Should the punctuation in Ud 1.10 be changed?

Maybe its me, but this reads like the senses should be disjointed and that thinking is a sense.

I am wondering if it should read like this

This reads like the senses should be conjoined. Just my humble opinion.

Muta is the past participle of maññati, meaning “thought”. It doesn’t mean “felt/sensed”, a meaning that was only applied in the Abhidhamma period.


I think Raftafarian is talking about the comma versus semicolon.

In case they do not know, the punctuation in the Roman Pali is inserted at a later date. It is not found in the earlier manuscripts (which were originally transmitted orally), so translators have the freedom to reinterpret the punctuation.

Yeah, if that’s it, then no it shouldn’t be a comma. That would be what is known as a comma splice.

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I think you’ll laugh when you read this, but I think the Abhidhamma may have been right. I absolutely agree that we should be suspicious of later material. My own rule is that if it: does not outright violate the declared and undeclared; is something that has possible support in the the canon; and is helpful, to assume someone later who may was more accomplished added it for clarification. So what is the possible support:

Rid of desire for both ends,
Ubhosu antesu vineyya chandaṁ,
having completely understood contact, free of greed,
Phassaṁ pariññāya anānugiddho;
doing nothing for which they’d blame themselves,
Yadattagarahī tadakubbamāno,
the wise don’t cling to the seen and the heard.
Na lippatī diṭṭhasutesu dhīro.

Phassaṁ can mean touch in the sense of skin touching so Phassaṁ could be translated to mute, or felt. Felt was not included in the last line due to meter. Taste and smell were thought to be touching air and food.

The above stanza is Right Mindfulness.

Right Mindfulness is for navigating this world in this fathom long corpse. This is why we feel physical pain, but not mental stress when in Right Mindfulness.

This is right samadhi.

Right Samadhi is for conquering fear of death.

Why is this so hard to do? Because you have to master Right Samadhi before Right Mindfulness. The wheel of dhamma rolls backward.

The Four tasks are to be able to: recognize suffering, see it ceasing, see it arising, and to know and teach the path. I guess someone thought it sounded better the other way round.

The issue for me was am I trying to do these things simultaneously, or serially, or even any combination at one time. Sadly, in the US, grammar is not adequately taught. So I am relying on my intuition. I found treating it as meaning simultaneously was very helpful.

That said, I have now tried doing it the other ways. Turning off one sense after the other to achieve nothingness is horrifying. Don’t do it. There is no reason to do it this way unless you believe the goal is annihilation. The goal is to end suffering. After achieving that, you’re done.

The grammar, however grammarians think best achieves the goal, should make it clear that you are doing these things simultaneously.

Oh, okay I missed that, I thought it was the translation difference. Anyway, it could be either way, but I’m happy as-is.

Well, may I propose another rule: When words have well-established meanings, we should stick to them.

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I agree that normally we should assume the most common usage of a word provided it makes sense in context. In my case, I was trying to reconcile Ud 1.10 with Snp 4.2. I believe Snp 4.2 to be authentic based on arguments given by others and one or two that occurred to me. Ud 1.10 seemed very promising to me. The Buddha distills his dhamma into a paragraph. If this is consistent with Snp 4.2 this is something I want to understand better.

The problem that I came across was that Ud 1.10 mentions the seen, the heard, mute(either felt or thought), and the known. Snp 4.2 mentions the seen, the heard, phassam(contact or touch), and sanna(known). If I take mute to be felt and phasssam as touch then I can reconcile them. They are synonyms. Now I have to test that hypothesis. I looked at MN 119. This is where I came across the instruction to establish mindfulness in front. My thought was that that could be the seen and the heard. That too is consistent. Again, this has to be tested. How to test it.

I assumed that Ud 1.10 was saying I should try these things simultaneously and meditated. The difficulty I encountered was not knowing what vitakkavicārānaṁ meant. I now believe it means saccade(s). As you may know, I struggled with this. When I relaxed my body, I consciously prioritized the muscles on and around my eyes. This had the effect of stopping saccades, throwing off depth perception and proprioception which caused my sense of having a body in the world to cease. There was no me in that.

For this to work and for my assumptions to have been wrong, is highly unlikely. These assumptions have tremendous explanatory power. For me at least.

This may not be convincing to you and I understand why. I think you see value in cross checking across suttas and seeing if a possible combinations of usages work across suttas board. This is what I tried and it seemed to give me the results I expected based on the verses. I think the experiment I did needs to be replicated by another.

If we assume we know the usage of a word to be uniform across the authentic canon(how do we know what is authentic?), AI can do a good job answering questions. When experiments in meditation are required to determine usage, AI cannot definitively answer the question. I think you are probably right to think that AI cannot translate the terms and be counted on to get it right by direct experience. What it might be able to do is replicate the process I went through looking for alternative usages and seeing which words might be synonyms and using them to find connections between text that might otherwise be missed and not considered. Irreconcilable texts might not be authentic. This is something AI probably could help with. That said, I would want to consider the recommendations made before accepting them like I would from writing style software. It could be a time saver.

