Study and Research Section

Commentary on the Mahaaraahulovaadasutta

Part II : Section A

Relevant sutta passage: Atha kho aayasmaa Raahulo saayanhasamaya.m pa.tisallaanaa vu.t.thito yena Bhagavaa tenupasa'nkami; upasa'nkamitvaa Bhagavanta.m abhivaadetvaa ekamanta.m nisiidi. Ekamanta.m nisinno kho aayasmaa Raahulo Bhagavanta.m etadavoca - "Katha.m bhaavitaa nu kho, bhante, aanaapaanassati, katha.m bahuliikataa mahapphalaa hoti mahaanisa.msaa"ti? "Ya.m ki˝ci, Raahula, ajjhatta.m paccatta.m kakkha.la.m kharigata.m upaadinna.m, seyyathida.m - kesaa lomaa nakhaa dantaa taco ma.msa.m nhaaru a.t.thi a.t.thimi˝ja.m vakka.m hadaya.m yakana.m kilomaka.m pihaka.m papphaasa.m anta.m antagu.na.m udariya.m kariisa.m, ya.m vaa pana˝˝ampi ki˝ci ajjhatta.m paccatta.m kakkha.la.m kharigata.m upaadinna.m - aya.m vuccati, Raahula, ajjhattikaa pathaviidhaatu. Yaa ceva kho pana ajjhattikaa pathaviidhaatu yaa ca baahiraa pathaviidhaatu, pathaviidhaaturevesaa. Ta.m 'neta.m mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attaa'ti - evameta.m yathaabhuuta.m sammappa˝˝aaya da.t.thabba.m. Evameta.m yathaabhuuta.m sammappa˝˝aaya disvaa pathaviidhaatuyaa nibbindati, pathaviidhaatuyaa citta.m viraajeti".

Then, at evening time, the venerable Rahula got up from solitude and approached the Blessed One. Having approached and paid respect to the Blessed One, he sat down on one side. Then, sitting on one side, the venerable Rahula said this to the Blessed One, "Sir, how is mindfulness of breathing developed? How is there great fruits and profit when practised frequently?"

"Rahula, whatever internally, and individually, is solid, solidified, and clung to, namely: head hair, body hair, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, veins, bones, bone-marrow, kidney, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, large intestine, small intestine, stomach, excreta, or whatever else internally, and individually, is solid, solidified, and clung to. This, Rahula, is called the internal earth element. But that very internal earth element and that external earth element are simply earth element. Thus "this is not mine, this I am not, this is not myself" is to be seen with right wisdom just as it is. Having seen this with right wisdom just as it is, (one) becomes dispassionate towards the earth element (and) the mind detaches from the earth element."


1. Words:

  • pahi.naati: to send.
  • saya.m: self, by oneself.
  • janeti: to produce.
  • omaana (m): self-disrespect.
  • atimaana (m): pride.
  • abhimatthati, abhimantheti: crush, rub, produce by friction (fire).
  • nirantara.m: continuously.
  • garahaa (f): reproach.
  • kakkha.la: rough, harsh.
  • pii.la (n): oppression, injury.
  • uppatti (f): origin, coming forth.
  • vidhaana (n): performance, process.

Commentary:
tassa panaayasmato -- "bhagavaa ma.m vihaare ohiina.m jaanantopi 
However, the following thoughts did not occur to the venerable Rahula: "Although the Blessed One knows that I am left behind in the monastery,

attanaa laddhapi.n.dapaata.m naapi saya.m gahetvaa aagato,
he has not, after he has personally received alsmfood, taken it and come himself,

na a~n~nassa hatthe pahi.ni, na manussaana.m sa~n~na.m adaasi,
nor did he send me food through someone else, nor did he inform others about it,

upajjhaayopi me ohiinabhaava.m jaananto tatheva na ki~nci akaasii''ti cittampi na uppanna.m.
nor indeed did my preceptor do anything at all, although he knows that I am left behind."

kuto tappaccayaa omaana.m vaa atimaana.m vaa janessati.
Why should he because of that arouse self-disrespect or pride?

bhagavataa pana aacikkhitakamma.t.thaanameva purebhattampi pacchaabhattampi --
Rahula contemplated the meditation subject that was explained to him by the Blessed One before and after his meal thus:

"itipi ruupa.m anicca.m, itipi dukkha.m, itipi asubha.m, itipi anattaa''ti 
"Materiality truly is impermanent, it truly is unsatisfactory, it truly is foul, it truly is non-self".

aggi.m abhimatthento viya nirantara.m manasikatvaa saayanhasamaye cintesi --
After he had contemplated this continuously, just as someone who tries to kindle a fire, the following thoughts occurred to him towards evening:

"aha.m upajjhaayena aanaapaanassati.m bhaavehiiti vutto,
"Since my preceptor has told me to develop mindfulness of breathing,

tassa vacana.m karissaami. aacariyupajjhaayaana~nhi vacana.m akaronto dubbaco naama hoti.
I shall be obedient. Someone who does not obey his teacher and his preceptor, is called obstinate.

