Pierced by the Dart

The Dart

Some texts about the dart:

  • the poiseness dart of sorrow (AN5.48)

  • extraction of the dart of sorrow (AN5.50)

  • the dart of doubt and bewilderment (AN6.13)

  • the dart of passion (DN21)

  • the dart of perception (MN102)

  • plucked out the dart (MN116)

  • conceiving is a dart (MN140, SN35.248)

  • wounded by the dart of craving (SN1.66 & SN8.7)

  • the dart stuck in the breast, piercing the heart moment-by-moment (SN4.13)

  • being stirred is a dart (SN35.90/91)

  • painful feeling should be seen as a dart (SN36.5)

  • being struck by one or two darts, bodily and mental pain (SN36.6)

  • the body as a dart (MN74)

  • seeing the khandha’s as a dart (AN4.124)

What is my wound? What feels like my deepest wound? What is my real injury?

Maybe my deepest need? What is my deepest need? Is it the need for being loved, seen, heard? The need for companionship? The need for living a meaningful life? The need to be somebody in the world? The need to do good and be of help? The need to be important? The need to feel safe? The need for answers and clarity?

I agree, there is a dart


Don’t forget SNP4.15: SuttaCentral


Thanks @mikenz66 , I did not search Khuddaka Nikaya yet.

  • seeing the dart that is hard to see, struck by this dart you run in all directions. When it is plucked out you do not run in all direction (Snp4.15)

What is this dart hard to see? One can say, longing, but is that hard to see? Why does the texts say ‘hard to see the dart’ ? But i agree. I do not really see yet what is the dart, but i feel there is a dart, because it is very uncommon for me, seldom, to have a sense of completeness, wholeness, being not wounded. It is like there is always something lacking, some wound. And with that feeling you run in all directions to cure that wound. But what the dart is, i do not really understand yet.

I have had moments that nothing was lacking, and i did not seem to be wounded. There was no tendency to search or run at all. But i have never understood why that happens and what are the conditions.

I do not really understand why the heart can feel so peaceful, so complete, so healthy and also so incomplete, so unpeaceful, so uneasy, so unhealthy. I can say tanha, but i do not see that.

Sometimes i feel there might also be external influences.

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-People are intent on the idea of ‘I-making’
and attached to the idea of ‘other-making.’
Some don’t realize this, nor do they see it as an arrow.
But to one who, having extracted this arrow, sees,
[the thought] ‘I am doing,’ doesn’t occur;*
‘Another is doing,’ doesn’t occur.

This human race is possessed by conceit bound by conceit,
tied down by conceit.
Speaking hurtfully because of their views
they don’t go beyond the wandering-on.

Udana 6.6

-Get up and meditate!
What’s the point in your sleeping?
How can the afflicted slumber
when injured by an arrow strike?

Get up and meditate!
Train hard for peace!
The King of Death has caught you heedless—
don’t let him fool you under his sway.

Needy gods and humans
are held back by clinging:
get over it.
Don’t let the moment pass you by.
For if you miss your moment
you’ll grieve when sent to hell.

Negligence is always dust;
dust follows right behind negligence.
Through diligence and knowledge,
pluck out the dart from yourself.


A fragment from Snp3.8:

One who seeks their own happiness
would pluck out the dart from themselves—
the wailing and moaning,
and sadness inside.

With dart plucked out, unattached,
having found peace of mind,
overcoming all sorrow,
one is sorrowless and extinguished.”

for the whole sutta…Snp3.8

A fragment of Snp 4.2:

I see the world’s population floundering ,
given to craving for future lives.
Base men wail in the jaws of death,
not rid of craving for life after life.

See them flounder over belongings,
like fish in puddles of a dried-up stream.
Seeing this, live unselfishly
forming no attachment to future lives.

Rid of desire for both ends,
having completely understood contact,
free of greed, doing nothing for which they’d blame themselves,
the wise don’t cling to the seen and the heard.

Having completely understood perception and having crossed the flood,
the sage, not clinging to possessions, with dart plucked out, living diligently,
does not long for this world or the next.

for the whole sutta, see Snp4.2

Conceit, which is to us like water is to fish, they can’t see the water unless they transcend it. We can’t see conceit unless we transcend it.

