SN 12.17 Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic

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SN 12.17 Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Feb 07, 2012 5:26 am

SN 12.17 PTS: S ii 18 CDB i 545
Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


A perplexed ascetic asks the Buddha: "Is dukkha created by the self? By other? By both? By neither?" The Buddha's answers at first baffle, then inspire, Kassapa, who eventually gains Awakening.

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

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Rajagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels' Sanctuary. Then early in the morning the Blessed One, having put on his robes and carrying his bowl and outer robe, went into Rajagaha for alms. Kassapa-the-clothless[1] ascetic saw him coming from afar. On seeing him, he went to him and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he stood to one side. As he was standing there, he said to the Blessed One, "We would like to question Master Gotama about a certain point, if he would take the time to answer our question."

"This is not the time for a question, Kassapa. We have entered among houses."

A second time... A third time Kassapa the clothless ascetic said to him, "We would like to question Master Gotama about a certain point, if he would take the time to answer our question."

"This is not the time for a question, Kassapa. We have entered among houses."

When this was said, Kassapa the clothless ascetic said, "What we want to ask isn't much."

"Then ask as you like."

"Master Gotama, is stress self-made?"

"Don't say that, Kassapa."

"Then is it other-made?"

"Don't say that, Kassapa."

"Then is it both self-made and other-made?"

"Don't say that, Kassapa."

"Then is it the case that stress, being neither self-made nor other-made, arises spontaneously?"

"Don't say that, Kassapa."

"Then does stress not exist?"

"It's not the case, Kassapa, that stress does not exist. Stress does exist."

"Well, in that case, does Master Gotama not know or see stress?"

"Kassapa, it's not the case that I don't know or see stress. I know stress. I see stress."

"Now, when asked, 'Is stress self-made?' you say, 'Don't say that, Kassapa.' When asked, 'Then is it other-made?' you say, 'Don't say that, Kassapa.' When asked, 'Then is it both self-made and other-made?' you say, 'Don't say that, Kassapa.' When asked, 'Then is it the case that stress, being neither self-made nor other-made, arises spontaneously?' you say, 'Don't say that, Kassapa.' When asked, 'Then does stress not exist?' you say, 'It's not the case, Kassapa, that stress does not exist. Stress does exist.' When asked, 'Well, in that case, does Master Gotama not know or see stress?' you say, 'Kassapa, it's not the case that I don't know or see stress. I know stress. I see stress.' Then explain stress to me, lord Blessed One. Teach me about stress, lord Blessed One!"

"'The one who acts is the one who experiences [the result of the act]' amounts to the eternalist statement, 'Existing from the very beginning, stress is self-made.' 'The one who acts is someone other than the one who experiences'[2] amounts to the annihilationist statement, 'For one existing harassed by feeling, stress is other-made.' Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle:

    From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications.
    From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness.
    From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form.
    From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media.
    From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact.
    From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling.
    From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving.
    From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance.
    From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming.
    From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth.
    From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

"Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/ sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering."

When this was said, Kassapa the clothless ascetic said, "Magnificent, lord! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to show the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has the Blessed One — through many lines of reasoning — made the Dhamma clear. I go to the Blessed One for refuge, to the Dhamma, and to the community of monks. Let me obtain the going forth in the Blessed One's presence, let me obtain admission."

"Anyone, Kassapa, who has previously belonged to another sect and who desires the going forth & admission in this doctrine & discipline, must first undergo probation for four months. If, at the end of four months, the monks feel so moved, they give him the going forth & admit him to the monk's state. But I know distinctions among individuals in this matter."

"Lord, if that is so, I am willing to undergo probation for four years. If, at the end of four years, the monks feel so moved, let them give me the going forth & admit me to the monk's state."

Then Kassapa the clothless ascetic obtained the going forth in the Blessed One's presence, he obtained admission. And not long after his admission — dwelling alone, secluded, heedful, ardent, & resolute — he in no long time reached & remained in the supreme goal of the holy life, for which clansmen rightly go forth from home into homelessness, knowing & realizing it for himself in the here & now. He knew: "Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world." And thus Ven. Kassapa became another one of the arahants."

Notes

1. Acela: "One without cloth." Often translated as "naked," but as MN 45 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html shows, such a person might wear garments made of something other than cloth.

