Practical understanding of observing cessation

Might be a bit difficult, given the syntax, where the pronoun “so” is used in the contemplator passage. This pronoun from ta typically links back to the subject mentioned earlier, ie the body and feelings.

Secondly, for your suggestion to work, you’d need rāga, dosa & moha to make their appearance in a locative declension as part of a tappurisa compound with body and feeling. Kāye being locative must be the noun standing in a referential relationship with the other noun anupassī, which doesn’t leave any room for the 3 defilements to squeeze into such a relationship with anupassī.

I’m not sure about it either… Given that this kāya is a condition for feelings to arise I assume that it is a base for arising of physical feelings. Contact from next sutta seems to be a base for physical and mental feelings to arise. I try to read SN 36.6, SN 36.7 and SN 36.8 as a whole, their grouping doesn’t seem to be accidental.

But even if this kāya is a synonym for pañcupādānakkhandhā then we still need to have some idea what it means for rūpupādānakkhandha to cease. So either way I’m back to my original question. Would you suggest arūpa dwellings? Or cessation of upādāna?

Since the break-up of the body and break-up of the Aggregates are both talking about literal death (given their appearance in the standard definition of death), I won’t associate it with the meditative attainments, nor with the cessation of clinging. However, I am not closed to being persuaded that “death” in Dependant Origination might include the individual cessation of contacts in a living person’s stream of consciousness(es). It’s just that I have not encountered any usage of kāyassa bhedā or khandhānaṃ bhedo in a metaphorical sense of momentary deaths. I suspect that would run counter to the sense of a body being a conglomeration of the Aggregates. Even in the metaphorical sense, the body perdures as such a conglomeration of Aggregates, even if it is constantly different. Change does not imply break-up.

It’s a very laudable approach, although if I wanted to find support for the “physical feelings” model, I would refer instead to SN 36.4, where the sutta harks back to the Upanisadic concept of “corporeality” by refering to sārīrika pain. If SN 36.6 had wanted to refer to physical feelings, the vocabulary already existed in SN 36.4, but it pointedly did not use it. It instead chose the dichotomy of kāyika versus cetasika.

I think it’s time to challenge the dictionary entries for kāyika, and how this term is understood in the context of feelings as both hedonic tone and as the affective sequel. From a doctrinal standpoint, if you argue that kāyika pain excludes dukkha as hedonic tone felt via the mind-base, and that the mind-base only gives cetasika pain, then -

  1. sense restraint in the face of pain at the mind-base is impossible; and
  2. the ablation of the latent tendency to aversion (paṭighānusaya) at the mind-base is impossible.

This is patently false, as explained by another sutta that lays out a model for the mind-base giving rise to the same 3-fold analysis of SN 36.6 of (1) pain as hedonic tone, (2) the affective sequel of grief, and (3) the possibility of the latent tendency to aversion not anuseti-ing that pain. That’s MN 148, where the cetasika pain at the mind-base is described in the same language of grief used in SN 36.6, ie -

socati kilamati paridevati urattāḷiṃ kandati sammohaṃ āpajjati

So, is the reference to dukkha vedanā at the mind-base a reference to a kāyika feeling or a cetasika feeling? It’s clear that the grief described by the above pericope is the cetasika feeling, so what is the dukkha vedanā at the mind-base? To me, it’s kāyika.

Kāyika here is again a reference to the broader existential meaning of the kāya, rather than the sarīra. As an adjective, ones embodiment of the Aggregates allows one to experience hedonic tone, but the affective sequel is optional, since craving is optional, according to SN 36.6 and MN 148.

I don’t argue against the idea that the mind can feel a physical vedanā (in fact I’m okay with that, see MN 43). What I’m trying to point out is that according to the sutta this kāya is a basis for a vedanā to arise. If you say that this kāya is pañcupādānakkhandhā then, pañcupādānakkhandhā is a basis for a vedanā to arise. More over this kāya in some sense is equivalent to a phassa (see SN 36.8). And this makes no sense to me for now.

I can see why you are perplexed. To me, the ostensible circularity can be resolved as such -

  1. The Aggregates are not old kamma alone. It is also the product of kamma in the present.
  2. The Volitional Formations Aggregate generates the conditioned.
  3. Feeling is a conditioned thing.

The fact that a body is philologically equivalent to the Aggregates does not necessitate all Aggregates coming to play. #2 above as suggested by SN 22.79 seems to put Formations in a position to abhisaṅkharonti without need for the other Aggregates to contribute.

