Son's flesh and Sariputta

Son’s Flesh and three salient points from “Sariputta” SN 35.120.
First, guarding of the sense doors? It does not mean passive thinking, like “noting body, taking note that the body is present”. It means something far more dynamic regarding this conscious body. One is guarding the sense doors so as not to let in signs and features of a thing, so as not to let a sight or a sound drag in the unskillful as they enter, stuff that hooks the mind, and enslaves it to do Mara’s bidding. For the Arahant who has killed the underlying tendency this is a natural state, nothing unwholesome is dragged in. For the non-adept this is a carefully orchestrated state.
Second salient point is Nutriment. First impression one gets from the word is eating, or feeding, or being nourished. It is a matter of consumption. Consuming food? sutta intends “eat just enough to keep the spiritual stuff strengthening” If you eat too much? the spirit of awakening, dies, metaphorically. It makes the body and mind heedless. In the Sutta on eating SN 12.63 (son’s flesh) food is not the only thing that Buddha is interested in. He uses food to draw our attention to the five cords of sensual pleasure. Excerpt

“When the nutriment edible food is fully understood, lust for the five cords of sensual pleasure is fully understood”

implying that the craving for tastes arisen at the tongue door is the same craving that arises at all five sense doors

“When lust for the five cords … is fully understood there is no fetter bound by which a noble disciple might come back again to this world”

Buddha is keen on drawing our attention to other things we feed on, i.e. along with contact we enjoy sensations of 3 kinds, right?. Based on sensation, a nourishing intention arises, From the intention arises consciousness. Overfeeding on consciousness, creates sensory addicts, leading to heedlessness. Buddha cautions “Be mindful of what you make contact with” Sutta leads us to Dependent Origination curiously. It writes

“when the nutriment consciousness is fully understood, name-and-form is fully understood. When name and form is fully understood, I say, there is nothing further that a noble disciple needs to do”

Name and form is rooted in consciousness and arises along with it. A marvel of a sutta, only a SammaSambuddha could wing it, using food to bring us home to Paticca samuppada.
3rd salient point: Devotion to wakefulness. The advice here is During the day while walking back and forth (mundane activity) pay attention to troublesome states, things that pop up to cancel the good work done. MN 19 and Metta sutta come to mind. Thoughts that cancel uprightness, open mindedness, gentleness, freedom from pride? Likewise in the middle of night (any time you are awake) be mindful and be clearly comprehending, not wayward, keenly aware of the origination of feeling, and perception. SN 47. 42 titled “Origination” comes to mind. After rising, while walking back and forth be devoted to wakefulness. The word wakefulness here is spiritually rich. Sariputta (or the author of the sutta) ends the sutta by gently prodding “Friend you must train like this, guarding the doors of sense faculties, moderate in consumption, devoted to wakefulness” Some think samadhi or jhanas of Mahavira and Uddakaramaputta and Buddha’s are alike, but that is one extreme of ignorance. For Buddha Kamma was the intention, for the others it was not so. Thus began, Buddha’s teaching, spotlighting intention.
The Samadhi of Buddha’s dispensation begins with Right View, which includes the right understanding of kamma, that self we think of as self is a constantly changing mechanism, unstable and unreliable. How is such an unstable situation dealt with? By being on the lookout constantly, a Vigilante. To feed the components of a self indiscriminately is like gouging one’s own son’s flesh, to pacify an ill conceived hunger. Right view feeds into Right Samadhi, Right Intention likewise. Right intention is accompanied by a withdrawal from the sensory world. That does not mean a loss of the senses. The loss is in the loss of clinging, or the loss of thirst for the sensory world. In Samma sankappa one resolves not to consort with suffering, not becoming partners of kamma, thus lengthening Samsara. Kamma can do what it wants with us only if we consent to do so.
Our feeding on the sensory world is fuelled by our kammic tendency AKA Underlying tendency. Arahant has done away with it.
With love


Could you explain how consciousness arises from intention, practically speaking?
Do you mean we look for sensations which satisfy our desires?

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From the referenced sutta:

When a mendicant sees a sight with the eyes, they don’t get caught up in the features and details.

This reinforces something I’ve been noticing recently out ‘in the wild’; I can’t realistically avoid seeing some things as attractive, but going back for the second look (ooooh, the features and details!) can be avoided.

Thanks for this, it’s helpful.

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The Buddha’s description of both the profitable and unprofitable use of nutriment is explained in SN 46.51, the Ahara sutta- Food.

