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Sutta 102 | Majjhima Nikāya

Majjhima Nikāya
Sutta 102

102. Pañcattaya Sutta: The Five and Three

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. There he addressed the monks, “Monks!”

“Yes, lord,” the monks responded to him.

The Blessed One said:

“Monks, there are some contemplatives & Brahmans who theorize about the future state, who speculate about the future state. They assert many various beliefs concerning the future state. Some assert that ‘The self is percipient & free from disease after death.’ Some assert that ‘The self is non-percipient & free from disease after death.’ Some assert that ‘The self is neither percipient nor non-percipient & free from disease after death.’ Or they describe the destruction, annihilation, & non-becoming of the existing being after death. Or some assert unbinding in the here- &-now.

“Thus, being five, these become three. Being three, they become five. This is the summary of the five-&-three.

“Now, monks, as for those contemplatives & Brahmans who describe the self as percipient & free from disease after death, they describe the self that is percipient & free from disease after death as possessed of form... as formless... as both possessed of form & formless. as neither possessed of form nor formless. as percipient of singleness. as percipient of multiplicity!... as percipient of what is limited. or as percipient of what is immeasurable. Or some, among the few who go beyond this, assert the consciousness-totality: immeasurable & imperturbable.

“With regard to this, the Tathagata discerns that ‘Those venerable contemplative & Brahmans who describe the self as percipient & free from disease after death, describe the self that is percipient & free from disease after death as possessed of form. as formless. as both possessed of form & formless. as neither possessed of form nor formless. as percipient of singleness. as percipient of multiplicity. as percipient of what is limited. or as percipient of what is immeasurable. Or some assert the dimension of nothingness, “There is nothing” - which is declared the purest, foremost, highest, most unexcelled of (all) perceptions, whether perceptions of form, perceptions of formlessness, perceptions of singleness, or perceptions of multiplicity - as immeasurable & imperturbable. With regard to that - fabricated, gross - there is still the cessation of fabrications: There is this.’ Knowing that, seeing the escape from it, the Tathagata has gone beyond it.

“Now, as for those contemplatives & Brahmans who describe the self as non­percipient & free from disease after death, they describe the self that is non-percipient & free from disease after death as possessed of form. as formless. as both possessed of form & formless. as neither possessed of form nor formless. They criticize those contemplatives & Brahmans who describe the self as percipient & free from disease after death. For what reason? (They say,) ‘Perception is a disease, perception is a tumor, perception is an arrow. This is peaceful, this is exquisite: non-perception.’

‘With regard to this, the Tathagata discerns that “Those venerable contemplative & Brahmans who describe the self as non-percipient & free from disease after death, describe the self that is non-percipient & free from disease after death as possessed of form. as formless. as both possessed of form & formless. as neither possessed of form nor formless. But if any contemplative or Brahman were to say, ‘I will describe a coming, a going, a passing away, an arising, a growth, an increase, or a proliferation of consciousness apart from form, apart from feeling, apart from perception, apart from fabrications,’ that would be impossible.5 With regard to that - fabricated, gross - there is still the cessation of fabrications: There is this.’ Knowing that, seeing the escape from it, the Tathagata has gone beyond it.

“Now, as for those contemplatives & Brahmans who describe the self as neither percipient nor non-percipient & free from disease after death, they describe the self that is neither percipient nor non-percipient & free from disease after death as possessed of form. as formless. as both possessed of form & formless. as neither possessed of form nor formless. They criticize those contemplatives & Brahmans who describe the self as percipient & free from disease after death and they criticize those contemplatives & Brahmans who describe the self as non-percipient & free from

disease after death. For what reason? (They say,) ‘Perception is a disease, perception is a tumor, perception is an arrow. Non-perception is dullness. This is peaceful, this is exquisite: neither perception nor non-perception.’

