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Dhammasangani

Enumeration of Phenomena

Chapter III - Good In Relation To The Universe Of The Formless

Arupavacara Kusalam

[Page 71] The Four Jhanas connected with Formless Existence (cattari arupajjhanani).1

 

1. The Sphere of Unbounded Space (akasanancayatanam).

[265] Which are the states that are good?

[Page 72] When, that he may attain to the Formless heavens, he cultivates the way thereto, and so, by passing wholly beyond all consciousness of form, by the dying out of the consciousness of sensory reaction2, by turning the attention from any consciousness of the manifold3, he enters into and abides in that rapt meditation which is accompanied by the consciousness of a sphere of unbounded space — [Page 73] even the Fourth Jhana, to gain which4 all sense of ease must have been put away, and all sense of ill must have been put away, and there must have been a dying out of the happiness and misery he was wont to feel — (the rapt meditation) which is imbued with disinterestedness, and where no ease is felt nor any ill, but only the perfect purity that comes of mindfulness and disinterestedness — then the contact, etc. . . . [cf. § 165] the balance that arises, these . . . are states that are good.

 

2. The Sphere of Inlinite Intellection (vinnanancayatanam).5

[266] Which are the states that are good ?

When, that he may attain to the Formless heavens, he cultivates the way thereto, and, having passed6 wholly beyond the sphere of boundless space, enters into and abides in that rapt meditation which is accompanied by the [Page 74] consciousness of a sphere of infinite intellection 7 — even the Fourth Jhana, to gain which all sense of ease must have been put away, etc.

[Continue as in previous section.]


3. The Sphere of Nothingness (akincannayatanam).

[267] Which are the states that are good ?

When, that he may attain to the Formless heavens, he cultivates the way thereto, and, having passed wholly beyond the sphere of infinite intellection, enters into and abides in that rapt meditation which is accompanied by the consciousness of a sphere of nothingness — even the Fourth Jhana, to gain which all sense of ease must have been put away, etc.

[Continue as in § 265.]

 

4. The Sphere where there is neither Perception nor Non-perception (neva-sanna-nasannayatanam).

[268] Which are the states that are good ?

When, that he may attain to the Formless heavens, he cultivates the way thereto, and, having passed wholly beyond the sphere of nothingness, enters into and abides in that rapt meditation which is accompanied by the consciousness of a sphere where there is neither perception nor non-perception 8 — even the Fourth Jhana, to gain which all sense of ease must have been put away, etc.

[Contifiue as in § 265.]

[Page 75] The Four Jhanas connected with Formless Existence may be developed in sixteen combinations.

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- Footnotes:

1.

These often appear in the Nikayas as the fourth to the seventh of the Eight Vimokhas or Deliverances {cf. §§ 248- 250 ; Maha Par. Sutta, p. 30 ; A. iv. 306). Though treated of in the Visuddhi Magga (chap, iii.), Buddhaghosa only makes comparison with the account of them given in the Vibhanga. In S. iii. 237, and frequently in the Majjhima, they occur in immediate sequence to the four Jhanas without any collective title, and not as concomitants of the Fourth Jhana.

There, too, the formulae also have this slight variation from those in the present work, that the conscious attainment of each stage of abstraction is expressed by a brief proposition of identification, e.g., ananto akaso ti . . . n'atthi kind ti (It is boundless space! . . . There is nothing whatever!). The Cy. explains this by a curious quibble which is incidentally of interest (p. 204). It was the wish of the Buddha to carry out, as in previous pro- cedure so in this, the study of the Four Objects of Thought [arammanani; see above, passim, under (d)]. And the first of these is that one's object is "limited".

But if the student, in attaining to an undifferentiated consciousness of unbounded space, realize its nature by the, so to speak, exclamatory thought, 'It is boundless!' he cannot logically proceed to consider it as limited. If I interpret Buddhaghosa aright, an interesting significance is hereby added to these parenthetical exclamations, which are not unfrequent in Buddhist philosophy. They seem to imply an act of conscious recognition.

2.