“Investigation” of the seven factors of awakening is identical with right view, indicating right view is a changing knowledge:

“And what is the food for the arising of unarisen analysis of qualities as a factor for Awakening, or for the growth & increase of analysis of qualities… once it has arisen? There are mental qualities that are skillful & unskillful, blameworthy & blameless, gross & refined, siding with darkness & with light. To foster appropriate attention to them: This is the food for the arising of unarisen analysis of qualities as a factor for Awakening, or for the growth & increase of analysis of qualities… once it has arisen.”—SN 46.51

“And what is the right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path? The discernment, the faculty of discernment, the strength of discernment, analysis of qualities as a factor for awakening, the path factor of right view[1] in one developing the noble path…”—MN 117

“the Buddha’s teachings on non-clinging all contain a central paradox: Some of the objects of clinging that must ultimately be abandoned nevertheless form part of the path to their abandoning. A certain amount of sensual pleasure in terms of adequate food and shelter is needed to follow the path to go beyond sensuality; right view is needed to overcome attachment to views…”—Thanissaro

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In the causal sequence of sila, samadhi, panna, samadhi is a result of sila (AN 11.1).

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To understand this you need to understand that ignorance here is of a very specific type.

In EBTs avijja is a term that summarises the lack of practical understanding of the Four Noble truths and the fact one hasn’t yet fully undertaken/fulfilled the four ennobling tasks associated with it (i.e. fully understand suffering, give up its dependent origination, verify its cessation/end, develop the path that leads to the ending of suffering).

Hence, in the presence of that ignorance, or better, absence of that wisdom/attainment, consciousness has been arising dependently with name and form, giving momentum to one birth after the other, shaped by choices made due to that very fundamental darkness.

In the EBTs these two links serve therefore as a powerful ‘catch all’ for how all the previous births for which a beginning the Buddha could not discern have brought us here and now.


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This is the sense restraint practice, the first stage of morality and the first of the four great endeavours of right effort (AN 4.14).

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practically speaking? good question, Dear Martin, in the sense, how some words or concepts in the canon are sometimes pushed into a niche, as if they are almost crucified and fossilized, to the point of being impractical (we wriggle hard to get the meaning out of these words). But more practically speaking it does not have to be so. There are other instances in the canon when intention and consciousness are presented in a different light. For instance take SN 35.92, confirmed by SN 22.82.

Contacted Bhikkhus, one intends, contacted one intends, and contacted one perceives. These things too are moving and tottering, impermanent changing, becoming otherwise.

Phrased this way it makes a difference. The common formula is contact > feeling> perception>intention>consciousness. It makes one think it happens in a sequence. But it is really not, a better way to understand it, the truth is that the moment rupa comes to attention, that attention resonates with phassa, vedana, sanna, intention, and the very consciousness. Consciousness is never a feature apart from these. This includes forms too, sounds etc too. Think of the resonance in aromatic rings if that helps. The rigid double bonds sketched between two carbon atoms is never the true state.

Consciousness is activated the moment phassa is activated, by bumping into form/sound/taste etc. It is transmitted via phassa vedana, sanna. I think some sutta compilers struggled with this issue. At some places in the canon eye perception is translated as eye cognition or eye consciousness. Is this not curious? Like today there was no www a hundred years after Buddha passed away. If there was, the compilers might have been able to avoid the discrepancies that appear in the canon, for they could read each other’s work.

To make the story short, when you read

"Contacted Bhikkhus, one intends, contacted one intends, and contacted one perceives"

do you read the answer to your question “how consciousness arises from intention?” Consciousness has already begun when phassa, intention, began, even though commonly it is written as a sequence.

I will answer the second part of your question later, time is limited right now. Be well!

With love

I’d have thought that intention follows perception, and perception follows consciousness/contact.
For example, if I see perceive some nice ice-cream on special offer in a supermarket freezer, the intention to buy it is likely to arise. :yum:
On the other hand, if I have an intention to look for ice-cream, then I’m likely to head over to the relevant freezer and establish contact.


Dependent origination is not supposed to explain that micro aspect of suffering but instead the big picture: how you and I came to be reborn a human being with access to ice-cream but without access to real happiness! :sweat_smile:

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Ice-cream is real happiness. :yum:


@Radius [quote=“Radius, post:3, topic:19170”]
When a mendicant sees a sight with the eyes, they don’t get caught up in the features and details.
[/quote] The following might interest you too.

SN 35.243 An exposition on the Corrupted: refers to the same theme

“when dwelling uncorrupted, he overwhelms forms, he overwhelms sounds, tastes, touch, mental phenomena, thus he overwhelms these evil unwholesome states that defile, that bring trouble, that result in suffering”

compared to the corrupted person who is overwhelmed by forms, sounds, tastes, touches and mind objects.

