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Thanks for giving it a shot. Most of the reasons you give are doctrinal/philosophical, as opposed to linguistic/literary or resulting from comparative study. So far as I am aware, there are no good reasons for assigning this sutta as non-EBT using the latter two criteria. This means that some of our most powerful tools in deciding on lateness cannot be used for this sutta.
We need to be very careful when using doctrinal evolution or doctrinal inconsistency as a criterion. It is easy to miss the subtleties of the EBTs and to overlook the fact that some suttas are merely a detailed exposition of more general ideas found elsewhere. In other words, the evidence needs to be clear, not merely pointing to a reasonable possibility. With this in mind, I will have a look at the criteria you have suggested.
First of all, let me discuss your concluding paragraph, since presumably this is a sort of summary of your other points. You say:
I would argue that the suttas fairly consistently depict the heavenly realms as materially more pleasurable than the human realm. It’s going to be difficult to directly observe this aspect of kamma in the human realm, because we are limited to observing what ripens in the same life. We should not expect to see this, I believe, because the circumstances of one’s life are largely locked in at birth. Kamma ripening in this very life is perhaps more of the mental variety, but not necessarily exclusively so.
Now to your other arguments:
I am not quite sure what you mean. This sutta makes a specific point about the ripening of kamma, in the context of which the formulation “trifling” makes sense.
I do not think it is bad kamma as such that gives rise to wealth. Rather, it seems to me, this is a matter of using the good kamma that gave rise to human rebirth in a bad way. In other words, whatever potential we have for creating such wealth is related to our rebirth as humans. You will have to pay for the bad actions through mental pain in this life, as well as potentially bad consequences in future lives.
I do accept your point that this sutta has a particularly materialistic bent, and seems more focused on popular Dhamma than profound spiritual practice. Yet there are a number of suttas, such as AN 4.197, that have this quality. I do not think the materialistic orientation of such suttas is sufficient to conclude that they must be late.
Thanks ven, I agree, and was going to make a reply along similar grounds. Unless more specific independent criteria are forthcoming, I don’t think we should add this.
Thank you Brahmali
Is not the most important ground based on The Four Great References?
Since many knew Pali, I doubt language alone can be the criteria.
Obviously, we do not agree, here. As I posted, to me, AN 4.197 seems certainly about the here & now because it does not use the terms 'kāyassa bhedā paraṃ maraṇā’. It states:
Here, Mallikā, a certain woman, is angry, often irritable. Even over a trivial remark, she is cross, shaken, vexed, stubborn, and shows her temper, anger and sulkiness. She is not a giver of food, drinks, cloth, vehicles, garlands, scents, ointments, beddings, dwelling or lightings, to recluses or brahmins. Furthermore, she is jealous in her heart; jealous of others‟ receiving gains, honour, respect, esteem, homage and worship; she is vengeful and holds grudges. If she falls away (cutā) & returns (āgacchati) to such a state, wherever she is reborn (paccājāyati), she is ugly, deformed, of very mean appearance, and she is poor, having few things, of little wealth and little influence.
The term ‘āgacchati’ is found in many suttas where it does not mean physical rebirth.
Also, the term ‘jāyati’ also does not always refer to physical rebirth. For example, AN 4.200 states:
Cattārimāni, bhikkhave, pemāni jāyanti. Katamāni cattāri? Pemā pemaṃ jāyati, pemā doso jāyati, dosā pemaṃ jāyati, dosā doso jāyati.
Monks, these four things are born. Which four? Affection is born of affection. Aversion is born of affection. Affection is born of aversion. Aversion is born of aversion.
SN 35.97 states:
Pamuditassa pīti jāyati: is born; arises. (jan + ya) When one is gladdened, rapture is born. When the mind is uplifted by rapture, the body becomes tranquil.
Therefore, AN 4.197 seems to say each time a lady is angry, she is ugly in appearance, unattractive, unwanted & shunned.
This seems to be a perfectly reasonable interpretation based on reality because I personally know a few women who are like this.
OK. MN 135 uses both the words ‘upapajjati’ (which is very common) & ‘paccājāyati’ (which is rare). Using SC search function, ‘paccājāyati’ is only found in MN 135, MN 129 & AN 4.197.
I have already given my personal opinion about AN 4.197, where it appears paccājāyati does not refer to post-mortem rebirth.
As for MN 129, the terminology is the same as MN 135:
Khippataraṃ kho so, bhikkhave, kāṇo kacchapo amusmiṃ ekacchiggale yuge gīvaṃ paveseyya, ato dullabhatarāhaṃdullabha, bhikkhave, manussattaṃ vadāmi sakiṃ vinipātagatena bālena. Taṃ kissa hetu? Na hettha, bhikkhave, atthi dhammacariyā samacariyā kusalakiriyā puññakiriyā. Aññamaññakhādikā ettha, bhikkhave, vattati dubbalakhādikā.
