There is that sphere where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither sphere of the infinitude of space, nor sphere of the infinitude of consciousness, nor sphere of nothingness, nor sphere of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor stasis; neither passing away nor arising: without stance, without foundation, without support (mental object). This, just this, is the end of stress.
Ud VIII 1
Where water, earth, fire, and wind have no footing:
There the stars do not shine,
the sun is not visible,
the moon does not appear,
darkness is not found.
And when a sage, a worthy one, through sagacity
has known (this) for himself,
then from form and formless,
from pleasure and pain,
he is freed.
Ud I 10
Aggivessana Vacchagotta: 'But, Venerable Gotama the monk whose mind is thus released: Where does he reappear?'
Buddha: '"Reappear," Vaccha, doesn't apply.'
'In that case, Venerable Gotama, he does not reappear.'
'"Does not reappear," Vaccha, doesn't apply.'
'...both does and does not reappear.'
'...Neither does nor does not reappear.'
'At this point, Venerable Gotama, I am befuddled; at this point, confused. The modicum of clarity coming to me from your earlier conversation is now obscured.'
'Of course you're befuddled, Vaccha. Of course you're confused. Deep, Vaccha, is this phenomenon, hard to see, hard to realize, tranquil, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise. For those with other views, other satisfactions, other aims, other teachers, it is difficult to know. That being the case, I will now put some questions to you. Answer as you see fit. How do you construe this, Vaccha: If a fire were burning in front of you, would you know that, "This fire is burning in front of me"?'
'And suppose someone were to ask you, Vaccha, "This fire burning in front of you, dependent on what is it burning?" Thus asked, how would you reply?'
'...I would reply, "This fire burning in front of me is burning dependent on grass and timber as its sustenance."'
'If the fire burning in front of you were to go out, would you know that, "This fire burning in front of me has gone out"?'
'And suppose someone were to ask you, "This fire that has gone out in front of you, in which direction from here has it gone? East? West? North? Or south?" Thus asked, how would you reply?'
'That doesn't apply, Venerable Gotama. Any fire burning dependent on a sustenance of grass and timber, being unnourished -- from having consumed that sustenance and not being offered any other -- is classified simply as "out."'
'Even so, Vaccha, any physical form by which one describing the Tathagata would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned, its root destroyed, like an uprooted palm tree, deprived of the conditions of existence, not destined for future arising. Freed from the classification of form, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard-to-fathom, like the sea. "Reappears" does not apply. "Does not reappear" does not apply. "Both does and does not reappear" does not apply. "Neither reappears nor does not reappear" does not apply.
'Any feeling...Any perception...Any mental fabrication...
'Any [act of] consciousness by which one describing the Tathagata would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned....Freed from the classification of consciousness, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard-to-fathom, like the sea.'
The Rewards of the Contemplative Life
There is the case where
a Tathagata appears in the world, worthy and rightly self-awakened. He teaches
the Dhamma admirable in its beginning, admirable in its middle, admirable in
its end. He proclaims the holy life both in its particulars and in its essence,
entirely perfect, surpassingly pure.
A householder or householder's son, hearing the Dhamma, gains conviction in the Tathagata and reflects: 'Household life is crowded, a dusty path. The life gone forth is like the open air. It is not easy living at home to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. Suppose I were to go forth?'
So after some time he abandons his mass of wealth, large or small; leaves his circle of relatives, large or small; shaves off his hair and beard, puts on the saffron robes, and goes forth from the household life into homelessness.
When he has thus gone forth, he lives restrained by the rules of the monastic code, seeing danger in the slightest faults. Consummate in his virtue, he guards the doors of his senses, is possessed of mindfulness and presence of mind, and is content....
Now, how does a monk guard the doors of his senses? On seeing a form with the eye, he does not grasp at any theme or variations by which -- if he were to dwell without restraint over the faculty of the eye -- evil, unskillful qualities such as greed or distress might assail him. (Similarly with the ear, nose, tongue, body, and intellect.)
And how is a monk possessed of mindfulness and alertness? When going forward and returning, he acts with alertness. When looking toward and looking away...when bending and extending his limbs...when carrying his outer cloak, his upper robe, and his bowl... when eating, drinking, chewing, and tasting...when urinating and defecating...when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, talking, and remaining silent, he acts with alertness.
And how is a monk content? Just as a bird, wherever it goes, flies with its wings as its only burden; so too is he content with a set of robes to provide for his body and alms food to provide for his hunger. Wherever he goes, he takes only his barest necessities along.
