At one time the Fortunate One was staying near Benares, in the deer park at Isipatana. There the Fortunate One addressed the group of five practitioners:

“Practitioners!”

“Venerable sir,” they replied. The Fortunate One said this:

“Practitioners, form is not atman. For if form were atman, it wouldn’t lead to affliction. And you could compel form: ‘May my form be like this! May it not be like that!’ But because form is not atman, it leads to affliction. And you can’t compel form: ‘May my form be like this! May it not be like that!’

Feeling is not atman …

Perception is not atman …

Mental activities are not atman …

Consciousness is not atman. For if consciousness were atman, it wouldn’t lead to affliction. And you could compel consciousness: ‘May my consciousness be like this! May it not be like that!’ But because consciousness is not atman, it leads to affliction. And you can’t compel consciousness: ‘May my consciousness be like this! May it not be like that!’

What do you think, practitioners? Is form permanent or impermanent?”

“Impermanent, sir.”

“But if it’s impermanent, is it misfortune or happiness?”

“Misfortune sir.”

“But if it’s impermanent, misfortune , and perishable, is it fit to be regarded thus: ‘This is mine, I am this, this is my atman’?”

“No, sir.”

“Is feeling permanent or impermanent?” …

“Is perception permanent or impermanent?” …

“Are mental activities permanent or impermanent?” …

“Is consciousness permanent or impermanent?”

“Impermanent, sir.”

“But if it’s impermanent, is it misfortune or happiness?”

“Misfortune , sir.”

“But if it’s impermanent, misfortune , and perishable, is it fit to be regarded thus: ‘This is mine, I am this, this is my atman’?”

“No, sir.”

“So you should truly see any kind of form at all—past, future, or present; internal or external; coarse or fine; inferior or superior; far or near: all form—with right understanding: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my atman.’

Any kind of feeling at all …

Any kind of perception at all …

Any kind of mental activities at all …

You should truly see any kind of consciousness at all—past, future, or present; internal or external; coarse or fine; inferior or superior; far or near: all consciousness—with right understanding: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my atman.’

Seeing this, a learned noble disciple grows disillusioned with form, feeling, perception, mental activities, and consciousness. Being disillusioned, desire fades away. When desire fades away they’re freed. When they’re freed, they know they’re freed.

They understand: ‘Rebirth is ended, the spiritual journey has been completed, what had to be done has been done, there is no return to any state of existence.’”

That is what the Fortunate One said. Satisfied, the group of five practitioners were happy with what the Fortunate One said. And while this discourse was being spoken, the minds of the group of five practitioners were freed from distortions by not grasping.


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This work by Bhikkhu Sujato, revised by Jay Forrest is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Based on a public domain work at https://suttacentral.net/. Please reference it as: R-Sujato.

For more information: https://jayforrest.org/r-sujato-translation-explained/