Sutta Nipāta 4.11
Kalaha-vivada Sutta: Quarrels & Disputes

For free distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma
PTS: Sn 862-877
Translated from the Pali by
K. R. Norman
© 1992
From The Group of Discourses (Sutta-Nipāta) – Volume II, rev. (London: Pali Text Society)
Translated from the Pali by
Andrew Olendzki

© 2001

Translated by
based on
Ajahn Buddhadāsa’s translation in Paṭiccasamuppāda From the Buddha’s Own Lips.
Translated from the Pali by
John D. Ireland

© 1994–2012
From The Discourse Collection: Selected Texts from the Sutta Nipata (WH 82) BPS 1983
Translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

© 1994–2012
Commentary and translation from the Pali
by Leigh Brasington


Kuto pahūtā kalahā vivādā
Paridevasokā sahamacchirā ca,
Mānātimānā sahapesunā ca
Kuto pahutā te tadiṅgha brūhi.
862. ‘Whence arise quarrels, disputes, lamentations and grief, together with avarice also, pride and arrogance, together with slander too? Whence do these arise? Tell me this, pray.’ Where do quarrels and disputes originate? And the sorrow, the grief and the selfishness, The pride, arrogance and slander that go with them— Where do these originate? Come on, tell me. From what do quarrels and disputes arise? And further, sorrow, grief, lamentation, and miserliness, as well as pride, disparaging, and divisiveness, please tell me, from what cause do they arise? "From what arise contentions and disputes, lamentations and sorrows, along with selfishness and conceit, and arrogance along with slander? From where do these various things arise? Come tell me this." (862) "From where have there arisen quarrels, disputes, lamentation, sorrows, along with selfishness, conceit & pride, along with divisiveness? From where have they arisen? Please tell me." {{This sutta seems to be the very earliest version of the links of dependent origination.[1]

Notice that dukkha is given as quarrels, disputes, etc. rather than the usual birth, old age, sickness, death, etc. -- See also the opening verses of Snp 4.15.}}

