Āhāra

Renderings

āhāra: existential nourishment

āhāra: nourishing condition

āhāra: nourishment

āhāra: food

āhāra: diet

āhāra: digestion

āhāra: fuel/firing

Introduction

Existential nourishment

The four kinds of āhārā arefor ‘the maintenance of beings that have been brought into existence and for the assistance of those about to arise (into new existence)’ (bhūtānaṃ vā sattānaṃ ṭhitiyā sambhavesīnaṃ vā anuggahāya). Therefore we call them the four kinds of existential nourishment.

Comment: Norman says sambhavesīnaṃ is the future active participle in –esin (Elders Verses I n.527), to be translated with the words ‘about to.’

Illustrations

Illustration: āhāro, nourishment

Suppose there was a great tree and all its roots going downwards and across would send the sap upwards. With that as nourishment, with that as sustenance, that great tree would stand for a very long time
☸ Seyyathā pi bhikkhave mahārukkho tassa yāni ceva mūlāni adhogamāni yāni ca tiriyaṅgamāni sabbāni tāni uddhaṃ ojaṃ abhiharanti. Evaṃ hi so bhikkhave mahārukkho tadāhāro tadupādāno ciraṃ dīghamaddhānaṃ tiṭṭheyya (S.2.86).

Illustration: āhāra, nourishment; āhāro, food

What now if I allowed medicine for bhikkhus, both medicine itself as well as what could be regarded as medicine, which though it serves as nourishment in the world, could not be regarded as gross food?
Kinnū kho ahaṃ bhikkhūnaṃ bhesajjaṃ anujāneyyaṃ yaṃ bhesajjañceva assa bhesajjasammatañca lokassa āhāratthañca phareyya na ca oḷāriko āhāro paññāyeyyā ti (Vin.1.199).

Illustration: āhāro, food

Without food, he shrivelled up.
Ussussati anāhāro (Sn.v.985).

Illustration: āhāra, food

Seeing that the body subsists on food, I go searching.
Āhāraṭṭhitiko samussayo iti disvāna carāmi esanaṃ (Th.v.123).

Illustration: āhāraṃ, food

The ascetic disciples of the Sakyans’ Son eat righteous food
dhammikaṃ samaṇā sakyaputtiyā āhāraṃ āhārenti

The ascetic disciples of the Sakyans’ Son eat blameless food
anavajjaṃ samaṇā sakyaputtiyā āhāraṃ āhārenti (S.3.240).

Illustration: āhāraṃ, food

Wouldn’t they eat that food only for the sake of crossing the desert?
☸ Nanu te bhikkhave yāvadeva kantārassa nittharaṇatthāya āhāraṃ āhareyyunti? (S.2.99).

Illustration: āhāra, food

This (wretched human) body has come into being through food, sister. With the help of food, food must be abandoned.
Āhārasambhūto ayaṃ bhagini kāyo. Āhāraṃ nissāya āhāro pahātabbo (A.2.145).

Illustration: āhāra, food

And what is the origination of the body?
Ko ca bhikkhave kāyassa samudayo.

With the origination of food comes the origination of the body. With the ending of food comes the vanishing of the body.
Āhārasamudayā kāyassa samudayo āhāranirodhā kāyassa atthaṅgamo (S.5.184).

Illustration: āhāro, diet

There my name was so-and-so, my clan was so-and-so, my caste was so-and-so, my diet was such-and-such.
evaṃnāmo evaṃgotto evaṃvaṇṇo evamāhāro (A.1.167).

Illustration: āhāre, digestion

If a bhikkhu’s mind is imbued with the perception of the loathsome nature of digestion, his mind draws back, bends back, turns away from craving for flavours and is not attracted to them, and either indifference or loathing is established in him.
Āhāre paṭikkūlasaññā paricitena bhikkhave bhikkhuno cetasā bahulaṃ viharato rasataṇhāya cittaṃ patilīyati patikuṭati pativaṭṭati na sampasārīyati upekkhā vā paṭikkūlyatā vā saṇṭhāti (A.4.47).

Illustration: āhāro, firing

Suppose a great bonfire was burning, consuming ten, twenty, thirty, or forty loads of wood, and a man would cast dry grass, dry cowdung, and dry wood into it from time to time.
tatra puriso kālena kālaṃ sukkhāni ceva tiṇāni pakkhipeyya sukkhāni ca gomayāni pakkhipeyya sukkhāni ca kaṭṭhāni pakkhipeyya

Thus, with that as firing, with that as fuel, that great bonfire would burn for a very long time.
evaṃ hi so bhikkhave mahā aggikkhandho tadāhāro tadupādāno ciraṃ dīghamaddhānaṃ jaleyya (S.2.84-90).