`dubbaco raahulo, upajjhaayassapi vacana.m na karotii'ti ca garahuppattito kakkha.lataraa pii.laa naama natthii''ti
Nothing is more oppressive and hard than the occurrence of the reproach, 'Rahula is obstinate, he does not obey his preceptor.' "

bhaavanaavidhaana.m pucchitukaamo bhagavato santika.m agamaasi.
He visited the Blessed One because he was eager to ask about the method of mental development.

ta.m dassetu.m atha kho aayasmaa raahulotiaadi vutta.m.
In order to explain this, Ananda said the words, "then, (at evening time,) the venerable Rahula (got up from solitude) etc."

English:
However, the following thoughts did not occur to the venerable Rahula: "Although the Blessed One knows that I am left behind in the monastery, he has not, after he has personally received alsmfood, taken it and come himself, nor did he send me food through someone else, nor did he inform others about it, nor indeed did my preceptor do anything at all, although he knows that I am left behind."

Why should he because of that arouse self-disrespect or pride? Rahula contemplated the meditation subject that was explained to him by the Blessed One before and after his meal thus: "Materiality truly is impermanent, it truly is unsatisfactory, it truly is foul, it truly is non-self".

After he had contemplated this continuously, just as someone who tries to kindle a fire, the following thoughts occurred to him towards evening: "Since my preceptor has told me to develop mindfulness of breathing, I shall be obedient. Someone who does not obey his teacher and his preceptor, is called obstinate. Nothing is more oppressive and hard than the occurrence of the reproach, 'Rahula is obstinate, he does not obey his preceptor.' "

He visited the Blessed One because he was eager to ask about the method of mental development. In order to explain this, Ananda said the words, "then, (at evening time,) the venerable Rahula (got up from solitude) etc."


2. Words:

  • ekiibhaava: being alone.
  • attha (m); gain, aim, purpose, meaning.
  • attha.m: on account of, in order to.
  • he.t.tha: below, below in the document: above, before.
  • sa"nkhepena: in short, briefly.
  • visa"nkharoti: to get rid of.
  • cattaaliisa: forty.
  • dvicattaaliisa: forty two.
  • vibhajati: analyse, dissect.
  • aapaadeti: produce.
  • upaadaaruupa: derived matrial phenomena.
  • mukhena: by way of.
  • uppatti (f): rebirth, arising.
  • anup(p)atti (f): attainment.
  • dhammataa (f): conformity to the law of Dhamma, propriety, general rule.
  • paaka.ta: well known.
  • vitthaareti: explain in detail.
  • mukha: mouth, face, entrance, cause, means.
  • yaati: proceed.
  • vibhuuta paricchinna: delimited (paricchedati).
  • aavibhaava: manifestation, appearance.
  • taava: so much, like, just so, as far as.
  • purima: preceding, former.

Commentary:
tattha pa.tisallaanaati ekiibhaavato.
As to the words, tattha pa.tisallaanaa, then, from solitude, this means, then, from being alone.

ya.mki~nci raahulaati kasmaa?
As to the words, ya.mki~nci raahulaa, whatever, Rahula (is internal, etc.), why is this said?

bhagavaa aanaapaanassati.m pu.t.tho ruupakamma.t.thaana.m kathetiiti.
When he asked the Blessed One about Mindfulness of Breathing, why did the Blessed One speak about the meditation subject of materiality?

ruupe chandaraagappahaanattha.m.
He spoke so that he (Rahula) would abandon his attachment to materiality.

eva.m kirassa ahosi -- "raahulassa attabhaava.m nissaaya chandaraago uppanno,
It must have occurred to him thus: "Since attachment has arisen in Rahula on account of his body,

he.t.thaa cassa sa"nkhepena ruupakamma.t.thaana.m kathita.m,
and the meditation subject on materiality was explained to him before in brief,

idaanissaapi dvicattaaliisaaya aakaarehi attabhaava.m vibhajetvaa visa"nkharitvaa ta.mnissita.m chandaraaga.m
I shall now also make him dissect the body in forty two ways and thus cause him to get rid of attachment that is dependent on it

anuppattidhammata.m aapaadessaamii''ti.
and to attain the truth of Dhamma."

