Now on SC: Paṭisambhidāmagga—The Path of Discrimination translation by Ven. Ñāṇamoli

The PTS translation of the Paṭisambhidāmagga translated by Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli has been added to SuttaCentral. :tada:

https://suttacentral.net/pitaka/sutta/minor/kn/ps

It was originally published posthumously in 1984. People may be familiar with Ven.Ñāṇamoli’s translation of the Middle Length Discorses, also published posthumously and edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi. For a list of his other translations as well as a short biography, see his Wikipedia page:

The Paṭisambhidāmagga

The Paṭisambhidāmagga is included in the Khuddaka Nikaya.

According to the Wikipedia page:

The Patisambhidamagga has been described as an “attempt to systematize the Abhidhamma” and thus as a possible precursor to the Visuddhimagga.[3] The text’s systematic approach and the presence of a matika summarizing the contents of the first section are both features suggestive of the Abhidhamma, but it also includes some features of the Sutta Pitaka, including repeated invocation of the standard sutta opening evaṃ me suttaṃ (‘thus have I heard’).[2][5] Its content and aspects of its composition overlap significantly with the Vibhanga, and A.K. Warder suggested that at some stage in its development it may have been classified as an Abhidhamma text.[2]

This Edition

This electronic version is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 licence (CC BY-NC 4.0)

All copyright is owned by the Pali Text Society. See also the statement under http://www.palitext.com/ → Publications → Copyright Announcement.

For non-commercial use only.

Prepared for SuttaCentral by Manfred Wierich and Ven. Vimala.

This has been added as a Legacy Text, meaning that side by side view of the Pali and translation is not possible.

This translation was released from it’s original copyright allong with four other translations by Ven. Ñāṇamoli on 08 April 2021:

The Pali Text Society is pleased to announce that the following works, whose copyright is owned by the Pali Text Society, are now issued under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 licence (CC BY-NC 4.0) Creative Commons — Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International — CC BY-NC 4.0.

  • Dispeller of Delusion, tr. Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli
  • The Guide, tr. Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli
  • The Minor Readings and The Illustrator of the Ultimate Meaning, tr. Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli
  • The Path of Discrimination, tr. Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli
  • The Piṭaka Disclosure, tr. Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli

The much older Pali edition by the PTS is available on Archive.org: Volume 1, Volume 2

Gratitude!

May we all rejoice in the merit of everyone who made this possible, from Ven. Ñāṇamoli him self, to his original typists, proofreaders, editors, typesetters, all the way to the people at the PTS who have made this text availabe under creative commons and the folks at SuttaCentral who have worked hard to make this text available on the site.

Sadhu sadhu!

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Interesting Wiki quote above. What is interesting is:

  1. When the Vibhanga refers to “bhava as explained in the suttas”, it refers to the Patisambhidamagga, which introduces the terms “kamma bhava” & “upapatti bhava”. This would logically indicate the Patisambhidamagga existed prior to the Vibhanga.

  2. However, the Vibhanga never refers to “patisandhi-vinanna”, another term introduced by the Patisambhidamagga. This would indicate the Vibhanga existed prior to the Patisambhidamagga; or otherwise the Vibhanga simply ignored “patisandhi-vinanna”. Its interesting how the Visuddhimagga emphasizes “patisandhi-vinanna”.

  3. The above said, if we browse this Ps link: SuttaCentral we can find many definitions accord with the Suttas; but not with the Vibhanga. For example, the Ps includes the following Sutta definition of “jati” however the Vibhanga does not:

225 Herein, what is birth? In the various orders of being the birth of beings, their coming to birth, descent (into a womb), reproduction, manifestation of aggregates, acquisition of bases [for consciousness], is what is called birth. (Patisambhidamagga)

Tattha katamā bhavapaccayā jāti? Yā tesaṁ tesaṁ dhammānaṁ jāti sañjāti nibbatti abhinibbatti pātubhāvo— ayaṁ vuccati “bhavapaccayā jāti”.

Therein what is “because of becoming there is birth”? That which for this or that state is birth, genesis, existence, full existence, appearance. This is called “because of becoming there is birth”. (Vibhanga) SuttaCentral

If we are not clear about the distinction above:

  • Patisambhidamagga preserves the definition of “jati” from the Suttas, where “jati” refers to the birth of “beings” (“sattanam”).

