Suddhatthaka Sutta

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Suddhatthaka Sutta

Post by jcsuperstar »

almost forgot this... sheeesh midterms sorry- jc

Snp 4.4 PTS: Sn 788-795
Suddhatthaka Sutta: Pure
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
"I see the pure, the supreme,
free from disease.
It's in connection
with what's seen
that a person's purity

Understanding thus,
having known the "supreme,"
& remaining focused
on purity,
one falls back on that knowledge.
If it's in connection
with what is seen
that a person's purity is,
or if stress is abandoned
in connection with knowledge,
then a person with acquisitions
is purified
in connection with something else,[2]
for his view betrays that
in the way he asserts it.

No brahman[3]
says purity
comes in connection
with anything else.
Unsmeared with regard
to what's seen, heard, sensed,
precepts or practices,
merit or evil,
not creating
anything here,
he's let go
of what he had embraced.[4]

Abandoning what's first,
they depend on what's next.[5]
Following distraction,
they don't cross over attachment.
They embrace & reject
— like a monkey releasing a branch
to seize at another[6] —
a person undertaking practices on his own,
goes high & low,
latched onto perception.
But having clearly known
through vedas,[7] having encountered
the Dhamma,
one of profound discernment
doesn't go
high & low.

He's enemy-free[8]
with regard to all things
seen, heard, or sensed.
By whom, with what,[9]
should he
be pigeonholed
here in the world?
— one who has seen in this way,
who goes around

They don't conjure, don't yearn,
don't proclaim "utter purity."
Untying the tied-up knot of grasping,
they don't form a desire for
at all in the world.

The brahman
gone beyond territories,[11]
has nothing that
— on knowing or seeing —
he's grasped.
Unimpassionate for passion,
not impassioned for dis-,[12]
he has nothing here
that he's grasped as supreme.

1.An ancient Indian belief, dating back to the Vedas, was that the sight of certain things or beings was believed to purify. Thus "in connection with what's seen" here means both that purity is brought about by means of seeing such a sight, and that one's purity is measured in terms of having such a sight. This belief survives today in the practice of darshan.
2.In other words, if purity were simply a matter of seeing or knowing something, a person could be pure in this sense and yet still have acquisitions (= defilements), which would not be true purity.
3."Brahman" in the Buddhist sense, i.e., a person born in any caste who has become an arahant.
4.Lines such as this may have been the source of the confusion in the different recensions of the Canon — and in Nd.I — as to whether the poems in this vagga are concerned with letting go of views that have been embraced (atta) or of self (attaa). The compound here, attañjaho, read on its own, could be read either as "he's let go of what has been embraced" or "he's let go of self." However, the following image of a monkey seizing and releasing branches as it moves from tree to tree reinforces the interpretation that the first interpretation is the correct one.
5.Nd.I: Leaving one teacher and going to another; leaving one teaching and going to another. This phrase may also refer to the mind's tendency to leave one craving to go to another.
6."Like a monkey releasing a branch to seize at another" — an interesting example of a whole phrase that functions as a "lamp," i.e., modifying both the phrase before it and the phrase after it.
7.Vedas — Just as the word "brahman" is used in a Buddhist sense above, here the word veda is given a Buddhist sense. According to the Commentary, in this context it means the knowledge accompanying four transcendent paths: the paths to stream-entry, once-returning, non-returning, and arahantship.
8.Nd.I: The enemies here are the armies of Mara — all unskillful mental qualities. For a detailed inventory of the armies of Mara, see Sn 3.2.
9.By whom, with what — two meanings of the one Pali word, kena.
10.Nd.I: "Open" means having a mind not covered or concealed by craving, defilement, or ignorance. This image is used in Ud 5.5. It is in contrast to the image discussed in note 1 to Sn 4.2. An alternative meaning here might be having one's eyes open.
11.Nd.I: "Territories" = the ten fetters (samyojana) and seven obsessions (anusaya).
12.Nd.I: "Passion" = sensuality; "dispassion" = the jhana states that bring about dispassion for sensuality.
See also: MN 24.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Suddhatthaka Sutta

Post by Richard »

As the Notes indicate, the opening verse seems to refer to a belief that still persists: that merely gazing upon a guru, or a divine image, will guarantee spiritual progress. Such a practice, "in connection with what is seen," is ineffective and potentially enslaving. There are other suttas, I believe, where the Buddha reprimands those who come just to see him. But this sutta goes on to teach freedom from anything "seen, heard, or sensed"--a radical step for most of us! It is not easy to be "unsmeared" by experience and unattached to either passion or dispassion.