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SA 459 english translation


#1

Could anyone translate/break down this Anguttara Nikaya parallel for me?

雜阿含經

(四五九) 自作

如是我聞:

一時,佛住舍衛國祇樹給 孤獨園。

時,有婆羅門來詣佛所,與世尊面 相慰勞已,於一面住,白佛言:「眾生非自作、 非他作?」

佛告婆羅門:「如是論者,我不與相 見,汝今自來,而言我非自作、非他作?」

婆羅 門言:「云何?瞿曇!眾生為自作、為他作耶?」

佛告婆羅門:「我今問汝,隨意答我。婆羅門! 於意云何?有眾生方便界,令諸眾生知作 方便耶?」

婆羅門言:「瞿曇!有眾生方便界,令 諸眾生知作方便也。」

佛告婆羅門:「若有方 便界,令諸眾生知有方便者,是則眾生自 作、是則他作。婆羅門!於意云何?有眾生 安住界、堅固界、出界、造作界,令彼眾生 知有造作耶?」

婆羅門白佛:「有眾生安住 界、堅固界、出界、造作界,令諸眾生知有造 作。」

佛告婆羅門:「若彼安住界、堅固界、出界、 造作界,令諸眾生知有造作者,是則眾生 自作、是則他作。」

婆羅門白佛:「有眾生自作、 有他作,瞿曇!世間多事,今當請辭。」

佛告婆 羅門:「世間多事,宜知是時。」

時,彼婆羅門聞 佛所說,歡喜隨喜,從座起去。


#2

Thus have I heard. At one time the Buddha was staying near Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Then a certain brahmin went up to the Buddha, after having exchanged greetings with him, sat down to one side and said to the Buddha: “Beings neither act by themselves, nor by others.”
The Buddha said to the Brahmin:
"With that kind of doctrine, you and I don’t meet each other. Now you have come here all by yourself, but you are telling me that “Beings neither act by themselves, nor by others.”
The Brahmin then asked:
"So what is it, Master Gotama? Do beings act by themselves or by others? "
The Buddha answered the Brahmin:
“In that case, I will question you in return, answer as you see fit. Now, Brahmin, what do you think, are there any means that by which beings know that they are acting?”
The Brahmin answered:
“There are, Master Gotama, means that by which beings know that they are acting”
The Buddha said to the Brahmin:
“If there are means that by which beings know that they are acting, then, are they acting by themselves or by others?”
"And Brahmin, what do you think? Are there by means of stability, by means of persistence, by means of going out, by means of creating, that by which beings know that they are acting?
The Brahmin answered the Buddha:
“Yes, Master Gotama, there are by means of stability, by means of persistence, by means of going out, by means of creating, that by which beings know that they are acting.”
The Buddha said to the Brahmin:
“If there are by means of stability, by means of persistence, by means of going out, by means of creating, that by which beings know that they are acting, then, are they acting by themselves or by others?”
The Brahmin answered the Buddha:
“Truly, that beings sometimes act by themselves, and sometimes by others. Master Gotama, the affairs of the world are many, now may I ask you to leave.”
The Buddha said to the Brahmin:
“Indeed, the affairs of the world are many, do what you think fit, Brahmin.”
And after hearing the Buddha’s teaching, the Brahmin was happy and delighted, got up and left.


#3

Translated from the Chinese text?


#4

I wonder if 方便界 = ārabbhadhātū? The Chinese would appear to be “element of means” or “element of effort” offhand, but the DDB indeed lists 方便 as a translation of Skt. ārambha in some Chinese Vinaya texts. It’s the cognate of Pali ārabbha, so it appears parallel with the Pali, which @sujato translates as “initiative.”

佛告婆羅門:「我今問汝,隨意答我。婆羅門! 於意云何?有眾生方便界,令諸眾生知作 方便耶?」

The Buddha said to the brahmin, “Now, I’ll ask you this, and you answer me how you think. Brahmin, what do you think? Do sentient beings have an element of initiative that causes sentient beings to know they’ve performed (that) initiative?”

