SN 4.19 Kassaka Sutta: The Plowman

Where we gather to focus on a single discourse or thematic collection from the Sutta Piṭaka (new selection every two weeks)
Locked
User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 19272
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

SN 4.19 Kassaka Sutta: The Plowman

Post by mikenz66 »

SN 4.19 Kassaka Sutta [SN i 114] <SN i 254> The Plowman
Translated by Bhikkhu Ñanananda


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... passage-11

At Saavatthi... On one occasion, the Exalted One was instructing, enlightening, inspiring and gladdening the monks by a sermon relating to Nibbaana. And the monks, with their whole minds applied, attentive and intent, were listening to the Dhamma.

Then it occurred to Maara, the evil one: "This recluse Gotama is instructing, enlightening, inspiring and gladdening the monks by a sermon relating to Nibbana. What if I were now to approach the recluse Gotama in order to blindfold him?"[28] So Maara, the evil one, assuming the guise of a plowman, bearing a mighty plow on his shoulder, and holding an ox-goad in his hand, his hair disheveled, his raiment hempen, his feet spattered with mud, drew near to the Exalted One and said:

"Have you seen my oxen, O recluse?"

"But what have you, evil one, to do with oxen?"

"Mine only, recluse, is the eye; mine are the visible forms; mine is the sphere of consciousness of the eye's contact. Where, recluse, will you go to escape from me? Mine, only, recluse, is the ear... the nose... the tongue... the body... the mind; mine are the mental objects; mine is the sphere of consciousness of mental contact. Where, recluse, will you go to escape from me?"[29]

"Thine only evil one, is the eye; thine are the visible forms; and thine is the sphere of consciousness of the eye's contact. But where, O evil one, eye is not, visible forms are not, the sphere of consciousness of the eye's contact is not, there O evil one, is no access for you. Thine only, O evil one, is the ear... the nose... the tongue... the body... the mind... But where, O evil one, mind is not, mental objects are not, the sphere of consciousness of mental contact is not, there, O evil one, is no access for you.[30]
  • [Maara:]
    Things of which they say: "This is mine!" And those folk who say: "This is mine!" If you mind those things and them You will not, O recluse, escape from me.
  • [The Exalted One:]
    That of which they speak, that's not for me The folk who speak so: one of them I am not. Thus should you know, O evil one, You will not see even the way I go.
Then Maara, the evil one, thought: The Exalted One knows me! The Blessed One knows me! And sad and sorrowful he vanished there and then.


Notes

[28] In the suttas of this chapter, Mara as the tempter, appears in various guises trying to terrify, distract or mislead the Buddha and the monks by his actions and words. When he is recognized, he gives up his attempts in despair and 'vanishes there and then.' By representing the opposite view-point, he often provides a lively setting for an emphatic enunciation of doctrinal points.

[29] The senses, their objects and spheres of sense-contact, are all undermined by impermanence and whoever grasps them comes under the sway of Mara. 'Whatever they grasp in the world, by that itself does Mara pursue a man' (See above Note 27).

[30] The sphere to which Maara has no access is that samaadhi, peculiar to arahants, in which they experience the relinquishment of all 'assets' (sabbuu padhipa.tinissagga), which is Nibbaana. (A. I. 132f. V. 355f AN 3.32).
User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 19272
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: SN 4.19 Kassaka Sutta: The Plowman

Post by mikenz66 »

SN 4.19 Kassaka Sutta [SN i 114] <SN i 254> The Farmer
Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi


At Savatthi. Now on that occasion the Blessed One was instructing, exhorting, inspiring, and gladdening the bhikkhus with a Dhamma talk concerning Nibbāna. And those bhikkhus were listening to the Dhamma with eager ears, attending to it as a matter of vital concern, applying their whole minds to it.

Then it occurred to Mara the Evil One: “This ascetic Gotama is instructing, exhorting, inspiring, and gladdening the bhikkhus … who are applying their whole minds to it. Let me approach the ascetic Gotama in order to confound them.” Then Mara the Evil One manifested himself in the form of a farmer, carrying a large plough on his shoulder, holding a long goad stick, his hair dishevelled , wearing hempen garments, his feet smeared with mud. He approached the Blessed One and said to smeared with mud. He approached the Blessed One and said to him: “Maybe you’ve seen oxen, ascetic?”

“What are oxen to you, Evil One?”