Affected by this dart
one runs in all directions
but with the dart pulled out
one neither runs nor sinks.

The dart makes you run in all directions, to take out the dart one needs to stop running and transcend.

The last 3 fetters are conceit, restlessness, and ignorance, and are basically the same thing. Conceit (the dart aka the poison of delusion) makes you run around (restlessness).

“I crossed over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place.”[1]

“But how, dear sir, did you cross over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place?”

“When I pushed forward, I was whirled about. When I stayed in place, I sank. And so I crossed over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place.”

“Without staying in place” means to transcend, not run around within the water like a fish, but to leave the water, hence Ud 8.1

There is that dimension, monks, where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor staying; neither passing away nor arising: unestablished,[1] unevolving, without support [mental object].[2] This, just this, is the end of stress.

So you transcend via jhanas and at each step you see there is the 3 characteristics, until you go so far that there is no more mind and body and there too there is no self to be found, you leave the water. This is in contrast to hindus who believe you need to transcend to see the atman (all-self).

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Thanks @Thito , yes that makes sense to me. The last you say i do not really understand.

Conceited there is always an inner dissension, i feel. The moment you become self- and other aware, i feel, there is pain arising, as a burden arising in the mind. That’s why we naturally want to forget and loose ourelves in work, sport, sex, activities, dance, music etc.

This is also why people can like lonely places. Because seeing and being involved with other people one also becomes self-aware, and that is a kind of unease in the mind, grasping a self. That’s why meeting others is always a bit uncomfortable.
In lonily places one looses this burden of self-and other awarenes and that is the happiness of seclusion. Being self-and other-aware is a burden. That is the burden of conceit, i think.

I do not really know or see yet we need jhana to transcent suffering. I think we need purification, but i think reality also is that mind is not always inherently defiled, any moment. So purity is not something that will only be there after a long Path. It can be suddenly there, i belief. I do not know the causes for this. But i belief it is a wrong view that mind is constant, any moment, defiled.

I’m reminded of a decade old advertisement… “Something’s missing…”

But what?

What on earth is everyone seeking?

The Buddha assured us that the answer is to be found within this fathom long body.


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That’s the question!

I am not seeking for a car :grinning:, or nice rebirth, but i cannot really answer what i seek.

I have always been a child, a person who lacks a clear direction, motivation, or it must be learning. I like learning. I can be surprised and jealous about people who exactly know what they want. It is like they are never insecure, they are going straight at their targets. They seem to know exactly what they want. I feel more lost in this world. Without a clear goal and direction. The first time i found a kind of home when i read Plato and Socrates dialogues. I felt home in this philosophy.

I also do not really understand what Buddha was searching for. What was his real motive? Ofcouse there are texts on this. I like the idea that Buddha saw/experienced the violence and poverty of living selfishly. He aimed at the totally unselfish, pure, life:

See them flounder over belongings,
like fish in puddles of a dried-up stream.
Seeing this, live unselfishly
forming no attachment to future lives. (Snp.4.2)

Selfishness is everywhere, and i think the Buddha was sensitive to this violence and coarseness of selfishness. Me me, me…He was fed up with this life of me, me, me, and knew from own experience it does not satisfy. It is without real meaning, empty. One can say that Buddha-Dhamma’s goal is ending rebirth but i think it is not that different from ending a ego-centric life and becoming unselfish and finding meaning.

All these three tanha’s Buddha taught are just the three major ways of selfishness.
While mainstream religion approaches selfishness in a more judgemental way, condemning it, calling it sinn, i feel the Buddha was just a teacher who taught in a very non-judgemental way that this selfishness is part of any being. Instead of judging it, he tried to understand it, penetrate it. He realised it is not the Path to end suffering. It can and will not lead to the end of suffering. He apparantly saw many people crave in a selfish way for a life after life:

I see the world’s population floundering ,
given to craving for future lives.
Base men wail in the jaws of death,
not rid of craving for life after life.