In SN 35.235 the same teaching is brought up using a horrible simile.

“It would be better, for the eye, ear, nose, tongue and body faculty to be lacerated by a sharp iron stake burning, blazing, glowing, than for one to grasp the sign through the feature, of form, sound, smell, touch, etc”

I find this simile jarring, lengths Buddha goes to stress the importance of mindfulness. Mind unmindful can become the devil’s workshop.

In SN 22.3 Haliddakani (based on Magandiya: the virtues of the “The silent sage”) also is a teaching that refers to a similar predicament. A dwelling which imprisons people. a synopsis

Wandering about in the dwelling of the sign of forms, in the dwelling of the sign of sounds, in the dwelling of the sign of smells; in the dwelling of the sign of tastes, in the dwelling of the sign of touches, in the dwelling of the sign of mind-objects, one is called a person who wanders about in a dwelling.

It stresses the violence created by not being vigilant, ie Mental proliferation and bondage to Samsara, makes one a prisoner of Rebirth.
With love

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@Martin [quote=“Martin, post:9, topic:19170”]
I’d have thought that intention follows perception, and perception follows consciousness/contact.
For example, if I see perceive some nice ice-cream on special offer in a supermarket freezer, the intention to buy it is likely to arise.
Discussing consciousness and intention in this manner is a bit complicated. What is meant by the word consciousness depends on context, and it is a dynamic event, not how consciousness is thought of in Upanisads. When you see the ice cream, there is plain eye consciousness, then as you apperceive, a story is built around the ice cream based on your “I issue, i.e. I want ice cream” lust for ice cream, your past interactions with ice-cream etc. The underlying tendencies come into play. Influenced by these an intention arises, then a related consciousness arises stamped by lust, desire, urgency, to buy the ice cream. So you see, consciousness happening is of different flavors, just as the ice cream is of different flavors. The eye consciousness that arose to begin with, is plain neutral. Eye only sees, eye is an idiot by itself, but when communicated to the 6th sense organ, it becomes a different story. Get my drift?

[quote=“Martin, post:9, topic:19170”]
On the other hand, if I have an intention to look for ice-cream, then I’m likely to head over to the relevant freezer and establish contact.
[/quote] This is a different issue, like when you wish to go the park, you do so. Once you are in the park your eyes will make contact with whatever is in the park, 6 sense organs will create 6 types of cognitions based on data entry. If you are not careful mental proliferation will begin related to things seen, heard, sensed, cognized.
Be well Martin

In the EBT, “consciousness of different flavours” would refer to citta taking on different qualities (see for example the third frame of satipatthana). It wouldn’t refer to vinnana, which is just sense-consciousness in the EBT.
So via eye-consciousness and contact I would perceive ice-cream, then craving would arise as a mind-quality, then intention to buy ice-cream would arise.
Anyway, this is getting bogged down in technicality, so let’s return to your OP.

I’d be interested in exploring how guarding the sense-doors would apply to the ice-cream example.
Should I make a point of not thinking about ice-cream on my way to the supermarket? Once at the supermarket, should I mindfully avoid the ice-cream freezer? And if I do happen to find myself at the ice-cream freezer, should I avert my gaze and move quickly on? :yum:

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@Martin wrote

"In the EBT, “consciousness of different flavours” would refer to citta taking on different qualities. It wouldn’t refer to vinnana, which is just sense-consciousness in the EBT.
So via eye-consciousness and contact I would perceive ice-cream, then craving would arise **as a mind-quality,**then intention would arise.

You say consciousness of different flavors would refer to citta taking on different qualities. Pl . define citta, or are you using it as a synonym of consciousness? When I said different flavors, I meant ice cream cognized via 6 different sense doors.

Let us stick only with cognitions/consciousness/perception arising through the 6 sense bases, without using citta, unless you insist it to be different from the above.

Now if you think of a few links in DO … contact>feeling>craving> grasping>being, your contact with ice cream> yummy feeling “this is happiness”>grasping (but grasping is dependent on the eye cognition that took place, it is consequence of eye cognition) >being is… in that moment, Martin is a happy being, he came into existence via his grasping of “Ice cream is happiness” Consciousness which is a magic trick is playing a trick on Martin.

Martin comes to perceive a self in that eye cognition. Due to ignorance “A being is created” in a sequence of events manifested via contact, feeling perception, intention …landing in craving. Craving is born from eye consciousness. We are still not defying the definition of the Founder.

When you wrote So via eye-consciousness and contact I would perceive ice-cream, then craving would arise as a mind-quality, then intention would arise.

In that sequence intention arises before craving, right? You choose to call craving a mind quality. Why can’t we just say a craving arose?