“The eye is mine, ascetic, forms are mine, eye-contact and its base of consciousness are mine. [296] Where can you go, ascetic, to escape from me? The ear is mine, ascetic, sounds are mine … The nose is mine, ascetic, odours are mine … The tongue is mine, ascetic, tastes are mine … The body is mine, ascetic, tactile objects are mine … The mind is mine, ascetic, mental phenomena are mine, mind-contact and its base of consciousness are mine. Where can you go, ascetic, to escape from me?”

“The eye is yours, Evil One, forms are yours, eye-contact and its base of consciousness are yours; but, Evil One, where there is no eye, no forms, no eye-contact and its base of consciousness—there is no place for you there, Evil One. [297] The ear is yours, Evil One, sounds are yours, ear-contact and its base of consciousness are yours; but, Evil One, where there is no ear, no sounds, no ear-contact and its base of consciousness—there is no place for you there, Evil One. The nose is yours, Evil One, odours are yours, nose-contact and its base of consciousness are yours; but, Evil One, where there is no nose, no odours, no nose-contact and its base of consciousness—there is no place for you there, Evil One. The tongue is yours, Evil One, tastes are yours, tongue-contact and its base of consciousness are yours; but, Evil One, where there is no tongue, no tastes, no tongue-contact and its base of consciousness—there is no place for you there, Evil One. The body is yours, Evil One, tactile objects are yours, body-contact and its base of consciousness are yours; but, Evil One, where there is no body, no tactile objects, no body-contact and its base of consciousness—there is no place for you there, Evil One. The mind is yours, Evil One, mental phenomena are yours, mind-contact and its base of consciousness are yours; but, Evil One, where there is no mind, no mental phenomena, no mind-contact and its base of consciousness—there is no place for you there, Evil One.”

Mara:
  • “That of which they say ‘It’s mine,’
    And those who speak in terms of ‘mine’—
    If your mind exists among these,
    You won’t escape me, ascetic.”
The Blessed One:
  • “That which they speak of is not mine,
    I’m not one of those who speak of mine.
    You should know thus, O Evil One:
    Even my path you will not see.”
Then Mara the Evil One … disappeared right there.

Notes

[296] Spk says that "eye-contact" implies all the mental phenomena associat­
ed with consciousness; "the base of consciousness," all
types of consciousness that have arisen in the eye door
beginning with the adverting conscioldsness (avajjanacitta).
The same method-applies to the ear door, etc. But in the
mind door, "mind" (mana) is the bhavangacitta together
with adverting; "mental phenomena" are the mental
objects (arammalJadhamma); "mind-contact," the contact
associated with bhavanga and adverting; and "the base of
consciousness," the javanacitta and tadarammanacitta, i.e.,
the "impulsion" and "registration" consciousness. For an
account of these types of consciousness (fundamental to
the Pali Abhidhamma), see CMA 3:8.

Mara's reply, and the Buddha's rejoinder, hinge on the
practice of:using Pali words for cattle metaphorically to
signify the sense faculties. See GD, pp. 141-42, n. to 26-27. (Sutta Nipata Translation [Group of Discourses] Norman, PTS translation).
This is referring to the verses on cows and bulls in Snp 1.2:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

[297] Here the Buddha is obviously referring to Nibbana. Compare
SN 35.117 on the cessation of the six sense bases.
User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 19272
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: SN 4.19 Kassaka Sutta: The Plowman

Post by mikenz66 »

SN 4.19 PTS: S i 114 CDB i 208 Kassaka Sutta: The Farmer
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


Mara proclaims his dominion over the sensory world, but the Buddha explains that he (Buddha) dwells in the one place that Mara can never go.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html



At Savatthi. Now at that time the Blessed One was instructing, urging, rousing, & encouraging the monks with a Dhamma talk concerning Unbinding. The monks — attentive, interested, lending ear, focusing their entire awareness — were listening to the Dhamma.

Then the thought occurred to Mara, the Evil One: "Gotama the contemplative is instructing, urging, rousing, & encouraging the monks with a Dhamma talk concerning Unbinding. The monks — attentive, interested, lending ear, focusing their entire awareness — are listening to the Dhamma. What if I were to go to Gotama the contemplative to obscure his vision?"

Then Mara the Evil One, taking on the form of a farmer with a large plowshare over his shoulder, carrying a long goad stick — his hair disheveled, his clothes made of coarse hemp, his feet splattered with mud — went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, said, "Hey, contemplative. Have you seen my oxen?"

"And what are your oxen, Evil One?"

