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I have noticed subtle thoughts (sankharas) can spontaneously pop up but mindfulness can quickly cut off & end those subtle thoughts so craving does not arise in relation to those thoughts.

I have also noticed the mind via subtle craving can be drawn with some attraction towards an external sense object but mindfulness can quickly cut off & stop any attachment & becoming arising towards the sense object.

Are there any Pali suttas that say the sankhara (2nd condition) and the craving (8th condition) referred to in Dependent Origination can arise without the further arising of attachment (9th condition), becoming (10th condition), birth (11th condition) and aging & death (12th condition)?

Must every arising of ignorance, sankhara & tanha (craving) result in the Dependent Co-Arising of all twelve conditions of Dependent Origination?

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Since you're looking for sutta quotes, here's some. I know you're not a fan of Visuddhimagga but there's one quote from that too (I'm sure I've seen this story in the Canon though - but can't find it, so quoting VM).

About "mindfulness can quickly cut off and end those thoughts", see e.g. MN101 Devadaha Sutta:

"Suppose that a man is in love with a woman, his mind ensnared with fierce desire, fierce passion. He sees her standing with another man, chatting, joking, & laughing. What do you think, monks: As he sees her standing with another man, chatting, joking, & laughing, would sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair arise in him?"

"Yes, lord. Why is that? Because he is in love with her, his mind ensnared with fierce desire, fierce passion..."

"Now suppose the thought were to occur to him, 'I am in love with this woman, my mind ensnared with fierce desire, fierce passion. When I see her standing with another man, chatting, joking, & laughing, then sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair arise within me. Why don't I abandon my desire & passion for that woman?' So he abandons his desire & passion for that woman, and afterwards sees her standing with another man, chatting, joking, & laughing. What do you think, monks: As he sees her standing with another man, chatting, joking, & laughing, would sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair arise in him?"

"No, lord. Why is that? He is dispassionate toward that woman..."

"In the same way, the monk, when not loaded down, does not load himself down with pain, nor does he reject pleasure that accords with the Dhamma, although he is not infatuated with that pleasure. He discerns that:

  1. 'When I exert a fabrication (or "apply an antidote" - AV) against this cause of stress, then from the fabrication of exertion there is dispassion.
  2. When I look on with equanimity at that cause of stress, then from the development of equanimity there is dispassion.'

-- So he exerts a fabrication against the cause of stress where there comes dispassion from the fabrication of exertion, and develops equanimity with regard to the cause of stress where there comes dispassion from the development of equanimity. Thus the stress coming from the cause of stress for which there is dispassion through the fabrication of exertion is exhausted & the stress resulting from the cause of stress for which there is dispassion through the development of equanimity is exhausted.

Regarding perception of something desirable and perhaps even momentary impulse of tanha arising but not developing into upadana, I remember this story (this version is from Visuddhimagga not from Pali Canon) translated by Piya Tan:

This is like the case of the elder Mahā Tissa, a resident of Mt Cetiya. It is said that the elder Mahā Tissa was on his way from Mt Cetiya to Anurādhapura for his almsround. Now a certain daughter-in-law of family who had quarrelled with her husband, had set out early from Anurādhapura, all dressed up and decked like a heavenly nymph heading for a relatives’ house. She saw a monk on the road, and being of perverse mind, laughed loudly.

The elder, thinking, "What is that?" looked up, and seeing the bones of her teeth, attained to the perception of foulness, and so gained arhathood. Thus it was said:

Seeing the bones that were her teeth, he recollected it as his foremost perception.
Standing right there, the elder attained arhathood.

Now her husband, going along the road after her, seeing the elder, asked: "Bhante, have you seen a woman?” The elder said:

Whether it was a man or a woman that went by I know not,
But only that on this highway there went a pile of bones!"

Which is sort of explained in AN 3.68:

'But what, friends, is the reason, what the cause, why unarisen passion does not arise, or arisen passion is abandoned?' 'The theme (sign, nimitta - AV) of the unattractive' it should be said. 'For one who attends appropriately to the theme (sign) of the unattractive, unarisen passion does not arise and arisen passion is abandoned...'

'But what, friends, is the reason, what the cause, why unarisen aversion does not arise, or arisen aversion is abandoned?' 'Good will as an awareness-release,' it should be said. 'For one who attends appropriately to good will as an awareness-release, unarisen aversion does not arise and arisen aversion is abandoned...'

