Interpreting the first Jhana

Hm, this somehow developed into a MN117 discussion rather than a first-Jhana discussion. Would you guys please move this segment to a topic with an explicit title? So new readers can easily find it when interested…

Apart from that I don’t understand what your problem is with lokuttara = supramundane.
loka = world = in latin mundus
uttara = upper, higher = in latin supra
it’s quite literally supramundane, even ‘world-transcending’ is not as literal as transcending implies a movement that is not in uttara

Why does it seem abhidhammic? it has at least 6 passages that don’t appear in the suttas, but (often) in the abhidamma as the article shows.

It’s just easier to explain that with the sutta burrowing from the abhidhamma and not the other way round. Otherwise you’d have to explain why this particular sutta should have been THAT influential in the compilation of different abhidhamma books.

Good idea. Until then…

I am not so sure if the manner in which you have parsed the compound works. If you take uttara to be the adjective = upper/higher, then for you to resolve it as “supramundane”, you’d need the compound to be a kammadhāraya compound. But that can only work if your compound were uttaraloka.

My reading is to treat lokuttara as a bahubbīhi compound, where uttara =

uttara, m. n. [ud + √ tṝ], 1. (m.) passing over,
> crossing; ifc. dur° (Mil 283,7; Utt-vn 271), su-dur°
(Ja IV 195,3); 2. (n.) ship; nāvā . . . taraṇaṁ ~aṁ
tathā . . . etāni nāvā-nāmāni honti tu, Sadd 426,1*;
nāvā ~a setu ca [read ? ~a-setū ca], 525,20; uttaranti
etenā ti ~aṁ, nāvā yeva; ~an ti ayaṁ hi nāvā-
pariyāyo, 525,26. (per CPD)

The Chinese translators also appear to have treated lokuttara as a bahubbīhi compound by their choice of 出世 (leaving the world).

I have a slightly different take on the relationship between the suttas and the Abhidhamma. While the Abhidhamma in its final form may have found its specialist reciters, there does not seem to be any reason why the earliest Abhidhamma content would not have been an outgrowth of the earliest commentarial work. Norman and Ven Analayo believe that the earliest commentarial enterprise would have had to developed together with the “redaction” of the suttas. Norman believes this to be the case, on the evidence that even when an old Prakritic connotation was lost through new denotation based on Sanskritisation, the commentators remembered the old Prakritic sense. Inferring from this, I would say that those untypical definitions in MN 117 would have been the basis for the enumerations in the Abhidhamma, rather than being back-readings from the “later” works. I say “later” tentatively, as I don’t subscribe to the idea that the Abhidhamma literature was written overnight. Their content would have accrued over generations (see for example the 2 slightly differing definitions of name-&-form in the Dhammasaṅgaṇī versus the Vibhaṅga .

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Thanks for looking at the compound lokuttara closer. But can’t it be a visesanuttarapada-kammadhāraya too? In that case uttara could follow loka. I really don’t know the subtleties of compounds well enough though…

I think I don’t understand your point re. MN 117. Are you saying it’s not fully abhidhammic but early commentarial? I personally don’t have an opinion on this because my interest focuses on early-sutta vs. later-than-that. For me the oddities of this sutta make me see it as ‘later-than-that’. Or in other words, if a question arises about authentic teaching I personally wouldn’t refer to this particular sutta as a reference. Apart from that it obviously has it’s place as an MN sutta.

Yup. This looks to me like pre-Abhidhamma commentary, at least for the lokuttara Right Resolve list of synonyms. On the other hand, the bifurcation into “with effluents” and “without effluents and world-transcending” sounds like something that was very early, given the occurrence of lokuttara in other suttas and sutras.

I note your point about the visesanuttarapada. If you analyse lokuttara as such, the compound ceases to be adjectival per se, but becomes a junction of a substantive noun and adjective. For lokuttara to be adjectival per se, I think the bhvr is the best bet.

Sorry, on my phone without diacritics.