SN 1.34 Nasanti: They Are Not

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SN 1.34 Nasanti: They Are Not

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:33 pm

SN 1.34 Nasanti: They Are Not
Translated by Bhikkhu Nananada ... #passage-3

The Exalted One was once staying near Saavatthi, at the Jeta Grove in Anaathapi.n.dika's Park. And a great number of the Satullapa company of deities, when the night was far spent, came into the presence of the Exalted One and so standing, one of the deities uttered this verse before the Exalted One:

No permanent pleasures of sense are there among human-beings
Here are charming things enmeshed in which a man dallies
And thus from realms of death doth never come to that
Wherefrom there is no coming back again.[11]
Desire-born misery, desire-born pain
Desire disciplined is misery quelled.

[The Buddha:]
When misery is quelled, pain too is quelled.
They are not the sense-pleasures — those beautiful things in the world
Lustful intention is man's sense-pleasure
They endure as before those beautiful things in the world
But the will thereto, 'tis, that the wise discipline.

Let one put wrath away and conceit abandon
And get well beyond the fetters all[12]
That one, by name-and-form untrammelled[13]
And possessionless[14] — no pains befall.

He cast off reckoning, no conceit assumed
Craving he cut off in this name-and-form
That bond-free one — from blemish and longing free
Him no gods nor men, in their search could ken
Searching here and beyond — in heavens and in all abodes.[15]

If him they find not thus released [thus said the reverend Mogharaajaa],
Gods and men, here or beyond
Him best of men that brings weal for men[16]
They that revere him — are they worthy of praise?

Yea, they become praiseworthy also, [O monk, Mogharaajaa; said the Exalted One],
They that revere him thus released
Yea, if knowing the Norm they give up all doubt
They too become bond-liberated, O monk!


[11] Nibbaana is called 'apunaagamana' ('from which there is no coming back again') as it is an irreversible attainment. This transcendence of the world is often compared to a 'crossing-over to the further shore.' 'The saint having crossed over and gone beyond, stands on dry ground' ( paara.mgato thale ti.t.thati' — ) 'Once he has crossed over, the such-like one comes not back' ('paara.mgato na paceti taadii — ). 'To the further shore they go not twice' ('na paara.m diguna.m yanti — ). The sense of irreversibility is also conveyed by the term, 'akuppaa-cetovimutti' ('unshakable deliverance of the mind') signifying arahantship.

[12] The ten fetters that are to be abandoned in the course of one's progress towards Arahantship: They are: i. personality-view ii. uncertainty iii. adherence to rites and rituals v. greed for sense-desires v. resentment vi. attachment to Realms of Form vii. attachment to Formless Realms viii. conceit ix. agitation x. ignorance.

[13] 'Name-and-Form' (naamaruupa): Feeling, perception, conation, contact, attention — these, friends, are called 'name.' The four great elements and form dependent on them — these, friends, are called 'form'" — As the object and support of consciousness, name-and-form is sometimes conceived as a net in which consciousness is enmeshed. Thoughts and intentions have, as their object, some aspect or other of this name-and-form (). So long as the agglutinative tendency of craving is not eliminated, consciousness is unable to transcend name-and-form, and is perpetually caught in a vicious circle. The Buddha and the arahants succeeded in escaping the net by giving up all attachment. Their consciousness, now illumined by wisdom, penetrated it and soared untrammeled and unrestricted, out into an infinitude (), by way of the three deliverances — the 'signless' (animitta), the 'undirected' (appa.nihita) and the 'void' (su~n~nata).

[14] aki~ncana: ('possessing-nothing') An epithet of the arahant, connoting the absence of lust, hatred and delusion. "Lust, friend, is a something (ki~ncano). Hatred is a something, delusion is a something. In a monk whose influxes are extinct, they are abandoned, cut-off at the root, rendered groundless, made extinct and are incapable of arising again." —

[15] When the subtle conceit 'I am' (asmimaana) is eradicated and the attachment to name-and-form is given up, consciousness loses its support and becomes unestablished (appati.t.thita — S. I. 122). It does not stand in any realm of existence ( bhave nati.t.the' — ).

