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Thread: Mada Sutta: The Discourse on Intoxication

  1. #1
    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
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    Mada Sutta: The Discourse on Intoxication

    Lets study and comment this Sutta about the three intoxications the Buddha taught: Youth, Health and Life:

    1 Related teachings

    1.1 The Mada Sutta (A 3.39), according to the Pali text Society (Ee) manuscript forms a separate
    sutta. The Burmese (Be) and Sinhala (Ce) editions, however, treat this text as a continuation of the preceding Sukhumāla Sutta (A 3.38), which opens with the Buddha’s recollecting of his delicate youth.
    The Mada Sutta explains points to the roots of unwholesome conduct, why we commit bad deeds and
    their consequences. The unwholesome roots or main motivating factors behind our bad actions are greed,hate and delusion (akusala mūla), which are themselves lurking in our unconscious as latent tendencies(anusaya) as lust, aversion and ignorance.

    1.2 The Mada Sutta present the 3 intoxications (mada)—those with youth, health and life—as the
    underlying conditions for our committing unwholesome deed through the three karmic doors (dvāra) of
    body, speech and mind. These three are the psychological conditions rooted in the fear of decay, disease and death, the “3 Ds” of existence.

    1.3 The (Ānanda) Jarā Sutta (S 48.41) records how the aged Buddha, with his complexion discoloured,
    tells Ānanda that “youth is subject to decay, health is subject to illness, life is subject to death.” Decay, disease and death are universal, so that we can call them as “the 3 great bads.”

    1.4 Discourses such as the Alabbhanīya Sutta (A 5.48) and the (Mallikā Kāla,kata) Kosala Sutta (A 5.49) gives us spiritual reflections on these 3 “great bads” that comes as a package deal with life. According to these Suttas, both the untutored worldling and the wise noble disciple are subject to decay, disease and death. So what is the difference?

    While the untutored worldling sorrows and reacts negatively to the 3 great badness, taking them personally (that is, in terms of “I,” “me” and “mine”), the wise noble disciple sees them in an existential context, that is, as worldly phenomena. They are all a natural part of our existence. In other words, we have a choice in how we respond to them and as such are untroubled by their effects.

    1.5 The Buddha’s teaching, in essence, is

    (1) understanding and accepting these badness as they are,
    (2) seeing the condition for their arising, that is, ignorance,
    (3) envisioning an ideal state of true happiness, that is, the destruction of the 3 badness, and
    (4) working towards freeing ourselves from the 3 badness.

    This is, of course, a restatement of the four noble truths.

    continue...

    Mada Sutta
    Any Comments are welcome


  2. #2
    There's an alternate translation of AN 3.39 (beginning with the Buddha's recollection of his youth) at Sutta Central, a developing site which:

    "aims at facilitating the study of Buddhist texts from comparative and historical perspectives. It focuses on the texts that represent “Early Buddhism”, texts preserved not only in the Pali Sutta and Vinaya Piṭakas but also in Chinese and Tibetan translations and in fragmentary remains in Sanskrit and other languages."
    Its interesting that the first section of this translation is mentioned in Piya Tan's comments at the beginning of the dharmafarer.org link in post #1 as being, according to the Pali Text Society, a continuation of the preceding Sukhumāla Sutta (A 3.38). However, personally I think the first section below (from the Sutta Central translation) - up to: "When I reflected thus, my intoxication with life was completely abandoned." - helps to put the second part in context.

    In general, I'm not so keen on the idea that after death people can be reborn, " in the lower world, in hell" if they get things wrong, as the opposite to the possibility of nibbana if practice goes well when one is alive. It seems rather similar to the extremes of heaven & hell which provide morality systems in many other religious beliefs throughout the ages. (but that's the subject of a different topic to this one!)


    AN 3.39. Delicate

    “Bhikkhus, I was delicately nurtured, most delicately nurtured, extremely delicately nurtured. At my father’s residence lotus ponds were made just for my enjoyment: in one of them blue lotuses bloomed, in another red lotuses, and in a third white lotuses. I used no sandalwood unless it came from Kāsi and my headdress, jacket, lower garment, and upper garment were made of cloth from Kāsi. By day and by night a white canopy was held over me so that cold and heat, dust, grass, and dew would not settle on me.

    “I had three mansions: one for the winter, one for the summer, and one for the rainy season. I spent the four months of the rains in the rainy-season mansion, being entertained by musicians, none of whom were male, and I did not leave the mansion. While in other people’s homes slaves, workers, and servants are given broken rice together with sour gruel for their meals, in my father’s residence they were given choice hill rice, meat, and boiled rice.

    (1) “Amid such splendor and a delicate life, it occurred to me: ‘An uninstructed worldling, though himself subject to old age, not exempt from old age, feels repelled, humiliated, and disgusted when he sees another who is old, overlooking his own situation. Now I too am subject to old age and am not exempt from old age. Such being the case, if I were to feel repelled, humiliated, and disgusted when seeing another who is old, that would not be proper for me.’ When I reflected thus, my intoxication with youth was completely abandoned.

    (2) “Again, it occurred to me: ‘An uninstructed worldling, though himself subject to illness, not exempt from illness, feels repelled, humiliated, and disgusted when he sees another who is ill, overlooking his own situation. Now I too am subject to illness and am not exempt from illness. Such being the case, if I were to feel repelled, humiliated, and disgusted when seeing another who is ill, that would not be proper for me.’ When I reflected thus, my intoxication with health was completely abandoned.

    (3) “Again, it occurred to me: ‘An uninstructed worldling, though himself subject to death, not exempt from death, feels repelled, humiliated, and disgusted when he sees another who has died, overlooking his own situation. Now I too am subject to death and am not exempt from death. Such being the case, if I were to feel repelled, humiliated, and disgusted when seeing another who has died, that would not be proper for me.’ When I reflected thus, my intoxication with life was completely abandoned.

    “There are, bhikkhus, these three kinds of intoxication. What three? Intoxication with youth, intoxication with health, and intoxication with life. (1) An uninstructed worldling, intoxicated with youth, engages in misconduct by body, speech, and mind. With the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the plane of misery, in a bad destination, in the lower world, in hell. (2) An uninstructed worldling, intoxicated with health, engages in misconduct by body, speech, and mind. With the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the plane of misery, in a bad destination, in the lower world, in hell. (3) An uninstructed worldling, intoxicated with life, engages in misconduct by body, speech, and mind. With the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the plane of misery, in a bad destination, in the lower world, in hell.

    “Intoxicated with youth, a bhikkhu gives up the training and reverts to the lower life; or intoxicated with health, he gives up the training and reverts to the lower life; or intoxicated with life, he gives up the training and reverts to the lower life.

    “Worldlings subject to illness,
    old age, and death, are disgusted
    by other people who exist
    in accordance with their nature.

    “If I were to become disgusted
    with beings who have such a nature,
    that would not be proper for me
    since I too have the same nature.

    “While I was dwelling thus,
    having known the state without acquisitions,
    I overcame all intoxications—
    intoxication with health,
    with youth, and with life—
    having seen security in renunciation.

    “Zeal then arose in me
    as I clearly saw nibbāna.
    Now I am incapable
    of indulging in sensual pleasures.
    Relying on the spiritual life,
    never will I turn back.”

    https://suttacentral.net/en/an3.39

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