Thread: Will All Beings Attain Liberation?

  1. #1

    Will All Beings Attain Liberation?

    Dear friends,

    Any comments about this sutta ?


    AN 10.95 Uttiya Sutta : Will All Beings Attain Liberation?

    On one occasion a wandering ascetic named Uttiya approached the Blessed One. After
    exchanging greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and asked the Blessed One: “How is it, Master Gotama: is the world eternal—is only this true and everything else false?”

    “This, Uttiya, I have not declared: that the world is eternal; and that only this is true and
    everything else false.”

    “How then, Master Gotama: is the world non-eternal—is only this true and everything else
    false?”

    “That, too, Uttiya, I have not declared: that the world is non-eternal; and that only this is trueand everything else false.”

    “How is it, Master Gotama: is the world finite or infinite? Are the life principle and the bodythe same or different? Does the Tathāgata exist after death or does he not exist after death? Does he exist as well as not exist or neither exist nor not exist after death? Is any one of these statements the only one that is true and everything else false?”

    “All that, Uttiya, I have not declared: that the world is finite … that the Tathāgata neither
    exists nor does not exist after death; nor do I declare that any one of these statements is the only true one and everything else false.”

    “But how is it, Master Gotama? To all my questions you have replied that you have not so
    declared. What, after all, does Master Gotama actually declare?”

    “Having directly known it, Uttiya, I have taught the Dhamma to my disciples for the
    purification of beings, for getting beyond sorrow and lamentation, for the ending of pain and grief, for attaining to the method of liberation and for realising Nibbāna.”

    “But if Master Gotama, from direct knowledge, teaches the Dhamma to his disciples for the purification of beings, for getting beyond sorrow and lamentation, for the ending of pain and grief, for attaining to the method of liberation and for realising Nibbāna, will the whole world thereby be emancipated, or half of it or a third part of it?”

    At these words, the Blessed One kept silent.(1)

    Then this thought occurred to the Venerable Ānanda: “May Uttiya the wanderer not conceive a harmful opinion, by thinking, ’When I asked the ascetic Gotama a question on an ultimate issue, he foundered and did not reply. Probably he was unable to do so.’ For such a view would bring harm and suffering to Uttiya for a long time.”

    Then the Venerable Ānanda turned to Uttiya, saying: “I shall give you a simile, friend Uttiya, for with the help of a simile intelligent people may come to understand the meaning of what was said.

    “Suppose, friend Uttiya, there is a king’s border town, with strong ramparts and turrets on sound foundations, and with a single gate. There is also a gate-keeper, intelligent, experienced and prudent, who keeps out people unknown and admits only those who are known. That gatekeeper walks along the path that girdles the town all round, and while doing so he does not notice in the ramparts any hole or opening, not even one big enough for a cat to slip through.Though he does not have the knowledge of how many creatures enter the town or leave it, yet he does know this: ’Any larger creatures that enter or leave this town can do so only by this gate.’

    “Similarly, friend Uttiya, the Tathāgata is not concerned with whether the entire world will
    be emancipated by his teaching or half of it or a third part. But the Tathāgata is aware that whosoever has been emancipated, is now emancipated or will be emancipated from the world,all these will do so by removing the five hindrances that defile the mind and weaken understanding, by firmly establishing their minds in the four foundations of mindfulness, and by cultivating the seven factors of enlightenment in their true nature.

    That same question, friend Uttiya, which you had asked the Blessed One before, you have asked him again in another way.” (2)

    http://www.urbandharma.org/pdf1/wh23...araNikaya3.pdf

    [Number 22 -The Chapter of the Tens at the above link]

  2. #2
    From the notes to the above sutta:

    (1) The Blessed One remained silent because the question was an inadmissable one, being based upon the wrong view of a self.

    (2) Uttiya’s earlier questions about the eternity of the world, etc., as well as his later question about the salvation of the entire world, both belong to the class of questions that are “to be put aside” because they presuppose non-existent substantial entities, be it the generalized concept of “the world” or the notion of an abiding self.

  3. #3
    Forums Member Trilaksana's Avatar
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    I think this state from the Buddha is the key to understanding why he remained silent and why.

    “Having directly known it, Uttiya, I have taught the Dhamma to my disciples for the
    purification of beings, for getting beyond sorrow and lamentation, for the ending of pain and grief, for attaining to the method of liberation and for realising Nibbāna.”

    I think the Buddha may answered with "I have not declared" because he hadn't and because "it is not related to the goal" I think the Simsapa Sutta is relevant. The Buddha remained silent because he had already explained why it is he doesn't teach these things.