'But what, friends, is the reason, what the cause, why unarisen delusion does not arise, or arisen delusion is abandoned?' 'Appropriate attention,' it should be said. 'For one who attends appropriately, unarisen delusion does not arise and arisen delusion is abandoned. This is the reason, this the cause, why unarisen delusion does not arise and arisen delusion is abandoned.'"

The point of all this is that on beginning stages, we have to use effort to stop the process of unfolding of dukkha, but on advanced stages dukkha is prevented through a fundamental permanent change in perception/interpretation.

  • There are meditations on foulness in the suttas; and perhaps e.g. the story of Sundari Nanda is slightly similar; but the story you quoted of Mahā Tissa is set in Sri Lanka so I suppose that's not a sutta. – ChrisW Jun 12 '18 at 14:52
  • The way I remember this story.... it was not as much about foulness as it was about nimitta... Recognizing a woman as opposed to recognizing a skeleton - based on attending to and grasping of different signs. Can't find that version though... or was it something I heard orally... Can't recall. – Andrei Volkov Jun 12 '18 at 15:25
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    IMO the clearest or perhaps the first exposition I remember reading, of that (i.e. of "signs"), is this little verse from an 11th century CE non-Buddhist source, i.e. "If they see | breasts and long hair coming | they call it woman, | if beard and whiskers | they call it man: | but, look, the self that hovers | in between | is neither man | nor woman | O rAmanAtha". – ChrisW Jun 12 '18 at 15:51
  • Yes, very clear! – Andrei Volkov Jun 12 '18 at 16:03
  • i marked this answer down because the quote from MN 101 refers to the arising of the entire 12 conditions of dependent origination. the quote does not answer the question. Also the term "fabrication" in MN 101 does not refer to the sankhara of the 2nd condition of D.O. – Dhammadhatu Jun 13 '18 at 1:24
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No, feeling is classed as an resultant, meaning it cannot be avoided. It will arise.

Good news is that the chain can be cut off from there by observing the feeling with mindfulness, thereby preventing craving from arising.

If you don't believe me, go practice Vipassana meditation and see for yourself..

  • I think the question was actually mostly to pinpoint the source in suttas, not find it in experience. – user13383 Jun 12 '18 at 11:13
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An e.g, we are standing by railing of the bridge underneath a river flows with various types of floating materials. a filthy material comes flowing, we have to just observe it without any aversion , by the drag of flow it will pass away with the flowing water of the river without our effort of deliberately making it to pass. then again a beautiful bunch of flowers comes floating and we just observe without craving for it. that will also pass away. hence the things have the nature of arising and passing away. on practice ,experiential understanding ,wisdom develops of "anitya". this e.g was for your word "by mindfulness the craving can be cut off". No mindfulness neither cuts off nor nurtures anything except giving rise to "anitya" and later on "anatta". after this there remains very little to attain.

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Let me use logic to answer the question. If there is a case that somehow there is cessation of attachment then automatically it means cessation of suffering which means cessation of ignorance also otherwise it will mean cessation of suffering without cessation of ignorance which is impossible. Therefore if cessation of any link of 12 dependent origination factors is achieved then all 12 dependent origination links will fade away. And if any link of 12 dependent origination factors is active then whole chain remains active. Therefore Sanskhara and craving can not arise without attachment.

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Licchavis, the appearance... is rare in the world... a person who explains the teaching and training proclaimed by a Tathagata (AN 5.195).

Tataghata's teach the sankhara of Dependent Origination are threefold; which are defined in MN 44; SN 41.6; etc; namely:

  1. kāyasaṅkhāro (body conditioner - in & out breathing)

  2. vacīsaṅkhāro (verbal conditioner - initial and sustained thinking)

  3. cittasaṅkhāro (mind conditioner - perception & feeling)

Katame ca, bhikkhave, saṅkhārā? Tayome, bhikkhave, saṅkhārā—kāyasaṅkhāro, vacīsaṅkhāro, cittasaṅkhāro. Ime vuccanti, bhikkhave, saṅkhārā.

SN 12.2

SN 36.11 is a sutta that describes the calming of these sankhara; that is, the existence & calming of these sankhara without any craving.