Sa kho so, bhikkhave, bālo sace kadāci karahaci dīghassa addhuno accayena manussattaṃ āgacchati, yāni tāni nīcakulāni—caṇḍālakulaṃ vā nesādakulaṃ vā venakulaṃ vā rathakārakulaṃ vā pukkusakulaṃ vā. Tathārūpe kule paccājāyati dalidde appannapānabhojane kasiravuttike, yattha kasirena ghāsacchādo labbhati. So ca hoti dubbaṇṇo duddasiko okoṭimako bavhābādho kāṇo vā kuṇī vā khujjo vā pakkhahato vā na lābhī annassa pānassa vatthassa yānassa mālāgandhavilepanassa seyyāvasathapadīpeyyassa. So kāyena duccaritaṃ carati vācāya duccaritaṃ carati manasā duccaritaṃ carati. So kāyena duccaritaṃ caritvā vācāya duccaritaṃ caritvā manasā duccaritaṃ caritvā kāyassa bhedā paraṃ maraṇā apāyaṃ duggatiṃ vinipātaṃ nirayaṃ upapajjati.
Bhikkhus, it is more likely that the blind turtle would put his neck in the plough share and yoke the eye to the hole to see light rather than the fool once fallen to hell would gain (dullabhatarāhaṃ ??? ) humanity. What is the reason? Here, there is no righteous living, good conduct, merit or a pleasant mind. Here they eat each other, the weaker one is eaten up.
Bhikkhus, even if the fool regains (āgacchati) humanity after a very long time he is born (paccājāyati) in a low clan such as with the out castes, the hunters, with the bamboo weavers, chariot builders, rubbish collectors or in such other low family. Born into a poor family without eatables, drinks and clothing, gains them with difficulty. He too is not with pleasant appearance has a deformed body and is with many ailments, either blind, deformed, lame or paralysed, or does not gain eatables, drinks, clothes, conveyances, flowers, scents, ointments, beds, dwellings and illuminations. He misbehaves by body, speech and mind and after death goes to decrease and is born (upapajjati) in hell.
Therefore, based on my search, this appears to be only two suttas, namely, MN 129 & MN 135, using the same terminology & the same karmic determinism of social class & physical appearance.
I disagree here because it is a very large departure from kammic efficacy leading to future heaven (sukha) & hell (dukkha) to a past life regression determining current social status & physical appearance.
I think we need to be careful supporting Hinduistic teachings that institutionalized evil & injustice.
The majority kammic teachings accord with suffering & the end of suffering, the Buddha’s stated sole purpose, as stated in MN 22; where MN 135 does not. MN 135, when read materialistically, seems only about worldly conditions rather than about dukkha & sukha.
Respectfully, fortunately, I am fortunate enough to have the freedom to ignore this determinism & deem it as both dangerous & false.
Plus it has been disproven so many times. Many people are born into poverty & become wealthy and many people are born into wealth & end up in poverty.
It doesn’t. Sorry. The Buddha taught feelings arise due to sense contact and arise independently of social class & physical appearance.
[quote=“brahmali, post:63, topic:5795”]
My understanding of MN 135 is that it is not the violence that leads to rebirth among humans, but rather some other kamma. The violence leads to the shortness of life.[/quote]
This is obviously false. There is no proven correlation between past life kamma & length of life. A very wealthy man recently passed away at 101 years old. His whole family were considered by many to have an alleged interest in evil. He himself was reported to have sponsored many evil schemes in his life, such as the Kinsey Institute, which promoted sexual liberalism based on research conducted by pedophiles. It makes no sense in a past life this man had good tendencies (anusaya) and chose to be reborn into a family who were also reputed to have evil tendencies & behaviour.
Yes. It appears materialistic because the Brahman student asked the questions. But, in reality, I think the Buddha’s alleged reply (regardless of its heedlessness) was spiritual. I think it is impossible to correlate the various worldly status in MN 135 with past spiritual qualities. The Buddha must have said if a human performs an act of violence his spiritual life will be shortened, such as when squatting a mosquito results in broken samadhi (concentration).
Generally, in life, evil people live a long life and good people (such as who foolishly yet selflessly volunteer for war) live a short life. This is why Jesus said: “No greater love has one who gives up his life for a friend”. Even DN 31 states a true friend will give up his life for a friend.
I mentioned this is illogical to me or cannot conform with Dhamma-Niyama because it is past life tendencies (anusaya) which supposedly determine the quality of the next life (as Ajahn Brahm explained with the mangoes).
Also, there is no corrrelation between goodness & evil and making money. While most very wealthy people in history have engaged in evil to acquire wealth, good people have also acquired it virtuously.
