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Thread: The Lesser Discourse on Emptiness

  1. #1
    Administrator Aloka's Avatar
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    I wondered if anyone would like to comment on their understanding of this sutta.




    MN 121 Cula-suññata Sutta: The Lesser Discourse on Emptiness



    I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Savatthi in the Eastern Monastery, the palace of Migara's mother. Then in the evening, Ven. Ananda, coming out of seclusion, went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side.

    As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One: "On one occasion, when the Blessed One was staying among the Sakyans in a Sakyan town named Nagaraka, there — face-to-face with the Blessed One — I heard this, face-to-face I learned this: 'I now remain fully in a dwelling of emptiness.' Did I hear that correctly, learn it correctly, attend to it correctly, remember it correctly?"

    [The Buddha:] "Yes, Ananda, you heard that correctly, learned it correctly, attended to it correctly, remembered it correctly. Now, as well as before, I remain fully in a dwelling of emptiness.

    Just as this palace of Migara's mother is empty of elephants, cattle, & mares, empty of gold & silver, empty of assemblies of women & men, and there is only this non-emptiness — the singleness based on the community of monks; even so, Ananda, a monk — not attending to the perception of village, not attending to the perception of human being — attends to the singleness based on the perception of wilderness. His mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction, settles, & indulges in its perception of wilderness.

    "He discerns that 'Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the perception of village are not present. Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the perception of human being are not present. There is only this modicum of disturbance: the singleness based on the perception of wilderness.'

    He discerns that 'This mode of perception is empty of the perception of village. This mode of perception is empty of the perception of human being. There is only this non-emptiness: the singleness based on the perception of wilderness.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, & pure.

    Continued:

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipit....121.than.html

  2. #2
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka-D-Aloka
    I wondered if anyone would like to comment on their understanding of this sutta.
    Sure.

    MN 121 is a very interesting & unique sutta in a number of ways:

    1. MN 121 offers some interesting preliminary visualisations for entry into emptiness, namely, perception of the forest (wilderness) and then perception of the earth followed by perception of space. Per my subjective interpretation, one imagines or visualises one is in a quiet forest, then one visualises the body, the forest & the surrounds all as the element of earth and then one visualises the mind & awareness as space.

    2. MN 121 uses a unique literal meaning of the term emptiness whereas all other other suttas define emptiness (sunnata) as empty of 'self' or anything belonging/pertaining to 'self'. MN 121 uses the terms 'emptiness' and 'non-emptiness'. Where all other suttas state all things are empty, MN 121 refers to empty and non-empty experiences. MN 121 negates the nothingness interpretation of emptiness because it states the supreme experience of emptiness is empty of sensuality, empty of becoming (self) and empty of ignorance but includes the non-emptiness of the body, life faculty and the six sense spheres (including consciousness).

    3. As mentioned, MN 121 expands the definition of emptiness to include empty of sensuality, empty of becoming & empty of ignorance. In other words, the supreme emptiness is Nibbana, namely, empty or void of greed, hatred & delusion.

    Kind regards

    E




  3. #3
    Forums Member srivijaya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Element
    Per my subjective interpretation, one imagines or visualises one is in a quiet forest, then one visualises the body, the forest & the surrounds all as the element of earth and then one visualises the mind & awareness as space.
    I'd like to pick up on that point. I've personally found that observing the raw elements; fire, water, soil and sky have a deeply tranquilizing effect and help open out, relax and release my mind.

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