Dharma Pearls

Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Related Discourses

1. The Aggregates

145. The Aggregates Are Not Self

1. Thus I have heard:[1] One time, the Buddha was staying at Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park in Jeta’s Grove of Śrāvastī.

2. It was then that the Bhagavān addressed the monks, “Form is not self. If form were self, it wouldn’t be that illness and pain arise from form, and there wouldn’t be the desires: ‘Let form be this way,’ or ‘let it not be this way.’ It’s because form is without self that there’s illness and pain that arise from form, and these desires are possible: ‘Let form be this way’ or ‘let it not be this way.’ Feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness are likewise.

3. “Monks, what do you think? Is form permanent, or is it impermanent?”

The monks said to the Buddha, “Impermanent, Bhagavān.”

4. “Monks, if something is impermanent, is it painful?”

The monks said to the Buddha, “It’s painful, [7c] Bhagavān.”

5. “If it’s impermanent and painful, it’s something that changes. Would a well-versed noble disciple see self, something other than self, or both in it?”

The monks said to the Buddha, “No, Bhagavān.”

6. “Feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness are likewise. Therefore, monks, all forms that exist in the past, future, or present, whether they are internal or external, crude or fine, lovely or ugly, and far or near, are not self, not other than self, and not both. Observe them in this way. Feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness are likewise.

7. “Monks, a well-versed noble disciple observes as it really is that what’s in these five acquired aggregates is not self and doesn’t belong to self. After observing this as it really is, they grasp nothing from all the world. Because they grasp nothing, they attach to nothing. Because they attach to nothing, they awaken themselves to nirvāṇa: ‘My births have been ended, the religious practice has been established, and the task has been accomplished. I myself know that I won’t be subject to a later existence.’”

8. After the Buddha spoke this sūtra, the monks who heard what the Buddha taught rejoiced and approved.

Notes

  1. This sūtra appears to be a generic version of the next sutra, which is the famous second sermon that the Buddha taught. It’s parallel with SN 22.59 and T102. [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 5 October 2020