Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Related Discourses

1. The Aggregates

158. Worldly Food

1. Thus have I 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, “There are five acquired aggregates. What are the five? The acquired aggregate of form … feeling … perception … volition, and the acquired aggregate of consciousness. If ascetics or priests are aware of their various past lives using the knowledge of past lives, that past consciousness, future consciousness, and present consciousness are all these five acquired aggregates: ‘I remember passing though past consciousness, future consciousness, and present consciousness. My form was thus, my feeling was thus, my perception was thus, my volition was thus, and my consciousness was thus.’

3. “If something is resistant and divisible, it’s called the acquired aggregate of form. When something resists when touched by hand, stone, stick, blade, cold, heat, thirst, hunger, biting insects, vipers, wind, or rain, it’s called resisting contact. Therefore, something resistant is the acquired aggregate of form. Moreover, this acquired aggregate of form is impermanent, painful, and liable to change.

4. “The natures of feeling are the acquired aggregate of feeling. What is felt? Pain is felt, pleasure is felt, and what’s neither painful nor pleasant is felt; therefore, we call these natures of feeling the acquired aggregate of feeling. Moreover, this acquired aggregate of feeling is impermanent, painful, and liable to change.

5. “Perceptions are the acquired aggregate of perception. What’s perceived? The perception ‘few,’ the perception ‘many,’ the perception ‘measureless,’ and complete nothingness creates the perception ‘nothingness;’ therefore, they are called the acquired aggregate of perception. Moreover, this acquired aggregate of perception is impermanent, painful, and liable to change.

6. “The nature of making is the acquired aggregate of volition. What’s made? It’s the making of form … feeling … perception … volition, and the making of consciousness; therefore, the nature of making is the acquired aggregate of volition. Moreover, this acquired aggregate of volition is impermanent, painful, and liable to change.

7. “The nature of distinguishing[2] is the acquired aggregate of consciousness. What’s cognized? Form is cognized … sound … odor … flavor … touch, and ideas are cognized; therefore, this is called the acquired aggregate of consciousness. Moreover, this acquired aggregate of consciousness is impermanent, painful, and liable to change.

8. “Monks, well-versed noble disciples train this way regarding this acquired aggregate of form: ‘My present form that’s made of food is like the forms I had that were made of food during past lives. They were like the present.’ Again, disciples think, ‘My present form that’s made of food will be like the future forms that I’ll have if I continue to be attached to pleasure. Those forms made of food will continue to be like this present one.’ After knowing this, they don’t look back at past form, aren’t attached to the pleasure of future form, and become disillusioned with present form. They part with desire, extinguish it, and head for cessation.

9. “Noble disciples train in this way regarding this acquired aggregate of feeling … perception … volition … consciousness: ‘My present consciousness that’s made of food is like the former consciousness made of food that I had during past lives. They were like this present one.’ … ‘My present consciousness that’s made of food will be like my future consciousness if I continue to be attached to pleasure. That consciousness that’s made of food will also be like this present one.’ After knowing this, they don’t look back at past consciousness, aren’t attached to the pleasure of future consciousness, and become disillusioned with present consciousness. They part with desire, extinguish it, and head for cessation.

10. “They decrease and don’t increase; retreat and don’t advance; cease and aren’t produced; and are abandoned and not acquired. What’s decreased and not increased? Form decreases and doesn’t increase. Feeling … perception … volition … consciousness decrease and don’t increase. What retreats and doesn’t advance? Form retreats and doesn’t advance. Feeling … perception … volition … consciousness retreat and don’t advance. What ceases and isn’t produced? Form ceases and isn’t produced. Feeling … perception … volition … consciousness ceases and isn’t produced. What’s abandoned and not acquired? Form is abandoned and not acquired. Feeling … perception … volition … consciousness is abandoned and not acquired.

11. “Decreasing and not increasing, they peacefully decrease and abide. Retreating and not advancing, they peacefully retreat and abide. Ceasing and not produced, they peacefully cease and abide. Abandoned and not acquired, they don’t give rise to attachment. After the disciple is not attached to them, they themselves realize Nirvāṇa: ‘My births have been ended, the religious life has been established, and the task has been accomplished. I myself know I’m not subject to a later existence.’”

12. When the Buddha spoke this sūtra, a group of monks didn’t produce the contaminants, and their minds were liberated.

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

Summary Verse

Notes

  1. This sūtra is parallel with SN 22.79. Note that there are some significant departures between the two versions. [back]
  2. distinguishing. The Chinese here could be a literal translation of vi- (別) and -jñati (知). [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 7 April 2021