Piyā pahutā kalahā vivādā
Paridevasokā samaccharā ca,
Mānātimānā sahapesunā ca
Macchiriyayuttā kalahā vivādā
Vivādajātesu ca pesunāni.
863. ‘From (what is) dear arise quarrels, disputes, lamentations and grief, together with avarice also, pride and arrogance, together with slander too. Quarrels (and) disputes are joined with avarice, and there are slanders too, when disputes have arisen.’ Quarrels and disputes develop from liking; And the sorrow, the grief and the selfishness, The pride, arrogance and slander that go with them. Selfishness is yoked to quarrels and disputes; And it’s among disputes that slanders are born. Quarrels and disputes arise from things that are dear. Even so, sorrow, grief, lamentation, and miserliness, as well as pride, disparaging, and divisiveness, together with slander, which comes from quarrels and disputes. "From being too endeared (to objects and persons) arise contentions and disputes, lamentations and sorrows along with avarice, selfishness and conceit, arrogance and slander. Contentions and disputes are linked with selfishness, and slander is born of contention." (863) "From what is dear there have arisen quarrels, disputes, lamentation, sorrows, along with selfishness, conceit & pride, along with divisiveness. Tied up with selfishness are quarrels & disputes. In the arising of disputes is divisiveness." {{Here dukkha arises from what is dear -- rather than the more usual clinging/craving. This is the same idea, though.}}
Piyāsu lokasmaṃ kutonidānā ye cāpi lobhā vicaranti loke,
Āsā ca niṭṭhā ca kutonidānā
Ye samparāyāya narassa honti.
864. <169> ‘Where do (things which are) dear have their origin in the world, and whatever longings exist in they world And where do hope and fulfilment (of hope), which a man has for the future, have their origin?’ Where in the world does liking originate, And all the passions inhabiting the world? What’s the cause of the hopes and aspirations Which people all have for whatever comes next? Those dear things, what is their source[1] in this world, the cause of greedy folks wandering through the world? Hopes and their fulfillment have what as their source, which leads ordinary folks to hope for future existence? "What are the sources of becoming endeared in the world? What are the sources of whatever passions prevail in the world, of longings and fulfillments that are man's goal (in life)?" (864) "Where is the cause of things dear in the world, along with the greeds that go about in the world? And where is the cause of the hopes & fulfillments for the sake of a person's next life?"  
Chandanidānāni piyāni loke
Ye cāpi lobhā vicaranti loke,
Āsā ca niṭṭhā ca itonidānā
Ye samparāyāya narassa honti.
865. ‘(Things which are) dear in the world have desire as their origin, and whatever longings exist in the world. And hope and fulfilment (of hope), which a man has for the future, (also) have their origin in this.’ Desire is the cause of liking in the world Among those in the world who act with such greed. It’s the cause of the hopes and aspirations Which people all have for whatever comes next. The dear things of the world have desire[2] as their source, which is the cause of greedy folks wandering through the world. Hopes and fulfillments have this same desire as source, which leads ordinary folks to hope for the next existence. "Desires are the source of becoming endeared (to objects and persons) in the world, also of whatever passions prevail. These are the sources of longings and fulfillments that are man's goal (in life)."[1] (865) "Desires are the cause of things dear in the world, along with the greeds that go about in the world. And it too is the cause of the hopes & fulfillments for the sake of a person's next life." {{Being endeared arises from desire, rather than clinging arising from craving -- still the same idea.}}
Chando nu lokasmiṃ kutonidāno
Vinicchāyi vāpi kutopahutā,
Kodho mosavajjañca kathaṃkathaṃ ca
Ye cāpi dhammā samaṇena vuttā.
866. ‘Where does desire have its origin in the world, and whence do decisions arise, (and) anger, and lie-telling, and doubt, and also whatever mental states are spoken of by the ascetic?’ But what in the world is the cause of desire? Where do discriminations originate? And anger, dishonesty and confusion, And all the states discussed by the Wanderer? Such desire regarding this world has what as its source? And our many decisions arise from what cause, Together with anger, lies, and suspicions, All of which are spoken of by wandering peace seekers? "Now what is the source of desire in the world? What is the cause of judgments[2] that arise; of anger, untruth, doubts and whatever other (similar) states that have been spoken of by the Recluse (i.e., the Buddha)?" (866) "Now where is the cause of desire in the world? And from where have there arisen decisions, anger, lies, & perplexity, and all the qualities described by the Contemplative?"  
Sātaṃ asātanti yamāhu loke
Tamupanissāya pahoti chando,
Rūpesu disvā vibhavaṃ bhavañca
Vinicchayaṃ kurute janatu loke.
867. ‘Desire arises from dependence upon what they call “pleasant” (and) “unpleasant” in the world. Seeing non-existence and existence in forms, a person makes his decision in the world. When it’s said in the world: pleasing/not pleasing --Dependent on that, desire comes to be. And seeing the coming and going of forms, People make discriminations in the world. ‘I like’ and ‘I don’t like’ as spoken in the world – desire appears because of these two. Due to seeing the ruin and growth of all the material things worldly beings make their decisions accordingly. "It is pleasant, it is unpleasant," so people speak in the world; and based upon that arises desire. Having seen the appearing and disappearing of material things a man makes his judgments in the world.[3] Anger, untruth and doubts, these states arise merely because of the existence of this duality.[4] Let a doubter train himself by way of insight to understand these states as taught by the Recluse." (867)&(868) "What they call 'appealing' & 'unappealing' in the world: in dependence on that desire arises. Having seen becoming & not- with regard to forms, a person gives rise to decisions in the world; anger, lies, & perplexity: these qualities, too, when that pair exists. A person perplexed should train for the path of knowledge, for it's in having known that the Contemplative has spoken of qualities/dhammas."[1] {{Desire arises from the pleasing and the unpleasing -- very similar to craving arising from (pleasant & unpleasant) vedana.}}
