Sutta Study Reflection Theme 2-2-13

The Middle Length Discourses:

MN 29 & 30 The Shorter and Longer Heartwood-simile Discourses

Links to Ajahn Thanissaro’s translations:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.029.than.html

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.030.than.html

Sections to be read out loud: 

“Just as if a man in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood, cutting away just the heartwood of a great standing tree possessed of heartwood, were to go off carrying it, knowing, ‘heartwood.’ A man with good eyesight, seeing him, would say, ‘Ah, how this good man did know heartwood, did know sapwood, did know inner bark, did know outer bark, did know twigs & leaves! That’s why he, in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood, cutting away just the heartwood of a great standing tree possessed of heartwood, were to go off carrying it, knowing, “heartwood.” Whatever heartwood-business he had with heartwood, his purpose will be served.’

“In the same way, monks, there is the case where a certain son of good family, out of conviction, goes forth from the home life into homelessness, [thinking,] ‘I am beset by birth, by aging-&-death, by sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs, beset by stress, overcome with stress. Perhaps the end of this entire mass of stress might be discerned!’ Having thus gone forth, he encounters gain, offerings, & fame. He is not gratified with that gain, offerings, & fame, his resolve not fulfilled. He is not intoxicated with that gain, offerings, & fame, not heedless about it, and does not fall into heedlessness. Being heedful, he achieves consummation in virtue. He is gratified with that consummation in virtue, but his resolve is not fulfilled. Because of that consummation in virtue he does not exalt himself or disparage others. He is not intoxicated with that consummation in virtue, not heedless about it, and does not fall into heedlessness. Being heedful, he achieves consummation in concentration. He is gratified with that consummation in concentration, but his resolve is not fulfilled. Because of that consummation in concentration he does not exalt himself or disparage others. He is not intoxicated with that consummation in concentration, not heedless about it, and does not fall into heedlessness. Being heedful, he achieves knowledge & vision. He is gratified with that knowledge & vision, but his resolve is not fulfilled. Because of that knowledge & vision he does not exalt himself or disparage others. He is not intoxicated with that knowledge & vision, not heedless about it, and does not fall into heedlessness. Being heedful, he achieves a non-occasional liberation. And it is impossible, monks, there is no opportunity, for that monk to fall from that non-occasional release.

“Monks, this holy life doesn’t have as its reward gain, offerings, & fame, doesn’t have as its reward consummation of virtue, doesn’t have as its reward consummation of concentration, doesn’t have as its reward knowledge & vision, but the unprovoked awareness-release: That is the purpose of this holy life, that is its heartwood, that its final end.”

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Blessed One’s words.”

Discussion Theme:

In these two similar sutta’s (I have pasted below Sharda Rogell’s note regarding the minor differences between the two Suttas) the Buddha warns us against spiritual materialism – our tendency to seek out a good feeling and then become complacent once we feel good. Unfortunately, any good feeling/experience is temporary at best. The simile of the heartwood is a reminder not to be fooled by success of any kind. This path of practice is for the realization of the unconditioned release of the heart. As the Buddha says, “And it is impossible, practitioners, there is no opportunity, to fall from that non-occasional release.”

The Buddha specifically warns about the tendency to become identified or intoxicated with experiences of gain, honor and renown; virtue; concentration; and knowledge and vision.  Unshakable deliverance of the mind, what Ajahn Thanissaro translates as the ‘unprovoked awareness-release’, arises for one who remains unattached to any lessor attainments. This month let’s awaken to all the small and big ways that our mind settles in with attachment when it is content with the work that has been done and results that have be gained. It is easy to believe that the point of practice is to feel good in these ways. But, it is possible to continue relating with wisdom and non attachment if the mind remains sensitive to the subtle stress that arises whenever there is dependency or clinging in the mind. This is the path to freedom.

 

“These two discourses are primarily distinguished by the change of the phrase, “He becomes intoxicated” to the phrase “He arouses no desire to act, he makes no effort for the realization of those other states that are higher and more sublime than gain, honor, and renown; he hangs back and slackens.” MN30.12­ 23 refers to the eight absorptions as higher states than knowledge and vision. Note 353 explains that this is so because the jha?nas are being treated as the basis for the attainment of cessation and the destruction of the taints, as pointed out in [21]. “

Pressing Out Pure Honey: A Practitioner’s Study Guide by Sharda Rogell

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