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I, Ánanda, Live in the Fullness of Emptiness
Empty of Empty Habits
Not an Empty Habitat

A Little Spell of Emptiness

Translated from the Pali by Michael Olds

I hear tell:

Once Upon A Time, The Lucky Man, Savatthi-Town, East-Park, The Palace of Migara’s Mother came-a-visiting. At this time, Ánanda, just emerging from his afternoon’s sit down practice, went to the Teacher, greeted him, and sat down to one side. There he said:

Sir, at one time, The Lucky Man was residing among the Sakyans in the market town of Nagaraka, and I, also, was there. In that place, I recall having heard, learnt, studied, grasped, face-to-face with the Lucky Man, this statement made by him: "At this time, Ánanda, I reside in the fullness of emptiness." Did I hear this correctly?

Yes, Ánanda, you heard, learnt, studied, grasped this correctly. Previously, as well as now, I reside in the fullness of emptiness.

In the same way, Ánanda, as this Palace of Migara’s Mother [1] is empty of the disturbances of the city: empty of elephants, cows, horses, asses; empty of dealings with gold and silver; empty of groups of men and women, and there is only this that remains to disturb the emptiness: that is, the vibration emanating off the beggars here; in the same way, a beggar, paying no attention to the disturbances of the city, paying no attention to human beings, pays attention only to the vibration emanating off the forest. He takes to paying attention only to perception of the forest, and cleans out, tidies up and liberates his mind.

He understands: "This way there is no disturbance emanating from perception of the city. This way there is no disturbance emanating from perception of human beings. This way there is only that disturbance which emanates off perception of the forest." Thus: "This way is empty of disturbance emanating from perception of the city. This way is empty of disturbance emanating from perception of human beings. This way there is only this that disturbs the emptiness: that is, the vibration which emanates off perception of the forest."

In this way he regards that which is present as empty of that which is not present; and, with regard to what remains, he understands that: ‘That being; this is.’

Thus, Ánanda, there is in the case of this case, a sitting-down-to-empty-out that results in surpassing purity.

And again, Ánanda, deeper than that, paying no attention to human beings, paying no attention to the forest, he takes to paying attention only to perception of earth, and cleans out, tidies up and liberates his mind.

In the same way as he would regard a bull’s hide, stretched out to cure, held down by a hundred pegs, it’s life done gone; when he pays attention to earth, he does not think about anything on earth such as dry land or rivers or swamps or marshes with plants with branches and thorns or mountains or plains, but he only just pays attention to the vibration which emanates off perception of earth. He takes to paying attention only to perception of earth, and cleans out, tidies up and liberates his mind.

He understands: "This way there is no disturbance emanating from perception of human beings. This way there is no disturbance emanating from perception of the forest." Thus: "This way is empty of disturbance emanating from perception of human beings. This way is empty of disturbance emanating from perception of the forest. This way there is only this that disturbs the emptiness: that is, the vibration which emanates off perception of earth."

In this way he regards that which is present as empty of that which is not present; and, with regard to what remains, he understands that: ‘That being; this is.’

Thus, Ánanda, there is in the case of this case, a sitting-down-to-empty-out that results in surpassing purity.

And again, Ánanda, deeper than that, paying no attention to the forest, paying no attention to earth, he takes to paying attention only to perception of The Sphere of Unlimited Space, and cleans out, tidies up and liberates his mind.

He understands: "This way there is no disturbance emanating from perception of the forest. This way there is no disturbance emanating from perception of earth." Thus: "This way is empty of disturbance emanating from perception of the forest. This way is empty of disturbance emanating from perception of earth. This way there is only this that disturbs the emptiness: that is, the vibration which emanates off perception of the Sphere of Unlimited Space."

In this way he regards that which is present as empty of that which is not present, and, with regard to what remains, he understands that ‘That being, this is.’

Thus, Ánanda, there is in the case of this case, a sitting-down-to-empty-out that results in surpassing purity.

And again, Ánanda, deeper than that, paying no attention to earth, paying no attention to The Sphere of Unlimited Space, he takes to paying attention only to perception of the Sphere of Unlimited Consciousness, and cleans out, tidies up and liberates his mind.

He understands: "This way there is no disturbance emanating from perception of earth. This way there is no disturbance emanating from perception of The Sphere of Unlimited Space." Thus: "This way is empty of disturbance emanating from perception of earth. This way is empty of disturbance emanating from perception of The Sphere of Unlimited Space. This way there is only this that disturbs the emptiness: that is, the vibration which emanates off perception of the Sphere of Unlimited Consciousness."

In this way he regards that which is present as empty of that which is not present, and, with regard to what remains, he understands that ‘That being, this is.’

Thus, Ánanda, there is in the case of this case, a sitting-down-to-empty-out that results in surpassing purity.

And again, Ánanda, deeper than that, paying no attention to The Sphere of Unlimited Space, paying no attention to The Sphere of Unlimited Consciousness, he takes to paying attention only to perception of The Sphere Where No Thing’s There, and cleans out, tidies up and liberates his mind.

