Ākiñcañña; Kiñcana

Renderings

ākiñcaññā: the perception of nonexistence

ākiñcaññā: nonexistence

ākiñcañña: possessionlessness

akiñcana: liberated from the perception of existence

akiñcana: free of the perception of existence (nibbāna)

akiñcana: possessionless

akiñcana: destitute

kiñcana: attachment to the perception of existence

na hoti kiñci: to have no attachment to the perception of existence

sakiñcana: attached to the perception of existence

kiñcana: anything at all

natthi kiñci: there is (nowhere) anything at all

natthi kiñcanaṃ: there is (nowhere) anything at all

Introduction: ākiñcañña

Three meanings

Ākiñcañña has three meanings:

1) nonexistence

2) the perception of nonexistence

3) possessionlessness

1) Nonexistence

The meaning ‘nonexistence,’ can be seen in ākiñcañña’s relationship to natthi kiñcī ti, the perception that there is (nowhere) anything at all, as in this passage:

• He enters and abides in the state of awareness of nonexistence, where one perceives that there is (nowhere) anything at all.
natthi kiñcī ti ākiñcaññāyatanaṃ upasampajja viharati (S.4.296).

The same relationship between ‘nonexistence’ and ‘the perception that there is (nowhere) anything at all’ can be seen when Venerable Posāla asked about the knowledge of ‘one who sees that there is (nowhere) anything at all’ (natthi kiñcī ti passato Sn.v.1113). The Buddha referred to this as ‘knowing the arising of nonexistence (according to reality)’ (ākiñcaññasambhavaṃ ñatvā, Sn.v.1115):

―I ask, Sakyan, about the knowledge of one whose perception of bodily form has vanished, who has abandoned all bodily forms, who sees that there is (nowhere) anything at all either internally or externally. How is such a person to be led further?
Vibhūtarūpasaññissa sabbakāyappahāyino
Ajjhattañca bahiddhā ca natthi kiñcī ti passato
Ñāṇaṃ sakkānupucchāmi kathaṃ neyyo tathā vidho
(Sn.v.1113).

―Knowing the arising of nonexistence (according to reality), and knowing that spiritually fettering delight is a tie to individual existence, knowing this thus, then he sees this matter (according to reality). This is the knowledge of things according to reality of the Brahman who has perfected the religious life
☸ Ākiñcaññasambhavaṃ ñatvā nandi saṃyojanaṃ iti
Evametaṃ abhiññāya tato tattha vipassati:
Etaṃ ñāṇaṃ tathaṃ tassa brāhmaṇassa vusīmato ti
(Sn.v.1115).

The phrase ‘either internally or externally’ supports us parenthesising ‘(nowhere) anything.’

2) The perception of nonexistence

The meaning ‘the perception of nonexistence’ can be seen where ākiñcaññaṃ is linked to natthī ti when the Buddha told Venerable Upasīva that being intent upon the perception of nonexistence (ākiñcaññaṃ pekkhamāno) means with the help of the reflection ‘It does not exist’:

• Being intent upon the perception of nonexistence, being mindful, with the help of the reflection ‘It does not exist,’ cross the flood (of suffering).
Ākiñcaññaṃ pekkhamāno satimā natthī ti nissāya tarassu oghaṃ (Sn.v.1070).

3) A state of possessionlessness

Ākiñcaññaṃ’s third meaning is possessionlessness. For example, the bhikkhunī Subhā (Thī.v.341) reflecting on a return to the household life said:

• It would be unseemly for me, longing for a state of possessionlessness,
Na metaṃ assa patirūpaṃ ākiñcaññaṃ hi patthaye

… Having junked gold and silver, to take them back again.
☸ Yo jātarūpaṃ rajataṃ chaḍḍetvā puna-r-āgahe (Thī.v.341).

Possessionlessness means either:

1) having minimal possessions. For example, the brahman Bāvari, longing for a state of possessionlessness, lived on gleanings and fruit (Sn.v.976-982).

2) Or it means having no luxurious possessions. For example, Subhā ‘junked gold and silver.’

These meanings are practically equivalent.

Illustrations: ākiñcaññaṃ

Illustration: ākiñcaññaṃ, possessionlessness

The Brahman speaks thus
brāhmaṇo evamāha

‘I am not in any way anything “belonging to anyone”; and not in any way is there anywhere anything “belonging to me.”’
☸ nāhaṃ kvacani kassaci kiñcanatasmiṃ
na ca mama kvacani katthaci kiñcanatātthī ti

In fully understanding the truth of this saying one is applied to the practice of possessionlessness.
api ca yadeva tattha saccaṃ tadabhiññāya ākiñcaññaṃ yeva paṭipadaṃ paṭipanno hoti (A.2.177).

Comment:

The Uposatha Sutta (A.1.206) says the particular application of this contemplation is in personal relationships, where usually a man’s parents know him as their son, and he knows them as his parents (ayaṃ amhākaṃ putto ti so pi jānāti ime mayhaṃ mātāpitaro ti). Similarly, his slaves and servants know him as their master, and he knows them as his slaves and servants (ayaṃ amhākaṃ ayyo ti. So pi jānāti ime mayhaṃ dāsakammakaraporisā ti). This reflection therefore overcomes the idea that beings possess each other.

