The Dhatu-vibhanga Sutta - MN 140

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vinasp
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The Dhatu-vibhanga Sutta - MN 140

Post by vinasp »

Hi everyone,

I would like to take a close look at certain passages in MN 140, the
Dhatu-vibhanga Sutta - Analysis of Elements. Link to ATI version:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The passages of interest are the following:

"'A person has six properties.' Thus was it said. In reference to what was it said? These are the six properties: the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, the wind property, the space property, the consciousness property. 'A person has six properties.' Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said."

"And what is the earth property? The earth property can be either internal or external. What is the internal earth property? Anything internal, within oneself, that's hard, solid, & sustained [by craving]: head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, membranes, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, contents of the stomach, or anything else internal, within oneself, that's hard, solid, and sustained: This is called the internal earth property. Now both the internal earth property & the external earth property are simply earth property. And that should be seen as it actually is present with right discernment: 'This is not mine, this is not me, this is not my self.' When one sees it thus as it actually is present with right discernment, one becomes disenchanted with the earth property and makes the earth property fade from the mind."

The key point here is the last line:

"When one sees it thus as it actually is present with right discernment, one becomes disenchanted with the earth property and makes the earth property fade from the mind."

Similar passages say the same thing about the liquid (water) element, the fire
element, the wind (air) element and the space element.

"one becomes disenchanted with the liquid property and makes the liquid property fade from the mind."

"one becomes disenchanted with the fire property and makes the fire property fade from the mind."

"one becomes disenchanted with the wind property and makes the wind property fade from the mind."

"one becomes disenchanted with the space property and makes the space property fade from the mind."

Then, the next section begins:

"There remains only consciousness: pure & bright."

So, how does a monk remove the four great elements, together with the space
element, from the mind, so that just consciousness remains?

Regards, Vincent.
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kirk5a
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Re: The Dhatu-vibhanga Sutta - MN 140

Post by kirk5a »

vinasp wrote: "There remains only consciousness: pure & bright."

So, how does a monk remove the four great elements, together with the space
element, from the mind, so that just consciousness remains?
By progressing through the jhanas. See, for example:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"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
vinasp
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Re: The Dhatu-vibhanga Sutta - MN 140

Post by vinasp »

Hi kirk5a,

True, this sutta can be interpreted as describing jhana concentration, but
it can also be understood in another way.

It could be describing the permanent removal of these elements from the
mind.

Each of the elements to be removed is described as "clung to", at least,
in some translations. So this sutta could be talking about the removal of
clinging to these five elements.

The word dhatu (element) may even mean a mental object of clinging.

Regards, Vincent.
vinasp
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Re: The Dhatu-vibhanga Sutta - MN 140

Post by vinasp »

Hi everyone,

The word which appears in each passage about the first five elements
is upaadinnam, which my DPR translates as "grasped".

Bhikkhu Bodhi translates it as follows:

"Whatever internally, belonging to oneself, is solid, solidified, and
clung-to, that is, head-hairs, ..."

Thanissaro Bhikkhu translates as:

"Anything internal, within oneself, that's hard, solid, & sustained [by craving]: head hairs, ..."

In my opinion, both translations can be justified.

Regards, Vincent.
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mikenz66
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Re: The Dhatu-vibhanga Sutta - MN 140

Post by mikenz66 »

Perhaps slightly off-topic but this sutta has a very detailed description of "internal and external" in a way that can be interpreted as breaking down the distinction between "self" and "other". The same elements that make up this body make up the things out there.

Bhikkhu Bodhi discusses this in detail in his three classes on the Sutta here:
http://bodhimonastery.org/a-systematic- ... ikaya.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
(You have to scroll down quite a bit).

:anjali:
Mike
vinasp
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Re: The Dhatu-vibhanga Sutta - MN 140

Post by vinasp »

Hi everyone,

There are significant differences in the translation of the last words of
these five passages, on the five elements. The Pali is:

pathavidhaatuyaa cittam viraajeti.

Which seems to mean something like: removes earth-element from mind.

DPR translates viraajeti as: discards, removes, destroys.

Bhikkhu Bodhi translates:

"When one sees it thus as it actually is with proper wisdom, one becomes
disenchanted with the earth element and makes the mind dispassionate
towards the earth element." [ Middle Length Discourses, page 1089.]

Thanissaro Bhikkhu translates:

"When one sees it thus as it actually is present with right discernment, one becomes disenchanted with the earth property and makes the earth property
fade from the mind."

So, is the earth element still present, or has it been removed?

Regards, Vincent.
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Virgo
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Re: The Dhatu-vibhanga Sutta - MN 140

Post by Virgo »

vinasp wrote: "When one sees it thus as it actually is present with right discernment, one becomes disenchanted with the earth property and makes the earth property
fade from the mind."

So, is the earth element still present, or has it been removed?

