AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

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AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:21 am

AN 7.63 PTS: A iv 106
Nagara Sutta: The Fortress
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


    Seven qualities that must be developed for the truest kind of homeland security.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"Monks, when a royal frontier fortress is well provided with the seven requisites of a fortress, and can obtain at will — without difficulty, without trouble — the four types of food, then it is said to be a royal frontier fortress that can't be undone by external foes or duplicitous allies.

"And with which seven requisites of a fortress is it well provided?

"There is the case where a royal frontier fortress has a foundation post — deeply rooted, well embedded, immovable, & unshakable. With this first requisite of a fortress it is well provided for the protection of those within and to ward off those without.

"Furthermore, the royal frontier fortress has a moat, both deep & wide. With this second requisite of a fortress it is well provided for the protection of those within and to ward off those without.

"Furthermore, the royal frontier fortress has an encircling road, both high & wide. With this third requisite of a fortress it is well provided for the protection of those within and to ward off those without.

"Furthermore, in the royal frontier fortress many weapons are stored, both arrows & things to be hurled. With this fourth requisite of a fortress it is well provided for the protection of those within and to ward off those without.

"Furthermore, the royal frontier fortress has a large army stationed within — elephant soldiers, cavalry, charioteers, bowmen, standard-bearers, billeting officers, soldiers of the supply corps, noted princes, commando heroes, infantry, & slaves. With this fifth requisite of a fortress it is well provided for the protection of those within and to ward off those without.

"Furthermore, the royal frontier fortress has a gate-keeper — wise, experienced, intelligent — to keep out those he doesn't know and to let in those he does. With this sixth requisite of a fortress it is well provided for the protection of those within and to ward off those without.

"Furthermore, the royal frontier fortress has ramparts: high & thick & completely covered with plaster. With this seventh requisite of a fortress it is well provided for the protection of those within and to ward off those without.

"These are the seven requisites of a fortress with which it is well provided.

"And which are the four types of food that it can obtain at will, without difficulty, without trouble?

"There is the case where the royal frontier fortress has large stores of grass, timber & water for the delight, convenience, & comfort of those within, and to ward off those without. Furthermore, it has large stores of rice & barley for the delight, convenience, & comfort of those within, and to ward off those without. Furthermore, it has large stores of sesame, green gram, & other beans for the delight, convenience, & comfort of those within, and to ward off those without. Furthermore, it has large stores of tonics — ghee, fresh butter, oil, honey, molasses, & salt — for the delight, convenience, & comfort of those within, and to ward off those without. These are the four types of food it can obtain at will, without difficulty, without trouble.

"When a royal frontier fortress is well provided with these seven requisites of a fortress, and can obtain at will — without difficulty, without trouble — these four types of food, then it is said to be a royal frontier fortress that can't be undone by external foes or duplicitous allies.

"In the same way, monks, when a disciple of the noble ones is endowed with seven true qualities (saddhamma) and can obtain at will — without difficulty, without trouble — the four jhanas, heightened mental states that provide a pleasant abiding in the here-&-now, he is said to be a disciple of the noble ones who can't be undone by Mara, can't be undone by the Evil One.

"Now, with which seven true qualities is he endowed?

"Just as the royal frontier fortress has a foundation post — deeply rooted, well embedded, immovable, & unshakable — for the protection of those within and to ward off those without; in the same way a disciple of the noble ones has conviction, is convinced of the Tathagata's Awakening: 'Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy and rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge & conduct, well-gone, a knower of the cosmos, an unexcelled trainer of those persons ready to be tamed, teacher of human & divine beings, awakened, blessed.' With conviction as his foundation post, the disciple of the noble ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity. With this first true quality is he endowed.

"Just as the royal frontier fortress has a moat, both deep & wide, for the protection of those within and to ward off those without; in the same way, the disciple of the noble ones has a sense of shame. He feels shame at [the thought of engaging in] bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, mental misconduct. He feels shame at falling into evil, unskillful actions. With shame as his moat, the disciple of the noble ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity. With this second true quality is he endowed.

"Just as the royal frontier fortress has an encircling road, both high & wide, for the protection of those within and to ward off those without; in the same way, the disciple of the noble ones has a sense of concern. He feels concern for [the suffering that results from] bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, mental misconduct. He feels concern at falling into evil, unskillful actions. With concern as his encircling road, the disciple of the noble ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity. With this third true quality is he endowed.

"Just as the royal frontier fortress has many weapons stored, both arrows & things to be hurled, for the protection of those within and to ward off those without; in the same way, the disciple of the noble ones has heard much, has retained what he has heard, has stored what he has heard. Whatever teachings are admirable in the beginning, admirable in the middle, admirable in the end, that — in their meaning & expression — proclaim the holy life that is entirely complete & pure: those he has listened to often, retained, discussed, accumulated, examined with his mind, and well-penetrated in terms of his views. With learning as his weapons, the disciple of the noble ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity. With this fourth true quality is he endowed.

