode, monks, is abandoned in a monk, by the abandonment the support is cut off and there is no establishment of consciousness.
"That unestablished consciousness, not growing and not concocting, is freed: due to its freedom, it is steady: by its steadiness, it is contented: owing to its contentment, he is not troubled. Being untroubled, of himself he is perfectly tranquilized, and he knows: "Exhausted is birth, lived is the holy life, done is the task, there is nothing beyond this for (a designation of) the conditions of this existence."Notes
45a. 'Upaya' as 'approaching,' marks the incipient stage in the long psychological process implied by the string of terms: 'upayupaadaanaa cetaso adhi.t.thaanaabhinivesaanusayaa,' (S. III 10 [SN22.3http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.003.than.html
]), which depicts, with a shade of a metaphor, the stages in an ascending order, thus: 'approaching — grasping — mental-standpoint — entering into — lying dormant.' The metaphorical associations are quite in place, as they are suggestive of the 'abodes of the mind' (S. III 9ff [SN22.3]; also, see above Note 27 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanananda/wheel183.html#fn-27
). The process covers the entire range of 'ignorance-cum-craving.' The initial 'approach' is prompted as much by intellect as by emotion, in so far as curiosity and interest give rise to attention. The stages that follow, graphically depict the consummation of ignorance — crystallized into views (di.t.thi) — and craving. Consciousness, having 'approached' its object, grasps it, acquires it, occupies it and is finally obsessed by it, which obsession is then carried over in the form of a seed-plot of latencies for the recurrence of the same process — ad infinitum.
46. Delight (nandi) is figuratively conceived as the water that is sprinkled to make the consciousness seed grow (nandupasecana.m). The metaphor appears in full in the very next sutta (XXII.54. 'Seed' http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.054.than.html
): "As the earth-element, monks, so should the four stations of consciousness be considered. As the water-element, monks, so should delight-and-lust (nandiraaga) be considered. As the five sorts of seed, monks, so should 'consciousness-with-nutriment' be considered."
The P.T.S. ed. follows the variant reading, 'nandupasevanam' (translated as 'seeking means of enjoyment' — K.S. III 45ff).
47. Each of the first four aggregates acts as a 'support' or a 'foothold' for consciousness. They are sometimes called 'abodes for consciousness.' (S. III 9ff [SN22.3]).
48. This declaration disposes of the possibility of regarding consciousness as an entity that transmigrates by itself. In the Mahaata.nhaasa.nkhaya Sutta (M. I. 258 [MN 38 http://www.mahindarama.com/e-tipitaka/Majjhima-Nikaya/mn-38.htm
]) we find the Buddha rebuking the monk Saati for misrepresenting him with the statement: "This self-same consciousness fares on and transmigrates and no other* (ana~n~na.m) — thus do I understand the Dhamma as preached by the Exalted One." The Buddha in repudiating it, says: "Foolish man, have I not, in many a figure spoken of consciousness as something dependently arisen (thus): 'There is no origination of consciousness except in relation to conditions.' The role of consciousness, as a dependently arisen phenomenon in the context of rebirth, has always to be understood with reference to one or more of the other aggregates.
*For this sense of the word 'ana~n~na.m,' (Cf...Mahaapurisassa dve'va gatiyo bhavanti ana~n~na' (Sn. p. 106). 'To a Superman...there are only two careers and no other (i.e., no more).'
49. The 'lust' (raaga) here referred to is but another shade of 'delight' (nandi), as shown above in Note 46. '...By the destruction of delight comes the destruction of lust. By the destruction of lust comes the destruction of delight. And by the destruction of delight-and-lust the mind comes to be called 'freed,' 'well-freed' (S. III 51 [SN 22.51]). The lusting for consciousness is itself said to be a support for the establishment of consciousness. Consciousness is so 'parasitic' that in the absence of a more palpable support, it gets established on the very latency to attachment. "Even if, monks, one neither wills, nor mentally concocts, but still has a latency — that becomes an object for the persistence of consciousness..." (S. II. 67 [SN 12.40]).
50. Consciousness, not having been concocted (anabhisa.nkhacca), is set free. The same idea is conveyed by the phrase 'visa.mkhaaragata.m citta.m' (Dhp. V. 154) — 'the mind gone to the state of non-concoction.' The appeasement of formations (sa.mkhaaruu pasama) is meant thereby.