  • Vibhanga defines “jati” as the birth of “things/phenomena” (“dhammānaṁ”).

When I browsed the Patisambhidamagga, my impression was it was an attempt to systematize the Suttas rather than the Abhidhamma. :slightly_smiling_face:

Here is “Sutta Explanation” portion of the Vibhanga:

Yā tesaṁ tesaṁ sattānaṁ tamhi tamhi sattanikāye jāti sañjāti okkanti abhinibbatti, khandhānaṁ pātubhāvo, āyatanānaṁ paṭilābho—ayaṁ vuccati “bhavapaccayā jāti”.

And the Patisambhida:

Yā tesaṁ tesaṁ sattānaṁ tamhi tamhi sattanikāye jāti sañjāti okkanti abhinibbatti khandhānaṁ pātubhāvo āyatanānaṁ paṭilābho—ayaṁ vuccati jāti.

Both have the definition from the suttas.

In addition, the Vibhanga also has a Abhidhamma definition in terms of “phenomena” (Yā tesaṁ tesaṁ dhammānaṁ jāti …), but this is clearly labelled as the “Abhidhamma Explanation”. So it has both.


Incidentally, this is one of the reasons we know the “mind moment” AKA “one lifetime” theory of dependent origination is incorrect. In order to create such a theory, the Vibhanga had to change the text of the sutta. So the Vibhanga is, in essence, saying that the principle of dependent origination, which in the suttas deals with the rebirth of sentient beings, can also be abstracted out and applied in other contexts, such as the arising of phenomena in the moment, but to make that work we have to change certain terms and definitions.

And of course that is quite correct. If we change things in DO, we can apply similar principles in other contexts. So long as we are clear, as the Vibhanga is, that that is not what the Suttas are talking about.

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Yes, I know this. However, the Abhidhamma then concocts its own definitions as the “Abhidhamma Explanation”.

Yes, I know this. The Abhidhamma separates the Sutta Explanation from the Abhidhamma Explanation.

However, the Abhidhamma “Sutta Explanation” of “bhava” is not from the Suttas but is from the Patisambhidamagga. That was my salient point here; that the Patisambhidamagga was used by the Abhidhamma as a reference point to the Suttas (since the Patisambhidamagga was placed into the Suttas).

Interesting theory Bhante. I’m not yet convinced that is what the Abhidhamma was doing.

Again, I think we should examine the Vibhanga further. Personally, I have only browsed it thus not come to any conclusions of its intent, particularly its redefinitions of nama-rupa, bhava, jati & marana (but excluding ‘sankhara’, which seems definitely a mind-moment definition due its ‘singular’ grammar). I have rarely noticed any detailed discussion about the Vibhanga.

I suppose what may have motivated me to make my original post here is my impression that many seem to exalt the Abhidhamma & Patisambhimagga without even reading them. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I agree Bhante. Personally I think it’s fine to apply DO to other contexts, in different forms, so long as we don’t reject or ignore the original meaning. What I think is a mistake is to take a phenomenological or psychological view of dependent origination and then use that as a basis for rejecting or ignoring the original and multi life model. I say original as the multi life view of dependent origination is a non-sectarian teaching. From what we know of the early schools, all accepted it. The Mahayana too. I mean, even for Venerable Nagarjuna dependent origination was about multiple lives.

Its fine to subjectively believe in the above however my impression is it is merely another interpretation. I am yet to read any established scholar or monk present a convincing Sutta explanation of either model. (Note: I not asking you to offer your personal explanation given I would have probably noticed it in cyberspace if I found it convincing).

