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In the Khemakabhikṣusūtra, 差摩比丘經, Sermon of the Monk Chà Mó, T99.29c06 Saṁyuktāgama sūtra #103 (readable in Pāli at 22.89 of the Saṁyuttamikāya)Venerable Chà Mó, who is Khemakabhikkhu in Pāli, gives a sermon to "many elder monks". This has to-do with Ven Chà Mó's not-yet-having-attained severance from pernicious and subtle self-view.

To illustrate his quandary and, in so doing, seemingly educating himself to overcome his fetter, he delivers the simile of the flower's scent and the simile of the perfumed rag. The simile of the flower's scent challenges the elders to locate the locus of the scent of a flower. The simile of the perfumed rag speaks of a launderer who hides the filth introduced to a piece of fabric with a skilled application of perfumes.

What do these mean?

Context:

Like this I heard:

One day, there were myriad elder monks dwelling in Kauśambī at Ghoṣitārāma.

At that time, there was the monk Chà Mó dwelling also in Kauśambī by the badarikā orchard, his body was increasing in iterations of woe and sicknesses.

At that time, there was the monk Tuó Suō keeping watch over the sick. At that time, Tuó Suō came to the myriad elder monks, bowed to the myriad elder monks’s feet, then to one side retreated to reside there.

The myriad elder monks spoke to the monk Tuó Suō: “You, go to the monk Chà Mó, speak: ‘The myriad elders implore you: Does your body slowly come to find peace? Do suffering and misery not increase, is it yes?’”

At that time, the monk Tuó Suō, subject to the myriad elder monks' dispensation, came to the monk Chà Mó and told to Chà Mó their tellings, saying: “The myriad elders beseech you, your body slowly comes to find peace, sufferings and miseries do not increase, yes?”

Chà Mó spoke to Tuó Suō saying: “I am sick and not recovering, I do not find peace, myriad hardships accumulate without salvation, tremendous and mighty suffering aches me, I presently suffer and endure much. It is like the slaughter of a bull, the sharp knife having cut into the live stomach, to fetch its inner organs, that bull’s stomach pain is the very same as what I am enduring! My present stomach pain is greater than that of the bull’s. It is as if two warriors clutched one weak man, suspended him attached above a fire, burning his two feet, my present two feet’s burnings are greater than his.”

At that time, Tuó Suō returned to the elders, according to what Chà Mó had said, he told them of his great sickness, entirely explaining to the elders.

At that time, the elders returned Tuó Suō, dispatching him to come to Chà Mó, that he might speak to Chà Mó, to say: “The Bhagavān has taught these five aggregates of binding, which of these five? The rūpaskandha, vedanā, saṃjñā, saṃskāra, vijñānaskandha, you, Chà Mó, can only poorly observe that these five aggregates of binding are without you, and are nothing to you belonging resolutely.”

At that time, Tuó Suō subject to the elders taught likewise thereafter, went forth to speak to Chà Mó, saying: “The elders speak to you, the Bhagavān speaks of these five aggregates of binding, you poorly observe they are without you, and are nothing to you belonging resolutely.”

Chà Mó spoke to Tuó Suō, saying: “I, in these five aggregates of binding, am able to find no me, and they are nothing to me belonging.”

Tuó Suō returned to address the elders: “The monk Chà Mó spoke, saying: ‘I, in these five aggregates of binding, observe and find no me, and they are nothing I own.’”

The elders again dispatched Tuó Suō to speak to Chà Mó, to say: “You, in these five aggregates of binding observe and find no me, and they are nothing I own, thus āsravāḥ are all-ended, and you are an arhat, resolutely?”

At that time, Tuó Suō, subject to the elders’s teachings, came closer to the monk Chà Mó, speaking to Chà Mó, saying: “The monk is able to thusly observe the five aggregates of binding, thus his āsravāḥ are all ended, an arhat he is, resolutely?”

Chà Mó replied to Tuó Suō, saying: “I observe these five aggregates of binding and find no me, and are nothing I own, but it is not that my āsravāḥ are all ended and it is not that I am an arhat resolutely.”

