The five fold analysis in SN 22.85 and SN 22.86 asks the following five questions of each of the aggregates:
- rūpaṁ tathāgatoti samanupassasī? → Do you regard the Realized One as form?
- rūpasmiṁ tathāgatoti samanupassasī? → Do you regard the Realized One as in form?
- Aññatra rūpā tathāgatoti samanupassasī? → Do you regard the Realized One as distinct from form?
- rūpaṁ … tathāgatoti samanupassasī? → Do you regard the Realized One as possessing form?
- ayaṁ so arūpī tathāgatoti samanupassasī? → Do you regard the Realized One as one who is without form?
I have questions about #4 and #5.
- Does the Pali original for #4 use ellipses as shown?
- There is a potentially meaningful difference between how #4 is translated by Bhikkhu Sujato and Bhikkhu Bodhi → the former indicates possession while the latter indicates the ellipses as ‘taken together’
- There seems to be ambiguity here because #4 without the ellipses seems to imply a repetition of #1 so is the distinction merely how to translate the usage of ellipses?
- If so, then what evidence do we have for preferring one translation over the other?
- What is the semantic difference between #3 and #5? They both use a form of negation of the aggregate in relation to the object, but what is the meaningful distinction?
One motivation for these questions is to compare the suttas with the opening verse in Nagarjuna’s 22nd chapter of the MMK:
skandhā na nānyaḥ skandhebhyo nāsmin skandhā na teṣu saḥ |
tathāgataḥ skandhavān na katamo ’tra1 tathāgataḥ
The previous was translated by Garfield as:
Neither the aggregates, nor different from the aggregates,
The aggregates are not in him, nor is he in the aggregates.
The Tathāgata does not possess the aggregates.
What is the Tathāgata?
I think this shows a striking similarity. From what I can tell the only differences are in the mapping of #4 and #5 and I’m trying to determine the most favorable reading of both to provide a mapping and the least favorable reading of both that implies a distinction. Finally, I’ll note that the commentarial literature about this verse is unanimous that of this fivefold analysis the first two in MMK and (mapping to #1 and #3 in Pali) subsume the latter analysis. That is, the rest of the analysis are elaborations on them while the two alone are dispositive.
This continues my investigation of reading Nagarjuna from the viewpoint of the Theravada tradition.