SN 4.23 Godhika Sutta

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mikenz66
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SN 4.23 Godhika Sutta

Post by mikenz66 »

SN 4.23 [SN i 120] <SN i 264> Godhika Sutta
Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi


http://suttacentral.net/en/sn4.23

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Rajagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrel Sanctuary.

Now on that occasion the Venerable Godhika was dwelling on the Black Rock on the Isigili Slope. Then, while the Venerable Godhika was dwelling diligent, ardent, and resolute, he reached temporary liberation of mind, but he fell away from that temporary liberation of mind. A second time, while the Venerable Godhika was dwelling diligent, ardent, and resolute, he reached temporary liberation of mind, but he fell away from that temporary liberation of mind. A third time…A fourth time … A fifth time…A sixth time, while the Venerable Godhika was dwelling diligent, ardent, and resolute, he reached temporary liberation of mind, but he fell away from that temporary liberation of mind. A seventh time, while the Venerable Godhika was dwelling diligent, ardent, and resolute, he reached temporary liberation of mind.

Then it occurred to the Venerable Godhika: “Six times already I have fallen away from temporary liberation of mind. Let me use the knife.” [309]

Then Mara the Evil One, having known with his own mind the reflection in the Venerable Godhika’s mind, approached the Blessed One and addressed him with these verses: [310]
  • “O great hero, great in wisdom,
    Blazing forth with power and glory!
    I worship your feet, One with Vision,
    Who has overcome all enmity and fear.

    “O great hero who has vanquished death,
    Your disciple is longing for death.
    He intends to take his own life:
    Restrain him from this, O luminous one!

    “How, O Blessed One, can your disciple—
    One delighting in the Teaching,
    A trainee seeking his mind’s ideal—
    Take his own life, O widely famed?” [311]
Now on that occasion the Venerable Godhika had just used the knife. [312] Then the Blessed One, having understood, “This is Mara the Evil One,” addressed him in verse:
  • “Such indeed is how the steadfast act:
    They are not attached to life.
    Having drawn out craving with its root,
    Godhika has attained final Nibbāna.”
Then the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Come, bhikkhus, let us go to the Black Rock on the Isigili Slope, where the clansman Godhika has used the knife.”

“Yes, venerable sir,” those bhikkhus replied. Then the Blessed One, together with a number of bhikkhus, went to the Black Rock on the Isigili Slope. The Blessed One saw in the distance the Venerable Godhika lying on the bed with his shoulder turned. [312]

Now on that occasion a cloud of smoke, a swirl of darkness, was moving to the east, then to the west, to the north, to the south, upwards, downwards, and to the intermediate quarters. The Blessed One then addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Do you see, bhikkhus, that cloud of smoke, that swirl of darkness, moving to the east, then to the west, to the north, to the south, upwards, downwards, and to the intermediate quarters?”

“Yes, venerable sir.”

“That, bhikkhus, is Mara the Evil One searching for the consciousness of the clansman Godhika, wondering: ‘Where now has the consciousness of the clansman Godhika been established?’ However, bhikkhus, with consciousness unestablished, the clansman Godhika has attained final Nibbāna.” [314]

Then Mara the Evil One, taking a lute of yellow vilva-wood, approached the Blessed One and addressed him in verse:
  • “Above, below, and across,
    In the four quarters and in between,
    I have been searching but do not find
    Where Godhika has gone.”
The Blessed One:
  • “That steadfast man was resolute,
    A meditator always rejoicing in meditation,
    Applying himself day and night
    Without attachment even to life.

    “Having conquered the army of Death,
    Not returning to renewed existence,
    Having drawn out craving with its root,
    Godhika has attained final Nibbāna.”

    So much was he stricken with sorrow
    That his lute dropped from his armpit.
    Thereupon that disappointed spirit
    Disappeared right on the spot. [315]
Notes

[309] Sattha1Jl iihareyya1Jl. A euphemistic expression for suicide;
see SN 22:87 (III 1 2 3 ,1 0,26), SN 35:87 (IV 57,6), and SN 54:9
(V 320,24-25). Spk: He reflected thus: "Since the destination
after death of one who has fallen away from jhana is
uncertain, while one who has not fallen away is certain of
rebirth in the brahma world, let me use the knife." On the
Buddha's own attitude towards suicide, see SN 35:87
(IV 60,1-5).