AI does raise serious concerns with intellectual properties and job loss. Hopefully, reasonable laws can settle that. That said, I do find the prospects interesting.

If the question is about the punctuation, then the answer is that the semicolon is correct.

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If the punctuation means they occur simultaneously then it is my ignorance of grammar that was the problem. Maybe a more accessible paraphrasing would be better at transmitting the message given that grammar doesn’t seem to be taught in public schools, at least in the US. I know I only had one teacher who taught it and that was in my eighth grade English class in 1976.

It’s never too late to study grammar.
Did you see the link provided above about comma splice ?

It’s not that ‘thought’ is the most common usage; as far as the early texts are concerned, it’s the only usage.

The set “seen, heard, thought, cognized” almost surely predates the Buddha, as it is also common in the Upanisads. The Buddha adopted this to reply to Upanisadic ideas in particular.

Not aware of this, the Abhidhamma, with its intent to be (overly) systematic, believed this set was not all-encompassing of the six sense experiences, so ‘thought’ was interpreted as ‘sensed’.

But arguably all that is sensed falls under ‘cognized’ already, so this interpretation seems unnecessary even with the Abhidhammic intent in mind. But it’s not even a given the Buddha intended it to be all-encompassing in this exact way. His teachings are much more fluid and creative than the Abhidhamma.

And the semicolon is indeed the correct punctuation. This is a matter of grammar, not of whether one does these practices simultaneously or not.


It does indeed. But you can’t just take the words out of context. Snp 4.2 does not present these as a list of items, unlike the case with diṭṭha, suta, muta, viññāta.

The most common pattern for verses is that the first two lines form a pair, then the second two. In this case, the first line refers to “both ends”, while the second line refers to "contact. Now, “both ends” is explained in AN 6.61:12.4 in terms of contact. This strongly confirms that these two lines belong together.

The final line refers to the seen and the heard, where there is no specially close connection with “contact”, certainly not as part of the same list.

Then the next verse—remembering that verses are often quasi-independent—introduces the concept of “perception”, which here probably refers to jhanas (see DN 9, etc.). In any case, it has no special connection with either “the seen and the heard” or with “contact”.

Textual triangulation like this is always unreliable, and should be used only as a last resort in the absence of any firm meaning. Moreover, in this case it is no proper triangulation, as there is no specially close relation between these terms.

Maññati means “to think”, muta is the past participle meaning “(what is) thought”. Neither mean “contact”.

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Let me amend my reasoning. Within Snp 4.2 contact as a generic for the seen, heard, touched, smelt, and tasted does make sense. That said, it includes the touched, smelt, and tasted. So all external senses are present.

Isn’t thought part of knowing? To say in the thought is only the thought and to say in the known is only the known seems redundant. I think it could be shortened to in the known is only the known.

Ud 1.10 does not seem to make sense if the touched, smelt, and tasted are excluded. If I still feel agonizing pain as agonizing pain, I am not free of suffering. These have to be included somewhere in Ud 1.10. Mute appears to be the only candidate.

If mute is read as felt (the touched, the smelt, and the tasted), Ud 1.10 is complete and consistent with Snp 4.2. Both are authentic and talking about the same thing.

Am I shoehorning that in? I don’t think so.

The Pali English dictionary has this entry. I have bolded the relevant parts.

  1. muṭa (p. 536)

Muṭa Muṭa see mutoḷī. Otherwise occurring in Np. Muṭa – siva at Mhvs 11, 4.

  1. muta (p. 536)

Muta Muta [for mata, cp. Geiger. P.Gr. § 18] thought, supposed, imagined (i. e. received by other vaguer sense impressions than by sight & hearing) M i.3; Sn 714 (=phusan’ arahaŋ SnA 498), 812; J v.398 (=anumata C.); Vbh 14, 429 sq. — Often in set diṭṭha suta muta what is seen, heard & thought (? more likely “felt,” cp. Nd2 298: diṭṭha=cakkhunā d., sutaŋ=sotena s., mutaŋ=ghānena ghāyitaŋ, jivhāya sāyitaŋ, kāyena phuṭṭaŋ, and viññātaŋ=manasā v.; so that from the interpretation it follows that d. s. m. v. refer to the action (perception) of the 6 senses, where muta covers the 3 of taste, smell & touch, and viññāta the function of the manas) S i.186 (K.S. i.237 note); iv.73; Th i.1216. Similarly the psychol. analysis of the senses at Dhs 961: rūp’ āyatanaŋ diṭṭhaŋ; sadd – āyat. sutaŋ; gandh˚, ras˚, phoṭṭhabb˚ mutaŋ; sabbaŋ rūpaŋ manasā viññātaŋ. See on this passage Dhs trsl. § 961 note. In the same sense DhsA 388 (see Expositor, ii.439). — D iii.232; Sn 790 (cp. Nd1 87 sq. in extenso) 793, 798, 812, 887, 901, 914, 1086, 1122. Thus quite a main tenet of the old (popular) psychology.
-mangalika one who prophesies from, or derives lucky auspices from impressions (of sense; as compd with diṭṭha – mangalika visible – omen – hunter, and suta – m. sound – augur) J iv.73 (where C. clearly expls by “touch”); KhA 119 (the same expln more in detail). -visuddhika of great purity, i. e. orthodox, successful, in matters of touch Nd1 89, 90. -suddhi purity in matter of touch Nd1 104, 105.

