Sutta Study (2): Smaller discourse on quarreling, Snp 4.12

cūlaviyūha sutta
4.12. Smaller Discourse on Quarrelling

Question:
Each attached to their own views,
They dispute, and the experts say,
“Whoever knows this understands the Dhamma,
Whoever rejects it is imprefect.”

Arguing like this, they disagree, saying
“My opponent is a fool, and is no expert”
Which of these doctrines is the truth,
Since all of them say they are experts?

Buddha:
If by not accepting another’s teaching
One became a fool of debased wisdom
Then, honestly, all are fools of debased wisdom,
Since all are attached to views.

But if people are washed by their own views,
With pure wisdom, experts, thoughtful,
Then none of them has debased wisdom,
For their views are perfect.

I don’t say, “This is how it is”,
Like the fools who oppose each other.
Each of them makes out that their view is the truth,
So they treat their opponent as a fool.

Question:
What some say is the truth,
Others say is false.
So they argue, disagreeing;
Why don’t the ascetics teach one truth?

Buddha:
Indeed the truth is one, there’s not another,
about this the One who Knows
does not dispute with another,
but the Samaṇas proclaim their varied “truths”
and so they speak not in the same way.

Why do they speak such varied truths,
these so-called experts disputatious—
Are there really many and various truths
Or do they just rehearse their logic?

Buddha:
Indeed, there are not many and varied truths
differing from perception of the ever-true in the world;
but they work upon their views with logic:
“Truth! Falsehood!” So they speak in dualities.

Based on what is seen, heard,
On precepts and vows, or what is cognized,
They look down on others.
Convinced of their own theories,
pleased with themselves,
They say, “My opponent is a fool, no expert.”

They consider themselves expert for the same reasons
That they despise their opponent as a fool.
Calling themselves experts, they despise the other,
Yet they speak the very same way.

And since perfected in some extreme view,
puffed with pride and maddened by conceit,
he anoints himself as though the master-mind,
likewise thinking his view’s perfected too.

If their opponent says they are deficient,
They too are of deficient understanding.
But if they are wise and knowledgeable,
Then there are no fools among the ascetics.

“Anyone who teaches a doctrine other than this,
Has fallen short of purity and perfection.”
This is what followers of other paths say,
Passionately defending their very different views.

“Here alone is purity,” so they say,
“There is no purity in the teachings of others.”
This is what followers of other paths strongly assert,
Each entrenched in their own different path.

Strongly asserting their own path,
What opponent would they take to be a fool?
They would only bring trouble on themselves
By calling an opponent a fool of impure teachings.

Convinced of their own theories,
Comparing others to oneself,
They get into more disputes with the world.
But by leaving behind all theories,
They don’t have any problems with the world.

Points to ponder upon :slight_smile: :

  1. What are the defilements that promote arguments and quarreling?
  2. ‘“Truth! Falsehood!” So they speak in dualities. How can we go beyond dualistic speech, into right speech?’
  3. What is the difference between a view that is not based on ‘what is seen, head, precepts, and what is cognised’, and Right view’?
  4. How can one know the difference between one’s theories and that which is true, regardless of religious belief.

with metta

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Reference to this sutta:
sutta nipāta
cūlaviyūha sutta
4.12. Smaller Discourse on Quarrelling

snp 4.12

Response to first question:

Buddha:
If by not accepting another’s teaching
One became a fool of debased wisdom
Then, honestly, all are fools of debased wisdom,
Since all are attached to views.

But if people are washed by their own views,
With pure wisdom, experts, thoughtful,
Then none of them has debased wisdom,
For their views are perfect.

I don’t say, “This is how it is”,
Like the fools who oppose each other.
Each of them makes out that their view is the truth,
So they treat their opponent as a fool.
[/quote]

Beyond pointing to the mindset that says “My opponent is a fool, and is no expert” the sutta also seems in part to be some commentary on a epistemology related dynamic or even making a epistemological claims. The sutta does seem to be structured around a logical line of thinking.
Question: But Does this interpretation miss the point?

washed by their own views,
With pure wisdom, experts, thoughtful

Question: In the line “But if people are washed by their own views” – does it speak of being “washed by their own views” approvingly or with disapproval?

Also, What does the “washed by” mean in this context?

  • Washed as in being cleaned? Perfecteded?
  • Washed as in immersed in, covered by or washed away?

I don’t say, “This is how it is”,
Like the fools who oppose each other.
Each of them makes out that their view is the truth,

It seems to me that Buddha’s statements imply that he is claiming “this is how it is”. Perhaps not like the fools who oppose each other but in some fashion. For example the first two lines of:

Indeed, there are not many and varied truths
differing from perception of the ever-true in the world;
but they work upon their views with logic:
“Truth! Falsehood!” So they speak in dualities.
That seems like a strong claim of “how it is”!


Is the key in how such claims are held? Or as point to ponder # 3 asks:

I infer in this a suggestion of developmental levels in stage theories of adult developmental psychology. Persons at different stages might speak the same words but hold them in different contexts.


but they work upon their views with logic:
“Truth! Falsehood!” So they speak in dualities.
Based on what is seen, heard,
On precepts and vows, or what is cognized,
They look down on others.
Convinced of their own theories,
pleased with themselves,
They say, “My opponent is a fool, no expert.”

On one reading it’s about getting beyond the mindset that looks down on others, wanting (clinging to?) being convinced of ones own theories, and worse saying in effect “I’m better than you” as a way to be more pleased with myself.

It seems that the teaching has several levels of useful understanding, yes?
At one level it seems to point to whatever mindset or pattern that leads to looking down on others (for logical reasons of course!) as a description of a path that fails to relieve suffering.

The alternative is suggested in the final two lines:

Convinced of their own theories,
Comparing others to oneself,
They get into more disputes with the world.
But by leaving behind all theories,
They don’t have any problems with the world.

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