This book presents a treatment and analysis of the meditative practice of the cessation of perception and feeling (saṃjñāved[ay]itanirodha) within the Buddhist canonical tradition, focusing in particular on how this practice is presented in the Pṛṣṭhapālasūtra of the Dīrghāgama. Through a comparative analysis of the three extant versions of the Pṛṣṭhapālasūtra — preserved in Sanskrit, Pāli, and Chinese — the study suggests, against the conclusions of a number of European scholars, that the practice of discernment of the four noble truths and the meditative attainment of cessation of perception and feeling are part and parcel of a single early model of Buddhist practice. The study draws on new manuscript evidence from the (Mūla-)Sarvāstivāda Dīrghāgama, evidence which has not been accounted for in previous treatments of the historical development of the concept of cessation.
The book consists of two parts: (I) a study of the Buddhist conception of the meditative practice of cessation based on canonical and commentarial materials, and (II) a synoptic edition and English translation of the three extant versions of the section on the cessation of perception and feeling from the Pṛṣṭhapālasūtra. The first part provides an interpretive context for the textual material presented in the second part, while the second part allows readers to discern the significant connections and discrepancies between the different versions of the sūtra.