AN 3.38/3.39: Sukhamala Sutta — Refinement

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AN 3.38/3.39: Sukhamala Sutta — Refinement

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:21 pm

AN 3.38 PTS: A i 145 Thai 3.39; BJT 3.39
Sukhamala Sutta: Refinement
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


The Buddha describes the insights that led him as a young man to go forth, and how those insights apply to the conduct of our own lives.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


    Translator's note: The Pali Text Society editions treat this discourse as two discourses — III.38 & III.39 — divided at the triple asterisk. Asian editions treat it as one, numbered III.39. The autobiographical verse at the end of the second half — which is identical with the verse concluding AN 5.57 — fits neatly with the autobiographical first half of the discourse, suggesting that the two halves were meant to go together.

"Monks, I lived in refinement, utmost refinement, total refinement. My father even had lotus ponds made in our palace: one where red-lotuses bloomed, one where white lotuses bloomed, one where blue lotuses bloomed, all for my sake. I used no sandalwood that was not from Varanasi. My turban was from Varanasi, as were my tunic, my lower garments, & my outer cloak. A white sunshade was held over me day & night to protect me from cold, heat, dust, dirt, & dew.

"I had three palaces: one for the cold season, one for the hot season, one for the rainy season. During the four months of the rainy season I was entertained in the rainy-season palace by minstrels without a single man among them, and I did not once come down from the palace. Whereas the servants, workers, & retainers in other people's homes are fed meals of lentil soup & broken rice, in my father's home the servants, workers, & retainers were fed wheat, rice, and meat.

"Even though I was endowed with such fortune, such total refinement, the thought occurred to me: 'When an untaught, run-of-the-mill person, himself subject to aging, not beyond aging, sees another who is aged, he is horrified, humiliated, & disgusted, oblivious to himself that he too is subject to aging, not beyond aging. If I — who am subject to aging, not beyond aging — were to be horrified, humiliated, & disgusted on seeing another person who is aged, that would not be fitting for me.' As I noticed this, the [typical] young person's intoxication with youth entirely dropped away.

"Even though I was endowed with such fortune, such total refinement, the thought occurred to me: 'When an untaught, run-of-the-mill person, himself subject to illness, not beyond illness, sees another who is ill, he is horrified, humiliated, & disgusted, oblivious to himself that he too is subject to illness, not beyond illness. And if I — who am subject to illness, not beyond illness — were to be horrified, humiliated, & disgusted on seeing another person who is ill, that would not be fitting for me.' As I noticed this, the healthy person's intoxication with health entirely dropped away.

"Even though I was endowed with such fortune, such total refinement, the thought occurred to me: 'When an untaught, run-of-the-mill person, himself subject to death, not beyond death, sees another who is dead, he is horrified, humiliated, & disgusted, oblivious to himself that he too is subject to death, not beyond death. And if I — who am subject to death, not beyond death — were to be horrified, humiliated, & disgusted on seeing another person who is dead, that would not be fitting for me.' As I noticed this, the living person's intoxication with life entirely dropped away.

* * *

"Monks, there are these three forms of intoxication. Which three? Intoxication with youth, intoxication with health, intoxication with life.

"Drunk with the intoxication of youth, an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person engages in bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, & mental misconduct. Having engaged in bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, & mental misconduct, he — on the break-up of the body, after death — reappears in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell.

"Drunk with the intoxication of health, an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person engages in bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, & mental misconduct. Having engaged in bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, & mental misconduct, he — on the break-up of the body, after death — reappears in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell.

"Drunk with the intoxication of life, an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person engages in bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, & mental misconduct. Having engaged in bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, & mental misconduct, he — on the break-up of the body, after death — reappears in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell.

"Drunk with the intoxication of youth, a monk leaves the training and returns to the lower life. Drunk with the intoxication of health, a monk leaves the training and returns to the lower life. Drunk with the intoxication of life, a monk leaves the training and returns to the lower life."

    'Subject to birth, subject to aging,
    subject to death,
    run-of-the-mill people are repelled by those who suffer
    from that to which they are subject.
    And if I were to be repelled
    by beings subject to these things,
    it would not be fitting for me,
    living as they do.'

    As I maintained this attitude —
    knowing the Dhamma
    without acquisitions —
    I overcame all intoxication
    with health, youth, & life
    as one who sees
    renunciation as rest.

    For me, energy arose,
    Unbinding was clearly seen.
    There's now no way
    I could partake of sensual pleasures.
    Having followed the holy life,
    I will not return.

See also: Sn 4.15
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Re: AN 3.38/3.39: Sukhamala Sutta — Refinement

Postby Sam Vara » Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:34 pm

If I — who am subject to aging, not beyond aging — were to be horrified, humiliated, & disgusted on seeing another person who is aged, that would not be fitting for me.'