Kodho mosavajjañca kathaṃkathaṃ ca
Etepi dhamamā dvayameva sante,
Kathaṃkathi ñāṇapathāya sakkhe
Ñatvā pavuttā samaṇena dhammā.
868. Anger and lie-telling and doubt, and those mental states too (come into existence) when this very pair (pleasant and unpleasant) exist. A doubtful man should train himself in the path of knowledge. The ascetic spoke about mental states from knowledge.’ Anger and dishonesty and confusion-- These states all exist when distinctions are made. The doubtful should train on the path of knowledge. Knowing them, the Wanderer has discussed these states. Also, anger, lies, and suspicions will happen when these two, liking and disliking, exist. Those with uncertainties ought to train in the way of insight, in order to understand these things of which the peaceful ones speak.
Sātaṃ asātañca kutonidānā
Kismiṃ asantena bhavanti hete,
Vibhavaṃ bhavañcāpi yametamatthaṃ
Etaṃ me pabrūhi yatonidānaṃ.
869. ‘Where do the pleasant and the unpleasant have their origin? When what is non-existent do they not come into being? That thing which is “non-existence” and “existence” too, tell me where it has its origin.’ What is the cause of ‘pleasing/not pleasing’? What needs be absent for these not to occur? And this matter of coming and going-- Do tell me also what the cause of these is. What then is the source of liking and disliking? This pair cannot exist when what doesn’t exist? As well as feelings of ruin and growth, please explain what is the source of these two. "What is the source of thinking things as pleasant or unpleasant? When what is absent are these states not present? What is the meaning of appearing and disappearing? Explain the source of it to me." (869) "Where is the cause of appealing & un-? When what isn't do they not exist? And whatever is meant by becoming & not- : tell me, Where is its cause?"  
Phassānidānaṃ sātaṃ asātaṃ
Phasse asante na bhavanti bhete,
Vibhavaṃ bhavañcāpi yametamatthaṃ
Etaṃ te pabrūmi itonidānaṃ.
870. ‘The pleasant (and) the unpleasant have their origin in contact. When contact does not exist, they do not exist. <170> That thing which is “non-existence” and “existence” too, I tell you that this (also) has its origin in this.’ Contact is the cause of ‘pleasing/not pleasing’ In the absence of contact these don’t occur. And this matter of coming and going-- I’ve told you also what the cause of these is. Liking and disliking have sense contact[3] as their source. Without contact these two cannot exist. The same with the pair ruin and growth; I tell you they also have this contact as source. "The pleasant and the unpleasant have their source in sense-impression. When this sense-impression is absent, these states are not present. The idea of appearing and disappearing is produced from this, I say." (870) "Contact is the cause of appealing & un-. When contact isn't they do not exist. And whatever is meant by becoming & not- : this too is its cause." {{The pleasing and the unpleasing arise from contact -- just like vedana arise from contact.}}
Phasso nu lokasmiṃ kutonidāno
Pariggahā cāpi kutopahutā,
Kismiṃ asatte na mamattamatthi
Kismiṃ vibhute na phusanti phasasā.
871. ‘Where does contact have its origin in the world, and whence do possessions too arise? When what does not exist does possessiveness not exist When what has disappeared do contacts not make contact?’ But what in the world is the cause of contact? Where does grasping hold of things originate? In the absence of what will ‘self’ not exist? What needs be gone, for no contact with contact? What is the source of contact in this world? And from what cause does possessive thinking arise? ‘Mine’ doesn’t happen when what doesn’t exist? Contact doesn’t touch when what doesn’t exist? "What is the source of sense-impression? From what arises so much grasping? By the absence of what is there no selfish attachment? By the disappearance of what is sense-impression not experienced?" (871) "Now where is the cause of contact in the world, and from where have graspings, possessions, arisen? When what isn't does mine-ness not exist. When what has disappeared do contacts not touch?"  
Nāmañca rūpañca paṭicca phassā
Icchānidānāni pariggahāni,
Icchāya'santyā na mamatta matthi
Rūpe vibhute na phusanti phassā.
872. ‘Contacts are dependent upon name and form. Possessions have their origin in longing. When longing does not exist, possessiveness does not exist. When form has disappeared, contacts do not make contact.’ Both body and mind depend upon contact.[1] And grasping hold of things is caused by longing. There being no longing, ‘self’ does not exist. When form is gone, there’s no contact with contact. Contact in this world occurs depending on name and form.[4] Possessiveness has desire as origin; when there’s no desire, clinging to ‘mine’ doesn’t happen. Without form there’s no touching of contact. "Sense-impression is dependent upon the mental and the material. Grasping has its source in wanting (something). What not being present there is no selfish attachment. By the disappearance of material objects sense-impression is not experienced." (872) "Conditioned by name & form is contact. In longing do graspings, possessions have their cause. When longing isn't mine-ness does not exist. When forms have disappeared contacts don't touch." {{Contact arises from name-and-form (mental-material) -- exactly the same as is found in some recensions of dependent origination (e.g. DN 15).}}
Kathaṃ sametassa vibhoti rūpaṃ
Sukhaṃ dukhaṃ vāpi kathaṃ vibhoti,
Etaṃ me brūhi yathā vibhoti
Taṃ jānissāma iti me mano ahu.
