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What do Venerable Cha Mo's similes on the Flower's Scent and the Perfumed Rag mean with regard to satkāyadṛṣṭi?


#1

In the Khemakabhikṣusūtra, 差摩比丘經, Sermon of the Monk Chà Mó , T99.29c06 Saṁyuktāgama sūtra #103, readable in Pāli at 22.89 of the Saṁyuttamikāya, Venerable Chà Mó, who is Khemakabhikkhu in Pāli, gives a sermon to “many elder monks”. This has to-do with Ven Chà Mó’s yet-having-attained severance from pernicious and subtle self-view.

To illustrate his quandary, and in so seemingly educating himself to overcome his fetter, he delivers the simile of the flower’s scent and the simile of the perfumed rag. The simile of the flower’s scent challenges the elders to locate the locus of the scent of a flower. The simile of the perfumed rag speaks of a launderer who hides the filth introduced to a piece of fabric with a skilled application of perfumes.

What do these mean?

Khemakabhikṣusūtra 差摩比丘經 *Sermon of the Monk Chà Mó* T99.29c06 Saṁyuktāgama sūtra #103

Like this I heard:

One day, there were myriad elder monks dwelling in Kauśambī at Ghoṣitārāma.

At that time, there was the monk Chà Mó dwelling also in Kauśambī by the badarikā orchard, his body was increasing in iterations of woe and sicknesses.

At that time, there was the monk Tuó Suō keeping watch over the sick. At that time, Tuó Suō came to the myriad elder monks, bowed to the myriad elder monks’s feet, then to one side retreated to reside there.

The myriad elder monks spoke to the monk Tuó Suō: “You, go to the monk Chà Mó, speak: ‘The myriad elders implore you: Does your body slowly come to find peace? Do suffering and misery not increase, is it yes?’”

At that time, the monk Tuó Suō, subject to the myriad elder monks’ dispensation, came to the monk Chà Mó and told to Chà Mó their tellings, saying: “The myriad elders beseech you, your body slowly comes to find peace, sufferings and miseries do not increase, yes?”

Chà Mó spoke to Tuó Suō saying: “I am sick and not recovering, I do not find peace, myriad hardships accumulate without salvation, tremendous and mighty suffering aches me, I presently suffer and endure much. It is like the slaughter of a bull, the sharp knife having cut into the live stomach, to fetch its inner organs, that bull’s stomach pain is the very same as what I am enduring! My present stomach pain is greater than that of the bull’s. It is as if two warriors clutched one weak man, suspended him attached above a fire, burning his two feet, my present two feet’s burnings are greater than his.”

At that time, Tuó Suō returned to the elders, according to what Chà Mó had said, he told them of his great sickness, entirely explaining to the elders.

At that time, the elders returned Tuó Suō, dispatching him to come to Chà Mó, that he might speak to Chà Mó, to say: “The Bhagavān has taught these five aggregates of binding, which of these five? The rūpaskandha, vedanā, saṃjñā, saṃskāra, vijñānaskandha, you, Chà Mó, can only poorly observe that these five aggregates of binding are without you, and are nothing to you belonging resolutely.”

At that time, Tuó Suō subject to the elders taught likewise thereafter, went forth to speak to Chà Mó, saying: “The elders speak to you, the Bhagavān speaks of these five aggregates of binding, you poorly observe they are without you, and are nothing to you belonging resolutely.”

Chà Mó spoke to Tuó Suō, saying: “I, in these five aggregates of binding, am able to find no me, and they are nothing to me belonging.”

Tuó Suō returned to address the elders: “The monk Chà Mó spoke, saying: ‘I, in these five aggregates of binding, observe and find no me, and they are nothing I own.’”

The elders again dispatched Tuó Suō to speak to Chà Mó, to say: “You, in these five aggregates of binding observe and find no me, and they are nothing I own, thus āsravāḥ are all-ended, and you are an arhat, resolutely?”

At that time, Tuó Suō, subject to the elders’s teachings, came closer to the monk Chà Mó, speaking to Chà Mó, saying: “The monk is able to thusly observe the five aggregates of binding, thus his āsravāḥ are all ended, an arhat he is, resolutely?”

Chà Mó replied to Tuó Suō, saying: “I observe these five aggregates of binding and find no me, and are nothing I own, but it is not that my āsravāḥ are all ended and it is not that I am an arhat resolutely.”

At that time, Tuó Suō left and returned to the elders, addressed the eldesr: “Chà Mó spoke: ‘I observe these five aggregates of binding and find no me, and are nothing I own, and yet it is not that my āsravāḥ are all ended and it is not that I am an arhat resolutely.’”

At that time, the elderes spoke to Tuó Suō: “You will again return to speak with Chà Mó: ‘You say: “I observe these five aggregates of binding and find no me, and are nothing I own, and yet it is not that my āsravāḥ are all ended [and it is not] that I am an arhat.” The front and end of your notion are incoherent.’”

