Re MN 117's wrong view, right view with taints, and supramundane right view:
tiltbillings wrote:This snippet got a lot of play in the "great rebirth" debate from the anti-rebirthers, but it has always puzzled me as to what those who quote this text think it is saying. So, what do think this text is saying? In reading this, what should I be getting from it, if you please?
"anti-rebirthers"? Is that defined as "people who don't believe in rebirth"? or "people who believe the Buddha did not teach that belief in rebirth is necessary to his path"?
The first directly supports white/good kamma, whereas the second directly supports the "kamma that ends kamma"... and if the starting point is putthujana, they both lead in the right direction (hence both being right view) even if only the second is "a factor of the (noble) path".
As has been discussed before, that part of the sutta is almost certainly a insertion from later Commentary. It does, however, seem consistent with the rest of the Canon. viewtopic.php?f=25&t=1814#p23845
As I said over here: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=1255
the idea of mundane/supermundane right view there seems to be directly from the Abhidhamma, and is the only Sutta I've read where that sort of exposition is presented. Are there others?
Chickens and eggs. Did the Abhidhamma pick up the terms because they were used in the suttas -- and run with them? Or were the terms invented later, and stuck into the sutta? If the concepts represented by the terms used in MN 117 are found throughout the canon, it doesn't seem to matter whether the terms are Abhidhammic or not -- the Buddha uses the same framework of the three levels of beliefs/actions in suttas, and he uses high (but worldly and self-involved) aspirations as compared to even higher (and not self-involved) aspirations too, just comparing mundane views to his view.
We're probably all familiar with the concept of bad kamma, good kamma, and the end of kamma; that's one example of the three. He describes in MN 78 what is unwholesome behavior, and how to end it, and what wholesome behavior is, and how to end IT -- by practicing the way he teaches. In MN 120's "Reappearance By Aspiration" he contrasts the mundane views of aiming one's practice at a good rebirth with simply focusing on realizing direct knowledge here and now.
If, in various suttas throughout the canon, the Buddha describes how there are bad ways/wrong views that produce bad kamma, and then there are better ways/better views that produce good kamma, and then there is a practice that leads to the end of kamma, then it doesn't matter of the terms for these practices are first introduced by the Buddha himself in MN 117 and later picked up by the Abhidhammists or first introduced by the later folk and inserted into the text -- the point is made in several ways by the Buddha.
To answer Tilt's question as to what we/I think MN 117 says:
I see it as saying that the lower of the two right views is preferable to wrong view by a long shot. I think that when it says "There is what is offered, given, sacrificed" that these terms refer to literal sacrifices, dana given to officiating priests at the sacrifices, and oblations (not "offerings" in the soft sense of alms to bhikkhus). The Pali here and in other suttas supports this. And this is a clue to what he's talking about, which is *not his right view* (since he doesn't encourage oblations into fires, or dana to priests who perform sacrifices, or the efficacy of any of those things).
The right view in the middle of the three views represent a common view or views held in the time, the one he worked with most because the greatest number of the people of his day believed it. That he says, right there, that it is a tainted view tells us that it is not his view, and that it is not something we should be practicing. He does not say that the *people* who practice this view are tainted, he says *the view* is tainted.
He says, right there in the sutta, why it is tainted: it sides with merit (merit being something one concerns oneself with when aiming for good rebirth), and results in acquisitions (which are the pieces we put together to make our imagined lasting self). These are *not good things*. He then points -- repeatedly in the sutta -- to the difference between the two "right views" being the *attitude* of the person to the things they are doing (given the "sides with merit" and "results in acquisitions" the attitudinal difference is, again, about doing things for the sake of merit/good rebirth that results in further clinging to self/acquisitions) and whether or not they are *fully* on the path -- since the tainted right view is not listed as a factor of the path, but the Buddha's right view is, to be fully on the path one has to give up those tainted right views.
So what I find it to say is: rebirth views are way better than the views of those who deny rebirth views (the Buddha does not *deny* rebirth views, he remains agnostic), but we still need to let go of them to get all the way on to the Buddha's path.