"Mine alone is the eye, contemplative. Mine are forms, mine is the sphere of consciousness & contact at the eye. Where can you go to escape me? Mine alone is the ear... the nose... the tongue... the body... Mine alone is the intellect, contemplative. Mine are ideas, mine is the sphere of consciousness & contact at the intellect. Where can you go to escape me?"

"Yours alone is the eye, Evil One. Yours are forms, yours is the sphere of consciousness of contact at the eye. Where no eye exists, no forms exist, no sphere of consciousness & contact at the eye exists: there, Evil One, you cannot go. Yours alone is the ear... the nose... the tongue... the body... Yours alone is the intellect, Evil One. Yours are ideas, yours is the sphere of consciousness & contact at the intellect. Where no intellect exists, no ideas exist, no sphere of consciousness of contact at the intellect exists: there, Evil One, you cannot go."

[Mara:]
  • Of what they say, 'This is mine'; and those who say, 'Mine': If your intellect's here, contemplative, you can't escape from me.
[The Buddha:]
  • What they speak of isn't mine, and I'm not one of those who speak it. Know this, Evil One: you won't even see my tracks.
Then Mara the Evil One — sad & dejected at realizing, "The Blessed One knows me; the One Well-gone knows me" — vanished right there.
User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 10193
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: SN 4.19 Kassaka Sutta: The Plowman

Post by Sam Vara »

Many thanks Mike.

In all three versions, the Buddha's instant recognition of Mara following the descriptive build-up of the disguise is (to modern eyes, at least) an excellent form of dramatic irony.

I didn't look at the notes, and it took me until Ajahn Thanissaro's translation to realise that the oxen represented the sense-bases. I assume six was a common number for a ploughing team. In Bhikkhu Bodhi's notes, we have
Mara's reply, and the Buddha's rejoinder, hinge on the
practice of:using Pali words for cattle metaphorically to
signify the sense faculties.
There are other suttas which refer to cattle in a similar way. Some are about the physical management of cattle being like dealing with different aspects of the mind or desires:
"And how is a monk skilled in pastures? There is the case where a monk discerns, as they actually are, the four frames of reference. This is how a monk is skilled in pastures.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
and
"Just as in the last month of the Rains, in the autumn season when the crops are ripening, a cowherd would look after his cows: He would tap & poke & check & curb them with a stick on this side & that. Why is that? Because he foresees flogging or imprisonment or a fine or public censure arising from that [if he let his cows wander into the crops]. In the same way I foresaw in unskillful qualities drawbacks, degradation, & defilement, and I foresaw in skillful qualities rewards related to renunciation & promoting cleansing.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
This control aspect also presumably informs the "Ox-herding sequence". It is certainly a rich metaphor, drawing on the strength and stubbornness of cattle, yet their unique docility once one understands their nature. (As someone who used to herd dairy cattle for a living, this makes a lot of sense to me!)

There is also the idea of ownership and wealth here, and the contrast with renunciation:
"Those with children
grieve
because of their children.
Those with cattle
grieve
because of their cows.
A person's grief
comes from acquisitions,
since a person with no acquisitions
doesn't grieve."
Unrelated but also interesting is Nanananda setting the bar for Samadhi very high compared to some other commentators:
The sphere to which Maara has no access is that samaadhi, peculiar to arahants, in which they experience the relinquishment of all 'assets' (sabbuu padhipa.tinissagga), which is Nibbaana.
User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 19272
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: SN 4.19 Kassaka Sutta: The Plowman

Post by mikenz66 »

Hi Sam, Thanks for that. Bhikkhu Bodhi's notes also lead to Snp 1.2
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
which refers to cows and bulls.
Sam Vara wrote: Unrelated but also interesting is Nanananda setting the bar for Samadhi very high compared to some other commentators:
The sphere to which Maara has no access is that samaadhi, peculiar to arahants, in which they experience the relinquishment of all 'assets' (sabbuu padhipa.tinissagga), which is Nibbaana.
It appears that this is referring to the Arahant residing in a nibbanic samadhi, not something an unawakened person can experience.
Ven Nanananda refers to AN 3.32, which refers to ‘The Questions of Puṇṇaka’, Snp 5.3. See: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=6079

:anjali:
Mike
User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 10193
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: SN 4.19 Kassaka Sutta: The Plowman

Post by Sam Vara »

mikenz66 wrote: It appears that this is referring to the Arahant residing in a nibbanic samadhi, not something an unawakened person can experience.


Ah, I had slightly misread the quote, and thought it referred to samadhi in general. Nibbanic samadhi is something I hadn't heard of before - thank you.
Locked