2. This statement is annihilationist in implying that personal identity is simply a series of radically different persons, one disappearing to be replaced by another repeatedly throughout time. In other words, the X who did the action whose fruit X is now experiencing is a radically different X from the X who is now experiencing it. That first X has disappeared and has been replaced by a different one. The Buddha avoids this error — and the eternalist error of self-causation — by refusing to get entangled in questions of personal identity.
See:
MN 109 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
SN 12.12 viewtopic.php?f=25&t=11034
SN 12.35 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: SN 12.17 Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Feb 07, 2012 5:30 am

SN 12.17 PTS: S ii 18 CDB i 545
Acela Sutta: Naked Kassapa (excerpt)
translated from the Pali by Maurice O'Connell Walshe


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

[At Veluvana the wanderer Acela-Kassapa (Naked Kassapa) questioned the Buddha:]

"Well now, good Gotama, is suffering caused by oneself?"

"No indeed, Kassapa," said the Blessed One.

"Well then, good Gotama, is one's suffering caused by another?"

"No indeed, Kassapa."

"Well then, good Gotama, is suffering caused by both oneself and another?"

"No indeed, Kassapa."

"Well then, good Gotama, this suffering which is caused neither by oneself nor by another, is it the result of chance?"[1]

"No indeed, Kassapa."

"Well then, good Gotama, is suffering non-existent?"

"No Kassapa: suffering is not non-existent. Suffering exists."

"Then the good Gotama neither knows nor sees suffering."

"No, Kassapa, it is not that I neither know nor see suffering: I know suffering, I see suffering."

"Well now, good Gotama, when I asked you, 'Is suffering caused by oneself?' you answered 'No indeed' [and so on for all the other questions.] Would the Lord, the Blessed One[2] expound suffering to me! Would the Lord, the Blessed One teach me about suffering!"

"'He who performs the act also experiences [the result]' — what you, Kassapa, first called 'suffering caused by oneself' — this amounts to the Eternalist[3] theory. 'One person performs the act, another experiences,' — which to the person affected seems like "suffering caused by another" — this amounts to the Annihilationist[4] theory. Avoiding both extremes, Kassapa, the Tathaagata teaches a doctrine of the middle: Conditioned by ignorance are the (Kamma-) formations... [as SN 12.15 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.015.wlsh.html]... so there comes about the cessation of this entire mass of suffering."

[Kassapa is converted and eventually becomes an Arahant.]

Notes

1. Not caused by any conditions.

2. Kassapa here switches from the familiar bho Gotama to the more respectable form. He is now ready to accept instruction.

3. Sassatavaada (SN 12.15, n. 2 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.015.wlsh.html#fn-2):
Atthitaa: "is-ness." The theory of "Eternalism" (sassatavaada).


4. Ucchedavaada (SN 12.15, n. 3 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.015.wlsh.html#fn-3):
    Natthitaa: "is-not-ness." The theory of "Annihilationism" (ucchedavaada). All forms of materialism come under this heading. See the discussion in Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of DN 1, The All-Embracing Net of Views (BPS 1978), pp. 30-33.
    Translation here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .bodh.html
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Re: SN 12.17 Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 08, 2012 7:09 pm

"This is not the right time for a question, Kassapa. We have entered among the houses."

Spk: Why does the Blessed One refuse three times? In order to inspire reference; for if theorists are answered too quickly they do not show revernece, but they do if they are refused two or three times. Then they wish to listen and develop faith. Also, the Master refused in order to create an opportunity for the ascetic's faculty of knowledge to ripen.
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Re: SN 12.17 Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic

Postby Sam Vara » Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:43 pm

mikenz66 wrote:"This is not the right time for a question, Kassapa. We have entered among the houses."

Spk: Why does the Blessed One refuse three times? In order to inspire reference; for if theorists are answered too quickly they do not show revernece, but they do if they are refused two or three times. Then they wish to listen and develop faith. Also, the Master refused in order to create an opportunity for the ascetic's faculty of knowledge to ripen.


I tend to see it the other way around in these situations when the Buddha initially refuses to comply with a request, and is faced with a persistent questioner. Why does the Blessed One apparently change his mind? It seems as if he sees the urgency and sincerity of the question, and is making the point that rules and customs (in this case, about the propriety of questions during the alms-round) are there to help the majority of us, not to hinder the few.

It is interesting that the view of stress being "other-made", or
'The one who acts is someone other than the one who experiences''
is about the annihilationist view. A modern reader of the two translations would be justified in assuming that Kassapa's question is about whether he has played himself into trouble ("Stress is self-made") or whether he might be the blameless victim of the actions of others, or impersonal circumstances subject to causality but beyond his control.

While reading the Nidana section, I fleetingly saw how this Sutta seems to provide further confirmation of Nanavira's view that the "three-life" model is unsatisfactory, and that Sankhara can only mean "determination" in the sense of necessary condition.

