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I shall keep reciting the “Way to the Beyond”

These words begin the final chapter of the Sutta Nipata, and the final chapter of my translation project. Yesterday I finished! I’ve now translated all of the early Suttas from Pali.

I knew that this chapter would be an emotional moment for me, as I have loved this passage for a long time. But I never really understood it till now.

The setting is that a group of sixteen very devoted brahmins have come on a long journey to see the Buddha. They were sent by their teacher Bāvari, who could not go himself due to his old age. At the end, Pingiya, himself an elderly sage, is discussing with his teacher Bāvari about their experiences.

Pingiya is so moved, he declares that he will “keep on reciting” these teachings. Yet none of the translations I have consulted quite capture the force of his statement.

As a brahmin elder, Pingiya’s life has been devoted to his teaching, and to the ongoing recitation of his sacred scriptures. When speaking of this, the Pali texts use the word anugāyati. Here, the prefix anu- carries the force of “continuing, ongoing”. The idea is that the brahmins of the present maintain the recitation made by the legendary sages of old. It’s the inverse of the term anussuta from the Dhammacakkappavattana, which means the “hearing from another” of what has been maintained in recitation.

Thus Pingiya is not merely speaking in praise of these verses, he is saying that he will establish a recitation lineage to preserve them. The passage, perhaps uniquely, shows how a trained brahmin scholar considered the Buddha as a unique voice to be preserved as were the sages of old.

More than that, he dismisses his previous learning as the mere “testament of hearsay” (itihītihaṁ). The Buddha is not just added to the pantheon of sages, he supplants them.

I think it’s easy to take our heritage for granted, to think of scripture as a means of preserving ideas. But this chapter reveals with rare vulnerability the emotional depths that motivate this. Pingiya was not just “preserving scripture”, he was keeping alive the “way to the beyond”.

Bāvari asks him how he could bear to be separated from the teacher he loves. Pingiya says that he stays close to the Buddha always in his mind. And through this, they point the path to the need and the means for Buddhist devotion in ages to come.

We cannot stay with the Buddha, and we cannot ask him our pressing questions. Yet because of Pingiya, and countless others like him, the “Way to the Beyond” has been passed down, and we can still hear its song.

And that is why all of this matters. I am so honored to have been able to serve the Dhamma, and so grateful to the Buddhist community who have supported me always. It has been a long, beautiful, road.

Thank you everyone, and may you too find the way to the beyond.

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Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!!

:pray: :dharmawheel: :pray: :thaibuddha: :pray: :dharmawheel:

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As always, thank you for all you do Bhante.

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Very touching essay Bhante🙏🏼

And which people around the globe can easily access to travel upon!

It’s so easy to get lost, but the Suttas are like timeless maps that never lose their effectiveness in getting us on track :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: Thank you :pray:t3::pray:t3::pray:t3:

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Muito obrigado, venerável amigo.
Reverência e respeito, sempre. :anjal:

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Beatuful Bhante, thanks. ‘The Way to the Beyond’ has always been my favorite chapter in the entire Tipitika so I particulary appreciate your post.

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Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

Perhaps it could be a fitting passage for this evening’s Dhamma talk?

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:pray:t2:Sadu sadu sadu…
may all beings be in peace and safety of all possibilities

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A beautiful essay Bhante, thank you! :anjal:

I feel this is exactly how dedicated buddhist practitioners sees the suttas, it is the way to the beyond. In a way, a way to the Buddha… :dharmawheel: Or at least a way in the footsteps of the Buddha. :slight_smile: :thaibuddha:

It truly a blessing we have this path of Dhamma thanks to Buddha & Sangha and everyone else who supported it. :slight_smile: This makes me feel lots of Mudita for all the buddhist family that transmigrates from life to life, keeping the sasana going, so “we” can one by one disappear! :slight_smile:

And thank you Bhante for all your translation work and also SuttaCentral, D&D and your books, essays and posts. It is hard to put into words how much all this taken together has helped me in my life and many other people. Thank you, with deep gratitude and respect! :anjal: :pray: :relieved: I hope all this merit brings you full liberation. :pray:

Oh, and thank you that we could thank you, because gratitude is a beautiful feeling. :blush:

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Bhante @sujato, this is so moving, inspiring and beautiful. Thank you so much bhante for your friendship, guidance and paving the path to find the way to the beyond. :rose:

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I’m not crying you’re crying :sneezing_face:

Saaadhu Saaadhu Saaadhu!!

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It seems fitting that Bhante has saved the best for last.
Let us all rejoice in Bhante’s gift of the Dhamma of the “Way to the Beyond”.

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Deep bows, Bhante.
Your contribution to preserving the Dhamma and making it available worldwide in English and Pali is a phenomenal labor of love, benefitting countless beings all over the world.
My gratitude knows no bounds.
May you receive every blessing! May all the devas protect you! By the power of all the Buddhas, may you ever be well!
:pray:t4::purple_heart::pray:t4:
Meg Gawler

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With much metta, mudita and kataññu for sharing this beautiful story of Pingiya and this moment of great accomplishment. Three Sadhus Bhante.

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As you may or may not know, since at least 2018 the Thai Supreme Council has also been working on an English translation of the Tripitaka and now, three years later, they’ve, just like you, reached an historic milestone: they just finalized the membership of their translation and editorial subcommittees! Exciting times! :joy:

(Now they just have to wait for the king’s approval to fund the project… and then, maybe, they can actually start? :sweat_smile:)

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Bhante, you have contributed to those songs always being heard. Your phenomenal effort in translating the EBTs, SC, DD, has allowed thousands of us to have access to the sublime ideas of the Canon. What an immense achievement. You are in the company of people like Xuangzhang and Faxian (although I don’t think any of them translated so much).
Anumodana to you. And thank you with the deepest gratitude.
Sadu x 3

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I wish them the best! It seems the names aren’t actually given, so we don’t know who will be translating. But anyway, the more the merrier.

While one may be forgiven for doubting whether this project will go anywhere, I still think it’s important to support as many different efforts as possible. I keenly feel the lack of serious contributions by major Buddhist institutions. This is the kind of work they should be doing. I have relied on the former work of so many people, and I hope that others can benefit from my work in turn.

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Yes Bhante, I think some miss this point when they start worrying about “which translation is best?”. Of course, it’s handy to know if some particular translator is incompetent, but having the sometimes very different choices between Bhikkhu Bodhi’s and your translations is really helpful in illuminating the meaning. In particular, it is a good antidote to over-enthusiastic extrapolation of the connotations of the particular English words, as if those connotations were the same as for the original.

Waiting not-so-patiently for the Sutta Nipata translation to appear… :rofl:

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I absolutely agree. My point wasn’t to disparage their effort but to highlight the magnitude of your own! :pray: :slight_smile:

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Thank you so much for your work. People have written some beautiful things and one can only agree heartily and say, “Anumodana.” With great gratitude, Nadine

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