Tuó Suō, subject to the elders’s teachings, went forth to Chà Mó: “You say: ‘I observe these five aggregates of binding and find no me, nothing to me belonging, and yet it is not that my āsravāḥ are all ended and it is not that I am an arhat.’ The front and end of your notion are incoherent.”

Chà Mó spoke to Tuó Suō saying: “I in these five aggregates of binding, observe and find no me, and nothing to me belonging, meanwhile I am not an arhat, I with my pride, my desiring, this I-making. I am not yet resolute, not yet knowing it, not yet having severed from it, not yet having vomited it out.”

Tuó Suō left and returned to the elders, himself speaking to the elders: “Chà Mó said: ‘I in these five aggregates of binding, observe and find no me, and nothing to me belonging, meanwhile I am not an arhat, I with my pride, my desiring, I-making, I am not yet resolute, not yet knowing, not yet having severed, not yet having vomited.

The elders once more dispatched Tuó Suō to speak to Chà Mó, to say: “You speak of having ātman, how to you have ātman? It is that your form is ātman? It is that ātman is other than your form? Feelings, thoughts, formations, consciousness, this is “me?” Am I other than consciousness?”

Chà Mó spoke to Tuó Suō saying: “I do not say that my form is me, nor am I other than form; nor that feelings, thoughts, formations, consciousness, are me and mine, nor that I am other than consciousness, thus in these five aggregates of binding I have pride, I have desiring, these are I-makings. I am not yet resolute, not yet knowing, not yet having severed from it, not yet having vomited it out.”

Chà Mó spoke to Tuó Suō saying: “What vexation moves you, spurring you on to directions contrary? You fetch a cane, that I may come, I myself with my cane, will approach the elders, I beseech you, give me my cane.”

At that time, the myriad elders, in the distance, saw Chà Mó with his staff on his way coming, themselves spread out a seat for him, found a place to rest his feet, themselves went forth to greet him, to take his robe and alms bowl, ordering that he promptly sit, exchanging words to reassure the weary, speaking to Chà Mó saying:

“You speak of having ātman, how to you have ātman? It is that your form is ātman? It is that ātman is other than your form? Feelings, thoughts, formations, consciousness, this is “me?” Am I other than consciousness?”

Chà Mó Bhikṣu spoke:

“It is not that form is me, but it is not that I am other than form; there is no feeling, thought, formation, or consciousness that is mine, yet I am not other than consciousness, thus in these five aggregates of binding I have my pride, I have my desiring, this I-making. I am not yet resolute, I am not yet knowing, not yet having severed, not yet having vomited. It is like the flowers. The utpala, paduma, kumuda, or puṇḍarīka flower’s. It is like these flowers’ scent. Is it the roots’ scent? Is the scent other than the roots? Is it the stem’s, the leaf’s, the whiskers’, the fine constituents’ or the coarse constituents’ scent? Are the fine constituents other than the coarse constituents? It is so said, no?"

The elders responded: “No, resolutely, Chà Mó! It is not the utpala’s, the paduma’s, the kumuda’s, the puṇḍarīka’s roots’ scent, but it is not that the scent is other than root, so too also it is not the stem’s, the leaf’s, the whiskers’, the fine constituents’, or the coarse constituents’ scent, so too also it is not that the fine constituents are other than the coarse constituents.”

Chà Mó again asked: “It is what’s scent?”

The elders replied: “It is the flower’s.”

Chà Mó again replied: "I, too, am thus so. It is not that my form is me, yet I am not other than form; there is no feeling, thought, formation, or consciousness that is resolutely mine, yet I am not apart from consciousness. So I in these five aggregates of binding see no me, and they are nothing I own, as such is my pride, my desiring, I-making, not yet resolute, not yet knowing, not yet having severed, not yet having vomited. Elders, hear my exposition of analogy. Worldlings and sages, on account of metaphor attain to understanding. Such an analogy is this: The wet-nurse has a cloth, she pays the launderer to wash it, he washes it with all kinds of grey broth, he rinses until glistening. The filth still remainders lingering in fumes, there must be applied to it all kinds of incenses & perfumes, he knows how to cause these fumes to vanish. Like this, one must inquire into what extent the sage disciple severs from these five aggregates of binding, with true insight there is no me, and there is nothing I own, enduring these five aggregates of binding I have pride, I have desiring, I-making, not yet resolute, not yet knowing, not yet having severed, not yet having vomited. Afterwards, in these five aggregates of binding, further investigation is undertook, profound insight into saṃsāra is attained, this form, this form’s origin, this form’s cessation, this feeling, thought, formation, consciousness, this consciousness’s origin, this consciousness’s cessation. And so, in these five aggregates of binding, with profound insight into saṃsāra, after that, my pride, my desiring, these I-makings, are all entirely cast away, this is called penetrating insight into the true aspect.”

When Chà Mó spoke the dharma, those elders’s manifold contaminants became immaculate with their attainment of the pure dharma eye.

Venerable Anālayo translation

this have i heard. At one time a group of many elder monks were staying at Kosambī in Ghosita’s Park. Then the monk Khemaka was dwelling at Kosambī in the Jujube Tree Park. His body had become seriously ill. Then the monk Dāsaka was looking after the sick. Then the monk Dāsaka approached the elder monks, paid respect at the feet of the elder monks, and stood at one side.

