SN 35.69 Upasena Sutta

Each week we study and discuss a different sutta or Dhamma text

Moderator: mikenz66

SN 35.69 Upasena Sutta

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Mar 29, 2011 4:11 am

SN 35.69 PTS: S iv 35 CDB ii 1150
Upasena Sutta: Upasena
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


Ven. Upasena, mortally wounded by a venomous snake, remains perfectly composed as he utters his dying words to Ven. Sariputta.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Once Ven. Sariputta and Ven. Upasena were staying near Rajagaha in the Cool Forest, at Snakeshood Grotto. Then it so happened that a snake fell on Ven. Upasena's body [and bit him]. Then Ven. Upasena said to the monks, "Quick, friends, lift this body of mine onto a couch and carry it outside before it is scattered like a fistful of chaff!"

When this was said, Ven. Sariputta said to Ven. Upasena, "But we don't see any alteration in your body or change in your faculties."

Then Ven. Upasena said, "Quick, friends, lift this body of mine onto a couch and carry it outside before it is scattered like a fistful of chaff! Friend Sariputta, in anyone who had the thought, 'I am the eye' or 'The eye is mine,' 'I am the ear' or 'The ear is mine,' 'I am the nose' or 'The nose is mine,' 'I am the tongue' or 'The tongue is mine,' 'I am the body or 'The body is mine,' 'I am the intellect' or 'The intellect is mine': in him there would be an alteration in his body or a change in his faculties. But as for me, the thought does not occur to me that 'I am the eye' or 'The eye is mine,'... 'I am the tongue' or 'The tongue is mine,'... 'I am the intellect' or 'The intellect is mine.' So what alteration should there be in my body, what change should there be in my faculties?"

Now, Ven. Upasena's I-making, my-making, & obsession with conceit had already been well rooted out for a long time, which is why the thought did not occur to him that "I am the eye" or "The eye is mine,"... "I am the tongue" or "The tongue is mine,"... "I am the intellect" or "The intellect is mine."

Then the monks lifted Ven. Upasena's body on a couch and carried it outside. And Ven. Upasena's body was scattered right there like a fistful of chaff.
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10130
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: SN 35.69 Upasena Sutta

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Mar 29, 2011 4:15 am

Upasena

Translation and notes by Bhikkhu Ñanananda


Once the Venerable Saariputta and the Venerable Upasena were staying near Raajagaha in Cool Grove, at Snakeshood Grotto.

Now at that time a snake had fallen on the venerable Upasena's body. Then the venerable Upasena addressed the monks, saying: "Come hither, friends, lift this body of mine on to a couch and take it outside before it be scattered here, just like a handful of chaff."[61]

At these words the venerable Saariputta said to the venerable Upasena: "We see no change in the venerable Upasena's body, no change for the worse in his faculties. Yet the venerable Upasena says: 'Come hither friends,... just like a handful of chaff.'"[62]

"Indeed, friend Saariputta, it is to him who thinks: 'I am the eye, the eye is mine'; or 'I am the ear, the ear is mine'; or 'I am the nose, the nose is mine'; or 'I am the tongue, the tongue is mine'; or 'I am the body, the body is mine'; or 'I am the mind, the mind is mine'; that there would be any change in the body, any change for the worse in the faculties. But as for me, friend, I do not think: 'I am the eye, the eye is mine... or 'I am the mind, the mind is mine.' How then, friend Saariputta, could there be for me any change in the body, any change for the worse in the faculties?"

"So then, it seems the venerable Upasena has long since eradicated the latent conceits of 'I' and 'mine.' Hence it is that it occurs not thus to the venerable Upasena: 'I am the eye, the eye is mine...[63] or 'I am the mind, the mind is mine.'"

Then those monks put the venerable Upasena's body on a couch and bore it outside.

And the venerable Upasena's body there and then was scattered just like a handful of chaff.

Notes

[61] The unruffled manner in which the venerable Upasena announces his impending death, is typical of an arahant. There is a tone of detachment in his words as he requests the monks to take 'this body' outside before 'it be scattered here, just like a handful of chaff' — chaff signifying the value he attached to his body.

[62] This sentence which should form part of the venerable Saariputta's comment, has been misconstrued at K.S. IV 20, [Pali Text Society Translation] as an actual repetition of the request already made by the venerable Upasena.

[63] Probably due to the peculiar use of the third person as a polite form of address, K.S. [Pali Text Society Translation] treats these remarks of the venerable Saariputta, as a mere matter-of-fact observation and not as an inference on his part.
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10130
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: SN 35.69 Upasena Sutta

Postby kirk5a » Tue Mar 29, 2011 5:14 am

"So then, it seems the venerable Upasena has long since eradicated the latent conceits of 'I' and 'mine.' Hence it is that it occurs not thus to the venerable Upasena: 'I am the eye, the eye is mine...[63] or 'I am the mind, the mind is mine.'"