873. ‘For one attained to what state does form disappear? How does happiness or misery disappear also? Tell me, how it disappears. My intention is that we should know this.’ In what state must one be for form to vanish And what will make pleasure and pain disappear? Do tell me also what the end of these is-- ‘These are things we would know’ occurs in my mind. How does one live such that forms do not occur How is it that neither happiness nor distress occur? Please explain in a way that these don’t happen; My heart wishes to understand this matter. "For whom does materiality disappear? How do pleasure and discomfort cease to be? Tell me how it ceases so that I may be satisfied in my mind that I have understood it." (873) "For one arriving at what does form disappear? How do pleasure & pain disappear? Tell me this. My heart is set on knowing how they disappear." {{Notice only materality/form is to disappear -- not mentality/name. But the key question concerns the disappearance of sukhaṃ & dukhaṃ -- the implication being that these too disappear when materality/form disappears.}}  
Na saññasaññī na visaññasaññī
Nopi asaññī na vibhūtasaññī,
Evaṃ sametassa vibhoti rūpaṃ
Saññānidānā hi papañcasaṅkhā.
874. ‘He has no (ordinary) perception of perceptions, he has no deranged perception of perceptions, he is not without perception, he has no perception of what has disappeared. For one who has attained to such a state form disappears, for that which is named “diversification” has its origin in perception.’ Neither sensing sensation nor sensing none, Nor being insensate nor sensing nothing --For a person in this state, form vanishes. Sensation is the cause of obsessive thought. Neither perceiving ordinary perceptions, nor misperceiving perceptions, nor unable to perceive, nor having perception destroyed – maintaining oneself in this way, forms do not occur because obsessive proliferations[5] have perception as origin.[6] "His perception is not the ordinary kind, nor is his perception abnormal;[5] he is not without perception nor is his perception (of materiality) suspended.[6] -- to such an one materiality ceases.[7] Perception is indeed the source of the world of multiplicity." (874) "One not percipient of perceptions not percipient of aberrant perceptions, not unpercipient, nor percipient of what's disappeared:[2] for one arriving at this, form disappears -- for complication-classifications[3] have their cause in perception." "Ones conceptualization[2] of concepts is not the ordinary kind,
nor is ones conceptualization of concepts abnormal;
one is not without conceptualization,
nor is ones conceptualization of that which is finished[3]--
to such a one form disappears.
Conceptualization is indeed the source of obsessive ideas."[4] (874)
Yaṃ taṃ apucchimbha akittayi no
Aññaṃ taṃ pucchāma tadiṅgha brūhi,
Ettāvataggaṃ nu vadanti bheke
Yakkhassa suddhiṃ idha paṇḍitā se
Udāhu aññampi vadanti etto.
875. ‘You have expounded to us what we asked you. We ask you another thing. Tell us this, pray. <171> Do some wise men here say that the supreme purity of the yakkha is to this extent (only), or do they say that it is something other than this? Whatever we have asked, you’ve revealed to us. Another question for you—come on, tell me. Do all the wise men say this is the highest Purity for a spirit to attain here? Or do they say there is another higher? Whatever you’ve been asked, you’ve explained. May I ask one more thing, please tell me: Among the scholars who declare the purity of people in the world Some say that this alone is the highest purity, Or are there others who speak of something even higher? "What we asked, you have explained. We now ask another question. Tell us the answer to it. Do not some of the learned declare purification of the spirit[8] as the highest state to be attained? And do not others speak of something else as the highest?"[9] (875) "What we have asked, you have told us. We ask one more thing. Please tell it. Do some of the wise say that just this much is the utmost, the purity of the spirit[4] is here? Or do they say that it's other than this?" {{The question is "Is what you just described the culmination of the spiritual path or is there something else higher?"}}
Ettāvavataggampi vadanti heke
Yakkhassa suddhiṃ idha paṇḍitā se,
Tesaṃ paneke samayaṃ vadanti
Anupādisese kusalā vadānā
876. ‘Some wise men here do say that the supreme purity of the yakkha is to this extent (only), but some of them, who say that they are experts, preach that there is a time for (quenching) with no grasping remaining. There are wise men who say this is the highest Purity for a spirit to attain here. And then there are some, who call themselves skillful, Who speak of an instance when nothing remains. Although some speak of the highest purity just this much,[7] declaring themselves learned, speaking of people’s purity in this world; some others, declaring their own personal theories, being clever declare “without attachments remaining.” "Some of the learned do declare purification of the spirit as the highest. But contrary to them some teach a doctrine of annihilation. Those clever ones declare this to be (final liberation) without basis of life's fuel remaining. Knowing that these (theorists) rely on (mere opinions for their statements) a sage investigates that upon which they rely. Having understood and being free (from theories) he will not dispute with anyone. The wise do not enter into any existence." (876)&(877) "Some of the wise say that just this much is the utmost, the purity of the spirit is here. But some of them, who say they are skilled, say it's the moment with no clinging remaining. {{The answer is not clear from reading the five translations. But I personally like Andrew Olendzki's translation that a sage understands how all is ’conditioned,’ — i.e. that there is nothing except streams of dependently originated phenomena rolling on. The full implication of this understanding is liberation. Notice that this is a phenomolgical answer, not a metaphysical one - hence there is nothing to dispute about.}}

