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.