This mention of the latent conceits is interesting. I think this is explained in the MN 64 Mahamalunkya Sutta. There's more to awakening than just not having the mere thoughts "I am the eye...etc." As the Buddha points out to Ven. Malunkyaputta, an infant has no such notions of personality-view, no notions about the Dhamma so therefore no doubt, and no notion of "rules" therefore no adherency to rules and observances. But the infant does have the underlying tendency (anusaya) to all these. Makes sense because otherwise we'd all be stream-enterers already.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
User avatar
kirk5a
 
Posts: 1746
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:51 pm

Re: SN 35.69 Upasena Sutta

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:32 am

Hi Kirk,

Thanks for pointing out the Maha-Malunkhyaputta Sutta: http://www.mahindarama.com/e-tipitaka/M ... /mn-64.htm

Another sutta worth checking out is: SN 22.89 Khemo Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

In this sutta Ven. Khemaka (a non-returner) explains the subtle conceit "I am" that prevents him from yet becoming an arahant:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html
"No, friends, I do not say this 'I am' is the body,... consciousness, nor that it is other than the body,... consciousness. Yet with regard to the five groups of clinging,[1] 'I am' comes to me,[2] but I do not consider it (by way of wrong views) as 'This I am.' It is just like the scent of a blue, red or white lotus.[3] If someone were to say, 'The scent belongs to the petals, or the color, or the fibers,'[4] would he be describing it correctly?"

"Surely not, friend."

"Then how would he describe it correctly?"

"As the scent of the flower, would be the correct explanation."

"In the same way, friends, I do not say this 'I am' is the body,... consciousness, nor that it is other than the body,... consciousness. Yet with regard to the five groups of clinging, 'I am' comes to me, but I do not consider it as 'This I am.' Though, friends, an Ariyan disciple has abandoned the five lower fetters,[5] there still remains in him a subtle remnant[6] from among the five groups of clinging, a subtle remnant of the 'I'-conceit, of the 'I'-desire, an unextirpated lurking tendency[7] to think: 'I am.' Later on he dwells contemplating the rise and fall of the five groups of clinging,[8] and he sees: 'This is the body, this is its arising, this is its passing away. These are feelings,... perceptions,... mental formations,... this is consciousness, this is its arising, this is its passing away.'

:anjali:
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10130
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: SN 35.69 Upasena Sutta

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Apr 03, 2011 6:29 am

Some commentary from Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation:

"Come friends, lie this body of mine on to the bed and carry it outside before it is scattered right here like a handful of chaff."

Spk: After his meal the elder had taken his large robe and was sitting in the shade of the cave doing some sewing. At that moment two young vipers were playing in the thatch over the cave; one fell and landed on the elder's shoulder. Its mere touch was poisonous, and the poison spread over the elder's body. He addressed the bhikkhus thus so that his body would not perish inside the cave.


"Friend Sariputta, for one who thinks, 'I am the eye' or 'The eye is mine'; "I am the ear' or 'The ear is mine'.. 'I am the mind' or 'The mind is mine,' there might be an alteration of the body or a change of the faculties. But, friend Sariputta, it does not occur to me that 'I am the eye' or 'The eye is mine'; "I am the ear' or 'The ear is mine'.. 'I am the mind' or 'The mind is mine,' so why should there be any alteration in my body or any change in my faculties?"

BB: There is a word play in the exchange between Sariputta and Upasena. The expression indriyanam annathatta "alteration of the faculties", is sometimes used as a euphemism meaning "profoundly distressed", "not in one's right mind" (See opening of MN 87 [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.087.than.html]). Here the text reads kayassa va annathattam indrijanam va viparinamam, but I think the implications are very similar. Sariputta, then is speaking literally while Upasena intends his words to be taken figuratively, as meaning that for one free from the notions of "I" and "mine" there is no distress even in the face of death.


"It must be because I-making, mine-making, and the underlying tendency to conceit have been thoroughly uprooted in the Venerable Upasena for a long time that it does not occur to him..."

On being free from "I=making", etc, see SN 21.2. [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn21/sn21.002.than.html]
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10130
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: SN 35.69 Upasena Sutta

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Apr 03, 2011 6:48 am

I thought Bhikkhu Bodhi's point about the word-play was interesting. Without that observation (which the other translators seem to have missed) one might search for some special meaning into Ven Upasena's words regarding the faculties of an arahant (beyond the usual lack of I-making, etc, of course!).

:anjali:
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10130
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand


Return to Study Group

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests