I got some good tips from the last thread, so here’s a few more! Let me know what you think.
This is usually translated as “discipline”. But if you google this, the first definition is:
the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience.
Which, yuk. The use of the term “discipline” in Buddhism is directly derived from Christian monastic codes, where “obedience” and “punishment” are indeed hallmarks. But these are certainly not implied in the Pali term vinaya. This means, rather, “guidance”.
It is true that there are some (very mild, non-corporal) punishments in the Vinayapitaka, but that doesn’t justify the translation. There are some punishments in schools, but that doesn’t mean we say “education” is a process of enforcing obedience with punishment. And as for “obedience”, the concept simply doesn’t exist in the Vinaya.
I suggest we do away with “discipline” entirely and use “guidance”. Dhammavinaya becomes “teaching and guidance”, and so on.
This is not a technical term as such, but an idiom that occurs at the end of some passages on the development of abhiññā. Examples include AN 5.23 and AN 5.28.
Grammatically the phrase is straightforward enough. It is in the locative. Sati here is not “mindfulness” but the verb “to be”. The repetition probably has a distributive sense. The problem is that the terms can have a wide range of meanings and it is not sure how they should be applied in this idiom.
Following the commentary, Ven Bodhi renders it in the AN as “there being a suitable basis”. But it is an obscure idiom, and I am not convinced this captures it. Firstly, I am not convinced by translating āyatana as “basis”. Perhaps it can mean this sometimes, but I feel BB relies too heavily on this meaning. I suspect it means here something more like “scope”, “opportunity”, or “case”.
But the real problem is that I think this interpretation takes the phrase to be setting limiting conditions on the attainment. This just doesn’t feel right with me. It typically appears not in places where the limits of development appear, but where their power and success is emphasized. Also, the phrase sometimes appears in the context of the Buddha, where such a limiting interpretation seems odd. See too AN 6.71, with BB’s translation:
Chahi, bhikkhave, dhammehi samannāgato bhikkhu abhabbo tatra tatreva sakkhibhabbataṃ pāpuṇituṃ sati sati āyatane
Bhikkhus, possessing six qualities, a bhikkhu is incapable of realizing a particular state, [though] there is a suitable basis.
The passage is a somewhat obscure one, but I don’t think this translation makes sense at all. What can it possibly mean to have a suitable basis, if not that one can attain the relevant state?
I suspect that we should rather take sati sati as an emphatic distributive, while āyatana means something like a “case” (compare, for example, AN 5.26 Vimuttayatana Sutta). The phrase would then be emphatic, not limiting: “in each and every case”, or perhaps “whenever the opportunity arises”. The above passage could then be rendered:
A mendicant who has six qualities is incapable of realizing this or that attainment in each and every case.
Or perhaps this would be less ambiguous:
A mendicant who has six qualities is incapable of realizing each and every case of this or that attainment.
Leaving this obscure passage aside, the more standard trope could be rendered:
yassa yassa abhiññāsacchikaraṇīyassa dhammassa cittaṃ abhininnāmeti abhiññāsacchikiriyāya, tatra tatreva sakkhibhabbataṃ pāpuṇāti sati sati āyatane
they become capable of realizing anything that can be realized by turning their mind towards insight, in each and every case.
Notice that in both this standard passage and the previous one, sati sati āyatane answers to another repeated and distributive clause, here: yassa yassa … tatra tatreva … sati sati. To me this is a strong hint that the point is to emphasize the universality of the attainment, not to restrict it.