Eel wriggler and the Buddha

In the suttas there are people who are called eel wrigglers, they say things like: I dont view it like that, I don’t not view it like that not both nor neither. An example is the question about the tathagata after death. The buddha also says he doesnt have one of the views, what is the difference between the buddha and an eel wriggler?

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I’d say it’s the difference between someone dodging a question and someone else calling a question irrelevant to the topic at hand.
An eel-wriggler would be squirrelly with their answers not taking a firm stance on view A or view B and if they get trapped being disproven in upholding one view or another they try and wriggle out of it.
The Buddha just dismisses things as irrelevant, is view A or view B correct? It’s not really a good question and so he tells you it’s neither and not worth explaining why it’s neither because it’s complicated and off topic.

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That eel is slippery, he doesn’t want to be seen as having or holding any view. Because that view then need to be explained, defended against criticism, elaborated, and so on.
If he deny of having any views, nobody can criticize him. He doesn’t need to explain anything. But he still pretend to know more and using words to confuse people. Lording over everyone else saying “You are all foolish, trapped in views, while I hold no views at all”

King Ajatasattu once said this kind of person “the most foolish among ascetic and brahmins”

The Buddha refuse to answer or speculate about some questions. But Buddha has views. And he assert these views.

  • there is consequence to deeds, that will happen in this life or next life
  • there is next life, hell, heavens
  • there is holy person and end of samsara
  • four noble truth and eightfold path to escape samsara
  • dependent origination with its 12 links.

Anathapindika once was asked about his view. He answered by explaining dependent origination. "From ignorance, sankhara arise, from sankhara, consciousness arise,… "

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Sort of like between a Buddhist vs an agnostic. Buddhists would be able to at least start on the noble 8fold path. Whereas an agnostic may still be undecided if God exists or not, thus dunno which path to practise.

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the buddha didn’t dodge the question or equivocate, but refused to answer.

the reason he refused to answer is important - he refused to answer because the questions that were asked would have dislodged people from the goal of enlightenment. the questions that were asked of him mire those who ask them to get stuck in “the thicket of views”.

his refusal to answer is not based on a view but an understanding of how people can progress in his teaching to the extinction of suffering. others who equivocate about topics do so out of ignorance.

hope this helps.

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