Since this topic is about the Patisambhidamagga, it may be a fitting occasion to explore what the Patisambhidamagga may offer to this question/matter/subject. :slightly_smiling_face:

My original point here was offering a different viewpoint to the Wikipedia quote, namely, when I browsed the Patisambhidamagga, my impression was it was an attempt to systematize the Suttas rather than the Abhidhamma. My impression, for now, is the little Bhante Sujato offered here may have supported my point of view, here, that the Patisambhidamagga may not be Abhidhammic in its character. :slightly_smiling_face:

Returning to topic, I thought to spend my spare time today (work has no activities yet thus probably little for the day) read the Patisambhidamagga and posting impressions and questions:

  • The first impression from the Schedule is it has similarities to modern Vipassana Dhura, where it refers to “knowledge of contemplation of rise and fall” (dhammānaṁ vipariṇāmānupassane paññā udayabbayānupassane ñāṇaṁ eg AN 4.41), “contemplating dissolution”, “appearance as terror is knowledge of danger”, etc. Is this sequence, particularly, “appearance as terror is knowledge of danger” found in the Suttas or Abhidhamma?

  • Above, “vipassana” seems defined as “understanding of contemplating dissolution after reflecting on an object is knowledge of insight” (Ārammaṇaṁ paṭisaṅkhā bhaṅgānupassane paññā vipassane ñāṇaṁ). “Bhanga” is a term I’ve heard before. It seems only in AN 5.209; not in Abhidhamma.

  • The Schedule ends saying it is 73 kinds of knowledge; of these 73 kinds of knowledge, 67 are shared by disciples and 6 are not shared by disciples. These 73 kinds of knowledge are then explained in the next chapter.

  • Chapter 1.1 has the teaching: “Five bases for deliverance (panca vimuttāyatanāni)”; found in arguably later Suttas, namely, AN 5.26; DN 33; DN 34; plus the KN, here: SuttaCentral.

  • Again, the “Six unsurpassables”, found only in DN 33; DN 34; AN 6.8, AN 6.30 & AN 1.170–187; here: SuttaCentral

  • Again, the “seven grounds for commendation” (satta niddasavatthūni), found only in the AN and DN, here: SuttaCentral

  • Again, the “eight bases of mastery”, found in the MN once, in the AN, DN including DN 16, & minor Abhidhamma SuttaCentral different to “six bases of mastery” in SN 35.96.

  • Again, the "nine successive abidings " (anupubbavihārā), in the AN and DN, here: SuttaCentral

  • Again, the “ten grounds for decay” (nijjaravatthūni) found in the AN & DN, here: SuttaCentral

All of the above give the impression the Patisambhidamagga is a later text related to other suspected later Sutta texts, such as the DN & AN.

  • Chapter 1.1 then continues with the term “abhiññeyya” (“to be directly known”), using the term “abhiññeyya” 940 times.

abhiññeyya
future passive participle adjective

abhijānāti

to know by experience, to know fully or thoroughly, to recognise know of (c. acc.), to be conscious or aware of

  • In merely paragraph 201, there seems nothing there alien to the standard Suttas or having any unique mark of Abhidhamma. However, its inclusion of volition/craving/vitakka/vicara towards sense objects confirms the suspicions DN 22 (the only sutta apart from two ANs it is found) is a late text (also in the Vibhanga). SuttaCentral

Chapter 1.1 of the Patisambhidamagga then continues to apply its “abhiññeyya” to Dependent Origination. It says:

Avijjā abhiññeyyā; saṅkhārā abhiññeyyā; viññāṇaṁ abhiññeyyaṁ; nāmarūpaṁ abhiññeyyaṁ; saḷāyatanaṁ abhiññeyyaṁ; phasso abhiññeyyo; vedanā abhiññeyyā; taṇhā abhiññeyyā; upādānaṁ abhiññeyyaṁ; bhavo abhiññeyyo; jāti abhiññeyyā; jarāmaraṇaṁ abhiññeyyaṁ.

One small feature that places the above into the Sutta Explanation and divorces it from the Abhidhamma Explanation is the word “saṅkhārā” is plural in the Patisambhidamagga; the same as the Suttas. Where as in the Abhidhamma Vibhanga, the word saṅkhāra is singular, i.e., “saṅkhāro”.

Avijjāpaccayā saṅkhāro, saṅkhārapaccayā viññāṇaṁ, viññāṇapaccayā nāmaṁ, nāmapaccayā chaṭṭhāyatanaṁ, chaṭṭhāyatanapaccayā phasso, phassapaccayā vedanā, vedanāpaccayā taṇhā, taṇhāpaccayā upādānaṁ, upādānapaccayā bhavo, bhavapaccayā jāti, jātipaccayā jarāmaraṇaṁ. Evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa samudayo hoti.