This seems to indicate there are places where it is used as the touched, smelt, and tasted.

I am not an expert in Pali so I am reliant on the Pali English dictionary. Do you diagree with the citing here? Likewise, I ask @sujato the same question.

One big problem of this dictionary (and most others) is that it’s not just a dictionary of early Buddhist texts. It’s also a dictionary for the commentaries, which often use words in a different sense. There can be centuries between the suttas and commentaries, so sometimes it’s almost like a different language.

The note “more likely ‘felt’ cp. Nd2 298” refers to the explanation of the Niddesa, which is a commentary.

Then it refers to the suttas: SN8.2, SN35.95, and Thag21.1. In none of these I see any reason to override the literal meaning of ‘thought’.

The Dhs references are Dhammasangani, which is Abhidhamma.


I think I see your point. You are trying to build a dictionary from the ground up. A definition must be supported by previously established authentic texts.

I think the issue is with discursive thought is you are talking to yourself. Your imagined self. There is a you in that. You are self conscious. Imagination has the feel of watching something which does not necessarily require you to imagine a self. Talking to another person does not necessarily force you to imagine a self. They can be done without being self conscious. I don’t think discursive thought can be done without being self conscious by its very nature. If that is true, mute would not be discursive thought. But, I could be wrong.

Added later: actually, maybe that is why the Buddha referred to himself in an indirect way as the tathagatha to avoid saying I am.

That’s a great point. I had never thought about that. Thanks!

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Dictionaries are formed by collecting various usages of a word. Often, the meaning of a word will shift over time. (Consider the English ‘awful’)
So, when using a dictionary like PED which collects usages over a long period of Pali’s usage, it’s important to know which provided definitions are appropriate.

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Just to confirm what others have said. Dictionaries often emphasize early texts, but they cover the full range of meanings. Even in early contexts, they very often simply cite the commentary.

Normally a word changes in an organic way, so this is useful. In this particular case, however, the change in meaning is inorganic. What I mean by that is that it is not because of a general language drift, or because of subtle aspects of the word itself. It was changed to make it fit into Abhidhamma.

One of the overriding priorities of early Abhidhamma was to take teachings from different contexts and classify them in relation. So all the different terms for wisdom, for example, are collected and identified.

This happens from a largely ontological perspective; that is, the Abhidhamma is concerned with what these things are. Now, in the case of wisdom, there are many words that reflect different aspects of the development of wisdom. There is the reflection on the teaching; the insight into impermanence, the reviewing of the process of meditation, the penetration to the four noble things. But the exact role and function of the different terms is not the priority of the Abhidhamma, instead it simply says these are the same, since they are all “wisdom”.

One of the most important analyses is the six senses. So we want to see how other teachings fit into them. But we are concerned only with what these things “are” in their essence, not in their context.

Then it appears that the group of four map somewhat over the group of six.

  • “seen” = “eye”
  • “heard” = “ear”
  • nose
  • tongue
  • body
  • “cognized” = “mind”

So it is inferred that muta must apply to what is smelled, tasted, and touched, even though it literally never has this meaning. In this way the Abhidhammists use their method to override the meaning of natural language, which illustrates the point I made above that words have meanings.

One of the reasons for making this error was that the Abhidhammists worked in a time when the knowledge of the Brahmanical texts was already fading in the Buddhist community. The Buddha clearly picked this set up from Yajnavalka et al, and used in a specific sense.

In the suttas, these are used primarily to describe the ways in which religious of spiritual teachings are learned. The “seen” is not the “eye”, it is the “vision” of a holy person. The “heard” is not the “ear”, it is hearing the teaching. the “thought” is not whatever random processes happen in your mind, it is philosophical reflections. “Cognized” is not just anything you’re aware of, it’s the consciousness of samadhi.

Jayatilleke first pointed this out, and he was right. Obviously they are general words and can be used in a wider sense. But the main purpose of this teaching is to identify the ways in which we learn the truth.

And that is, of course, why the nose, tongue, and body are omitted. It’s not just a short hand or abbreviation, it’s because we do not learn spiritual truths this way.