Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

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Mal
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Re: Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

Post by Mal »

I think bringing in the back pain example doesn't help the discussion of this sutta - the discomfort in this sutta is *purely* mental.

Some argue that the Buddha suffered physical pain but was not disturbed by it. This is not the case here, the Buddha is feeling discomfort through a simple social & psychological situation - surely he should be above that!

Maybe the Buddha is not *feeling* discomfort, but "the Buddha felt discomfort" is shorthand for "the Buddha saw that the conditions were not conducive to teaching"?
daverupa
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Re: Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

Post by daverupa »

Mal wrote:a simple social & psychological situation - surely he should be above that!
We can bring in a few other examples for contemplation:
SN 6.1 wrote:"This Dhamma that I have attained is deep, hard to see, hard to realize... And if I were to teach the Dhamma and if others would not understand me, that would be tiresome for me, troublesome for me."
but especially this one, as it has a simile:
MN 75 wrote:"Magandiya, it's just as if there were a man blind from birth who couldn't see black objects... white... blue... yellow... red... the sun or the moon. His friends, companions, & relatives would take him to a doctor. The doctor would concoct medicine for him, but in spite of the medicine his eyesight would not appear or grow clear. What do you think, Magandiya? Would that doctor have nothing but his share of weariness & disappointment?"

"Yes, master Gotama."

"In the same way, Magandiya, if I were to teach you the Dhamma — 'This is that freedom from disease; this is that Unbinding' — and you on your part did not know freedom from disease or see Unbinding, that would be wearisome for me; that would be troublesome for me."
This is something that was an issue before the Buddha even began teaching, but if this confuses one I think that one likely either misunderstands karuna, or misunderstands nibbana.
  • "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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mikenz66
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Re: Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

Post by mikenz66 »

Thanks Sam and Dave for the comments. I particularly likes Sam's comment:
For the Buddha, neither the pain, nor the natural attempts to alleviate it, are the foundation for an existential crisis. (With me, however, they certainly can be!).
Mal: I mentioned physical pain because the Buddha seldom made a distinction between he mind door and pain at the other five sense doors. "Mental" in this sutta, can "feeling of pain" not be at the mind door? Which, of course, begs the question of what is meant by "mental" here:
The Blessed One said, "When touched with a feeling of pain, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person sorrows, grieves, & laments, beats his breast, becomes distraught. So he feels two pains, physical & mental. Just as if they were to shoot a man with an arrow and, right afterward, were to shoot him with another one, so that he would feel the pains of two arrows; in the same way, when touched with a feeling of pain, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person sorrows, grieves, & laments, beats his breast, becomes distraught. So he feels two pains, physical & mental.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .html#shot" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
As Dave points out, there are some explicit cases in the suttas of the Buddha having painful feelings that are not explicitly physical.

:anjali:
Mike
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equilibrium
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Re: Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

Post by equilibrium »

The story of "The Bull Elephant" is to illustrate the point of having the "right conditions, the effects will follow".

Notice the blessed one is among a group of people while the bull elephant is among a group of other elephants, the story is similar but have different meanings.

The blessed one being within a group of people does not provide the necessary "right conditions" for the blessed one to prosper. While the bull elephant being among the group does not have the best of what is available.

The story then changes as the blessed one moves away from the group, therefore having the "right conditions" while the bull elephant doing the same seperated from the group.

Then the blessed one being alone and becomes aware of his changed environment, from a group to alone, which provides the right conditions for one to see oneself the difference between a group and alone....."Not hemmed in, I live pleasantly and in ease"

The same process happed to the bull elephant as the bull elephant is aware of the difference between being within a group and being alone and the benefits that comes with being alone....."Not hemmed in, I live pleasantly and in ease".....also uncut grass, undisturbed water etc.

Then towards the end when the blessed one "realized his own seclusion and knowing the train thought in the bull elephant's awareness".....meaning when you know oneself, you will know others.....yet they are both at joy!

Without the right conditions one cannot progress!.....like an apple seed cannot sprout if the ground conditions are not right!

On the subject of the two pains: physical and mental pain.
The blessed one only has one pain that being the physical pain as he is still within the body, the mental pain does not exist as he understands in the mind-consciousness that it is empty.....while the run-of-the-mill person has the two pains being physical and mind, both consciousness.
Mal
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Re: Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

Post by Mal »

equilibrium wrote: The blessed one being within a group of people does not provide the necessary "right conditions" for the blessed one to prosper.
What do you mean by "to prosper"? Do you mean "to get more comfortable" or "to teach more effectively"?
equilibrium wrote: Then the blessed one being alone and becomes aware of his changed environment, from a group to alone, which provides the right conditions for one to see oneself the difference between a group and alone....."Not hemmed in, I live pleasantly and in ease"
Doesn't the Buddha always live pleasantly and at ease? You actually say this:
equilibrium wrote: ... the mental pain does not exist ...
So there is a contradiction here.
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equilibrium
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Re: Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