[310] Spk: Mara thought: "This ascetic desires to use the knife.
This indicates that he is unconcerned with body and life,
and such a one is capable of attaining arahantship. If I try
to forbid him he will not desist, but if the Teacher forbids
him he will." Therefore, pretending to be concerned for
the elder's welfare, he approached the Blessed One.

[311] Spk: Jane suta ti jane vissuta; lit. "heard among the people =
famed among the people," i.e., widely famed. There is a
delicious irony, in the above three verses, in the way
Mara-who usually addresses the Buddha discourteously
as "ascetic"-here showers him with glowing epithets.

[312] SPk: The elder, thinking, "What is the use of living?" lay
down and slit his jugular vein with a knife. Painful feel­
ings arose. He suppressed them, comprehended the pains
(with insight), set up mindfulness, explored his medita­
tion subject, and attained arahantship as a "same-header"
(samasisi; see Visuddimagga Pp XIII:25-27, commented on at Pp-a 1 86-87) .
25. But the mentality-materiality in the previous existence has ceased without
remainder and another has arisen, and consequently that instance is, as it were,
shut away in darkness, and it is hard for one of little understanding to see it. Still
he should not give up the task, thinking, “I am unable to remove the rebirthlinking
and make the mentality-materiality that occurred at the death moment
my object.” On the contrary, he should again and again attain that same basic
jhána, and each time he emerges he should advert to that instance.

26. Just as when a strong man is felling a big tree for the purpose of making
the peak of a gable, but is unable to fell the big tree with an axe blade blunted by
lopping the branches and foliage, still he does not give up the task; on the
contrary, he goes to a smithy and has his axe sharpened, after which he returns
and continues chopping the tree; and when the axe again gets blunt, he does as
before and continues chopping it; and as he goes on chopping it in this way, the
tree falls at length, because each time there is no need to chop again what has
already been chopped and what has not yet been chopped gets chopped; so too,
when he emerges from the basic jhána, instead of adverting to what he has
already adverted to, he should advert only to the rebirth-linking, and at length
he removes the rebirth-linking and makes the mentality-materiality that occurred
at the death moment his object. And this meaning should also be illustrated by
means of the wood cutter and the hair-cutter as well.

27. Herein, the knowledge that occurs making its object the period from the
last sitting down for this purpose back to the rebirth-linking is not called
knowledge of recollection of past lives; but it is called preliminary-workconcentration
knowledge; and some call it “knowledge of the past” (atìtaísa-
ñáóa), but that is inappropriate to the fine-material sphere.
However, when this bhikkhu has got back beyond the rebirth-linking, there
arises in him mind-door adverting making its object the mentality-materiality
that occurred at the death moment. And when that has ceased, then either four or
five impulsions impel making that their object too. The first of these, called
“preliminary-work,” etc., in the way already described (§5), are of the sense
sphere. The last is a fine-material absorption consciousness of the fourth jhána.
The knowledge that arises in him then together with that consciousness is what
is called, “knowledge of recollection of past lives.” It is with the mindfulness
(memory) associated with that knowledge that he “recollects his manifold past
lives, that is to say, one birth, two births, …”[414] thus with details and particulars
he recollects his manifold past lives (D I 81).
He was a jivitasamasisi, one who attains the destruction of
defilements and the end of life simultaneously. (Another
kind of samasisi recovers from a grave illness at the same
time that he attains arahantship.)

[313] Spk: Vivattakkhandhan ti parivattakkhandham; "with his
shoulder turned" means with twisted shoulder. He had
been lying on his back when he took the knife, but because
he was accustomed to lying on his right side, he had
turned his head towards the right and had so remained.

[314] Appatitthena ca bhikkhave vinnanena Godhiko kulaputto
parinibbuto. Spk: Mara was searching for his rebirth-con­-
sciousness (patisandhicitta), but Godhika had passed away
with rebirth-consciousness unestablished; the meaning is:
because it was unestablished (appatitthitakhkana: or, with
unestablished cause).

