SuttaCentral

How to read SN14.15?


#1

I am a bit puzzled by the contents of SN14.15.

Hopefully, bhante @sujato, bhante @brahmali or bhante @dhammanando will be able to help me given their greater understanding of the Pali original.

More specifically, I am struggling to make sense of the following part:

“Mendicants, do you see Sāriputta walking meditation together with several mendicants?”
“Yes, sir.”
“All of those mendicants have great wisdom.
Do you see Moggallāna walking meditation together with several mendicants?”
“Yes, sir.”
“All of those mendicants have great psychic power.
Do you see Kassapa walking meditation together with several mendicants?”
“Yes, sir.”
“All of those mendicants advocate austerities.
(…)
Do you see Ānanda walking meditation together with several mendicants?”
“Yes, sir.”
“All of those mendicants are very learned.
Do you see Devadatta walking meditation together with several mendicants?”
“Yes, sir.”
“All of those mendicants have bad desires.

Why would the Buddha point to a specific monk famous for a given quality and then say that all of those bhikkhus have that quality?

More importantly, why would the Buddha point to infamous Devadatta and say that all of those mendicants have bad desires?

Is the Buddha saying that what brought all those bhikkhus together under him was that they all shared a mix of good and bad qualities?

:confused:


#2

Same feather flock together

Sentient beings come together and converge because of an element.
Shares same meaning with Hīnādhimuttika Sutta (SN 14.14)
Sutta further explains what exacly is the element; bad or good attitude.
SN 14.17 and SN 14.13 are much elaborated explainations of the element mentioned in the sutta.


#3

Thanks for your reply.
Not sure if I get it.
Could you please kindly explain in light of the discussion questions I presented?

Why would the Buddha point to a specific monk famous for a given quality and then say that all of those bhikkhus have that quality?
More importantly, why would the Buddha point to infamous Devadatta and say that all of those mendicants have bad desires?
Is the Buddha saying that what brought all those bhikkhus together under him was that they all shared a mix of good and bad qualities?


#4

In first council, upali theros pupils took vinaya over, ananda theros pupils dhamma(suttas) and so on. In the beginning the monks who gathered around Mahakassapa thero was dutangadarins, around Ananda thero, was the ones who memorized dhamma.
Similarly the monks who gathered around Devadatta thero was with bad desires. ex: Kokalika bhikku.
Ones who has a will to achieve supernatural power were with Moggallana thero becuase he was the top most one with supernatural powers. This is the same with other Maha theros.

This is the reason that the Buddha took them as an example to explain the element: desire (chanda/will) which brings them together.

It is not necessarily be that way, since, the Buddha is taking an example.


#5

I’m not sure what is unclear: Devadatta is a bad monk, and he attracts other bad monks.


#6

I don’t think that is even true. They don’t all share a mix of good and bad qualities. There are monks with good qualities and monks with bad qualities. I’m also not sure why this isn’t clear.


#7

Well, obviously the sutta runs towards a punch line. Are we supposed to believe that at one spot five groups of monks were doing walking meditation on display while the Buddha is giving a group of other monks a tour? And then the whole group is reduced to one characteristic?

To me it sounds like pointing out the bad guy and warning the audience either to follow his ‘lineage’ specifically or to engage with anything remotely related to a schism.


#8

Have you noticed that all those over here on D&D always come together and converge to discuss the translations made by Bhante Sujato?

Sentient beings come together and converge because of an element.

That’s how I read it.

:thinking:

But seriously, there is a subtle warning here to all of us that we should avoid confirmation bias. If we always turn to each other for confirmation, then how would we know if we were on the path? Devadattas companions all reinforced each other. As do we.

Therefore we should also interact with other sanghas, other spiritual friends, constantly testing our understanding of the Dhamma.


#9

I think the the intent of the sutta is not necessarily to show the moral versatility of the monks, but rather to show that good actions lead to spiritual attainments whereas bad actions just leads to more badness/lack of spiritual attainments. Devadatta isn’t cast in a more positive role because that’s not the point the Buddha is trying to make.


#10

Got it. For whatever reason I was not reading it right, I thought the “all of those monks” included everyone up to that point. It is just about the monks doing cankama with those famous monks… Sorry for the trouble and thanks for explaining.


#11

Iti 76
Whatever person one befriends,
Whomever one associates with,
One becomes of like quality,
One becomes like one’s companion.

The follower and the followed,
One who contacts and one contacted,
Are like an arrow coated with poison
That contaminates its quiver.
Fearing contamination the wise person
Should not have evil friends.


#12

“Are we supposed to believe that at one spot five groups of monks were doing walking meditation on display while the Buddha is giving a group of other monks a tour? And then the whole group is reduced to one characteristic?”

That is certainly possible to do within an (approx) 40 meter walk at vulture peak with each group having it’s own little area, FWIW. Lots of jagged rocks surrounding flat patches and from the main walk you could look down either side and see a little area where 4-5 people could gather and then some at the actual “peak” (really an ‘out crop’).


#13

I believe. The Buddha taught for 45 years and lots can happen. The uniqueness of the situation is exactly what made it worth recording.


#14

Vultures find that one rotting carcass, but the bee, a scented flower.


#15

this made me laugh


#16

The walking mentioned in the sutta is not walking meditation. When we read the part that explain the allowing of walking paths (cankamana), it is clear that the walking was not limited to meditation.
The story behind the allowing was abundance of unhealthy bhikkus in Sāvatti. Jīvaka he doctor asked the blessed one to allow walking paths to improve the health of those bhikkus in the Sāvatti.

Therefore, walking was done to keep healthy life other than meditation. It is unlikely to meditate as groups but this might rather be an exercise to keep a better health.

Now at that time at Vesālī a succession of meals of sumptuous foods came to be arranged. Monks, having eaten the sumptuous foods, became very ill with their bodies full of (bad) humours. Then Jīvaka Komārabhacca went to Vesālī on some business or other. Jīvaka Komārabhacca saw the monks who were very ill with their bodies full of (bad) humours; seeing them, he approached the Lord; having approached, having greeted the Lord, he sat down at a respectful distance. As he was sitting down at a respectful distance, Jīvaka Komārabhacca spoke thus to the Lord:

“At present, Lord, monks are very ill with their bodies full of (bad) humours. It were well, Lord, if the Lord allowed the monks a place for pacing up and down in and a bathroom. Thus will the monks come to have few afflictions.” Then the Lord gladdened, rejoiced, roused, delighted Jīvaka Komārabhacca with talk on dhamma . Then Jīvaka Komārabhacca, gladdened … delighted by the Lord with talk on dhamma , rising from his seat, having greeted the Lord, departed keeping his right side towards him. Then the Lord on this occasion, in this connection, having given reasoned talk, addressed the monks, saying:

“I allow, monks, a place for pacing up and down in, and a bathroom (this is more like a sauna not exactly a bathroom).”
Pli Tv Kd 15


#17

What is the point?


#18

Devadatta was not addressed as Venerable.


#19

Thats a good point,
Thats was solely done by the translator, where the sutta shares no specialty.


#20

Actually, I believe that the honorific was omitted in the Pali?

Venerable Ānanda,
āyasmāpi kho ānando sambahulehi bhikkhūhi saddhiṃ bhagavato avidūre caṅkamati;
and Devadatta.
devadattopi kho sambahulehi bhikkhūhi saddhiṃ bhagavato avidūre caṅkamati.