So, there is even selfishness in religion, in the spiritual culture he lived in.

In the end Buddha discovered that the dart of selfishness can be plucked out. It is not even an intrinsic part of us. Being selfish is being mistaken about our own real nature, he discovered. The sense of self is just an adventitious defilement, it has a cause. Not knowing this is ignorance. It is not really who/what we are but while we are ignorant we act upon that strong notion of being an ego/self.

It is not difficult at all to know that a selfish life is not pure. One does not even need a Buddha to know this. It is heart-knowledge. It is also not difficult to see that living selfishly will not feed one, fulfill ones needs, it will not end the ego- thirst. It is also not that hard to understand, intuively, that there is not a constant self view and self-perception and self-awareness. So, it is also not that hard to understand a bit that the notion of self is adventitious and not who we are.

In the purity of an un-selfish living, i feel, buddhism and other religions meet eachother. In buddhism it is not a matter of morals to live selfish or unselfish, but like Buddha taught it is especially a matter of seeing/understanding. I also belief the Buddha shows with his purity our original state. This is who we are.

Can one really become unburdened when one longs in a selfish way to the end of suffering?

I sometimes make the mistake that something is missing, but it always turns out that the problem is the opposite - that I’ve got more than I can handle.


From the Buddhas perspective, the very issue of ‘meaning’ is problematic. Meaning is conditioned… ‘Truth’ is conditioned… This is what is so incredibly difficult to penetrate - that there is no objective permanent truth.

There is just the process of experience (within this fathom long body) - conditional arising. This is such a challenging thing because it actually destroys all prior conceptions of how the world and self works… All the beliefs and views that have been held by you, or anyone else, are suddenly without any substance… They are just views and beliefs… the same with ‘meaning’, - all arisen dependent on conditions. One can see that meaning is a subjective construction. So what are you searching for…

Perceptions (leading to views and meaning etc) are all conditioned - sankhata. They are not true or real … they are conditioned and subject to the 3 characteristics; dukkha, impermanence and not self.

People seek what they perceive is safety through trying to find something permanent, an anchor, a refuge. To be without this is something that induces fear in most people. Yet the Buddha says the world can never give us this safety, samsara is not the refuge. Only the transcendence of samsara is where safety is to be found – crossing to the other shore. To do this one has to cut the tethers, let go of any desire for an anchor, let go of everything conditioned.

Once it (the first Noble Truth) is seen, one can start work… That is what renunciation is all about, as one develops Right View, then dispassion for the wordly/conditioned things must follow. This then leads on gradually, through renouncing more and more conditioned things. Part of this is actually changing how perception works. What gives rise to wholesome or unwholesome states – one can change perception and eradicate the defilements – anger and ill will no longer arise when one has developed these skills and changed how things are perceived. One is no longer a slave to conditions, understanding how they work, one can wield it in a skillful way through Wise Attention and regulating Contact.

In the end one sees that the Dart (all darts) are of ones own creation (underpinning this are all beliefs and views, including assumed, attributed and shared meanings - conventions) …

Wholly conditioned and invisible (so hard to see) because of the make up of the khandas and the nature/process of contact/experience. It is inextricably linked to Right View and Wisdom, because without the ability to discern where happiness and where suffering are to be found one can’t direct attention to the right places and can’t successfully recondition perception, therefore one continues craving and aquisitions. ie the longing for connection or existence etc. etc. all the things that are chased after – driven by craving. In order to eradicate suffering, to pull out the dart, one needs the goals to be informed by wisdom. When the goals are based on delusion - the things that people chase after continuously, thinking that happiness lies in that direction (material things, sensory pleasures, beliefs, views, social connections, self views etc) then suffering will remain.

The extraordinary gift of the Buddha was that he was able to teach us how to do this reconditioning in a way that leads to the end of suffering.