The Kalaha-vivada Sutta is finished.

Ete ca ñatvā upanissitāti
Ñatvā muni nissaye so vimaṃsi,
Ñatvā vimutto na vimādameti
Bhavābhavāya na sameti dhīroti.

Kalahavivādasuttaṃ niṭṭhitaṃ.

Chant of Snp 4.11 in Pali

877. And knowing these to be “dependent”, the investigating sage, knowing their dependencies, knowing (the true doctrine), is released (and) does not enter into dispute. The wise man does not go to various (renewed) existences. The sage understands how all is ’conditioned,’ And understanding conditioning, he’s free. Knowing better, he does not enter disputes. The wise, discerning, do not keep becoming. As for genuine Sages knowing both groups as dogmatic, investigate how both groups rely on views. Sages knowing thus are released, do not enter disputes, are truly wise, and no more take on existence and non-existence. Knowing, 'Having known, they still are dependent,'[5] the sage, ponders dependencies. On knowing them, released, he doesn't get into disputes, doesn't meet with becoming & not- : he's enlightened."
An extended commentary, entitled the Mahaniddesa (Nd.I),
reconciling the content of the poems of the Sutta Nipata with the teachings in the rest of the discourses,
was compiled early enough to be included in the Canon itself. This is what is being referred to as Comy and Nd.I below.
    1. There seems to be a mistake here: instead of "Both body and mind depend upon contact" it should read "Contact depends upon both body and mind." 1. Nidāna is here translated ‘source’ to distinguish from its close friends hetu (cause), samudhaya (origin), paccaya (condition), ṭhāna (basis), and upanissa (support).

2. Chanda.

3. Phassa.

4. Nāma and rūpa.

5. Papañcasankhā, a notoriously difficult word to translate. See Nyanananda’s Concept and Reality for an extended exploration of this fascinating term.

6. The response at v874 to the question in v873 is difficult to translate and the meaning of saññā in this context is uncertain. Other alternatives:
Neither ordinary experiencing, nor abnormal experiencing, nor non-experiencing, nor unconsciousness – maintaining oneself in this way, forms do not occur because obsessive proliferations have experiencing as origin.
Neither ordinary awareness, nor abnormal awareness, nor non-awareness, nor unconsciousness – maintaining oneself in this way, forms do not occur because obsessive proliferations have awareness as origin.
Neither ordinary recognition, nor abnormal recognition, nor non-recognition, nor unconsciousness – maintaining oneself in this way, forms do not occur because obsessive proliferations have recognition as origin.