At that time, Tuó Suō left and returned to the elders, addressed the eldesr: “Chà Mó spoke: ‘I observe these five aggregates of binding and find no me, and are nothing I own, and yet it is not that my āsravāḥ are all ended and it is not that I am an arhat resolutely.’”

At that time, the elderes spoke to Tuó Suō: “You will again return to speak with Chà Mó: ‘You say: “I observe these five aggregates of binding and find no me, and are nothing I own, and yet it is not that my āsravāḥ are all ended [and it is not] that I am an arhat.” The front and end of your notion are incoherent.’”

Tuó Suō, subject to the elders’s teachings, went forth to Chà Mó: “You say: ‘I observe these five aggregates of binding and find no me, nothing to me belonging, and yet it is not that my āsravāḥ are all ended and it is not that I am an arhat.’ The front and end of your notion are incoherent.”

Chà Mó spoke to Tuó Suō saying: “I in these five aggregates of binding, observe and find no me, and nothing to me belonging, meanwhile I am not an arhat, I with my pride, my desiring, this I-making. I am not yet resolute, not yet knowing it, not yet having severed from it, not yet having vomited it out.”

Tuó Suō left and returned to the elders, himself speaking to the elders: “Chà Mó said: ‘I in these five aggregates of binding, observe and find no me, and nothing to me belonging, meanwhile I am not an arhat, I with my pride, my desiring, I-making, I am not yet resolute, not yet knowing, not yet having severed, not yet having vomited.

The elders once more dispatched Tuó Suō to speak to Chà Mó, to say: “You speak of having ātman, how to you have ātman? It is that your form is ātman? It is that ātman is other than your form? Feelings, thoughts, formations, consciousness, this is "me?" Am I other than consciousness?”

Chà Mó spoke to Tuó Suō saying: “I do not say that my form is me, nor am I other than form; nor that feelings, thoughts, formations, consciousness, are me and mine, nor that I am other than consciousness, thus in these five aggregates of binding I have pride, I have desiring, these are I-makings. I am not yet resolute, not yet knowing, not yet having severed from it, not yet having vomited it out.”

Chà Mó spoke to Tuó Suō saying: “What vexation moves you, spurring you on to directions contrary? You fetch a cane, that I may come, I myself with my cane, will approach the elders, I beseech you, give me my cane.”

At that time, the myriad elders, in the distance, saw Chà Mó with his staff on his way coming, themselves spread out a seat for him, found a place to rest his feet, themselves went forth to greet him, to take his robe and alms bowl, ordering that he promptly sit, exchanging words to reassure the weary, speaking to Chà Mó saying:

“You speak of having ātman, how to you have ātman? It is that your form is ātman? It is that ātman is other than your form? Feelings, thoughts, formations, consciousness, this is "me?" Am I other than consciousness?”

Chà Mó Bhikṣu spoke:

“It is not that form is me, but it is not that I am other than form; there is no feeling, thought, formation, or consciousness that is mine, yet I am not other than consciousness, thus in these five aggregates of binding I have my pride, I have my desiring, this I-making. I am not yet resolute, I am not yet knowing, not yet having severed, not yet having vomited. It is like the flowers. The utpala, paduma, kumuda, or puṇḍarīka flower's. It is like these flowers' scent. Is it the roots' scent? Is the scent other than the roots? Is it the stem's, the leaf's, the whiskers', the fine constituents' or the coarse constituents' scent? Are the fine constituents other than the coarse constituents? It is so said, no?"

The elders responded: "No, resolutely, Chà Mó! It is not the utpala's, the paduma's, the kumuda's, the puṇḍarīka's roots’ scent, but it is not that the scent is other than root, so too also it is not the stem's, the leaf's, the whiskers', the fine constituents', or the coarse constituents' scent, so too also it is not that the fine constituents are other than the coarse constituents."

Chà Mó again asked: "It is what's scent?"

The elders replied: "It is the flower's."

