SN 12.15 has always appeared to me to be awkwardly structured. When I read it in light of its parallel SA 301, I believe that this is so because a redactor moved a paragraph from its rightful place in order to insert a paragraph not found in SA 301. I know the Pali probably came earlier than the Chinese, but interpolations in SN 12.15 could have occured after SA 301. There are other additions and subtractions as well, but I will get to them later.
First we hear the introduction:
Other than that they appear to have been given in different places, I do not see an issue here. I know some will say that the differences are just due to different recitations. In either case, the order in SA 301 appears more intelligible.
Next we hear the question being asked.
This may just be a difference between how things were translated, but as they are translated, SA 301 appears to be asking about how to get into a mental state called ‘right view’ where SN 12.15 appears to be asking about a concept called ‘right view’.
Next we hear the Buddha start by introducing the two extremes that the middle way avoids.
Note that in SA 301 we see the phrase “people in the world”. I believe ‘people in the world’ includes both average people and asthetics who have not realized the middle way. ‘People in the world’ also brings up associations with Ud 1.10 “you won’t be ‘in that’”. The two bases are what people in the world adhere to. They are the extremes. This appears to be more experiential and less conceptual than SN 12.15 which talks about the world relying on to notions or concepts.
Now we get to a very interesting difference. SA 301 segways very nicely into an alternative to the extremes.
The idea is to drop our attachment to self. When we do that suffering will arise, but not linger. This brings to mind the parable of the two arrows, to me anyway.
SN 12.15 has in place of the seqway to the alternative something that comes in later and more naturally in SA 301.
I will discuss this when we get to where it occurs in SA 301.
The above quote from SN 12.15 is followed by what appears to be the analog of the second sentence of the quote above from SA 301
SN 12.15 appears to be inserting a paragraph between the two sentences of the quote from SA 301 where it does not belong.
Next SA 301 tells us that the alternative is the middle way
SN 12.15 says only
Next SA 301 appears to tell us that the trick to finding the alternative of not being attached to self. It is found in the transition between not the world and the world or the transition between the world and not the world. That new found state would be a world without self.
The analog for this in SN 12.15 was what was stuffed in between the two sentences that I mentioned earlier where it seemed like a non-sequitur to me.
SA 301 then goes on to confirm the state found in between when transitioning between the extremes is in fact the middle way
SN12.15 ends by inserting the following not found in SA 301
and then seems to confirm that the state found by the right transitions is the middle way. Remember that the paragraph this relies on was stuffed between two sentences that were together in SA 301.
I am curious if other find SA 301 more clear and meaningful that SN 12.15 and if they think passages were moved around and inserted later in SN 12.15.