I cannot currently say why, as the mists have now rolled back and obscured things. Come back, my own precious little insight!
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Re: SN 12.17 Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:24 am

Hi Sam,
Sam Vega wrote:It is interesting that the view of stress being "other-made", or
'The one who acts is someone other than the one who experiences''
is about the annihilationist view. A modern reader of the two translations would be justified in assuming that Kassapa's question is about whether he has played himself into trouble ("Stress is self-made") or whether he might be the blameless victim of the actions of others, or impersonal circumstances subject to causality but beyond his control.

That's an interesting observation. I guess that blame/blameless idea isn't big in the Buddha's teachings...

Let's look at Bhikkhu Bodhi's comments:

"Is suffering created
    by oneself ...
    by another ...
    by both oneself and by another ...
    by neither onself nor by another?"


BB: Of the four alternatives, the first and second, as will be shown are respectively implicit formulations of eternalism and annihilationism. The third is a syncretic solution, perhaps a form of partial-eternalism
(ekaccasassatavada; see DN I 17-21)
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .bodh.html
    2. Partial-Eternalism (Ekaccasassatavāda): Views 5–8

    38. "There are, bhikkhus, some recluses and brahmins who are eternalists in regard to some things and non-eternalists in regard to other things, and who on four grounds proclaim the self and the world to be partly eternal and partly non-eternal. And owing to what, with reference to what, do these honorable recluses and brahmins proclaim their views?

    39. "There comes a time, bhikkhus, when after the lapse of a long period this world contracts (disintegrates). While the world is contracting, beings for the most part are reborn in the Ābhassara Brahma-world.[7] There they dwell, mind-made, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the air, abiding in glory. And they continue thus for a long, long period of time.

    40. "But sooner or later, bhikkhus, after the lapse of a long period, there comes a time when this world begins to expand once again. While the world is expanding, an empty palace of Brahmā appears. Then a certain being, due to the exhaustion of his life-span or the exhaustion of his merit, passes away from the Ābhassara plane and re-arises in the empty palace of Brahmā. There he dwells, mind made, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the air, abiding in glory. And he continues thus for a long, long period of time.

    41. "Then, as a result of dwelling there all alone for so long a time, there arises in him dissatisfaction and agitation, (and he yearns): 'Oh, that other beings might come to this place!' Just at that moment, due to the exhaustion of their life-span or the exhaustion of their merit, certain other beings pass away from the Ābhassara plane and re-arise in the palace of Brahmā, in companionship with him. There they dwell, mind-made, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the air, abiding in glory. And they continue thus for a long, long period of time.

    42. "Thereupon the being who re-arose there first thinks to himself: 'I am Brahmā, the Great Brahmā, the Vanquisher, the Unvanquished, the Universal Seer, the Wielder of Power, the Lord, the Maker and Creator, the Supreme Being, the Ordainer, the Almighty, the Father of all that are and are to be. And these beings have been created by me. What is the reason? Because first I made the wish: "Oh, that other beings might come to this place!" And after I made this resolution, now these beings have come.'

    "And the beings who re-arose there after him also think: 'This must be Brahmā, the Great Brahmā, the Vanquisher, the Unvanquished, the Universal Seer, the Wielder of Power, the Lord, the Maker and Creator, the Supreme Being, the Ordainer, the Almighty, the Father of all that are and are to be. And we have been created by him. What is the reason? Because we see that he was here first, and we appeared here after him.'

    43. "Herein, bhikkhus, the being who re-arose there first possesses longer life, greater beauty, and greater authority than the beings who re-arose there after him.

    44. "Now, bhikkhus, this comes to pass, that a certain being, after passing away from that plane, takes rebirth in this world. Having come to this world, he goes forth from home to homelessness. When he has gone forth, by means of ardor, endeavor, application, diligence, and right reflection, he attains to such a degree of mental concentration that with his mind thus concentrated he recollects his immediately preceding life, but none previous to that. He speaks thus: 'We were created by him, by Brahmā, the Great Brahmā, the Vanquisher, the Unvanquished, the Universal Seer, the Wielder of Power, the Lord, the Maker and Creator, the Supreme Being, the Ordainer, the Almighty, the Father of all that are and are to be. He is permanent, stable, eternal, not subject to change, and he will remain the same just like eternity itself. But we, who have been created by him and have come to this world, are impermanent, unstable, short-lived, doomed to perish.'

    "This, bhikkhus, is the first case.

    45. "In the second case, owing to what, with reference to what, are some honorable recluses and brahmins eternalists in regard to some things and non-eternalists in regard to other things, proclaiming the self and the world to be partly eternal and partly non-eternal?

    "There are, bhikkhus, certain gods called 'corrupted by play.'

