[Please pardon any misreadings of this Pali amateur]
A group of us are reading and discussing Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s “Buddhist Romanticism”. The word “sublime” is used by translators of the Suttas as well as by those espousing “Romantic” philosophy.
The Oxford English dictionary defines sublime as “Of very great excellence or beauty. Producing an overwhelming sense of awe or other high emotion through being vast or grand.” How does this compare to the Romantic and Sutta usages of “sublime”? It seems that in the Romantic sense, the awesomeness can be terrible as well as beautiful.
From Majjhima Nikāya 79, for example, we have the Pali text using the words “paramo vaṇṇo”:
“Katamo pana so paramo vaṇṇo yasmā vaṇṇā añño vaṇṇo uttaritaro vā paṇītataro vānatthī”ti? “Yasmā, bhante, vaṇṇā añño vaṇṇo uttaritaro vā paṇītataro vā natthi so paramovaṇṇo”ti.
If I am correct, this is translated by Nanamoli/Bodhi as “But, Udayin, what is that splendor which is unsurpassed by any other splendor higher or more sublime?” “Venerable sir, that splendor is the perfect splendor which is unsurpassed by any other splendor higher or more sublime.”