Translation of Dhp283 Cut down the forest, but not the tree?

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Translation of Dhp283 Cut down the forest, but not the tree?

Postby starter » Sun Dec 22, 2013 1:39 am

Greetings!

I wonder if the following translation of Dhammapada is accurate:

"283. Cut down the forest (lust),
but not the tree;
from the forest springs fear.
Having cut down the forest and the underbrush (desire),
be passionless, O monks!"

Would the following translation be more accurate:

Cut down the (whole) forest (of greed or passion?),
not (just) a tree (a specific lust only?);

Danger comes out of the forest.
Having cut down both the forest (of greed) and its undergrowth (ignorance?),
Bhikkhus, you will be rid of the forest and free!

(modified from the translation found here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/sbe10/index.htm)

Metta to all!
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Re: Translation of Dhp283 Cut down the forest, but not the t

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Dec 22, 2013 1:45 am

Hi, Starter,
What I usually do in a situation like that is to look up several different translations of the passage and look for the consensus or "average" of them. It may not be as good as being able to translate from the Pali myself, but it's something I can do by myself and usually clarifies any doubts I may have.
Since this is the Dhammapada you will have plenty of translations to compare. A search for "Dhammapada 283" got me 200 000 results! :jawdrop:

:reading:
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Re: Translation of Dhp283 Cut down the forest, but not the t

Postby santa100 » Sun Dec 22, 2013 2:06 am

Notice the comment in the footnote:
Cut down the forest (lust), but not the tree; from the forest springs fear. Having cut down the forest and the underbrush (desire), be passionless, O monks!

[20]The meaning of this injunction is: "Cut down the forest of lust, but do not mortify the body. ~~ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ml#dhp-283 ~~
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Re: Translation of Dhp283 Cut down the forest, but not the t

Postby manas » Sun Dec 22, 2013 3:57 am

Hi starter,
if we look at this as the first of a pair of verses, then another possible meaning emerges:

283. Cut down the whole forest (of lust), not a tree only! Danger comes out of the forest (of lust). When you have cut down both the forest (of lust) and its undergrowth, then, Bhikshus, you will be rid of the forest and free!

284. So long as the love of man towards women, even the smallest, is not destroyed, so long is his mind in bondage, as the calf that drinks milk is to its mother.


My take on these (taken as a pair, assuming that's how they are intended to be read (?) is: you may have abandoned the desire for your wife (a single tree), but unless you clear away desire for women per se (the entire forest including it's undergrowth), you are still in bondage to them. (I mean no offense to women here, and we can just as easily reverse this, and apply it to women needing to clear away the desire for men also).

:anjali:
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Re: Translation of Dhp283 Cut down the forest, but not the t

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Dec 22, 2013 5:08 am

The Pali Text
Vanaṃ chindatha mā rukkhaṃ, vanato jāyate bhayaṃ.
Chetvā vanañca vanathañca, nibbanā hotha bhikkhavo.


I have:
“Cut down the entire forest, not just a single tree. From the forest springs fear.
Cutting down both forest¹ and brushwood, be passionless, O monks.” Dhp v 283

“For as long as the slightest passion of man towards women is not cut down,
so long is his mind in bondage, like the calf to its mother.” Dhp v 284

The Commentary is about five elderly monks who were attached to their former wives:

Five Elderly Monks

Five elderly men went forth as monks. They built for themselves a hermitage at the edge of the monastery, went for alms to the houses of their sons and daughters, and ate their meal at the house of the former wife of one of the monks, who offered curries and sauces. When she died of some disease, the monks gathered back at the hermitage and wept. The monks reported this to the Buddha who advised them to practise non-attachment.

¹ The vines and undergrowth of the forest are compared to the entanglements of passion.

So, I take it to mean that one must cut all attachments, not just sexual desire, but desire for delicious food, and affection for loved ones.
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Re: Translation of Dhp283 Cut down the forest, but not the t

Postby manas » Sun Dec 22, 2013 5:35 am

:goodpost:
Thanks for clarifying that, Bhante.

kind regards,
manas.
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Re: Translation of Dhp283 Cut down the forest, but not the t

Postby SarathW » Mon Dec 23, 2013 12:26 am

santa100 wrote:Notice the comment in the footnote:
Cut down the forest (lust), but not the tree; from the forest springs fear. Having cut down the forest and the underbrush (desire), be passionless, O monks!

[20]The meaning of this injunction is: "Cut down the forest of lust, but do not mortify the body. ~~ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ml#dhp-283 ~~


Hi Santa
Bikkhu Pesal's answer seems different to yours.
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Re: Translation of Dhp283 Cut down the forest, but not the t

Postby santa100 » Mon Dec 23, 2013 1:50 am

..which is great. A synthesis of ideas could be quite useful for our study and practice..
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Re: Translation of Dhp283 Cut down the forest, but not the t

Postby Kim OHara » Mon Dec 23, 2013 7:06 am

santa100 wrote:..which is great. A synthesis of ideas could be quite useful for our study and practice..

... as I suggested earlier ...
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