    These gods spend an excessive time indulging in the delights of laughter and play. As a consequence they become forgetful and, when they become forgetful, they pass away from that plane.

    46. "Now, bhikkhus, this comes to pass, that a certain being, after passing away from that plane, takes rebirth in this world. Having come to this world, he goes forth from home to homelessness. When he has gone forth, by means of ardor, endeavor, application, diligence, and right reflection, he attains to such a degree of mental concentration that with his mind thus concentrated he recollects his immediately preceding life, but none previous to that. He speaks thus: 'Those honorable gods who are not corrupted by play do not spend an excessive time indulging in the delights of laughter and play. As a consequence they do not become forgetful, and because they do not become forgetful they do not pass away from that plane. Those gods are permanent, stable, eternal, not subject to change, and they will remain the same just like eternity itself. But we were gods corrupted by play. We spent an excessive time indulging in the delights of laughter and play, and as a consequence we became forgetful. When we became forgetful we passed away from that plane. Coming to this world, now we are impermanent, unstable, short-lived, doomed to perish.'

    "This bhikkhus, is the second case.

    47. "In the third case, owing to what, with reference to what, are some honorable recluses and brahmins eternalists in regard to some things and non-eternalists in regard to other things, proclaiming the self and the world to be partly eternal and partly non-eternal?

    "There are, bhikkhus, certain gods called 'corrupted by mind.' These gods contemplate one another with excessive envy. As a consequence their minds becomes corrupted by anger towards one another. When their minds are corrupted by anger, their bodies and minds become exhausted and consequently, they pass away from that plane.

    48. "Now, bhikkhus, this comes to pass, that a certain being, after passing away from that plane, takes rebirth in this world. Having come to this world, he goes forth from home to homelessness. When he has gone forth, by means of ardor, endeavor, application, diligence, and right reflection, he attains to such a degree of mental concentration that with his mind thus concentrated he recollects his immediately preceding life, but none previous to that. He speaks thus: 'Those honorable gods who are not corrupted by mind do not contemplate each other with excessive envy. As a result, their minds do not become corrupted by anger towards one another, their bodies and minds do not become exhausted, and they do not pass away from that plane. Those gods are permanent, stable, not subject to change, and they will remain the same just like eternity itself. But we were gods corrupted by mind. We contemplated each other with excessive envy and as a result our minds became corrupted by anger towards one another. When our minds were corrupted by anger, our bodies and minds became exhausted and consequently, we passed away from that plane. Coming to this world, now we are impermanent, unstable, short-lived, doomed to perish.'

    "This, bhikkhus, is the third case.

    49. "In the fourth case, owing to what, with reference to what, are some honorable recluses and brahmins eternalists in regard to some things and non-eternalists in regard to other things, proclaiming the self and the world to be partly eternal and partly non-eternal?

    "Herein, bhikkhus, recluse or a certain brahmin is a rationalist, an investigator. He declares his view — hammered out by reason, deduced from his investigations, following his own flight of thought — thus: 'That which is called "the eye," "the ear," "the nose," "the tongue," and "the body" — that self is impermanent, unstable, non-eternal, subject to change. But that which is called "mind" (citta) or "mentality" (mano) or "consciousness" (viññāṇa) — that self is permanent, stable, eternal, not subject to change, and it will remain the same just like eternity itself.'

    "This, bhikkhus, is the fourth case.

    50. "It is on these four grounds, bhikkhus, that those recluses and brahmins who are partial-eternalists proclaim the self and the world to be partly eternal and partly non-eternal. Whatever recluses and brahmins there may be who proclaim the self and the world to be partly eternal and partly non-eternal, all of them do so on these four grounds or on a certain one of them. Outside of these there is none.

    51. "This, bhikkhus, the Tathāgata understands. And he understands: 'These standpoints, thus assumed and thus misapprehended, lead to such a future destination, to such a state in the world beyond.' He understands as well what transcends this, yet even that understanding he does not misapprehend. And because he is free from misapprehension, he has realized within himself the state of perfect peace. Having understood as they really are the origin and the passing away of feelings, their satisfaction, their unsatisfactoriness, and the escape from them, the Tathāgata, bhikkhus, is emancipated through non-clinging.

    52. "These are those dhammas, bhikkhus, that are deep, difficult to see, difficult to understand, peaceful and sublime, beyond the sphere of reasoning, subtle, comprehensible only to the wise, which the Tathāgata, having realized for himself with direct knowledge, propounds to others; and it is concerning these that those who would rightly praise the Tathāgata in accordance with reality would speak.
The fourth is the doctrine of fortuitous origination
(adhiccasamuppannavada; see DN I 28-29)
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .bodh.html
    5. Doctrines of Fortuitous Origination (Adhiccasamuppannavāda): Views 17–18

    67. "There are, bhikkhus, some recluses and brahmins, who are fortuitous originationists, and who on two grounds proclaim the self and the world to originate fortuitously. And owing to what, with reference to what, do these honorable recluses and brahmins proclaim their views?