Are you with me so far?

Buddha said six types of consciousness emerge via the 6 sense bases, true. It is also true that he did not deny the operation of kammic consciousness AKA as Underlying tendency that impacts consciousness emerging via the 6th sense base. It influences all that emerges via eye, ear etc as they go about their business of contacting the world.

Are you with me so far? In this discussion we will try to avoid reference to citta or mind, or manas unless you can show me they are different from Consciousness. In the EBTs, “the person” “I” “You” and other pronouns are used for ease of expression. EBTs operate under the premise that rupa, vedana, sanna, etc do not point to a steady permanent “self”, neither are these not the self. A brief caveat. Are we correct soteriologically, when we say “Martin thinks ice cream is happiness” because there simply is no steady Martin. But we won’t bring the discussion to that ridiculous point, where folks with nothing better to do argue “If there is no self, who will suffer the consequences of my atrocious action?” The silly people forget that Budddha emphasized Kamma. They are not ripe enough to understand this profound teaching.

For ease of discussion however, here we can use 'Martin thinks or ‘I think’ but not use terms like citta, and mind and cetana and cetasika. Plain english “intention” is better than cetana.

I repeat Buddha said

“intention is Kamma”

Paticca samuppada is dyed in Kamma, it is dripping with Kamma. One has to understand Dhamma as a system in resonance. If you hold Dhamma rigidly, it is like getting hold of the water snake by its tail. Dhamma ends up biting one, when so held.

With love
PS I noticed that you later added (see for example the third frame of satipatthana). It wouldn’t refer to vinnana, which is just sense-consciousness in the EBT.
Yes I admit that EBTs do this, but what the EBTS are really talking about is Sanna. Sanna which can be a synonym for perception, or cognition arisen via sense bases. When you really understand the four foundations, you will notice that what the 2nd and 3rd steps are doing is dismantling the feelings and perceptions, arisen via sense data entry, so that a self is not created in that meditation. Dhammanupassana is free of the notion of self, which allows freedom to investigate awakening factors. Pl read SN 47.42 on Origination. It has been shown by scholars that the two major Satipatthana suttas are frauds, perhaps some sutta compilers got these mixed up too, and ended up calling the 3rd step, meditation on the mind. What on earth is the mind? when no self exists? BB says in a footnote to this sutta, citta is taken to be synonymous with Vinnana.
PSS the last part of your question, let me address it when I have more time.

Unfortunately there is no consensus on how DO should be interpreted. Just a lot of conflicting theories.
Returning to the OP, I’d still be interested to hear your ideas about how guarding the senses can be applied practically, using ice-cream as an example. It’s surely not all about avoidance?

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In order to understand “Why the guarding of senses” from craving, right?.
Dearest Martin: You want me to explain a craving for ice cream without bringing in Dependent origination. How can I do that?

not even Buddha could or did.

I am a follower of Buddha and not of Upanishad or vedic schemes of classification of life, and neither am I, a student of abhidhamma. My understanding cannot be conveyed to you, without my understanding of DO, and you appear not amenable to that. Your point being there is no consensus on Dependent Origination.

You say there is no consensus, consensus by whom? As if we needed a committee to agree on things, I am joking. There are those who stick to a rigid idea of consciousness, that consciousness is a thing and those who know that consciousness is a phenomenon dynamically forming, as an emergence through the six sense bases, projecting forms, sounds, touches ideas etc (the ultimate magic trick).

For an ordinary person it is hard to understand this magic trick, it baffles them, magic being magic. Those who are familiar with the ways of the magician, know how to kill the magician and make it go away. For instance in the advanced stages of mindfulness. No more tricks!

With love

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Clearly in the EBT consciousness is a function, rather than a thing. And nobody has mentioned the Vedas or the Abhidhamma. So go easy on the strawmen.
I was using the ice-cream example to explore your OP about guarding the senses. It seemed like a practical way of exploring this teaching.

Anyway, how about writing an essay to succinctly explain your interpretation of DO? You could base it on the nidana “definitions” in SN 12.2.

Martin you implied OP is grasping at a straw man. Sincerely that was the last thing on my mind. The definition of A straw man is a form of argument and an informal fallacy of having the impression of refuting an argument, whereas the proper idea of argument under discussion was not addressed or properly refuted. One who engages in this fallacy is said to be “attacking a straw man” Only a person without substance or integrity would resort to such.