"Just as the royal frontier fortress has a large army stationed within — elephant soldiers, cavalry, charioteers, bowmen, standard-bearers, billeting officers, soldiers of the supply corps, noted princes, commando heroes, infantry, & slaves — for the protection of those within and to ward off those without; in the same way a disciple of the noble ones keeps his persistence aroused for abandoning unskillful mental qualities and taking on skillful mental qualities, is steadfast, solid in his effort, not shirking his duties with regard to skillful mental qualities. With persistence as his army, the disciple of the noble ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity. With this fifth true quality is he endowed.

"Just as the royal frontier fortress has a gate-keeper — wise, experienced, intelligent — to keep out those he doesn't know and to let in those he does, for the protection of those within and to ward off those without; in the same way a disciple of the noble ones is mindful, highly meticulous, remembering & able to call to mind even things that were done & said long ago. With mindfulness as his gate-keeper, the disciple of the ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity. With this sixth true quality is he endowed.

"Just as the royal frontier fortress has ramparts — high & thick & completely covered with plaster — for the protection of those within and to ward off those without; in the same way a disciple of the noble ones is discerning, endowed with discernment leading to the arising of the goal — noble, penetrating, leading to the right ending of stress. With discernment as his covering of plaster, the disciple of the noble ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity. With this seventh true quality is he endowed.

"These are the seven true qualities with which he is endowed.

"And which are the four jhanas — heightened mental states that provide a pleasant abiding in the here-&-now — that he can obtain at will, without difficulty, without trouble?

Just as a royal frontier fortress has large stores of grass, timber & water for the delight, convenience, & comfort of those within, and to ward off those without; in the same way the disciple of the noble ones, quite withdrawn from sensual pleasures, withdrawn from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana — rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation — for his own delight, convenience, & comfort, and to alight on Unbinding.

Just as a royal frontier fortress has large stores of rice & barley for the delight, convenience, & comfort of those within, and to ward off those without; in the same way the disciple of the noble ones, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, enters & remains in the second jhana — rapture & pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance — for his own delight, convenience, & comfort, and to alight on Unbinding.

Just as a royal frontier fortress has large stores of sesame, green gram, & other beans for the delight, convenience, & comfort of those within, and to ward off those without; in the same way the disciple of the noble ones, with the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding,' for his own delight, convenience, & comfort, and to alight on Unbinding.

Just as a royal frontier fortress has large stores of tonics — ghee, fresh butter, oil, honey, molasses, & salt — for the delight, convenience, & comfort of those within, and to ward off those without; in the same way the disciple of the noble ones, with the abandoning of pleasure & stress, as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress, enters & remains in the fourth jhana — purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither-pleasure-nor-pain — for his own delight, convenience, & comfort, and to alight on Unbinding.

"These are the four jhanas — heightened mental states that provide a pleasant abiding in the here-&-now — that he can obtain at will, without difficulty, without trouble.

"When a disciple of the noble ones is endowed with these seven true qualities and can obtain at will — without difficulty, without trouble — these four jhanas, heightened mental states that provide a pleasant abiding in the here-&-now, he is said to be a disciple of the noble ones who can't be undone by Mara, can't be undone by the Evil One."

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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:49 am

Another sutta based upon a very fine simile. I can't help thinking that perhaps these are intended for those followers who have a metaphorical cast of mind. Those who grasp a holistic symbol or idea first, and then use it as a reminder of the specifics that it elucidates, rather than those who are happy with the linear account of consecutive items. And they are often good literature, in that the parts of the simile (or metaphor) can be pushed quite far. When the Buddha describes the different hindrances, for example, as being like bowls of impure water, or like the vicissitudes that can befall a householder, I have often been struck by how apt these comparisons are. And it all goes to show that even warfare and danger has something useful to offer us.

I find these similes really helpful. Often on these pages people get bogged down in a type of battle over definitions and meanings that is rather like lawyers looking at statutes and case-law. But here we have the Buddha saying, in effect: "Can you imagine this? Well, mindfulness is like that..."