The student is to withdraw all interest in and attention to the world of rupa, to cease so entirely to differentiate the ;plenu7n of external phenomena (including his own form) which impinge on his senses, that sensations cease, or resolve themselves into a homogeneous sense of extended vacuum. Patigho, rendered by sensory reaction, is ex- plained to be sight-perception, sound-perception, smell, taste, and touch-perception.

"Thought is (here) not sustained by way of the five doors" (Asl. 201, 202). Hardest of all was it to abstract all attention from sounds. Alara Kalama, one of Gotama's teachers, and proficient in these rapt states, at least so far as the sixth Vimokha (M. i. 164), was credited with the power of becoming so absorbed that he failed to see or hear hundreds of carts passing near him (Asl. 202). On the psycho-physiological use of patigho, see the theory of sense in the book on form, infra, § 597 et seq.

3.

Nanattasannanam amanasikara. On the latter term, see above, p. 5, n. 1. Nanattam is of rare occur- rence in the Nikayas ; but see M. i. 3, where, in a series of concepts, it follows "unity" and precedes "the whole" (Neumann renders by Vielheit); also S. iv. 113, 114, where it is explained to refer to the various kinds of sensa- tion, the corresponding vinnana, and the resulting feeling. In the Vibhanga, quoted by Buddhaghosa (p. 202), it is explained to mean cognition of the mutual diversity or dissimilarity (aiinamannam asadisa) of nature in the eight kinds of good thoughts, the twelve bad thoughts (below, § 365), as well as in those ideas of good and bad results which are taken next to these.

For cittani, however, sanna is substituted, possibly limiting the application of the discernment of diversity to the sensuous basis of all those "thoughts". The context, nevertheless, seems to point to a certain general, abstract, "re-representative" import in saniia as here applied. It is said to be the consciousness of one who is occupied with manodhatu or with manovinfianadhatu — with, let us say, representative or with reepresentative cognition — with ideas or with cognition of those ideas. The ideation in this case is about sensuous phenomena as manifold, and the abstract nature of it lies, of course, in considering their diversity as such.

4.

In the text the formula of the Fourth Jhana remains unaltered (c/. § 165). But it is sandwiched between the cumbrous adjectival compounds referring to space and to disinterestedness. Hence some modification was necessary to avoid uncouthness of diction.

5.

Strictly viiinananancayatanam. The usually elided syllable (rulhi-saddo) is noticed in the Cy. (205).

6.

K., here and in the two following replies, has the gerund samatikkamma, following the usage in the Nikayas (see, e.g.,!)., M. P. S., 30; M. i. 174, 209; S. iii. 237, 238; A. iv. 306). Buddhaghosa apparently reads samatik- kama (2^5), as is the unvarying case in the first only of these four arupajjhanas.

7.

The only explanation given of a term on which one would gladly have heard Buddhaghosa expatiate is, "There is no end for him in respect to that which has to be cogitated" (lit., minded ; manasikatabba-vasena) (Asl. 205). On the next stage, too (§ 267), no light at all is thrown (p. 206).

8.

Buddhaghosa explains this mental state as the cultiva- tion of the functioning of the subtle residuum of conscious syntheses (sankharavasesa-sukhuma-bhavam). In so far as perception (presumably understood as being wholly introspective) has become incapable of effective functioning (patu-saniia-kiccam), the state is non-perceptual. In so far as those faint, fine conscious reactions are maintained, the state is "not non-perceptual".

This oscillation about a zero-point in consciousness is illustrated by the similes quoted (not from this Cy.) by Hardy (oj). cit., 264), namely, of the bowl containing just so much oil as suffices for cleansing purposes, but not to be poured out ; also, of the little pool, sufficient to wet the feet, but too shallow for a bathe. Both oil and water exist, or do not exist, according to what action can be taken with respect to them.

The Cy. adds that this liminal point obtains not only in sanna, but also in feeling, thought, and contact (208). The study of the "threshold" of consciousness, and of the supra- and subliminal grades clustering about it, is familiar enough to the investigator in psychophysics. What is unfamiliar to us is the exploitation of the borderland of consciousness in the interests of ethical growth. Leibnitz might have found in the neva-sanna-nasaiinayatanam, had he had opportunity, the inspiration for his theory of petites perceptions. 

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