MN 26 Noble Search "bases"

Hi, I’m practicing reading the suttas. My question is: what is meant by each of the bases…

‘Friend Kālāma, in what way do you declare that by realising for yourself with direct knowledge you enter upon and abide in this Dhamma?’ In reply he declared the base of nothingness.

–the base of nothingness

In reply Uddaka Rāmaputta declared the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception.

– the base of neither perception nor non perception

I am not an advanced practitioner. I have meditated for a few decades and have not reached any jhanas or anything like that I believe. Can someone either explain what these mean or at least verify my assumption that it means that Buddha felt the paths were only part-way to the end state he sought and didn’t go fully to freedom?

Any thoughts? Thanks.

Yes. The Hindu approach stops at jhana, which is still subject to birth and death, known as ‘conditioned.’ The Buddha discovered nibbana, which is the only state outside conditioned experience and is permanent. The beginning of nibbana is stream entry, where three of the ten fetters are severed.

Sotāpanna - Wikipedia(Pali,dropped%20the%20first%20three%20fetters%20(

What is the dimension of nothingness? It occurred to me: ‘It’s when a mendicant, going totally beyond the dimension of infinite consciousness, aware that “there is nothing at all”, enters and remains in the dimension of nothingness. This is called the dimension of nothingness.’
SN 40.7

What is the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception? It occurred to me: ‘It’s when a mendicant, going totally beyond the dimension of nothingness, enters and remains in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. This is called the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.’
SN 40.8

The Bodhisatta thought those teachings didn’t lead to disillusionment, dispassion, cessation, peace, insight, awakening, and extinguishment.

On the other hand, the Buddha said:

In whatever teaching and training the noble eightfold path is found, there is an ascetic found, a second ascetic, a third ascetic, and a fourth ascetic. In this teaching and training the noble eightfold path is found. Only here is there an ascetic, here a second ascetic, here a third ascetic, and here a fourth ascetic.
DN 16

In short, it means that in whatever teaching and training the noble eightfold path is found, there is a way that leads to extinguishment.

Thank you both. I think I’m hearing that the others just hadn’t gone as far as one could go.

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Actually it is not a linear continuity between the Hindu and Buddhist methods, but a reaction and opposition. However the Hindu approach is incorporated into the Buddhist, the former is tranquillity meditation, and the latter insight meditation.

These are the ‘planes of consciousness’ or ‘stations of consciousness’.

AFAIK, Buddhist cosmology holds that there are various realms (and subrealms) of existence, layered one on another. Think of how ‘our’ world is layered on the ‘microscopic’ world.

The realm in which the Consciousness of a Being will be reborn depends upon the habitual affinity of the Mind in the current birth. Thus, if one trains the Mind to repeatedly enter the meditative state of ‘neither perception nor non perception’ for example, then after death Consciousness will re establish itself in the formless realm as a Formless Deva. Such Devas have an extremely long life span … but no matter how long their existence, change occurs. With the exhaustion of the previously accumulated merit, the Formless Deva too shall die, and be reborn again. This is Suffering… much less than as a Human, but Suffering nonetheless.

Thus, by training the Mind to habitually enter such a base, one is not freed from the cycle of existence. Simply achieving various Meditative states therefore, does not permanently free one from Suffering.

The insight of the Buddha was that he understood the causality behind this - the reason why all meditative achievements, no matter how fine… simply led to further rebirths- it was because Craving was not ended. (DN15)

On the other hand, if Craving was understood and done away with, then the Mind would no longer be attached to anything at all. On the break up of the aggregates, since there was no residual craving, Consciousness would not reform on any plane of existence. It would simply go out/ go beyond the framework of description. There would be no rebirth, the endless cycle of existence would be broken. Hence there would be a permanent end to Suffering.

Thus to end Suffering, we do not need to achieve any fine Meditative states. Nor do we need to resort to extreme asceticism. We also don’t need psychic powers! (SN12.70) All we need is to bring the Mind to a sufficiently quiet state, free of the hindrances (aka Samadhi/ 1st Jhana) where we can investigate and understand the Dhamma and make an end to Craving by the smashing of Ignorance.

Snp 5.14
“To the meditator, rid of hopes,”
said Venerable Udaya,
“who has completed the task, is free of defilements,
and has gone beyond all things,
I have come seeking with a question.
Tell me the liberation by enlightenment,
the smashing of ignorance.”

“The giving up of both”
replied the Buddha,
“sensual desires and displeasures;
the dispelling of dullness,
and the prevention of remorse.

Pure equanimity and mindfulness,
with investigation of principles
running out in front—
this, I declare, is liberation by enlightenment,
the smashing of ignorance.”

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CMIIW, but perhaps you mean sammāsamādhi/ 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th jhana?

Experts differ on the exact level of Jhana and Samadhi required. The consensus is that Samma Samadhi means the 1st Jhana. Many others though hold that ‘Access concentration’ (a state just prior to entering 1st Jhana) provides sufficient samadhi to facilitate the investigation of principles.

In the seven factors of awakening which are the essential requirements, the instruction is simply ‘tranquillity.’

" “And what is the food for the arising of unarisen serenity as a factor for Awakening, or for the growth & increase of serenity… once it has arisen? There is physical serenity & there is mental serenity. To foster appropriate attention to them: This is the food for the arising of unarisen serenity as a factor for Awakening, or for the growth & increase of serenity… once it has arisen.”

—Samyutta Nikaya 46.51

The Satipatthana sutta doesn’t stipulate jhana, yet in the conclusion promises the highest achievement, and is described there as the direct method.


Thank you for writing all this. I have ignored cosmology up to this point in my studies. Perhaps I should take a look. I am a little surprised to hear that “all” I need is to reach some of the jhanas to not be reborn. Or am I misunderstanding that. Let me say that to even reach any jhana would be a miracle for me given my state of monkey mind and hindrances. So I don’t mean to make it sound like a trivial thing but I thought jhanas were the doorway to “stream entry” whatever that is and that there was much more work after stream entry to make it to not being reborn. I’d love your redirection to my understanding here. Thanks.

“All” that is needed is one moment of understanding the Dhamma… this is Stream Entry.

And while this discourse was being spoken, the stainless, immaculate vision of the Dhamma arose in Venerable Koṇḍañña: “Everything that has a beginning has an end.”

The necessity of Jhana for Stream entry is a matter of much debate. A cursory reading of the Suttas reveals dozens of cases of very ordinary people who achieved Stream Entry without any experience of Jhana eg. the leper Suppabuddha.

Later tradition has glossed over such cases with the explanation that ‘they had already achieved Jhana in a previous Birth’. If that explanation is taken at face value, I find it very possible that many of us who are practicing today might also have achieved Jhana in a previous Birth (given the endless number of lives we all have already led) - and hence lack of Jhana should not be considered an obstacle to Stream Entry even today.

In any case, regardless of if Stream entry requires Jhana or not, one thing is certain - once Stream Entry occurs, final Enlightenment occurs in a maximum of 7 further births. That is because one cannot ‘unsee’ or ‘unknow’ the knowledge of the Dhamma.

with the ending of three fetters, they have at most seven rebirths. They will transmigrate at most seven times among gods and humans and then make an end of suffering.

Regarding the ‘monkey mind’ - how much worse could it be than the case of Cudapanthaka - BTW, yet another person who became not only a Stream enterer but an Arahant, allegedly without Jhana?

So, please don’t be disheartened! Enlightenment is as much possible today as it has always been. What is important is to Practice.

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Thank you so much @faujidoc1 :slight_smile:

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