atha aakaasadhaatu.m kasmaa vitthaaresiiti?
Why did he then explain in detail the element of space?

upaadaaruupadassanattha.m.
In order to point out the derived material phenomena.

he.t.thaa hi cattaari mahaabhuutaaneva kathitaani, na upaadaaruupa.m.
Before he had spoken about the four great Elements, not about the derived physical phenomena*.

tasmaa iminaa mukhena ta.m dassetu.m aakaasadhaatu.m vitthaaresi.
Therefore, in order to point these out in that way, he explained in detail the element of space.

apica ajjhattikena aakaasena paricchinnaruupampi paaka.ta.m hoti.
He also made known the matter that is delimitated by the internal space**.

"aakaasena paricchinna.m ruupa.m yaati vibhuutata.m.
He proceeds to clarify matter that is delimitated by space.

tasseva.m aavibhaavattha.m, ta.m pakaasesi naayako.
The Guide explained this so that it was clear to him in that way."

ettha pana purimaasu taava catuusu dhaatuusu ya.m vattabba.m, ta.m mahaahatthipadopame vuttameva.
But here what had to be said previously with regard to the four (great) elements, that was said in the "Discourse on the great Elephant's Footprint".

English:
As to the words, tattha pa.tisallaanaa, then, from solitude, this means, then, from being alone. As to the words, ya.mki~nci raahulaa, whatever, Rahula (is internal, etc.), why is this said? When he asked the Blessed One about Mindfulness of Breathing, why did the Blessed One speak about the meditation subject of materiality?

He spoke so that he (Rahula) would abandon his attachment to materiality. It must have occurred to him thus: "Since attachment has arisen in Rahula on account of his body, and the meditation subject on materiality was explained to him before in brief, I shall now also make him dissect the body in forty two ways and thus cause him to get rid of attachment that is dependent on it and to attain the truth of Dhamma."

Why did he then explain in detail the element of space?

In order to point out the derived material phenomena. Before he had spoken about the four great Elements, not about the derived physical phenomena*. Therefore, in order to point these out in that way, he explained in detail the element of space. He also made known the matter that is delimitated by the internal space**.

"He proceeds to clarify matter that is delimitated by space. The Guide 
explained this so that it was clear to him in that way." But here what had to be said previously with regard to the four (great) elements, that was said in the "Discourse on the great Elephant's Footprint".

* The four great Elements (solidity, cohesion, heat and motion) are the principle material phenomena. All other material phenomena are derived materiality, they are dependent on the four great Elements.

** Material phenomena arise in groups or units and each unit is surrounded by infinitely tiny space so that the groups of material phenomena are delimited, clearly distinct. This is the internal space.


Cross reference to the Greater Discourse on the Elephant's Footprint (M28):

The Commentary to the Mahaaraahulovaada sutta states:
ettha pana purimaasu taava catuusu dhaatuusu ya.m vattabba.m, ta.m mahaahatthipadopame vuttameva.

But here what had to be said previously with regard to the four (great) elements, that was said in the "Discourse on the great Elephant's Footprint".

The Commentary stated before: <As to the words, ya.m ki~nci ruupa.m, whatever are material phenomena, this is explained in detail in the Visuddhimagga, khandha niddesa. As to the words, n'eta.m mama, this is not myself, this has been explained in the "Greater Discourse on the Elephant's Footprint".>

In the "Greater Discourse on the Elephant's Footprint" the four great Elements are explained in detail by Saariputta. First he teaches the four noble Truths. All kusala dhammas are included in (come together in) the four noble truths:

<eva kho aavuso ye keci kusalaa dhammaa sabbe te catusu ariyasaccesusa'ngaha.m gacchanti>

He then explains what dukkha is, ending with: in short, the five khandhas of clinging are dukkha: <sa'nkhittena pa~nc'upaadaanakkhandhaa dukkhaa>.

Sariputta explained in detail about the four great elements of earth, water, fire and wind. They are the basis for all the other derived material phenomena. For example, colour could not arise alone, it has to be together with these four great elements. And so it is with sound and all other material phenomena.

