In Bhante Sujato’s “A History of Mindfulness”, he points out that, in the Ekāyana Sūtra
of the Ekottara Āgama, the eightfold path is “given in a typically eccentric form: right view, right prevention, right conduct, right livelihood, right skill in means, right speech, right recollection, right concentration.”
The translation below (EA 12.1) has: “right view, right contemplation, right action, right livelihood, right practice, right speech, right mindfulness, and right concentration”.
How these odd practices are defined? Are there other known formulations of the 8FP in sutras that diverge?
But is not ‘right skillful means’ different from the Pāli? Or, is the Chinese actually translating one of the ordinary Pāli steps of the path? If so, why is it not translated into English as it normally is in English from the original Indic?
Also, ‘right prevention’? What’s that?
Bhikkhu Sujato seems to translate the 8 as:
right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right immersion.
When you say different but same meaning, do you mean it’s from the same Indic, but the Chinese chose different words for translation?
If so, and assuming you mean samyak-saṃkalpa / sammā sankappa, I think it would be nice for the translators to include info about that such as “…right prevention [from samyak-saṃkalpa / sammā sankappa = right resolve/thought]…”
The Chinese EA is quite an eccentric text, and frequently has variations in how it presents even basic doctrines; this is what I meant by “typically eccentric”. It would be quite expected for it to have different presentations of the same teaching in different sutras; it even varies within the same sutra sometimes. But I haven’t studied these in any detail.
I haven’t looked at any of these references recently, and no, I don’t speak Chinese. But I do look up texts with dictionary tools sometimes, and that is quite adequate to see such simple details.
Interesting. And this is the only āgama to come from what is believed to be Mahāsāṃghika origins, right? Could these two things be connected? Could perhaps the Mahāsāṃghika dvipiṭaka or at least suttapiṭaka have been of this style in general? Hence we find it ‘eccentric’ because most of our other sources derive from Sthāvira branch? How clear are we on the differences in sutta teachings between these two branches?
Indeed, it’s a bit of a circular argument: one of the reasons for thinking it may be Mahasanghika is that it’s eccentric.
Generally speaking, the Mahasanghika seem to have been more sloppy in their textual traditions, as evidence by the Mahavastu and the Lokuttaravada Vinaya, for example. And this is precisely the charge levelled against them by the Theravadins in the Dipavamsa. But you’d want something a bit more solid than this before ascribing a text to a school. The EA is clearly late and eccentric, but the exact source is hard to pin down.
Perhaps—and this is purely speculative—we shouldn’t even be thinking in terms of sectarian affiliations. There seems little reason why a text shouldn’t be comprised of different parts, even assembled from sections or sutras from various schools or points of origin. We find plenty of examples of this kind of thing today, why not then, too?
P/s . (四念处) = four establishment of mindfulness
And what is the four establishment of mindfulness , that is , bhikku inwardly being mindful of body , abandon the unwholesome mind , free from sorrow .
Being mindful of body outwardly , abandon the unwholesome mind , free from sorrow . Inwardly outwardly mindful of body , abandon the unwholesome mind , free from sorrow .