The elder monks said to the monk Dāsaka: “Approach the monk Khemaka and say: The elder monks ask you: ‘Is your body recovering a little and at ease, is the severity of your painful afflictions not increasing?’”

Then the monk Dāsaka, having received the instructions from the elder monks, approached the monk Khemaka. He said to the monk Khemaka: “The elder monks ask you: ‘Are you gradually recovering from your painful afflictions? Are the multitude of pains not increasing?’”

The monk Khemaka said to the monk Dāsaka: “I have not recovered from the illness and my body is not at ease, the pains keep increasing and there is no relief. It is just as if many strong men were to grab a weak man, put a rope around his head and with both hands pull it tight, so that he is in extreme pain. My pain now exceeds that. It is just as if a cow butcher with a sharp knife cuts open a living [cow’s] belly to take its internal organs. How could that cow endure the pains in its belly? My belly is now more painful than that cow’s. It is just as if two strong men grabbed one weak person and hung him over a fire, roasting both his feet. The heat of both my feet now exceeds that.”

Then the monk Dāsaka approached the elders. He completely told the elders what the monk Khemaka had said about the condition of his illness.

Then the elders sent the monk Dāsaka back to approach the monk Khemaka, to say to the monk Khemaka: “There are five aggregates of clinging, taught by the Blessed One. What are the five? They are the bodily form aggregate of clinging, the feeling … perception … formations … consciousness aggregate of clinging. Khemaka, are you just able to examine these five aggregates of clinging as not self and not belonging to the self?”

Then the monk Dāsaka, having received the instructions from the elder monks, approached the monk Khemaka and said: “The elders say to you: ‘The Blessed One has taught the five aggregates of clinging. Are you just able to examine them as not self and not belonging to the self?’”

The monk Khemaka said to Dāsaka: “I am able to examine these five aggregates of clinging as not self and not belonging to the self.”

The monk Dāsaka returned and said to the elders: “The monk Khemaka says: ‘I am able to examine these five aggregates of clinging as not self and not belonging to the self.’”

The elders again sent the monk Dāsaka to say to the monk Khemaka: “Being able to examine these five aggregates of clinging as not self and not belonging, are you thus an arahant, with the influxes being eradicated?”

Then the monk Dāsaka, having received the instructions from the elder monks, approached the monk Khemaka. He said to Khemaka: “A monk who is able to contemplate the five aggregates of clinging in this way, is he thus an arahant, with the influxes being eradicated?”

The monk Khemaka said to the monk Dāsaka: “I contemplate the five aggregates of clinging as not self and not belonging to the self, [yet] I am not an arahant, with the influxes being eradicated.”

Then the monk Dāsaka returned to the elders. He said to the elders: “The monk Khemaka says: ‘I contemplate the five aggregates of clinging as not self and not belonging to the self, yet I am not an arahant, with the influxes being eradicated.”

Then the elders said to the monk Dāsaka: “Return again to say to the monk Khemaka: You say: ‘I contemplate the five aggregates as not self and not belonging to the self, yet I am not an arahant, with the influxes being eradicated.’ The former and the latter [statement]contradict each other.’”

Then the monk Dāsaka, having received the instructions from the elder monks, approached the monk Khemaka and said: “You say: ‘I contemplate the five aggregates of clinging as not self and not belonging to the self, yet I am not an arahant, with the influxes being eradicated.’ The former and the latter [statement] contradict each other.”

The monk Khemaka said to the monk Dāsaka: “I examine these five aggregates of clinging as not self and not belonging to the self, yet I am not an arahant, [with the influxes being eradicated]. I have not yet abandoned the ‘I am’ conceit, the desire [related to the notion] ‘I am’, and the underlying tendency towards ‘I am’, have not yet [fully] understood it, not yet become separated from it, not yet vomited it out.”

The monk Dāsaka returned to the elders. He said to the elders: “The monk Khemaka says: ‘I examine these five aggregates of clinging as not self and not belonging to the self, yet I am not an arahant, with the influxes being eradicated. I have not yet abandoned the ‘I am’ conceit, the desire [related to the notion] ‘I am’, and the underlying tendency towards ‘I am’, have not yet [fully] understood it, not yet become separated from it, not yet vomited it out.’”

The elders again sent the monk Dāsaka to say to the monk Khemaka: “You [seem] to affirm that there is a self. Where is that self? Is bodily form the self? Or is the self distinct from bodily form? Is feeling … perception … formations … consciousness the self? Or is the self distinct from consciousness?”

The monk Khemaka said to the monk Dāsaka: “I do not say that bodily form is the self, or that the self is distinct from bodily form; that feeling … perception … formations … consciousness is the self, or that the self is distinct from consciousness. Yet in relation to these five aggregates of clinging I have not yet abandoned the ‘I am’ conceit, the desire [related to the notion] ‘I am’, and the underlying tendency towards ‘I am’, have not yet [fully]understood it, not yet become separated from it, not yet vomited it out.”

