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Tipitaka >> Sutta Pitaka >> Samyutta Nikaya >> Nidana-Vagga >> Nidana-samyutta >> 12.12: Phagguna Sutta - To Phagguna

(To Phagguna) Edit

Translated from the Pali by Nyanaponika Thera


"There are, O monks, four nutriments for the sustenance of beings born, and for the support of beings seeking birth. What are the four? Edible food, coarse and fine; secondly, sense-impression; thirdly, volitional thought; fourthly, consciousness."

After these words, the Venerable Moliya-Phagguna addressed the Exalted One as follows:

"Who, O Lord, consumes [1] the nutriment consciousness?"

"The question is not correct," said the Exalted One. "I do not say that 'he consumes'. [2] If I had said so, then the question 'Who consumes?' would be appropriate. But since I did not speak thus, the correct way to ask the question will be: 'For what is the nutriment consciousness (the condition)?' [3] And to that the correct reply is: 'The nutriment consciousness [4] is a condition for the future arising of a renewed existence; [5] when that has come into being, there is (also) the sixfold sense-base; and conditioned by the sixfold sense-base is sense-impression.' " [6]

"Who, O Lord, has a sense-impression?"

"The question is not correct," said the Exalted One.

"I do not say that 'he has a sense-impression.' Had I said so, then the question 'Who has a sense-impression?' would be appropriate. But since I did not speak thus, the correct way to ask the question will be 'What is the condition of sense-impression?' And to that the correct reply is: 'The sixfold sense-base is a condition of sense-impression, and sense-impression is the condition of feeling.' "

"Who, O Lord, feels?"

"The question is not correct," said the Exalted One. "I do not say that 'he feels.' Had I said so, then the question 'Who feels?' would be appropriate. But since I did not speak thus, the correct way to ask the question will be 'What is the condition of feeling?' And to that the correct reply is: 'sense-impression is the condition of feeling; and feeling is the condition of craving.' "

"Who, O Lord, craves?"

"The question is not correct," said the Exalted One. "I do not say that 'he craves.' Had I said so, then the question 'Who craves?' would be appropriate. But since I did not speak thus, the correct way to ask the question will be 'What is the condition of craving?' And to that the correct reply is: 'Feeling is the condition of craving, and craving is the condition of clinging.' "

"Who, O Lord, clings?"

"The question is not correct," said the Exalted One, "I do not say that 'he clings.' Had I said so, then the question 'Who clings?' would be appropriate. But since I did not speak thus, the correct way to ask the question will be 'What is the condition of clinging?' And to that the correct reply is: 'Craving is the condition of clinging; and clinging is the condition of the process of becoming.' Such is the origin of this entire mass of suffering. [7]

"Through the complete fading away and cessation of even these six bases of sense-impression, sense-impression ceases; [8] through the cessation of sense-impression, feeling ceases; through the cessation of feeling, craving ceases; through the cessation of craving, clinging ceases; through the cessation of clinging, the process of becoming ceases; through the cessation of the process of becoming, birth ceases; through the cessation of birth, old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of suffering."

Notes Edit

[1] Consumes or eats (aaharati) — The commentators say that this monk believed that he understood the three other kinds of nutriment but concerning consciousness he had conceived the notion that there was a "being" (satta) that takes consciousness onto himself as nutriment.

[2] Comy: "I do not say that there is any being or person that consumes (or eats)."

[3] Comy: "That means: 'For what (impersonal) state (or thing; katamassa dhammassa) is the nutriment consciousness a condition (paccaya)?'" The term dhamma, in the sense of an impersonal factor of existence, is here contrasted with the questioner's assumption of a being or person performing the respective function. By re-formulating the question, the Buddha wanted to point out that there is no reason for assuming that the nutriment consciousness "feeds" or conditions any separate person hovering behind it; but that consciousness constitutes just one link in a chain of processes indicated by the Buddha in the following.

[4] The nutriment consciousness signifies here the rebirth-consciousness.

[5] aayatim punabbhavaabhinibbatti; Comy: "This is the mind-and-body (naama-ruupa) conascent with that very (rebirth) consciousness." This refers to the third link of the dependent origination: "Through (rebirth) consciousness conditioned is mind-and-body" (viññaa.na-paccayaa naama-ruupam).

[6] Comy: "The Exalted One said this for giving to the monk an opening for a further question."

[7] Comy: "Why does not the monk continue to ask: 'Who becomes?' Because as one cherishing wrong views, he believes that 'A being has become, has come to be.' Hence he does not question further, because it would conflict with his own beliefs. And also the Master terminates here the exposition, thinking: 'However much he questions, he will not be satisfied. He is just asking empty questions.'"

[8] Comy: "Here the Master takes up that very point from where he started the exposition: 'Through the sixfold sense (organ) base conditioned is sense-impression,' and here he now turns round the exposition (to the cessation of the cycle of dependent origination).

"In this discourse, there is one link (of cause and fruit) between consciousness and mind-and-body; one link (of fruit and cause) between feeling and craving, and one link (of cause and fruit) between the process of becoming and birth."

Sub-Comy: "Since, in the words of the discourse, 'The nutriment consciousness is a condition for the future arising of a renewed existence,' (consciousness is regarded) as being a condition in a former existence for a future existence, and as being a principal cause (muula-kaarana), therefore the Commentary says that 'there is a link (of cause and fruit) between consciousness and mind-and-body.' Hence it should be understood that by the term consciousness, also the 'kamma-forming consciousness' (abhisa"nkhaara-viññaa.na) is implied" (i.e., apart from being resultant rebirth consciousness).

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