51. The phrase 'naaparam itthattaaya' is here rendered as 'There is nothing beyond this for (a designation of) the conditions of this existence.' This phrase has been variously rendered (e.g., 'for life in these conditions there is no hereafter' — K.S. I 177; 'there is no more of being such or so' — M.L.S. 70, etc.)
The commentary gives more than one interpretation. For instance at S.A. I 205 (VI. I 3), it is explained with particular reference to the preceding phrase, thus: "Done is the task': the meaning is that the sixteenfold task (viz comprehension, abandonment, realization and development of the Four Truths by means of the Four Paths) has been accomplished. 'No-more-for thisness': now there is no more Path-development to be done for this state, that is, as regards this sixteenfold task or the destruction of defilements. Or else, 'for-thisness' means beyond this present process of aggregates of such a type, there is no other process of aggregates. And he knew that these five aggregates on being comprehended, just stand like a tree cut off at the root.
Perhaps the meaning of 'naaparam itthattaaya' can best be elicited from the following two Canonical passages:
I. "This consciousness turns back from name-and-form, it does not go beyond (naapara.m gacchati). In so far can one be born, or grow old, or die, or pass away, or reappear, in so far as this is, to wit: consciousness is dependent on name-and-form, name-and-form on consciousness, the six sense-spheres on name-and-form, contact on the six sense-spheres, feeling on contact, craving on feeling, grasping on craving, becoming on grasping, birth on becoming, and old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are dependent on birth. Thus is the arising of this entire mass of suffering." D.II 32f. Mahaapadaana S. [DN 14]
II. "In so far only, Aananda, can one be born, or grow old, or die or pass away or reappear, in so far only is there any pathway for verbal expression, in so far only is there any pathway for terminology, in so far only is there any pathway for designations, in so far only is there a whirling round for a designation of 'this-ness' (ettaavataa va.t.ta.m va.t.tati itthatta.m pa~n~naapanaaya) that is to say, as far as name-and-form together with consciousness. — D. II 63f. Mahaanidaana S. [DN 15 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.15.0.than.html
The very understanding that 'consciousness turns back from name-and-form and that it does not go beyond, is the saving-wisdom which amounts to a full comprehension of the illusion (Maayaa) that is consciousness. Between these two links of the Pa.ticca Samuppaada there is a vortex or a whirling-round for a designation of 'this-ness' (i.e., 'the conditions of this existence'). Now, a vortex or an eddy, is 'a current running back, contrary to the main stream, thus causing a circular motion,' and this Sa.msaaric vortex too is the outcome of defying the flux of nature with its three characteristics of impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukkha) and not-self (anattaa). When the reflex-mechanism of the consciousness is discovered, the motive force for this whirling round will lose its sanction. The nutriment-of-consciousness (vi~n~naa.naahaara) will expose itself to be a vicious 'feed-back system,' even as in the case of a vortex. 'Name-and-form' will be seen as a mere product of proliferation (papancanaamaruupa.m Sn. v. 530) — a Narcissistic image doted upon due to delusion. With this vision 'of-things-as-they-are' (yathaabhuuta~naa.nadassana), there comes a disgust (nibbidaa) for this interplay which is nothing but a secondary manifestation of a conflict (dukkha) with the 'main stream' of Nature. This disgust gives rise to a 'turning-away' (viraaga), which leads to the Freedom (vimutti) from the conflict that characterizes Sa.msaaric existence as a whole. There can be a designation or a 'pointing-out' (pa~n~naapana) as a 'this-ness' (itthatta) only as long as the vortex of individual existence is kept going. When the vortex ceases, all pathways of designation lose their point of reference, since where there was an 'itthatta,' now 'tathataa' (thus-ness or such-ness) prevails. The Tathaagata, the Transcendent One thus truly becomes 'deep, immeasurable, unfathomable, as is the great ocean' (M. I. 488 [MN 72 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.072.than.html
]), and the five aggregates which he has abandoned, have only a semblance of connection with him now, like the stirred up surface waters which still betoken a vortex long since ceased at its depths.
'Naapara.m itthattaya' is the guarantee of this freedom from the Sa.msaaric vortex. It conveys the arahant's conviction that 'in so far only' — that as far as name-and-form together with consciousness — 'can one be born, or grow old or die or pass away or reappear,' and that there is nothing beyond this for the designation of these conditions of Sa.msaaric existence.