Bhante, I just thought I’d flag a mistake in the translation of the Sabbāsāva Sutta in the Middle Length Discourses. In the section on avoiding we find the following translation:
Reflecting wisely, he avoids sitting on unsuitable seats, wandering to unsuitable resorts, and associating with bad friends, since if he were to do so wise companions in the holy life might suspect him of evil conduct.
Yathārūpe anāsane nisinnaṃ yathārūpe agocare carantaṃ yathārūpe pāpake mitte bhajantaṃ viññū sabrahmacārī pāpakesu ṭhānesu okappeyyuṃ, so tañca anāsanaṃ tañca agocaraṃ te ca pāpake mitte paṭisaṅkhā yoniso parivajjeti.
The problem is the phrase “since if he were to do so wise companions in the holy life might suspect him of evil conduct.” I find it hard to believe one should avoid things simply because of fear of others’ opinions. There is not much integrity in that, and I am not aware of any other statements to this effect in the suttas. Indeed, the operative word here, okappeyyuṃ, does not seem to mean “suspect”, but rather “to hold for right, to trust in, to believe in, to put one’s trust, faith, confidence in; to fix one’s mind on, to rely on” (from CPD). It is not at all obvious that “suspect” can be derived from any of these meanings. The most obvious meaning, rather, would seem to be that they “hold” or “consider” such places to be “bad places,” pāpakesu ṭhānesu. The resulting meaning is much more satisfactory to my mind:
Reflecting wisely, he avoids sitting on unsuitable seats, wandering to unsuitable resorts, and associating with bad friends - whatever his wise companions in the holy life would regard as inappropriate.
Well spotted, thanks. Cone also cites this passage in the same sense. I will correct.
doesn’t the new rendering imply that as well? only not as bluntly as the previous one
It is a little subtle, but I think there’s a difference between avoiding those actions because his wise companions agree that they are inappropriate, and avoiding them just to avoid their suspicions.
In DN 31, there is also a passage that seems to warn about the danger of inflicting harm on oneself by exposing oneself to the arising of negative rumors or the mere suspicion of wrongdoing:
These are the six dangers inherent in roaming the streets at inappropriate times: oneself, one’s family, and one’s property are all left unguarded and unprotected; one is suspected of crimes; then rumors spread; and one is subjected to many miseries.
Yeah, maybe the wording needs to be improved. The difference between the two is that in the first case one avoids doing it because one is afraid of what others might think. In the second case one avoids it because one accepts the opinion of one’s fellow monastics that certain things are unsuitable. In the second case suspicion is irrelevant; one just wants to do the right thing. I will leave the difficult job of finding the right wording to Bhante Sujato!
That is so very thoughtful of you.
an attitude where others’ opinion is of value is also envisaged in the Ākaṅkheyya sutta (MN 6)
“If a bhikkhu should wish: ‘May I be dear and agreeable to my companions in the holy life, respected and esteemed by them,’ let him fulfil the precepts, be devoted to internal serenity of mind, not neglect meditation, be possessed of insight, and dwell in empty huts.
When I read “inappropriate” it makes me think of AN7.7 where some of the 7 wealths are of moral shame and moral dread. At first reading AN7.7 my old catholic self had a bit of a reaction, then I realised how useful these wealths could be in my daily life.