Moderator: Mahavihara moderator
MN 49 wrote:24. “‘Good sir, if that is not partaken of by the allness of all, may it not turn out to be vacuous and empty for you!’
25. “‘Consciousness non-manifesting,
Boundless, luminous all-round: [Note 513]
that is not partaken of by the earthness of earth, that is not partaken of by the waterness of water……that is not partaken of by the allness of all.’
Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:In the first edition, I retained Ñm’s own translation of these lines, which read:
The consciousness that makes no showing,In retrospect, I find this rendering far from satisfactory and thus here offer my own. These lines (which also appear as part of a full verse at DN 11.85/i.223) have been a perennial challenge to Buddhist scholarship, and even Ācariya Buddhaghosa seems to founder over them. MA takes the subject of the sentence to be Nibbāna, called “consciousness” (viññāṇṁ) in the sense that “it can be cognized” (vijānitabbaṁ). This derivation is hardly credible, since nowhere in the Nik̄yas is Nibb̄na described as consciousness, nor is it possible to derive an active noun from the gerundive. MA explains anidassanaṁ as meaning invisible, “because it (Nibbāna) does not come within range of eye-consciousness,” but again this is a trite explanation. The word anidassana occurs at MN 21.14 in the description of empty space as an unsuitable medium for painting pictures; thus the idea seems to be that of not making manifest.
Nor has to do with finiteness,
Not claiming being with respect to all.
MA offers three explanations of sabbato pabhaṁ: (1) completely possessed of luminosity (pabhā); (2) possessing being (pabhū̇taṃ) everywhere; and (3) a ford (pabhaṁ) accessible from all sides, i.e., through any of the thirty-eight meditation objects. Only the first of these seems to have any linguistic legitimacy. Ñm, in Ms, explains that he takes pabhaṁ to be a negative present participle of pabhavati—apabhaṁ—the negative-prefix a dropping off in conjunction with sabbato: “The sense can be paraphrased freely by ‘not predicating being in relation to “all,”’ or ‘not assuming of “all” that it is or is not in an absolute sense.’” But if we take pabhaṁ as “luminous,” which seems better justified, the verse links up with the idea of the mind as intrinsically luminous (pabhassaram idaṁ cittaṁ , AN i.10) and also suggests the light of wisdom (pa), called the best of lights (AN ii.139). I understand this consciousness to be, not Nibbāna itself, but the arahant’s consciousness during the meditative experience of Nibb̄na. See in this connection AN v.7–10, 318–26. Note that this meditative experience does not make manifest any conditioned phenomena of the world, and thus may be truly described as “non-manifesting.”
But, monk, you should not ask your question in this way: ‘Where do the four great elements — the earth element, the water element, the fire element, the air element — cease without remainder?’ Instead, this is how the question should have been put:
‘Where do earth, water, fire and air no footing find?And the answer is:
Where are long and short, small and great, fair and foul -
Where are “name-and-form” wholly destroyed?’ 
‘Where consciousness is signless, boundless, all-luminous, 
That’s where earth, water, fire and air find no footing,
There both long and short, small and great, fair and foul -
There “name-and-form” are wholly destroyed.
With the cessation of consciousness this is all destroyed.”” 
 Mind and body, i.e. ‘subject and object’ (Neumann quoted by RD).
 Anidassanaṁ: or ‘invisible’. Ñāṇananda (n.242) renders it ‘non-manifesting’.
 This word (pabhaṁ or pahaṁ) has been variously interpreted. DA takes it in the sense of a ford, or a place to enter the water ‘accessible from all sides’, by means of which one can reach Nibbana. There is an improbable suggestion that the meaning is ‘rejecting’, and Mrs Bennett translates the line: ‘Where the consciousness that makes endless comparisons is entirely abandoned’, which seems to involve a misunderstanding of anidassanaṁ. (But see next note). The same sequence also occurs at MN 49.11rendered by I.B. Horner (MLS i, 392): ‘Discriminative consciousness (= viññāṇaṁ) which cannot be characterised (= anidassanaṁ), which is unending, lucid in every respect (= sabbato pabhaṁ).’ The two passages should be studied in conjunction. Cf. also AN 1.6: ‘This mind (citta) is luminous, but is defiled by adventitious defilements.’ See important discussion by Ñāṇananda, 57-63.
 G.C. Pande (Studies in the Origins of Buddhism, 92, n.21) says: ‘Buddha says that the question should not be asked in the manner in which it is done in the prose quotation above, but thus — as in the metrical lines that follow. One may pertinently ask: “Why? what is wrong with the prose formulation?” The only answer would seem to be: “Nothing. But the verses have to be brought in!”.
Ñāṇananda (Concept and Reality, 59) explains it thus: ‘The last line of the verse stresses the fact that the four great elements do not find a footing — and that ‘Name-and-Form’ (comprehending them) can be cut-off completely — in that ‘anidassana-viññāṇa’ (the ‘nonmanifestative consciousness’) of the Arahant, by the cessation of his normal consciousness which rests on the data of sense-experience. This is a corrective to that monk’s notion that the four elements can cease altogether somewhere — a notion which has its roots in the popular conception of self-existing material elements. The Buddha’s reformulation of the original question and this concluding line are meant to combat this wrong notion.’