In the Seeds Sutta (SN 22.54), we find there are five kinds of seeds, which can grow, when they are fertile, undamaged and securely planted on the ground with water to nourish them.

Water is delight and lust, or in another translation, relishing and greed.

Earth refers to the four stations of consciousness, or in another translation, four standing-spots of consciousness, i.e. form, feeling, perception and volitional formations.

But what are the five kinds of seeds? This translation of the sutta says "Consciousness together with its nutriment should be seen as like the five kinds of seeds."

What is consciousness together with its nutriment, that forms five kinds of seeds? What five?

In other suttas (e.g. MN 148), there are six kinds of consciousness - related to the six senses (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind or intellect).

But what are the five in this sutta formed by consciousness and its nutriment?

And what is the nutriment for consciousness? In another translation, this is fuel.

2 Answers 2


What is consciousness together with its nutriment, that forms five kinds of seeds? What five?

From Ven. Bodhi's note in "Middle Length Discourses":

Nutriment (ahara) is to be understood here in a broad sense as a prominent condition for the individual life-process. Physical food(nurture the body), contact (nurture feeling), mental volition (nurture consciousness to manifest to 3 realms of existence: sense, form, and formless worlds), consciousness (nurture name/form or mentality/materiality at rebirth, the psycho-physical organism in its totality); these are the elements that help perpetuating samsara; Craving is the origin of nutriment since craving of the previous existence is the source of the present individuality with its dependence upon and continual consumptions of the four nutriments in this existence.

Also from Ven. Bodhi's note:

"Bhikkhus, there are these five kinds of seeds. What five? Root-seeds, stem-seeds, joint-seeds, cutting-seeds, and germ-seeds as the fifth"[73] The five kinds of seeds (bija) are actually five means of propagation. Spk gives examples of the five kinds drawn from Vin IV 35.

And From Ven. Thanissaro's "The Buddhist Monastic Code":

The Vibhaºga defines bhÒtag›ma as vegetation arising from any of five sources:

  1. from bulbs, rhizomes, or tubers (e.g., potatoes, tulips),
  2. from cuttings or stakes (e.g., willows, rose bushes),
  3. from joints (e.g., sugar cane, bamboo),
  4. from runners (e.g., strawberries, couch grass), or
  5. from seeds (e.g., corn, beans).
  • Piya Tan explains similarly here. Please search for "The discourse on seeds".
    – ruben2020
    Jul 20, 2020 at 17:15

here Consciousness+nutriment is like the a seed, like in https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.077.than.html but with karma-field replacing the 4 stations-earth for the seed...

But the nutriment is dropped in the remaining of the sutta.

In SN22.54, it is not that there 5 kinds of consciousnesses. Consciousness is the 6 usual consciousnesses, but here it is just ''consciousness'' in singular, after the nutriment is dropped.

The goal is to prevent the seed from growing, which is done either by removing earth and/or water, or by damaging the seed directly. And the buddha says that the path to remove consciousness is really removing the craving which ''moisturizes'' it. Then consciousness is liberated and since there is no water, it does not grow again. Everybody wants to know what happens to the liberated consciousness, besides being liberated, but they all end up copying the Hindus.

If you really want to connect sāhāraṃ with the number five, you only this sutta https://suttacentral.net/an10.62/en/sujato about the usual ''fuel for craving for continued existence'', which is ignorance and the fuel for ignorance is''The five hindrances.’'' but here the focus is on craving, not consciousness .

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .