MN 35: Cula-Saccaka Sutta

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MN 35: Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby mikenz66 » Thu May 10, 2012 6:52 am

MN 35 PTS: M i 237
Cula-Saccaka Sutta: The Shorter Discourse to Saccaka
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


Even though the Buddha did not usually seek debates, he knew how to reply effectively when attacked. In this discourse, he gets Saccaka — who uses a variety of cheap debater's tricks — to trip over those tricks. However, the Buddha goes beyond simply defeating Saccaka in debate. He then takes the opportunity to teach him the Dhamma.

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

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Vesālī, at the Gabled Hall in the Great Forest. And on that occasion Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son was dwelling in Vesālī — a debater, a sophist, [1] well-regarded by people at large. He made this statement before the assembly in Vesālī: "I see no contemplative or brahman, the head of an order, the head of a group, or even one who claims to be an arahant, rightly self-awakened, who — engaged in debate with me — would not shiver, quiver, shake, & break out in sweat under the armpits. Even if I were to engage a senseless stump in debate, it — engaged with me in debate — would shiver, quiver, & shake, to say nothing of a human being."

Then early in the morning Ven. Assaji [2] adjusted his under robe and — carrying his bowl & robes — went into Vesālī for alms. Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son, walking & wandering around Vesālī to exercise his legs, saw Ven. Assaji coming from afar. On seeing him, he went up to him and 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 him, "Master Assaji, how does Gotama the contemplative discipline his disciples? Or what part of his instruction is generally presented to his disciples?"

"Aggivessana, [3] the Blessed One disciplines his disciples in this way; this part of the Blessed One's instruction is generally presented to his disciples: 'Form is inconstant. Feeling is inconstant. Perception is inconstant. Fabrications are inconstant. Consciousness is inconstant. Form is not-self. Feeling is not-self. Perception is not-self. Fabrications are not-self. Consciousness is not-self. All fabrications are inconstant. All phenomena are not-self.' This, Aggivessana, is the way in which the Blessed One disciplines his disciples; this part of the Blessed One's instruction is generally presented to his disciples."

"What a bad thing to hear we have heard, Master Assaji, when we have heard that Gotama the contemplative teaches this sort of thing. Perhaps sooner or later we might go to meet with Gotama the contemplative. Perhaps there might be some discussion. Perhaps we might pry him away from that evil viewpoint."

Now on that occasion, five hundred Licchavis had gathered at a meeting hall on some business or other. So Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son went to those Licchavis and, on arrival, said to them, "Come out, good Licchavis! Come out, good Licchavis! Today will be my discussion with Gotama the contemplative! If he takes the position with me that was taken with me by his famous disciples, the monk named Assaji, then just as a strong man, seizing a long-haired ram by the hair, would drag him to and drag him fro and drag him all around, in the same way I, statement by statement, will drag Gotama the contemplative to and drag him fro and drag him all around. Just as a strong distillery worker, throwing a large distiller's strainer into a deep water tank and grabbing it by the corners, would drag it to and drag it fro and drag it all around, in the same way I, statement by statement, will drag Gotama the contemplative to and drag him fro and drag him all around. Just as a strong distillery ruffian, grabbing a horse-hair strainer by the corners, would shake it down and shake it out and thump it, in the same way I, statement by statement, will shake Gotama the contemplative down and shake him out and thump him. Just as a sixty-year old elephant, plunging into a deep pond, would amuse itself playing the game of hemp-washing, in the same way I will amuse myself playing the game of hemp-washing Gotama the contemplative, as it were. Come on out, good Licchavis! Come on out, good Licchavis! Today will be my discussion with Gotama the contemplative!"

Then some of the Licchavis said, "Who is Gotama the contemplative that he will refute the statement of Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son? It's Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son who will refute the statement of Gotama the contemplative." Some of the Licchavis said, "Who is Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son that he will refute the statement of Gotama the contemplative? It's Gotama the contemplative who will refute the statement of Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son."

So Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son, surrounded by five hundred Licchavis, went to the Gabled Hall in the Great Forest.

Now on that occasion a large number of monks were doing walking meditation in the open air. So Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son went up to the monks and said, "Where, masters, is Master Gotama now? We want to see Master Gotama."

"The Blessed One, Aggivessana, having plunged into the Great Forest, is sitting under a certain tree for the day's abiding."

Then Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son together with a large group of Licchavis plunged into the Great Forest and went to the Blessed One. On arrival, he exchanged courteous greetings with the Blessed One. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. Some of the Licchavis, having bowed down to the Blessed One, sat to one side. Some of the Licchavis exchanged courteous greetings with the Blessed One and, after an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, sat to one side. Some of the Licchavis, having raised their hands palm-to-palm in front of the chest, sat to one side. Some of the Licchavis, after announcing their name and clan, sat to one side. Some of the Licchavis, staying silent, sat to one side.

