A quick question about kinda-right-view

AN 10.29 says that, compared to eternalists, annihilationists have a better foundation for dispassion. Then in MN 117, we see a right view that’s flawed as including eternalist elements, but also simple kamma elements as well.

So, oughtn’t we to hold these two extreme views at least on par with each other? Either one seems to support a sort-of-right-view, and I think that’s maybe a helpful idea these days.


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Though flawed, the asava-tainted right view is still qualified as “right view” and the Buddha advises entering upon and dwelling in it. This doesn’t apply to the annihilationist view. It is also said to partake of merit which the Buddha encouraged. This also doesn’t apply to the annihilationist view. So just based on those two facts, I don’t think we can put the two views on par with each other.

I’m not sure how either view is “extreme.” Can you explain what you mean by that?


There is a close similarity between the “view” of AN 10.29 and the “resolve” of SN 22.55, with the latter sutta coming with instructions that lead to non-returning. That might be a topic on its own.

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What are the eternalist elements in MN117?

With metta


Rebirth & post-death moral accounting which doesn’t describe an end.

They’re extreme as opposed to a Middle Way.

It fits here in fact.

Because that resolve suggests that this subtle shift in the annihilationist formulation drops the fetters without any adherence to rebirth ideations in any preliminary capacity.

These monks were not advised to shift to tainted right view as a first step.

It’s a route in; that’s the simple point to be made here.

Maybe, maybe not. We can’t say what kind of development, views, or teachings already received that the bhikkhus in that sutta had already. I think it’s more likely they already had mundane right view than an annihilationist view. Or even supramundane right view, given that he is teaching about cutting off the lower fetters (non-returning) rather than talking about the way to stream entry. That possibility makes them starting off with a wrong view of annihilationism even less likely.

I don’t think the Buddha would have given such advanced teachings otherwise. We see this pattern in all the graduated discourses/gradual trainings: except for those extremely rare already adept Bahiya types, advanced teachings aren’t given until the person’s mind is ready or they have developed the preliminaries. (And Bahiya already had direct knowledge of and communication with devas anyway, so he had better than faith in rebirth.)

You’d have to explain why they were given the reworked annihilationist view (one that in its original form was already a support for dispassion) instead of the usual approach taken with eternalists.

All five lower fetters; that includes both attainments, and in fact leads all the way to nonreturner…

This claim remains unmolested.

It’s not a reworked view. AN 10.29 speaks of holding a view. SN 22.55 speaks of a resolve and then explains how that resolve is developed. This an important distinction.

“All five lower fetters” is redundant. “Lower fetters” already includes all five lower fetters.

I’ve challenged the first sentence already: “We can’t say what kind of development, views, or teachings already received that the bhikkhus in that sutta had already.” To assume as you’re doing about what they had and hadn’t been taught is unwarranted.

The second sentence is too vague to be a claim. What exactly is a “route in”?

What? Are you saying that kamma and rebirth are eternalist doctrines?


Try not to be pedantic here, and at least attempt to answer the spirit of my question:

The point was the inclusion of stream-entry, not this further pedantic emphasis.

We can say they weren’t noble disciples at all, which is the point. The door is open to the possibility that I’ve suggested: a “route in”, a method of approaching the Dhamma without any preceding rebirth-ideation commitment, an approach that leads to non-return.

But, nevermind. I don’t know why I keep trying to demonstrate this possibility. “Secular Buddhists are going to hell.” There, now all y’all can ‘like’ this post, and I’ll try once again to give up on this effort at community and companionship among diligent seekers.

Maybe they were annihilationists before they became bhikkhus so this teaching used that conditioning as a springboard. I dunno. It doesn’t change the fact that annihilationism is a wrong view. It may be foremost among wrong views, but it is still wrong view. You can put lipstick on pig but it’s still a pig. The Buddha taught to abandon wrong view and establish right view.

If you want to try it and find out, best of luck.


It would be nice if you answered the essentially same questions that Mat and Garrib have asked. I’d like to know too.

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Yes, there’s a bit of an ambiguity in how annihilationsim is viewed. Sometimes it’s seen in very negative terms, otherwise as being philosophically close to Buddhism.

