Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa


Introduction to 3.8.9 - Pahānasuttaṃ 

Forsaking rāga, paṭighā and avijjā   


“Anto jaṭā1 bahijaṭā, jaṭāya jaṭitā pajā;

taṃ taṃ gotama pucchāmi, ko imaṃ vijaṭaye jaṭan”ti

 

“Sīle patiṭṭhāya naro sapañño, cittaṃ paññañca bhāvayaṃ;

ātāpī nipako bhikkhu, so imaṃ vijaṭaye jaṭaṃ.

Yesaṃ rāgo ca doso ca, avijjā ca virājitā2;

khīṇāsavā arahanto, tesaṃ vijaṭitā jaṭāti.”3

 

 

A tangle within, a tangle without, people are entangled in a tangle.

Gotama, I ask you this - who can untangle this tangle?

 

A man established in sīla, wise, developing wisdom and mind,

Such a Bhikkhu ardent and prudent - he can untangle this tangle.

Those whose passion, aversion, and ignorance are removed,

Those arahants, their impurities destroyed - for them the tangle gets untangled.4

 

     ‘Pahāna’ can be translated as ‘giving up, forsaking, abandoning, leaving behind and getting rid of’. This term, the ability of ‘pahāna’, the effort to forsake, to abandon or to get rid of –‘pajahati/pajāhati’– is a quality to be cultivated by every follower of the path. Based on proper understanding of this, firm resolve should be fostered in the effort to forsake what should be left behind –‘pahātabba’ intended to achieve subsequent knowledge and realisation that ‘what had to be forsaken’ is left behind –‘pahīnan’!

     Already when the Buddha delivered his very first sutta, the Dhammacakkappavattanasuttaṃ  to the group of five –pañcavaggiye bhikkhū– he explained that for his own realization it was obligatory to completely ‘forsake, abandon, leave behind’ in order to realize full enlightenment5:

“… Taṃ kho panidaṃ dukkhasamudayaṃ ariyasaccaṃ pahātabban’ti me, bhikkhave, pubbe ananussutesu dhammesu cakkhuṃ udapādi, ñāṇaṃ udapādi, paññā udapādi, vijjā udapādi, āloko udapādi.

Taṃ kho panidaṃ dukkhasamudayaṃ ariyasaccaṃ pahīnan’ti me, bhikkhave, pubbe ananussutesu dhammesu cakkhuṃ udapādi, ñāṇaṃ udapādi, paññā udapādi, vijjā udapādi, āloko udapādi….”

“… This Noble Truth of the Arising of Suffering should be left behind!’ which was, Bhikkhus, unheard by me before amongst the truths and here the vision arose, knowledge arose, insight arose, wisdom arose, light arose.

This Noble Truth of the Arising of Suffering is left behind!’ which was, Bhikkhus, unheard by me before amongst the doctrines and here the vision arose, knowledge arose, insight arose, wisdom arose, light arose.6

 

     Even so rather short, the Pahānasutta encompasses the whole essence of the Noble Eightfold Path by unfolding the essential interrelation and reciprocal connection between the three kinds of sensations with the foundations of all impurities lobho, doso, moho. It is the objective observation of arising, staying and passing away of any sensation that enables the meditator to gradually let go, abandon and leave behind his imprisonment and entanglement to lobho, doso, moho.7

     The Buddha called these the ‘three inner stains, inner rivals, inner foes, inner murderers and inner opponents’:

‘‘Tayome, bhikkhave, antarāmalā antarāamittā antarāsapattā8 antarāvadhakā9 antarāpaccatthikā10. Katame tayo?

Lobho, bhikkhave, antarāmalo antarāamitto antarāsapatto antarāvadhako antarāpaccatthiko. Doso, bhikkhave, antarāmalo antarāamitto antarāsapatto antarāvadhako antarāpaccatthiko. Moho, bhikkhave, antarāmalo antarāamitto antarāsapatto antarāvadhako antarāpaccatthiko. Ime kho, bhikkhave, tayo antarāmalā antarāamittā antarāsapattā antarāvadhakā antarāpaccatthikā’’ti.11

“There are, Bhikkhus, three inner stains, three inner enemies, three inner fools, three inner murderers, three inner opponents. What are the three?

Greed, Bhikkhus, is the inner stain, the inner enemy, the inner fool, the inner murderer, the inner opponent. Aversion, Bhikkhus, is the inner stain, the inner enemy, the inner fool, the inner murderer, the inner opponent. Delusion, Bhikkhus is the inner stain, the inner enemy, the inner fool, the inner murderer, the inner opponent.

These three, Bhikkhus, are the inner stains, the inner enemies, the inner fools, the inner murderers, the inner opponents.”


     In the Pahānasutta the Buddha very clearly designates the task for every meditator when he requests them to abandon these dormant tendencies –anusayo pahātabbo:

“… Sukhāya, bhikkhave, vedanāya rāgānusayo pahātabbo, dukkhāya vedanāya paṭighānusayo pahātabbo, adukkhamasukhāya vedanāya avijjānusayo pahātabbo….”

“… In the case of pleasant sensations, Bhikkhus, the dormant tendency towards greed should be given up; in the case of unpleasant sensations, the dormant tendency towards aversion should be given up; in the case of neutral, neither-unpleasant-nor-pleasant sensations, the dormant tendency towards ignorance should be given up….”

