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Saṃyojana

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saṃyojana (T. kun tu sbyor ba ཀུན་ཏུ་སྦྱོར་བ་; C. jie 結) is translated as "fetters," "bonds," etc. These are unwholesome mental factors that keep one bound to cyclic existence (saṃsāra) and impede the attainment of liberation (nirvana).[1][2]

Within the four stages of the supramundane path, successive stages of the path are attained through the progressive purification of the fetters.

A list of ten fetters is spoken about extensively in the Pali tradition and in the Abhidharma-kosa of the Sanskrit tradition.[1] This list is mentioned in both the Sutta Pitaka and Abhidharma Pitaka of the Pali tradition.[2]

An alternate list of ten fetters is mentioned only within Abhidhamma Pitaka of the Pali tradition. Other lists of fetters are also presented in various commentaries of the Sanskrit tradition.

Ten fetters

A list of ten fetters is spoken about extensively in the Pali tradition and in the Abhidharma-kosa of the Sanskrit tradition.[1]

These ten fetters are:[1][3][4][5]

  1. view of a personal identity (satkāyadṛṣṭi)
  2. deluded doubt (vicikitsā)
  3. attachment to rites and rituals (śīlavrataparāmarśa)
  4. attachment to sensuality (kāmarāga)
  5. ill will (vyāpāda)
  6. desire for existence in the form realm (rūparāga)
  7. desire for existence in the formless realm (arūparāga)
  8. conceit (māna)
  9. restlessness (auddhatya)
  10. ignorance (avidyā)

This group of ten fetters is mentioned in both the Sutta Pitaka and Abhidharma Pitaka of the Pali tradition.[2] Pali scholar Bhikkhu Bodhi refers to this list as the "ten fetters according to the Suttanta method."[2]

Lower and higher fetters

These ten fetters are further categorized into two groups:[3][6]

  • lower fetters (orambhāgiya-saṃyojana) - the first five of the ten fetters; these are eradicated upon becoming a non-returner (anāgāmi)
  • higher fetters (uddhambhāgiya-saṃyojana) - the last five of the ten fetters; eradicated upon becoming an arhat.

A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma states:

The five fetters abandoned by the first three paths are called the lower fetters (orambhāgiya-saṃyojana) because they bind beings to the lower world, the sensuous plane of existence. One who has eradicated them, the non-returner (anāgāmi), no longer returns to the sensuous plane, but he is still bound to the round of existence by the five higher fetters (uddhambhāgiya-saṃyojana). With the attainment of the path of Arahantship, these five higher fetters are also eradicated: desire for fine-material existence, desire for immaterial existence, conceit, restlesness, and ignorance.[6]

Buddhist Dictionary states:

The first five of these are called ‘lower fetters’ (orambhāgiya-saṃyojanā), as they tie to the sensuous world. The latter five are called ‘higher fetters’ (uddhambhāgiya-saṃyojanā), as they tie to the higher worlds, i.e., the fine-material world and the immaterial world (AN 9:67, 68; 10:13; DN 33, etc.).
He who is free from 1–3 is a sotāpanna, or stream-winner, i.e., one who has entered the stream to Nibbāna, as it were. He who, besides these three fetters, has overcome four and five in their grosser form, is called a sakadāgāmi, a ‘once-returner’ (to this sensuous world). He who is fully freed from 1–5 is an anāgāmī, or ‘non-returner’ (to the sensuous world). He who is freed from all the ten fetters is called an arahat, i.e., a perfectly holy one.[3]

The ten fetters and the four stages of the path

The four stages of the supramundane path
(according to the Pali "Suttanta method" and the Abhidharma-kosa)

stage's
"fruit"

abandoned
fetters

rebirth(s)
until suffering's end

stream-enterer

1. view of personal identity
2. deluded doubt
3. attachment to rites and rituals

lower
fetters

up to seven rebirths
in the desire realm

once-returner

-  attachment to sensuality (gross form only)
-  ill will (gross form only)

at most one more rebirth
in the desire realm

non-returner

4. attachment to sensuality
5. ill will

at most one more rebirth
in the pure abodes

arahant

6. desire for existence in the form realm
7. desire for existence in the formless realm
8. conceit
9. restlessness
10. ignorance

higher
fetters

no more rebirths

Sources: A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma; Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions; etc.