    68. "There are, bhikkhus, certain gods called 'non-percipient beings.' When perception arises in them, those gods pass away from that plane. Now, bhikkhus, this comes to pass, that a certain being, after passing away from that plane, takes rebirth in this world. Having come to this world, he goes forth from home to homelessness. When he has gone forth, by means of ardor, endeavor, application, diligence, and right reflection, he attains to such a degree of mental concentration that with his mind thus concentrated he recollects the arising of perception, but nothing previous to that. He speaks thus: 'The self and the world originate fortuitously. What is the reason? Because previously I did not exist, but now I am. Not having been, I sprang into being.'

    "This, bhikkhus, is the first case.

    69. "In the second case, owing to what, with reference to what, are some honorable recluses and brahmins fortuitous originationists, proclaiming the self and the world to originate fortuitously?

    "Herein, bhikkhus, a certain recluse or a brahmin is a rationalist, an investigator. He declares his view — hammered out by reason, deduced from his investigations, following his own flight of thought — thus: 'The self and the world originate fortuitously.'

    "This, bhikkhus, is the second case.

    70. "It is on these two grounds, bhikkhus, that those recluses and brahmins who are fortuitous originationists proclaim the self and the world to originate fortuitously. Whatever recluses or brahmins there may be who proclaim the self and the world to originate fortuitously, all of them do so on these two grounds or on a certain one of them. Outside of these there is none.

    "This, bhikkhus, the Tathāgata understands... and it is concerning these that those who would rightly praise the Tathāgata in accordance with reality would speak.

    71. "It is on these eighteen grounds, bhikkhus, that those recluses and brahmins who are speculators about the past and hold settled views about the past assert various conceptual theorems referring to the past. Whatever recluses or brahmins are speculators about the past, hold settled views about the past, and assert various conceptual theorems referring to the past, all of them do so on these eighteen grounds or on a certain one of them. Outside of these there is none.

    72. "This, bhikkhus, the Tathāgata understands. And he understands: 'These standpoints, thus assumed and thus misapprehended, lead to such a future destination, to such in the world beyond.' He understands as well what transcends this, yet even that understanding he does not misapprehend. And because he is free from misapprehension, he has realized within himself the state of perfect peace. Having understood as they really are the origin and the passing away of feelings, their satisfaction, their unsatisfactoriness, and the escape from them, the Tathāgata, bhikkhus, is emancipated through non-clinging.

    73. "These are those dhammas, bhikkhus, that are deep, difficult to see, difficult to understand, peaceful and sublime, beyond the sphere of reasoning, subtle, comprehensible only to the wise, which the Tathāgata, having realized for himself with direct knowledge, propounds to others; and it is concerning these that those who would rightly praise the Tathāgata in accordance with reality would speak.
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Re: SN 12.17 Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic

Postby Sam Vara » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:08 am

Many thanks for this excellent material - there is a lot in there to provoke thought!

Point taken about
I guess that blame/blameless idea isn't big in the Buddha's teachings...
, but this is only partially what I meant. Kassapa's original questions about suffering being caused by self or another could have the same conception of self/other, yet be free of the notion of blame. They could simply be about the efficacy of practice, in the sense that if Dukkha is self-inflicted then with insight we can stop doing it; whereas if it is inflicted by another (being or process) it might be totally beyond our control and we just have to put up with it.

The Buddha's words which follow make it clear that he is talking about eternalism and annihilationism. I take this to be about the perdurance of a single being, rather than the effects of the actions of other beings on this being. "Inflicted by self" means that the same being is reaping the fruits of its earlier Kamma; "Inflicted by others" means that the Kamma-creating being has now passed from existence and what is experiencing the vipaka is another being.

The extra material on "Partial Eternalism" seems in conflict with this, however. It makes me think that "eternalism" as applied to the individual cannot be partial, but is more like an on/off switch. Nothing seems to be "partially eternal" in the sense of being both eternal and not-eternal at the same time, and indeed I could make no sense of any such claim. It appears that the concept of partial eternalism refers to a perceived or conceived state where some things are eternal, and other things are not.

Three of the specified origins of partial eternalism are the result of comparisons between the individual and other beings (a Deist "God", and more skillful beings). This is "partial" in the sense that some parts of the universe are conceived as eternal, whereas the holder of the view is not. The same applies to the person who works out that aspects of his or her own "self" perdure, whereas other aspects do not.

