Sariputta Sutta And Cessation Of Ignorance

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Introduction

For a complete understanding of this sutta within the context intended by an awakened human being, please read the suttas linked inline and at the end of this article. ([x]) Inline links will open in a new window.

Everything the Buddha taught was taught in the context of Dependent Origination and the ongoing stress, suffering and distraction that results from ignorance of Four Noble Truths.  [1]  Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta

His first teaching was taught to describe the results of this common ignorance and the singular path the Buddha taught to recognize and abandon ignorance. [2,3]  Four Noble Truths – The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta  |  Eightfold Path – The Magga-Vibhanga Sutta

Sariputta, along with Moggallana, were the Buddha’s two chief disciples. [4]

In the Sariputta Sutta, Sariputta is questioned by Ananda, the Buddha’s cousin, and attendant. Ananda is confused about a fundamental aspect of the Dhamma. Ananda’s confusion is common and shows the importance of relying on those that have had the direct experience of developing the authentic Dhamma to very subtle and profound levels of understanding.

In this way, knowledgeable Dhamma practitioners can guide others to have their own direct experience of awakening. This is how the Buddha and those who awakened through his teachings taught others.

Ananda’s confusion arises from not yet having developed profound Right View and not knowing how one’s “Right” relation to reality will be experienced once all wrong views, views ignorant of Four Noble Truths, are abandoned. Fundamentally, Ananda’s question is “How can one perceive, be sensitive to, what is occurring once all wrong views are abandoned? Where will one find a footing in reality?” Sariputta’s answer shows that once ignorance is recognized and abandoned, one knows that ignorance has been abandoned and remains sensitive to reality and at peace with life as life occurs.

“Sensitive” here means contacting phenomena through the six-sense-base. A mind rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths is a mind distracted by its own fabricated views and interests sensory contact from a fabricated view ignorant of Four Noble Truths.

My comments below are in italics.

 

Sariputta Sutta: With Sariputta

Anguttara Nikaya 10.7

On one occasion Venerable Ananda visited Venerable Sariputta. They exchanged courteous greetings and Ananda took a seat next to his friend.

Ananda asked a question: “Dear friend, could one develop concentration to the point that they would not be sensitive to (perception of) the earth or the elements of the earth? Could one develop concentration to the point that they would not be sensitive to the infinitude of space or of consciousness? Could one develop concentration to the point that they would not be sensitive to nothingness or of neither perception nor non-perception? Could one develop concentration to the point that they would not be sensitive to this world or the next world? Would this one still be sensitive to what is occurring?”

“Yes, dear friend Ananda. Even with great concentration, this one could be sensitive to what is occurring.”

“Please explain how one could develop concentration so that they would not be sensitive to earth or to this world or the next world and still be sensitive to what is occurring?”

“Let me explain: On one occasion I was here in Savatthi at the Blind Man’s Grove. I developed concentration to the point that I was neither sensitive to the earth or to this world or the next world and, yet, I continued to be sensitive to what is occurring.”

“Please tell me, dear friend, Sariputta, what were you sensitive of at that time?”

“Ananda, I was sensitive to the cessation of becoming (further ignorant of Four Noble Truths.) I was sensitive to unbinding (from views ignorant of Four Noble Truths.) I was sensitive of the arising and passing away of all phenomena. Just as a wood fire’s flames arise and pass away, I was sensitive of unbinding from wrong views.

End Of Sutta

Linked Articles For Further Study

  1. Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta
  2. Four Noble Truths – The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
  3. Eightfold Path – The Magga-Vibhanga Sutta
  4. Sariputta And Moggallana, The Buddha’s Two Chief Disciples

 

 

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My Dhamma articles and talks are based on the Buddha's teachings  (suttas) as preserved in the Sutta Pitaka, the second book of the Pali Canon. I have relied primarily on Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s excellent and insightful translation of the Pali generously made freely available at his website Dhammatalks.org, as well as the works of Acharya Buddharakkhita, Nyanaponika Thera, John Ireland, Maurice Walsh, Hellmuth Hecker, and Sister Khema, among others, as preserved at Access To Insight.

Also, I have found Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations from Wisdom Publications Pali Canon Anthologies to be most informative and an excellent resource.

I have made edits to the suttas from these sources for further clarity, to modernize language, to minimize repetition, and maintain contextual relevance to Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths.

 

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