Samyuktagama 211

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Saṃyuktāgama 211. [Discourse on the Five Sense Pleasures]

Thus have I heard. At one time the Buddha was staying at Vesālī in Jīvaka’s Mango Grove.

At that time the Blessed One said to the monks: “Formerly, when I had not yet attained full awakening, I was meditating alone in a quiet place and thought: ‘I should examine: What direction does my own mind often incline towards? My own mind often pursued the five strands of sense pleasure of the past, it seldom pursues the five strands of sense pleasure of the present, and it very seldom keeps revolving in those of the future.

“When I had contemplated that I often pursued the five [strands] of sense pleasure of the past, I thoroughly aroused energy and effort to guard myself so that I would not again follow after the five strands of sense pleasure of the past. Because of this diligent self protection, I gradually drew closer to supreme and right awakening.

“Monks, you also often pursued the five strands of sense pleasure of the past, very seldom those of the present and the future. You should now also increasingly protect yourself, because the mind often pursued the five strands of sense pleasure of the past, and you will soon attain the destruction of the influxes, the influx-free liberation of the mind and liberation by wisdom, knowing here and now for yourself and realizing that: ‘Birth for me has been eradicated, the holy life has been established, what had to be done has been done, I myself know that there will be no receiving of any further existence.’

“Why is that? In dependence on seeing forms with the eye, feeling arises within, be it painful, pleasant, or neutral. In dependence on the ear … the nose … the tongue … the body … the mind and mental objects, feeling arises within, be it painful, pleasant, or neutral.

“Therefore, monks, you should realize that sphere wherein the eye ceases and which then is apart from a perception of forms, wherein the ear … the nose … the tongue … the body … the mind ceases and which then is apart from a perception of mental objects.”

The Buddha said: “You should realize that sphere.” Having said this, he entered his hut to sit in meditation. Then, soon after the Blessed One had left, a group of many monks had this discussion: “The Blessed One has taught us the essentials of the teaching in brief, and without analyzing it in detail he has entered his hut to sit in meditation.

“The Blessed One has said: ‘You should realize that sphere, wherein the eye ceases and which then is apart from perception of forms, wherein the ear … the nose … the tongue … the body … the mind ceases and which then is apart from perception of mental objects.’ Now we still do not understand herein the teaching which the Blessed One has taught in brief. Among this community, who now has the power of wisdom and the capability of expounding to us in detail the meaning herein of the teaching which the Blessed One has taught us in brief?”

They further thought: “The only one is the venerable Ānanda, who constantly attends on the Blessed One and who is constantly praised by the great teacher as a wise practitioner of the holy life. The venerable Ānanda is the only one who is capable of expounding to us the meaning herein of the teaching which the Blessed One has taught in brief. We should now all together approach the venerable Ānanda and ask him about its meaning. We will all respectfully remember it as [the venerable] Ānanda explains it.”

At that time the group of many monks approached the venerable Ānanda. Having exchanged polite greetings, they sat to one side and said to the venerable Ānanda: “Venerable, you should know that the Blessed One has taught us the essentials of the teaching in brief … as said above … we together ask that Ānanda would explain to us in detail its meaning.”

The venerable Ānanda said to the monks: “Listen and pay proper attention, I shall herein explain in detail to you the meaning of the teaching the Blessed One has taught in brief. What the Blessed One has taught in brief was in regard to the cessation of the six sense-spheres. On purpose saying more than that [single expression], he said: ‘The sphere wherein the eye ceases and which then is apart from perception of forms, wherein the ear … the nose … the tongue … the body … the mind sense-sphere ceases and which then is apart from perception of mental objects.’ Of this teaching, which the Blessed One had taught in brief when he entered his hut to sit in meditation, I have now analyzed its meaning for you.”

When the venerable Ānanda had explained its meaning, hearing what he had said the monks were delighted and received it respectfully.