On crooked things. Oh, and sex

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Chinese mortar and pestle


hmm, anyone know what kind of fruit that is hanging from the tree in the background?


I believe that is a pomelo.


Just FYI, I just came across another passage where a pestle (musala) was used for pounding grain, so that clears that up.



Not to get too far off topic, but the history of citrus is actually pretty fascinating. Originating in Asia and only consisting a few ancestral species including the pomelo, citron (same root as the citrus genus name, no doubt), and mandarin orange. Most of the citrus fruits we know of today (lemons, grapefruits, limes, etc.) are far derived.


This is very hard work indeed!!!


And joy is evident as well. This joy actually complicates the translation because now it is seen that the crookedness may have come from the personal aversion to menial activity. The activity itself, the mortar and the pestle are all blameless and free. I cannot speak for the husband, since he was not available for comment.


What a remarkable extrapolation from a 20th or 21st image to apply to a -5th century comment on repetitive never-ending physical drudgery of “feeding” a mortar & pestle.

:slight_smile: Imo the Venerable bhikkhuni’s words relate to rebirth, especially rebirth into an ordinary life.


I had a large mortar and pestle (‘wang gediya, mohol gasa’) in the middle of the kitchen. A maid would use it to grind hard bread to obtain bread crumbs- it wasn’t used extensively as flour is available ground up from grinding mills- it must have been intense work, when this wasn’t available and women spend the entire morning preparing lunch and dinner for the household apart from other work. I can see bending while preparing flour and the crooked husband could be a physical deformity, which might become a target symbol of her anger at having to maintain his home, assuming she yearned for something greater from her years of life.


I used to make ‘pol sambol’ with that back in SL. I didn’t exactly bend except when I had to put the ingredients in. But I had to look down to make sure the grated coconut wouldn’t fall on to the ground and from time to time bend to brush back in the spilled coconut. This same process took place when pounding rice to obtain rice flour. So even if the tools were not crooked the user had to bend/hunch often when using them.


Bhante I heard verse this at my last retreat with Ajahn Brahm. My impression was that it was about a husband who was dishonest. Yet he went on to say crooked trees make a beautiful forest whereas a forest of straight uniform trees would not be so aesthetically pleasing. This sounds like a strange thing for a monk to say. I looked for a pali word for honesty and I came up with akiṭila ; straight ; honest ; not crooked.
I don’t think this was about sex. It was about a dishonest husband and domestic drudgery.


I guess if similar tangential references to sexuality were made in the Suttas it would be easier to accept Bhantes line of reasoning. However, sex in the Suttas its not my area of expertise and I best leave it to the more qualified …


In a case where the mother and father come together, but the mother is not in the fertile part of her menstrual cycle, and the spirit being reborn is not present, the embryo is not conceived. –MN33


This sounds pretty clinical but in the case of the nun there may have been sanctions operating that prevented her from being more direct. Perhaps her partner was a high profile person and she was pushed into an arranged marriage. You only have to look at the contemporary situation to see how workplace sexual abuse is still a taboo subject. Victims are stigmatised and their career aspirations are derailed.


In English “crook” is slang for a villain. In Australian “crook” means bad. I’m not saying the Buddha knew any Australians though. :yum: