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Dhamma Wheel • View topic - How do you view sanjaya belatthiputta agnosticism?

How do you view sanjaya belatthiputta agnosticism?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

How do you view sanjaya belatthiputta agnosticism?

Postby clw_uk » Tue Sep 24, 2013 11:33 pm

After some good posts in the Ajita thread, I thought it would be good to look at another "wrong view". That of Sanjaya Belatthiputta.



First, what is your understanding of agnosticism, particularly sanjaya belatthiputta expounding of it?


Secondly, how do you understand it to be wrong view?


If you ask me if there exists another world [after death], if I thought that there exists another world, would I declare that to you? I don't think so. I don't think in that way. I don't think otherwise. I don't think not. I don't think not not. If you asked me if there isn't another world... both is and isn't... neither is nor isn't... if there are beings who transmigrate... if there aren't... both are and aren't... neither are nor aren't... if the Tathagata exists after death... doesn't... both... neither exists nor exists after death, would I declare that to you? I don't think so. I don't think in that way. I don't think otherwise. I don't think not. I don't think not not.'[4]


http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanjaya_Belatthaputta
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan
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Re: How do you view sanjaya belatthiputta agnosticism?

Postby chownah » Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:15 am

I think the key here is "if I thought that there exists another world". What he is saying is that even if he had a view he would not declare it. This is different from simply not knowing something. I find it highly unlikely that the Buddha would teach us that if we do not know that we should just invent some view to avoid being labeled an eel wriggler.
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Re: How do you view sanjaya belatthiputta agnosticism?

Postby Samma » Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:54 am

Considering someone on this forum accused me an eel wriggler and obfuscation, I'd stress that specifically it is about "brahmins who are endless equivocators. When questioned about this or that point, on four grounds they resort to evasive statements and to endless equivocation" (DN1)

The four ground and endless equivocation part is about not taking any stance in the Tetralemma of agree/disagree/both/neither.

The reasons for endless equivocation are sated as
1) fear and loathing of making a false statement
2) They don't bother since they might not be able to reply to an arguments
3) desire and lust or hatred and aversion might arise in me and clinging distress me
4) dullness and stupidity (I dont know, and I dont care!)
then list of 16 views

Well, basically who likes dull, fearful, evasive people and extreme skeptics?
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Re: How do you view sanjaya belatthiputta agnosticism?

Postby robertk » Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:32 am

It is the type of wrong view supported by inordinate conceit.
"I don't know anything and if I don't -me the clever man- I am sure no one else does either."
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Re: How do you view sanjaya belatthiputta agnosticism?

Postby Sam Vara » Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:24 am

Agnosticism can be a useful and authentic position. Which of us actually know what we are talking about, as opposed to having strong views about it?
There are five things that can turn out in two ways in the here-&-now. Which five? Conviction, liking, unbroken tradition, reasoning by analogy, & an agreement through pondering views. These are the five things that can turn out in two ways in the here-&-now. Now some things are firmly held in conviction and yet vain, empty, & false. Some things are not firmly held in conviction, and yet they are genuine, factual, & unmistaken. Some things are well-liked... truly an unbroken tradition... well-reasoned... Some things are well-pondered and yet vain, empty, & false. Some things are not well-pondered, and yet they are genuine, factual, & unmistaken. In these cases it isn't proper for a knowledgeable person who safeguards the truth to come to a definite conclusion, 'Only this is true; anything else is worthless."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.095x.than.html
The writer Mark Vernon is someone who seems to take a sensible and positive attitude towards agnosticism:
http://www.markvernon.com/html/books/how_to_be_an_agnostic.shtml
Sanjaya Bellatthiputta's problem is, I think, more to do with being an attention-seeking fool than simply not knowing for sure, and robertk above nails him exactly. Eels can wriggle all they like at the bottom of rivers; it's only when they do it in the kitchen that they are annoying.
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Re: How do you view sanjaya belatthiputta agnosticism?

Postby Dhammanando » Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:17 am

The commentary to the Sāmaññaphalasutta doesn’t expound Sañjaya’s doctrine in detail but simply classifies it as a amarāvikkhepavāda (‘perennial equivocation’, ‘eel-wriggling’) and directs the reader to the exposition of the four types of amarāvikkhepavāda in the Brahmajāla Sutta and its commentary.

The attached files contains the section on amarāvikkhepavāda in Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of the commentary. The Brahmajālasutta itself should be available online.

Equivocators-1.pdf
(207.72 KiB) Downloaded 9 times

Equivocators-2.pdf
(400.33 KiB) Downloaded 6 times
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: How do you view sanjaya belatthiputta agnosticism?

Postby clw_uk » Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:31 am

Dhammanando wrote:The commentary to the Sāmaññaphalasutta doesn’t expound Sañjaya’s doctrine in detail but simply classifies it as a amarāvikkhepavāda (‘perennial equivocation’, ‘eel-wriggling’) and directs the reader to the exposition of the four types of amarāvikkhepavāda in the Brahmajāla Sutta and its commentary.