The elements of earth (hardness or softness), fire (heat or cold) and wind (motion or pressure) can be experienced by touch, but the element of water, cohesion, can only be experienced through the mind. This sutta reminds us that there is hardness (earth) in the body, but also outside. When we touch hardness there is no difference, but we do not like to hear this. We find the body very special. Rahula was clinging so much to his body (attaabhaava), but he had to develop vipassanaa pa~n~naa, to realize that there is not the whole body; that what we take for my body are only different elements which fall away immediately.

In the "Greater Discourse on the Elephant's Footprint" Saariputta spoke about the impermanence of outward ruupas by explaining about the calamities in nature. Even so the rupas of the body are impermanent, they fall away immediately.

As we have read in the Commentary to the Mahaaraahulovaada sutta:

<Therefore Rahula asked, "ruupa.m eva nu kho Bhagavaa, only materiality, Lord?" Why did Rahula ask, "Only materiality, Lord?" Since he had heard, "all materiality is not mine, I am not this, this is not me" and the Lord had said that all materiality should be seen thus by insight knowledge, he was wondering by which method he should practise with regard to feelings and so on.>

Rahula had to develop understanding not only of materiality, ruupa, but also of mental phenomena, naama, of all five khandhas. When we take them all as a whole, there is the idea of a person. Hearing is naama, a citta that experiences sound, it is not the ruupa that is sound, it is not the ruupa that is earsense. Understanding this, not only by reflection, but by direct understanding of the characteristics of the elements as they appear one at a time must lead to detachment. Clinging to the idea of "I, mine" can decrease. As we read in the Mahaarahulovaadasutta:

<pa.thavii-dhaatuyaa nibbindati, pa.thaviidhaatuyaa citta.m viraajeti.
One is disenchanted with the earth element and (so) becomes dispassionate towards it.>

As is explained in the "Greater Discourse on the Elephant's Footprint" (M 28):

<Ta~n-ce aavuso bhikku.m, pare akkosanti paribhaasanti rosenti vihesenti, so eva.m pajaanaati:
So then if others abuse and scold and curse and threaten a bhikkhu, he understands thus,

Upannaa kho me aya.m sotasamphassajaa dukkhaa vedanaa,
"This painful feeling born of ear-contact has arisen in me.

saa ca kho pa.ticca no appa.ticca, ki.m pa.ticca: phassa.m pa.ticca.
That is dependent, not independent. Dependent on what? Dependent on contact."

So: phasso anicco ti passati, vedanaa aniccaa ti passati, sa~n~naa aniccaa ti passati, sa"nkhaaraa aniccaa ti passati, vi~n~naana.m aniccanti passati.>
Then he sees that contact is impermanent..." the same for feeling, sa~n~naa, san"khaarakkhandha and vi~n~naa.na. (translation of Wheel 101)

We then read:
<Tassa dhaataaramma.na.m-eva citta.m pakkhandati pasiidati santi.t.thati adhimuccati>
And his mind enters into that very object (taking it just as an impersonal) element, and acquires confidence, steadiness and decision (herein).

Knowing that what we see or hear are just conditioned elements reminds us of the true Dhamma. If equanimity does not persist in the bhikkhu, he should arouse a sense of urgency (sa.mvega.m aapajjati) as is stated in the sutta. A sense of urgency to develop right understanding at this very moment. We are bound to be distressed about an unpleasant experience or a loss, but when we begin to develop pa~n~naa we can gradually learn from such an experience. Sometimes, when there are conditions, we may even be glad and full of confidence in the Triple Gem, as we also read in this sutta:

<Tassa ce aavuso bhikkhuno eva.m Buddha.m anussarato eva.m Dhamma.m anussarato eva.m Sa"nga.m anussarato
But if, when a bhikkhu recollects the enlightened One, the Teaching and the Community,

upekhaa kusalanissitaa sa.n.thaati, so tena attamano hoti...
equanimity with the beneficial (kusala dhamma) as its support, becomes established in him, then he is satisfied.>

Saariputta also spoke here about the Buddha's Discourse on the "Parable of the Saw": "Even if bandits brutally severed limb from limb with a two-handled saw, he who entertained hate in his heart on that account would not be one who carried out my teaching."

Saariputta explained the conditions for seeing, for the other sense-cognitions and for the experiences through the mind-door, and he explained that the five khandhas have arisen because of conditions. He referred to the Dependent Origination, and he explained that clinging to the five khandhas is the cause of dukkha, whereas the eradication of clinging is the cessation of dukkha.

In this book

Introduction

Part 1:
Section a
Section b
Section c
Section d
Section e
Part 2:
Section a
Part 6:
Section a
Part 7:
Section a
Part 11:
Section a
Part 12:
Section a
Part 13:
Section a

Conclusion