7. As in the response to the question in v875.

1. Man's longings, hopes and aspirations and their satisfaction are his refuge giving him an aim in life.

2. Judgments or evaluations of things motivated by craving for them or by opinions of them as being desirable or otherwise.

3. The "appearing" of the pleasant and the "disappearing" of the unpleasant is judged to be "good." The "appearance" of the unpleasant and the "disappearance" of the pleasant is judged to be "bad."

4. I.e., of the pleasant and the unpleasant.

5. He is neither insane nor mentally disturbed (Comy).

6. He has not attained the state of cessation of perception and feeling (sanna-vedayita nirodha) nor the immaterial absorptions (arupajjhana) (Comy). In the former perception completely ceases, but in the latter there is still the perception of an immaterial object.

7. According to the commentary what remains after these four negations is the state of one who has reached the highest of the fine-material absorptions (rupajjhana) and is in the process of attaining the first immaterial absorption. This answers the question "for whom does (the perception of) materiality disappear?" And as "pleasure and discomfort" have previously been stated to "have their source in sense-impression," in other words, the Perception of material objects, the second question is answered too.

8. The term "spirit" (yakkha) is equivalent here to "being" or "man."

9. An alternative rendering of this sentence could be: "Do not some of the learned declare (the immaterial attainments) as the highest state, as man's purification?"

1. As other passages in this poem indicate (see note 5, below), the goal is not measured in terms of knowledge, but as this passage points out, knowledge is a necessary part of the path to the goal.

2. According to Nd.I, this passage is describing the four formless jhanas, but as the first three of the formless jhanas involve perception (of infinite space, infinite consciousness, and nothingness), only the fourth of the formless jhanas -- the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception -- would fit this description.

3. Complication-classifications (papañca-sankha): The mind's tendency to read distinctions and differentiations even into the simplest experience of the present, thus giving rise to views that can issue in conflict. As Snp 4.14 points out, the root of these classifications is the perception, "I am the thinker." For further discussion of this point, see note 1 to that discourse and the introduction to MN 18.

4. "Spirit" is the usual rendering of the Pali word, yakkha. According to Nd.I, however, in this context the word yakkha means person, individual, human being, or living being.

5. In other words, the sage knows that both groups in the previous stanza fall back on their knowledge as a measure of the goal, without comprehending the dependency still latent in their knowledge. The sages in the first group are mistaking the experience of neither perception nor non-perception as the goal, and so they are still dependent on that state of concentration. The sages in the second group, by the fact that they claim to be skilled, show that there is still a latent conceit in their awakening-like experience, and thus it is not totally independent of clinging. (For more on this point, see MN 102, quoted in The Mind Like Fire Unbound, pp. 81-82.) Both groups still maintain the concept of a "spirit" that is purified in the realization of purity. Once these dependencies are comprehended, one gains release from disputes and from states of becoming and not-becoming. It is in this way that knowledge is a means to the goal, but the goal itself is not measured or defined in terms of knowledge.

See also: DN 21; MN 18; Snp 5.14

1. "The Sutta Nipata is probably one of the most diverse collections of discourses to be found in the Pali Tipitaka, and the chapter from which this sutta is taken, the Atthaka-vagga, may well be the oldest portion of the entire canon." -- Andrew Olendzki

2. This is the key verse, but it is unclear exactly how we should translate it. Saññā is usually translated as "perception;" however, perhaps a more accurate translation would be "conceptualization." When there is a sensory input, we conceptualize that input which then provides us with the name/identification of that input. Unfortunately, we believe those concepts to be real and this is what gets us into trouble. Here the Buddha is not saying we should operate without concepts, or that all concepts are false - he's indicating that we need to not be fooled by our conceptualizing.

Bill Waldron suggested "ideation" as a translation of saññā in this context. This works at least as well as "conceptualization" and yields
"His ideation is not the ordinary kind, nor is his ideation abnormal; he is not without ideation nor is his ideation of what has disappeared -- to such a one form disappears. Ideation is indeed the source of obsessive ideas."