So if we can modify the concept of eternalism (into partial eternalism) by talking about the existence of simultaneously-existing beings or mind-states other than myself, does the same apply to Kassapa's question? Is stress self-created, or other-created? Am I doing it to myself, or are others doing it to me, or is it a mixture of both? Is this what he actually meant?
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Re: SN 12.17 Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:10 pm

Thanks Sam, These are great comments and questions. I think it's really useful to try to look deeply into those lines and try to tease out what the Buddha is trying to get at. But I really can't think of any useful things to say right now... Maybe later... :thinking:

:anjali:
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Re: SN 12.17 Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Feb 10, 2012 9:49 am

"How is it then, Master Gotama: is there no suffering?"

"It is not that there is no suffering, Kassapa; there is suffering."

"Then is it that Master Gotama does not know and see suffering?"

"It it not that I do not know and see suffering, Kassapa. I know suffering, I see suffering."


What exactly are we to make of this statement?
Presumably "I know suffering" means "I understand suffering", not "I experience suffering"?

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Re: SN 12.17 Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:07 am

Greetings,

Sam Vega wrote:Is stress self-created, or other-created? Am I doing it to myself, or are others doing it to me, or is it a mixture of both? Is this what he actually meant?

Indeed, it's a good question. The reason I doubt though that this is what Kassapa meant, was that if this were what the question was about, the Buddha would have been able to explain that craving is the cause of suffering, or have gone directly into the paticcasamuppada teaching. The reluctance to answer suggests to me that the question was in fact underpinned by thoughts of atman, whether or not it had anything explicitly to do with eternalism/annihilationism or not.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: SN 12.17 Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:39 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Sam Vega wrote:Is stress self-created, or other-created? Am I doing it to myself, or are others doing it to me, or is it a mixture of both? Is this what he actually meant?

Indeed, it's a good question. The reason I doubt though that this is what Kassapa meant, was that if this were what the question was about, the Buddha would have been able to explain that craving is the cause of suffering, or have gone directly into the paticcasamuppada teaching. The reluctance to answer suggests to me that the question was in fact underpinned by thoughts of atman, whether or not it had anything explicitly to do with eternalism/annihilationism or not.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Agreed, the issue is of atman, as the Buddha's response makes clear. And hence the Buddha's relating of the question to eternalism/annihilationism. But that being so, I remain puzzled by the later accounts of "partial eternalism". These are about the comparative perdurance of different conceptions of self, such that a "partial eternalist" is one who believes that although their conventional self is no atman, there are in existence one or more other entities which fit the bill.
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Re: SN 12.17 Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:05 pm

"It it not that I do not know and see suffering, Kassapa. I know suffering, I see suffering."

What exactly are we to make of this statement?
Presumably "I know suffering" means "I understand suffering", not "I experience suffering"?


Interesting point. I took it to mean "understand", but are "knowing" and "seeing" here synonymous? In English the latter term can have more of a sense of direct unconceptualised perception.

Nanavira, for example, rejects the "traditional" (3-life) version of paticcasamuppada on the grounds that it is incompatible with the Buddha's statement that "Who sees the Dhamma sees paticcasamuppada".

"Now it is evident that the twelve items, avijja to jaramarana, cannot, if the traditional interpretation is correct, be seen all at once; for they are spaced over three successive existences..
."

For Nanavira, seeing is something a bit different. But in the case of statements like "Who sees me, sees Dhamma", (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html) I can only interpret them as being the same as "knowing/understanding".
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Re: SN 12.17 Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic

Postby vinasp » Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:46 pm

Hi Mike,

"It it not that I do not know and see suffering, Kassapa. I know suffering, I see suffering."

My interpretation of this is that it can be understood in two ways.

!. The Buddha remembers what suffering is like, from his life before
his awakening.

2. The Buddha knows and sees suffering in other people, almost everyone
that he encounters - including Kassapa.

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Re: SN 12.17 Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Feb 10, 2012 7:52 pm

Hi Sam, That's a good point regarding what "know" or "see" means:
Sam Vega wrote:Nanavira, for example, rejects the "traditional" (3-life) version of paticcasamuppada on the grounds that it is incompatible with the Buddha's statement that "Who sees the Dhamma sees paticcasamuppada".

"Now it is evident that the twelve items, avijja to jaramarana, cannot, if the traditional interpretation is correct, be seen all at once; for they are spaced over three successive existences..."

I must admit, I never found Ven Nanavira's argument particularly convincing, for just the same reasons as we are discussing the Buddha's statement in this Sutta. This is is a similar issue to the "he knows 'birth is destroyed...'" statements.

