Saṃyutta Nikāya 12

Connected Discourses on Causation

51. Thorough Investigation

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Savatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapiṇḍika’s Park. There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Bhikkhus!”

“Venerable sir!” those bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:

“Bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu is making a thorough investigation, in what way should he thoroughly investigate for the utterly complete destruction of suffering?”

“Venerable sir, our teachings are rooted in the Blessed One, guided by the Blessed One, take recourse in the Blessed One. It would be good if the Blessed One would clear up the meaning of this statement. Having heard it from him, the bhikkhus will remember it.”

“Then listen and attend closely, bhikkhus, I will speak.”

“Yes, venerable sir,” the bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:

“Here, bhikkhus, when he makes a thorough investigation, a bhikkhu thoroughly investigates thus: ‘The many diverse kinds of suffering that arise in the world headed by aging-and-death: what is the source of this suffering, what is its origin, from what is it born and produced? When what exists does aging-and-death come to be? When what does not exist does aging-and-death not come to be?’

“As he thoroughly investigates he understands thus: ‘The many diverse kinds of suffering that arise in the world headed by aging-and-death: this suffering has birth as its source, birth as its origin; it is born and produced from birth. When there is birth, aging-and-death comes to be; when there is no birth, aging-and-death does not come to be.’

“He understands aging-and-death, its origin, its cessation, and the way leading on that is in conformity with its cessation. He practises that way and conducts himself accordingly. This is called a bhikkhu who is practising for the utterly complete destruction of suffering, for the cessation of aging-and-death.

“Then, investigating further, he thoroughly investigates thus: ‘What is the source of this birth, what is its origin, from what is it born and produced?… What is the source of this existence?… this clinging?… this craving?… this feeling?… this contact?… these six sense bases?… this name-and-form?… this consciousness? … What is the source of these volitional formations, what is their origin, from what are they born and produced? When what exists do volitional formations come to be? When what does not exist do volitional formations not come to be?’

“As he thoroughly investigates he understands thus: ‘Volitional formations have ignorance as their source, ignorance as their origin; they are born and produced from ignorance. When there is ignorance, volitional formations come to be; when there is no ignorance, volitional formations do not come to be.’

“He understands volitional formations, their origin, their cessation, and the way leading on that is in conformity with their cessation. He practises that way and conducts himself accordingly. This is called a bhikkhu who is practising for the utterly complete destruction of suffering, for the cessation of volitional formations.

“Bhikkhus, if a person immersed in ignorance generates a meritorious volitional formation, consciousness fares on to the meritorious; if he generates a demeritorious volitional formation, consciousness fares on to the demeritorious; if he generates an imperturbable volitional formation, consciousness fares on to the imperturbable. But when a bhikkhu has abandoned ignorance and aroused true knowledge, then, with the fading away of ignorance and the arising of true knowledge, he does not generate a meritorious volitional formation, or a demeritorious volitional formation, or an imperturbable volitional formation. Since he does not generate or fashion volitional formations, he does not cling to anything in the world. Not clinging, he is not agitated. Not being agitated, he personally attains Nibbāna. He understands: ‘Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more for this state of being.’

“If he feels a pleasant feeling, he understands: ‘It is impermanent’; he understands: ‘It is not held to’; he understands: ‘It is not delighted in.’ If he feels a painful feeling, he understands: ‘It is impermanent’; he understands: ‘It is not held to’; he understands: ‘It is not delighted in.’ If he feels a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he understands: ‘It is impermanent’; he understands: ‘It is not held to’; he understands: ‘It is not delighted in.’

“If he feels a pleasant feeling, he feels it detached; if he feels a painful feeling, he feels it detached; if he feels a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he feels it detached.

“When he feels a feeling terminating with the body, he understands: ‘I feel a feeling terminating with the body.’ When he feels a feeling terminating with life, he understands: ‘I feel a feeling terminating with life.’ He understands: ‘With the breakup of the body, following the exhaustion of life, all that is felt, not being delighted in, will become cool right here; mere bodily remains will be left.’

“Suppose, bhikkhus, a man would remove a hot clay pot from a potter’s kiln and set it on smooth ground: its heat would be dissipated right there and potsherds would be left. So too, when he feels a feeling terminating with the body … terminating with life…. He understands: ‘With the breakup of the body, following the exhaustion of life, all that is felt, not being delighted in, will become cool right here; mere bodily remains will be left.’ “What do you think, bhikkhus, can a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed generate a meritorious volitional formation, or a demeritorious volitional formation, or an imperturbable volitional formation?”

“No, venerable sir.”

“When there are utterly no volitional formations, with the cessation of volitional formations, would consciousness be discerned?” “No, venerable sir.”

“When there is utterly no consciousness, with the cessation of consciousness, would name-and-form be discerned?”

“No, venerable sir.”

“When there is utterly no name-and-form … no six sense bases … … no contact … no feeling … no craving … no clinging … no existence … no birth, with the cessation of birth, would aging-and-death be discerned?”

“No, venerable sir.”

“Good, good, bhikkhus! It is exactly so and not otherwise! Place faith in me about this, bhikkhus, resolve on this. Be free from perplexity and doubt about this. Just this is the end of suffering.”