Chà Mó again replied: "I, too, am thus so. It is not that my form is me, yet I am not other than form; there is no feeling, thought, formation, or consciousness that is resolutely mine, yet I am not apart from consciousness. So I in these five aggregates of binding see no me, and they are nothing I own, as such is my pride, my desiring, I-making, not yet resolute, not yet knowing, not yet having severed, not yet having vomited. Elders, hear my exposition of analogy. Worldlings and sages, on account of metaphor attain to understanding. Such an analogy is this: The wet-nurse has a cloth, she pays the launderer to wash it, he washes it with all kinds of grey broth, he rinses until glistening. The filth still remainders lingering in fumes, there must be applied to it all kinds of incenses & perfumes, he knows how to cause these fumes to vanish. Like this, one must inquire into what extent the sage disciple severs from these five aggregates of binding, with true insight there is no me, and there is nothing I own, enduring these five aggregates of binding I have pride, I have desiring, I-making, not yet resolute, not yet knowing, not yet having severed, not yet having vomited. Afterwards, in these five aggregates of binding, further investigation is undertook, profound insight into saṃsāra is attained, this form, this form’s origin, this form’s cessation, this feeling, thought, formation, consciousness, this consciousness’s origin, this consciousness’s cessation. And so, in these five aggregates of binding, with profound insight into saṃsāra, after that, my pride, my desiring, these I-makings, are all entirely cast away, this is called penetrating insight into the true aspect.”

When Chà Mó spoke the dharma, those elders’s manifold contaminants became immaculate with their attainment of the pure dharma eye.

(Khemakabhikṣusūtra 差摩比丘經 Sermon of the Monk Chà Mó T99.29c06 Saṁyuktāgama sūtra #103)

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The meaning seems very clear from reading the Pali sutta. It just means, whoever has overcome the five lower fetters (which includes the self-view), may still have lingering sense of "I".

The first parable compares this lingering sense with lingering smell of lotus - just like smell does not come from a particular part of the plant, the lingering sense of I does not come from identification with any of the five aggregates and yet there it is.

The second parable illustrates how this situation develops. Just like a washed clothes may still have lingering smell of detergent which eventually goes away, someone without five fetters may still have lingering sense of I, which eventually goes away.

And how does it go away? According to sutta, through analytical meditation on coming together and disbanding of causal chains that are mistaken for sentient beings.

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yes Puthujjanas struggle already with sakkay ditthi, but there is not much more to say than what is stated by the non-puthujjana Khemaka.

The lack of sakkya ditthi just means

“Friend, concerning these five clinging-aggregates described by the Blessed One—i.e., the form clinging-aggregate, the feeling clinging-aggregate, the perception clinging-aggregate, the fabrications clinging-aggregate, the consciousness clinging-aggregate: With regard to these five clinging-aggregates, there is nothing I assume to be self or belonging to self, and yet I am not an arahant. With regard to these five clinging-aggregates, ‘I am’ has not been overcome, although I don’t assume that ‘I am this.’” https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/SN/SN22_89.html

That is part of the famous explanation of ''anatta'' by the buddha with the usual contemplation of anatta as in

'This is not mine,

I am not this,

this is not my self.'

which is the famous

n'etaɱ mama,|| neso'ham asmi|| na me so attā' ti.|| ||

to fight directly the wrong view of atta, as explained in the second sermon, http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/samyutta/khandha/sn22-059.html https://ahandfulofleaves.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/a-note-on-atta-in-the-aladaddupama-sutta_norman_ld_1981.pdf

Lack of Sakkya ditthi is the 3 above, minus the famous ''asmi'' or ''asmimāna'', on which puthujjanas love to speculate. The non-puthujjana Khemaka says it is like the scent of a flower, precisely because you cannot pinpoint it to one aggregate. At best you can express it as a some residual lust towards something, but asmi is not like lust towards form or existence.

The famous Pyia Tan has an analysis of this sutta http://www.themindingcentre.org/dharmafarer/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/14.13-Khemaka-S-s22.89-piya.pdf and how perception of anicca destroy even this asmi http://www.themindingcentre.org/dharmafarer/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/12.12-Anicca-Sanna-S-s22.102-piya.pdf

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