The monk Khemaka said to the monk Dāsaka: “Why trouble you now, making you run back and forth? Bring my walking stick. Supporting myself with the walking stick, I will approach the elders. [So] I ask you to give me the walking stick for my use.”

The monk Khemaka, supporting himself with the walking stick, approached the elders. Then the elders saw from afar that the monk Khemaka was coming, supported by a walking stick. They themselves prepared a seat for him and set up a foot rest. They came forward themselves to welcome him, took his robe and bowl, and told him to sit down right away. They exchanged polite greetings with each other. Having exchanged polite greetings, the [elders] said to the monk Khemaka:

“You speak of the conceit ‘I am’. Where do you see a self? Is bodily form the self? Or is the self distinct from bodily form? Is feeling … perception … formations … consciousness the self? Or is the self distinct from consciousness?”

The monk Khemaka said: “Bodily form is not self and there is no self that is distinct from bodily form. Feeling … perception … formations … consciousness is not self, and there is no self that is distinct from consciousness. However, in relation to these five aggregates of clinging I have not yet abandoned the ‘I am’ conceit, the desire [related to the notion] ‘I am’, and the underlying tendency towards ‘I am’, have not yet [fully] understood it, not yet become separated from it, not yet vomited it out.

“It is just like the fragrance of uppala lotuses, paduma lotuses, kumuda lotuses, puṇḍarīka lotuses ― is the fragrance in the roots? Is the fragrance distinct from the roots? Is the fragrance in the stalks, the leafs, the stamen, its finer and coarser parts? Or is it distinct from … its finer and coarser parts? Is this correctly spoken?”

The elders replied: “No, monk Khemaka. The fragrance is not in the roots of uppala lotuses, paduma lotuses, kumuda lotuses, puṇḍarīka lotuses, nor is the fragrance distinct from the roots. The fragrance is also not in the stalks, the leafs, the stamen, its fine and coarse parts, and the fragrance is also not distinct from … its fine and coarse parts.”

The monk Khemaka asked again: “Where is the fragrance?”

The elders replied: “The fragrance is in the flower.”

The monk Khemaka said again: “With me it is in the same way. Bodily form is not self and there is no self distinct from bodily form. Feeling … perception … formations … consciousness is not self, and there is no self distinct from consciousness. Although in relation to these five aggregates of clinging I see no self and nothing belonging to the self, still I have not yet abandoned the ‘I am’ conceit, the desire [related to the notion] ‘I am’, and the underlying tendency towards ‘I am’, have not yet [fully] understood it, not yet become separated from it, not yet vomited it out.

“Elders, allow me to speak a simile. Wise ones usually gain understanding because of a comparison through a simile. It is just like a wet-nurse who gives a cloth [used as diaper] to the launderer. With various kinds of lye and soap he washes out the dirt, yet there is still a remainder of smell. By mixing it with various kinds of fragrance he makes that disappear.

“In the same way, although the learned noble disciple rightly contemplates these five aggregates of clinging as not self and not belonging to a self, still he has not yet abandoned the ‘I am’ conceit in relation to these five aggregates of clinging, the desire [related to the notion] ‘I am’, and the underlying tendency towards ‘I am’, has not yet [fully] understood it, not yet become separated from it, not yet vomited it out.

“Yet at a later time he progresses in giving attention to these five aggregates of clinging by examining their rise and fall: this is bodily form, this is the arising of bodily form, this is the cessation of bodily form, this is feeling … perception … formations … consciousness, this is the arising of consciousness, this is the cessation of consciousness. Having contemplated the rise and fall of these five aggregates of clinging in this way, he completely relinquishes all ‘I am’ conceit, desire [related to the notion] ‘I am’, and the underlying tendency towards ‘I am’. This is called truly and rightly contemplating.”

When the monk Khemaka spoke this teaching, the elders attained the pure eye of Dharma that is remote from [mental] stains and free from [mental] dust, and the monk Khemaka by not clinging attained liberation from the influxes in his mind. Because of the benefit of the joy of Dharma, his body got completely rid of the illness.

Then the elder monks said to the monk Khemaka: “When we heard what [our] friend said for the first time, we already understood and already delighted in it, what to say of hearing him again and again. When asking [further] we wished that [our] friend manifests his refined eloquence. Not to harass you, [but] for you to be willing and able to teach in detail the Dharma of the Tathāgata, the arahant, the fully awakened one.”

Then the elders, hearing what the monk Khemaka had said, were delighted and received it respectfully.

Pāli parallel, Ven Bodhi translation

On one occasion a number of elder bhikkhus were dwelling at Kosambi in Ghosita’s Park. Now on that occasion the Venerable Khemaka was living at Jujube Tree Park, sick, afflicted, gravely ill.

Then, in the evening, those elder bhikkhus emerged from seclusion and addressed the Venerable Dasaka thus: “Come, friend Dasaka, approach the bhikkhu Khemaka and say to him: ‘The elders say to you, friend Khemaka: We hope that you are bearing up, friend, we hope that you are getting better. We hope that your painful feelings are subsiding and not increasing, and that their subsiding, not their increase, is to be discerned.’”

