Snp 4:15 “Assuming Forcefulness” - Help Understanding This Sutta

I saw this sutta mentioned in another thread about dealing with uncertain times.

I would like to confirm or correct my understanding of several passages quoted below with my interpretations.

I’m guessing a lot of people could use help dealing with what is going on in the world, so I think others will get something out of discussing this sutta too.

Snp 4.15

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

On this, the training’s chanted thus:
Whatever bonds within the world
they should not be pursued
knowing in depth all sense-desires
for Nirvāṇa train.

Deal with fear in uncertain times by

  • not supporting attachments you have to what is going in the uncertain times?

Truthful and not arrogant,
deceit none, slander, hate,
rid of greed’s evil, avarice
beyond them all’s the sage.

In uncertain times reduce fear

  • by telling the truth, but be open minded, not believing you know it all?
  • avoid wrong speech?
  • watch desires, avoid being greedy?

Not sleepy, drowsy, slothful not,
living not with negligence,
taking no stand on arrogance:
that mind inclines to Nibbana.

In uncertain times avoid fear, reduce fear

  • by not getting preoccupied with proving everything someone says as wrong?
  • staying alert to what is going on?

Be not into lying led,
for forms have no affection,
know thoroughly conceit,
violence avoid fare thus.

In uncertain time, reduce fear

  • by making sure you know the truth?
  • watch out for attitudes knowing it all?
  • avoid violence?

Delight not in the past,
nor be content with newness,
sad not with disappearance,
nor crave for the attractive.

  • don’t retreat into nostalgia?
  • continue training in restraint of the senses so you don’t make new desires?

Greed I say’s “the great flood”,
its torrent the rush of lust,
lust’s objects an imagining,
the swamp of lust is hard to cross.

What people hope to get will not be satisfying and not like what they imagined?

Let what’s “before” just wither up,
“after” for you be not a thing,
if then “between” you will not grasp,
You will fare at peace.

Fear in uncertain times will be reduced if

  • you don’t retreat to nostalgia?
  • do not worry about or hope for the future?
  • stay in the present moment AND do not cultivate desires there? Just keep your attention in the present?

For whom with mind-and-bodily forms
there is no “making-mine” at all,
grieves not when they are not,
and suffers here no loss.
For whom there is no “this is mine”
nor no “To others it belongs”,
in whom “myself” cannot be found,
Grieves not that “I have none”.

You will feel fear less, grieve less if you observe your thoughts, but do not identify with them?

For one who’s steadfast, Knows,
That one does not accumulate,
Unattached to making effort,
Sees security everywhere.

A person diligent in the dhamma practice knows that there is no “I” to accumulate anything, and if there was you couldn’t keep what you get. So, they are not worried about holding onto things during uncertain times and feel more secure?

A sage speaks not as though
’Mong equal, low or high,

What is mong? :slight_smile:

I think mong here is an abbreviation of among.
Note the before the term…

This understanding is somehow supported by Bhante @sujato’s translation:


I thought I was reading the Sujato translation, but was not.

I actually don’t need help understanding this now that I have the Sujato translation.

Gratitude for the link.

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This is poetry and conforms to an Indian format, one element being ‘theme.’ The suttas sometimes mention the indispensable theme of meditation:

“As he remains thus focused on mental qualities in & of themselves, his mind becomes concentrated, his defilements are abandoned. He takes note of that fact. As a result, he is rewarded with a pleasant abiding here & now, together with mindfulness & alertness. Why is that? Because the wise, experienced, skillful monk picks up on the theme of his own mind.”—SN 47.8

Sutta Nipata:

General aesthetic theory. The central concept in ancient Indian aesthetic theory was that every artistic text should have rasa, or “savor,” and the theory around savor was this: Artistic literature expressed states of emotion or states of mind called bhāva. The classic analysis of basic emotions listed eight: love (delight), humor, grief, anger, energy, fear, disgust, and astonishment. The reader/listener exposed to these presentations of emotion did not participate in them directly; rather, he/she savored them as an aesthetic experience at one remove from the emotion. Although the savor was related to the emotion, it was somewhat different from it. The proof of this point was that some of the basic emotions were decidedly unpleasant, whereas the savor of the emotion was meant to be enjoyed.”
In all these examples—and especially in the ones where the Buddha is doing battle with Māra and yakkhas—the heroic and marvelous savor surround the person of the Buddha, providing a particularly Buddhist perspective on what it means to be a hero, and what kind of people with what kinds of qualities should be regarded as amazing.


“Less frequent in the Sutta Nipāta are the horrific savor (1:11, 3:10) and the apprehensive (the beginning of 4:15 and 5:16).”


Indian ragas are based on a theme (such as ‘morning’) and there are certain formal elements for establishing that. Once established however, improvisation on the theme takes over, which requires expertise. This is the foundation of the Buddha’s way of thinking when discussing meditation, for example on how the fourth tetrad/foundation relates to the other three in the Anapanasati & Satipatthana suttas, which begins as a linear understanding, then with experience developing into interaction.

Bhante Sujato discussed Snp4.15 here:

It’s one of the Friday Night talks from here: (October 1, 2021) Monks in Cyberspace – recordings of Dhamma talks at Lokanta Vihara
It’s a nice talk, but only a sound recording.

Here’s a link to a four-part discussion by Bhikkhu Sujato on the Chapter of the Eights from around the same time, which unfortunately doesn’t include that particular sutta:


I listened to it last night, thank you for pointing it out. I did not know those recordings were there.

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