[16] Here, the reference is to the Buddha.

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Re: SN 1.34 Nasanti: They Are Not

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:52 pm

SN 1.34 Nasanti: They Are No
Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Savatthi in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapiṇḍika’s Park. Then, when the night had advanced, a number of devatas belonging to the Satullapa host, of stunning beauty, illuminating the entire Jeta’s Grove, approached the Blessed One. Having approached, they paid homage to the Blessed One and stood to one side.

Then one devata, standing to one side, recited this verse in the presence of the Blessed One:

“There are among humans
No permanent sensual pleasures;
Here there are just desirable things.
When a person is bound to these,
Heedless in their midst,
From Death’s realm he does not reach
The state of no-more-coming-back.” [70]

Another devata: “Misery is born of desire; suffering is born of desire. By the removal of desire, misery is removed; by the removal of misery, suffering is removed.” [71]

The Blessed One:

“They are not sense pleasures, the world’s pretty things:
Man’s sensuality is the intention of lust.
The pretty things remain as they are in the world
But the wise remove the desire for them. [72]

“One should discard anger, cast off conceit,
Transcend all the fetters.
No sufferings torment one who has nothing,
Who does not adhere to name-and-form. [73]

“He abandoned reckoning, did not assume conceit;
He cut off craving here for name-and-form.
Though devas and humans search for him
Here and beyond, in the heavens and all abodes,
They do not find the one whose knots are cut,
The one untroubled, free of longing.”

“If devas and humans have not seen
The one thus liberated here or beyond,”
said the Venerable Mogharaja,
“Are they to be praised who venerate him,
The best of men, faring for the good of humans?” [74]

“Those bhikkhus too become worthy of praise,
Mogharaja,” said the Blessed One,
“Who venerate him, the one thus liberated.
But having known Dhamma and abandoned doubt,
Those bhikkhus become even surmounters of ties.” [75]


[70] BB: In pāda d, we should adopt the reading of the agent noun āgantā in Be, Se, and Ee2, as against āgantvā in Ee1, which leaves the sentence with an unresolved absolutive clause. We find āgantā used in the sense of āgāmī, and anāgantā used synonymously with anāgāmī (in relation to itthattaṃ, “this state of being”) at AN I 63,30-64,18.

Spk: They do not come from Death’s realm, that is, from the round of existence with its three planes, to Nibbāna, which is the state of no-more-coming-back
(apunāgamana), so called because beings do not return from Nibbāna. One who is heedless and bound to sensual pleasures cannot attain that.

[71] BB: The identity of the speaker of this passage is difficult to determine from the text. I follow Ee2 in taking it to be another devatā. Though most editions break the lines up as if they were verse, there is no recognizable metre and it seems likely they are intended as prose. Ee2 does not number it as a verse.

Spk says that misery (agha) in the first line is the suffering of the five aggregates, and suffering (dukkha) in the second line is synonymous with it. The fourth line is paraphrased: “By the removal of the five aggregates the suffering of the round is removed.”

[72] In pāda b the unusual compound saṅkapparāga is glossed by Spk as saṅkappitarāga, “intended lust.” Mp III 407,5 glosses: saṅkappavasena uppannarāgo, “lust arisen by way of intention (or thought).” Spk-pṭ adds: subhādivasena saṅkappitavatthumhi rāgo, “lust in regard to an object thought about as beautiful, etc.” The key to the expression, however, is probably (= Th 760d), where we find saṅkappā rāganissitā, “intentions based on lust.” Spk sums up the purport of the verse thus: “Here the identification of sensuality with the sensual object is rejected; it is the sensual defilement that is called sensuality.”

Dhīra allows of two derivations, one meaning “wise,” the other “firm, steadfast”; see PED and MW, s.v. dhīra. I have usually translated it as “wise,” following the commentarial gloss paṇḍita, but elsewhere (e.g., at vv. 411e, 413e, 493a, 495a) I have taken advantage of the word’s ambivalence to render it “steadfast.” The word has elevated overtones and seems to be used solely in verse.