Post by equilibrium »

Mal wrote:
equilibrium wrote: The blessed one being within a group of people does not provide the necessary "right conditions" for the blessed one to prosper.
What do you mean by "to prosper"? Do you mean "to get more comfortable" or "to teach more effectively"?
To prosper is to benefit, the blessed one cannot benefit without the right conditions.....just like everyone else.
Mal wrote:
equilibrium wrote: Then the blessed one being alone and becomes aware of his changed environment, from a group to alone, which provides the right conditions for one to see oneself the difference between a group and alone....."Not hemmed in, I live pleasantly and in ease"
Doesn't the Buddha always live pleasantly and at ease? You actually say this:
Not according to the "The Bull Elephant" as text clearly shows:
"Hemmed in, I live unpleasantly and not in ease." (para 1)
"Not hemmed in, I live pleasantly and in ease" (para 5)
Mal wrote:
equilibrium wrote: ... the mental pain does not exist ...
So there is a contradiction here.
Contradiction only applies to those who read and react to the words without fully understanding the true meaning.
The blessed one can "let go" of the mental pain because the blessed one "can" do it.
The run-of-the-mill-person "cannot" let go the mental pain because one does not "know" how to.....therefore it clings.
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purple planet
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Re: Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

Post by purple planet »

I think you could look at this sutta like this :

Its not really about the buddha because there is no logical explanation why he would leave a hard situation which is not life threatening problem?

its just to show you that its important to try to have good place to live and practice in and if you think that its not helping your practice to be there (cause its to hard or to easy or to distracting ect ... ) than you should go and not get attached to it

maybe it shows that in some situation even a monastery can be un-beneficial to ones practice and you should allways think whats best for the practice
Please send merit to my dog named Mika who has passed away - thanks in advance
Mal
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Re: Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

Post by Mal »

equilibrium wrote:
To prosper is to benefit, the blessed one cannot benefit without the right conditions.....just like everyone else.
But, as he's reached final enlightenment, what else does he need? Surely he has reached the limits of prosperity and needs nothing more? That is, needs no other benefits? Surely for him any conditions are the right conditions? He is not like everyone else!
equilibrium wrote: The blessed one can "let go" of the mental pain because the blessed one "can" do it.
The run-of-the-mill-person "cannot" let go the mental pain because one does not "know" how to.....therefore it clings.
Yes I agree with this.

But then why did the Buddha move to the forest? He could let go of the (slight!) mental pain of living in fairly crowded conditions, surely? Even I can do that on a good day :)

Has he chosen to take on the aspect of a normal person, chosen not to let go of mental pain, to see what it feels like? Like, say, the Christian God coming to Earth to suffer like man in the form of Jesus?

Are there any Suttas that speak of the Buddha dropping his enlightened state of mind to live with the state of mind of normal people? If he's walking around in a state of continuous enlightenment how does he feel the pain of normal people?
Mal
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Re: Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

Post by Mal »

purple planet wrote:

Its not really about the buddha because there is no logical explanation why he would leave a hard situation...
Why would the originators of this Sutta be so convoluted as to make the Buddha the main character in the Sutta and then expect us to be sophisticated enough to assume, "it's not really about the Buddha"?

A more reasonable explanation would be that the monks who originated/developed/transmitted this sutta had a very bad day, forgot that the Buddha was enlightened, screwed up the origination/transmission, and we are left with a sutta that just doesn't work!

Is there a list of questionable suttas? Is this on it?
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purple planet
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Re: Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

Post by purple planet »

I think you could look at this sutta like this :
Just talking about a way to look at this until someone will explain it here in a good way

was he enlightened in this sutta ?
Please send merit to my dog named Mika who has passed away - thanks in advance
daverupa
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Re: Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

Post by daverupa »

purple planet wrote:was he enlightened in this sutta ?
Certainly; he has been teaching already, which only happened after his nibbana, since we can see that a large fourfold Sangha is the occasion of the discourse.