Illustration: āhāro, fuel

Just as an oil lamp burns because of oil and a wick, and with the exhaustion of the oil and wick it is extinguished through lack of fuel,
Seyyathā pi assaji telañca paṭicca vaṭṭiñca paṭicca telappadīpo jhāyeyya. Tasseva telassa ca vaṭṭiyā ca pariyādānā anāhāro nibbāyeyya (S.3.126).

Illustration: āhāro, fuel

A fire blazes because of its firing of grass and sticks. When this is exhausted, and no more is brought to it, then being without fuel, it is simply reckoned as extinguished.
Yaṃ hi so gotama aggi tiṇakaṭṭhūpādānaṃ paṭicca ajali tassa ca pariyādānā aññassa ca anupahārā anāhāro nibbuto’teva saṅkhaṃ gacchatī ti

Illustration: āhārā, existential nourishment

There are these four kinds of existential nourishment for the maintenance of beings that have been brought into existence and for the assistance of those about to arise (into new existence). Which four?
Cattāro me āvuso āhārā bhūtānaṃ vā sattānaṃ ṭhitiyā sambhavesīnaṃ vā anuggahāya. Katame cattāro.

• physical food, gross or subtle
kabaliṅkāro āhāro oḷāriko vā sukhumo vā

• secondly, sensation
phasso dutiyo

• thirdly, mental intentionality
manosañcetanā tatiyā

• fourthly, the stream of consciousness
viññāṇaṃ catutthaṃ (M.1.48).

Comment:

Norman views sambhavesīnaṃ as the future active participle in –esin (Elders Verses I, n.527), to be translated with the words ‘about to.’

Illustration: āhāro, existential nourishment

The existential nourishment of a stream of consciousness is a necessary condition for future renewed states of individual existence and rebirth.
viññāṇāhāro āyatiṃ punabbhavābhinibbattiyā paccayo (S.2.13).

Illustration: āhāra, existential nourishment

All beings subsist on existential nourishment.
☸ sabbe sattā āhāraṭṭhitikā (D.3.211).

Illustration: āhāra, existential nourishment

Whatever suffering arises, all of it arises dependent on existential nourishment. Through the ending of existential nourishment, there is no arising of suffering.
Yaṃ kiñci dukkhaṃ sambhoti sabbaṃ āhārapaccayā
Āhārānaṃ nirodhena natthi dukkhassa sambhavo.

Recognising this danger, that suffering arises dependent on existential nourishment, profoundly understanding all existential nourishment, one is free of attachment to all existential nourishment.
Etamādīnavaṃ ñatvā dukkhaṃ āhārapaccayā
Sabbāhāraṃ pariññāya
sabbāhāramanissito (Sn.v.747-9).

Illustration: āhārā, existential nourishment

With the origination of craving comes the origination of existential nourishment.
taṇhāsamudayā āhārasamudayo

With the ending of craving comes the ending of existential nourishment.
taṇhānirodhā āhāranirodho

The practice leading to the ending of existential nourishment is the noble eightfold path
ayameva ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo āhāra nirodhagāminī paṭipadā (M.1.48).

Illustration: āhāra, existential nourishment

What is born, brought about, arisen, produced, originated, unenduring,
Jātaṃ bhūtaṃ samuppannaṃ kataṃ saṅkhatamaddhuvaṃ

Conjoined with old age and death,
Jarāmaraṇasaṅghātaṃ

A hotbed of illnesses,
roganiḍḍhaṃ

Easily destroyed
pabhaṅguṇaṃ

Having existential nourishment as its support and source
āhāranettippabhavaṃ

It is not fit to be delighted in
nālaṃ tadabhinandituṃ (It.38).

Illustration: āhāra, food; nourishing condition

Just as this (wretched human) body subsists on food, it survives because of food, without food it does not survive
Seyyathā pi bhikkhave ayaṃ kāyo āhāraṭṭhitiko āhāraṃ paṭicca tiṭṭhati. Anāhāro no tiṭṭhati.

Likewise the seven factors of enlightenment subsist on nourishing conditions, they survive because of nourishing conditions, without nourishing conditions they do not survive.
Evameva kho bhikkhave satta bojjhaṅgā āhāraṭṭhitikā āhāraṃ paṭicca tiṭṭhanti. Anāhārā no tiṭṭhanti.