The state of asankhata (non-fabrication) is where darts/dukkha are obliterated… no longer created, can’t possibly arise… Nibbana. This is why ‘thinking’ and logic can’t take you to the end of the path… they themselves are wholly conditioned!! This is why the Path is so difficult, one has to find a way of using conditioning (the path is also conditioned), to ultimately see through all conditioning, ( requiring the combination of all the 8 factors of the N8fP including Jhanas), and abandon it. Why? Because there is nothing at the core, no heartwood, no essence… just the bundle of the khandas trapped in a process resulting from Contact, which gives rise to a perception of a Self … :slight_smile:

And so the wheel rolls on :dharmawheel:


Hi @Viveka, thanks, that is clear to me.

If one wants nothing, and does not have certain fixed ideas about oneself, and does not want to evolve in a certain direction ( for example towards detachment or the end of suffering), then ones life can be summerized as: One moment you are a person and the other moment another person and still another moment no person. The one moment you show a subjecive personal face and another moment you have not. One moment you have a clear identiy and another moment no-identity. One moment you are of the world, and another moment you are not. One moment you are formed, another moment unformed. One is one moment someone with a strong opinion and other moments without any opinion at all. If one has no aims, no goals, all is real.

I think problems start when we judge that this or that is more real, and want to be like this and that and start to possess goals.

Beautifully said and inspiring, Viveka. The world needs to hear these words of wisdom.

@Green All the things you have listed are perceptions. Knowing how the mechanisms work, through Right View, practice experience and Wisdom one can influence conditioning. This means that one is not just subject to the process but by fully understanding the mechanisms one can develop the skill to ‘steer the boat’. This is important in order to step off the wheel. The vessel has to go on a journey AND get to a specific destination (not a place/location) - Nibbana. Attachment and detachment need to be used skillfully during the training. Ajahn Brahmali often uses the simile of a ladder for the path of practice. one needs to grasp the rungs in order, one after the other, to climb. As the higher rung is grasped, the lower rung is let go of. If one lets go of all the rungs prematurely, then one won’t get to the top and remains. The other aspect to remember is that Kamma determines Rebirth- ie consequences to actions. Knowing this, it is prudent to make choices that will lead to good destinations.

Added: To continue with the simile of the boat – the wind, waves and ocean currents are all wordly conditions that are completely out of our control. The structure of the boat and sails etc is what we have to work with (our khandas if you like). Wisdom is the knowledge and experience of how to sail, and Right View is the navigation chart. So it is one thing to go for a ride in the boat, and a totally different thing to understand what is happening and the influence of all the forces and components, and to be able to sail in a skillful manner – no matter the conditions, and get to the other shore.

@Adutiya Thank you for the feedback, it is useful to know it was helpful :slight_smile: :pray:


Hi @Viveka, those are all good points, i think, but i lost you somehow immediately at the beginning of our meeting when you said:

I think the Buddha was also very aware of the meaning of life. He felt no meaning anymore in his luxorious life. A life in which pleasures of the senses is the main goal, or a certain wordly status as king or minister, or a certain worldy power. He felt no meaning in that kind of life. For himself. His destiny was another. And he listened or obeyed that too. He did not think…‘oh meaning is problematic’.
If he did, he would probably not become a Buddha and arrive at what he was destined for. (i like the idea that we are all destined for Buddhahood but some people hear this calling very loadly and other do not hear it).

So, I do not think meaning is really problematic.

I think the wheel rolls on when we do not contact the reality of no-change, no birth, something that does not change, rootlessness, non-abiding.
This does not mean i promote non-effort or non-development, not at all. but i feel it is important to see the limits of effort and development. Not all about oneself is made, become, result of conditioning, result of effort. That’s what i feel.

That’s fine if you feel that way :slight_smile:

But it is important to distinguish between how you feel, and what the Buddha taught. The Buddha taught that ‘to see the Dhamma is to see Dependent Origination’, this is one of the main teachings. If you don’t believe it or choose not to accept it, that is totally up to you - no problem :slight_smile: Just be aware that what you are stating there comes under what the Buddha defined in terms of his teachings as ‘wrong view’. In making statements like that above, especially on a forum like this where people come to learn about what the Buddha taught, it is important to distinguish where ones own views diverge from what the Buddha taught . Some advice I have found very useful for myself is that in situations like these, to hold views very lightly. Ajahn Chah apparently used to have an attitude of ‘un-sure, not-sure’. This way one remains open and evolution of views is easier. (remembering that ‘views’ present a lens through which we perceive things)…

With best wishes, May you be happy and well :slight_smile: :pray: :sunflower:


Hi @Viveka

What the Buddha taught, people very much debate about this, right? We can have a different understanding based on exactly the same texts. That is normal. What i see is that this or that understanding can be supported by this and that texts and other understanding with this and that texts. In the end texst cannot be descive.