This one has an interesting set of qualities, but it is really just the Panc'Indriya plus Hiri-Ottappa and hearing and recalling the true Dhamma. These latter two are inserted into the more familiar list of Faculties, and concentration is separated out and treated as analogous to the food consumed by the fortress. The fact that it is treated as food, rather than the requisites of warfare, is quite telling. The other qualities will enable one to make progress, to defend the ramparts and kill one's enemies. But the Jhanas are there for ease and comfort, for sustaining one in whatever one does. Thanissaro often talks about this, as does Ajahn Sucitto. Meditation should feel good. Sucitto often teaches meditation as being to do with a sense of fulfilment, of being replete, or whole. With this feeling, we can do the other bits of the practice which might otherwise feel difficult and unrewarding. Without being well-fed and happy, it is difficult to defend the fortress. As Napoleon famously said, an army marches on its stomach. (And leading the French army, he surely would have known!)

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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:29 pm

Hi Sam,
Sam Vara wrote:I find these similes really helpful. Often on these pages people get bogged down in a type of battle over definitions and meanings that is rather like lawyers looking at statutes and case-law. But here we have the Buddha saying, in effect: "Can you imagine this? Well, mindfulness is like that..."

Yes, I often find similes really interesting and useful, such as the various similes for the hindrences:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=14716

It occurred to me that in the current the similes for the jhanas have a progression from gross to refined:
grass, timber & water
rice & barley
sesame, green gram, & other beans
ghee, fresh butter, oil, honey, molasses, & salt
That is also the case with the jhana similes (Bath powder, cool fount of water, water in lotuses, wrapped with a white cloth) in this sutta:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

:anjali:
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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:05 pm

It occurred to me that in the current the similes for the jhanas have a progression from gross to refined:
grass, timber & water
rice & barley
sesame, green gram, & other beans
ghee, fresh butter, oil, honey, molasses, & salt


Yes, well spotted.

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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby marc108 » Wed Dec 05, 2012 11:22 pm

mikenz66 wrote:It occurred to me that in the current the similes for the jhanas have a progression from gross to refined:


sharp. i never caught that!
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."

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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 4:49 am

Hi Marc,
marc108 wrote:sharp. i never caught that!

I have observed that in some suttas the similes are really interesting and mean a lot in themselves, whereas in others they just seem to me like random associations. So I have a habit of trying to study them closely.

Perhaps we could discuss the fortress similes:

    Foundation post - conviction
    Moat - shame
    Encircling road - sense of concern about misconduct
    Weapons - learning
    Army - persistence
    Gate keeper - mindfulness
    Ramparts - discernment
Do the similes capture the essence of the qualities?

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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:26 am

Perhaps we could discuss the fortress similes:

Foundation post - conviction
Moat - shame
Encircling road - sense of concern about misconduct
Weapons - learning
Army - persistence
Gate keeper - mindfulness
Ramparts - discernment
Do the similes capture the essence of the qualities?


The conviction one is interesting. You can see where it is coming from, but how advanced would one have to be before one's faculty of conviction was holding the entire edifice steady? I suppose I am more used to explaining this as being different from "faith" as commonly understood in the West, and so am OK with it being more fluid and accommodating of shifts in position. The same image is used elsewhere for mindfulness:

"Suppose a man catches six animals (as before), and he fastens the rope together to a stout post or pillar... Then, when those six animals grow weary, they would have to stand, crouch or lie down by the stout post or pillar. In the same way, monks, when a monk practices and develops mindfulness as to the body, the eye does not struggle to draw him towards attractive visual objects, nor are unattractive visual objects repellent to him... the mind does not struggle to draw him towards attractive objects of thought, nor are unattractive objects of thought repellent to him. This, monks, is restraint.

"'Tethered to a stout post or pillar,' monks, denotes mindfulness as to body.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn35/sn35.206x.wlsh.html

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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Dec 07, 2012 7:58 am

Hi Sam,

I guess this is more a "foundation post" than a "tethering post", and the message is that saddha is the foundation of the rest of the practice.

I thought the things learned as "weapons" was interesting...

And that the Jhana similes have to do with food --- sustaining the troops, I guess...

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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:01 am

And here's another famous fortress simile, where, again, the gatekeeper stands for mindfulness.
We discussed it earlier:
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=9586#p147258
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... html#swift
"Suppose, monk, that there were a royal frontier fortress with strong walls & ramparts and six gates. In it would be a wise, experienced, intelligent gatekeeper to keep out those he didn't know and to let in those he did. A swift pair of messengers, coming from the east, would say to the gatekeeper, 'Where, my good man, is the commander of this fortress?' He would say, 'There he is, sirs, sitting in the central square.' The swift pair of messengers, delivering their accurate report to the commander of the fortress, would then go back by the route by which they had come. Then a swift pair of messengers, coming from the west... the north... the south, would say to the gatekeeper, 'Where, my good man, is the commander of this fortress?' He would say, 'There he is, sirs, sitting in the central square.' The swift pair of messengers, delivering their accurate report to the commander of the fortress, would then go back by the route by which they had come.

