Aniruddha on the Four Bases of Mindfulness (SA 535)

Saṁyuktāgama: Aniruddha Saṁyukta

SA 535. Alone (1)

Thus have I heard. At one time, The Buddha was in Śrāvastī, in the Jeta Grove, in Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park. At that time, Venerable Aniruddha was in an abode in a pine forest.

Then Venerable Mahāmaudgalyāyana was abiding in the village of the Bhargas, at Crocodile Mountain, in a terrifying dense forest, a place of birds and beasts.

Then Venerable Aniruddha was alone in an empty place, absorbed in contemplation, and thought, “There is a single path for the purification of beings, for separation from worry, sorrow, vexation, and suffering, and to obtain the truth of the Dharma. Namely, the Four Bases of Mindfulness. What are these four? The base of mindfulness of observing the body… feelings… mind… and the base of mindfulness of observing dharmas.

“If there is one who is separated from the Four Bases of Mindfulness, then they are separated from the noble Dharma. One who is separated from the noble Dharma, is separated from the noble Path. One who is separated from the noble Path, is separated from the ambrosial Dharma. One who is separated from the ambrosial Dharma, is unable to be liberated from birth, old age, sickness, death, worry, sorrow, vexation, and suffering.

“If there is one who believes and delights in the Four Bases of Mindfulness, then they believe and delight in the noble Dharma. One who believes and delights in the noble Dharma, believes and delights in the noble Path. One who believes and delights in the noble Path, believes and delights in the ambrosial Dharma. One who believes and delights in the ambrosial Dharma, obtains liberation from birth, old age, sickness, death, worry, sorrow, vexation, and suffering.”

At that time, Venerable Mahāmaudgalyāyana knew the thoughts in the mind of Venerable Aniruddha. Just as a strong man would bend or stretch out his arm in an instant, by means of spiritual power, he left the village of the Bhargas, at Crocodile Mountain, in the terrifying dense forest, a place of birds and beasts. He arrived at Śrāvastī, at the abode in the pine forest, and appeared before Venerable Aniruddha. He spoke to Aniruddha, saying, “You were alone in an empty place, absorbed in contemplation, and thinking:

“‘There is a single path for the purification of beings, for separation from worry, sorrow, vexation, and suffering, and to obtain the truth of the Dharma. Namely, the Four Bases of Mindfulness. What are these four? The base of mindfulness of observing the body… feelings… mind… and the base of mindfulness of observing dharmas.

“‘If there is one who does not delight in the Four Bases of Mindfulness, then they do not delight in the noble Dharma. One who does not delight in the noble Dharma, does not delight in the noble Path. One who does not delight in the noble Path, does not delight in the ambrosial Dharma. One who does not delight in the ambrosial Dharma. is unable to be liberated from birth, old age, sickness, death, worry, sorrow, vexation, and suffering.

“‘If there is one who believes and delights in the Four Bases of Mindfulness, delights in and honors the noble Dharma. One who delights in and honors the noble Dharma, delights in the noble Path. One who delights in the noble Path, obtains the ambrosial Dharma. One who obtains the ambrosial Dharma, obtains liberation from birth, old age, sickness, death, worry, sorrow, vexation, and suffering.’ Were you not?”

Venerable Aniruddha spoke to Venerable Mahāmaudgalyāyana, saying, “Indeed, indeed, Venerable!”

Mahāmaudgalyāyana spoke to Venerable Aniruddha, saying, “What do you call delighting in the Four Bases of Mindfulness?”

“Venerable Mahāmaudgalyayana, suppose a bhikṣu practices the base of mindfulness of observing the body: towards the body he is well-mindful, ardent, pacified, quiescent, advancing single-mindedly. It is also such as this for feelings… the mind… and the base of mindfulness of dharmas: well-mindful, ardent, pacified, quiescent, advancing single-mindedly. Venerable Mahāmaudgalyāyana, this is a bhikṣu who delights in the Four Bases of Mindfulness.”

Then Venerable Mahāmaudgalyāyana, from this attainment of samādhi, left Śrāvastī, the pine forest, and the abode there, and returned to the village of the Bhargas, at Crocodile Mountain, in the terrifying dense forest, a place of birds and beasts.

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The complete original is AN 8.30 where mindfulness is constructively put into the perspective of the path as a whole. Finishing it the Buddha makes the culminating statement about the non-diffused characteristic of nibbana:

“‘This Dhamma is for one who enjoys non-objectification, who delights in non-objectification, not for one who enjoys & delights in objectification.’ Thus was it said. With reference to what was it said? There is the case where a monk’s mind leaps up, grows confident, steadfast, & is firm in the cessation of objectification. ‘This Dhamma is for one who enjoys non-objectification, who delights in non-objectification, not for one who enjoys & delights in objectification.’ Thus was it said. And with reference to this was it said.”

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AN 8.30 and SN 52.1 are partial parallels for SA 535. The text SN 52.1 has a similar role as that of SA 535, being the first text in the Aniruddha Samyukta.

One EBT is not automatically earlier than another just by being preserved in a certain language, though.