Illustration: ākiñcaññaṃ, a state of possessionlessness

The brahman Bāvari, longing for a state of possessionlessness (ākiñcaññaṃ patthayāno), lived on gleanings and fruit. When someone asked him for money, Bāvari said:

‘Whatever I had that was suitable for offering has all been disposed of by me’
yaṃ kho mamaṃ deyyadhammaṃ sabbaṃ vissajjitaṃ mayā (Sn.v.982).

Possessionless therefore means having nothing suitable for offering to others.

Introduction: akiñcana

Akiñcana: meanings

Akiñcana has four meanings:

1) liberated from the perception of existence

2) free of the perception of existence

3) possessionless

4) destitute

Relation to ākiñcaññā: liberated from the perception of existence

Akiñcanaṃ is related to ākiñcaññā, which we have seen above can mean ‘the perception of nonexistence,’ and akiñcanaṃ shares this meaning because akiñcanaṃ describes:

• ‘A person for whom there is (nowhere) anything at all in either the past, the future, or the present,
Yassa pure ca pacchā ca majjhe ca natthi kiñcanaṃ

… Who is liberated from the perception of existence, free of grasping, he is what I call a Brahman.
Akiñcanaṃ anādānaṃ tamahaṃ brūmi brāhmaṇaṃ (Sn.v.645).

Akiñcanaṃ therefore means ‘liberated from the perception of existence.’ We will consider natthi kiñcanaṃ below.

Relation to ākiñcaññā: free of the perception of existence

In relation to nibbāna, akiñcana must be rendered as ‘free of the perception of existence’:

• This Island, supreme, free of the perception of existence, free of grasping, I call it the Untroubled, the destruction of old age and death.
Akiñcanaṃ anādānaṃ etaṃ dipaṃ anaparaṃ
Nibbānaṃ iti taṃ brūmi jarāmaccuparikkhayaṃ
(Sn.v.1093-4).

Relation to ākiñcaññā: possessionless

We have seen that ākiñcaññaṃ means possessionlessness, and again, akiñcanaṃ shares this meaning. For example:

• Possessionless, gone forth (into the ascetic life)
☸ Akiñcanaṃ pabbajitaṃ (D.3.171).

• Having abandoned sensuous pleasures, being possessionless, one who is wise should cleanse himself of spiritual defilements.
☸ hitvā kāme akiñcano pariyodapeyya attānaṃ cittaklesehi paṇḍito (A.5.232).

Relation to ākiñcaññā: destitution

Related to possessionlessness is destitution:

• The drunkard is broke and destitute
Yo vāruṇī adhano akiñcano (D.3.185).

Illustrations: akiñcano

Illustration: akiñcano, liberated from the perception of existence

This bhikkhu Brahmadeva, madam, free of attachment, has surpassed the devas. Liberated from the perception of existence, not supported by a patron, this very bhikkhu has entered your house for alms.
Eso hi te brāhmaṇī brahmadevo nirupadhiko atidevappatto
Akiñcano bhikkhu anaññaposī yo te so piṇḍāya gharaṃ paviṭṭho
(S.1.141).

Illustration: akiñcano, liberated from the perception of existence

Liberated from the perception of existence, liberated (from individual existence) in the sensuous plane of existence, certainly he has crossed this (wretched) flood (of suffering).
akiñcanaṃ kāmabhave asattaṃ addhā hi so oghamimaṃ atāri (Sn.v.1059).

Illustration: akiñcano, liberated from the perception of existence

I wander in the world, a sage, liberated from the perception of existence.
akiñcano manta carāmi loke (Sn.v.455).

Introduction: kiñcanaṃ and kiñci

Kiñcana and kiñci: meanings

We will show in this section that the synonyms kiñcana and kiñci have these meanings:

1) kiñcana: something

2) kiñci: something

3) kiñcana: anything at all

4) sakiñcana: attached to the perception of existence

5) kiñcana: attachment to the perception of existence

6) kiñci: attachment to the perception of existence

1) kiñcana: something

In the scriptures, na… kiñcana ordinarily means ‘nothing’:

• ‘There is nothing in the world (na… kiñcanamatthi loke) which has not been seen, heard, sensed, or cognised by you’ (Sn.v.1122).

2) kiñci: something

Kiñci equals kiñcana saysPED, which can be seen here:

• There is nothing further that a noble disciple needs to do
ariyasāvakassa natthi kiñci uttariṃ karaṇīyanti (S.2.100).

3) Kiñcana: anything at all

We have seen that kiñcana and kiñci can mean ‘something.’ But sometimes kiñcana is better as ‘anything at all’:

• One should not do anything at all anywhere that is unvirtuous by body, speech, or mind.
Pāpaṃ na kayirā vacasā manasā kāyena vā kiñcana sabbaloke (S.1.12).

