What disappears and what remains when perceptions cease?

The following is from Bapat’s translation from the Chinese of the Arthapadasutra found here see page 44 of the book or page 72 of the PDF.

This bares a striking resemblance to the following for Ud 1.10.

In both, there is merely the seen and heard and no you to be found.

What is merely the seen and heard?

In the quote from the Arthapadasutra it is made clear that perceptions have been relinquished leaving merely the seen and heard. So there is the fully perceived seen and heard, and the merely seen and heard. What has disappeared when the fully perceived seen and heard have disappeared? Self has disappeared. What remains? Merely the seen and heard (form).

The cessation of perception does not result in formlessness, yet it does result in the cessation of suffering with no you to be found. At least in these suttas.

Added later: There are two parallels to Ud 1.10 in Chinese, but they are not translated into English.

The above is departing from the Pali. In the Bahiya Sutta, it seem obvious perception has not ceased because “the seen”, “the heard”, etc, seem obviously are “perceptions”.

The Chinese words translated as “perceptions” & “relinquished” probably need to be examined. “Relinquished” can simply mean “not attached to”.

The passion, hate and delusion in the grasping of perception go out with cessation.

I would say that the merely heard and seen are sensations, not perceptions. Perception relies on past memory and associations. It recognizes and more to embellish sensations/form. Apperception is often said to be a better word for it.

Perhaps @cdpatton or @knotty36 can look at the Chinese for us and shed some light on the words in the source that have been translated to “perception” and “relinquished”.

There is more to perception. Perception/apperception recognizes and makes associations to other things and ideas in memory.

Hi, I think it goes without saying that perception involves passion, hate and delusion in its construction of things.

Agreed, but when perception ceases there is more that does not happen. Associations are not made that would otherwise be made.

I see a black thing, I perceive it to be my cat Lucy. I know she belongs in the house so there is nothing to worry about. I do these things without discursive thoughts. If perception ceases i stop at the black thing.

Just a quick response: maybe you want to check what the very next stanza (stanza 8 in Bapat) says about the seen and heard. It might shed some light on what you all are discussing.


I think the matter of ethics comes into the cessation of perception. So, while you have discursively constructed Lucy as your cat who belongs in your house, and can say to someone if she goes missing “my cat Lucy is around the house all the time, but she disappeared and has gone missing,” your perception that her having gone missing is a concern worth taking up for remedy is ethical, because it demonstrates duty of care.

In terms of perception, if Lucy were found sitting among three other black cats who looked similar, your being able to identify her specifically as Lucy is perception, and it is subject to at least some basic rules of verification, because we know perception is fallible.

All of that happens after he relinquishes perceptions so it muddies the water. I think the question is does the Chinese support the translations “relinquishes” as implying cessation and “perceptions” as what in Pali is “sanna”. Can you let us know what the Chinese symbols are for these two and what they literally mean and how they are typically translated and what they connote. I ask because @cdpatton has found instances where he was not sure why Bapat translated a word as he did.

Both Chinese and Pali versions of the Atthakavagga speak of “complete understand of perception” being necessary. Complete understanding implies seeing the arising and ceasing of.


Later on in the same sutta (see the source) he is said to “merely observe conduct”. So ethical things that need to get done are done. It would appear as though there is merely the observation of it being done. There would appear to be no sense of agency in doing it.


Obviously I need to express things in words here, but I know these things before I put them in words. To a certain extent, things are realized in a flash and words follow.

In the Pali, there cannot be consciousness & feelings (sensations) without perception (MN 43).

“Perception” seems to be a very broad term in non-Pali traditions.

It looks like this is the Chinese Bapat translates in that passage:

Bapat T198 No. 5
This [world], he has already cut off, and what succeeds is also exhausted, 是已斷後亦盡,
By relinquishing his perceptions, the practices only doth he attain; 亦棄想獨行得。
With the knowledge he possesses, the wise he doth not approach; 莫自知以致黠,
Though he has seen, or heard, mere contemplation he doth practice. 雖見聞但行觀。

“Relinquishing” in the second line translates 棄, which means to discard or throw something away ordinarily.

I can see where Bapat was having difficulty with the first line. 是 and 後 might refer to “this life” and the “next,” which literally is usually “this world” and the “later world” in Buddhist texts. But “world” (世) has been dropped to keep to the number of syllables per line in the verse.

To me, the last two lines mean: “He doesn’t know it himself, becoming wise thereby. Although he sees and hears, he simply observes what happens (practices? conditions?).”

行 is problematic to translate without much context. If can mean walking, practicing, acting, conditioning, and volitions. It’s used for a cluster of Indic words.

Well, merely observing conduct would mean not to draw an inference (or judgment) about that conduct, leaving perception as the only means of knowledge available to the (thinking) subject. This doesn’t go quite as far as Husserl’s bracketing of the “objective,” but it could possibly be put into fruitful dialogue with it, accepting of course that Husserl wanted to move in the direction of - at least what he thought - Kant meant by transcendental apperception. In Western language this might simply mean the difference between the “natural attitude” and a phenomenological one.

This also comes right out of the RV I.164, which is considered among the first hymns to introduce a method of “ignorance” or doubt into religious contemplation. I assume the Buddhist literature differs in ends, because it refers to Buddha’s comments that he knows about Isvara and plenty of other things, and so does not sully his wisdom by attending to them.

  1. Who has seen the first one as he is being born, when his boneless (sun) carries the one having bones (moon)? Where is the life, blood, and breath of the earth? Who will approach the knowing one to ask this?
  2. Naïve, not understanding, in my mind I ask about these imprinted tracks of the gods. Upon the full-grown calf the poets have stretched the seven warp-threads in order to weave.
  3. Unperceptive, I ask also the perceptive poets about this in order to know, since I am unknowing: What also is the One in the form of the Unborn that has propped apart these six realms (of the year)?
  4. Let him speak here, who knows the imprinted track of this treasured bird.
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In the last stanza of the sutta, he says

This seems to support what you said. It reads like consciousness is epiphenomenal here.

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I think that perception is being used in the broad sense in the sutta you site. It appears to mean discernment. You can discern formless states, but apperception doesn’t apply. Apperception requires form.

I found something that might clear up the ambiguity around the word relinquishing. The issue is whether an enlighten one is constantly having perceptions and is constantly relinquishing them or are they relinquished once and for all time never to be had again.

This is found on Bapat PDF page 105, 106, and 107 and print pages 76, 77, and 78 in stanzas 12 and 13.

This seems to support that an enlightened one relinquishes perceptions once and for all time never to be had again provided the translation is supported by the Chinese.

This may be what Bapat has in mind. The trouble with his translation is that 致 doesn’t mean to approach someone. Instead, it usu. means to bring something about or achieve it. Like making a meal or setting up an event. So, wisdom would be the end result brought about in this line.

It can also mean to send a message to someone, which I guess might be something near to Bapat’s translation. Perhaps that’s the basis for his reading.

I think the Chinese translation is very difficult to read, so I’m not 100% certain about it. I’m not sure how anyone could be. It’s just what I’d consider a straightforward reading without trying to make it fit an Indic verse.

Right. I’m not sure if it should be conduct or just “samskara,” which could be conditioned existence in general or mental activity. Conduct works if we drop it into the passage, but other meanings that 行 could translate do, too.