Scripture on the Uncreated Dharma
T99.224b7 Saṁyuktāgama 890
Like this I heard:
At one time, the Buddha dwelt at Śrāvastī in Jetavana in Anāthapiṇḍada’s park. At that time, the Lord said to the myriad monks: “Presently, here with you, I speak of the uncreated dharma, and to that uncreated, the path there-leading. Listen carefully, think wisely, what is the uncreated dharma?"
He said, “Of greed and craving, there is permanent exhaustion, of aversion, rage, ignorance, and delusion, there is perrmanent exhaustion, of all vexing afflictions, there is permanent exhaustion. This is the uncreated dharma. What is the treading to the uncreated, what is the path there-leading?”
He said, "The eight ranks of the path of the sages, true views, true intentions, true words, true karma, true livelihood, true efforts, true mindfulness, true samādhi, this is that which to the uncreated is the path there-leading.”
Buddhavacana this sūtra was thereafter, many monks heard the Buddha teach it, and, joyful, they practised.
Like this is the uncreated, like this is that which is difficult to realize, with no moving, no bending, no dying. Lacking secretions and smothered in the dark, it is the island shore. Where there is ferrying, it is the crossing. It is dependency’s ceasing, it is the end of circulating transmissions. It is the exhaustion of the flame, it is the ending of the burning. Flowing openly, pure and cool, with secret subtlety and calm occultation, lacking ailment, lacking owning, nirvāṇa, it was also like this said.
First of all, this is my own amateur translation, feel free to critique it, rip it up, what have you. How do we learn if not by making mistakes. This scripture finds a parallel in the expansive Pāli Asaṅkhatasutta SN 43.12. As usual, but this is not always the case, the Chinese is much briefer than the Pāli.
What is going on with the end, though, of this āgamasūtra? The sūtra ends with a stock coda formula indicating the end of a sermon, (佛說此經已，諸比丘聞佛所說，歡喜奉行。/Buddhavacana this sūtra was thereafter, many monks heard the Buddha teach it, and, joyful, they practised.) but then, the script continues, and breaks into a highly abbreviated verse with a different terminating coda, more brief (亦如是說。/also like this said.).
I think the ending is some kind of postlude, perhaps scribal, tacked on to the ending of the scripture. Perhaps someone’s poem, the papers having gotten mixed up in the copying process. Oftentimes in eccentric Bible recensions from medieval Northern Europe we find “marginalia” (literally, notes in the margins) accidentally incorporated into the body of a text in transmission, could this have been a translator’s marginalia? It could be buddhavacana, but there are a couple of strange features. For one, we have 覆蔭 fù yìn, smothered in yìn. This is what I rendered as “smothered in the dark,” but perhaps it could refer to the shaded dhyānin, or the mind in deep samādhi, or the Buddha at the bodhimaṇḍa shaded by the bodhi tree. Either way it seems very poetic, the language is incredibly brief and my rendering is far too wordy for it. It could perhaps be some kind of gāthā, I don’t think it’s odd to see hymns inserted into the middle of prose, we even get that in the Pāli Canon. Certainly, it’s not in any kind of Chinese meter, though AFAIK.
Notice the prefacing of the two blocks of buddhavacana by 謂, consider this in light of T99.84b12 SA296 因緣法經 *Pratītyasamutpannedharmāsūtra Sermon on Dependently Originated Phemonena parallel SN12.20 Paccayasutta:
And what are the pratītyasamutpanne dharmāḥ? To say, “this is, because that is,” to say, “conditioned by ignorance, there are the activities, conditioned by the activities there is the consciousness,” […]
Which intersects with this here: Quote or paraphrase: if this exists, that exists etc
IMO these 謂 constructions seem a little too ubiquitous. I have looked at more material where they pop up. This is what influenced the decision to render “謂 […]” as:
This is a disregarding of the editorial decisions of the Taishō compilers, responsible for the punctuation of the āgama texts, but this is common practice in my experience.
Is there any account of them functioning as preserved discourse particles indicative of orality in whatever Prākrit they might have been translated from?
Look at them in T99.84b12 Saṁyuktāgama 296 因緣法經/*Pratītyasamutpannedharmāsūtra, a closer look:
一時，佛住王舍城迦蘭陀 竹園。爾時，世尊告諸比丘：「我今當說因緣 法及緣生法。云何為因緣法？
謂無明、行。若佛出世，若 未出世，此法常住，法住法界，彼如來自所覺 知，成等正覺，為人演說，開示顯發，
謂緣無 明有行，乃至緣生有老死。若佛出世，若未 出世，此法常住，法住法界，彼如來自覺知， 成等正覺，為人演說，開示顯發，
謂緣生故， 有老、病、死、憂、悲、惱、苦。此等諸法，法住、法空、法 如、法爾，法不離如，法不異如，審諦真實、不 顛倒。如是隨順緣起，是名緣生法。
謂無明、 行、識、名色、六入處、觸、受、愛、取、有、生、老、病、死、憂、悲、 惱、苦，是名緣生法。
I’ve indented the scripture to highly how often 謂 is appearing in the text. Quite literally, systematically at the beginning of every line of buddhavacana. This is very common for Chinese Saṁyuktāgama texts AFAIK. Furthermore, since the punctuational editing we see in these āgamasūtra texts are the work of the Taishō editors, who AFAIK did not compare these scriptures to the Pāli Canon, I am wondering perhaps how many 謂 are suposed to end clauses rather than introducing them, à la “iti” aforementioned in the linked thread.