SuttaCentral

Aṅguttara Nikāya Tatiyavagga 328


#1

SuttaCentral AN

“Seyyathāpi, bhikkhave, appamattakopi gūtho duggandho hoti;"

“Mendicants, just as even a tiny bit of fecal matter stinks,"

"evamevaṃ kho ahaṃ, bhikkhave, appamattakampi bhavaṃ na vaṇṇemi, antamaso accharāsaṅghātamattampi”

“so too I do not assert on slightest existence, not even for a split second.”

The problem with the existing translations is that authors start with assumption that they exist so they think Buddha is talking about not standing for future birth / existence while i think he is talking about existence as a thing on itself and my translation comes out more naturally without adding anything to it to sell the idea that he is talking about ‘future existences’.

It is also in line with the whole collection of suttas. Buddha does not state “Having existed i will not exist after death.” or alike, quite the opposite, he denies all sorts of statements similar to that everywhere.

The deeper problem here is that the three lives model of paticca samuppada coming from much later commentaries is influencing how the suttas are now interpreted and translated.


#2

The Buddha’s answer to your question is in Aggivaccha Sutta (MN 72). Read the sutta completely. The buddha denied to answer that because of the inapplicablity of the questions.

What do you think, Vaccha? Suppose a fire was burning in front of you. Would you know: ‘This fire is burning in front of me’?”

“Yes, I would, Master Gotama.”

“But Vaccha, suppose they were to ask you: ‘This fire burning in front of you: what does it depend on to burn?’ How would you answer?”

“I would answer like this: ‘This fire burning in front of me burns in dependence on grass and logs as fuel.’”

“Suppose that fire burning in front of you was extinguished. Would you know: ‘This fire in front of me is extinguished’?”

“Yes, I would, Master Gotama.”

“But Vaccha, suppose they were to ask you: ‘This fire in front of you that is extinguished: in what direction did it go—east, south, west, or north?’ How would you answer?”

“It doesn’t apply, Master Gotama. The fire depended on grass and logs as fuel. When that runs out, and no more fuel is added, the fire is reckoned to have become extinguished due to lack of fuel.”

“In the same way, Vaccha, any form by which a Realized One might be described has been cut off at the root, made like a palm stump, obliterated, and unable to arise in the future. A Realized One is freed from reckoning in terms of form. They’re deep, immeasurable, and hard to fathom, like the ocean. ‘They’re reborn’, ‘they’re not reborn’, ‘they’re both reborn and not reborn’, ‘they’re neither reborn nor not reborn’—none of these apply.

Any feeling … perception … choices … consciousness by which a Realized One might be described has been cut off at the root, made like a palm stump, obliterated, and unable to arise in the future. A Realized One is freed from reckoning in terms of consciousness. They’re deep, immeasurable, and hard to fathom, like the ocean. ‘They’re reborn’, ‘they’re not reborn’, ‘they’re both reborn and not reborn’, ‘they’re neither reborn nor not reborn’—none of these apply.”


#3

Sutta you have provided conforms to my translation.

Really one could try to check the validity of what the Buddha is saying about not asserting on existence and I’m certain that one will be unable to find him actually assert on any sort of real existence gross or subtle, present(!), future or past anywhere just like its stated.

Why do we need to add things and kinda forcefully push the original text in this or that direction just so that it complies to interpretations coming from later commentary?


#4

I was addressing the wrong part it seems.

Anyway, lets talk about your exact point. Since this is about bhava, the Buddha here pointing his pupils not to be late. This advice is given more elaborately in Kīṭāgiri sutta (MN 70).

The buddha praised attaining fruit of perfection in this very life as soon as possible. Therefore he encouraged all the bhikkus who were already in the stream and those who were not entered to the stream (puthujjana and asekha). Only arahants are allowed to live freely (without practicing the path, since they are perfected (sekha / katha karaniya).

Mendicants, I don’t say that all these mendicants still have work to do with diligence. Nor do I say that all these mendicants have no work to do with diligence. I say that mendicants don’t have work to do with diligence if they are perfected, with defilements ended, having completed the spiritual journey, done what had to be done, laid down the burden, achieved their own goal, utterly ended the fetters of rebirth, and become rightly freed through enlightenment. Why is that? They’ve done their work with diligence. They’re incapable of being negligent.

I say that mendicants still have work to do with diligence if they are trainees, who haven’t achieved their heart’s desire, but live aspiring to the supreme sanctuary. Why is that? Thinking: ‘Hopefully this venerable will frequent appropriate lodgings, associate with good friends, and control their faculties. Then they might realize the supreme culmination of the spiritual path in this very life, and live having achieved with their own insight the goal for which gentlemen rightly go forth from the lay life to homelessness.’ Seeing this fruit of diligence for those mendicants, I say that they still have work to do with diligence (MN 70)


#5

There is no reference to continued existence or future existence or diligence in the original text to imply anything in relation to that sort of interpretation, its been added.

If its translated with the added notions for future / continuation of existence that implies that one is presently existing which is not in line with Dhamma how one can find in suttas.

Buddha does not state that himself or any other is presently existing to say that there will be or not be continuation of it.


#6

You added this part latter.
Actually in this case not adding things to explain would be better.
There are some cases direct translation makes it harder to understand the context.
EX:


#7

I have updated reply above.

For me the sutta makes sense without any assumed context of diligence and it tells of something much more profound than simply encouraging practitioners to be diligent. The important thing is that for Buddha to state something about future or continued existences a present existence must be assumed which Buddha denies in the suttas which is also what i see this sutta points at. Buddha denies future existence as much as present existence. My point is that Buddha denies asserting real existence past, present or future.

For there to be lack of continuation of existence there must view first that one is presently existing. If the sutta is translated implying discouragement for future / continuation of existence it implies that one is presently existing, its a delusion. Thinking in lines “How i was in the past, how I’m now, how I will be in the future.” is delusion.