As for the body being equivalent to contact, I would treat the 2 suttas as dealing with multiple and different necessary conditions. The body being acquired through birth, and further down the chain, contact as a consequence of the Sixfold Base. See SN 12.19 for this same treatment of the body coming first, and then contact.

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I find it helpful for me to consider the Buddha’s own path of awakening and liberation. After leaving his life of pursuing and grasping that which is subject to old age, decay and death, he set out to discover that which is not subject to old age, decay and death. In the course of his path, he sorted everything out, abandoning everything he found unwholesome and distilling out everything that held any trace of impurity. I think a big leap was when he dwelled in such emptiness that he could see clearly dependent origination, particularly the mutual conditioning of namarupa and Viññanā, the crux of this OP. So he may have been pointing his monks towards observing and letting go of the workings of mutual conditioning of namarupa and Viññanā.

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For me the instructions in Sn36.7 fits nicely in to the template of the following verse from the Parayana Vagga,

Whatever streams there are in the world, Ajita,” said the Gracious One,
“mindfulness is the constraint for them.
That is the restraint for streams, I say; by wisdom they are shut off.”

The first instruction in Sn36.7 is to establish mindfulness. Rest of the instruction probably has to do with seeing or understanding with wisdom rather than direct observation. The streams may be thought of as tendency to greed regarding pleasant feelings, tendency to repulsion regarding painful feelings and tendency to ignorance regarding neutral feelings.

As for ‘kāya’ in this sutta it could stand for the physical body in the following sense,

The Tathagata, knowing directly all stations of consciousness,

Viññāṇaṭṭhitiyo sabbā,
Abhijānaṃ tathāgato
Posala sutta

The word I am interested in above is ‘Viññāṇaṭṭhiti’ or stationing of consciousness . At least in the human realm consciousness stands or is stationed in the physical body. If the body is destroyed even if one in jhana except perhaps saññā-vedayita-nirodha, consciousness will depart the body.

When consciousness is included all the other immaterial aggregates with feeling is included. Since consciousness cannot be defined without them.

This kind of treatment can also be found in
Assutavā Sutta where mind and body is taken as equivalent to the five aggregates,

“Mendicants, when it comes to this body made up of the four primary elements, an uneducated ordinary person might become disillusioned, dispassionate, and freed. Why is that? This body made up of the four primary elements is seen to accumulate and disperse, to be taken up and laid to rest. That’s why, when it comes to this body, an uneducated ordinary person might become disillusioned, dispassionate, and freed.

But when it comes to that which is called ‘mind’ or ‘sentience’ or ‘consciousness’, an uneducated ordinary person is unable to become disillusioned, dispassionate, or freed. Why is that? Because for a long time they’ve been attached to it, thought of it as their own, and mistaken it: ‘This is mine, I am this, this is my self.’ That’s why, when it comes to this mind, an uneducated ordinary person is unable to become disillusioned, dispassionate, and freed.

But an uneducated ordinary person would be better off taking this body made up of the four primary elements to be their self, rather than the mind. Why is that? This body made up of the four primary elements is seen to last for a year, or for two, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, or a hundred years, or even longer.

But that which is called ‘mind’ or ‘sentience’ or ‘consciousness’ arises as one thing and ceases as another all day and all night. It’s like a monkey moving through the forest. It grabs hold of one branch, lets it go, and grabs another; then it lets that go and grabs yet another. In the same way, that which is called ‘mind’ or ‘sentience’ or ‘consciousness’ arises as one thing and ceases as another all day and all night.

In this case, a learned noble disciple carefully and properly attends to dependent origination itself: ‘When this exists, that is; due to the arising of this, that arises. When this doesn’t exist, that is not; due to the cessation of this, that ceases. That is: Ignorance is a condition for choices.

Choices are a condition for consciousness. … That is how this entire mass of suffering originates. When ignorance fades away and ceases with nothing left over, choices cease. When choices cease, consciousness ceases. …That is how this entire mass of suffering ceases.’

***Seeing this, a learned noble disciple grows disillusioned with form, feeling, perception, choices, and consciousness.***Being disillusioned, desire fades away. When desire fades away they’re freed. When they’re freed, they know they’re freed.

They understand: ‘Rebirth is ended, the spiritual journey has been completed, what had to be done has been done, there is no return to any state of existence.’”