I am not sure at all that the Buddha teaches that all about ourselves is made, produced, formed, conditioned. I think he taught that what is produced about us, formed, conditionally arising, is exactly not Me, not mine, not myself.

I like the simile of the sea. Those formations are waves on the sea and the mind can instinctively grasp at them as me and myself, but that does not make us waves. Once grasped we can get lost in a sense of individuality, uniqueness, personal existence (thinking we are waves) but it this really the total truth about us?

I do not think so. Not all about us is formed, conditioned, unstable. There is also something which does not change, is unmade, and conditioning has no impact on it too. This does not mean there must be an eternal soul or self.

If all we are is 5 khandha’s, and those end at death when we get enlightend, we, ofcourse do not exist anymore after death. The Buddha does not teach this position. Why? I belief at death only what-we-are-not ceases. What we in deepest sense are does and cannot cease. The enlightend mind knows this, and that is its refuge, its security, its home, its peace, its fearlesness. It knows only suffering can cease.

The enlightend mind knows what home is. It has really found home, in the deep see. I belief this is what the Buddha tries to express. He sought a home for himself (Snp.4.15)

The world around was hollow,
all directions were in turmoil.
Wanting a home for myself,
I saw nowhere unsettled.

This home is, i belief, a designation for the unmade, unbecome, unproduced. He saw that this is home for every living being, like the deep non-moving sea. But beings do not see this and have only attention for what moves but do not recognise themselves in what is not moving. They do not see how deep they really are. How limitless, vast, unfathomable, ungraspable their nature (AN)

Grasping khandha’s is being not at home, self-alienated. Not seeing ones true deep untfathomable nature. Not knowing what is really home. Only seeing things that move.

In non-grasping one is at home. But this is always there. It is not that Buddha created this home for himself, he re-discovered it. He just brought all grasping to an end and the natural result is, being at home, fearlessness, safety, peace etc.

Strangely enough getting home is a real issue because we are for such a long time lost in formations and have no eye at all for our unmoving, unfathomable, ungraspable deep nature.

Not seeing this home, not knowing this Path to the Unmade is what a Buddha destructs. That is the ignorant part. He opens the eyes for something that is always there and is itself no formation.

If the asankhata would not be a part of what we are, than there is no refuge for us, no escape, no safety, no home But i choose to belief Buddha teaches that there is.

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This is exactly the issue… you postulate that some things cease and some cannot cease… that there is some kind of essence (even if you don’t call it a ‘self’), that is the real we/self/being/something…

Here are some extracts from DN 1 - The prime net, with the Buddha expressing all of the types of wrong view.

Partial Eternalism is one of the types of wrong view that the Buddha describes.

2.13.1And what is the fourth ground on which they rely? 2.13.2It’s when some ascetic or brahmin relies on logic and inquiry. They speak of what they have worked out by logic, following a line of inquiry, expressing their own perspective: 2.13.3‘That which is called “the eye” or “the ear” or “the nose” or “the tongue” or “the body”: that self is impermanent, not lasting, transient, perishable. 2.13.4That which is called “mind” or “sentience” or “consciousness”: that self is permanent, everlasting, eternal, imperishable, remaining the same for all eternity.’ 2.13.5This is the fourth ground on which some ascetics and brahmins rely to assert that the self and the cosmos are partially eternal.

2.14.1These are the four grounds on which those ascetics and brahmins assert that the self and the cosmos are partially eternal and partially not eternal. 2.14.2Any ascetics and brahmins who assert that the self and the cosmos are partially eternal and partially not eternal do so on one or other of these four grounds. Outside of this there is none.

Just some stuff to reflect on.