Vibhanga - Abhidhammabhājanīya - SuttaCentral

Similar to SN 12.20, but in more detail, the Patisambhidamagga seems to continue that the “cessation” of all twelve conditions of Dependent Origination are to be “directly known”.

jarāmaraṇe aniccānupassanā abhiññeyyā; jarāmaraṇe dukkhānupassanā abhiññeyyā; jarāmaraṇe anattānupassanā abhiññeyyā; jarāmaraṇe nibbidānupassanā abhiññeyyā; jarāmaraṇe virāgānupassanā abhiññeyyā; jarāmaraṇe nirodhānupassanā abhiññeyyā; jarāmaraṇe paṭinissaggānupassanā abhiññeyyā.

Contemplation of impermanence in the case of ageing-and-death is to be directly known. Contemplation of pain in the case of ageing-and-death … Contemplation of not self in the case of ageing-and-death … Contemplation of dispassion in the case of ageing-and-death … Contemplation of fading away in the case of ageing-and-death … Contemplation of cessation in the case of ageing-and-death … Contemplation of relinquishment in the case of ageing-and-death is to be directly known.

Again, the above seems to connect the Patisambhidamagga to the Suttas rather than to the Abhidhamma Vibhanga. Unless I have missed something, I could not even find the word “nirodha” mentioned in relation to Dependent Origination, in the Abhidhamma Paṭiccasamuppāda Vibhaṅga. :sunny:

The Patisambhidamagga then introduces some terms & structures that seem unique to it:

  1. Arising is to be directly known. Uppādo abhiññeyyo;
  2. Occurrence is to be directly known. pavattaṁ abhiññeyyaṁ;
  3. The sign [of a formation] is to be directly known. nimittaṁ abhiññeyyaṁ
  4. Accumulation [of kamma] is to be directly known. āyūhanā abhiññeyyā
  5. Rebirth-linking is to be directly known. paṭisandhi abhiññeyyā
  6. Destination [on rebirth] is to be directly known. gati abhiññeyyā
  7. Generation [of aggregates] is to be directly known. nibbatti abhiññeyyā
  8. Realising is to be directly known. upapatti abhiññeyyā
  9. Birth is to be directly known. jāti abhiññeyyā
  10. Ageing is to be directly known. jarā abhiññeyyā
  11. Sickness is to be directly known. byādhi abhiññeyyo
  12. Death is to be directly known. maraṇaṁ abhiññeyyaṁ
  13. Sorrow is to be directly known. soko abhiññeyyo
  14. Lamentation is to be directly known. paridevo abhiññeyyo
  15. Despair is to be directly known. upāyāso abhiññeyyo
  • Uppādo is a common Sutta term.
  • Pavattaṁ seems not a term of any special significance in the Suttas yet is used 154 times merely in Chapter 1.2 of the Ps. Having a quick browse, it is used below with every condition in Dependent Origination; together with “nimitta” & “āyūhanā”:

Avijjā saṅkhārānaṁ uppādaṭṭhiti ca pavattaṭṭhiti ca nimittaṭṭhiti ca āyūhanaṭṭhiti ca saññogaṭṭhiti ca palibodhaṭṭhiti ca samudayaṭṭhiti ca hetuṭṭhiti ca paccayaṭṭhiti ca. Imehi navahākārehi avijjā paccayo, saṅkhārā paccayasamuppannā. Ubhopete dhammā paccayasamuppannāti— paccayapariggahe paññā dhammaṭṭhitiñāṇaṁ. Atītampi addhānaṁ … anāgatampi addhānaṁ avijjā saṅkhārānaṁ uppādaṭṭhiti ca pavattaṭṭhiti ca nimittaṭṭhiti ca āyūhanaṭṭhiti ca saññogaṭṭhiti ca palibodhaṭṭhiti ca samudayaṭṭhiti ca hetuṭṭhiti ca paccayaṭṭhiti ca. Imehi navahākārehi avijjā paccayo, saṅkhārā paccayasamuppannā. Ubhopete dhammā paccayasamuppannāti— paccayapariggahe paññā dhammaṭṭhitiñāṇaṁ.

