5:14  Posāla’s Question

To one who reveals the past


his doubts cut through—

who has gone to the beyond

of all phenomena,

I’ve come with a desire for a question.

I ask the Sakyan about the knowledge1

of one devoid of perception of forms,

who has abandoned all the body,

every body,

who sees, within & without,

‘There is nothing’:

How is he

to be led further on?

The Buddha:

The Tathāgata, knowing directly

all stations of consciousness,2

knows for one stationed in them


& the steps leading there.

Knowing directly

the origin of nothingness

to be the fetter of delight,

one then sees there


That’s his genuine knowledge—

the brahman who has lived

to fulfillment.

vv. 1112–1115


1. Posāla’s question concerning the knowledge of the person in the dimension of nothingness has a double meaning: He is asking about the Buddha’s knowledge about that person, and also what a person in that dimension of attainment should do to develop his/her knowledge even further. The Buddha’s answer deals with the question in both its senses. On delight in nothingness, see MN 106.

2. On the seven stations of consciousness, see DN 15. The dimension of nothingness, discussed in this dialogue, is the seventh and most refined. See Sn 5:6, note 1. On the steps leading to release from being stationed in the formless states, see MN 52, MN 102, MN 106, MN 111, MN 140, and AN 9:36.