He seeks out a secluded dwelling: a forest, the shade of a tree, a mountain, a glen, a hillside cave, a charnel ground, a jungle grove, the open air, a heap of straw. After his meal, returning from his alms round, he sits down, crosses his legs, holds his body erect, and brings mindfulness to the fore. He purifies his mind from greed, ill will, sloth and drowsiness, restlessness and anxiety, and uncertainty. As long as these five hindrances are not abandoned within him, he regards it as a debt, a sickness, a prison, slavery, a road through desolate country. But when these five hindrances are abandoned within him, he regards it as unindebtedness, good health, release from prison, freedom, a place of security. Seeing that they have been abandoned within him, he becomes glad, enraptured, tranquil, sensitive to pleasure. Feeling pleasure, his mind becomes concentrated.
Quite withdrawn from sensual pleasures, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities, he enters and remains in the first jhana: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation. He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal. Just as if a skilled bathman or bathman's apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again and again with water, so that his ball of bath powder -- saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within and without -- would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk permeates...this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal. This is a reward of the contemplative life, visible here and now, more excellent than the previous ones and more sublime.
Furthermore, with the stilling of directed thought and evaluation, he enters and remains in the second jhana: rapture and pleasure born of composure, one-pointedness of awareness free from directed thought and evaluation -- internal assurance. He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of composure. Just like a lake with spring-water welling up from within, having no inflow from east, west, north, or south, and with the skies supplying abundant showers time and again, so that the cool fount of water welling up from within the lake would permeate and pervade, suffuse and fill it with cool waters, there being no part of the lake unpervaded by the cool waters; even so, the monk permeates... this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of composure. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born of composure. This, too, is a reward of the contemplative life, visible here and now, more excellent than the previous ones and more sublime.
And furthermore, with the fading of rapture, he remains in equanimity, mindful and fully aware, and physically sensitive of pleasure. He enters and remains in the third jhana, and of him the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous and mindful, he has a pleasurable abiding.' He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the pleasure divested of rapture. Just as in a lotus pond, some of the lotuses, born and growing in the water, stay immersed in the water and flourish without standing up out of the water, so that they are permeated and pervaded, suffused and filled with cool water from their roots to their tips, and nothing of those lotuses would be unpervaded with cool water; even so, the monk permeates...this very body with the pleasure divested of rapture. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded with pleasure divested of rapture. This, too, is a reward of the contemplative life, visible here and now, more excellent than the previous ones and more sublime.
And furthermore, with the abandoning of pleasure and stress -- as with the earlier disappearance of elation and distress -- he enters and remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity and mindfulness, neither-pleasure nor stress. He sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness. Just as if a man were sitting covered from head to foot with a white cloth so that there would be no part of his body to which the white cloth did not extend; even so, the monk sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by pure, bright awareness. This, too, is a reward of the contemplative life, visible here and now, more excellent than the previous ones and more sublime....
With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, he directs it to the knowledge of the ending of the mental fermentations. Just as if there were a pool of water in a mountain glen -- clear, limpid, and unsullied -- where a man with good eyesight standing on the bank could see shells, gravel, and pebbles, and also shoals of fish swimming about and resting, and it would occur to him, 'This pool of water is clear, limpid, and unsullied. Here are these shells, gravel, and pebbles, and also these shoals of fish swimming about and resting.' In the same way, the monk discerns, as it is actually present, that 'This is stress...This is the origination of stress...This is the cessation of stress...This is the way leading to the cessation of stress...These are mental fermentations... This is the origination of fermentations...This is the cessation of fermentations...This is the way leading to the cessation of fermentations.' His heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, is released from the fermentations of sensuality, becoming, and ignorance. With release, there is the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.' This, too, is a reward of the contemplative life, visible here and now, more excellent than the previous ones and more sublime. And as for another visible fruit of the contemplative life, higher and more sublime than this, there is none.
Aids to Awakening
Then Ven. Assaji, arising
early in the morning, taking his robe and bowl, entered Rajagaha for alms: gracious
in the way he approached and departed, looked forward and behind, drew in and
stretched out his arm; his eyes downcast, his every movement consummate. Sariputta
the wanderer saw Ven. Assaji going for alms in Rajagaha: gracious... his eyes
downcast, his every movement consummate. On seeing him, the thought occurred
to him: "Surely, of those in this world who are arahants or have entered
the path to arahantship, this is one. What if I were to approach him and question
him: 'On whose account have you gone forth? Who is your teacher? Of whose Dhamma
do you approve?'"