 

     Under this perspective the quality of ‘pahāna’ signifies its ability as adversary and opponent to combat the all encircling craving –taṇha– that manifests itself in all sorts of impurities rooted in lobho, doso, moho and thus encumbers one seeing beyond further and impedes discerning Dhamma:

‘‘Anatthajanano lobho, lobho cittappakopano12;

Bhayamantarato jātaṃ, taṃ jano nāvabujjhati13.

Luddho14 atthaṃ na jānāti, luddho dhammaṃ na passati;

Andhatamaṃ15 tadā hoti, yaṃ lobho sahate naraṃ.”

“Greed produces misfortune, greed agitates the mind,

the danger born within is not understood by such a person.

The greedy does not understand his welfare,

the greedy does not see dhamma.

Utterly blind at such a time, is a person overcome by greed.”

 

‘‘Anatthajanano doso, doso cittappakopano;

Bhayamantarato jātaṃ, taṃ jano nāvabujjhati.

Duṭṭho16 atthaṃ na jānāti, duṭṭho dhammaṃ na passati;

Andhatamaṃ tadā hoti, yaṃ doso sahate naraṃ.”

“Aversion produces misfortune, aversion agitates the mind,

the danger born within is not understood by such a person.

Full of aversion such a person does not understand his welfare,

full of aversion he does not see the dhamma.

Utterly blind at such a time is a person overcome by aversion.”

 

‘‘Anatthajanano moho, moho cittappakopano;

Bhayamantarato jātaṃ, taṃ jano nāvabujjhati.

Mūḷho17 atthaṃ na jānāti, mūḷho dhammaṃ na passati;

Andhatamaṃ tadā hoti, yaṃ moho sahate naraṃ.”

“Delusion produces misfortune, delusion agitates the mind,

the danger born within is not understood by such a person.

The deluded one does not understand his welfare,

Full of delusion, such a person does not see dhamma.

Utterly blind at such a time is a person overcome by delusion.”

 

So when the Pahānasutta further highlights that, the above request of the Buddha 

fulfilled – ‘yesaṃ rāgo ca doso ca, avijjā ca virājitā’ –such a person can be truly called: 

“… one who has cut off craving–acchecchi taṇhaṃ”:

 

Yo ca lobhaṃ pahantvāna, lobhaneyye na lubbhati;18

Lobho pahīyate tamhā, udabindūva pokkharā.

That one who has left greed behind, who does not roll in thoughts of craving,

To him greed slips away like water drops from lotus flower.

Yo ca dosaṃ pahantvāna, dosaneyye na dussati;19

Doso pahīyate tamhā, tālapakkaṃva bandhanā.

One who has left aversion behind and does not roll in thoughts of anger,

From him aversion drops away as a palm fruit loses its bondage.

Yo ca mohaṃ pahantvāna, mohaneyye na muyhati;20

Mohaṃ vihanti so sabbaṃ, ādiccovudayaṃ21 tama’’nti.

That one who has left delusion behind and does not get bewildered by deluded thoughts.

Makes an end to all delusion as sunrise puts an end to darkness.”


1. jaṭā: tangle

2. virājitā: (pp. of virājeti): destroyed, removed

3. Jaṭāsutta, Suttantapiṭaka, Saṃyuttanikāye, Sagāthāvaggapāḷi

4. This core question, often referred to, here asked by the Brahman Jata Bharadvaja who entered Enlightenment after the Buddha’s answer. The same verse and its detailed explanation likewise opens the Visuddhimaggo. It is said that Bhadantācaria Buddhagosa had been asked by his Elder (Saṅgharāja/Saṅghapāla) to construe the Three Piṭakas based on this verse which resulted in the Visuddhimaggo.

5. see 3.2.3 Dhammacakkappavattanasuttaṃ-2 - The Four Noble Truths Have to Be Fully Realized; but also 3.1.3 Dhammacakkappavattanasuttaṃ-1 - Avoiding two Extremes and Pursuing the Middle Path

6. This passage refers to the passage of dukkhasamudayaṃ ariyasaccaṃ, likewise the three complemental sections of the Four Noble Truths (dukkhaṃ ariyasaccaṃ, dukkhanirodhaṃ ariyasaccaṃ, dukkhanirodhagāminī paṭipadā ariyasaccaṃ) need to be realised threefold. See for details: 3.2.3 Dhammacakkappavattanasuttaṃ-2 - The Four Noble Truths Have to Be Fully Realized

7. lesson 3.8.11 Sallasuttaṃ – Removal of lobho, doso, moho - The essential Distinction and Difference between a puthujjano and an ariyasāvako.

8. antarāsapattā: antarā + sapattā: inner + rival, foe

9antarāvadhakā: antarā + vadhakā: inner + murderer, executioner

10. antarāpaccatthikā: antarā + paccatthikā: inner + opponent, enemy

11. Antarāmalasuttaṃ, Catutthavaggo, Tikanipāto, Khuddakanikāye, Itivuttakapāḷi

12. cittappakopano: citta + p + pakopano: mind + agitating

13. nāvabujjhati: na + avabujjhati: not + understand

14. luddho: greedy, covetous

15. andhatamaṃ: andha + tamaṃ:

16. duṭṭho: spoilt, wicked, corrupt

17. mūḷho: ignorant, foolish

18. lubbhati: to be greedy, covet

19. dussati: be corrupted, do wrong

20. muyhati: be infatuated, get bewildered

21. ādiccovudayaṃ: ādicco + v + udayaṃ: sun +rise

***

Pāli lesson (with audio) 3.8.9

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Last modified: Wednesday, 19 January 2022, 12:12 PM