The attached files contains the section on amarāvikkhepavāda in Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of the commentary. The Brahmajālasutta itself should be available online.

Equivocators-1.pdf

Equivocators-2.pdf



There doesn't seem to be much in the suttas either, except this very vague description.


Do you think Bhante it could be an extension of the Jains doctrine of anekdavaga?


How do you understand the doctrine Bhante?
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Re: How do you view sanjaya belatthiputta agnosticism?

Postby clw_uk » Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:33 am

robertk wrote:It is the type of wrong view supported by inordinate conceit.
"I don't know anything and if I don't -me the clever man- I am sure no one else does either."



Maybe, yet agnosticism can be more humble than having faith...
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Re: How do you view sanjaya belatthiputta agnosticism?

Postby clw_uk » Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:34 am

chownah wrote:I think the key here is "if I thought that there exists another world". What he is saying is that even if he had a view he would not declare it. This is different from simply not knowing something. I find it highly unlikely that the Buddha would teach us that if we do not know that we should just invent some view to avoid being labeled an eel wriggler.
chownah



I actually find this the best understanding of his position

It seems he is scared of debate, not in intellectual honesty.

I hope I haven't misunderstood your post?
Last edited by clw_uk on Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How do you view sanjaya belatthiputta agnosticism?

Postby clw_uk » Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:36 am

Still I find his view the one that is investigated the least.


Eternalism and annihilationism seem to take up most of the debate, scepticism seems to be skipped over.
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Re: How do you view sanjaya belatthiputta agnosticism?

Postby clw_uk » Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:38 am

Dhammanando wrote:The commentary to the Sāmaññaphalasutta doesn’t expound Sañjaya’s doctrine in detail but simply classifies it as a amarāvikkhepavāda (‘perennial equivocation’, ‘eel-wriggling’) and directs the reader to the exposition of the four types of amarāvikkhepavāda in the Brahmajāla Sutta and its commentary.

The attached files contains the section on amarāvikkhepavāda in Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of the commentary. The Brahmajālasutta itself should be available online.

Equivocators-1.pdf

Equivocators-2.pdf



Or bhante, on a second thought, could they mean they (and those who recoded it) didn't understand his position?


Speculation of course, but an interesting one.
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Re: How do you view sanjaya belatthiputta agnosticism?

Postby clw_uk » Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:42 am

Sam Vara wrote:Agnosticism can be a useful and authentic position. Which of us actually know what we are talking about, as opposed to having strong views about it?


Reminds me of Sextus Empiricus

Also by the Buddha



"Abandoning (the views) he had (previously) held and not taking up (another), he does not seek a support even in knowledge. Among those who dispute he is certainly not one to take sides. He does not [have] recourse to a view at all. In whom there is no inclination to either extreme, for becoming or non-becoming, here or in another existence, for him there does not exist a fixed viewpoint on investigating the doctrines assumed (by others). Concerning the seen, the heard and the cognized he does not form the least notion. That brahmana[2] who does not grasp at a view, with what could he be identified in the world?

"They do not speculate nor pursue (any notion); doctrines are not accepted by them. A (true) brahmana is beyond, does not fall back on views."






http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .irel.html
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Re: How do you view sanjaya belatthiputta agnosticism?

Postby clw_uk » Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:45 am

Dhammanando wrote:The commentary to the Sāmaññaphalasutta doesn’t expound Sañjaya’s doctrine in detail but simply classifies it as a amarāvikkhepavāda (‘perennial equivocation’, ‘eel-wriggling’) and directs the reader to the exposition of the four types of amarāvikkhepavāda in the Brahmajāla Sutta and its commentary.

The attached files contains the section on amarāvikkhepavāda in Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of the commentary. The Brahmajālasutta itself should be available online.

Equivocators-1.pdf

Equivocators-2.pdf



Also bhante, if I could press you further, how do you find a distinction between his view and Buddhas teaching here



"Abandoning (the views) he had (previously) held and not taking up (another), he does not seek a support even in knowledge. Among those who dispute he is certainly not one to take sides. He does not [have] recourse to a view at all. In whom there is no inclination to either extreme, for becoming or non-becoming, here or in another existence, for him there does not exist a fixed viewpoint on investigating the doctrines assumed (by others). Concerning the seen, the heard and the cognized he does not form the least notion. That brahmana[2] who does not grasp at a view, with what could he be identified in the world?

"They do not speculate nor pursue (any notion); doctrines are not accepted by them. A (true) brahmana is beyond, does not fall back on views."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .irel.html
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan
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Re: How do you view sanjaya belatthiputta agnosticism?

Postby clw_uk » Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:52 am

Sanjaya Bellatthiputta's problem is, I think, more to do with being an attention-seeking fool than simply not knowing for sure, and robertk above nails him exactly. Eels can wriggle all they like at the bottom of rivers; it's only when they do it in the kitchen that they are annoying.


Bit harsh :/

Is that based in objective analysis, or feeling?
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Re: How do you view sanjaya belatthiputta agnosticism?

