SN 56.102-113: Pansu Suttas — Dust

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SN 56.102-113: Pansu Suttas — Dust

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Sep 17, 2013 7:17 pm

SN 56.102-113 PTS: S v 474 CDB ii 1885
Pansu Suttas: Dust
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


A fortunate rebirth is rare. Therefore: practice!

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html



Then the Blessed One, picking up a little bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monks, "What do you think, monks? Which is greater: the little bit of dust I have picked up with the tip of my fingernail, or the great earth?"

"The great earth is far greater, lord. The little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail is next to nothing. It doesn't even count. It's no comparison. It's not even a fraction, this little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail, when compared with the great earth.

"In the same way, monks, few are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn among human beings. Far more are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn in hell.

"Therefore your duty is the contemplation, 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress.' Your duty is the contemplation, 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'"

Then the Blessed One, picking up a little bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monks, "What do you think, monks? Which is greater: the little bit of dust I have picked up with the tip of my fingernail, or the great earth?"

"The great earth is far greater, lord. The little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail is next to nothing. It doesn't even count. It's no comparison. It's not even a fraction, this little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail, when compared with the great earth.

"In the same way, monks, few are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn among human beings. Far more are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn in the animal womb... in the domain of the hungry ghosts.

... "In the same way, monks, few are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn among devas. Far more are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn in hell... in the animal womb... in the domain of the hungry ghosts.

... "In the same way, monks, few are the beings who, on passing away from the deva realm, are reborn among devas. Far more are the beings who, on passing away from the deva realm, are reborn in hell... in the animal womb... in the domain of the hungry ghosts.

... "In the same way, monks, few are the beings who, on passing away from the deva realm, are reborn among human beings. Far more are the beings who, on passing away from the deva realm, are reborn in hell... in the animal womb... in the domain of the hungry ghosts.

"Therefore your duty is the contemplation, 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress.' Your duty is the contemplation, 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'"
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Re: SN 56.102-113: Pansu Suttas — Dust

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Sep 17, 2013 7:27 pm

This series of suttas, called by Bhikkhu Bodhi the "Five destinations repetition series". It contains the many permutations of passing away from the five realms and being reborn in the five realms.

The final sutta in the Samyutta Nikaya (Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation) is:

THE FIVE DESTINATIONS REPETITION SERIES SN56:131 Passing Away from the Domain of Ghosts

… “So too, bhikkhus, those beings are few who, when they pass away from the domain of ghosts, are reborn among the devas. But those beings are more numerous who, when they pass away from the domain of ghosts, are reborn in the domain of ghosts. For what reason? Because they have not seen the Four Noble Truths. What four? The noble truth of suffering, the noble truth of the origin of suffering, the noble truth of the cessation of suffering, the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering.

“Therefore, bhikkhus, an exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is suffering.’ An exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is the origin of suffering.’ An exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is the cessation of suffering.’ An exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’”

This is what the Blessed One said. Elated, those bhikkhus delighted in the Blessed One’s statement.
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Re: SN 56.102-113: Pansu Suttas — Dust

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Sep 17, 2013 9:31 pm

These suttas have a strong sense of the sublime, in the literal sense of being disturbed by the greatness of things. There is not much to be said about them intellectually (one either believes it or one does not) but there is much to be felt about them emotionally.
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Re: SN 56.102-113: Pansu Suttas — Dust

Postby SarathW » Wed Sep 18, 2013 1:40 am

This is not surprising considering the fact that we have only seven billion people in this earth.
There are about 19000 dust mites in one gram of dust. :meditate:
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Re: SN 56.102-113: Pansu Suttas — Dust

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 18, 2013 5:52 am

Hi Sam,
Sam Vara wrote:These suttas have a strong sense of the sublime, in the literal sense of being disturbed by the greatness of things. There is not much to be said about them intellectually (one either believes it or one does not) but there is much to be felt about them emotionally.

I agree. As Bhikkhu Bodhi says in the introduction to Chapter 1 of In the Buddha's Words:
Moreover, the process is not only beginningless but is also potentially endless. As long as ignorance and craving remain intact, the process will continue indefinitely into the future with no end in sight. For the Buddha and Early Buddhism, this is above all the defining crisis at the heart of the human condition: we are bound to a chain of rebirths, and bound to it by nothing other than our own ignorance and craving. The pointless wandering on in saṃsāra occurs against a cosmic background of inconceivably vast dimensions.


:anjali:
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Re: SN 56.102-113: Pansu Suttas — Dust

Postby Samma » Thu Sep 19, 2013 11:27 pm

The Buddha using a cosmic perspective to get people to put things in perspective and practice. Though I wonder how useful this is now-a-days when it strikes so many as literally a false or at best unverifiable.

Thanissaro wings to awakening:
Having used the phenomenological mode to solve the problem of kamma and reach Unbinding, however, the Buddha was not limited to that mode. After his Awakening, he was free to return at will to the narrative and cosmological modes of thought and speech, without being caught up in their presuppositions [DN 9]. For most people, he found, even the four noble truths were too alien to form an entry point into the teaching. Thus he had to use the narrative and cosmological modes of discourse to bring such people, step by step, to the point where they were ready to comprehend those truths.
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Re: SN 56.102-113: Pansu Suttas — Dust

Postby dhammapal » Fri Sep 20, 2013 4:05 am

Hi Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:SN 56.102-113 PTS: S v 474 CDB ii 1885
Pansu Suttas: Dust
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


Then the Blessed One, picking up a little bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monks, "What do you think, monks? Which is greater: the little bit of dust I have picked up with the tip of my fingernail, or the great earth?"

"The great earth is far greater, lord. The little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail is next to nothing. It doesn't even count. It's no comparison. It's not even a fraction, this little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail, when compared with the great earth.

"In the same way, monks, few are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn among human beings. Far more are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn in hell.

"Therefore your duty is the contemplation, 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress.' Your duty is the contemplation, 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'"

To get some perspective, compare the previous suttas SN56:96-101 "those beings are few who abstain from mutilating, murder, binding, robbery, plunder and violence." Ancient India must have been a dangerous place!

With metta / dhammapal.
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Re: SN 56.102-113: Pansu Suttas — Dust

Postby kc2dpt_deactivated » Tue Sep 24, 2013 1:30 pm

It makes me think of this:

Sometimes we have a positive thought, a productive thought, a thought which leads us further on the path to peace. Usually though this is followed by a negative thought, a destructive thought, a thought which leads us further into entanglement and suffering. Rare is it when one can sustain positivity, sustain productivity. It makes me remember that, even though I might have a useful insight, my work is far from complete; even though I might have a good day filled with wholesome thought and deeds, tomorrow I will likely slide right back into selfishness and thoughtlessness if I don't maintain constant vigilance.

So I might say, "Few are the beings who, for example, abstain from lying for a whole day, on going to sleep and waking up the next day, continue to abstain from lying. Far more are the beings who, on going to sleep and waking up the next day, lie when it is convenient or brings personal gain."

Or something common in my day, "Few are the times when I, having just successfully restrained my anger, on the arising of some new unpleasant sound, continue to restrain my anger. Far more often are the times when I, having just successfully restrained my anger, on the arising of some new unpleasant sound, lose control of my anger."

On a slightly different note, this sutta reminds me to not take for granted my fortunate circumstances. I have the opportunities to practice Dhamma now; I will likely not have this opportunity again for a long time.

Rebirth as a human is wonderful and likely the result of some great achievement in the past, but it is no guarantee of anything going forward. We must continue to strive diligently.

This reminds me of something I heard: Having good ingredients is wonderful and yet this alone is not a guarantee of a wonderful cake.
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