    At one time the Blessed One was staying at Kosambii in Si.msapaa Grove.[1] Then the Blessed One, taking a few Si.msapaa leaves in his hand, said to the monks: "What do you think, monks? Which are the more numerous, the few leaves I have here in my hand, or those up in the trees of the grove?"

    "Lord, the Blessed One is holding only a few leaves: those up in the trees are far more numerous."

    "In the same way, monks, there are many more things that I have found out, but not revealed to you.[2] What I have revealed to you is only a little. And why, monks, have I not revealed it?

    "Because, monks, it is not related to the goal, it is not fundamental to the holy life, does not conduce to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, tranquillity, higher knowledge, enlightenment or Nibbaana. That is why I have not revealed it. And what, monks, have I revealed?

    "What I have revealed is: 'This is Suffering, this is the Arising of Suffering, this is the Cessation of Suffering, and this is the Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering.' And why, monks, have I revealed it?

    "Because this is related to the goal, fundamental to the holy life, conduces to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, tranquillity, higher knowledge, enlightenment and Nibbaana, therefore I have revealed it.

    "Therefore, monks, your task is to learn: 'This is Suffering, this is the Arising of Suffering, this is the Cessation of Suffering, this is the Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering.' That is your task."
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipit....031.wlsh.html

    I hadn't considered the interpretation that it has to do with the questions being based on the misperception of a self. That's an interesting idea that I think I should investigate more closely.
    Last edited by Trilaksana; 25 Mar 14 at 02:20.

  4. #4
    I think this sutta helps to clarify that the idea of "saving all sentient beings" was a much later development after the death of the Buddha.


  5. #5
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    The Buddha is teaching wisdom not knowledge, it is knowledge that is irrelevant to the Buddha in the above passage. Not to say Knowledge is useless but to say you can know so much then you have to go out there and live it, experience it to perceive true knowledge of reality which is "wisdom".

    It's also inherent in the limitations of language to accurately describe reality.

    The Greek word Gnosis has also been used to describe this insight of knowing.



    "gnosis (-g·no·sis): From Greek γνῶσις. Knowledge.

    The higher meaning of Gnosis is knowledge from experience, especially experience of divinity or that which is beyond the five senses.The word Gnosis does not refer to knowledge that we are told or believe in. Gnosis is conscious, experiential knowledge, not merely intellectual or conceptual knowledge, belief, or theory. This term is synonymous with the Hebrew דעת "da'ath," the Arabic ma'rifah, the Tibetan rigpa (knowing), and the Sanskrit "jna."

    Gnosis can also refer to the tradition that embodies the core wisdom or knowledge of humanity, although in the physical world it has not been known by that name, but instead has adopted varying appearances according to culture, time, and place."

    http://gnosticteachings.org/the-teac...is-gnosis.html


    "Wisdom can be of three types: wisdom gained by listening to others, that which is gained by intellectual analysis, and wisdom developed from direct, personal experience. Before Buddha, and even at the time of Buddha, there were teachers who were teaching morality, were teaching concentration, and who were also talking about wisdom. But this wisdom was only received or intellectualized wisdom. It was not wisdom gained by personal experience. Buddha found that one may play any number of intellectual or devotional games, but unless he experiences the truth himself, and develops wisdom from his personal experience, he will not be liberated. Vipassana is personally experienced wisdom. One may listen to discourses or read scriptures. Or one may use the intellect and try to understand: "Yes, Buddha's teaching is wonderful! This wisdom is wonderful!" But that is not direct experience of wisdom."

    http://www.pariyatti.org/FreeResourc...0/Default.aspx

  6. #6
    Forums Member John Marder's Avatar
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    I think this sutta helps to clarify that the idea of "saving all sentient beings" was a much later development after the death of the Buddha.
    Aloka.Why then did the Buddha dedicate his life to spreading his teaching after his awakening? Surely he intended that people could 'realise Nibbana', or are you saying that he wouldn't have thought all people could achieve that?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMarder

    Aloka.Why then did the Buddha dedicate his life to spreading his teaching after his awakening? Surely he intended that people could 'realise Nibbana', or are you saying that he wouldn't have thought all people could achieve that?
    Hi John,

    The idea of people taking Bodhisattva vows in order to "save all sentient beings" was a later Mahayana development.

    The Buddha taught others about the path to Nibbana but as far as I'm aware, there aren't any Pali Canon suttas where he declares that he intends to save all sentient beings, or that others should have that ideal themselves.