“Yes, friends,” the Venerable Dasaka replied, and he approached the Venerable Khemaka and delivered his message.

The Venerable Khemaka answered: “I am not bearing up, friend, I am not getting better. Strong painful feelings are increasing in me, not subsiding, and their increase, not their subsiding, is to be discerned.”

Then the Venerable Dasaka approached the elder bhikkhus and reported what the Venerable Khemaka had said. They told him: “Come, friend Dasaka, approach the bhikkhu Khemaka and say to him: ‘The elders say to you, friend Khemaka: These five aggregates subject to clinging, friend, have been spoken of by the Blessed One; that is, the form aggregate subject to clinging, the feeling aggregate subject to clinging, the perception aggregate subject to clinging, the volitional formations aggregate subject to clinging, the consciousness aggregate subject to clinging. Does the Venerable Khemaka regard anything as self or as belonging to self among these five aggregates subject to clinging?’”

“Yes, friends,” the Venerable Dasaka replied, and he approached the Venerable Khemaka and delivered his message.

The Venerable Khemaka replied: “These five aggregates subject to clinging have been spoken of by the Blessed One; that is, the form aggregate subject to clinging … the consciousness aggregate subject to clinging. Among these five aggregates subject to clinging, I do not regard anything as self or as belonging to self.”

Then the Venerable Dasaka approached the elder bhikkhus and reported what the Venerable Khemaka had said. They replied: “Come, friend Dasaka, approach the bhikkhu Khemaka and say to him: ‘The elders say to you, friend Khemaka: These five aggregates subject to clinging, friend, have been spoken of by the Blessed One; that is, the form aggregate subject to clinging … the consciousness aggregate subject to clinging. If the Venerable Khemaka does not regard anything among these five aggregates subject to clinging as self or as belonging to self, then he is an arahant, one whose taints are destroyed.’”

“Yes, friends,” the Venerable Dasaka replied, and he approached the Venerable Khemaka and delivered his message.

The Venerable Khemaka replied: “These five aggregates subject to clinging have been spoken of by the Blessed One; that is, the form aggregate subject to clinging … the consciousness aggregate subject to clinging. I do not regard anything among these five aggregates subject to clinging as self or as belonging to self, yet I am not an arahant, one whose taints are destroyed. Friends, the notion ‘I am’ has not yet vanished in me in relation to these five aggregates subject to clinging, but I do not regard anything among them as ‘This I am.’”

Then the Venerable Dasaka approached the elder bhikkhus and reported what the Venerable Khemaka had said. They replied: “Come, friend Dasaka, approach the bhikkhu Khemaka and say to him: ‘The elders say to you, friend Khemaka: Friend Khemaka, when you speak of this “I am”—what is it that you speak of as “I am”? Do you speak of form as “I am,” or do you speak of “I am” apart from form? Do you speak of feeling … of perception … of volitional formations … of consciousness as “I am,” or do you speak of “I am” apart from consciousness? When you speak of this “I am,” friend Khemaka, what is it that you speak of as “I am”?’”

“Yes, friends,” the Venerable Dasaka replied, and he approached the Venerable Khemaka and delivered his message.

“Enough, friend Dasaka! Why keep running back and forth? Bring me my staff, friend. I’ll go to the elder bhikkhus myself.”

Then the Venerable Khemaka, leaning on his staff, approached the elder bhikkhus, exchanged greetings with them, and sat down to one side. The elder bhikkhus then said to him: “Friend Khemaka, when you speak of this ‘I am’ … what is it that you speak of as ‘I am’?”

“Friends, I do not speak of form as ‘I am,’ nor do I speak of ‘I am’ apart from form. I do not speak of feeling as ‘I am’ … nor of perception as ‘I am’ … nor of volitional formations as ‘I am’ … nor of consciousness as ‘I am,’ nor do I speak of ‘I am’ apart from consciousness. Friends, although the notion ‘I am’ has not yet vanished in me in relation to these five aggregates subject to clinging, still I do not regard anything among them as ‘This I am.’

“Suppose, friends, there is the scent of a blue, red, or white lotus. Would one be speaking rightly if one would say, ‘The scent belongs to the petals,’ or ‘The scent belongs to the stalk,’ or ‘The scent belongs to the pistils’?”

“No, friend.”

“And how, friends, should one answer if one is to answer rightly?”

“Answering rightly, friend, one should answer: ‘The scent belongs to the flower.’”

“So too, friends, I do not speak of form as ‘I am,’ nor do I speak of ‘I am’ apart from form. I do not speak of feeling as ‘I am’ … nor of perception as ‘I am’ … nor of volitional formations as ‘I am’ … nor of consciousness as ‘I am,’ nor do I speak of ‘I am’ apart from consciousness. Friends, although the notion ‘I am’ has not yet vanished in me in relation to these five aggregates subject to clinging, still I do not regard anything among them as ‘This I am.’

