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Thread: The Deathless

  1. #1

    The Deathless

    Dear friends,

    What is your understanding of "the deathless" in the suttas ?

    Example:


    Amata Sutta : Deathless (SN 47:41)


    At Savatthi. “Monks, remain with your minds well-established in the four establishings of mindfulness. Don’t let the deathless be lost for you.

    “In which four? There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself—ardent, alert, & mindful—subduing greed & distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings… mind… mental qualities in & of themselves—ardent, alert, & mindful—subduing greed & distress with reference to the world.

    “Monks, remain with your minds well-established in these four establishings of mindfulness. Don’t let the deathless be lost for you.”

    https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/SN/SN47_41.html



  2. #2
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    It's a reminder of one aspect of insight experiences, that of the overwhelming feeling of being part of the infinite. I have read warnings about trying to hold on to this feeling afterwards and to analyse it and give it substance. At which point it is lost to you.

    here's another link to the subject: https://www.insightmeditation.org/in...rds-the-deathl

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    Looking at how it appears in the suttas, amata seems to be a synonym for Nibbana. I think it's actually a Brahmanic idea which the Buddha reworked.

    On the other hand there is this Dhammapada verse - I'm not sure what is meant by "The heedful do not die":

    "Heedfulness: the path to the Deathless.
    Heedlessness: the path to death.
    The heedful do not die.
    The heedless are as if
    already dead."

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipi...p.02.than.html

  4. #4
    Forums Member Polar Bear's Avatar
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    There are no articles in Pali, neither a definite article ‘the’ nor an indefinite article ‘a(n)’. There also isn’t any capitalization in Pali. So there is not necessarily The Deathless but rather deathlessness or freedom from death. I tend to favor a non-substantialist interpretation. That being said, some suttas do seem to lend themselves to a more upanishadic style substantialist immortal-element aka Amata-dhatu. The suttas may not all be consistent with each other. I think underlying the idea of ‘The Deathless’ is ‘Lust for Being’ whereas being attached to nothing, relying on nothing, not even some ultimate reality, this is ultimate and unsurpassable transcendence and it is freedom from death through non-identification.


    “For those standing in the middle of a lake, Kappa,” said the Gracious One,
    “when a fearful flood has arisen,
    for those overcome by old age and death, I speak about an island, Kappa:
    “Having nothing, no attachment, this is the island with nothing beyond,
    this is called Nibbāna, I say, the end of old age and death.
    “Knowing this, those who are mindful, who are emancipated in this very life,
    come not under Māra’s control, they are not servants to Māra.”

    https://suttacentral.net/snp5.11/en/anandajoti

  5. #5
    Forums Member manoPG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polar Bear View Post
    There are no articles in Pali, neither a definite article ‘the’ nor an indefinite article ‘a(n)’. There also isn’t any capitalization in Pali. So there is not necessarily The Deathless but rather deathlessness or freedom from death. I tend to favor a non-substantialist interpretation. That being said, some suttas do seem to lend themselves to a more upanishadic style substantialist immortal-element aka Amata-dhatu. The suttas may not all be consistent with each other. I think underlying the idea of ‘The Deathless’ is ‘Lust for Being’ whereas being attached to nothing, relying on nothing, not even some ultimate reality, this is ultimate and unsurpassable transcendence and it is freedom from death through non-identification.




    Good post!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Polar Bear View Post
    There are no articles in Pali, neither a definite article ‘the’ nor an indefinite article ‘a(n)’. There also isn’t any capitalization in Pali. So there is not necessarily The Deathless but rather deathlessness or freedom from death. I tend to favor a non-substantialist interpretation. That being said, some suttas do seem to lend themselves to a more upanishadic style substantialist immortal-element aka Amata-dhatu. The suttas may not all be consistent with each other. I think underlying the idea of ‘The Deathless’ is ‘Lust for Being’ whereas being attached to nothing, relying on nothing, not even some ultimate reality, this is ultimate and unsurpassable transcendence and it is freedom from death through non-identification.
    Actually I think the suttas are somewhat ambiguous, which is why there are substantialist and non-substantialist interpretations of both amata and Nibbana.

  7. #7
    This is a talk from Ajahn Amaro in which he discusses "the deathless" and "the unconditioned".





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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    This is a talk from Ajahn Amaro in which he discusses "the deathless" and "the unconditioned".




    Sorry but I'm logging in at a public library and it's difficult for me to watch stuff like this at the moment. Could you say briefly what his interpretation of these two terms is?

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Whippet
    ....it's difficult for me to watch stuff like this at the moment. Could you say briefly what his interpretation of these two terms is?
    There isn't anything to watch - its an audio recording of a talk he gave in 2013... and I just don't have any time right now to check back through the details of what he said , sorry.

    Maybe someone who's interested might be able to listen without any difficulties and summarise it.


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