AN 6.61 Proposed Correction

From Bhante Sujotu’s AN 6.61 translation:

“Contact, mendicants, is one end. The origin of contact is the second end. The cessation of contact is the middle. And craving is the seamstress,

“phasso kho, bhikkhave, eko anto, phassasamudayo dutiyo anto, phassanirodho majjhe, taṇhā sibbinī;

I believe it should be something like this:

“Contact, mendicants, is one end. Within the origin of contact (perception) is another. Contact ceasing in between. And the stitching of craving is undone.

Above in the sutta it says:

‘The sage has known both ends,
‘Yo ubhonte viditvāna,
and is not stuck in the middle.
majjhe mantā na lippati;
He is a great man, I declare,
Taṁ brūmi mahāpurisoti,
he has escaped the seamstress here.’
sodha sibbinimaccagā’ti.

Saying the cessation of contact is the middle creates a problem. The sage is not stuck in the middle means the sage is not stuck in contact, not the sage is not stuck in the cessation of contact.

Contact ceasing in between seems to solve that problem. ‘Between’ separates contacts between moments of time. Middle does not seem to separate within a single moment of time. Middle seems to indicate both contact occur at the same time for the sage.

PS. This is my first time trying to translate on my own, so please be forgiving.

A few things:

  • the translator’s name is Bhante Sujato

-the word majjhe does mean ‘middle’, e.g. the Majjhima Nikāya, Majjhimāpaṭipadā,
or this famous line from SN 12.35:
“Ete te, bhikkhu, ubho ante anupagamma majjhena tathāgato dhammaṃ deseti”
(Bhikkhu, having avoided both of these extremes, the Tathāgata teaches dhamma by the middle.)

-‘sibbinī’ is a feminine -in stem noun. It’s not a gerund or present participle.

Thank you for the comments.

I am not saying that the words could not be translated the way they currently are. I am saying that there is a consistency problem in the sutta if you leave it that way. My translation was motivated by my wanting to resolve the issue I describe above. I tried using different usages of the words to see if they could resolve the consistency issue. I believe what I have works.

I made use of the following definition usages to do so:

majjha (see usage 3.1, I have it bolded and italicized)
adjective middle, viz

  1. of space: of moderate height DN.i.243 (contrasted with ucca & nīca).
  2. of; time: of middle age Snp verse 216 (contrasted with dahara young & thera old).
  3. often used adv. in loc.; majjhe in the middle; i.e.
  4. as prep in between, among (-˚ or with gen.) Pv.11:1, Pv.11:4 Ja.i.207 (sakuṇānaṁ); Dhp-a.i.182 (vasana-gāmassa) Pv-a.11 (parisā˚). majjhe chetvā cutting in half Ja.v.387

The sibbi and na were presented when I click on Sibbini :

  1. stitched; sewed

negātive & adversative particle “not” (Cnd.326: paṭikkhepa; Kp-a.170 paṭisedhe)