‘With regard to this, the Tathagata discerns that “Those venerable contemplative & Brahmans who describe the self as neither percipient nor non-percipient & free from disease after death, describe the self that is neither percipient nor non-percipient & free from disease after death as possessed of form. as formless. as both possessed of form & formless. as neither possessed of form nor formless. But if any contemplative or Brahman were to describe the entry into that dimension as based on a modicum of fabrication with regard to what is seen, heard, sensed, or cognized, that, monks, is declared to be a disaster for the entry into that dimension. For that dimension is said not to be attained as a fabrication-attainment. It is to be attained as a remnant-of-fabrication-attainment. With regard to that - fabricated, gross - there is still the cessation of fabrications: There is this.’ Knowing that, seeing the escape from it, the Tathagata has gone beyond it.

“Now, as for those contemplatives & Brahmans who describe the destruction, annihilation, & non-becoming of the existing being after death, they criticize the contemplatives & Brahmans who describe the self as percipient & free from disease after death and they criticize the contemplatives & Brahmans who describe the self as non-percipient & free from disease after death and they criticize the contemplatives & Brahmans who describe the self as neither percipient nor non-percipient & free from disease after death. For what reason? (They say,) ‘These venerable contemplatives & Brahmans, rushing ahead, assert nothing but their attachment: “I will be this after death. I will be this after death.” Just as when a merchant going to market thinks, “From this, that will be mine. By means of this I will get that”; in the same way, these venerable contemplatives & Brahmans act like merchants, as it were: “I will be this after death. I will be this after death.”’

“With regard to this, the Tathagata discerns that “Those venerable contemplative & Brahmans who describe the destruction, annihilation, & non-becoming of the existing being after death, they - through fear of self-identity, through disgust for self- identity - (nevertheless) keep running & circling around self-identity.6 Just as a dog, tied by a leash to a post or stake, keeps running around and circling around that very post or stake; in the same way, these venerable contemplative & Brahmans - through fear of self-identity, through disgust for self-identity - (nevertheless) keep running & circling around self-identity. With regard to that - fabricated, gross - there is still the cessation of fabrications: There is this.’ Knowing that, seeing the escape from it, the Tathagata has gone beyond it. .

“There is the case, monks, where a certain contemplative or Brahman, with the relinquishing of speculations about the past and the relinquishing of speculations about the future, from being totally not determined on the fetters of sensuality, enters & remains in the rapture of seclusion [the first jhāna]. (He thinks,) ‘This is peaceful, this is exquisite, that I enter & remain in the rapture of seclusion.’ His rapture of

seclusion ceases. With the cessation of the rapture of seclusion, sadness arises; with the cessation of sadness, the rapture of seclusion arises. Just as what the shade leaves the sunlight pervades, and what the sunlight leaves the shade pervades; in the same way, with the cessation of the rapture of seclusion, sadness arises; with the cessation of sadness, the rapture of seclusion arises.

“With regard to this, the Tathagata discerns that ‘This venerable contemplative or Brahman, with the relinquishing of speculations about the past and the relinquishing of speculations about the future, from being totally not determined on the fetters of sensuality, enters & remains in the rapture of seclusion. (He thinks,) “This is peaceful, this is exquisite, that I enter & remain in the rapture of seclusion.” His rapture of seclusion ceases. With the cessation of the rapture of seclusion, sadness arises; with the cessation of sadness, the rapture of seclusion arises. With regard to that - fabricated, gross - there is still the cessation of fabrications: There is this.’ Knowing that, seeing the escape from it, the Tathagata has gone beyond it.

“There is the case, monks, where a certain contemplative or Brahman, with the relinquishing of speculations about the past and the relinquishing of speculations about the future, from being totally not determined on the fetters of sensuality, and surmounting the rapture of seclusion, enters & remains in pleasure not-of-the-flesh [the third jhāna]. (He thinks,) ‘This is peaceful, this is exquisite, that I enter & remain in pleasure not-of-the-flesh.’ His pleasure not-of-the-flesh ceases. With the cessation of pleasure not-of-the-flesh, the rapture of seclusion arises; with the cessation of the rapture of seclusion, pleasure not-of-the-flesh arises. Just as what the shade leaves the sunlight pervades, and what the sunlight leaves the shade pervades; in the same way, with the cessation of pleasure not-of-the-flesh, the rapture of seclusion arises; with the cessation of the rapture of seclusion, pleasure not-of-the-flesh arises.