As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One, "I would like to question Master Gotama on a certain point, if Master Gotama would grant me the favor of an answer to the question."

"Ask, Aggivessana, as you see fit."

"How does Master Gotama discipline his disciples? Or what part of his instruction is generally presented to his disciples?"

"Aggivessana, I discipline my disciples in this way; this part of my instruction is generally presented to my disciples: 'Form is inconstant. Feeling is inconstant. Perception is inconstant. Fabrications are inconstant. Consciousness is inconstant. Form is not-self. Feeling is not-self. Perception is not-self. Fabrications are not-self. Consciousness is not-self. All fabrications are inconstant. All phenomena are not-self.' This, Aggivessana, is the way in which I discipline my disciples; this part of my instruction is generally presented to my disciples."

"A simile occurs to me, Master Gotama."

"Let it occur to you, Aggivessana."

"Just as any seeds that exhibit growth, increase, & proliferation, all do so in dependence on the earth; or just as any activities requiring strength that are done, all are done in dependence on the earth; in the same way, Master Gotama, an individual with form as self, taking a stance on form, produces merit or demerit. An individual with feeling as self... with perception as self... with fabrications as self... with consciousness as self, taking a stance on consciousness, produces merit or demerit."

"Then, Aggivessana, are you saying, 'Form is my self, feeling is my self, perception is my self, fabrications are my self, consciousness is my self'?"

"Yes, Master Gotama, I'm saying that 'Form is my self, feeling is my self, perception is my self, fabrications are my self, consciousness is my self.' As does this great multitude." [4]

"What does this great multitude have to do with you? Please focus just on your own assertion."

"Yes, Master Gotama, I'm saying that 'Form is my self, feeling is my self, perception is my self, fabrications are my self, consciousness is my self.'"

"Very well then, Aggivessana, I will cross-question you on this matter. Answer as you see fit. What do you think? Would a consecrated, noble-warrior king — such as King Pasenadi of Kosala or King Ajātasattu Vedehiputta of Magadha — wield the power in his own domain to execute those who deserve execution, to fine those who deserve to be fined, and to banish those who deserve to be banished?"

"Yes, Master Gotama, he would wield the power in his own domain to execute those who deserve execution, to fine those who deserve to be fined, and to banish those who deserve to be banished. Even these oligarchic groups, such as the Vajjians & Mallans, wield the power in their own domains to execute those who deserve execution, to fine those who deserve to be fined, and to banish those who deserve to be banished, [5] to say nothing of a consecrated, noble-warrior king such as King Pasenadi of Kosala, or King Ajātasattu Vedehiputta of Magadha. He would wield it, and he would deserve to wield it."

"What do you think, Aggivessana? When you say, 'Form is my self,' do you wield power over that form: 'May my form be thus, may my form not be thus'?"

When this was said, Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son was silent.

A second time, the Blessed One said to Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son: "What do you think, Aggivessana? When you say, 'Form is my self,' do you wield power over that form: 'May my form be thus, may my form not be thus'?"

When this was said, Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son was silent a second time.

Then the Blessed One said to him, "Answer now, Aggivessana. This is not the time to be silent. When anyone doesn't answer when asked a legitimate question by the Tathāgata up to three times, his head splits into seven pieces right here."

Now on that occasion the spirit (yakkha) Vajirapāṇin [Thunderbolt-in-Hand], carrying an iron thunderbolt, was poised in the air above Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son, (thinking,) "If Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son doesn't answer when asked a legitimate question by the Blessed One up to three times, I will split his head into seven pieces right here."

The Blessed One saw the spirit Vajirapāṇin, as did Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son. So Saccaka — afraid, terrified, his hair standing on end — seeking shelter in the Blessed One, seeking a cave/asylum in the Blessed One, seeking refuge in the Blessed One — said to the Blessed One, "Let Master Gotama ask me. I will answer."

"What do you think, Aggivessana? When you say, 'Form is my self,' do you wield power over that form: 'May my form be thus, may my form not be thus'?"

"No, Master Gotama."

"Pay attention, Aggivessana, and answer (only) after having paid attention! What you said after isn't consistent with what you said before, nor is what you said before consistent with what you said after.

"What do you think, Aggivessana? When you say, 'Feeling is my self... Perception is my self... Fabrications are my self... Consciousness is my self,' do you wield power over that consciousness: 'May my consciousness be thus, may my consciousness not be thus'?"

"No, Master Gotama."

"Pay attention, Aggivessana, and answer (only) after having paid attention! What you said after isn't consistent with what you said before, nor is what you said before consistent with what you said after.