“Friends, even though a noble disciple has abandoned the five lower fetters, still, in relation to the five aggregates subject to clinging, there lingers in him a residual conceit ‘I am,’ a desire ‘I am,’ an underlying tendency ‘I am’ that has not yet been uprooted. Sometime later he dwells contemplating rise and fall in the five aggregates subject to clinging: ‘Such is form, such its origin, such its passing away; such is feeling … such is perception … such are volitional formations … such is consciousness, such its origin, such its passing away.’ As he dwells thus contemplating rise and fall in the five aggregates subject to clinging, the residual conceit ‘I am,’ the desire ‘I am,’ the underlying tendency ‘I am’ that had not yet been uprooted—this comes to be uprooted.

“Suppose, friends, a cloth has become soiled and stained, and its owners give it to a laundryman. The laundryman would scour it evenly with cleaning salt, lye, or cowdung, and rinse it in clean water. Even though that cloth would become pure and clean, it would still retain a residual smell of cleaning salt, lye, or cowdung that had not yet vanished. The laundryman would then give it back to the owners. The owners would put it in a sweet-scented casket, and the residual smell of cleaning salt, lye, or cowdung that had not yet vanished would vanish.

“So too, friends, even though a noble disciple has abandoned the five lower fetters, still, in relation to the five aggregates subject to clinging, there lingers in him a residual conceit ‘I am,’ a desire ‘I am,’ an underlying tendency ‘I am’ that has not yet been uprooted…. As he dwells thus contemplating rise and fall in the five aggregates subject to clinging, the residual conceit ‘I am,’ the desire ‘I am,’ the underlying tendency ‘I am’ that had not yet been uprooted—this comes to be uprooted.”

When this was said, the elder bhikkhus said to the Venerable Khemaka: “We did not ask our questions in order to trouble the Venerable Khemaka, but we thought that the Venerable Khemaka would be capable of explaining, teaching, proclaiming, establishing, disclosing, analysing, and elucidating the Blessed One’s teaching in detail. And the Venerable Khemaka has explained, taught, proclaimed, established, disclosed, analysed, and elucidated the Blessed One’s teaching in detail.”

This is what the Venerable Khemaka said. Elated, the elder bhikkhus delighted in the Venerable Khemaka’s statement. And while this discourse was being spoken, the minds of sixty elder bhikkhus and of the Venerable Khemaka were liberated from the taints by nonclinging.


#2

Ven Khemaka had attained stream entry but not Arahanthood.


#3

Yeah, but what do the two similes mean for you in relation to this?

The one with the Perfumed Rag is particularly strange IMO.


#4

This is how i like to think about it;

puthujjana: ‘worldling’, ordinary man, is any layman or monk who is still possessed of all the 10 fetters.

A worlding who professes Buddhism, may be either

  • a ‘blind worldling’ (andha-p.) who has neither knowledge of, nor interest in the fundamental teaching (the Truths, groups, etc.);

  • or he is a ‘noble worldling’ (kalyāna-p.), who has such knowledge and earnestly strives to understand and practise the Teaching.

Andha-puthujjana : Is on a horse but doesn’t even know he is sitting on a horse dragged along here and there.

kalyāna-puthujjana : Trying to see the horse.

Ariyas who have eradicated sakkayaditti : Horse is seen and tamed to varying degrees but still unable to get off.

Arahant : Horse is fully tamed and and able to get on and off as they please.

Horse= Kandhas


#5

Original dirty rag :
All ten fetters present

cleaned rag :
Five lower fetters have been cleaned

smell of washing washing powder left :
conceit ‘I am’

putting in to scented chest :
Further meditation observing rise and fall in the five grasping aggregates

smell of washing powder gone :
Eradication of conceit ‘I am’


#6

Though the self as a thought is penetrated, the sense of a self can persist. It takes time for the insight to percolate to all areas of thinking. You could say that the delusion changes in terms of ‘view’ but not in terms of thought or perception.


#7

Please see the O.P for the full Sutta

I am interested in this section, and wonder if there are any suttas that address any more descriptions or practice details to facilitate this transformation - for the final abandonment of the conceit of “I am”.

In particular, the pervading “I - character trait/s” that are transferred through Kamma and re-birth. ie that lead to no more (stop) ‘becoming’.

:rofl: such an audacious question - please provide the instructions to liberation :rofl:

But then again, this is precisely what the Buddha did :anjal:


#8

Here is the parallel sutta, SN22.89 Khemaka.

When one understands dukkha or sakkyaditthi, it loses its oppressing nature, it is uprooted. Where once suffering or
Atta was mine, it now is not mine, its significance has changed. It is still there in a way, but uprooted, floating around without oppressing. The memory of it remains, like a bad smell lingering from cloth which is going through a path of purification .

