A few more terms …

Hi Bhante,

The idea that the vinaya refers to discipline, I think, is related to its use in Vinaya Piṭaka. However, it seems fairly clear that this is quite a late usage. There is no direct evidence in the suttas, as far as I can recall, connecting the term vinaya to the monastic rules. In the suttas it is invariably pāṭimokkha that has this function, for example when it is said that a monastic trains in the pāṭimokkha and is careful to avoid even minor faults.

I believe one of the hints to the earliest meaning of vinaya is found in the verbal cognate of this word, vineti. Vineti is used quite unambiguously in the sense of training, for instance in the training of a horse, and as such it seems almost synonymous with sikkhati. Since vinaya is essentially just the noun form of vineti, I cannot see why it should have a different meaning. In fact one of the most common uses of vinaya in the suttas is in the compound dhammavinaya, most commonly rendered as Dhamma and Discipline. (Note the capital on discipline!) Dhamma is here the teaching of the Buddha, and so it would make good sense if vinaya means training: doctrine and practical application, theory and praxis. And the training, of course, is far broader than the monastic rules.

This whole issue really highlights the problem of reading later meanings into earlier usage. It is so hard to avoid this, but at the very least we should try. And of course, this is where the commentaries are especially dangerous.

As for sati sati āyatane I recall thinking about this when I was working with Ven. Bodhi on the Aṅguttara, without coming to any satisfactory conclusion.

Dear all!

Just a quick thing. I don’t like “discipline” for vinaya either. I do see it as training. It is not just pointing to the Buddha’s set of rules for the monks and nuns to me, because I remember reading suttas about “other teachers’ dhamma-vinaya”. So they had a teaching and “training” as well, which obviously was not THE vinaya as we know it today. You have made this connection long before, but I’d thought I’d just support your idea of deviating from discipline.

The sati sati ayatane, I have never looked into. But if it seems an idiom, one that is hard to interpret, I’d suggest translating it in a way that does not add anything totally new to what is already said, if possible.

With kindness,


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Thanks, nice to know I’m not alone!

What about something like the mahāpadesas? Of course, this is still very vague.

And to “discipline” a horse just sounds wrong.

I agree with all you’ve said, and these are in fact some of the considerations that led me to look for a different rendering: but you don’t say whether you like “guidance” or not. I’m currently using this, but thinking of using “practice” instead. But in ariyavinaya or sugatavinaya is it not broader than “practice”? It basically seems to be a term for the whole “religion”.

The problem with “training” is that it overlaps with sikkhā, and both are common terms.

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Practice sounds better to me. Guidance seems to be closer to Dhamma, doctrine/guide, whereas vinaya is really the practical side of things. Perhaps you could use training for both sikkhā and vinaya. I am not sure if there is any material difference between the two terms. You may right about the mahāpadesas, but then the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta is relatively late compared to the rest of the suttas. As for ariyavinaya and sugatavinaya being terms for the whole religion, this may well be true, but then the practice is what Buddhism is all about.

I’ve also thought a bit more about sati sati āyatana, and I do think you have a point. The word āyatana quite literally means “a stretching out”, and from this we get meanings such a “plane,” “sphere,” and “region.” The word often refers to classes of phenomena (“spheres” of phenomena), such as the six sense spheres, or the immaterial realms. In these cases it refers to things we can experience.

The idea that āyatana refers to a basis, on the other hand, is not something that seems to be very common in the suttas, if it occurs at all in this sense.

So I think you argument here is persuasive: rather than āyatana looking back to the conditions that make an attainment possible, which is what the rendering “basis” implies, it is more likely to be looking forward to the attainments themselves, that is, the various “spheres” or “planes,” which in this case might be extended to anything that can be mentally realised. Sati sati āyatana would then mean “wherever there is a plane/region” or “wherever there is something to be realised.”


The thing is, since both of them are common there’s likely to be syntax-clash. patipajjati and its derivatives are much rarer, so I’m thinking “practice” will work out better. Anyway, I’ll try and see.

I admit I can’t think of any cases in the suttas where this clearly applies. For the arūpas, I use “dimension”: “the dimension of infinite consciousness”. It sounds very sci-fi!

Or more idiomatically, “when you get the chance”.

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But even “when you get the chance” is to some degree looking back, since you get the chance when the conditions are right. It is actually quite difficult to come up a translation that expresses just the looking forward to the realisation.

What about “because of this” for sati sati āyatane?

Looking forward so much to the translations! Happy to help with any proof reading if you need?

Could ‘vinaya’ be used in a way similar to ‘embodiment’? One learns & embodies a teaching, so one studies it & then puts it into the world via behavior in one of three ways…

For the other phrase, perhaps “leap at the chance”.

I’ve tried a number of terms to translate ‘Tathagata’, and I’ve finally settled on “Wayfarer”, for these reasons:

  • It’s pretty literal;
  • It works with the term as it’s used in the suttas (similarly, in my mind, to how “sage” is used in Taoist writings), to refer, not just to the Buddha, but to anyone who has progressed, or whose intention is to progress, on the Path;
  • It is just a little bit archaic, enough so that it can handle a cluster of meanings that has no common word in English.

I’d welcome comments.

I favor “Fortunate One” for sugata.


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sounds good

and it has that connotation of a chance comer, who came to stay for only so long and soon be back on his way, of someone who doesn’t belong here

Nice. Thanks.

@ sujato, @Brahmali
What about ‘there being an oportunity’ or ‘when there is an oportunity’ which still has the sense of when conditions are right but maybe ‘oportunity’ gives a slight sense of looking forward as well (eg. an opportunity for something to develop or come to fruition). Still a bit akward but perhaps not as much as 'there being a suitable basis".