The Noble Fivefold Samadhi - A Parallel Sutra Quote to AN 5.28

An important sutta in modern discourse about the four jhānas in Theravāda Buddhism is AN 5.28, which contains material that appears to have been subsumed into the larger Mindfulness of the Body Sutta (MN 119). To date, no parallel has been found in the four Chinese Āgama collections; however, a full quote of a parallel to this sutta does exist in the Śāriputra Abhidharma (T1548.28.702a20-c21), which is assumed to belong to the Dharmaguptaka canon.

This quote serves as the introduction to a lengthy chapter covering a large number of different dharma lists and topics regarding samādhi in general. The placement of the chapter at the end of the Śāriputra Abhidharma collection suggests it may be of late date as it’s somewhat out of place and resembles a kind of addendum.

Below is a rough draft translation of the sutra quote with the edited Chinese original.

I should note I’ve chose to read 身 to mean the whole person in the way it’s used in these passages, but it likely translates kāya, which can be read literally as “body.”

Chinese (T1548) English
如佛告諸比丘。諦聽諦聽。善思念之。吾當為汝說聖五支定。 The Buddha addressed the monks: “Listen closely! Listen closely and consider it well! I will explain the fivefold noble samādhi for you.”
諸比丘言。唯然受教。 The monks said, “Very well! We accept the teaching.”
云何得修聖五支正定。如比丘離欲惡不善。有覺有觀離生喜樂。成就初禪行。 “How does one cultivate the fivefold noble correct samādhi? Here, a monk is secluded from desires and what’s bad and unskillful. With perception and contemplation, that seclusion gives rise to joy and happiness, and he accomplishes the first dhyāna practice.
此身離生喜樂津液遍滿。此身盡離生喜樂。津液遍滿無有減少。 “This person is wet, damp, saturated, and filled with the joy and happiness that arises from that seclusion. When this person’s seclusion is complete, they are wet, damp, saturated, and filled with joy and happiness that arises, without any lessening.
如善澡浴師。若善澡浴師弟子。以細澡豆盛著器中。以水灑之調適作摶。此摶津液遍滿。不乾不濕內外和調。 “It’s like a skilled bath worker or a skilled bath worker’s apprentice who fills a vessel with fine soap powder. They add water to evenly moisten it, and they knead it. Kneading it, the soap becomes wet, damp, saturated, and filled. Neither dry nor wet, it’s moistened evenly both inside and out.
如是比丘。此身離生喜樂。津液遍滿無有減少。是名修聖五支初支定。 “Thus, monks, this person is wet, damp, saturated, and filled with the joy and happiness that arises from that seclusion, without any lessening. This is called cultivating the first samādhi of the fivefold noble samādhi.
復次比丘。滅覺觀內正信一心。無覺無觀定生喜樂。成就二禪行。 “Furthermore, a monk ceases perception and contemplation and unifies his mind with an inner confidence. Without perception or contemplation, this samādhi gives rise to joy and happiness, and he achieves the second dhyāna practice.
此身定生喜樂津液遍滿。此身盡定生喜樂。津液遍滿無有減少。 “This person is wet, damp, saturated, and filled with the joy and happiness that arises from samādhi. When this person’s samādhi is complete, they are wet, damp, saturated, and filled with the joy and happiness that arises from samādhi, without any lessening.
如陂湖水底涌出。不從東方南西北方來。此水從底涌出。能令池津液遍滿無有減少。 “It’s like a mountain spring with water welling up from below. The water doesn’t flow in from the east, south, west, or north. This water wells up from below, and it’s able to make the lake wet, damp, saturated, and filled, without any lessening.
如是比丘。此身定生喜樂津液遍滿。此身定生喜樂津液遍滿無有減少。是謂修聖五支第二支定。 “Thus, monks, this person is wet, damp, saturated, and filled with the joy and happiness that arises from samādhi, without any lessening. This is called cultivating the second samādhi of the fivefold samādhi.
復次比丘。離喜捨行念正智身受樂。如諸聖人。解捨念樂行。成就三禪行。 “Furthermore, a monk is secluded from joy, detached, and practices mindfulness. With right knowledge, he experiences happiness like that of noble people. Freed, detached, mindful, and happily practicing, he accomplishes the third dhyāna practice.
此身無喜樂津液遍滿。此身無喜樂津液遍滿無有減少。 “This person is wet, damp, saturated, and filled with happiness but without joy. This person is wet, damp, saturated, and filled with happiness but without joy, without any lessening.
如優鉢羅華池鳩頭摩華池鉢頭摩華池分陀利華池。從泥中出未能出水。此華從根至頭。從頭至根。皆津液遍滿無有減少。 “It’s like a lake of utpala flowers, a lake of kumuda flowers, a lake of padma flowers, or a lake of puṇḍarīka flowers when they’ve grown from the muck but have yet to emerge from the water. These flowers from roots to head and from head to roots are wet, damp, saturated, and filled, without any lessening.
如是比丘。此身無喜樂津液遍滿。此身津液遍滿無有減少。是謂修聖五支第三支定。 “Thus, monks, this person is wet, damp, saturated, and filled with happiness but without joy, without any lessening. This is called cultivating the third samādhi of the noble fivefold samādhi.
復次比丘。斷苦樂先滅憂喜。不苦不樂捨念淨。成就四禪行。 “Furthermore, a monk stops pain and pleasure, and his previous sorrow or delight ceases. Neither discomforted nor pleased, he is detached, mindful, and purified. He then accomplishes the fourth dhyāna practice.
