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I am looking for a specific sutta wherein the conditionality and insubstantiality of the existential process of a sentient being, or consciousness, is made plain by use of the simile of a resonating musical instrument being struck by the player's hand, the sound of which, resonating for awhile, then slowly fades away.

Any references, anyone ?

Thanks :)

  • Ha, I got it at last. This is taken from a footnote in the book 'The Workings of Kamma' : ... The Buddha makes this kind of distinction when He explains that the tune of a lute is not waiting inside the lute, but arises owing to conditions: the physical components of the lute and the musician's playing on it (S.IV.I.xix.9 'Vm-Opama-Suttam' ('The Lute-Simile Sutta')). And VsM.xx.723 'Magg-Amagga-Ndna-Dassana-Visuddhi-Niddeso' ('Ex- position of the Path&Non-Path-Knowledge & Vision Purification') PP.xx.96 explains also: '. . . – Fabien Todescato May 4 '17 at 8:29
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This is a partial index of the similes and metaphors that appear in the suttas available at Access to Insight (/ZzE). Only the imagery that illustrates points of Dhamma is included here; imagery that serves primarily a literary or narrative function is not included (e.g., Ambapali's description of her long-lost youthful beauty). The subject of each image is given in the braces {}. The tilde (~) stands for the head-word in a given entry... Index of Similes

Tuning a stringed instrument: {right effort} AN 6.55

Meta-ontopic-Drum:

"Thus you should train yourselves: 'We will listen when discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — are being recited. We will lend ear, will set our hearts on knowing them, will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering.' That's how you should train yourselves." - Ani Sutta: The Peg/Drum

In reagard of the meaning behind in proper context:

Painting of a woman or man: {not-self} SN 22.100; {nutriment} SN 12.64

May it be of the origins use for you, Fabien

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  • Why the downvotes to this answer? Can someone explain? – dmsp May 4 '17 at 7:17
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SN 35.246 is close but not quite.

“Suppose, bhikkhus, there was a king or a royal minister who had never before heard the sound of a lute. He might hear the sound of a lute and say: ‘Good man, what is making this sound—so tantalizing, so lovely, so intoxicating, so entrancing, so enthralling?’ They would say to him: ‘Sire, it is a lute that is making this sound—so tantalizing, so lovely, so intoxicating, so entrancing, so enthralling.’ He would reply: ‘Go, man, bring me that lute.’

“They would bring him the lute and tell him: ‘Sire, this is that lute, the sound of which was so tantalizing, so lovely, so intoxicating, so entrancing, so enthralling.’ The king would say: ‘I’ve had enough with this lute, man. Bring me just that sound.’ The men would reply: ‘This lute, sire, consists of numerous components, of a great many components, and it gives off a sound when it is played upon with its numerous components; that is, in dependence on the parchment sounding board, the belly, the arm, the head, the strings, the plectrum, and the appropriate effort of the musician. So it is, sire, that this lute consisting of numerous components, of a great many components, gives off a sound when it is played upon with its numerous components.’

“The king would split the lute into ten or a hundred pieces, then he would reduce these to splinters. Having reduced them to splinters, he would burn them in a fire and reduce them to ashes, and he would winnow the ashes in a strong wind or let them be carried away by the swift current of a river. Then he would say: ‘A poor thing, indeed sir, is this so-called lute, as well as anything else called a lute. How the multitude are utterly heedless about it, utterly taken in by it!’

“So too, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu investigates form to the extent that there is a range for form, he investigates feeling to the extent that there is a range for feeling, he investigates perception to the extent that there is a range for perception, he investigates volitional formations to the extent that there is a range for volitional formations, he investigates consciousness to the extent that there is a range for consciousness. As he investigates form to the extent that there is a range for form … consciousness to the extent that there is a range for consciousness, whatever notions of ‘I’ or ‘mine’ or ‘I am’ had occurred to him before no longer occur to him.”


AN 8.46 not close but interesting.

Those deities sang, one danced, and one snapped her fingers. Just as, when a musical quintet is well trained and its rhythm well coordinated, and it is composed of skilled musicians, its music is exquisite, tantalizing, lovely, captivating, and intoxicating, just so those deities’ performance was exquisite, tantalizing, lovely, captivating and intoxicating. Thereupon the Venerable Anuruddha drew in his sense faculties. Then those deities, thinking: “Master Anuruddha is not enjoying this,” disappeared right on the spot.

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  • Ha, thank you so much @Dhammadhatu :) I knew about SN 35.246 which is, as you say, not quite close :) But for the life of me, I can't remember where I saw that simile :) – Fabien Todescato May 4 '17 at 6:24

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