But then the thought occurred to Sariputta the wanderer: "This is the wrong time to question him. He is going for alms in the town. What if I were to follow behind this monk who has found the path for those who seek it?"
Then Ven. Assaji, having gone for alms in Rajagaha, left, taking the alms he had received. Sariputta the wanderer approached him and, on arrival, having exchanged friendly greetings and engaged in polite conversation, stood to one side. As he stood there he said, "Your faculties are bright, my friend, your complexion pure and clear. On whose account have you gone forth? Who is your teacher? Of whose Dhamma do you approve?"
"There is, my friend, the Great Contemplative, a son of the Sakyans, gone forth from a Sakyan family. I have gone forth on account of that Blessed One. That Blessed One is my teacher. It is of that Blessed One's Dhamma that I approve."
"But what is your teacher's teaching? What does he proclaim?"
"I am new, my friend, not long gone forth, only recently come to this doctrine and discipline. I cannot explain the doctrine in detail, but I can give you the gist in brief."
Then Sariputta the wanderer spoke thus to the Ven. Assaji:
"Speak a little or a lot,
but tell me just the gist.
The gist is what I want.
What use is a lot of rhetoric?"
Then Ven. Assaji gave this Dhamma exposition to Sariputta the Wanderer:
"Whatever phenomena arise from cause:
& their cessation.
Such is the teaching of the Tathagata,
the Great Contemplative."
Then to Sariputta the Wanderer, as he heard this Dhamma exposition, there arose the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation.
Mv I 23 5
Then Mahapajapati Gotami [the first nun, and the Buddha's foster mother] approached the Blessed One and on arrival, having bowed down, stood to one side. As she was standing there, she said, "It would be good if the Blessed One would teach me the Dhamma in brief so that I, having heard the Dhamma, might dwell alone, secluded, heedful, ardent, and resolute."
"....Gotami, the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to dispassion, not to passion; to being unfettered and not to being fettered; to self-effacement and not to self-aggrandizement; to modesty and not to ambition; to contentment and not to discontent; to seclusion and not to entanglement; to the arousing of persistence and not to laziness; to being unburdensome and not to being burdensome': You may definitely hold, 'This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher's instruction.'"
[According to the commentaries, Mahapajapati Gotami gained arahantship soon after receiving this instruction.]
Cv X 5
Sister Sona on Aging
Ten children I bore
from this physical heap.
Then weak from that, aged,
I went to a nun.
She taught me the Dhamma:
aggregates, sense spheres, elements.
Hearing the Dhamma,
I cut off my hair and ordained.
Having purified the divine eye
while still a probationer,
I know my previous lives,
where I lived in the past.
I develop the theme-less meditation:
I gain the liberation of immediacy --
from lack of clinging, unbound.
The five aggregates, comprehended,
stand like a tree with its root cut through.
I spit on old age.
There is now no further becoming.
Thig V 8
Punna on Death
Punna: "Ven. sir, I am going to live in the Sunaparanta country."
The Buddha: "Punna, the Sunaparanta people are fierce. They are rough. If they insult and ridicule you, what will you think?"
"...I will think, 'These Sunaparanta people are civilized, very civilized, in that they don't hit me with their hands.' That is what I will think...."
"But if they hit you with their hands...?"
"...I will think, 'These Sunaparanta people are civilized, very civilized, in that they don't hit me with a clod'...."
"But if they hit you with a clod...?"
"...I will think, 'These Sunaparanta people are civilized, very civilized, in that they don't hit me with a stick'...."
"But if they hit you with a stick...?"
"...I will think, 'These Sunaparanta people are civilized, very civilized, in that they don't hit me with a knife'...."
"But if they hit you with a knife...?"
"...I will think, 'These Sunaparanta people are civilized, very civilized, in that they don't take my life with a sharp knife'...."
"But if they take your life with a sharp knife...?"
"...I will think, 'There are disciples of the Blessed One who -- horrified, humiliated, and disgusted by the body and by life -- have sought for an assassin, but here I have met my assassin without searching for him.' That is what I will think...."
"Good, Punna, very good. Possessing such calm and self-control you are fit to dwell among the Sunaparantans. Now it is time to do as you see fit."
Then Ven. Punna, delighting and rejoicing in the Blessed One's words, rising from his seat, bowed down to the Blessed One and left, keeping him on his right side. Setting his dwelling in order and taking his robe and bowl, he set out for the Sunaparanta country and, after wandering stage by stage, he arrived there. There he lived. During that Rains retreat he established 500 male and 500 female lay followers in the practice, while he realized the three knowledges. At a later time, he attained total (final) Unbinding.