Bad people

I’m reading from the Madhyama Agama, division 5, #52, The [First] Discourse on Nutriments. I don’t know the Pali version, if there is one.

In Marcus Bingenheimer’s translation, the Buddha talks about “bad” people. Can anyone extrapolate on that, how that could be interpreted or translated more fully?

Thank you!


I don’t have the answer, but I, too, am interested in hearing more about that passage.

The Cūḷapuṇṇama Sutta, MN 110 has quite a bit to say about “bad people.” It includes statements such as: “A bad person has bad qualities, associates with bad people, and has the intentions, counsel, speech, actions, views, and giving of a bad person.”

Somewhat related, I found this talk by Thubten Chodron, an American Tibetan Buddhist nun, who describes “bad friends” (which might not be the same as “bad people”) as “whoever influences you in a negative way.”

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I also checked Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of MN110 and found that he uses the phrase “untrue man” rather than “bad person.” It looks like the Pali work is asappurisa, which the Pali Text Society’s dictionary translates as “a low, bad or un- worthy man.”

These are MA 51 and MA 52 afaics, you can see in SC if there are parallels - just go to “middle”, then “madhyamagama” then 51, then click on the green number to see the parallels.

You’ll find AN 10.61 and AN 10.61 as parallels in Pali. Bodhi translates “not associating with good people”.

I couldn’t figure out yet how to switch to the pali version on the new site, but I guess the original also says “not with good people” instead of “with bad people”?

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Bad friends and bad stuff seem to be pretty well covered on DN31.

Precisely, for bad friends:

  1. Six Drains on Wealth
    “What six drains on wealth do they avoid? Habitually engaging in the following things is a drain on wealth: drinking alcohol; roaming the streets at night; frequenting festivals; gambling; bad friends; laziness.
  1. Six Drawbacks of Bad Friends
    There are these six drawbacks of bad friends. You become friends and companions with those who are scoundrels, drunkards, addicts, frauds, swindlers, and thugs. These are the six drawbacks of bad friends.

Then we have what looks like a good summary of the bad and the ugly (the good comes in later, but I’ll let you fish that out :wink: ) good summary in verses:

Some are just drinking buddies,
some call you their dear, dear friend,
but a true friend is one
who stands by you in need.

Sleeping late, adultery,
making enemies, harmfulness,
bad friends, and avarice:
these six grounds ruin a person.

With bad friends, bad companions,
bad conduct, hanging out in bad places,
a man falls to ruin
in both this world and the next.

Dice, women, drink, song and dance;
sleeping by day and roaming at night;
bad friends, and avarice:
these six grounds ruin a person.

And we could possibly add the “fake” friends section too:

  1. Fake Friends
    “Householder’s son, you should recognize these four enemies disguised as friends: the taker, the talker, the flatterer, the spender.

You can recognize a fake friend who’s all take on four grounds.

Your possessions end up theirs.
Giving little, they expect a lot.
They do their duty out of fear.
They associate for their own advantage.

You can recognize a fake friend who’s all take on these four grounds.

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