I have often wondered about the meaning of this bit. Would it not be more horrifying, humiliating, and disgusting to realise that one is likewise subject to these processes? I can understand why the emotions would not be welcome or pleasant, but I would have thought them "fitting".
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Re: AN 3.38/3.39: Sukhamala Sutta — Refinement

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:41 pm

Hi Sam,

Here is Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation. I think his translation of the whole paragraph is clearer, but he still uses the word "proper", which I admit does have a strange resonance.
“Amid such splendor and a delicate life, it occurred to me: ‘An uninstructed worldling, though himself subject to old age, not exempt from old age, feels repelled, humiliated, and disgusted when he sees another who is old, overlooking his own situation.[393] Now I too am subject to old age and am not exempt from old age. Such being the case, if I were to feel repelled, humiliated, and disgusted when seeing another who is old, that would not be proper for me.’ When I reflected thus, my intoxication with youth was completely abandoned.

[393] Attānaṃyeva atisitvā. Atisitvā is absolutive of atisarati. See DOP sv atisarati.
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Re: AN 3.38/3.39: Sukhamala Sutta — Refinement

Postby Sam Vara » Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:44 pm

Yes, both seem to deal with what is appropriate or socially expected from one in the Bodhisatta's position. Given that witnessing the four signs was supposedly the impetus for his search for the deathless, I would have thought that any feelings upon seeing them would have overshadowed the proprieties.
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Re: AN 3.38/3.39: Sukhamala Sutta — Refinement

Postby daverupa » Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:55 pm

It's as though someone would denigrate another for being old, while themselves being old. It's hypocritical, or at best immoderate, behavior, I think, and for this reason not proper.

The intoxication of youth, in terms of aging, is that inability to recognize oneself as subject to it, and so ones hypocrisy (...there must be a better term than this...) isn't readily available to awareness.
Last edited by daverupa on Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: AN 3.38/3.39: Sukhamala Sutta — Refinement

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:58 pm

Hi Sam,

Perhaps the Pali idiom doesn't translate well:
AN 3.38 wrote:Now I too am subject to old age and am not exempt from old age. Such being the case, if I were to feel repelled, humiliated, and disgusted when seeing another who is old, that would not be proper for me.’

Can we summarise the meaning as follows?
Summary wrote:Since I am subject to old age..., feeling repelled... when seeing someone who is old would be illogical...


PS: Dave's interpretation is probably better... :sage:

:anjali:
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Re: AN 3.38/3.39: Sukhamala Sutta — Refinement

Postby Sam Vara » Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:33 pm

Yes, I agree that the meaning is probably that - it is improper, or illogical, or hypocritical, to feel disgust towards people when you yourself are headed in that direction. But this recognition of impropriety does not seem in itself to be sufficient reason for what follows: the dropping away of the intoxication with youth (etc). One could remain intoxicated while recognising such impropriety. "I shouldn't denigrate people who are old/sick/subject to death, because they are intoxicated with youth/health/life just like I am".
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Re: AN 3.38/3.39: Sukhamala Sutta — Refinement

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Sep 26, 2013 8:57 am

Some more translation differences between Thanissaro Bhikkhu and Bhikkhu Bodhi:

"Monks, I lived in refinement, utmost refinement, total refinement. My father even had lotus ponds made in our palace: ...

“Bhikkhus, I was delicately nurtured, most delicately nurtured, extremely delicately nurtured. At my father’s residence lotus ponds were made just for my enjoyment: ...


'Subject to birth, subject to aging,
subject to death,
run-of-the-mill people are repelled by those who suffer
from that to which they are subject.
And if I were to be repelled
by beings subject to these things,
it would not be fitting for me,
living as they do.'

“Worldlings subject to illness,
old age, and death, are disgusted
[by other people] who exist
in accordance with their nature.
“If I were to become disgusted
with beings who have such a nature,
that would not be proper for me
since I too have the same nature.


As I maintained this attitude —
knowing the Dhamma
without acquisitions —
I overcame all intoxication
with health, youth, & life
as one who sees
renunciation as rest.

“While I was dwelling thus,
having known the state without acquisitions,
I overcame all intoxications—
intoxication with health,
with youth, and with life—
having seen security in renunciation.


For me, energy arose,
Unbinding was clearly seen.
There's now no way
I could partake of sensual pleasures.
Having followed the holy life,
I will not return.

“Zeal then arose in me
as I clearly saw nibbāna.
Now I am incapable
of indulging in sensual pleasures.
Relying on the spiritual life,
never will I turn back.”

    Bhikkhu Bodhi: Mp says that these verses refer to his own energy as it arose while he was sitting beneath the bodhi tree.


:anjali:
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Re: AN 3.38/3.39: Sukhamala Sutta — Refinement

Postby Samma » Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:21 pm

I like this one since it deals with some obstacles to renunciation that people are concerned with along with the eight worldly dhammas of wealth/loss of wealth, status/loss of status, praise/criticism, pleasure/pain.
Not sure intoxication is the best word though... wrapped up in, satisfied, proud...
yobbanamada pride of youth
arogyamada pride of health
jivitmada pride of life

Besides that the more interesting parts of this are also the implied results of being beyond illness, death, and what exactly that means?
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