"What do you think, Aggivessana? Is form constant or inconstant?"

"Inconstant, Master Gotama."

"And is that which is inconstant easeful or stressful?"

"Stressful, Master Gotama."

"And is it fitting to regard what is inconstant, stressful, subject to change as: 'This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am'?"

"No, Master Gotama."

"...Is feeling constant or inconstant?"

"Inconstant, Master Gotama."...

"...Is perception constant or inconstant?"

"Inconstant, Master Gotama."...

"...Are fabrications constant or inconstant?"

"Inconstant, Master Gotama."...

"What do you think, Aggivessana? Is consciousness constant or inconstant?"

"Inconstant, Master Gotama."

"And is that which is inconstant easeful or stressful?"

"Stressful, Master Gotama."

"And is it fitting to regard what is inconstant, stressful, subject to change as: 'This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am'?"

"No, Master Gotama."

"What do you think, Aggivessana? When one adheres to stress, holds to stress, is attached to stress, and envisions of stress that 'This is mine; this is my self; this is what I am,' would he comprehend stress or dwell having totally destroyed stress?"

"How could that be, Master Gotama? No, Master Gotama."

"That being the case, Aggivessana, don't you adhere to stress, hold to stress, aren't you attached to stress, and don't you envision of stress that 'This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am'?"

"How could that not be the case, Master Gotama? Yes, Master Gotama."

"Suppose a man — in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood — were to enter a forest taking a sharp ax. There he would see a large plantain trunk: straight, young, immature. He would cut it at the root and, having cut it at the root, cut off the crown. Having cut off the crown, he would unfurl the leaf sheaths. Unfurling the leaf sheaths, he wouldn't even find sapwood there, to say nothing of heartwood. In the same way, Aggivessana, when you are interrogated, rebuked, & pressed by me with regard to your own statement, you are empty, void, mistaken. But it was you who made this statement before the assembly in Vesālī: 'I see no contemplative or brahman, the head of an order, the head of a group, or even one who claims to be an arahant, rightly self-awakened, who — engaged in debate with me — would not shiver, quiver, shake, & break out in sweat under the armpits. Even if I were to engage a senseless stump in debate, it — engaged with me in debate — would shiver, quiver, & shake, to say nothing of a human being.' But now some drops of sweat coming out of your forehead, drenching your upper robe, are landing on the ground, whereas now I have no sweat on my body." And the Blessed One uncovered his golden-colored body to the assembly. When this was said, Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son fell silent, abashed, sitting with his shoulders drooping, his head down, brooding, at a loss for words.

Then Dummukha [BadMouth] the Licchavi-son — sensing that Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son was silent, abashed, sitting with his shoulders drooping, his head down, brooding, at a loss for words — said to the Blessed One, "Lord, a simile has occurred to me."

"Let it occur to you, Dummukha," the Blessed One said.

"Suppose, lord, that not far from a village or town was a pond. There in it was a crab. Then a number of boys & girls, leaving the village or town, would go to the pond and, on arrival, would go down to bathe in it. Taking the crab out of the water, they would place it on the ground. And whenever the crab extended a leg, the boys or girls would cut it off, break it, and smash it with sticks or stones right there, so that the crab — with all its legs cut off, broken, & smashed — would be unable to get back in the water as before. In the same way, whatever Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son's writhings, capers, & contortions, the Blessed One has cut them off, broken them, and smashed them all, so that Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son is now unable to approach the Blessed One again for the purpose of debate."

When this was said, Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son said to Dummukha the Licchavi-son, "Just you wait, Dummukha. Just you wait, Dummukha. You're a big-mouth, Dummukha. [6] We're not taking counsel with you. We're here taking counsel with Master Gotama." [Then, turning to the Buddha,] "Let that be, Master Gotama, our words & those of other ordinary contemplatives & brahmans — prattled prattling, as it were.

"Now, Master Gotama, to what extent is a disciple of Master Gotama one who carries out his message, carries out his instruction, one who has crossed over & beyond doubt, one with no more questioning, one who has gained fearlessness and dwells independent of others with regard to the Teacher's message?"

"There is the case, Aggivessana, where a disciple of mine sees with right discernment any form whatsoever — past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: every form as it has come to be — as 'This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.'

"He sees with right discernment any feeling... any perception... any fabrications... any consciousness whatsoever — past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: every consciousness as it has come to be — as 'This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.'

"It's to this extent, Aggivessana, that a disciple of mine is one who carries out my message, carries out my instruction, one who has crossed over & beyond doubt, one with no more questioning, one who has gained fearlessness and dwells independent of others with regard to the Teacher's message."