Another suggestion for translating saññā in this verse is "consciousness." And it is true that saññā does mean "consciousness" at times in the suttas (e.g. DN 9). But in looking at all the other uses of sañña in the Atthaka-vagga (Snp 4), it seems sañña does not mean "consciousness" in this sutta collection.

See Ajahn Buddhadāsa’s note 6 for additional suggestions.

However, this verse is pointing to the same sort of mind-state/consciousness that is described in the verses at the end of DN 11:
"Consciousness that is signless, limitless and all illuminating.

Then water, earth, fire, & wind find no footing,

Then long & short, small & large, pleasant & unpleasant,

Then “name-&-form” are all brought to an end.

With the cessation of consciousness [literally "divided knowing"] all this is brought to an end."

See also the verses at the end of the Bahiya Sutta at Ud 1.10 as well as at Ud 8.1, Ud 8.2, Ud 8.3 and Ud 8.4.

Relevant also is MN 121 - (paraphrasing): This field of perception is empty of village, people, forest, earth, the formless jhānas, and the āsavas of sensual desire, becoming & ignorance. There is present only this non-emptiness, namely, that connected with the six sense bases that are dependent on this body and conditioned by life.

See also "The Tangle" at SN 1.23, especially the last verse and "Candana" at SN 2.15, again especially the last verse.

Also see this excerpt from Kitaro Nishida and also Christine Skarda's The Perceptual Form of Life.

This verse is definitely not about formless jhānas! The Nd.I commentary (and any translator relying on it) has simply not understood what the Buddha is talking about.

3. Vibhūta is used multiple times in this sutta to mean "destroyed, annihilated, being without" as per the PED's first definition. But vibhūta can also mean "false," so we could translate as "sañña that is not false." I suspect the double meaning is intended here - the suttas are rife with puns like this.

4. Papañcasaṅkhā is composed of two words: papañca and saṅkhā. Papañca is perhaps best translated as "mental proliferation." When combined with saṅkhā, PED gives us "sign or characteristic of obsession." It also mentions that saññā papañcasankhā is "idea of obsession, idée fixe, illusion."
See also Thanissaro Bhikkhu's note 3 and note 1 of Snp 4.14.

F. Max Müller in "The Dhammapada and the The Sutta-Nipâta From The Sacred Books of the East" (1881) translates this verse as
Let one not be with a natural consciousness, nor with a mad consciousness, nor without consciousness, nor with (his) consciousness gone; for him who is thus constituted form ceases to exist, for what is called delusion has its origin in consciousness. (874)

Summary of the "links" in this sutta and their corresponding "links"
in the usual presentation of Dependent Origination:
Snp 4.11DN 15
Kalahā & VivādāJarā & Maraṇa
Snp 4.11DN 15
Quarrels & DisputesAging & Death

These verses, rather than feeling like the record of an actual conversation, have the feeling of being intentionally composed -- the questions are just too perfect, with each set of questions having a single answer. But this does not detract at all from the significance of this sutta -- it is clearly a well thought out discourse describing a series of "necessary conditions." This is the links of Dependent Origination in their earliest form. It would seem that any explanation of links of Dependent Origination ought to harmonize with this early description if the later description is going to be accurate. This is as close as we can get to the Gold Standard for understanding the Buddha's original thinking about Dependent Origination. And given what the Buddha says in MN 26.19, understanding his early thinking on Dependent Origination is a requirement for awakening.

It is interesting that dukkha is quarrels, disputes, etc. The "Dependent on Craving" excursus at DN 15.9-18 in the Mahānidāna Sutta's discussion of taṇhā & vedana also explains strife as originating from a chain that included both attachment & craving and goes back to feeling -- similar to what-is-dear & desire going back to pleasing/unpleasing.

Notice that the overall series is not an explanation of any single thing. And there certainly is nothing at all that can be construed as having to do with multiple lifetimes. This is a collection of related "necessary conditions," with the key one that the disappearance of materiality and pleasure & pain is dependent on transcending "normal" (or ordinary) saññā.

Chant of Snp 4.11 in Pali
The Theory of ‘Dependent Origination’ in its Incipient Stage by Hajime Nakamura
Saṃyutta Nikāya 12.66: Exploration uses words similiar to this sutta rather than the more common dependent origination words.
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