Ignorance has a causal relationship (is present) to formations’ arising (uppāda), a causal relationship (is present) to their occurrence (pavatta), a causal relationship (is present) to their sign (nimitta), a causal relationship (is present) to their accumulation (āyūhana), a causal relationship (is present) to their bondage, a causal relationship (is present) to their impeding, a causal relationship (is present) to their origin, a causal relationship (is present) to their causality, a causal relationship (is present) to their conditionality. Understanding of embracing conditions thus: “Ignorance is a condition, formations are conditionally-arisen, and both these ideas are conditionally-arisen” in these nine aspects is knowledge of the causal relationship of ideas. And in the past and in the future ignorance has a causal relationship to formations’ arising, a causal relationship to their occurrence, … a causal relationship to their conditionality. Understanding of embracing conditions thus … [as above] … in these nine aspects is knowledge of the causal relationship of ideas.

Formations have a causal relationship to consciousness’ arising …

Consciousness has a causal relationship to mentality-materiality’s arising, …

Mentality-materiality has a causal relationship to the sixfold base’s arising, …

The sixfold base has a causal relationship to contact’s arising, …

Contact has a causal relationship to feeling’s arising, …

Feeling has a causal relationship to craving’s arising, …

Craving has a causal relationship to clinging’s arising, …

Clinging has a causal relationship to being’s arising, …

Being has a causal relationship to birth’s arising, …

Birth has a causal relationship to ageing-and-death’s arising, … a causal relationship to its occurrence, a causal relationship to its sign, a causal relationship to its accumulation, a causal relationship to its bondage, a causal relationship to its impeding, a causal relationship to its arousing, a causal relationship to its causality, a causal relationship to its conditionality.

  • The term “nimitta” seems very well established in the Suttas.
  • The term “āyūhanā” looks interesting. It is not found in the Suttas, it is found in an insignificant way in the Vibangha, may be found in a similar way in the KN Peṭakopadesa thus appears exclusive as an important term to the Patisambhidamagga. SuttaCentral
  • The well-known Visuddhimagga term “paṭisandhi” seems to have its origins in the KN’s Patisambhidamagga. SuttaCentral It is also found in the KN’s Netti Paṭiniddesavāra SuttaCentral , in the KN’s Milindapañha, the KN’s Cūḷaniddesa, the KN’s Peṭakopadesa, the KN’s Therāpadāna SuttaCentral, as follows:

Paṭisandhiṁ na passāmi,
vicinanto bhave ahaṁ;
Nirūpadhi vippamutto,
upasanto carāmahaṁ.

I witness no re-becoming;
I’ve investigated being;
free of desires and fully free,
calmed, I’m wandering about now.

SuttaCentral

  • The term ‘paṭisandhiviññāṇaṁ’ is found in the KN’s Cūḷaniddesa SuttaCentral

  • While ‘patisandhi’ is also prominent in the Abhidhamma Patthana, based on the above, it seems to be a term of KN origins. In the Patthana, it is used as follows:

Dependent on state with applied thought and sustained thought (savitakka-savicāraṃ dhammaṃ paṭicca) , arises state with applied thought and sustained thought by root condition.

  1. Dependent on one aggregate with applied thought and sustained thought (savitakka-savicāraṃ ekaṃ khandhaṃ paṭicca), arise three aggregates; dependent on three aggregates, arises one aggregate; dependent on two aggregates, arise two aggregates;
  2. At the moment of conception (paṭisandhikkhaṇe), dependent on one aggregate with applied thought and sustained thought, arise three aggregates … dependent on two aggregates, arise two aggregates.

SuttaCentral

  • Upapatti is another interesting word, which is found in the Suttas. The Patisambhidamagga (above) has distinguished “upapatti” from “jati” and seemed to originate “upapatti” as a type of “bhava” (together with “kamma-bhava”). As previously stated, the Abhidhamma Vibhanga adopted these two “bhava” as representing the Suttas; though they seem to only exist in the Patisambhidamagga.

