Sn 5.2 Tissa metteyya manava puccha

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Tissa-metteyya-manava-puccha: Tissa-metteyya's Questions

translated from the Pali by

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

[Tissa-metteyya:]

Who here in the world is contented? Who has no agitations? What thinker knowing both sides, doesn't adhere in between? Whom do you call a great person? Who here has gone past the seamstress: craving.

[The Buddha:]

He who in the midst of sensualities, follows the holy life, always mindful, craving-free; the monk who is through fathoming things Unbound: he has no agitations. He, the thinker knowing both sides, doesn't adhere in between. He I call a great person. He here has gone past the seamstress: craving.

Note

AN 6.61 reports a discussion among several elder monks as to what is meant in this poem by "both sides" and "in between." Six of the elders express the following separate opinions:

  • Contact is the first side, the origination of contact the second side, and the cessation of contact is in between.
  • The past is the first side, the future the second, and the present is in between.
  • Pleasant feeling is the first side, painful feeling the second, and neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling is in between.
  • Name (mental phenomena) is the first side, form (physical phenomena) the second, and consciousness is in between.
  • The six external sense media (sights, sounds, aromas, flavors, tactile sensations, ideas) are the first side, the six internal sense media (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, intellect) the second side, and consciousness is in between.
  • Self-identity is the first side, the origination of self-identity the second, and the cessation of self-identity is in between.

The issue is then taken to the Buddha, who states that all six interpretations are well-spoken, but the interpretation he had in mind when speaking the poem was the first.