I mentioned I disagree with MN 135 vs AN 4.197, unless MN 135 is interpreted as spiritual wealth, health, beauty, long-life, etc, as actually found in many suttas.
In conclusion, based on your personal criteria, linguistically, MN 135 appears rare to me. Based on my criteria, I think its principles are a departure from the Buddha’s core message, where said he only teaches about suffering & its cessation (MN 22), which accommodates most kammic teachings about sukha & dukha but not MN 135 which, when read materialistically, is only about worldly status; but when read spiritually, is about sukha & dukkha.
They are both common, but it’s the plural form, paccājāyanti, that you need to look for.
Thank you Dhammanando. I aware of ‘paccājāyanti’ because it is in SN 56.102 to 131, which has the same usage in all relevant suttas. This genre of suttas appear to be about how various beings in different realms, such as the animal realm, can be re-born human by realising the Four Noble Truths. I mentioned this in my original reply to Ajahn Brahmali.
… Evameva kho, bhikkhave, appakā te sattā ye tiracchānayoniyā cutā manussesu paccājāyanti; atha kho eteva bahutarā sattā ye tiracchānayoniyā cutā niraye paccājāyanti … pe … tiracchānayoniyā paccājāyanti … pe … pettivisaye paccājāyanti … pe …
Beings are few who, when they pass away from the animal realm are reborn among humans… those beings are more numerous are reborn in hell…. For what reason? They have not realised the Four Noble Truths. SN 56.120
In other words, while the language may be the same, these support my case based on dhammic principles, where virtuous & even noble behaviour is the cause for gaining gain human birth.
Where as MN 135 states violence & unwholesome kamma can cause human rebirth.
Bhikkhus, a god, a human or any other good state would not be evident from actions born of greed, hate and delusion. Yet, bhikkhus, from actions born of greed, hate and delusion a hellish being, an animal birth a ghostly birth or some other bad state would be evident. AN 6.39
Does this apply to my post about the four attainments that nobody commented?
It probably does. I am not aware of any comparative or linguistic criteria that would allow us to classify these attainments as late additions. They are found across the EBTs and the language used to describe them does not have any late characteristics. I also think it is going to be hard to properly substantiate a thesis of doctrinal development.
In any case, the eightfold path has the four jhānas as its last factor; the four immaterial attainments are never mentioned as part of this. This is plenty enough to conclude that the immaterial attainments are not needed for awakening. But just because they are not needed does not mean they cannot be part of the path. They may have been included in the EBTs so as to describe all important states of samādhi. If this information was missing, it would probably be more difficult to navigate progress on the path. You can see how difficult this navigation is with all the discussion on the nature of the jhānas.
Thank you dear Ajahn. That’s what I needed for my practice. The 8FP are more than sufficient so no need to waste time in “achievements” that will not help eliminate greed, hatred and delusion.
Bhante, what to say about the concept of a definitive liberation (nippariyāyenā nibbānaṃ) lying beyond the threshold of attainment and transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception (nevasaññānāsaññāyatanaṃ), as found in AN9.47 and other suttas of AN’s 9th chapter?
Is it there just to support the model of Buddha’s parinibbana found in the DN16?
I would say this is just one particular way of looking at the process of liberation, that is, by focusing on samatha. None of these attainments is actually required, apart from the ending of the corruptions (the āsavās) at the very end. Yet going though the immaterial attainments seems to be a valid way of reaching the end of the path. Somewhere along the way you are likely to become a stream-enterer, but the particular point at which this happens will depend on the nature of your spiritual qualities. The combination of stream-entry and taking samatha to its peak will then enable you to attain the end of perception and feeling (saññā-vedayita-nirodha) and also the end of the āsavas.
It is interesting that the end of perception and feeling almost invariably is paired with the end of the āsavas in the suttas. You get the impression that seeing everything cease is a very powerful foundation for insight, as one would expect. Yet despite this strong correlation between the two, it does not seem to be absolute. There is at least one sutta (AN 5.166) where the end of perception of feeling does not immediately lead to the end of the āsavas, but instead you go on to another rebirth. But this sutta is really just minor variation. Overall it is clear that the end of perception and feeling is a very profound attainment that will normally result in the deepest possible insight.
So no, I don’t think it is there just to support the description of the Buddha’s final passing away in DN 16.
Thank you for you detailed and insightful reply Bhante.
Indeed, we better not assume absolute causation when we find textual correlation.
Nevertheless, would it be right to say that there are more textual occurrences in which he end of perception and feeling correlates with the end of the āsavas than any other attainment?