“With regard to this, the Tathagata discerns that ‘This venerable contemplative or Brahman, with the relinquishing of speculations about the past and the relinquishing of speculations about the future, from being totally not determined on the fetters of sensuality, and surmounting the rapture of seclusion, enters & remains in pleasure not-of-the-flesh. (He thinks,) “This is peaceful, this is exquisite, that I enter & remain in pleasure not-of-the-flesh.” His pleasure not-of-the-flesh ceases. With the cessation of pleasure not-of-the-flesh, the rapture of seclusion arises; with the cessation of the rapture of seclusion, pleasure not-of-the-flesh arises. With regard to that - fabricated, gross - there is still the cessation of fabrications: There is this.’ Knowing that, seeing the escape from it, the Tathagata has gone beyond it.

“There is the case, monks, where a certain contemplative or Brahman, with the relinquishing of speculations about the past and the relinquishing of speculations about the future, from being totally not determined on the fetters of sensuality, surmounting the rapture of seclusion, surmounting pleasure not-of-the flesh, enters & remains in a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain [the fourth jhana]. (He thinks,) ‘This is peaceful, this is exquisite, that I enter & remain in a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain.’ His feeling of neither pleasure nor pain ceases. With the cessation of the feeling

of neither pleasure nor pain, the pleasure not-of-the flesh arises; with the cessation of pleasure not-of-the flesh, the feeling of neither pleasure nor pain arises. Just as what the shade leaves the sunlight pervades, and what the sunlight leaves the shade pervades; in the same way, with the cessation of the feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, the pleasure not-of-the flesh arises; with the cessation of pleasure not-of-the flesh, the feeling of neither pleasure nor pain arises.

“With regard to this, the Tathagata discerns that ‘This venerable contemplative or Brahman, with the relinquishing of speculations about the past and the relinquishing of speculations about the future, from being totally not determined on the fetters of sensuality, surmounting the rapture of seclusion, surmounting pleasure not-of-the flesh, enters & remains in a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain. (He thinks,) “This is peaceful, this is exquisite, that I enter & remain in a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain.” His feeling of neither pleasure nor pain ceases. With the cessation of the feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, the pleasure not-of-the flesh arises; with the cessation of pleasure not-of-the flesh, the feeling of neither pleasure nor pain arises. With regard to that - fabricated, gross - there is still the cessation of fabrications: There is this.’ Knowing that, seeing the escape from it, the Tathagata has gone beyond it.

“There is the case, monks, where a certain contemplative or Brahman, with the relinquishing of speculations about the past and the relinquishing of speculations about the future, from being totally not determined on the fetters of sensuality, surmounting the rapture of seclusion, surmounting pleasure not-of-the-flesh, and surmounting the feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, envisions that ‘I am at peace, I am unbound, I am without clinging/sustenance!’

“With regard to this, the Tathagata discerns that ‘This venerable contemplative or Brahman, with the relinquishing of speculations about the past and the relinquishing of speculations about the future, from being totally not determined on the fetters of sensuality, surmounting the rapture of seclusion, surmounting pleasure not-of-the- flesh, and surmounting the feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, envisions that “I am at peace, I am unbound, I am without clinging/sustenance!” Yes, he affirms a practice conducive to unbinding. But still he clings, clinging to a speculation about the past; or he clings, clinging to a speculation about the future; or he clings, clinging to a fetter of sensuality; or he clings, clinging to the rapture of seclusion; or he clings, clinging to pleasure not-of-the-flesh; or he clings, clinging to a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain. And the fact that he envisions that “I am at peace, I am unbound, I am without clinging/sustenance!” - that in itself points to his clinging. With regard to that - fabricated, gross - there is still the cessation of fabrications: There is this.’ Knowing that, seeing the escape from it, the Tathagata has gone beyond it.

“Thus, monks, the Tathagata has awakened to the unexcelled state of foremost peace: liberation through lack of clinging/sustenance, having known, as they have come to be, the origination, passing away, allure, drawbacks of - and escape from - the six media of contact.”

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Blessed One’s words.