The diagram above shows the fetters that are cut through at each stage of the four stages of the supramundane path.

Further information:

Within Pali Suttas

This list of ten fetters is referenced in many Pali suttas, including:

Alternate list of ten fetters

An alternate list of ten fetters is presented in the Dhamma Sangani (Dhs. 1113-34) of the Pali Abhidhamma Pitaka. This list is also found in the Culla Niddesa (Nd2 656, 1463) and in post-canonical commentaries. Pali scholar Bhikkhu Bodhi refers to this list as the ten fetters according to the Abhidhamma method.[2]

This enumeration is:[8][9]

  1. attachment to sensuality (Pali: kāmarāga)
  2. anger (paṭigha)
  3. conceit (māna)
  4. views (diṭṭhi)
  5. doubt (vicikicchā)
  6. attachment to rites and rituals (śīlabbataparāmāsa)
  7. attachment to existence (bhavarāga)
  8. jealousy (issā)
  9. stinginess, greed (macchariya)
  10. ignorance (avijjā).

According to a commentary on the Satipatthana Sutta by Buddhaghosa, the fetters in this list are purified on the four stages of the supramundane path in the following sequence:[9]

Stage of path Fetters purified
stream-enterer
  • views
  • doubt
  • attachment to rites and ceremonies
  • jealousy
  • stinginess, greed
once-returner
  • attachment to sensuality (gross form only)
  • anger (gross form only)
non-returner
  • attachment to sensuality (fully purified)
  • anger (fully purified)
arahant
  • conceit
  • attachment to existence
  • ignorance

Distiction from other types of kleshas

Other categories of kleshas are identified in traditional texts, such as the five hindrances. Comparatively speaking, the fetters span multiple lifetimes and are difficult to remove, while hindrances are transitory obstacles to meditation.[10]

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Dalai Lama & Thubten Chodron 2018b, s.v. Chapter 3: True Origins of Duḵha, "Fetters".
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Bhikkhu Bodhi 2000, s.v. Chapter 7: Compendium of Categories, "Fetters".
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Nyanatiloka Thera 2019, s.v. saṃyojana.
  4. Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. saṃyojana.
  5. Gethin 1998, Chapter 3.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Bhikkhu Bodhi 2000, s.v. Chapter 9: Section 41, The Arahant.
  7. See Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Saṁyojana Sutta
  8. Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), p. 656, "Saŋyojana" entry references Cula Niddesa 657, 1463, and Dhamma Sangani 1113. In fact, an entire chapter of the Dhamma Sangani is devoted to the fetters (book III, ch. V, Dhs. 1113-34), see also Rhys Davids (1900), pp. 297-303. (Rhys Davids, 1900, p. 297, provides the following English translations for these Pali terms: "sensuality, repulsion, conceit, speculative opinion, perplexity, the contagion of mere rule and ritual, the passion for renewed existence, envy, meanness, ignorance.")
  9. 9.0 9.1 Soma (1998) The Way of Mindfulness; see section on Buddhaghosa's commentary to the Satipatthana Sutta.
  10. Gunaratana (2003), dhamma talk entitled "Dhamma [Satipatthana] - Ten Fetters."

Sources

  • Gunaratana, Henepola (2003). Satipatthana Sutta [Dharma talks (MP3 on CD)]. High View, WV: Bhavana Society.
  • Rhys Davids, C.A.F. ([1900], 2003). Buddhist Manual of Psychological Ethics, of the Fourth Century B.C., Being a Translation, now made for the First Time, from the Original Pāli, of the First Book of the Abhidhamma-Piṭaka, entitled Dhamma-Sangaṇi (Compendium of States or Phenomena). Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 0-7661-4702-9.

External links

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