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MN 22 - a single anattā doctrine Pali sutta

anatta
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#61

Can’t the strange organization of this sutta be explained with reference to the view held by Ariṭṭha, which the Buddha corrects? Ariṭṭha had the thought “As I understand the Buddha’s teachings, the acts that he says are obstructions are not really obstructions for the one who performs them.”

This strange opinion seems to be implicit in the idea of an eternal, imperishable self, and the view “the self is eternal” may have been the source of Ariṭṭha’s stated view in the sutta: If the one who performs an obstructive action lasts forever, then the one who performs an obstructive action is clearly not affected by the consequences of his action. He can’t be; to be affected by an action is to be dependently co-originated, and hence this thing termed the self is impermanent.

The overall import of the sutta would be something like “Ariṭṭha was wrong because – while we cannot say anything positive about the identity of the self – the consequences of your actions will still return to you, in your life, as well as affecting many others. This in itself proves that the self is impermanent.”

The origins of self-view are repeated here because they show self-view to be conditioned, and in need of discarding. Once that’s done, Ariṭṭha’s doctrine can’t be defended anymore.


#62

That’s a smart take on the sutta! I can totally follow the idea that if we understand Arittha’s interpretation we would understand the Buddha’s refutation better.

One problem is, we don’t exactly know what Arittha refers to: “the acts that he says are obstructions…” are a special translation of B. Sujato (agreeing with B. Thanissaro). In Pali its ‘dhammā’. B. Bodhi translates as ‘things’ (following Nyanaponika).

I’ve found the schizo life of the term ‘dhamma’ always discomforting: ‘teaching’ - ‘thought’ - ‘thing’ - and now ‘act’ - I don’t buy it. The translators might have made peace with their take on it, but I don’t have the burden to come up with a translation and can afford to be critical. Take the whole sentence:

tathāhaṃ bhagavatā dhammaṃ desitaṃ ājānāmi yathā yeme antarāyikā dhammā vuttā…

In the same sentence we’re supposed to swallow the same term as ‘teaching’ and ‘acts’/‘things’. Sure, it could be a Pali quirk and you can always find strange arrangements like that in English as well, but I personally don’t believe central doctrines like ‘dhamma’ would have been used so casually in different meanings.

Anyhow, it maybe doesn’t affect your argument much. We would get in the three variations …

“As I understand the Buddha’s teachings,

  • the acts that he says are obstructions
  • the things that he says are obstructions
  • the teaching-aspects that he says are obstructions [my choice]

are not really obstructions for the one who applies them.”

The big problem is Arittha doesn’t explain himself in the sutta - which he probably did in real life. Taken in itself his position is really stupid, or rather the sutta stupifies it.

Does your interpretation depend a lot on dhamma = act? Could you pursue your understanding independent from its (difficult) translation?


#63

I don’t know nearly enough Pāli to be of more help here. In this case I only know just enough to be irritated that the contested term is dhamma, because I know it’s maybe referring one of several widely different things. None seems clearly ruled out by context, either, at least to my very limited understanding.

This sutta is far from the only time I’ve read and thought, “Gosh, if only I knew better what all these other people really thought back then.” I feel like I’d maybe understand the Buddha a bit better if I did.


#64

If you have read the threads " Anicca is not just impermanence, there are eight more to it " and " Attā and anattā real meaning reveal in the sutta " then, you would have known that atta and/or anatta have four senses:

Sense one :
As an agent self: atta means self

Sense Two :
As impermanence self: anatta means no-self

Sense Three :
As substantial of which atta means “of value”, “ultimate truth”, etc.
As insubstantial of which anatta means “valueless”, “no ultimate truth”, etc.

Sense Four :
As of control of which atta means “in-control”.
As of no control of which anatta means “not in-control”.

If you have understood atta as “self” and anatta as “no self” only, you would have not equipped yourself on concepts for this large extent of meanings for the above four senses which narrow your horizon to know that the current sutta has not been translated with the right senses for the meaning of the words attā and anattā.

Below is the correct meaning for the sutta MN 22 for the verses 16.2 to 16.9:

16.2 They regard form like this: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not to me attā (in-control).’
rūpaṃ ‘netaṃ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati;

16.3 They also regard feeling …
vedanaṃ ‘netaṃ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati;

16.4 perception …
saññaṃ ‘netaṃ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati;

16.5 choices …
saṅkhāre ‘netaṃ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati;

16.6 whatever is seen, heard, thought, cognized, searched, and explored by the mind like this: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not to me attā (in-control).’
yampi taṃ diṭṭhaṃ sutaṃ mutaṃ viññātaṃ pattaṃ pariyesitaṃ, anuvicaritaṃ manasā, tampi ‘netaṃ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati;

16.7 And the same for this ground for views:
yampi taṃ diṭṭhiṭṭhānaṃ—

16.8 ‘He is attā (in-control) and the loko (world) and after death he will get what he desire (nicco), becomes permanent (dhuvo), eternal (sassato), not subject to change (avipariṇāmadhammo) like the eternal things (imperishable) (sassatisamaṃ), and will last forever and ever.’
so loko so attā, so pecca bhavissāmi nicco dhuvo sassato avipariṇāmadhammo, sassatisamaṃ tatheva ṭhassāmīti—

16.9 They also regard this: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not to me attā (in-control).’
tampi ‘netaṃ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati.

Verse 16.8 above, clearly states that when the person is in full control (attā), he is with the world (loko) [meaning he is an arahant] and after death he will get what he desire ( nicco ), becomes permanent ( dhuvo ), eternal ( sassato ), not subject to change ( avipariṇāmadhammo ) like the eternal things (imperishable) ( sassatisamaṃ ), and will last forever and ever.’

But verse 16.8 is not as what it should be, as verse 16.9 also (same as 16.2, 16.3, 16.4, 16.5, and 16.6) states that it is not in-control ( na meso attā).


#65

This is an incorrect English rendering of the Buddhavacana.

It is, in turn, based on an interpretation unique to the contemporary nationalist Sri Lankan Waharaka sect.

For more pertinent information on the Waharaka sect see here.


#66

@kstan1122
When making statements such as

You really need to cite the source of your translation, and provide further evidence to argue such a substantive change to understanding of 16.8 and 16.9.

Here is a link to several translations hosted at SC. for comparison to the version that Kstan has presented above.


Alagaddūpama Sutta MN 22MN i 130

Additionally here is a link to other resources
https://discourse.suttacentral.net/search?q=MN22

There has been much debate about this in these many discussions before, and you mention the two main topic threads, that your OP is addressing, in your opening statement. Rather than creating a new topic to go over the same ground, please continue this discussion in one of the existing threads

:anjal::dharmawheel:


#67