There are these six calmings. When one has attained the first jhāna, speech has been calmed. When one has attained the second jhāna, directed thought & evaluation have been calmed. When one has attained the third jhāna, rapture has been calmed. When one has attained the fourth jhāna, in-and-out breathing has been calmed. When one has attained the cessation of perception & feeling, perception & feeling have been calmed. When a monk's effluents have ended, passion has been calmed, aversion has been calmed, delusion has been calmed.

SN 36.11

Also, MN 19:

As I abided thus, diligent, ardent, and resolute, a thought of sensual desire arose in me. I understood thus: ‘This thought of sensual desire has arisen in me. This leads to my own affliction, to others’ affliction, and to the affliction of both; it obstructs wisdom, causes difficulties, and leads away from Nibbāna.’ When I considered: ‘This leads to my own affliction,’ it subsided in me; when I considered: ‘This leads to others’ affliction,’ it subsided in me; when I considered: ‘This leads to the affliction of both,’ it subsided in me; when I considered: ‘This obstructs wisdom, causes difficulties, and leads away from Nibbāna,’ it subsided in me. Whenever a thought of sensual desire arose in me, I abandoned it, removed it, did away with it.

“As I abided thus, diligent, ardent, and resolute, a thought of ill will arose in me…a thought of cruelty arose in me. I understood thus: ‘This thought of cruelty has arisen in me. This leads to my own affliction, to others’ affliction, and to the affliction of both; it obstructs wisdom, causes difficulties, and leads away from Nibbāna.‘ When I considered thus…it subsided in me. Whenever a thought of cruelty arose in me, I abandoned it, removed it, did away with it.

MN 19

Also, MN 148 is a sutta that describes experiencing craving without attachment:

The Blessed One said: "The six internal media should be known. The six external media should be known. The six classes of consciousness should be known. The six classes of contact should be known. The six classes of feeling should be known. The six classes of craving should be known.

If anyone were to say, 'Craving is the self,' that wouldn't be tenable. The arising & falling away of craving are discerned. And when its arising & falling away are discerned, it would follow that 'My self arises & falls away.' That's why it wouldn't be tenable if anyone were to say, 'Craving is the self.' Thus the eye is not-self, forms are not-self, consciousness at the eye is not-self, contact at the eye is not-self, feeling is not self, craving is not-self.>

MN 148

These suttas also show we cannot apply the bundle of reeds simile to all limbs of Dependent Origination.

  • I downvoted this answer because it does not address the question: how can the sankhara (2nd condition) and the craving (8th condition) referred to in Dependent Origination arise without the further arising of attachment (9th condition), becoming (10th condition), birth (11th condition) and aging & death (12th condition)? Must every arising of ignorance, sankhara & tanha (craving) result in the Dependent Co-Arising of all twelve conditions of Dependent Origination? – Andrei Volkov Jun 13 '18 at 2:45
  • The answer appears fine to me. I do understand and have empathy if English is not your native language, Volkov. I can't imagine myself moderating a Russian website. Pali is difficult enough. With metta. – Dhammadhatu Jun 13 '18 at 2:46
  • SN 36.11 seems to be about the calming of sankharas (via jhanas) -- not about their arising as asked in the question. Also I don't see MN 148 as proof that craving-without-attachment is possible. I read its saying that "craving should be known" as part of saying that the ayatana should be known, in order to not mistake that system as "self". I think it doesn't mention attachment (except in the last sentence), and it says that when you truly understand you give up the tendency to desire -- i.e. not "craving can arise without further attachment". – ChrisW Jun 13 '18 at 10:41
  • No Chris. Your comment is incorrect. The Pali "should be known" means "known with wisdom". As for SN 36.11, it refers to sankhara that exist because ignorance still exists. That is why SN 36.11 ends with "When a monk's effluents have ended, passion has been calmed, aversion has been calmed, delusion has been calmed.". – Dhammadhatu Jun 13 '18 at 20:52
  • Chris, MN 148 refers to craving without attachment. It says: "If anyone were to say, 'Craving is the self,' that wouldn't be tenable. The arising & falling away of craving are discerned. And when its arising & falling away are discerned, it would follow that 'My self arises & falls away.' That's why it wouldn't be tenable if anyone were to say, 'Craving is the self.' Thus the eye is not-self, forms are not-self, consciousness at the eye is not-self, contact at the eye is not-self, feeling is not self, craving is not-self." – Dhammadhatu Jun 13 '18 at 20:56

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