SN22.89
" Suppose, friends, a cloth has become soiled and stained, and its owners give it to a laundryman. The laundryman would scour it evenly with cleaning salt, lye, or cow dung, and rinse it in clean water. Even though that cloth would become pure and clean, it would still retain a residual smell of cleaning salt, lye, or cowdung that had not yet vanished. The laundryman would then give it back to the owners. The owners would put it in a sweet-scented casket, and the residual smell of cleaning salt, lye, or cowdung that had not yet vanished would vanish."

Or like the ‘smell-in relation to-flower’…
The smell-in relation to-flower (pupphassa gandho) is like the ,assumption of self or sakkyaditthi. It is not the flower or found apart from the flower, its smell-in regard to-flower. Likewise, ‘i am form’ is not ‘form’, there is also not just ‘i am’, but there is ‘i am’ in relation to the five aggregates.

_," friends, there is the scent of a blue, red, or white lotus. Would one be speaking rightly if one would say, ‘The scent belongs to the petals,’ or ‘The scent belongs to the stalk,’ or ‘The scent belongs to the pistils’?”

“No, friend.”

“And how, friends, should one answer if one is to answer rightly?”

“Answering rightly, friend, one should answer: ‘The scent belongs to the flower."_

“So too, friends, I do not speak of form as ‘I am,’ nor do I speak of ‘I am’ apart from form. I do not speak of feeling as ‘I am’ … nor of perception as ‘I am’ … nor of volitional formations as ‘I am’ … nor of consciousness as ‘I am,’ nor do I speak of ‘I am’ apart from consciousness. Friends, although the notion ‘I am’ has not yet vanished in me in relation to these five aggregates subject to clinging, still I do not regard anything among them as ‘This I am.” (his self is not his own)

If I have a terminal illness, the symptoms of that illness are dukkha because ** I** will die, the symptoms signify my demise, but if I am cured yet the symptoms of the previous terminal illness remain, the symptoms no longer signify my death, the symptoms were once dukkha but now are just uncomfortable annoyances which one is nibbida towards.

Dukkha like self/conceit remains only as a residual non-oppressive notion.

Although I would say that most meditation instructions are done at the level of ’ putting the cloth in the sweet-scented casket’ ( see above soiled cloth simile) or for the purification of conceit,the getting rid of the lingering smell;
here below is excerpts from MN106 expressing a few more contemplations for abandoning of conceit.

“Furthermore, a noble disciple has gone to a wilderness, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty hut, and reflects like this:
‘This is empty of a self or what belongs to a self.”

Or
" a noble disciple reflects:
‘I am not anything belonging to anyone anywhere! And nothing belongs to me anywhere!’

Or

_"A mendicant practises this : " It might not be, and it might not be mine. It will not be, and it will not be mine. What exists, what has come to be, that I am abandoning.’
In this way he gains equanimity.

He doesn’t delight, welcome, or assume that equanimity.

So his consciousness doesnt become dependent on it and there is no upadana/assumption in relation to it"_


#9

Having revisited MN19 was also really useful, as well as Ajahn Brahmalis sutta class from a number of years ago, here

https://bswa.org/teaching/mn19-dvedhavitakka-sutta-two-kinds-of-thought-with-ajahn-brahmali/

:anjal::dharmawheel:

May all beings be free of suffering


#10

I’ve struggled with choices and intention all my life–they have always seemed to lead nowhere. The greater the intention, the greater the backlash. And even not choosing is a choice in this context. But there is this rather odd in-between zone of grace where things happen without choices and intention, yet with full commitment and harmony.

So imagine my surprise to read the following wee little sentence tucked way in the back of MN121:

They understand: ‘But whatever is produced by choices and intentions is impermanent and liable to cessation.’ Knowing and seeing like this, their mind is freed from the defilements of sensuality, desire to be reborn, and ignorance.

This little phrase is why I study MN121. And in answer to your question, I’d say it is an alternate path to chatting with Ananda and the Buddha in this very life, empty of that “I am.” It’s a long path with many dimensions to wade through.


#11

Thank-you
:slight_smile: Yes in a round about way, I think I’ve come to a simmilar place. All my life I have been under the delusion that a being can alleviate suffering in this world > Bhodisattva goals at whatever level…

But I am starting to ‘see’ that that is delusion - that

There is no ‘agency’

Quite mind and existence blowing really :exploding_head:

But (my) mind is a very tricky thing hehehehe :rofl::joy:


#12

MN121 is such a brilliant sutta! Thanks for bringing it to my attention :anjal::anjal::anjal:

@Coemgenu I’d say this speaks directly to the scent

" There is only this that is not emptiness, namely that associated with the six sense fields dependent on this body and conditioned by life.’ And so they regard it as empty of what is not there, but as to what remains they understand that it is present. That’s how emptiness is born in them—genuine, undistorted, and pure.

Whatever ascetics and brahmins enter and remain in the pure, ultimate, supreme emptiness—whether in the past, future, or present—all of them enter and remain in this same pure, ultimate, supreme emptiness. So, Ānanda, you should train like this: ‘We will enter and remain in the pure, ultimate, supreme emptiness.’ That’s how you should train.”

