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SN 35.204 (245): Kimsuka Sutta:The Riddle Tree - Dhamma Wheel

SN 35.204 (245): Kimsuka Sutta:The Riddle Tree

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SN 35.204 (245): Kimsuka Sutta:The Riddle Tree

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:35 am

SN 35.204 PTS: S iv 191 CDB ii 1251 (corresponds to CDB SN 35.245)
Kimsuka Sutta: The Riddle Tree
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


The Buddha explains how tranquillity (samatha) and insight (vipassana) function together as a "swift pair of messengers" to guide the meditator onwards to Nibbana.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

A certain monk went to another monk and, on arrival, said to him, "To what extent, my friend, is a monk's vision said to be well-purified?"

"When a monk discerns, as it actually is, the origination & passing away of the six media of sensory contact, my friend, it is to that extent that his vision is said to be well-purified."

The first monk, dissatisfied with the other monk's answer to his question, went to still another monk and, on arrival, said to him, "To what extent, my friend, is a monk's vision said to be well-purified?"

"When a monk discerns, as it actually is, the origination & passing away of the five clinging-aggregates, my friend, it is to that extent that his vision is said to be well-purified."

The first monk, dissatisfied with this monk's answer to his question, went to still another monk and, on arrival, said to him, "To what extent, my friend, is a monk's vision said to be well-purified?"

"When a monk discerns, as it actually is, the origination & passing away of the four great elements [earth, water, wind, & fire], my friend, it is to that extent that his vision is said to be well-purified."

The first monk, dissatisfied with this monk's answer to his question, went to still another monk and, on arrival, said to him, "To what extent, my friend, is a monk's vision said to be well-purified?"

"When a monk discerns, as it actually is, that whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation, my friend, it is to that extent that his vision is said to be well-purified."

The first monk, dissatisfied with this monk's answer to his question, then went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he [reported to the Blessed One his conversations with the other monks. The Blessed One then said:]

"Monk, it's as if there were a man who had never seen a riddle tree.[1] He would go to another man who had seen one and, on arrival, would say to him, 'What, my good man, is a riddle tree like?"

"The other would say, 'A riddle tree is black, my good man, like a burnt stump.' For at the time he saw it, that's what the riddle tree was like.

"Then the first man, dissatisfied with the other man's answer, went to still another man who had seen a riddle tree and, on arrival, said to him, 'What, my good man, is a riddle tree like?'

"The other would say, 'A riddle tree is red, my good man, like a lump of meat.' For at the time he saw it, that's what the riddle tree was like.

"Then the first man, dissatisfied with this man's answer, went to still another man who had seen a riddle tree and, on arrival, said to him, 'What, my good man, is a riddle tree like?'

"The other would say, 'A riddle tree is stripped of its bark, my good man, and has burst pods, like an acacia tree.' For at the time he saw it, that's what the riddle tree was like.

"Then the first man, dissatisfied with this man's answer, went to still another man who had seen a riddle tree and, on arrival, said to him, 'What, my good man, is a riddle tree like?'

"The other would say, 'A riddle tree has thick foliage, my good man, and gives a dense shade, like a banyan.' For at the time he saw it, that's what the riddle tree was like.

"In the same way, monk, however those intelligent men of integrity were focused when their vision became well purified is the way in which they answered.

"Suppose, monk, that there were a royal frontier fortress with strong walls & ramparts and six gates. In it would be a wise, experienced, intelligent gatekeeper to keep out those he didn't know and to let in those he did. A swift pair of messengers, coming from the east, would say to the gatekeeper, 'Where, my good man, is the commander of this fortress?' He would say, 'There he is, sirs, sitting in the central square.' The swift pair of messengers, delivering their accurate report to the commander of the fortress, would then go back by the route by which they had come. Then a swift pair of messengers, coming from the west... the north... the south, would say to the gatekeeper, 'Where, my good man, is the commander of this fortress?' He would say, 'There he is, sirs, sitting in the central square.' The swift pair of messengers, delivering their accurate report to the commander of the fortress, would then go back by the route by which they had come.

"I have given you this simile, monk, to convey a message. The message is this: The fortress stands for this body — composed of four elements, born of mother & father, nourished with rice & barley gruel, subject to constant rubbing & abrasion, to breaking & falling apart. The six gates stand for the six internal sense media. The gatekeeper stands for mindfulness. The swift pair of messengers stands for tranquillity (samatha) and insight (vipassana). The commander of the fortress stands for consciousness. The central square stands for the four great elements: the earth-property, the liquid-property, the fire-property, & the wind-property. The accurate report stands for Unbinding (nibbana). The route by which they had come stands for the noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration."

Note

1. Literally, a "what's it" tree — apparently Butea frondosa, the flame of the forest. It is often the subject of riddles in lands where it grows because its seasonal changes — e.g., losing all its leaves just before its striking red flowers bloom — are so vivid and unusual.

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Re: SN 35.204 (245): Kimsuka Sutta:The Riddle Tree

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:38 am

SN 35.204 PTS: S iv 191 CDB ii 1251 (corresponds to CDB SN 35.245)
Ki.msukaa Sutta: The 'What's It' Tree (Ki.msuka)
translated from the Pali by Maurice O'Connell Walshe


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html

[1] A certain monk visited another monk and said: "Tell me, friend, how does a monk's vision become fully purified?"

"Friend, when a monk fully comprehends as they really are the arising and passing away of the six spheres of contact,[2] to that extent his vision becomes fully purified."

But that monk was dissatisfied with the other's answer, so he went to another monk...

"Friend, when a monk fully comprehends as they really are the arising and passing away of the five groups of clinging,[3] to that extent his vision becomes fully purified."

But that monk was dissatisfied with the other's answer, and he went to another monk...

"Friend, when a monk fully comprehends as they really are the arising and passing away of the four great elements,[4] to that extent his vision becomes fully purified."

But that monk was dissatisfied with the other's answer, so he went to another monk...

"Friend, when a monk fully comprehends as it really is that whatever is of a nature to arise is bound to pass away,[5] to that extent his vision becomes fully purified."

But that monk was dissatisfied with the other's answer, and he went to the Blessed One...

"Suppose, monk, a man had never seen a 'what's it' tree. So he went to someone who had seen one,[6] and said: 'Tell me, good sir, what does a "what's it" tree look like?' The other man replied: 'Well now, a "what's it" tree is sort of blackish, like a burnt stump.' But that man was not long satisfied with this answer, so he went to another man... 'Well now, a "what's it" tree is sort of reddish, like a lump of meat.' But that man was not long satisfied with this answer, so he went to another man... 'Well now, a "what's it" tree is stripped of its bark, with burst pods, rather like an acacia.' But that man was not long satisfied with this answer, so he went to another man... 'Well now, a "what's it" tree has very thick leaves. It gives close shade like a banyan.' So for a while he sees the 'what's it' tree as that man sees it.

"In the same way, monk, according to the way the vision of these wise monks[7] has become purified, so they explain it, each according to his disposition.

"It is, monk, just like some king's border-city, with strong walls and arches, and with six gates. And there is a wise, skilled and experienced gatekeeper who keeps out the unknown and admits the known. From the east there come a swift pair of messengers, and they say to the gatekeeper: 'Where is the lord of this city?' — 'He is over there, sirs, at the cross-roads in the center.' Then the two messengers take a truthful report to the lord of the city, and return the way they came. [Likewise from the west, south, north.]

"I have given you a parable, monk, and so that you can understand it, this is the explanation: 'The city' is a name for the body, composed of the four great elements, born of mother and father, an accumulation of rice and gruel, impermanent, subject to abrasion, dissolution and disintegration. 'The six gates' denote the six internal sense-spheres.[8] 'The gatekeeper' denotes mindfulness. 'The two swift messengers' denote calm and insight.[9] 'The lord of the city' denotes consciousness. 'The cross-roads at the center' denotes the four great elements: the earth-element, the water-element, the fire-element, the air-element. 'The truthful report' denotes Nibbaana. 'The way they came,' monk, denotes the Noble Eightfold Path, that is to say Right View, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration."


Notes

1. Butea frondosa, a tall tree known as "flame of the forest." The title "Judas Tree" (K.S. [Book of the Kindred Sayings, trans. of the Sa.myutta Nikaaya, Vol. IV, PTS 1927]) arouses inappropriate associations. The literal meaning of the Pali is "What's It," which is entirely appropriate to the humor of the story of the doubting monk's questionings.

2. Eye and visible object, ear and sound, etc, the sixth pair being, of course, mind and mind-object (objects of thought).

3. The five khandhas: body (ruupa), feeling (vedanaa), perception (saññaa), the mental formations (sankhaaraa) and consciousness (viññaa.na). See Vol. I, n. 49. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... html#fn-49

4. The earth-element (pa.thavii-dhaatu) or "extension"; the water-element (apo-dhaatu) or "cohesion"; the fire-element (tejo-dhaatu) or "temperature"; the air-element (vaayo-dhaatu) or "motion." These are, of course, not to be confused with "elements" in the modern sense: they are qualities of matter, and all four are present in varying degree in every physical object.

5. A frequently recurring formulation of a very basic Buddhist tenet.

6. Dassaavii. This word is generally used in the pregnant sense of one "seeing with insight" — which is of course hinted at here. The descriptions of the tree are as it appears at different seasons.

7. Sappurisa, somewhat inadequately rendered "worthies" by Woodward. It is a term of higher (and less ambiguous) praise than that: see SN 22.7, n. 2. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .html#fn-2

8. Eye, ear, nose, tongue, body (as organ of touch), mind. The "internal" halves of the six pairs mentioned in n. 2.

9. Samatha-vipassanaa: the two branches of bhaavanaa (generally rendered "meditation" but better called "mind-training"). Samatha "calm, tranquillity" is developed by the practice of the eighth step of the Noble Eightfold Path (sammaa-samaadhi), and vipassanaa "insight" by the seventh (sammaa-sati). Both are necessary parts of the Buddhist training, though vipassanaa is the practice that leads to the goal.

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Re: SN 35.204 (245): Kimsuka Sutta:The Riddle Tree

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:11 pm


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Re: SN 35.204 (245): Kimsuka Sutta:The Riddle Tree

Postby cooran » Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:37 pm

Hello Mike, all,

Regarding the simile of the‘’king’s border-city’’ ….
Spk: Why is this introduced? If that bhikkhu understood (the meaning being conveyed by the kimsuka simile), then it is introduced to teach him the Dhamma.
If he did not understand, this simile of the city is introduced to explain and clarify the meaning……………
(Beginning of quite a long note on a more elaborate version of this simile and its explanation, in Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of this sutta.)

With metta
Chris
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Re: SN 35.204 (245): Kimsuka Sutta:The Riddle Tree

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Sep 07, 2011 5:44 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: SN 35.204 (245): Kimsuka Sutta:The Riddle Tree

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Sep 08, 2011 10:44 am


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Re: SN 35.204 (245): Kimsuka Sutta:The Riddle Tree

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Sep 10, 2011 2:35 am

"Suppose, bhikkhus, a king had a frontier city with strong ramparts, walls, and arches, and six gates...

Spk: Why is this introduced? If that bhikkhu understood (the meaning being conveyed by the kimsuka simile), then it is introduced to teach him the Dhamma.
If he did not understand, this simile of the city is introduced to explain and clarify the meaning.

Similes:
1. City - Body.
2. Six gates - internal sense bases.
3. Gatekeeper - mindfulness.
4. Swift pair of messengers - serenity and insight.
5. Lord of the city - conciousness.
6. Central square - four great elements.
7. Message of reality - Nibbana.
8. Route by which they had arrived - Noble eightfold path.

BB: Spk gives a much more elaborate version:
Lord is a prince, son of a virtuous world monarch, who had been appointed by his father to administer one of the outlying provinces. Under the influence of bad friends the prince had become dissolute and passed his time drinking liquor and enjoying music and dance.

The king sent the two messengers to admonish the prince to abandon his heedless ways and resume his duties. One messenger is a brave warrior (representing the samatha meditation subject), the other a wise minister (representing the vipassana meditation subject).

The brave warrior grabs hold of the wayward prince by the head and threatens to decapitate him if he doesn't change his ways: this is like the time the mind has been grabbed and made motionless by the concentration arisen through the first jhana. The fleeing of the prince's dissolute friends [I don't see this, and many following details in the sutta...] is like the disappearance of the five hindrances when the first jhana has arisen. When the prince agrees to follow the king's command, this is like the time when the meditator, with his mind made pliable through concentration, develops insight meditation.

When the two messenger raise up the white canopy over the prince after he has been coronated, this is like the time the white canopy of liberation is raised over the meditator after he has attained arahantship by means of serenity and insight.


"'The city': this is a designation for this body consisting of the four great elements, originating from mother and father, built up out of boiled rice and gruel, subject to impermanence, to being worn and rubbed away, to breaking apart and dispersal."

BB: Also at 35.103.
http://www.metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pit ... ggo-e.html
34. 10. 10.
(103) Uddako: Uddaka Ramaputta

A stock description of the body. Spk explains that rubbing (ucchandana) as the application of scents and ointments to remove its bad smell, and pressing (parimaddana) as massaging with water to dispel affliction in the limbs. The entire description shows, in stages, the origination, growth, decline, and destruction of the body.


Spk identifies the conciousness simile as referring to the insight-mind (vipassanacitta), which is the prince to be coronated with the coronation of arahantship by the two messengers, serenity and insight. This interpretation strikes me as too narrow. I see the point to be simply that conciousness is the functional centre of personal experience.

Spk says that Nibbana is called the "message of reality" (yathabhutam vacanam) because in its real nature it is unshakable and immutable.

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Re: SN 35.204 (245): Kimsuka Sutta:The Riddle Tree

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Sep 11, 2011 6:57 am

Other suttas mentioning samadhi and vipassana:

AN 2.30 PTS: A i 61 II,iii,10
Vijja-bhagiya Sutta: A Share in Clear Knowing
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

AN 4.94 PTS: A ii 93 Samadhi Sutta: Concentration (Tranquillity and Insight)
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

AN 4.170 PTS: A ii 156 Yuganaddha Sutta: In Tandem
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


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