Bhante, Is the realm that they’re born into a non-returner brahma realm? In other words, if one is able to enter and emerge from SVN (perceptions feelings cessation), the possibilities are:
- they immediately become an arahant
- they immediately become a non-returner, and may attain arahantship in the rest of their human life
- neither case 1 or 2, they are reborn in a brahma realm where they are not a non-returner or ariya
Is case 3 possible?
I’m seen plenty of passages where after emerging from SVN, asavas are destroyed (arahantship). There are plenty of passages where nothing is stated about what happens after emerging from SVN.
I think from Bodhi’s footnotes, the only possibilites are arahantship or non-returner. Is this true according to EBT, or is that based on commentaries?
Then the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus: “Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu accomplished in virtuous behavior, concentration, and wisdom might enter and emerge from the cessation of perception and feeling. If he does not reach final knowledge in this very life, then, having been reborn among a certain group of mind-made [deities] that transcend the company of devas that subsist on edible food, he might [again] enter and emerge from the cessation of perception and feeling. There is this possibility.” This is what the Blessed One said. Having said this, the Fortunate One got up from his seat and entered his dwelling. 
For @brahmali, I’m translating DN 21 and would like to add this:
###DN 21 Sakkapañha
The sutta is an unusual combination of elaborate fantasy and basic doctrine. It was evidently popular, as shown by the significant number of parallels. Nevertheless, the background narrative is probably late, and the doctrinal material is largely adopted from elsewhere.
- Intertextual borrowing: Much of the doctrinal passage is shared with MN 114. Normally Sakka addresses the Buddha with mārisa. During this passage, however, he shifts with no apparent cause to bhante and then back to mārisa. This is a copy-paste error: text was lifted directly from MN 114, where bhante is used throughout.
- Narrative plausibility: While the conceit of using a love song to get the Buddha’s attention is a charming one, the fact that Sakka felt he had to resort to this because Buddha’s are hard to approach does not agree with the rest of the suttas, where gods including Sakka approach the Buddha easily.
- Belabored form: Evidently striving for prestige, the text uses unusual and heavy-handed formulas for straightforward exposition, such as the repeated interludes stating Sakka’s response to the Buddha’s questions.
- Unnecessary magic: When the gods appear, not only does their light shed over the whole region, they magically cause the cave to become smooth and spacious. (This is, of course, an etiological myth to explain the appearance of the sacred cave.)
- Immediate rebirth: The text claims that when two gods gained mindfulness they were immediately reborn in a higher realm. No other text supports this possibility.
- Gendered rebirth: While the story of Gopaka stops short of explicitly saying that male rebirth is better than female, this is clearly implied. Such a notion, however, is found nowhere else in the EBTs.
Changing Genders, Changing Buddhists
I would suggest, “This is a copy-paste anomaly” instead. “Error” makes it sound as if they did a mistake, but such anomalies are frequent and it seems the editors were not concerned about making things look authentic.
While this is true, it has hard to imagine the whole thing has just been made up. This narrative is verging on a Buddhist equivalent of blasphemy. I would suggest it harks back to a distorted memory of a real event, possibly a conflation of two different occasions. It is a kind of narrative version of the principle of lectio difficilior.
And it gives the impression that mindfulness is sufficient for rebirth in the Brahmā world.
Are they? I mean, it’s all relative, but normally the texts are pretty well edited.
I very much doubt it! The whole thing appears very much like a literary conceit, and likely draws on literary antecedents, not real life ones.
Yes. But I didn’t mention this because I am not so convinced this is an obvious doctrinal contradiction. First, in such a loose narrative, “mindfulness” could just be a shorthand for “meditation”. But also, there are a few cases where even merit seems to be enough to get you reborn in the Brahma realm. Sure, I think these are also likely confused in some way, but I wanted to avoid unclear points.
I haven’t actually counted the occurrences, but so it seems. I think we should be aware, however, of a general tendency in the suttas to normalise the content. In other words, things often get padded out, so that similar passages often become identical over time. An example of this is the enumeration of all three _tevijjā_s in all versions of the gradual training in the Pali canon. In the Āgamas translated into Chinese, the gradual training sometimes only has the last of the _tevijjā_s , which of course is sufficient for awakening.
Well, there are the obvious cases of the narrative bhadante vs. the usual bhante, and bhikkhave vs. bhikkhavo. I do believe there are more such cases, but I would have to get back to you on this.
But that’s different; they are merely alternative forms found in different strata, and used in a fairly consistent way. The situation with the vocatives in DN 21, where the shift happens for no other reason than copy-paste, is, I think, unusual. There are probably some other cases, but I can’t think of any.
Sakkha panha sutta (DN21) is quite flowery reminds me somewhat of the Atanatiya sutta with its somewhat elaborate cosmology. I don’t think it adds anything unique, though I maybe wrong. It does detract as it is more supernatural that the reader then has to switch gears and take on faith or treat at myth or a later composition.