Possible mistake in translation of Ud 1.10

I may be wrong here, it would not be the first time, but I think that the word “thought” below should be replaced by “sensed”.

“In that case, Bāhiya, you should train like this:
“Tasmātiha te, bāhiya, evaṁ sikkhitabbaṁ:
‘In the seen will be merely the seen; in the heard will be merely the heard; in the thought will be merely the thought; in the known will be merely the known.’
‘diṭṭhe diṭṭhamattaṁ bhavissati, sute sutamattaṁ bhavissati, mute mutamattaṁ bhavissati, viññāte viññātamattaṁ bhavissatī’ti.
That’s how you should train.
Evañhi te, bāhiya, sikkhitabbaṁ.
Ud 1.10

According to the lookup facility, “mute” has the connotation of knowing sense data while “vinnate” has connotations of known in the usage of recognition. That said, I am no Pali scholar.


No, my translation is correct.

Muta is the past participle of maññati “to think”, and it is always used in that sense in the suttas. This group of four dhammas refers to the ways by which spiritual teachings are known; it is a teaching derived from the Upanishads.

From the Abhidhamma period, however, this background was mostly forgotten, and the set was shoehorned into the six senses. Then muta did not fit, so it was given a new meaning as “what is smelled, tasted, or touched”, which has nothing to do with the original meaning. Modern scholars then render it as “sensed”, which once again stretches the meaning.

It’s acceptable to translate it as “sensed” in later texts, but not the suttas.

This was discussed in detail by Jayatilleke in his Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge.


Did it mean discursive thinking or non verbal thinking or both?

It corresponds with the group of seekers who are described in the suttas as takkī vīmaṁsī, i.e. those who seek the truth by rational thought. Pretty much what we would call a “philosopher” in the Greek tradition. So yes, discursive thinking.


Greetings Bhante! I humbly inquire as to the alternatives to seeking the truth. Is rationalism the wrong way? Maybe I am confused. Your wisdom is, as always, much appreciated.
Thank you with Mucho Metta!

Well, for the Buddha, reason was one of the faculties of the mind, and it may lead to either good or bad results. Which is where meditation steps in. But purifying the mind of biasses and unwholesome tendencies, it guards against the fallacy of just creating a rational argument to justify our preconditions.

The so-called “rationalists” of the Buddha’s day did not accept any complementary role for meditation or insight. For them, the power of their own thought was a sufficient guide to the truth.

Reason has its place, but without the rest of the path, it will just serve its true master, the ego.

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Many thanks for the much needed clarity. Indeed rational thought has brought us to this precipice of self destruction as a species.
I will keep it at a distance, and focus on meditation.
Thanks so much!

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