Thursday, July 21

The Noble Search

Tonight, picking a sutta at random, I re-read MN 26, Ariyapariyesana Sutta, "The Noble Search." Some very inspiring passages therein, and helpful reminders.

"Monks, there are these five strings of sensuality. Which five? Forms cognizable via the eye — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. Sounds cognizable via the ear — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. Aromas cognizable via the nose — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. Tastes cognizable via the tongue — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. Tactile sensations cognizable via the body — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. These are the five strings of sensuality.

"And any priests or contemplatives tied to these five strings of sensuality — infatuated with them, have totally fallen for them, consuming them without seeing their drawbacks or discerning the escape from them — should be known as having met with misfortune, having met with ruin; Mara can do with them as he will. Just as if a wild deer were to lie bound on a heap of snares: it should be known as having met with misfortune, having met with ruin; the hunter can do with it as he will. When the hunter comes, it won't get away as it would like. In the same way, any priests or contemplatives tied to these five strings of sensuality — infatuated with them, have totally fallen for them, consuming them without seeing their drawbacks or discerning the escape from them — should be known as having met with misfortune, having met with ruin; Mara can do with them as he will.

"But any priests or contemplatives not tied to these five strings of sensuality — uninfatuated with them, having not totally fallen for them, consuming them seeing their drawbacks and discerning the escape from them — should be known as not having met with misfortune, not having met with ruin; Mara cannot do with them as he will. Just as if a wild deer were to lie unbound on a heap of snares: it should be known as not having met with misfortune, not having met with ruin; the hunter cannot do with it as he will. When the hunter comes, it will get away as it would like. In the same way, any priests or contemplatives not tied to these five strings of sensuality — uninfatuated with them, having not totally fallen for them, consuming them seeing their drawbacks and discerning the escape from them — should be known as not having met with misfortune, not having met with ruin; Mara cannot do with them as he will.

"Suppose that a wild deer is living in wilderness glen. Carefree it walks, carefree it stands, carefree it sits, carefree it lies down. Why is that? Because it has gone beyond the hunter's range. 5 In the same way, a monk — quite withdrawn from sensual pleasures, withdrawn from unskillful qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. This monk is said to have blinded Mara. Trackless, he has destroyed Mara's vision and has become invisible to the Evil One.

And it continues with the rest the jhanas and immaterial spheres. Note is made of the fact that these only blind Mara temporarily, and true freedom is not reached until the cessation of perception & feeling...

"Having crossed over, he is unattached in the world. Carefree he walks, carefree he stands, carefree he sits, carefree he lies down. Why is that? Because he has gone beyond the Evil One's range."

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