As we can read in the Yasa Sutta,
"There is the case, Nagita, where I see monks laughing out loud, sporting around, tickling one another with their fingers. The thought occurs to me, 'Surely these venerable ones cannot obtain at will — without difficulty, without trouble — as I do, the pleasure of renunciation, the pleasure of seclusion, the pleasure of peace, the pleasure of self-awakening, which is why they are laughing out loud, sporting around, tickling one another with their fingers.'
The examples progress, showing the benefits and superiority of solitude; so we see that crowds and such prevent practice in key ways. It is only in solitude, in the wilderness, where a suitable environment is found. The Buddha concludes,
"But when I am traveling along a road and see no one in front or behind me, at that time I have my ease, even when urinating & defecating."
It makes perfect sense that the Buddha would speak in the sort of way depicted in Ud 4.5, especially if those monks should have known better and were yet persisting in their socializing.
  • "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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equilibrium
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Re: Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

Post by equilibrium »

Mal wrote: But, as he's reached final enlightenment, what else does he need? Surely he has reached the limits of prosperity and needs nothing more? That is, needs no other benefits? Surely for him any conditions are the right conditions? He is not like everyone else!
Yes, the buddha had everything that is important but that is not the point here being illustrated in the story. The exact point is to raise awareness, one must have the right conditions for awareness to exist......It is a "teaching", we are all here to "learn" so we can be "Free".
Not all conditions are the right conditions for anyone.....Can one sleep in a large hall full of people disco dancing around with loud music?.....Could the buddha do this?
But then why did the Buddha move to the forest? He could let go of the (slight!) mental pain of living in fairly crowded conditions, surely? Even I can do that on a good day.
Do you mean why the buddha went into solitude?.....again, to achieve the right conditions.....one can try to eliminate what one perceives through their senses but this does not make your job easier but harder.....you can control self but not others.
Has he chosen to take on the aspect of a normal person, chosen not to let go of mental pain, to see what it feels like? Like, say, the Christian God coming to Earth to suffer like man in the form of Jesus?
What is normal? average? then why would the buddha do that? am sure you would be aware that the buddha had already went through this stage already before, to do so would be to dwell into delusion and wrong view.
Are there any Suttas that speak of the Buddha dropping his enlightened state of mind to live with the state of mind of normal people? If he's walking around in a state of continuous enlightenment how does he feel the pain of normal people?
Not sure if there is any but others here may be able to help.....again, to dwell in a lower state of mind is delusion and wrong view.....

Overall, the teaching of the suttas is to be read so one can understand the meanings so one can take appropiate action so to progress along the path.....more importantly, to improve oneself.
Mal
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Re: Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

Post by Mal »

So if the Buddha wasn't adopting a lower, human state of mind, how was it, "he lived in discomfort"?

Perhaps the Buddha didn't feel any suffering when "he lived in discomfort"? Perhaps he just "saw the inconvenience to teaching"?

If this analysis is correct, it is interesting that the mind of the Buddha and the mind of the Bull Elephant are "still on the same planet". Both move to the forest, for exactly the same reasons, but the bull elephant is driven by his negative passions, while (I guess) the Buddha goes there because it is the wise thing to do.
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Hanzze
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Re: Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

Post by Hanzze »

It was one of the first suttas I ever read. I had two thoughts "Wohh... if such things are pubished, it must be that there are many who understand the Buddhas teaching as this is hard to take" and "Wohh... there will be not many who understand this", it need some time for me to come over this two thoughts.

Its totaly contrary to the common understanding of what a Buddha is, what the "intentions" of the/a Buddha are and what his possibilities are. Its sometimes good to simply take suttas which are not understandable aside. It is very good to say simply "I am not ready for that yet", much better as to try to put own ideas in it. Such undertaking can close even doors for a longer time.

Its always better to put the message of the teacher higher as the own ideas, that does not mean that one needs to believe simply. When it is not takeable, just put it aside.

Generally there are many points which are not useful to try to understand intellectually, its also not possible to explain them on an intellectual way but later on simply and clear.

Just some maybe "snotty" suggestion.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Ud 4.5 Nāga Sutta — The Bull Elephant

Post by santa100 »

Notice that the mind and practice of enlightened ones aren't like those of us worldlings. They do not delight in "socializing". They naturally incline toward the pleasure of renunciation, of seclusion, of peace, and of self-awakening. So, the Buddha just made the natural choice to live in seclusion instead of living with a large crowd. Now although the sutta mentioned "He lived in discomfort and not at ease" but nowhere did it say "He grieves, is depressed and laments; beating his breast, he weeps and dejection befalls him". This clearly indicates that although the Buddha could still experiences the 3 types of Vedana/feelings of pleasant, painful, and neutral(ie. discomfort and not at ease), He certainly transcended all mental fabrications as a result of such feeling(ie. grieves, depressed, laments, beating his breast, etc.). So He just simply does things in a natural way as mentioned in MN 122 ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ):

"But there is this (mental) dwelling discovered by the Tathagata where, not attending to any themes, he enters & remains in internal emptiness. If, while he is dwelling there by means of this dwelling, he is visited by monks, nuns, lay men, lay women, kings, royal ministers, sectarians & their disciples, then — with his mind bent on seclusion, tending toward seclusion, inclined toward seclusion, aiming at seclusion, relishing renunciation, having destroyed those qualities that are the basis for mental fermentation — he converses with them only as much as is necessary for them to take their leave."
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