  • In short, the following Patisambhidamagga verses have been the subject of intrigue, which contains the aforementioned unique terms:

275 In being-as-action (kammabhava) before [this life] there is delusion, which is ignorance; there is accumulation (āyūhanā), which is formations (saṅkhārā); there is attachment (nikanti), which is craving (tanha); there is adoption (upagamanaṁ), which is clinging (upādānaṁ); there is volition (cetanā), which is being (bhavo); thus these five dhammas in being-as-action (kammabhava) before [this life] are conditions for rebirth-linking (paṭisandhi) here [in the present life].

Here [in the present life] there is rebirth-linking (paṭisandhi), which is consciousness; there is precipitation [okkanti; in the womb], which is mentality-materiality; there is sensitivity, which is base [for contact]; there is what is touched, which is contact; there is what is felt, which is feeling; thus these five dhammas in being-as-rearising (upapattibhava) here have their conditions in action (kamma) done in the past.

Here [in the present life] with the maturing of the bases there is delusion, which is ignorance; there is accumulation (āyūhanā), which is formations; there is attachment, which is craving; there is adoption, which is clinging; there is volition, which is being; thus these five ideas in being-as-action (kammabhava) here are conditions for rebirth-linking (paṭisandhi) in the future.

In the future there is rebirth-linking (paṭisandhi), which is consciousness; there is precipitation [in the womb], which is mentality-materiality; there is sensitivity, which is base [for contact]; there is what is touched, which is contact; there is what is felt, which is feeling; thus these five ideas in being-as-rearising (upapattibhava) in the future have their conditions in action (kamma) done here [in the present life].

  • The Patisambidhamagga has this summation verse:
  1. He contemplates as suffering arising (uppada), occurrence (pavatta), and the sign (nimitta), accumulation (āyūhanā), rebirth-linking (paṭisandhi)— And this his knowledge is of danger. He contemplates as bliss no-arising, and no-occurrence, and no-sign, no-accumulation, no rebirth-linking. And this his knowledge is of peace. This knowledge about danger has five sources for its origin; knowledge of peace has also five— ten knowledges he understands. When skilled in these two kinds of knowledge The various views will shake him not.
  • Also:
  1. What ten kinds of equanimity about formations arise through insight? (Katamā dasa saṅkhārupekkhā vipassanāvasena uppajjanti?)

Understanding (paññā) of reflexion (paṭisaṅkhā) on arising (uppādaṁ), occurrence (pavattaṁ), the sign (nimittaṁ), accumulation (āyūhanaṁ), rebirth-linking (paṭisandhiṁ), destination (gatiṁ), generation (nibbattiṁ), realising (upapattiṁ), birth (jātiṁ), ageing (jaraṁ), sickness (byādhiṁ), death (maraṇaṁ), sorrow, lamentation, despair, and of composure (santiṭṭhanā), for the purpose of attaining (paṭilābhatthāya) the stream-entry path (sotāpattimaggaṁ), is knowledge (ñāṇaṁ) of equanimity about formations (saṅkhārupekkhāsu). Understanding of reflexion on arising, … despair, and of composure, for the purpose of attaining the fruition of stream-entry, is knowledge of equanimity about formations. Understanding … the once-return path … the fruition of once-return … the non-return path … the fruition of non-return … the arahant path … [the fruition of arahantship … the void abiding …] Understanding of reflexion on arising, … despair, and of composure, for the purpose of attaining the [signless abiding] and of composure, is knowledge of equanimity about formations.

These ten kinds of equanimity about formations arise through insight.

To conclude Chapter 1.1 (because mind has run out of enthusiasm thus stamina), despite terminology & explanations that seem very unique to the Patisambhidhamagga, the impression is the Patisambhidhamagga is strongly tied to the Suttas rather than to the Abhidhamma. :dizzy:

Chapter 1.2 about Views looks interesting.

It begins by listing 201 dhammas that are not-self. These dhammas seem to be from Sutta lists, for example, five aggregates, six elements, many types of elements, thirty dhamma related to sense spheres, dhammas (as in DN 22) arising from sense contact, parts of the body found in DN 22, various faculties (indriya); ending in the 12 conditions of Dependent Origination.

The final section in Chapter 1.2 is about the various stream-enterers and non-returners found mostly in the AN, such as in AN 9.12. :dizzy: