Summary of The First Sutta

A simple comparison between the young and the old.


From the text: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.001.than.html


The young man does not choose the Unbinding because he has more to see. 

The old man chooses the unbinding because there is nothing left to see. 

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Why does a person not want the “Unbinding” in the text? They have not tired of existence. They have not grown tired of all things yet and so there is no reason to choose the last thing. An old man at the verge of death might finally choose the unbinding.

The Young Man: 

"He perceives Unbinding as Unbinding.[7] Perceiving Unbinding as Unbinding, he conceives things about Unbinding, he conceives things in Unbinding, he conceives things coming out of Unbinding, he conceives Unbinding as 'mine,' he delights in Unbinding. Why is that? Because he has not comprehended it, I tell you.” 

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7. Unbinding = nibbana (nirvana).


The Old Man: 

"He directly knows Unbinding as Unbinding. Directly knowing Unbinding as Unbinding, he does not conceive things about Unbinding, does not conceive things in Unbinding, does not conceive things coming out of Unbinding, does not conceive Unbinding as 'mine,' does not delight in Unbinding.”


To break down the difference between these two from selections of the text,


The Young One:

 “his aspirations as yet unfulfilled” 

The Old One:

“Laid down the burden” 

“Does not delight in Unbinding” 

“Does not delight in earth. 

Why is that? 

Because, with the ending of passion, he is devoid of passion, I tell you.” 

“Because he has known that delight is the root of suffering & stress.” 

The young man ’Delights‘.

This is the difference between the young one and the old one. 


What does that mean? 

It means that the young man is interested in Delights,

the manifestations of Light. 

What is a manifestation?

A manifestation is visible phenomena.

A manifestation is that which arises.

What are the manifestations of Light?

They are sense pleasures, not only physical, 

but 

  • spiritual pleasures, 
  • pleasures of manifested divinity, the Light of Christ, the Glory of God, 
  • The flame of passion.

A Metaphor


When the fire of day burns out, it becomes the moon of night.

The fire is passion.
The young man’s burning passion has not yet burned out,

And it is unlikely that he will choose the Unbinding.
“His aspirations are still yet unfulfilled.” He has not yet “laid down the burden” of his flaming passion.

The young man is enchanted by the arising of Light, the visible light. 

The old man has seen enough, he has tired of the visible manifestations. He has seen enough spectacles. 


The difference is that the young man sees what arises from the earth.

The old man sees the earth; the arising, the non-arising.