此身以清淨心遍解行。此身以清淨心遍解行無有減少。 “This person is suffused with purified mind. This person is suffused with purified mind without any lessening.
如男子女人著白淨衣。從頭至足從足至頭無不覆處。 “It’s like a man or woman who puts on clean, white clothing. From head to foot and from foot to head, no part of their body isn’t covered by it.
如是比丘。以清淨心遍解行。此身以清淨遍解行無有減少。是謂修聖五支第四支定。 “Thus, monks, they are suffused with purified mind without any lessening. This is called cultivating the fourth samādhi of the fivefold noble samādhi.
復次比丘。善取觀相。善思惟善解。 “Furthermore, monks, he skillfully grasps the signs that he contemplates, skillfully considers and skillfully understands them.
如立人觀坐者。如坐人觀臥者。 “It’s like someone standing who observes someone sitting or like someone sitting who observes someone lying down.
如是比丘。善取觀相善思惟善解。是謂修聖五支第五支定。 “Thus, monks, he skillfully grasps the signs that he contemplates, skillfully considers and skillfully understands them. This is called cultivating the fifth samādhi of the fivefold noble samādhi.
如是比丘。修聖五支定。親近多修學已。欲證通法。悕望欲證。隨心所欲即能得證。自在無礙。 “A monk cultivates the fivefold noble samādhi in this way. Having become familiar with and often cultivated this training, he wants to realize the state of mastery [of miraculous abilities]. Longing to realize it, he follows that desire in his mind, and then he can realize it, freely and without obstruction.
如四衢處有善調馬善駕已。有善御乘者。乘已隨意自在。 “It’s like having a well-trained horse and a good chariot at an intersection of roads. Having a skilled chariot driver and mounting the chariot, he can freely go where he wishes.
如是比丘。親近聖五支定多修學已。欲證通法。悕望欲證。隨心所欲即能得證自在無礙。 “A monk who has become familiar with the fivefold samādhi and often trained in it thus wants to realize the state of mastery. Longing to realize it, he follows that desire in his mind, and then he can realize it, freely and without obstruction.
如盛水瓶堅牢不漏。盛以淨水。平滿為欲隨人傾用。如意自在。 “It’s like a full water jug that’s solid, secure, and doesn’t leak. It’s filled with pure water; filled to the top, so that anyone who might want to use it can do so freely as they wish.
如是比丘。親近聖五支定多修學已。欲證通法悕望欲證。隨心所欲自在無礙。 “A monk who has become familiar with the fivefold samādhi and often trained in it thus wants to realize the state of mastery. Longing to realize it, he follows that desire in his mind, and then he can realize it, freely and without obstruction.
如陂泉遍水平滿為飲。如人決用如意自在。隨所決即出。 “It’s like a mountain spring that’s filled to the top with water to drink. Anyone who decides to make use of it can freely do so as they wish, and it produces as much water as they decide.
如是比丘。親近聖五支定多修學已。欲證通法。悕望欲證隨心所欲。即能得證自在無礙。 “A monk who has become familiar with the fivefold samādhi and often trained in it thus wants to realize the state of mastery. Longing to realize it, he follows that desire in his mind, and then he can realize it, freely and without obstruction.
如比丘欲受無量若干神足動地。能以一為多以多為一。乃至梵天身得自在隨所能入。(如智品說。) “Suppose a monk wants to acquire measureless and various miraculous abilities such as causing earthquakes, dividing himself into many from one and combining the many into one … and physically going to the Brahma Heaven. He can do so (as it’s explained in the Knowledge chapter).
如比丘欲受天耳清淨過人能聞人非人聲隨所能入。 “If a monk wants to acquire the heavenly ear, the clarity of which surpasses human hearing and can perceive human and non-human voices, and he can do so.
如比丘欲受知他眾生心能知。有欲心如實知有欲心。無欲心如實知無欲心。乃至無勝心如實知無勝心。隨所能入。(如智品說。) “Suppose a monk wants to acquire the ability to know that thoughts of other sentient beings, to truly know those with thoughts of desire have thoughts of desire, truly know those without thoughts of desire have no thoughts of desire … truly know those with unsurpassed thoughts have unsurpassed thoughts. He can do so (as it’s explained in the Knowledge chapter).
如比丘欲受憶念無量宿命。能憶一生二生三生四生五生。乃至成就此行。隨所能入。(如智品說。) “Suppose a monk wants to acquire recollection of measureless past lives, which can remember one, two, three, four, or five births … achieves this practice. He can do so (as it’s explained in the Knowledge chapter).
如比丘。欲受天眼清淨過人。能見眾生生死。乃至如所業報隨所能入。(如智品說。) “Suppose a monk wants to acquire the heavenly eye, the clarity of which surpasses that of humans, to see sentient beings being born and dying … according to the deeds they’ve done. He can do so (as it’s explained in the Knowledge chapter).
如比丘。欲受盡有漏成無漏。得心解脫慧解脫。現世自智證成就行。我生已盡梵行已立。所作已辦更不受有。隨所能入。 “Suppose a monk wants to acquire the end of being contaminated and become uncontaminated, to attain the liberation of mind and liberation of wisdom, and to realize the accomplishment of the practice in the present life, knowing for himself, ‘My births have ended, the religious life has been established, and the task has been accomplished. I won’t be subject to another existence.’ He can do so.
如是修聖五支定。親近多修學已。得如是果報。 “A monk cultivates the fivefold noble samādhi in this way. Once he’s familiar with it and has often trained in it, he’ll attain such fruits.”
15 Likes