Note; of course you may think and believe whatever you choose - but it is important to be clear to differentiate this from what the Buddha actually taught, and not to assert that your views are the same as what the Buddha taught. This is an EBT driven forum.

Thanks for the discussion. All the best


Hi @Viveka

There is also the option that you do not yet understand what i say, or i do not express myself fully and well. I do not say there is an eternal personal self or cosmos or partly eternal and not eternal self.

I say, Buddha teaches there is the asankhata element. That is also not a personal self but it the asankhata element. The idea and sense of self only plays a role in the domain of conceiving. But we must directly know the asankhata and sankhata and see both for what they are. Then one sees this is not about an ego or personal (eternal or non-eternal) self. Not the born and arising and ceasing, nor the unborn and and not-ceasing. It is all not about an ego or self.

Only knowing sankhata is not enough. One must also know asankhata. That is said in EBT (DN34)
And asankhata is different from sankhata, how? “No arising is evident, no vanishing is evident, and no change while persisting is evident”. (AN3.47)

So, IF, you see only things that arise and cease and change, that is clearly not complete seeing or knowing. According EBT one must also see and know what does not arise, cease and change in the meantime. One must have an eye on both dimensions.

If the asankhata is not a part of what we are there is no refuge, no escape, no home for us, like Udana 8.3 says:

“There is, mendicants, an unborn, unproduced, unmade, and unconditioned. If there were no unborn, unproduced, unmade, and unconditioned, then you would find no escape here from the born, produced, made, and conditioned. But since there is an unborn, unproduced, unmade, and unconditioned, an escape is found from the born, produced, made, and conditioned.”

But this unborn is also not a personal self but, i belief, it refers to the stable element in us, that what does not change, and no arising nor ceasing is evident.

I like the simile of the sea. The sea has a surfice of unrest, activity, waves but in the depth it is very calm
While grasping at waves (formations) we think we are a wave, but we also have a deep, unfathomable, vast, measureless nature too. Deep and stable. The Buddha talks about this in MN72 (Bodhi)

-“The Tathagata is liberated from reckoning in terms of material form, Vaccha, he is profound, immeasurable, unfathomable like the ocean”

This is also our nature, i belief. Is it an eternal personal self? It is what it is. If you know everything as it is, you have no views of self anymore, i belief.

Hope you are willing to reflect on the need to know both the sankhata and asankhata. Only knowing what is subject to arising and ceasing is not enough.

I feel, we are only just beginning to meet eachother and try to understand eachother. I do not think i differentiate from what the Buddha taught. But texts alone can seldomly decide this. We can only meet eachother, try to understand eachother and maybe we both learn something from eachother.

Sure, that is a possibility :slight_smile:

Only one way to be sure about these things… develop the Path all the way to the end so one can know and see for oneself.


3.7“It is enough, Kālāmas, for you to be doubting and uncertain. 3.8Doubt has come up in you about an uncertain matter.

“So, Kālāmas, when I said: 25.2‘Please, 25.3don’t go by oral transmission, don’t go by lineage, don’t go by testament, don’t go by canonical authority, don’t rely on logic, don’t rely on inference, don’t go by reasoned contemplation, don’t go by the acceptance of a view after consideration, don’t go by the appearance of competence, and don’t think “The ascetic is our respected teacher.” 25.4But when you know for yourselves: 25.5“These things are unskillful, blameworthy, criticized by sensible people, and when you undertake them, they lead to harm and suffering”, then you should give them up.’ 25.6That’s what I said, and this is why I said it.

26.1Please, Kālāmas, don’t go by oral transmission, don’t go by lineage, don’t go by testament, don’t go by canonical authority, don’t rely on logic, don’t rely on inference, don’t go by reasoned contemplation, don’t go by the acceptance of a view after consideration, don’t go by the appearance of competence, and don’t think ‘The ascetic is our respected teacher.’ 26.2But when you know for yourselves: 26.3‘These things are skillful, blameless, praised by sensible people, and when you undertake them, they lead to welfare and happiness’, then you should acquire them and keep them.

All the best to you,
I am now withdrawing from this discussion

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