In EA 17.1 (English translation on SC), there is a sūtra on ānāpānasmṛti framed as a discourse given to Rāhula. In this sūtra, before going on an alms round, the Buddha tells Rāhula that he should observe the impermanence of the Five Skandhas. Then Rāhula believes that he is being admonished, so he stays behind to meditate observing the impermanence of the Five Skandhas. Then the Buddha returns and tells Rāhula that he should cultivate ānāpānasmṛti. Then the Buddha tells Rāhula that he is still cultivating with impurity and his desires have not ended. He then teaches Rāhula the Four Brahmavihāras, and goes away again. Then Rāhula starts wondering how he can cultivate ānāpānasmṛti, and goes to ask the Buddha. Then the Buddha tells him.
Any ideas about…
- Why the Buddha tells Rāhula that he should observe the impermanence of the Five Skandhas, when they are about to go into the city?
- Why Rāhula believes that he is being admonished just because the Buddha tells him that he should practice some type of contemplation?
- Why the Buddha would return and tell Rāhula that he should cultivate ānāpānasmṛti, but then not teach him that?
- Why the Buddha teaches the Four Brahmavihāras, even though Rāhula does not practice them?
I guess the intro of this sūtra makes some kind of sense, and it could be interpreted in a variety of different ways, but I get the feeling that maybe there are some cultural elements I am missing here, or maybe a literary device of some kind that would resolve at least some of these points in a more satisfactory way. Any ideas?