Is 身 also used in contexts where it is very clear from context that it is the physical body that is referred to, e.g. the 31 parts of the 身 (body)?

Is it used when it cannot mean a person’s physical body? Some examples from the dictionary:

  1. mahājana-kāya a collection of people, a crowd SN.iv.191; SN.v.170; Vv-a.78
    ■ bala˚ a great crowd Snp.p.105; Dhp-a.i.193, Dhp-a.i.398.
  2. group or division: satta kāyā akaṭā, etc. (seven eternal groups or principles) DN.i.56 = MN.i.517 = SN.iii.211 (in Pakudha Kaccāyana’s theory); with reference to groups of sensations or sense-organs, as vedanā-kāya, saññā˚, viññāṇa˚ phassa˚, etc. SN.iii.60, SN.iii.61; DN.iii.243, DN.iii.244; taṇhā DN.iii.244; appl. to hatthi˚, ratha˚, patti˚, groups of elephants, carriages or soldiers SN.i.72

https://suttacentral.net/define/kāya

Very often, yes. There are one or two other Chinese words that are used sometimes, but 身 is the most common translation of kaya.

When it’s used as a subject, it’s often a kind of metaphorical pronoun, similar to English “anybody” or “somebody.” In this case, I’m a bit conflicted about how to translate it, but the way it’s used in the Sariputra Abhidharma just doesn’t feel like literally the physical body to me as opposed to the mind. It seems holistic to me, even though the similes certainly are using a metaphor of being all wet physically, so to speak.

1 Like

The Chinese description of jhana seems to be allied with the ‘earth’ of the five phases which indicates balance:

" Earth can be seen as a transitional period between the other phases or seasons or when relating to transformative seasonal periods it can be seen as late Summer. This period is associated with stability, leveling and dampness."—Wikipedia

1 Like