Spk-pt: Appatitthena is an instrumental used as an indi-­
cation of modality (itthambhutalakkhana). The meaning is:
with (consciousness) not subject to arising (anuppatti­
dhammena); for if there were an arising, consciousness
would be called "established." But when the commentator
says, "because it was unestablished," what is meant is that
the cause for the nonestablishment of consciousness was
precisely the cause for his parinibbana (yadeva tassa
vinnanassa appatitthiinakaranam tadeva parinibbanakaranam)·

A similar case of suicide is reported of the bhikkhu
Vakkali at SN 22:87. When the monk is said to attain final
Nibbana with consciousness unestablished, this should
not be understood to mean that after death consciousness
survives in an "unestablished" condition (a thesis argued
by Harvey, The Selfless Mind, pp. 208-21 0); for enough
texts make it plain that with the passing away of the ara­
hant consciousness too ceases and no longer exists (see,
e.g., SN 12:51).

[315] The verse (which must have been added by the redactors)
occurs at Sn 449 [last verse of Snp 3.2], where, however, it follows the verses
that correspond to vv. 504-5 [end of SN 4.24]. In the verse Mara is spoken
of as yakkha.
SarathW
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Re: SN 4.23 Godhika Sutta

Post by SarathW »

Thanks mike.
What is temporary liberation of mind?
:thinking:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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mikenz66
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Re: SN 4.23 Godhika Sutta

Post by mikenz66 »

That usually refers to jhana, as in the first footnote.

:anjali:
Mike
SarathW
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Re: SN 4.23 Godhika Sutta

Post by SarathW »

Which Jhana?
It appears to me he is attempting to attain Formless Jhana.
I think it is liberation from the flesh.
:thinking:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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mikenz66
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Re: SN 4.23 Godhika Sutta

Post by mikenz66 »

I don't think that's the usual interpretation, but I guess iy is possible.

See also this thread
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=441" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Mike
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Sam Vara
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Re: SN 4.23 Godhika Sutta

Post by Sam Vara »

mikenz66 wrote:That usually refers to jhana, as in the first footnote.

:anjali:
Mike
That might say something about the nature of Jhana. If one is inclined to set the bar lower with regard to the nature of Jhana, that would be the equivalent of attending a retreat led by (say) Leigh Brasington, and getting six brief experiences of what he describes as such. Would we be overjoyed to have achieved so much, or suicidal that we did not have more of it?

There is nothing else in the sutta which indicates that Godhika would be prone to this type of fragility...
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mikenz66
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Re: SN 4.23 Godhika Sutta

Post by mikenz66 »

I thought that it was interesting that Mara assumed that Godhika had failed because he killed himself, and went gloating to the Buddha. The description of Mara as smoke is also compelling.

Mike
SarathW
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Re: SN 4.23 Godhika Sutta

Post by SarathW »

mikenz66 wrote:I don't think that's the usual interpretation, but I guess iy is possible.

See also this thread
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=441" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Mike
I have read somewhere in Sutta an Anagami is attempting to attain Arhantship.
He touches the unbinding and fall away many times according to that Sutta.
So it is possible Godhika is an Anagami.
:thinking:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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Re: SN 4.23 Godhika Sutta

Post by Coyote »

“How, O Blessed One, can your disciple—
One delighting in the Teaching,
A trainee seeking his mind’s ideal—
Take his own life, O widely famed?” [311]

Now on that occasion the Venerable Godhika had just used the knife. [312] Then the Blessed One, having understood, “This is Mara the Evil One,” addressed him in verse:

“Such indeed is how the steadfast act:
They are not attached to life.
Having drawn out craving with its root,
Godhika has attained final Nibbāna.”


Is the Buddha suggesting that to "Take his own life" is "how the steadfast act: They are not attached to life"? If not, how can this be understood? This is at least how Māra seems to understand it in the commentary.

[310] Spk: Mara thought: "This ascetic desires to use the knife.
This indicates that he is unconcerned with body and life,
and such a one is capable of attaining arahantship.
If I try
to forbid him he will not desist, but if the Teacher forbids
him he will." Therefore, pretending to be concerned for
the elder's welfare, he approached the Blessed One.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
Iti 26
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Re: SN 4.23 Godhika Sutta

Post by chownah »

Worldly failure (for instance suicide) should not be viewed as necessarily a hindrance. How often do we judge a persons position on the path using judgements of a worldly sort?
chownah
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