I haven’t studied the issue in detail, but I think the distinction is between the philosophy and the ethical implications that might be drawn from that. If there is a simple view that there is just one life, and if ethical and spiritual practice are included in that, it is probably not such an issue, and may indeed be close to letting go.

On the other hand, if annihilationism is paired with ethical nihilism—as it is sometimes in the suttas—then it is deeply pernicious.

It is common in religious circles to assume that these two views are closely related. But the evidence seems rather the opposite: that religious people are less ethical than non-religious people. This is true even when testing for issues regarded as moral issues by religious people—teen sex, abortion, drug taking, and so on. Such things are regularly higher in regions with strong religious belief. That is to say, the more religious people are, the more likely they are to engage in underage sex, have abortions, get addicted to drugs, and so on.

Such studies as I have seen have been carried out in Christian and partly Muslim areas, so I couldn’t say if it applies to Buddhists as well.

Obviously this doesn’t support the idea that you have to believe in God or heaven or whatever in order to be moral. In my view, when people make these arguments, it’s usually just performative moralism: they want to look like moral people.

On the other hand, it’s probably wise to avoid drawing any causal relations from this information. More highly religious areas in southern US states or southern Europe (where such studies have been done) tend to be poorer and less well educated, with more corrupt governments, less welfare support and so on.


We can keep an open-mind on rebirth and go beyond a superficial faith-following. Whereas a dogmatic assertion about the non-existence - or existence - of rebirth makes no sense on rational or transpersonal grounds - without direct knowledge and vision. Annihilationism makes no sense - it is a waste of time - a pointless speculation. Our situation may change as practice deepens? We need to be open to surprise in order to wake up! This is in the Buddha’s teachings - blind Freddy could see this?

The Buddha reasoned - in the Kalama Sutta - that a ‘provisional’ acceptance of rebirth had certain benefits. He pointed out: if rebirth did not happen then there would be nothing lost as a consequence of provisional acceptance. Furthermore, if rebirth actually takes place, if the ‘believer’ had behaved in a meritorious way with a concern for kammic-consequences in mind, they may reap the reward of their good intentions and deeds in future rebirths. If someone believed that rebirth did not happen - and it did - and behaved as if good/bad intentions and conduct produced no ‘vipaka’ (result) then this could lead to regrettable outcomes in a future life.

It seems that during the Buddha’s lifetime the annihilationists were known for their unethical behaviour. Perhaps some of the ‘dacoits’ (brigands) and, some sectarians at the time - who were annihilationists - were violent or, self-centred hedonists - unscrupulous people?

A paranoid rebirth is not predicated on belief or disbelief in rebirth. The teaching is: just be good - that is all we need to do to go to heaven. However, landing there may not be the best idea - Nibbana is! :slightly_smiling_face:

I remember Ajahn Brahm giving a teaching at Bodhinyana monastery. He said: ‘one’ difference between the Buddha’s teaching and annihilationism was; the annihilionists believed in the existence of a ‘self’ that was destroyed at the time of death. Whereas, the Buddha did not teach that an essential-self existed in the first place. The annihilationists were naive realists and the Buddha was a transpersonal genius. A transpersonal ‘seer’ and map-mapmaker - knower of the worlds. :globe_with_meridians: + :globe_with_meridians: + :globe_with_meridians: Does this sound correct - in the light of the Suttas? :slightly_smiling_face:

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Sorry - transpersonal is broad term- its like calling him a ‘mysterious genius’. It may not be that accurate and unintentionally misleading?

with metta

A transpersonal ‘seer’ and map-mapmaker - knower of the worlds. :globe_with_meridians: + :globe_with_meridians: + :globe_with_meridians:

My ‘take home’ from the suttas that have been provided in this thread is that it doesn’t matter how high or low your view is, be it eternalist, annihilationist, one with rebirth, one without, even if you’ve taken up the view of dependent origination (or at least one of the many interpretations of DO). Whatever view you take up it is going to change, because the underlying conditions that create that view will change. If you have the view of no rebirth and then you see your past lives, then your view will change, if you loose that memory, say through dementia, then that view may change again. Views are like that I guess.

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