    From the sutta #1

    Quote Originally Posted by Uttiya Sutta
    "the Tathāgata is not concerned with whether the entire world will be emancipated by his teaching"
    Just a little reminder that this is the Sutta Studies forum, by the way, (see pinned guidelines) so therefore any further discussion on the idea of all beings being "saved" & becoming enlightened, could take place in one of the other forums if required.

    Many thanks,

    Aloka

  8. #8
    ...and returning to this topic a few years later, here's a different translation of the same sutta from Bhikkhu Sujato :



    10.95. With Uttiya



    Then the wanderer Uttiya went up to the Buddha, and exchanged greetings with him.

    When the greetings and polite conversation were over, he sat down to one side and said to the Buddha, “Master Gotama, is this right: ‘The world is eternal. This is the only truth, other ideas are silly’?”

    “This has not been declared by me, Uttiya.”

    “Then is this right: ‘The world is not eternal. This is the only truth, other ideas are silly’?”

    “This has not been declared by me, Uttiya.”

    “Then is this right: ‘The world is finite …’ … ‘The world is infinite …’ … ‘The soul and the body are the same thing …’ … ‘The soul and the body are different things …’ … ‘A Realized One exists after death …’ … ‘A Realized One doesn’t exist after death …’ … ‘A Realized One both exists and doesn’t exist after death …’ … ‘A Realized One neither exists nor doesn’t exist after death. This is the only truth, other ideas are silly’?”

    “This has not been declared by me, Uttiya.”

    “When asked about all these points, Master Gotama says that they have not been declared by him.


    So what exactly has been declared by Master Gotama?”

    “Uttiya, I teach my disciples from my own insight in order to purify sentient beings, to get past sorrow and crying, to make an end of pain and sadness, to end the cycle of suffering, and to realize extinguishment.”

    “But when Master Gotama teaches in this way, is the whole world saved, or half, or a third?” But when he said this, the Buddha kept silent.

    Then Venerable Ānanda thought, “The wanderer Uttiya must not get the harmful misconception: ‘When the ascetic Gotama was asked this all-important question he falters without answering. He just can’t do it!’ That would be for his lasting harm and suffering.”

    Then Ānanda said to the wanderer Uttiya, “Well then, Reverend Uttiya, I shall give you a simile. For by means of a simile some sensible people understand the meaning of what is said. Suppose there was a king’s frontier citadel with fortified embankments, ramparts, and arches, and a single gate. And it has a gatekeeper who is astute, competent, and clever. He keeps strangers out and lets known people in. As he walks around the patrol path, he doesn’t see a hole or cleft in the wall, not even one big enough for a cat to slip out. He doesn’t know how many creatures enter or leave the citadel. But he does know that whatever sizable creatures enter or leave the citadel, all of them do so via this gate.

    In the same way, it’s not the Realized One’s concern whether the whole world is saved by this, or half, or a third. But the Realized One knows that whoever is saved from the world—whether in the past, the future, or the present—all have given up the five hindrances, corruptions of the heart that weaken wisdom. They have firmly established their mind in the four kinds of mindfulness meditation. And they have truly developed the seven awakening factors. That’s how they’re saved from the world, in the past, future, or present. Uttiya, you were just asking the Buddha the same question as before in a different way. That’s why he didn’t answer.”


    https://suttacentral.net/an10.95/en/sujato



  9. #9
    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
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    This sutta reminds me of a Zen story:

    During the Kamakura period, Shinkan studied Tendai six years and then studied Zen seven years; then he went to China and contemplated Zen for thirteen years more.
    When he returned to Japan many desire to interview him and asked obscure questions. But when Shinkan received visitors, which was infrequently, he seldom answered their questions.
    One day a fifty year old student of enlightenment said to Shinkan: 'I have studied the Tendai school or thought since I was a little boy, but one thing in it I cannot understand. Tendai claims that even the grass and trees will become enlightened. To me this is very strange'
    'Of what use is it to discuss how grass and trees become enlightened?' asked Shinkan. 'The question is how you yourself can become so. Did you ever considered that?'
    'I never thought of it in that way' marveled the old man.'
    'Then go home and think it over' finished Shinkan.
    Zen Flesh, Zen Bones
    Paul Reps

  10. #10
    Forums Member Thinker's Avatar
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    I like to think the Buddha noticed the high intelligence of the the questions, questions no doubt he had pondered himself, but unworldly questions that no man could answer, then he gave a cut to the chase answer about what his teachings were really about - The human condition!

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