That is what the Buddha said. Satisfied, Venerable Ānanda was happy with what the Buddha said."

https://bswa.org/teaching/mn121-culasunnyata-sutta-shorter-discourse-emptiness/


#13

It is my sutta for cooking dinner. :rofl:

But seriously, just tonight I had the oddest experience.

There is a part of MN121 that deals with the dimension of infinite space. I had been wondering about this dimension for a very very long time. And although I’m aware of the relationship between the dimension of infinite space and the heart’s release through compassion (sn46.54), I had never really grasped the perception of infinite space, let alone its connection with compassion. It was only an intellectual understanding.

Tonite for some reason, during this passage of MN121 that deals with the dimension of infinite space, tonite I closed my eyes and just listened. And then I realized that with my eyes closed, I was surrounded by the dimension of infinite space, that dimension of infinite and overwhelming possibility. We all are snapped into the dimension of infinite space when we close our eyes, because when we close our eyes and walk terrified through a strange room, we are overwhelmed by the infinite possibilities of that infinite space. There might be a wall, or a hole in the ground to fall into or an open door to smash our head or a chair to trip over and we simply don’t know with our eyes closed. Understanding this perception, the following verse suddenly made a lot of sense.

There is only this modicum of stress, namely the oneness dependent on the perception of the dimension of infinite space.’

And now I also understand why this dimension of infinite space is also related to the heart’s release through compassion, because only when we close our eyes and move about aware of that infinite possibility untouched, only then do we have compassion for the blind.

:pray:

p.s., thanks for the link to the audio. I shall continue listening to Ajahn Brahm tonite!


#14

Such a beautiful comprehension :relieved: :pray:

I have long believed that the suffering and difficulties in our lives present the greatest opportunities for progress on the path. Blindness, while cutting off one set of senses, releases another one :pray:

It is funny how the right thing at the right moment can tip one over into comprehension. I just started listening to the Ajahn Brahm sutta class on MN121 and realised that I was familiar with it, but reading additional translations, and hearing the words again at ‘just the right moment’ can lead to those break throughs’.

Thank you for this ‘nourishing’ exchange :anjal::dharmawheel::slightly_smiling_face:


#15

So just to summarise this exchange and how I’ve understood it;
(if there are any errors I’d appreciate if they could be pointed out)

Looking at the remainder or ‘scent’ or ‘stains’ is the way the simmilies in the OP are framed. By looking at ‘what is absent’ from the ‘scent’ or the ‘stains’ shows the other perspective - (not what is left - but what is absent)
IMHO what is absent is the ‘self’ - all that remains at this stage is the empty, natural process of aggregates and reactions to sense stimulus. Such a truly beautiful and wonderful state to aim for.
May all beings find liberation and be free of suffering.
:anjal:


#16

If I may,
What is absent is the ‘non-knowledge’ of what the scent is,
Or
what is present(left) then is the absence of non-knowledge of the scent.

The scent remains, but one does not think that the scent IS the flower(this is absent), and one knows the scent is, and the flower is ( this is present).

I don’t agree with “what is absent is the self” and this is why.
That self is like the scent.
That self has been uprooted( the ignorance in regard to it is absent), it is not confused with an aggregate( this knowledge is present; there is an uprooted sense of self, there are aggregates.)

That uprooted self is not a full blown self anymore.
In other words,

Even this self is empty of full-blown-independent-self or even belonging to itself.
My very self is EMPTY of appropriation(self).

And to go further…

This “I am” does not belong to anyone or anything anywhere, and nothing belongs to this “I am”.

And then to go even further…

THIS(general experience) might not have been, THIS will not be;
THIS IS, and what is, is being directly known and thus abandoned.

THIS self and aggregates, THIS experience as a whole, might not have been. THIS general experience is beyond appropriation, let alone its particular parts.

The stain (appropriated self) has been removed But the smell of it lingers, the memory of it remains, and the cleansing keeps on occuring into more subtle(general) levels until even a trace( of that assumption) is no longer apparent=Nibbana.


#17

@Noahsark :slight_smile: thanks for your response. At this level of nuance, language plays such an important part so I will keep going over your words. But ultimately, I suppose, there is one sure way of finding out… :smiley: :smile:

to keep working harder and deeper and not to rest until the full path has been walked :smiley:
:foot: :footprints: :foot: :footprints: :foot: :footprints: (lol this is supposed to represent walking the path)

:anjal: :dharmawheel:


#18

Happy walking,

I will just give a brief synopsis of what I meant which might clear up the meanings of the words that I used:

The self is the appropriation of the person-here, or
The self is the assumption of the person-here.

The self not appropriated leaves the person-here.

The person-here is that phenomenon that people refer to as ‘viveka/you’; it is the phenomenon that you refer to when you say ‘me’.

The person-here remains for an Arahant, but there is no longer an assumption( this is my eternal, independent self) in regards to it. “His person is not his self”


#19

LOL this is pretty much what I meant :rofl::joy::grinning:

words…


#20

Yep, its a miracle if one person can actually understand another.
There is a sutta somewhere that the Buddha mentions that to be able to convey the meaning and for the other to get it, is a true miracle.