Re: an āmalakī in the palm of th e hand

Stella Sandahl ssandahl at SYMPATICO.CA
Sat Apr 30 15:06:36 UTC 2011

A student of mine, to whom I forwarded the AmalakI postings sent the  
following, which I find illuminating:

"It is the gooseberry and some varieties you can almost see through.  
It occurs many times in the Pali writings and in the commentary by  
Buddhaghosa does have this meaning.

One instance is his commentary on Digha Nikaya, Brahmajaalasutta (PTS  
I, 02)

The Pali reads (in Walshe's translation) "It is wonderful, friends,  
it is marvellous how the Blessed Lord, the Arahant, the fully  
enlighted Buddha knows, sees and clearly distinguishes the different  
inclination of beings!"

and the commentary comments as follows;

tena bhagavataa jaanataa ... pe ... suppa.tividitaa ti etthaaya.m  
sa"nkhepattho. yo so bhagavaa samati.msa paaramiyo puuretvaa  
sabbakilese bha~njitvaa anuttara.m sammaasambodhi.m abhisambuddho,  
tena bhagavataa tesa.m tesa.m sattaana.m aasayaanusaya.m  
jaanataa,hatthatale .thapita.m aamalaka.m viya sabba~neyyadhamma.m  
passataa . (1, 0043)

where Buddhaghosa says (roughly translated)

"known by the Blessed One .... up to (pe)  clearly distinguishes".   
Here is a condensed meaning (sa"nkhepattho). The Blessed One after  
fulfilling the thirty perfections, haveing destroyed all the  
afflictions, has achieved unsurpassed enightenment, by knowing the  
inclinations and predispositions of all beings, by seeing all the  
dharmas to be known like a gooseberry placed in the palm of one's  

There are lots of other references which the person interested could  
look up, but it will take some time,


Stella Sandahl
ssandahl at

On 30-Apr-11, at 11:04 AM, Stephen Hodge wrote:

> This example of the "amla in the hand" is also mentioned in the  
> early core
> portion of the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra, which I date  
> to mid-late c1st
> CE:
> 無有所取。其名取者。猶如手執阿摩勒果。眞解脱 
> 者則不如是。
> [Faxian/Buddhabhadra]
> 又解脱者名不可取。如阿摩勒果人可取持。解脱不 
> 爾不可取持。不可取持即眞解脱。眞解脱者即是如 
> 來。
> [Dharmakṣema]
> <nyon mongs pa med pa> <nyon mongs pa med pa> zhes bya ba ni ji  
> ltar mi'i
> 'chang par skyu ru ra gzung du yod pa bzhin du thar pa ni de dang  
> 'dra bar
> ci yang gzung du med do ||
> I have found that many of the examples in this sutra have Agamic  
> antecedants
> and this may also be the case here ~ in one of the other  
> collections if not
> in the Pali Nikāyas.
> Best wishes,
> Stephen Hodge

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