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   Buddhist Writings.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
II. The Doctrine
 
The Trance of Cessation
 
 
1. Translated from the Samyutta-Nikya (xli. 65)

INSPIRATIONS and expirations, O householder, are bodily functions, therefore inspirations and expirations constitute bodily karma; first occur reasoning and reflection and afterwards articulate utterance, therefore reasoning and reflection constitute vocal karma; perception and sensation are mental functions and occur in association with the mind, therefore perception and sensation constitute mental karma.
  1
 
2. Translated from the Samyutta-Nikya (xxxvi. II5)

  And moreover, O priest, I have taught the gradual cessation of karma. Of one who has entered the first trance the voice has ceased; of one who has entered the second trance reasoning and reflection have ceased; of one who has entered the third trance joy has ceased; of one who has entered the fourth trance the inspirations and the expirations have ceased; of one who has entered the realm of the infinity of space the perception of form has ceased; of one who has entered the realm of the infinity of consciousness the perception of the realm of the infinity of consciousness the perception of the realm of the infinity of space has ceased; of one who has entered the realm of nothingness the perception of the realm of the infinity of consciousness has ceased; of one who has entered the realm of neither perception nor yet non-perception, the perception of the realm of nothingness has ceased; of one who has entered the cessation of perception and sensation, perception and sensation have ceased. Of the priest who has lost all depravity, passion has ceased, hatred has ceased, infatuation has ceased.
  2
 