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Re: SN 12.17 Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:29 pm

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the response.

This is is a similar issue to the "he knows 'birth is destroyed...'" statements.


Sorry, I'm not getting the reference here. Could you explain a bit more?

The "Knowing/seeing" issue gets more interesting the more I think about it. Are there any Pali scholars who could elaborate on the terms used in the Sutta ("Knowing" and "Seeing")? It could of course be used as repetition of synonyms, for emphasis.

"Understanding" is itself an interesting term in Buddhism, and I suspect it has been pressed into use in a variety of situations that do not do full justice to the context. "Suffering should/has been understood" is a good example; we are often asked to consider this as meaning that suffering should be "experienced", or literally "stood under", although this is a construction I have never met elsewhere in English. The apotheosis an inspired piece of linguistic relativism from Ajahn Sumedho:

'There is dukkha', and 'dukkha should be welcomed'. This is my new interpretation. Usually it's 'dukkha should be understood.' 'Dukkha should be welcomed'; how's that? Try that one. You can experiment with these different words. You don't have to say 'Pali scriptures say "understand," they didn't say "welcome"!' Pali scriptures don't say 'understand', they use a Pali word that we translate as 'understand'. Maybe we don't understand what 'understand' means. Did you ever think about that?
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Re: SN 12.17 Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:02 pm

Sam Vega wrote:
This is is a similar issue to the "he knows 'birth is destroyed...'" statements.


Sorry, I'm not getting the reference here. Could you explain a bit more?

In many Suttas it is said
... he personally attains Nibbana. He understands: 'Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being.'"

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

So, does that mean that he knows that he will not be born again in the future (one possible interpretation), or that a "continuous birth process" has ended in the present (another possible interpretation)?

Either interpretation seems plausible to me. Here is some support for the first interpretation from someone who is a lot more knowledgeable in the nuances of Pali than I am:
Ven Nanananda, Nibbana Sermon 05 wrote:Now the realization of the extinction of influxes, on the
other hand, gives a certain assurance about the future. It is by
this extinction of influxes that one wins to the certitude that
there is no more birth after this. Khīṇā jāti, extinct is birth!
Certitude about something comes only with realization. In fact,
the term sacchikiriya implies a seeing with one's own eyes, as
the word for eye, akśi, is implicit in it.

See links at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katukurund ... anda_Thera

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Re: SN 12.17 Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic

Postby daverupa » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:23 pm

mikenz66 wrote:In many Suttas it is said
... he personally attains Nibbana. He understands: 'Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being.'"

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

So, does that mean that he knows that he will not be born again in the future (one possible interpretation), or that a "continuous birth process" has ended in the present (another possible interpretation)?


It means that since one sees that sabbe dhamma anatta, therefore no self is discerned for whom there is birth and death, while for a putthujjana birth (their own) and death (their own) appear to be quite obvious. The problem is that seeing birth and death in this way is to have attavada as an unspoken and even unconscious premise - which is ultimately avijja.

"The fundamental upàdàna or ‘holding’ is attavàda (see Majjhima ii,1 <M.i,67>), which is holding a belief in ‘self’. The puthujjana takes what appears to be his ‘self’ at its face value; and so long as this goes on he continues to be a ‘self’, at least in his own eyes (and in those of others like him). This is bhava or ‘being’. The puthujjana knows that people are born and die; and since he thinks ‘my self exists’ so he also thinks ‘my self was born’ and ‘my self will die’. The puthujjana sees a ‘self’ to whom the words birth and death apply. In contrast to the puthujjana, the arahat has altogether got rid of asmimàna (not to speak of attavàda—see Mama), and does not even think ‘I am’. This is bhavanirodha, cessation of being. And since he does not think ‘I am’ he also does not think ‘I was born’ or ‘I shall die’. In other words, he sees no ‘self’ or even ‘I’ for the words birth and death to apply to. This is jàti-nirodha and jaràmaraõanirodha."

(See, in Kosala Saüy. i,3 <S.i,71>, how the words birth and death are avoided when the arahat is spoken of:

—For one who is born, lord, is there anything other than ageing-&-death?
—For one who is born, great king, there is nothing other than ageing-&-death. Those, great king, who are wealthy warriors… wealthy divines… wealthy householders…, for them, too, being born, there is nothing other than ageing-&-death. Those monks, great king, who are worthy ones, destroyers of the cankers…, for them, too, it is the nature of this body to break up, to be laid down.)


