SN.41.7. Godattasutta ("With Godatta")

Saṁyutta Nikāya ("The Linked Discourses")

At one time Venerable Godatta was staying near Macchikāsaṇḍa in the Wild Mango Grove. Then Citta the householder went up to Venerable Godatta, bowed, and sat down to one side. Godatta said to him:

“Householder, the limitless release of the heart, and the release of the heart through nothingness, and the release of the heart through emptiness, and the signless release of the heart: do these things differ in both meaning and phrasing? Or do they mean the same thing, and differ only in the phrasing?”

“Sir, there is a way in which these things differ in both meaning and phrasing. But there’s also a way in which they mean the same thing, and differ only in the phrasing.

And what’s the way in which these things differ in both meaning and phrasing?

It’s when a mendicant meditates spreading a heart full of love to one direction, and to the second, and to the third, and to the fourth. In the same way above, below, across, everywhere, all around, they spread a heart full of love to the whole world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will. They meditate spreading a heart full of compassion … They meditate spreading a heart full of rejoicing … They meditate spreading a heart full of equanimity to one direction, and to the second, and to the third, and to the fourth. In the same way above, below, across, everywhere, all around, they spread a heart full of equanimity to the whole world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will. This is called the limitless release of the heart.

And what is the release of the heart through nothingness? It’s when a mendicant, going totally beyond the dimension of infinite consciousness, aware that ‘there is nothing at all’, enters and remains in the dimension of nothingness. This is called the release of the heart through nothingness.

And what is the release of the heart through emptiness? It’s when a mendicant has gone to a wilderness, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty hut, and reflects like this: ‘This is empty of a self or what belongs to a self.’ This is called the release of the heart through emptiness.

And what is the signless heart’s release? It’s when a mendicant, not focusing on any signs, enters and remains in the signless immersion of the heart. This is called the signless release of the heart.

This is the way in which these things differ in both meaning and phrasing.

And what’s the way in which they mean the same thing, and differ only in the phrasing?

Greed, hate, and delusion are makers of limits. A mendicant who has ended the defilements has given these up, cut them off at the root, made them like a palm stump, and obliterated them, so they are unable to arise in the future. The unshakable release of the heart is said to be the best kind of limitless release of the heart. That unshakable release of the heart is empty of greed, hate, and delusion.

Greed is something, hate is something, and delusion is something. A mendicant who has ended the defilements has given these up, cut them off at the root, made them like a palm stump, and obliterated them, so they are unable to arise in the future. The unshakable release of the heart is said to be the best kind of release of the heart through nothingness. That unshakable release of the heart is empty of greed, hate, and delusion.

Greed, hate, and delusion are makers of signs. A mendicant who has ended the defilements has given these up, cut them off at the root, made them like a palm stump, and obliterated them, so they are unable to arise in the future. The unshakable release of the heart is said to be the best kind of signless release of the heart. That unshakable release of the heart is empty of greed, hate, and delusion.

This is the way in which they mean the same thing, and differ only in the phrasing.”

“You’re fortunate, householder, so very fortunate, to traverse the Buddha’s deep teachings with the eye of wisdom.”

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