"Witness ... for himself whenever there is an opening"?

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"Witness ... for himself whenever there is an opening"?

Postby starter » Sat Apr 02, 2011 4:27 pm

Hello Teachers/Friends,

I wonder what the bolded phrases mean in the following suttas:

AN 9.43
Kayasakkhi Sutta: Bodily Witness
[Udayin:] "'Bodily witness, bodily witness,' it is said. To what extent is one described by the Blessed One as a bodily witness?"
[Ananda:] "There is the case, my friend, where a monk, withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He remains touching with his body in whatever way there is an opening there [see AN 9.35]. It is to this extent that one is described by the Blessed One as a bodily witness, though with a sequel.

AN 9.35
Gavi Sutta: The Cow
"The thought occurs to him, 'What if I, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, were to enter & remain in the cessation of perception & feeling.' Without jumping at the cessation of perception & feeling, he, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, enters & remains in the cessation of perception & feeling.
"When a monk enters & emerges from that very attainment, his mind is pliant & malleable. With his pliant, malleable mind, limitless concentration is well developed. With his concentration well developed & limitless, then whichever of the six higher knowledges he turns his mind to know & realize, he can witness them for himself whenever there is an opening.

If he wants, then through the ending of the mental fermentations, he remains in the fermentation-free awareness-release and discernment-release, having known and made them manifest for himself right in the here and now. He can witness this for himself whenever there is an opening."

Thanks and metta,

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Re: "Witness ... for himself whenever there is an opening"?

Postby beeblebrox » Sat Apr 02, 2011 6:13 pm

Here are the actual Pali sentences:

AN 9.43
Kayasakkhi Sutta: Bodily Witness

"'Bodily witness, bodily witness,' it is said. To what extent is one described by the Blessed One as a bodily witness?"

"There is the case, my friend, where a monk, withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He remains touching with his body in whatever way there is an opening there[see AN 9.35]. It is to this extent that one is described by the Blessed One as a bodily witness, though with a sequel.

---

"Kāyasakkhi kāyasakkhī" ti āvuso vuccati, kittāvatā nu kho āvuso kāyasakkhi vutto bhagavatāti.

Idhāvuso bhikkhu vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati. Yathā yathā ca tadāyatanaṃ tathā tathā naṃ kāyena phassitvā viharati. Ettāvatāpi kho āvuso kāyasakkhi vutto bhagavatā pariyāyena.


AN 9.35
Gavi Sutta: The Cow

"When a monk enters & emerges from that very attainment, his mind is pliant & malleable. With his pliant, malleable mind, limitless concentration is well developed. With his concentration well developed & limitless, then whichever of the six higher knowledges he turns his mind to know & realize, he can witness them for himself whenever there is an opening.

---

Yato kho bhikkhave bhikkhu taṃ tadevasamāpattiṃ samāpajjatipi vuṭṭhāti pi. Tassa muduṃ cittaṃ hoti kammaññaṃ,mudunā citte kammaññena appamāṇo samādhi hoti subhāvito. So appamāṇena samādhinā subhāvitena yassa yassa abhiññāsacchikaraṇīyassa dhammassa cittaṃ abhininnāmeti abhiññāsacchikiriyāya. Tatra tatreva sakkhibhabbataṃ pāpuṇāti sati sati āyatane.


I think "opening" is Ven. Thanissaro's interpretation for sakkhibhabbataṃ... but not sure.

Sakkhi = face to face; before one's eyes (witness).
bhabba = able; capable; fit for.
ta = (demonstrative pronoun) that; ta + ṃ = "that thing."

So, I think sakkhibhabbataṃ = the thing that one is able to witness... or "opening" in another word. This is just my guess.

I don't see how the "opening" really fits in with the sentence from the Kayasakkhi Sutta, though... the body would be the "opening" I guess, but I don't think the Pali sentence really says it in that way (from what I can figure out).

I think that was misleading for Ven. Thanissaro to refer to one sutta from the other (at least without a footnote to explain the connection), unless I'm missing something. My interpretation above could be completely wrong.

:anjali:
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Re: "Witness ... for himself whenever there is an opening"?

Postby starter » Sun Apr 03, 2011 4:34 pm

Hi beeblebrox,

Thanks for your kind help. I think your interpretation of the sentence is more clear. It strikes me that how much our understanding of the Buddha's teachings actually depends upon the understanding of the translators ...

Metta to all,

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Re: "Witness ... for himself whenever there is an opening"?

Postby beeblebrox » Sun Apr 03, 2011 6:47 pm

Glad to help, it's always a good excuse for me to learn something. I agree about translators... that's why I like to compare (and wish that Ven. Bodhi's AN book is out already).

I was a bit confused about Ven. Thanissaro's translation at first, but I think I understand now. I appreciate the intention in using the word "opening", one thing touching to the next, like an experienced cow (in the sutta) putting his front foot before the other, to get to some place. If you look at anapanasati, it always starts with body... something that can be easily witnessed.

I finally got around to finding a different translation on metta.lk for the two suttas, just for comparison. (A bit hassle, they don't use Unicode font.)

:anjali:

2. Kāyasakkhīsuttaṃ -- Body Witness (link)

"Friend, it is said, 'body witness,' for what is it said body witness by The Blessed One?"

"Here, friend, the bhikkhu secluding the mind from sensual desires ... re ... abides in the first higher state of the mind. Whatever there is in that state of the mind, he abides experiencing them with the body. Friend, mastering this much, it is body witness," said The Blessed One.


4. Gāvī -- upamāsuttaṃ -- Comparable to a Cow (link)

Bhikkhus, when the bhikkhu abides in that attainment and rises from it his mind becomes gentle, workable, his concentration becomes immeasurable and well-developed. The well-developed and concentrated mind, he directs for the realization of knowledge and mindfulness in that mental sphere, becomes the eye-witness for the respective knowledge.
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