The three words “aṭṭīyati harāyati jigucchati”, translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi in recent years as “repelled, humiliated, and disgusted” (in MN as “ashamed, humiliated, and disgusted”), appear in several suttas.
Sometimes they appear to be positive, used as a sort of code for wholesome nibbidā, as in MN 152:
“And how, Ānanda, is one a disciple in higher training, one who has entered upon the way? Here, Ānanda, when a bhikkhu sees a form with the eye…hears a sound with the ear…smells an odor with the nose…tastes a flavor with the tongue…touches a tangible with the body…cognizes a mind-object with the mind, there arises in him what is agreeable, there arises what is disagreeable, there arises what is both agreeable and disagreeable; he is ashamed, humiliated and disgusted by the agreeable that arose, by the disagreeable that arose, and by the both agreeable and disagreeable that arose.”
In AN 3.19:
“Bhikkhus, if wanderers of other sects were to ask you thus: ‘Friends, do you lead the spiritual life under the ascetic Gotama for the sake of rebirth in the deva world?’ wouldn’t you be repelled, humiliated, and disgusted?”
“Thus, bhikkhus, since you are repelled, humiliated, and disgusted with a celestial life span, celestial beauty, celestial happiness, celestial glory, and celestial authority, so much more then should you be repelled, humiliated, and disgusted with bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, and mental misconduct.”
In AN 9.11, with Sariputta speaking:
“Just as a woman or man–young, youthful, and fond of ornaments, with head bathed–would be repelled, humiliated, and disgusted if the carcass of a snake, a dog, or a human being were slung around her or his neck; so too, Bhante, I am repelled, humiliated, and disgusted by this foul body.”
In the Girimananda Sutta, AN 10.60, it’s recommended as a perception training:
“And what, Ānanda, is the perception of impermanence in all conditioned phenomena? Here, a bhikkhu is repelled, humiliated, and disgusted by all conditioned phenomena. This is called the perception of impermanence in all conditioned phenomena.”
Clearly this kind of nibbidā is necessary for overcoming craving and clinging for those things we desire. In other suttas, these three qualities are discouraged, when we have them toward things that we typically have aversion toward, like old age, disease, and death in AN 3.39:
“Now I too am subject to old age…illness…death, and am not exempt from old age…disease…death. Such being the case, if I were to feel repelled, humiliated, and disgusted when seeing another who is old…ill…dead, that would not be proper for me.”
And the Buddha’s advice to Rahula in MN 62:
“Rahula, develop meditation that is like the earth…Just as people throw clean things and dirty things, excrement, urine, spittle, pus, and blood on the earth, and the earth is not repelled, humiliated, and disgusted because of that, so too, Rahula, develop meditation that is like the earth; for when you develop meditation that is like the earth, arisen agreeable and disagreeable contacts will not invade your mind and remain.”
I’m just now getting to my question; sorry for the length. The English words “repelled, humiliated, and disgusted” have a connotation of both aversion and negative self-consciousness (“humiliated”), both qualities that I don’t believe were possible for Sariputta.
Could these three words, when used together, possibly have been an idiom of the day that had a different nuance than each of the words had when used separately? Are there just not adequate words in English to translate them?