He understands: "This way there is no disturbance emanating from perception of The Sphere of Unlimited Space. This way there is no disturbance emanating from the perception of The Sphere of Unlimited Consciousness." Thus: "This way is empty of disturbance emanating from perception of the Sphere of Unlimited Space. This way is empty of disturbance emanating from perception of The Sphere of Unlimited Consciousness. This way there is only this that disturbs the emptiness: that is, the vibration which emanates off perception of the Sphere Where No Thing’s There."

In this way he regards that which is present as empty of that which is not present, and, with regard to what remains, he understands that ‘That being, this is.’

Thus, Ánanda, there is in the case of this case, a sitting-down-to-empty-out that results in surpassing purity.

And again, Ánanda, deeper than that, paying no attention to The Sphere of Unlimited Consciousness, paying no attention to The Sphere Where No Thing’s There, he takes to paying attention only to perception of The Sphere of Neither Perception Nor Non Perception, and cleans out, tidies up and liberates his mind.

He understands: "This way there is no disturbance emanating from perception of The Sphere of Unlimited Consciousness. This way there is no disturbance emanating from perception of The Sphere Where No Thing’s There." Thus: "This way is empty of disturbance emanating from perception of the Sphere of Unlimited Consciousness. This way is empty of disturbance emanating from the perception of The Sphere Where No Thing’s There. This way there is only this that disturbs the emptiness: that is, the vibration which emanates off perception of the Sphere of Neither Perception Nor Non Perception."

In this way he regards that which is present as empty of that which is not present, and, with regard to what remains, he understands that ‘That being, this is.’

Thus, Ánanda, there is in the case of this case, a sitting-down-to-empty-out that results in surpassing purity.

And again, Ánanda, deeper than that, paying no attention to The Sphere Where No Thing’s There, paying no attention to The Sphere of Neither Perception Nor Non Perception, he takes to paying attention only to the mental High-Getting that is Sign-less, and cleans out, tidies up and liberates his mind.

He understands: "This way there is no disturbance emanating from perception of The Sphere Where No Thing’s There. This way there is no disturbance emanating from perception of the Sphere of Neither Perception Nor Non Perception." Thus: "This way is empty of disturbance emanating from perception of The Sphere Where No Thing’s There. This way is empty of disturbance emanating from perception of The Sphere of Neither Perception Nor Non Perception. This way there is only this that disturbs the emptiness: that is, the six sense-realms bound to this body reacting to life."

In this way he regards that which is present as empty of that which is not present, and, with regard to what remains, he understands that ‘That being, this is.’

Thus, Ánanda, there is in the case of this case, a sitting-down-to-empty-out that results in surpassing purity.

And again, Ánanda, deeper than that, paying no attention to The Sphere Where No Thing’s There, paying no attention to The Sphere of Neither Perception Nor Non Perception, he takes to paying attention only to the mental High-Getting that is Sign-less, and cleans out, tidies up and liberates his mind.

He understands: "This Mental High-Getting that is Sign-less is something that has been constructed, thought out. Whatever has been constructed or thought out is subject to change and coming to an end." Knowing and seeing this, his heart is free from the grip of sense pleasures, his heart is freed from the grip of living, his mind is free from the grip of blindness. In Freedom comes the knowledge of Freedom, and he knows: "Left Behind is Rebirth, Lived is the Best of Lives, Done is Duty’s Doing, Crossed over Am I; No More It’n and At’n for Me!"

He understands: "This way there is no disturbance emanating from the grip of sense pleasures. This way there is no disturbance emanating from the grip of living. This way there is no disturbance emanating from the grip of blindness." Thus: "This way is empty of the disturbance emanating from the grip of sense pleasures. This way is empty of the disturbance emanating from the grip of living. This way is empty of the disturbance emanating from the grip of blindness. This way there is only this that disturbs the emptiness, that is the six sense-realms bound to this body reacting to life."

In this way he regards that which is present as empty of that which is not present, and, with regard to what remains, he understands that ‘That being, this is.’

Thus, Ánanda, there is in the case of this case, a sitting-down-to-empty-out that results in surpassing purity.

And, Ánanda, all those Shamen or Brahmen of the long distant past who attained the highest surpassing purity of emptiness and made it a habitat, all of them did so by attaining this same highest surpassing purity of emptiness and making it a habitat.

And, Ánanda, all those Shamen or Brahmen who in the far distant future will attain the highest surpassing purity of emptiness and make it a habitat, all of them will do so by attaining this same highest surpassing purity of emptiness and making it a habitat.

And, Ánanda, all those Shamen or Brahmen who at present are able to attain the highest surpassing purity of emptiness and make it a habitat, all of them do so by attaining this same highest surpassing purity of emptiness and making it a habitat.

Wherefore, Ánanda, train yourself this way: "I will attain the highest surpassing purity of emptiness and make a habitat of that."

 

Footnote:

[1] Pasade: Palace, Balustrade, Terraced house; as we understand it today not much more elegant than what would have been a well constructed two-story adobe home in what we might call an "open space preserve" -- a bit of forest nearby town. The Palace was apparently covered top to bottom in precious rugs and cloth coverings.



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