SN 56.20: Tatha Sutta — Real

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SN 56.20: Tatha Sutta — Real

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:22 pm

SN 56.20 PTS: S v 430 CDB ii 1851
Tatha Sutta: Real
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


Four things whose fundamental reality makes them worthy of deep contemplation.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


"Monks, these four things are real, not unreal, not otherwise. Which four?

"'This is stress,' is real, not unreal, not otherwise. 'This is the origination of stress,' is real, not unreal, not otherwise. 'This is the cessation of stress,' is real, not unreal, not otherwise. 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress,' is real, not unreal, not otherwise.

"These are the four things that are real, not unreal, not otherwise.

"Therefore your duty is the contemplation, 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'"
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Re: SN 56.20: Tatha Sutta — Real

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:30 pm

20 (10) Actual
Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi


“Bhikkhus, these four things are actual, unerring, not otherwise. [385] What four?

“‘This is suffering’: this, bhikkhus, is actual, unerring, not otherwise. ‘This is the origin of suffering’: this is actual, unerring, not otherwise. ‘This is the cessation of suffering’: this is actual, unerring, not otherwise. ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering’: this is actual, unerring, not otherwise.

“These four things, bhikkhus, are actual, unerring, not otherwise.

“Therefore, bhikkhu, an exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is suffering.’… An exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’”

Note
    [385] Tathāni avitathāni anaññathāni. See 12:20 and II, n. 54.
    Spk: “Actual in the sense of not departing from the real nature of things; for suffering is stated to be just suffering. Unerring, because of the nonfalsification of its real nature; for suffering does not become nonsuffering. Not otherwise, because of not arriving at a different nature; for suffering does not arrive at the nature of the origin (of suffering), etc. The same method for the other truths.” I understand anaññatha in the simpler and more straightforward sense that the truths are “not otherwise” than the way things really are.
Bhikkhu Bodhi's note on SN 12.20:
“Thus, bhikkhus, the actuality in this, the inerrancy, the nototherwiseness, specific conditionality: this is called dependent origination.[54]
Note
    [54] At 56:20, 27 the Four Noble Truths are said to be tatha, avitatha , anaññatha—the adjectives corresponding to the first three abstract nouns here. Spk gives a very specific interpretation (translated just below), though we might suspect the original sense was simply that the teaching of dependent origination is true, not false, and not other than real.

    Spk: Actuality (tathatā) is said to indicate the occurrence of each particular phenomenon when its assemblage of appropriate conditions is present. Inerrancy (avitathatā) means that once its conditions have reached completeness there is no nonoccurrence, even for a moment, of the phenomenon due to be produced from those conditions. Nototherwiseness (anaññathatā) means that there is no production of one phenomenon by another’s conditions. The phrase specific conditionality is used to refer to the (individual) conditions for aging-and-death, etc., or to the conditions taken as a group (paccayasamūhato).
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Re: SN 56.20: Tatha Sutta — Real

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Aug 23, 2013 6:01 pm

Thanks for posting, these, Mike.

Three meta-statements about the Four Noble Truths, apparently intended as a spur to exertion and right effort. The Four Noble Truths say something about how the universe is, and this sutta says something about the Truths themselves. All very natural and necessary. If searchers are told of the importance of the Four Noble Truths, and how critical this understanding is for Right View, then some of those who don't "get it" straight away will apply their minds to the issue of what those Truths actually claim to be.

The differences in translation are interesting. Thanissaro's "real, not unreal, not otherwise" is less potentially misleading, but lacks subtlety compared to BB's version. It is a bit clunky to say that the Four Noble Truths are worthy of contemplation because they are real, or "what they are". I might be taking an excessively pragmatist line here, but as statements about reality they are no more "real" than incorrect statements, or statements from other doctrines which lead to fruitless practice. Their "reality" in this sense is of less importance than whether they are an accurate depiction of the way things are.

BB's "actual, unerring, not otherwise" is very fine indeed. He is rightly suspicious of the Spk commentary
for suffering does not become nonsuffering.

is odd, because both my own personal experience and the idea of dependent origination say that it does. The only alternative sense of this is that suffering remains - like some eternal Platonic form - but that I cease to experience or partake of it. Which seems nonsensical. Likewise
suffering does not arrive at the nature of the origin (of suffering)

which seems to be contradicted by the Upanisa Sutta and others which say that suffering initiates the search for the escape from suffering. BB's
I understand anaññatha in the simpler and more straightforward sense that the truths are “not otherwise” than the way things really are.

seems just right. This is about the fact that the Four Noble Truths are facts, that they describe reality well enough to make their comprehension fruitful. They are inerrant. I think Ajahn Thanissaro means the same, but expresses it with less sophistication.
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Re: SN 56.20: Tatha Sutta — Real

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Aug 23, 2013 6:18 pm

With regard to BB's reference to SN 12.20, however, I find this bit of the Sutta puzzling:

“Thus, bhikkhus, the actuality in this, the inerrancy, the nototherwiseness, specific conditionality: this is called dependent origination.[54]


If this were about the inerrancy of a statement or view, it would not be expressed like this. Inerrancy is about the relation between a thing and what purports to describe it, and is not the thing itself. The inerrancy is not called dependent origination, but is a quality of the account of reality which we call DO.
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Re: SN 56.20: Tatha Sutta — Real

Postby daverupa » Fri Aug 23, 2013 6:36 pm

Sam Vara wrote:With regard to BB's reference to SN 12.20, however, I find this bit of the Sutta puzzling:

“Thus, bhikkhus, the actuality in this, the inerrancy, the nototherwiseness, specific conditionality: this is called dependent origination.[54]


If this were about the inerrancy of a statement or view, it would not be expressed like this. Inerrancy is about the relation between a thing and what purports to describe it, and is not the thing itself. The inerrancy is not called dependent origination, but is a quality of the account of reality which we call DO.


The context there is how, whether or not a tathagata awakens to specific conditionality, it is the case that specific conditionality obtains. I see "inerrancy" as referring to this.
    "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 56.20: Tatha Sutta — Real

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:20 pm

daverupa wrote:
The context there is how, whether or not a tathagata awakens to specific conditionality, it is the case that specific conditionality obtains. I see "inerrancy" as referring to this.


Agreed, but it still seems a very odd way to express this.
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