Samyuktagama 265

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Saṃyuktāgama 265. Discourse on Bubbles and Foam

Thus have I heard. At one time the Buddha was staying in Ayojjhā, on the bank of the river Ganges.

At that time the Blessed One said to the monks: “It is just as if a mass of foam drifts on a great wave that has risen on the river Ganges, and a clear-sighted person carefully examines and analyses it. At the time of carefully examining and analysing, he finds that there is nothing in it, nothing stable, nothing substantial, it has no solidity. Why is that? It is because there is nothing solid or substantial in a mass of foam.

“In the same way, on carefully examining, attending to, and analysing whatever bodily form, past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, sublime or repugnant, far or near, a monk finds that there is nothing in it, nothing stable, nothing substantial, it has no solidity; it is like a disease, like a carbuncle, like a thorn, like a killer, it is impermanent, dukkha, empty, and not self. Why is that? It is because there is nothing solid or substantial in bodily form.

“Monks, it is just as when during a great rain there are bubbles on the surface of water, arising and ceasing one after another, and a clear-sighted person carefully examines, attends to, and analyses them. At the time of carefully examining, attending to, and analysing them, he finds that there is nothing in them, nothing stable, nothing substantial, they have no solidity. Why is that? Because there is nothing solid or substantial in water bubbles.

“In the same way, a monk carefully examines, attends to, and analyses whatever feeling, past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, sublime or repugnant, far or near. When carefully examining, attending to, and analysing it, the monk finds that there is nothing in it, nothing stable, nothing substantial, it has no solidity; it is like a disease, like a carbuncle, like a thorn, like a killer, it is impermanent, dukkha, empty, and not self. Why is that? It is because there is nothing solid or substantial in feeling.

“Monks, it is just as when towards the end of spring or the beginning of summer, in the middle of the day when the sun is strong and there are no clouds and no rain, a shimmering mirage appears, and a clear-sighted person carefully examines, attends to, and analyses it. At the time of carefully examining, attending to, and analysing it, he finds that there is nothing in it, nothing stable, nothing substantial, it has no solidity. Why is that? It is because there is nothing solid or substantial in a mirage.

“In the same way, a monk carefully examines, attends to, and analyses whatever perception, past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, sublime or repugnant, far or near. When carefully examining, attending to, and analysing it, the monk finds that there is nothing in it, nothing stable, nothing substantial, it has no solidity; it is like a disease, like a carbuncle, like a thorn, like a killer, it is impermanent, dukkha, empty, and not self. Why is that? It is because there is nothing solid or substantial in perception.

“Monks, it is just as if a clear-sighted person in need of heartwood takes hold of a sharp axe and enters a mountain forest, where he sees a large plantain tree that is thick, straight, and tall. He cuts it down at the root, chops off the treetop and gradually takes off sheath after sheath, all of which are without solid core, and he carefully examines, attends to, and analyses them. At the time of carefully examining, attending to, and analysing them, he finds that there is nothing in them, nothing stable, nothing substantial, they have no solidity. Why is that? It is because there is nothing solid or substantial in a plantain tree.

“In the same way, a monk carefully examines, attends to, and analyses whatever formations, past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, sublime or repugnant, far or near. When carefully examining, attending to, and analysing them, the monk finds that there is nothing in them, nothing stable, nothing substantial, they have no solidity; they are like a disease, like a carbuncle, like a thorn, like a killer, they are impermanent, dukkha, empty, and not self. Why is that? It is because there is nothing solid or substantial in formations.

“Monks, it is just as if a master magician or the disciple of a master magician at a crossroads creates the magical illusion of an elephant troop, a horse troop, a chariot troop, and an infantry troop, and a clear-sighted person carefully examines, attends to, and analyses it. At the time of carefully examining, attending to, and analysing it, he finds that there is nothing in it, nothing stable, nothing substantial, it has no solidity. Why is that? It is because there is nothing solid or substantial in a magical illusion.

“In the same way, a monk carefully examines, attends to, and analyses whatever consciousness, past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, sublime or repugnant, far or near. When carefully examining, attending to, and analysing it, the monk finds that there is nothing in it, nothing stable, nothing substantial, it has no solidity; it is like a disease, like a carbuncle, like a thorn, like a killer, it is impermanent, dukkha, empty, and not self. Why is that? It is because there is nothing solid or substantial in consciousness.”

At that time the Blessed One, wishing to emphasize the significance of what he had declared, spoke these stanzas:

   “Contemplate bodily form as a mass of foam,
   feelings like bubbles on water,
   perception like a glare in spring time,
   formations like a plantain,
   and the nature of any consciousness like a magical illusion,
   as the Kinsman of the Sun has explained.
   “Carefully attending to it from all sides,
   with right mindfulness examining it well,
   it is found to be insubstantial and without solidity,
   there is no a self or what belongs to a self
   in this bodily aggregate, which is dukkha.
   “The Greatly Wise One has analyzed and explained that,
   bereft of three things,
   the body will become a thing that is abandoned:
   Vitality, heat and any consciousness,
   bereft of these, the remaining body falls apart
   and will forever be discarded inside a tomb,
   like a log, without conscious perceptions.
   “This body is always in this way
   illusory and false, enticing foolish people.
   It is like a killer, like a poisonous thorn,
   being without any solidity.
   “For a monk who energetically cultivates
   contemplation of this bodily form aggregate,
   day and night constantly engaging in it
   with right comprehension and collected mindfulness established,
   conditioned formations will be appeased
   and he forever attains the cool place.”

Then the monks, hearing what the Buddha had said, were delighted and received it respectfully.