That’s more literal.

Then for the list, Pali has nikkamadhātu … parakkamadhātu … thāmadhātu … ṭhitidhātu … upakkamadhātū, which Sujato translates as persistence, exertion, strength, persistence (?), and energy.

The Chinese is a bit different, though, so it’s more difficult to back-translate. They are all elements like the Pali:

  • 安住界: The Chinese literally means “secure/calm abiding.” Stability, steadfastness, subsistence.
  • 堅固界: The Chinese literally is solidity or resoluteness. Something difficult to break, either physical or a personal quality.
  • 出界:The Chinese 出 can mean to leave, to appear, to produce.
  • 造作界. Could be read element of creation, constructing, doing.

For the last one, 造作 the translator uses it interchangeably with 作 (“令彼眾生 知有造作耶”), so I’d say it simply means acting.


#5

Yes, I did, but I also consulted the Vietnamese translation of SA 459. Fortunately the Vietnamese language are highly borrowed from the Classical Chinese. But this is not a word-by-word translation, because I wanted it to be more fluid and sounds more natural rather than technical and literal.


#6

And also, if you would like to learn Classical Chinese to see it for yourself, I recommend this website for Primer Buddhist Chinese learning:
https://religiousstudies.stanford.edu/people/john-kieschnick/primer-chinese-buddhist-writings
Also here:
https://primerbuddhism.org


#7

Does the Vietnamese translation mainly transliterate the Chinese into Vietnamese? I noticed it’s the one Asian language we have most of the Chinese texts translated to at this point.


#9

Not really, although a lot of the proper names and buddhist terms it is transliterate, but as a native Vietnamese speaker, with just a minimum training I could understand most of the terms there, like 安住界, or 堅固界, 出界, 造作界,…The Vietnamese language tends to preserve the pronunciation and meaning of the Classical Chinese language quite well. Especially the pronunciation, I could see that the ancient chinese pronunciations of transliterated Sanskrit words are much closer with their Sanskrit equipvalents than with modern Mandarin.


#10

“Transliterate” was a bad word choice. I was meaning a one-to-one relationship for words in the two languages, which I imagine would make translation much easier.


#11

Oh yes, if you meant by that, the Vietnamese translation I consulted has a one-on-one relationship for words, and as you said, it really did make the translation and revision much easier.


#12

Is his translation legitimate?


#13

Yes. I added my notes in case you were interested in how close it is to the Pali. The Chinese has elements (dhatus) like the Pali, but the list of four things is different. Otherwise, it’s almost identical.


#14

So you understand the chinese?


#15

About SA 459 = AN 6.38, Choong Mun-keat provides a full translation of the Chinese and Pali texts for comparison. See “5. The dhaatu of self-acting”, in Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism, pp. 145-148.


#16

Yes, I’ve been reading and sometimes translating the Chinese Buddhist texts since the mid-90s.


#17

For your information .

(有眾生方便界,令諸眾生知作方便耶):有努力的狀態,使得人們知道自己正在努力 . Do sentient beings have conditions of striving that which enable them aware of their undertaking

安住界:保持的狀態。
the status of continuity

堅固界:不屈不撓的狀態。
the state of unyielding

出界:超越現況的狀態。
to go beyond present mode

造作界:積極進取的狀態。
positive attitude


#18

Does change the SA 459 translation?


#19

界 is almost always a translation of dhatu by itself, but sometimes it means “world” in Buddhist texts (which wouldn’t make sense in this context). I’m not sure why others want to translate it as other things, especially when the Pali parallel is the same.

This sutra is basically describing how a person acts or decides to act, so I would think we should think of what the four terms mean in that context. I’m personally a little mystified by how exactly to read them. I think we would need to look for similar usage in Gunabhadra’s works to really know exactly how to read them.


#21

Not all of this seems like SA 459.
Is some this an Abhidharmma text