~Nanavira, A Note On Paticcasamuppàda, §10

edit: sabbe {sankhara-->dhamma} anatta :embarassed:
Last edited by daverupa on Sat Feb 11, 2012 1:01 am, 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: SN 12.17 Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:31 pm

Thanks Dave.

That's either a better way of expressing my "plausible option one", or perhaps it is slightly different from what I was imagining it, so it's "plausible option three". Does it seem different from Ven Nanananda's interpretation to you, which I was characterising as "plausible option two"?

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Re: SN 12.17 Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic

Postby daverupa » Sat Feb 11, 2012 1:11 am

mikenz66 wrote:Does it seem different from Ven Nanananda's interpretation to you...?


It seems they differ in phrasing: Nanananda says "...a certain assurance about the future" and "...no more birth after", while Nanavira is at pains to use atemporal/'now' discourse when discussing paticcasamuppada. As to whether they differ in meaning, I expect an easy way to tell would be to discover whether Nanananda adhered to the traditional interpretation with which Nanavira disagreed.
    "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: SN 12.17 Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Feb 11, 2012 1:24 am

Greetings,

Actually, just to wheel back a bit... I think it is a bit presumptuous to assume from this tract of text that when ven. Nanananda says "birth" / "jati"... that he is talking about the so called "literal rebirth" that is of such interest to worldlings.

Now the realization of the extinction of influxes, on the
other hand, gives a certain assurance about the future. It is by
this extinction of influxes that one wins to the certitude that
there is no more birth after this. Khīṇā jāti, extinct is birth!
Certitude about something comes only with realization. In fact,
the term sacchikiriya implies a seeing with one's own eyes, as
the word for eye, akśi, is implicit in it.

Nothing in that says to me that this is what he is necessarily talking about, though it doesn't exclude it either.

To me, here, Nanananda is talking primary about jati as identification/existence-as-a-being (which is why there is confirmed certitude about the declaration), and any secondary meaning pertaining to the absence of "literal rebirth" which is implied by worldlings, is neither here-nor-there to the arahant, because they have no identification with any of the aggregates etc. to which such "literal rebirth" might apply. As Daverupa said above, "The problem is that seeing birth and death in this way is to have attavada as an unspoken and even unconscious premise - which is ultimately avijja."... which is obviously not an issue to the arahant.

Anyway, not to deviate of topic... but I just wanted to put the brakes on that particular train of thought, lest it dilute Sam Vega's interesting line of inquiry.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: SN 12.17 Acela Sutta: To the Clothless Ascetic

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Feb 11, 2012 1:41 am

retrofuturist wrote:Actually, just to wheel back a bit... I think it is a bit presumptuous to assume from this tract of text that when ven. Nanananda says "birth" / "jati"... that he is talking about the so called "literal rebirth" that is of such interest to worldlings.

Actually, I think it's rather clear from the rest of the Nibbana Sermons. He talks about the Arahant marking time until his body dies, and so on.

Nibbana Sermon 18 wrote:The popular interpretation of the term anupādisesā Nib-
bānadhātu leaves room for some absolutist conceptions of an
asaṅkhata dhātu, unprepared element, as the destiny of the ara-
hant. After his parinibbāna, he is supposed to enter this partic-
ular Nibbānadhātu. But here, in this discourse, it is explained
in just one sentence: Tassa idheva, bhikkhave, sabbavedayitāni
anabhinanditāni sītibhavissanti, "in the case of him" (that is the
arahant) ", O! monks, all what is felt, not having been delighted
in, will cool off here itself."

This cooling off happens just before death, without ignit-
ing another spark of life. When Māra comes to grab and seize,
the arahant lets go. The pain of death with which Māra teases
his hapless victim and lures him into another existence, be-
comes ineffective in the case of the arahant. As he has already
gone through the supramundane experience of deathlessness, in
the arahattaphalasamādhi, death loses its sting when at last it
comes. The influx-free deliverance of the mind and the influx-
free deliverance through wisdom enable him to cool down all
feelings in a way that baffles Māra.

So the arahant lets go of his body, experiencing ambrosial
deathlessness. As in the case of Venerable Dabba Mallaputta,
he would sometimes cremate his own body without leaving
any ashes.[636] Outwardly it might appear as an act of self-
immolation, which indeed is painful. But this is not so. Using
his jhānic powers, he simply employs the internal fire element
to cremate the body he has already discarded.

[636] Ud 92, Paṭhamadabbasutta.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


In any case, my point is that he's talking about confidence a about something in the future, not the "all has to be seen in the present moment..." line that Ven Nanavira seems to take.

Which is very much to the point of what some of these lines mean. Does "I know dukkha..." mean "I know about dukkha because I used to suffer", or "I am still experiencing dukkha."?

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