"I have given you this simile, monk, to convey a message. The message is this: The fortress stands for this body — composed of four elements, born of mother & father, nourished with rice & barley gruel, subject to constant rubbing & abrasion, to breaking & falling apart. The six gates stand for the six internal sense media. The gatekeeper stands for mindfulness. The swift pair of messengers stands for tranquillity (samatha) and insight (vipassana). The commander of the fortress stands for consciousness. The central square stands for the four great elements: the earth-property, the liquid-property, the fire-property, & the wind-property. The accurate report stands for Unbinding (nibbana). The route by which they had come stands for the noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration."

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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:55 am

A thought about the real fortresses that the Buddha would have been familiar with and which he would have based his similes on. I read in Stephen Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist" that the Buddha lived in a time and place where the art of firing bricks had been lost. Buildings would have been made of wood or mud bricks, which can support very little weight. (I'm not sure about stone - I can't recall any references to stone or stonemasons in the Suttas, although there are references to modest stone structures in the monastic code) If true, it means that the physical blueprints for such similes would have been very humble indeed.

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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:13 am

I guess this is more a "foundation post" than a "tethering post", and the message is that saddha is the foundation of the rest of the practice.


Yes, both in the sense of it continually underpinning and supporting the rest of the practice, and also it being the first bit of the structure that is established. Without having at least some faith that the Dhamma is worth investigating, no progress would be possible.

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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby Appamada Magga » Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:35 pm

Hi, :anjali:

I find it interesting that mindfulness is compared to a gate keeper. It implies a few qualities about mindfulness that one doesn't usually find in modern definitions. Modern interpretations are sometimes that it is all accepting and non-judgemental. Firstly it suggests that it includes a critical faculty of judgement: whether something is skilful/unskilful. It also suggests that it also touches on the factor of right effort in letting in some (skilful qualities) but not others (unskilful). This simile of the gate keeper suggests that right mindfulness develops out of right effort and is not separate practice as is sometimes taught.

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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby daverupa » Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:41 pm

Appamada Magga wrote:Hi, :anjali:

I find it interesting that mindfulness is compared to a gate keeper. It implies a few qualities about mindfulness that one doesn't usually find in modern definitions. Modern interpretations are sometimes that it is all accepting and non-judgemental. Firstly it suggests that it includes a critical faculty of judgement: whether something is skilful/unskilful. It also suggests that it also touches on the factor of right effort in letting in some (skilful qualities) but not others (unskilful). This simile of the gate keeper suggests that right mindfulness develops out of right effort and is not separate practice as is sometimes taught.


:goodpost:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:53 pm

Hi Appamada Magga,
Appamada Magga wrote:I find it interesting that mindfulness is compared to a gate keeper. It implies a few qualities about mindfulness that one doesn't usually find in modern definitions. Modern interpretations are sometimes that it is all accepting and non-judgemental. Firstly it suggests that it includes a critical faculty of judgement: whether something is skilful/unskilful. It also suggests that it also touches on the factor of right effort in letting in some (skilful qualities) but not others (unskilful). This simile of the gate keeper suggests that right mindfulness develops out of right effort and is not separate practice as is sometimes taught.

I certainly agree. I don't know of any reputable Buddhist teacher who does not teach this, if you examine their teachings carefully (many suggest that being non-judgemental is a good way to start...). Yet this misinterpretation seems to be common. It was discussed in detail in this thread:
viewtopic.php?f=41&t=13538

:anjali:
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Re: AN 7.63: Nagara Sutta — The Fortress

Postby Appamada Magga » Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:08 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Appamada Magga,
Appamada Magga wrote:I find it interesting that mindfulness is compared to a gate keeper. It implies a few qualities about mindfulness that one doesn't usually find in modern definitions. Modern interpretations are sometimes that it is all accepting and non-judgemental. Firstly it suggests that it includes a critical faculty of judgement: whether something is skilful/unskilful. It also suggests that it also touches on the factor of right effort in letting in some (skilful qualities) but not others (unskilful). This simile of the gate keeper suggests that right mindfulness develops out of right effort and is not separate practice as is sometimes taught.

I certainly agree. I don't know of any reputable Buddhist teacher who does not teach this, if you examine their teachings carefully (many suggest that being non-judgemental is a good way to start...). Yet this misinterpretation seems to be common. It was discussed in detail in this thread:
viewtopic.php?f=41&t=13538

:anjali:
Mike


Yes, it sometimes helps to be non-judgemental, as in equanimity, at the start, middle, or end in my experience too at appropriate times. That seems to be the way the Buddha taught Rahula too according to the suttas. Maybe this is because no one size fits all. I have found its helpful to learn how to use a range of tools if you want to make something good.
:buddha1:


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