What is the condition that nourishes both the arising of the unarisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness, and the perfection through spiritual cultivation of the arisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness?
Ko ca bhikkhave āhāro anuppannassa vā satisambojjhaṅgassa uppādāya uppannassa vā satisambojjhaṅgassa bhāvanāya pāripūriyā?

There are things that support the enlightenment factor of mindfulness. Much proper contemplation in that regard is a condition that nourishes both the arising of the unarisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness, and the perfection through spiritual cultivation of the arisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness.
Atthi bhikkhave satisambojjhaṅgaṭṭhānīyā dhammā. Tattha yoniso manasikārabahulīkāro ayamāhāro anuppannassa vā satisambojjhaṅgassa uppādāya uppannassa vā satisambojjhaṅgassa bhāvanāya pāripūriyā (S.5.65).

Illustration: āhāro, nourishing condition

There are things that support the enlightenment factor of detached awareness. Much proper contemplation in that regard is a condition that nourishes both the arising of the unarisen enlightenment factor of detached awareness, and the perfection through spiritual cultivation of the arisen enlightenment factor of detached awareness.
Atthi bhikkhave upekkhāsambojjhaṅgaṭṭhānīyā dhammā. Tattha yoniso manasikārabahulīkāro ayamāhāro anuppannassa vā upekkhāsambojjhaṅgassa uppādāya uppannassa vā upekkhāsambojjhaṅgassa bhāvanāya pāripūriyā (S.5.105).

Illustration: āhāro, nourishing condition

What is the condition that nourishes uninsightfulness into reality? The five hindrances, one should reply.
ko cāhāro avijjāya? Pañca nīvaraṇā tissa vacanīyaṃ (A.5.116).

Illustration: āhāro, nourishing condition

And what is the condition that nourishes both the arising of unarisen sensuous hankering, and the increase and expansion of arisen sensuous hankering?
Ko ca bhikkhave āhāro anuppannassa vā kāmacchandassa uppādāya uppannassa vā kāmacchandassa bhiyyobhāvāya vepullāya

There is the quality of loveliness. Much improper contemplation in that regard is a condition that nourishes both the arising of unarisen sensuous hankering, and the increase and expansion of arisen sensuous hankering.
Atthi bhikkhave subhanimittaṃ. Tattha ayoniso manasikārabahulīkāro ayamāhāro anuppannassa vā kāmacchandassa uppādāya uppannassa vā kāmacchandassa bhiyyobhāvāya vepullāya (S.5.102-3).

Illustration: āhāraṃ, nourishing condition

Craving for states of individual existence has a specific and necessary condition.
idappaccayā bhavataṇhā ti.

It has a nourishing condition, I declare, not no nourishing condition.
Bhavataṇhampahaṃ bhikkhave sāhāraṃ vadāmi no anāhāraṃ

What is its nourishing condition?
ko cāhāro bhavataṇhāya

Uninsightfulness into reality, one should reply.
avijjā tissa vacanīyaṃ (A.5.117).

Illustration: āhāro, nourishing condition

Virtuous friendship is a condition that nourishes virtuous practices.
kalyāṇamittatā sīlānaṃ āhāro (A.5.136).

Illustration: āhāraṃ nourishing condition

Faith (in the perfection of the Perfect One’s enlightenment) has a nourishing condition, I declare, not no nourishing condition.
Saddhampahaṃ bhikkhave sāhāraṃ vadāmi no anāhāraṃ.

And what is the condition that nourishes faith (in the perfection of the Perfect One’s enlightenment)?
Ko cāhāro saddhāya

Listening to the true teaching, one should reply.
☸ saddhammasavanantissa vacanīyaṃ (A.5.115).

Illustration: āhāra, nourishing condition

―Bhikkhus, do you see, ‘This is brought about?’
bhūtamidan ti bhikkhave passathā ti?

―Yes, bhante

―Bhikkhus, do you see: ‘It is arisen with that as its nourishing condition’?
tadāhārasambhavan ti bhikkhave passathā ti?

―Yes, bhante

―Bhikkhus, do you see: ‘With the ending of that nourishing condition, what is brought about is destined to cease’?
tadāhāranirodhā yaṃ bhūtaṃ taṃ nirodhadhamman ti bhikkhave passathā ti?

―Yes, bhante (M.1.260).