Postby Sam Vara » Thu Sep 26, 2013 8:19 am

clw_uk wrote:
Sanjaya Bellatthiputta's problem is, I think, more to do with being an attention-seeking fool than simply not knowing for sure, and robertk above nails him exactly. Eels can wriggle all they like at the bottom of rivers; it's only when they do it in the kitchen that they are annoying.


Bit harsh :/

Is that based in objective analysis, or feeling?


It's based on my interpretation of what the Sutta is intended to do. I take the passage quoted to be a parodic outline of a very human tendency: the desire to appear clever while not helping people at all.
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Re: How do you view sanjaya belatthiputta agnosticism?

Postby Dhammanando » Thu Sep 26, 2013 2:28 pm

clw_uk wrote:Do you think Bhante it could be an extension of the Jains doctrine of anekdavaga?


I’m not familiar with the term. Do you mean anekantavāda? If so, I think it would be anachronistic to posit any influence upon Sañjaya and the Eel-wrigglers. Anekantavada, as I recall, is a feature of developed scholastic Jainism and can only be derived with a lot of stretching from the early Jaina canon.

How do you understand the doctrine Bhante?


I understand Sañjaya to be an Eel-wriggler and the Eel-wrigglers to be intellectual charlatans, in many respects similar to Greek Sophists like Protagoras, Gorgias, Hippias, etc. (I think scholars like Flintoff and Kuzminski who are wont to peg Sañjaya as a sort of Indian Pyrrhonist are simply giving the man too much credit). Now if I’m right about this, then it doesn’t really make much sense to ask what his doctrine was. Whereas the vādas of Ajita, Makkhali and the rest are indeed “doctrines”, in the case of Sañjaya, the man’s vāda is not so much a doctrine, but rather “Sañjaya’s spiel” or “what Sañjaya was in the habit of saying”. But his speech is aimed not at the setting forth of a doctrine but at the concealment of his views.

Also bhante, if I could press you further, how do you find a distinction between his view and Buddhas teaching here:

"Abandoning (the views) he had (previously) held and not taking up (another)...


The distinction is between the abandoning of diṭṭhi and the holding to diṭṭhi while evasively concealing what it is and not even realizing that one is doing this.
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: How do you view sanjaya belatthiputta agnosticism?

Postby santa100 » Fri Sep 27, 2013 3:38 am

Dhammanando wrote:The distinction is between the abandoning of diṭṭhi and the holding to diṭṭhi while evasively concealing what it is and not even realizing that one is doing this.


:anjali: Bhante. There's also a stark contrast between Sanjaya and the Buddha per the excerpts below:

Sanjaya: 'If you ask me if there exists another world [after death], if I thought that there exists another world, would I declare that to you? I don't think so. I don't think in that way. I don't think otherwise. I don't think not. I don't think not not. If you asked me if there isn't another world... both is and isn't... neither is nor isn't... if there are beings who transmigrate... if there aren't... both are and aren't... neither are nor aren't... if the Tathagata exists after death... doesn't... both... neither exists nor exists after death, would I declare that to you? I don't think so. I don't think in that way. I don't think otherwise. I don't think not. I don't think not not'


The Buddha: 'Here, Upāli, the Tathāgata arises in the world, an arahant, perfectly enlightened, accomplished in true knowledge and conduct, fortunate, knower of the world, unsurpassed trainer of persons to be tamed, teacher of devas and humans, the Enlightened One, the Blessed One. Having realized with his own direct knowledge this world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, this population with its ascetics and brahmins, with its devas and humans, he makes it known to others. He teaches the Dhamma that is good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, with the right meaning and phrasing; he reveals the perfectly complete and pure spiritual life.' ~~ http://palicanon.org/index.php/sutta-pi ... _link-2310 ~~
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Re: How do you view sanjaya belatthiputta agnosticism?

Postby chownah » Fri Sep 27, 2013 5:02 am

clw_uk wrote:
chownah wrote:I think the key here is "if I thought that there exists another world". What he is saying is that even if he had a view he would not declare it. This is different from simply not knowing something. I find it highly unlikely that the Buddha would teach us that if we do not know that we should just invent some view to avoid being labeled an eel wriggler.
chownah



I actually find this the best understanding of his position

It seems he is scared of debate, not in intellectual honesty.

I hope I haven't misunderstood your post?

I think that essentially I agree with your statement but I would not try to infer the intention or the reasons why belatthiputta would not declare views since I think there are perhaps many reasons.

While this kind of unwillingness to express views is presented within the context of someone who is interacting with another as part of a dialogue, I think it can also be seen as something happening completely within the mind. When taken as an internal, mental attitude it might be seen as the unwillingness to acknowledge certain views or the unwillingness to consider some aspect of our experience to the degree that the lack of consideration is a hindrance.....psychologists might talk about being in denial etc. An example of this might be a person who likes to drink heavily and who does not formulate a view on the meaning of the precept on intoxication.

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