When I made a reference to veda or abhidhamma i was struggling to point out that the thoughts of many of us are stained by the vedic notion of atman, or vedic notion of consciousness, or vedic notion of Nama-rupa, not intentionally. Some Buddhists think that there is a witness consciousness, as some hindus do… that there is a pure awareness, witnessing, a kind of solid knowing?? It is very hard for them to be free of this. We behave as if there is an "abiding self’. Think of all the views, mental standpoints that we cling to, as we engage. Or take the vedic notion of nama-rupa, how it has leaked into Buddha’s definition of Nama-rupa?

We are not intentionally dragging in these foreign notions.

It is already embedded in our vocabulary. Unfortunately it may have happened because some suttas give off such fumes, the scent of abhidhamma, the scent of Veda. Compilers were human too. Many were influenced by Upanishadic teachings.

Scholars have revealed that the suttas of the canon have been worked over by many generations of Sangha. Hence the need for comparisons with agama versions, to get at the Founder’s message. Was every sutta genuinely Buddha’s teaching?? Do you believe so? I can quote many that are not, based on the content. Did every sutta compiler understand DO? Gombrich presents a good point, something rather curious. DN 15 begins with Ananda saying DO is very simple, and Buddha admonishes

“Don’t say so”

making Ananda look a bit silly. DN 15 starts with the thesis that not even Ananda understood DO, one who spent most of his life, with the Founder? What does this tell us? That Buddha was not smart enough to communicate the core of his teaching to his chosen disciple? I think not. Elsewhere AN1.219, writes

“Bhikkus the foremost among those who are learned is Ananda”

AN2.221 writes

“foremost among those with a quick grasp is Ananda”

Canon comes across at times, as if it had a loss of memory, or is schizophrenic.
Canon is contradicting itself just when it is about to introduce the most important teaching of the Buddha in DN 15.

What Gombrich points out is “this clearly implies that some of the Sangha who compiled suttas on DO did not understand DO themselves”. How can you disagree with Dr. Richard Gombrich here?

He really has a neat point. DN 15 in the Pali canon makes a mess of Nama-rupa, which is not found in the agama version used by Erich Frauwallner, to explain DO.

You asked me to discuss SN 12.23 Upanisa sutta. I can do the same also using AN 10.2 which is merely a reversal of Upanisa.

But this does not solve the root problem, because both suttas take for granted that the meaning of Nama-rupa as Buddha intended is understood correctly. The two suttas conveniently have ignored the major issue with dependent origination, how the Theravada tradition mistranslated a critical step of DO. Once this crucial step is mistranslated (crucial because this is where suffering begins). Without that, how can we destroy suffering, the goal of the teaching? Do you still want me to discuss Upanisa? Or would you rather I use AN 9.14 which while referring to DO also goes into how to head off DO’s suffering by relying on Samadhi and its resulting wisdom?

Now at the end of AN 9.14 Sariputta warns Samiddhi curiously.

“All right Samiddhi I see that you get it, meaning I see that you understand DO, but don’t let it get to your head”

That reveals a whole lot about DO, that even after one understands DO correctly, It is still a marathon task, to avoid suffering. Simply because to avoid suffering, we have to be skillful enough to avoid the naming of sparks, nimittas, attributes, signs and details that are released when we bump into things, when we make a contact. We have to block the entry of the Seamstress.

That skill comes from guarding the senses. The unguarded mind is our worst enemy.

Even though i did not write an essay on DO, this one comment should be adequate. If not pl ask me to clarify. Without an unguarded mind we can never flow towards Nibbana, or end our suffering.

May we all be free of sorrow.
With love

PS another take home, Even Samiddhi understood DO, why would Ananda not? Can we trust DN 15?
@Radius @Javier @Gabriel_L @faujidoc1 @Erik_ODonnell @Coëmgenu

On the understanding of nama-rupa on DO, I think the best place to look is SN 12.2, which sets out descriptions of the nidanas.
In the Vedas, nama-rupa seems to have meant “naming form”, roughly equivalent to Buddhist sanna (perception).
In DO, the nama aspect of nama-rupa looks much more extensive than mere naming or perception. I’ve seen DO nama-rupa translated as “mentality-materiality”, for example. The question then arises whether this is describing the arising of a duality, or whether it’s just another way of talking about the aggregates. I think the Vedic notion of nama-rupa would support the former interpretation, since when you perceive and name a thing, it becomes as object (implying a subject too). However, as I previously observed, there is no consensus on the interpretation of nama-rupa in DO.

Anyway, its pretty clear that the Buddha redefined and reworked Vedic concepts. So I don’t agree that many of us are “stained” by Vedic notions. On the contrary, few have studied the Vedic texts, and are mostly dependent for their understanding on the EBT “reworking” of these ideas.

Also, I don’t understand why people would want to retain the Vedic meaning of nama-rupa, rather than working with the EBT description in SN12.2.