Regards, Vincent.
IMO "makes it fade from themind" means "makes attachment to it, or excitement over it, fade from the mind", etc.

Kevin
The Hunger Site

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vinasp
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Re: The Dhatu-vibhanga Sutta - MN 140

Post by vinasp »

Hi Mike,

Quote:"The same elements that make up this body make up the things out there."

But how do you understand these elements?

1. Something real which does not cease.

2. A misconception which can cease.

The first four elements together are often given as an explanation of form (rupa).

Regards, Vincent.
vinasp
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Re: The Dhatu-vibhanga Sutta - MN 140

Post by vinasp »

Hi Kevin,

Quote:"IMO "makes it fade from the mind" means "makes attachment to it, or excitement over it, fade from the mind", etc.

Can attachment be separated from the object of attachment, or does the
one imply the other?

Regards, Vincent.
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Virgo
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Re: The Dhatu-vibhanga Sutta - MN 140

Post by Virgo »

vinasp wrote: Can attachment be separated from the object of attachment, or does the
one imply the other?
They are always separate. Mind is not matter, for example.

Kevin
The Hunger Site

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vinasp
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Re: The Dhatu-vibhanga Sutta - MN 140

Post by vinasp »

Hi Kevin,

If clinging is mental, then the object of clinging must also be mental.
The mind must make the object in order to cling to it. Whether it is
something "internal" or "external" the mind must first make a representation
of it.

Other passages, elsewhere, say that the four great elements cease, this
sutta is saying the same thing. They are talking about the mind-made objects
of clinging. The aggregates and sense-spheres are treated in the same way.

They all mean the same thing, the mind-made objects of clinging.

Regards, Vincent.
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seeker242
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Re: The Dhatu-vibhanga Sutta - MN 140

Post by seeker242 »

Some reading on "Transcendental Dependent Arising" may clarify this some I think. :) http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el277.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

So what I would say, is to cultivate your meditation practice so that you can "sees it thus as it actually is present with right discernment", which will cause disenchantment, which will then cause the removal of those things.
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mikenz66
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Re: The Dhatu-vibhanga Sutta - MN 140

Post by mikenz66 »

vinasp wrote:Hi Mike,

Quote:"The same elements that make up this body make up the things out there."

But how do you understand these elements?

1. Something real which does not cease.

2. A misconception which can cease.

The first four elements together are often given as an explanation of form (rupa).

Regards, Vincent.
Yes, good question. I'm pointing this out as a counterpoint to the argument that the khandhas are just misconceptions that can cease. If one identifies the elements as the same as rupa-khandha then suttas such as this one make that argument a little awkward.

:anjali:
Mike
pegembara
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Re: The Dhatu-vibhanga Sutta - MN 140

Post by pegembara »

vinasp wrote:Hi Mike,

Quote:"The same elements that make up this body make up the things out there."

But how do you understand these elements?

1. Something real which does not cease.

2. A misconception which can cease.

The first four elements together are often given as an explanation of form (rupa).

Regards, Vincent.
They are empty of inherent existence and are dependently arisen but wrongly perceived by the mind/consciousness to be me/mine internally and others externally ie. me as subject [my body] and objects out there.
On one occasion the Blessed One was staying among the Ayojjhans on the banks of the Ganges River. There he addressed the monks: "Monks, suppose that a large glob of foam were floating down this Ganges River, and a man with good eyesight were to see it, observe it, & appropriately examine it. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in a glob of foam? In the same way, a monk sees, observes, & appropriately examines any form that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in form?

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
vinasp
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Re: The Dhatu-vibhanga Sutta - MN 140

Post by vinasp »

Hi Mike,

Quote:
"Yes, good question. I'm pointing this out as a counterpoint to the argument that the khandhas are just misconceptions that can cease. If one identifies the elements as the same as rupa-khandha then suttas such as this one make that argument a little awkward."

Sorry, but I can't follow your line of reasoning here. Perhaps if I set out
my position, it would help.

1. The five clinging aggregates are misconceptions which are clung to.

2. The five aggregates are misconceptions which are appropriated.

3. The four great elements are misconceptions which can cease.

4. The four elements are the same as the form aggregate.

5. The six spheres (eye, ear and so on.) are misconceptions which can cease.

6. The eighteen elements ( eye, form, eye-consciousness and so on.) are
misconceptions which can cease.

Nothing should be clung to. Everything should be seen in this way;'This is
not mine, this is not me, this is not my self.'
This is said about the aggregates, elements and the six-spheres.

Everyone accepts that clinging has to cease. My interpretation differs only
in that, I think that, the object of clinging is mental, and this object has
to cease in order for the clinging to cease.

This is the real meaning of the formless realm and formless existence. It
does not mean no physical body, it means no form mental objects of clinging.

This is why MN 140 says that the four elements (ie. form) are removed from
the MIND, the actual physical body remains.

Regards, Vincent.
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