[73] Akiñcana in pāda c is a common epithet of the arahant. Spk explains it as devoid of the “something” (or impediments) of lust, hatred, and delusion (see ; IV 297,18-19 = ).

[74]Spk: Mogharāja was an elder skilled in the sequential structure of discourses (anusandhikusala). [Spk-pṭ: He was one of the sixteen pupils of the brahmin Bāvarı̄;see [url=]Sn 1116-19[url].] Having observed that the meaning of the last verse had not gone in sequence, he spoke thus to connect it in sequence (perhaps by drawing out its implications?).

Spk points out that although all arahants can be described as “the best of men, faring for the good of humans” (naruttamaṃ atthacaraṃ narānaṃ), the elder used this expression with specific reference to the Buddha (dasabalaṃ sandhāy’ eva). Spk paraphrases his statement as an interrogative (te kiṃ pasaṃsiyā udāhu apasaṃsiyā), which I follow, but it might also be read as a simple declaration which is first confirmed and then improved upon by the Buddha.

[75] Spk explains bhikkhū in pāda a (and presumably in pāda d too) as a vocative addressed to Mogharāja; but as the latter is also addressed by name it seems preferable to take the word in both instances as a nominative plural. In both Be and Se the word is clearly plural. The Buddha thus confirms that those who venerate him are praiseworthy, but steers the inquirer beyond mere devotion by adding that those who understand the truth and abandon doubt (by attaining the path of stream-entry) are even more praiseworthy; for they will eventually become “surmounters of ties” (saṅgātigā), i.e., arahants.

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Re: SN 1.34 Nasanti: They Are Not

Postby Sam Vara » Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:16 pm

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Re: SN 1.34 Nasanti: They Are Not

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:43 pm

Thanks for the comments Sam. This does seem to be a particularly knotty sutta. It does seem strange that neither translation, or the footnotes, really clarifies the questions you raise. I'll have to think a little more about it.


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Re: SN 1.34 Nasanti: They Are Not

Postby santa100 » Tue Dec 24, 2013 3:19 am

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Re: SN 1.34 Nasanti: They Are Not

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 24, 2013 4:04 am

Thanks Santa,

It's good to remind us that the SN suttas are, indeed, grouped. And your quotations from Bhikkhu Bodhi's notes to SN 1.31 are very helpful. His text is , but it is necessary to buy the book to get all of the copious notes.


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Re: SN 1.34 Nasanti: They Are Not

Postby thelotuseffect » Tue Dec 31, 2013 4:30 pm

Perhaps the perception of permanence is very strong for devas, making it an obstacle for understanding the emptiness of perception?

Its very difficult to show the emptiness of a thing to someone when the thing is in front of the one perceiving it. Like the impermanence of diamonds.

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Re: SN 1.34 Nasanti: They Are Not

Postby daverupa » Tue Dec 31, 2013 4:44 pm

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Re: SN 1.34 Nasanti: They Are Not

Postby thelotuseffect » Wed Jan 01, 2014 2:21 pm

Hmmm... there is something in me that believes the Buddha is doing a bit more than agreeing with the devas in the removal of lust.

Traditionally, devas hold a conceit in mind due to not perceiving dukkha & anicca as continually like us humans. Traditionally, its also not so easy to get under their skin and inspire them to practice meditation, either.

This sutta links name and form, conceit and lust together as the mode of teaching.

When the deva say's:
“There are among humans
No permanent sensual pleasures;
Here there are just desirable things..."

it implies one of two things:
1) For devas there are pleasurable permanent objects (such as life span, beauty, and the bliss of just being a deva)
2) The pleasure of unbinding (the deva does not seem like an arahant to me)

If it is #1, then it is a wrong view. Perhaps the buddha is addressing the wrong view of the deva in a subtle way.
To me it does not feel like #2 is the case.

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