• One for whom there is no thought of anything at all, ‘This is mine,’ or, ‘This belongs to others,’
Yassa natthi idaṃ meti paresaṃ vāpi kiñcanaṃ (Sn.v.951).

4) Sakiñcano: attached to the perception of existence

Sakiñcanaṃ is sometimes contrasted with akiñcanā:

• How pleasant it is, for one who is akiñcanā… See how they are troubled, those who are sakiñcanaṃ
sukhino vata ye akiñcanā… sakiñcanaṃ passa vihaññamānaṃ (Ud.14).

And since we have already shown that akiñcanā can mean ‘liberated from the perception of existence,’ sakiñcanaṃ would mean ‘attached to the perception of existence.’ Thus the passage should read:

How pleasant it is, for one who is liberated from the perception of existence,
Sukhino vata ye akiñcanā

Those who are blessed with profound knowledge are indeed people liberated from the perception of existence
Vedaguno hi janā akiñcanā

See how they are troubled, those who are attached to the perception of existence.
Sakiñcanaṃ passa vihaññamānaṃ

Man is emotionally bound to man.
Jano janasmiṃ paṭibaddhacitto ti (Ud.14).

5) Kiñcana: attachment to the perception of existence’

If sakiñcanaṃ can mean ‘attached to the perception of existence’ by extension, kiñcana can mean ‘attachment to the perception of existence,’ for example here:

• Three forms of attachment to the perception of existence:
tayo kiñcanā

… attachment is attachment to the perception of existence,
rāgo kiñcanaṃ

…. hatred is attachment to the perception of existence,
doso kiñcanaṃ

… undiscernment of reality is attachment to the perception of existence
moho kiñcanaṃ (D.3.217).

6) Na hoti kiñci: to have no attachment to the perception of existence

But sakiñcanaṃ is sometimes contrasted with na hoti kiñci:

• How pleasant it is, for one who na hoti kiñci… See how they are troubled, those who are sakiñcanaṃ
sukhaṃ vata tassa na hoti kiñci… sakiñcanaṃ passa vihaññamānaṃ (Ud.13)

According to this, na hoti kiñci is equivalent to akiñcanā, implying that, like kiñcana, kiñci can also mean ‘attachment to the perception of existence.’ Thus the quote can be translated like this:

• How pleasant it is, for one with no attachment to the perception of existence, who has mastered the teaching, who is learned. See how they are troubled, those who are attached to the perception of existence. Man is emotionally bound to man.
☸ Sukhaṃ vata tassa na hoti kiñci saṅkhātadhammassa bahussutassa
Sakiñcanaṃ passa vihaññamānaṃ jano janasmiṃ paṭibaddharūpo ti
(Ud.13).

Illustrations: kiñcanaṃ, kiñci

Illustration: sakiñcano, attached to the perception of existence; akiñcanaṃ liberated from the perception of existence

I do not call one a Brahman due to one’s birth from a particular womb, or due to having arisen from a particular mother.
Na cāhaṃ brāhmaṇaṃ brūmi yonijaṃ mattisambhavaṃ

If he is attached to the perception of existence, (one who nonetheless regards himself a Brahman) is simply a snob.
Bhovādi nāma so hoti sace hoti sakiñcano

But one who is liberated from the perception of existence, free of grasping, he is what I call a Brahman.
☸ Akiñcanaṃ anādānaṃ tamahaṃ brūmi brāhmaṇaṃ (Sn.v.620; Dh.v.396).

Illustration: natthi kiñcī, there is (nowhere) anything at all

The state of awareness of nonexistence can be known, where one perceives that there is (nowhere) anything at all
natthi kiñcī ti ākiñcaññāyatanaṃ neyyan ti (M.1.293).

Illustration: natthi kiñcanaṃ, there is (nowhere) anything at all

The world (of beings), fettered by undiscernment of reality, appears truly fit-for-purpose.
Mohasambandhano loko bhabbarūpo va dissati

… For the fool tethered by attachment and blanketed in darkness
Upadhisambandhano bālo tamasā parivārito

… it indeed seems eternal, but for one who sees (the nature of reality), there is (nowhere) anything at all.
Sassato-r-iva khāyati passato natthi kiñcanaṃ ti (Ud.79).

Illustration: natthi kiñcanaṃ, there is (nowhere) anything at all; akiñcanaṃ liberated from the perception of existence

A person for whom there is (nowhere) anything at all in either the past, the future, or the present,
Yassa pure ca pacchā ca majjhe ca natthi kiñcanaṃ

Who is liberated from the perception of existence, free of grasping, he is what I call a Brahman.
Akiñcanaṃ anādānaṃ tamahaṃ brūmi brāhmaṇaṃ (Sn.v.645).

Illustration: natthi kiñcanaṃ, there is (nowhere) anything at all

For one who has mastered craving, for one who knows and sees (the nature of reality), there is (nowhere) anything at all.
Paṭividdhā taṇhā jānato passato natthi kiñcanaṃ ti (Ud.80).