[At Isipatana the Venerable Ko.t.thika the Great called on the Venerable Saariputta and said:]
"How is it, friend: Is the eye the fetter of visual objects or are visual objects the fetter of the eye?... Is the tongue the fetter of tastes, or are tastes the fetter of the tongue?... Is mind the fetter of thoughts, or are thoughts, the fetter of mind?"
"It is not, friend, that the eye is the fetter of visual objects, nor are visual objects the fetter of the eye, but that based on these two desire and lust arise, and they are the fetter,... it is not that the tongue is the fetter of tastes,... that mind is the fetter of thoughts,... but that based on these two desire and lust arise, and they are the fetter.
"It is just as if there were a black and a white ox bound together by one rope or one yoke-tie: would it be right to say that the black ox is the fetter of the white one, or the white one of the black?"
"No, indeed, friend."
"Neither the black nor the white ox is the fetter of the other, but they are bound together by the same rope or the same yoke-tie, that is the fetter. So too friend, the eye is not the fetter of objects, nor are objects the fetter of eye,... the tongue,... the mind... but based on these two desire and lust arise, and they are the fetter.
"If, friend, the eye were the fetter of visual objects, or visual objects were the fetter of the eye,... if the tongue,... if the mind were the fetter of thoughts or thoughts were the fetter of mind, then this holy life would not be discernible for the utter destruction of suffering. But since it is not case..., therefore this holy life is discernible for the utter destruction of suffering.
"Thus it should be understood that the eye is not the fetter..., the tongue..., the mind..., but that based on these two desire and lust arise, and they are the fetter. The Blessed One, friend, has eyes, he sees objects with the eye. But in the Blessed One there is no desire or lust. The Blessed One's heart is completely liberated. The Blessed One has a tongue..., a mind, he knows thoughts with the mind. But in the Blessed One there is no desire or lust. The Blessed One's heart is completely liberated. Thus it should be understood that the eye is not the fetter..., the tongue..., the mind, but that based on these two desire and lust arise, and they are the fetter."
- The word used is sa.myojana, more technically employed for the ten fetters which must be successively broken on the path to enligthenment. The question here concerns the relation between the senses and their objects: which "fetters" which? The answer is: "Neither."
- Dhammaa is here used in one of its specific senses: "mind-objects."
- Chandaraaga. Chanda is, as such, an ethically neutral term for "intention," etc. But in combination with raaga "lust, greed," it is definitely unwholesome. It is this state, based on the coexistence of eye and sight-objects, etc., that constitutes the "fetter."
- It is only possible because the eye is not the "fetter" of objects, and so on, that release is possible.
- Na paññaayetha lit. "would not be perceived."
- Woodward goes astray here. He translates: "The bond is the desire and lust which are in things." The whole point, however, is that the desire and lust are in themind, and not in "things," or there would indeed be no deliverance.