3. Translated from the Visuddhi-Magga (chap. xxiii.)

  What is the trance of cessation?
  3
  It is the stoppage of all mentality by a gradual cessation…. A priest who is desirous of entering on cessation will take his breakfast, wash carefully his hands and his feet, and seat him cross-legged on a well-strewn seat in some retired spot, with body erect, and contemplative faculty active. He then enters the first trance, and rising from it obtains insight into the transitoriness, misery, and lack of an Ego of the constituents of being.  4
  This insight, however, is threefold: the insight into the constituents of being, the insight belonging to the attainment of the Fruits, and the insight belonging to the trance of cessation.  5
  Whether the insight into the constituents of being be dull or keen, it is in either case a preparation for the Paths.  6
  The insight, belonging to the attainment of the Fruits can only be keen, like the realization of the Paths.  7
  The insight, however, belonging to the trance of cessation should not be too dull nor yet too keen. Therefore he will contemplate the constituents of being with an insight that is neither very dull nor very keen.  8
  Thereupon he enters the second trance, and rising from it obtains insight into the constituents of being in the same manner as before. Thereupon he enters the third trance, … the fourth trance, … the realm of the infinity of space, … the realm of the infinity of consciousness, and rising from it obtains insight into the constituents of being in the same manner as before. Then he enters the realm of nothingness, and rising from it performs the four preliminary duties; the protection of less intimate belongings, respect for the Order, a summons from The Teacher, limitation of time.  9
  The protection of less intimate belongings:—That which is not intimately joined to the person of the priest, but is more loosely connected, such as his bowl and his robes, his couch and his bench, his dwelling, or any other of the requisites, should be protected from fire, water, wind, robbers, rats, etc., by means of a firm resolve. The manner of making this firm resolve is as follows:  10
  He makes a firm resolve, saying, “For the space of seven days let not this and that article be burnt by fire, borne away by a flood, blown to pieces by the wind, carried off by robbers, or eaten by rats and the like.” Then for the space of seven days no harm will touch them, any more than it did in the case of the elder, Nga the Great; but if he does not make this firm resolve, they are liable to perish by fire, etc.  11
  In regard to this elder, tradition has it that he went for alms to the village where lived his mother, a lay devotee. The lay devotee gave him some rice-gruel and asked him to sit down in a receptionhall. The elder sat down and entered on cessation. While he was sitting there, the reception-hall took fire, and all the other priests took up the several mats on which they had been sitting, and fled away. The inhabitants of the village came together, and seeing the elder, cried out, “The lazy monk! the lazy monk!” The fire blazed up in the grass, bamboo, sticks of wood, etc., completely surrounding the elder. The people brought water in pitchers and put it out, removed the ashes and made the ground neat again, and scattering flowers stood worshiping him. The elder rose from his trance, when the fixed term had elapsed, and seeing the people gazing at him, sprang up into the air, and went to the island Piyangu. This is the protection of less intimate belongings.  12
  Articles, however, which are intimately joined to the person of the priest, such as his tunic, his upper garment, or the seat on which he may be sitting, do not need any special resolve. The trance is sufficient to protect them, as in the case of the venerable Sanˆjiva. For it has been said as follows:  13
  “The concentration of the venerable Sañjiva possesses magical power; the concentration of the venerable Sriputta possesses magical power.”  14
  Respect for the Order—respect, regard for the Order. The sense is the Order cannot hold a function without his presence. Here it is not respect for the Order but reflection on the respect due it which is his preliminary duty. Therefore let him reflect as follows:  15
  “If, during the seven days I am sitting in a trance of cessation, the Order should wish to pass a resolution, or perform some other ecclesiastical function, I will arise before a priest comes and summons me.”  16
  If he does this before entering his trance, he will rise from it at the time set; but if he does not do it, and the Order comes together and misses him, and inquires, “Where is such and such a priest?” and hearing that he has entered a trance of cessation sends some priest, saying, “Go, summon him by authority of the Order!” then he will have to rise from his trance when that priest has come within hearing and has called him, saying, “Brother, the Order sends you its respects.” For such is the imperativeness of a command from the Order. Therefore he must reflect on this, and so enter his trance as to rise from it of his own accord.  17
  A summons from The Teacher:—Here, also, it is reflection on a summons of The Teacher that is his duty. Therefore let it be reflected upon as follows:  18
  “If, during the seven days I am sitting in a trance of cessation, The Teacher should take occasion to lay down some precept, or, apropos of some particular event, should teach the Doctrine, I will rise from my trance before any one summons me.”  19
  If he does this before sitting down, he will rise from it at the time set; but if he does not do it, and The Teacher misses him when the Order assembles, and inquires, “Where is such and such a priest?” and hearing that he has entered a trance of cessation sends some priest, saying, “Go, summon him by my authority!” then he will have to rise from his trance when that priest has come within hearing and has called him, saying, “The Teacher sends for your venerable worship.” For such is the imperativeness of a summons from The Teacher. Therefore he must reflect on this, and so enter his trance as to rise from it of his own accord.  20
  Limitation of time—limitation of the time of life. For this priest should be skilful respecting the limitation of time. He should not enter this trance without first reflecting whether his span of life is to last seven days longer or not. For if he were to enter this trance without perceiving that his vital powers were to break up within the seven-day limit, his trance of cessation would not be able to ward off death, and as death cannot take place during cessation, he would have to rise from the midst of his trance. Therefore he must enter it only after having made the above reflection. For it has been said that it is permissible to neglect the other reflections, but not this one.  21
  When he has thus entered the realm of nothingness, and risen from it and performed these preliminary duties, he enters the realm of neither perception nor yet non-perception; and having passed beyond one or two thoughts, he stops thinking and reaches cessation. But why do I say that beyond two thoughts the thoughts cease? Because of the priest’s progress in cessation. For the priest’s progress in gradual cessation consists in an ascent through the eight attainments by the simultaneous use of both the quiescence and insight methods, and does not result from the trance of the realm of neither perception nor yet non-perception alone. Thus it is because of the priest’s progress in cessation that beyond two thoughts the thoughts cease.  22
  Now the priest who should rise from the realm of nothingness, and enter the realm of neither perception nor yet non-perception without having performed his preliminary duties would not be able to lose all thought, but would fall back into the realm of nothingness. In this connection I will add a simile of a man traveling on a road over which he has never passed before.  23
  A certain man traveling on a road over which he has never passed before, comes on his way to a deep ravine containing water, or to a slough in which is a stepping-stone that has been over-heated by the sun; and essaying to descend into the ravine, without having first adjusted his tunic and his upper garment, he is obliged to retreat again to the top of the bank, through fear of wetting his requisites; or stepping upon the stone he scorches his feet so badly that he jumps back to the hither bank. In the above simile, just as the man, through not having adjusted his tunic and his upper garment, retreated to where he had started from, as soon as he had descended into the ravine, or had stepped on the heated stone; in exactly the same way the ascetic, if he have not performed the preliminary duties, as soon as he reaches the realm of neither perception nor yet non-perception, retreats again into the realm of nothingness.  24
  As, however, another man who has traveled on that road before, when he reaches that spot, will gird his tunic tightly and cross the ravine with the other garment in his hand, or will touch the stone as little as possible in passing to the further bank; in exactly the same way a priest who has performed his preliminary duties, and entered the realm of neither perception nor yet non-perception, will pass beyond and lose all thought, and dwell in cessation.  25
  How long will he stay in it? He who has entered it in the above described manner will remain in it during the limit of time which he has set for it, provided that the termination of his life, or respect for the Order, or a summons from The Teacher does not interfere.  26
  How does he rise from it? In a twofold manner. The priest who is in the path of never returning, with the attainment of the fruit of never returning, the saint with the attainment of the fruit of saintship.  27
  When he has risen from it, to what is his mind inclined? It is inclined to Nirvana. For it has been said as follows:  28
  “Brother Viskha, the mind of a priest who has risen from the trance of the cessation of perception and sensation is inclined to isolation, has a tendency to isolation, is impelled to isolation.”  29
  What is the difference between a dead man and one who has entered this trance? This matter also is treated of in this discourse. As it is said:  30
  “Brother, of the man who has died and become a corpse, bodily karma has ceased and become quieted, vocal karma has ceased and become quieted, mental karma has ceased and become quieted, vitality has become exhausted, natural heat has subsided, and the senses have broken up. Of the priest who has entered on the cessation of perception and sensation, bodily karma has ceased and become quieted, vocal karma has ceased and become quieted, mental karma has ceased and become quieted, but vitality has not become exhausted, natural heat has not subsided, and the senses have not broken up.”  31
  In regard to the questions “Is the trance of cessation conditioned or unconditioned?” etc., it cannot be said either that it is conditioned or that it is unconditioned, either That it is worldly or that it is transcendent. And why not? On account of the non-existence of any positive reality. Inasmuch, however, as it can be entered upon, therefore it is correct to say that it is brought about, not that it is not brought about.
        Whereas the wise who cultivate
The wisdom which doth make a saint
Are they who reach this holy trance—
This trance by saints at all times prized,
And ever by them held to be
Nirvana in the present life—
Therefore the faculty to reach
This state of trance which is conferred
By wisdom in the holy paths
A blessing of those paths is called.
  32
 

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