"And to what extent, Master Gotama, is a monk an arahant, one whose mental effluents are ended, who has reached fulfillment, done the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, laid to waste the fetter of becoming, and is released through right gnosis?"

"There is the case, Aggivessana, where a monk — having seen with right discernment any form whatsoever — past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: every form as it has come to be — as 'This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am' is, through lack of clinging/sustenance, released.

"Having seen with right discernment any feeling... any perception... any fabrications... any consciousness whatsoever — past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: every consciousness as it has come to be — as 'This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am,' he is, through lack of clinging/sustenance, released.

"It's to this extent, Aggivessana, that a monk is an arahant, one whose mental effluents are ended, who has reached fulfillment, done the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, laid to waste the fetter of becoming, and is released through right gnosis.

"One thus released is endowed with three unsurpassables: unsurpassable vision, unsurpassable practice, unsurpassable release. And a monk whose mind is thus released still honors, respects, reveres, & worships the Tathāgata (in this way): "Awakened, the Blessed One teaches the Dhamma for awakening. Tamed, the Blessed One teaches the Dhamma for taming. Tranquil, the Blessed One teaches the Dhamma for tranquility. Having crossed over, the Blessed One teaches the Dhamma for crossing over. Totally unbound, the Blessed One teaches the Dhamma for total Unbinding."

When this was said, Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son said to the Blessed One, "It is we, Master Gotama, who were insolent, we who were reckless, in that we construed that Master Gotama could be attacked statement by statement. For there might be safety for a person who has attacked a rutting elephant, but there is no safety for a person who has attacked Master Gotama. There might be safety for a person who has attacked a mass of fire, but there is no safety for a person who has attacked Master Gotama. There might be safety for a person who has attacked a fanged snake, a poisonous snake, but there is no safety for a person who has attacked Master Gotama. It is we, Master Gotama, who were insolent, we who were reckless, in that we construed that Master Gotama could be attacked statement by statement.

"May Master Gotama, together with the community of monks, acquiesce to my offer of tomorrow's meal."

The Blessed One acquiesced with silence.

Then Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son, sensing the Blessed One's acquiescence, addressed the Licchavis, "Listen, Master Licchavis. Gotama the contemplative is invited for tomorrow together with the community of monks. Offer to me what you construe to be proper for him."

Then, after the night had passed, the Licchavis offered to Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son a food offering of approximately five hundred oblation-dishes. Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son, after having exquisite staple & non-staple food prepared in his own monastery, announced the time to the Blessed One: "It's time, Master Gotama. The meal is ready."

So the Blessed One early in the morning adjusted his under robe and — carrying his bowl & robes — went together with the community of monks to Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son's monastery. On arrival, he sat down on a seat laid out. Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son, with his own hand, served & satisfied the community of monks headed by the Blessed One with exquisite staple & non-staple food. Then, when the Blessed One had eaten and had removed his hand from his bowl, Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son, taking a lower seat, sat down to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One, "Master Gotama, may the merit and accoutrements of the merit of this gift be exclusively for the happiness of the donors."

"Aggivessana, whatever has come from (giving to) a recipient such as you — not without passion, not without aversion, not without delusion — that will be for the donors. Whatever has come from (giving to) a recipient such as me — without passion, without aversion, without delusion — that will be for you."


Notes

1. In Pali, paṇḍita-vādo, "one who teaches the teaching of the wise." Like the sophists ("wisdom-ists") of Greece who were near contemporaries of the Buddha, Saccaka claimed to be wise, but his wisdom was largely a matter of debater's tricks. Thus it seems appropriate to adopt the Greek label for him.

2. One of the five brethren to whom the Buddha delivered his first sermon (SN 56.11 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.035.than.html). Ven. Assaji was also the person who taught Sāriputta the wanderer the brief gist of the Buddha's teaching that immediately inspired Sāriputta to attain the Dhamma eye. See Mv 1.23.1-10.

3. Aggivessana is Saccaka's clan name.


4. Saccaka is here attempting to appeal to the prejudices of his audience, a cheap debater's trick.

5. Again, Saccaka is trying to appeal to the vanity of his audience. He doesn't realize, however, that he is setting himself up for a trap. By tying his audience's vanity to the Buddha's analogy, he cannot later deny that the analogy is valid.

6. Following the Thai edition here, which reads, "Āgamehi tvaṃ Dummukha. Āgamehi tvaṃ Dummukha. Mukharo'si tvaṃ Dummukha." The Burmese edition here reads, "Just you wait, Dummukha. Just you wait, Dummukha." The Sri Lankan edition reads, "Just you wait, Dummukha. You're a big-mouth, Dummukha."

For more on the Buddha's approach to argument and debate, see Skill in Questions, chapters one and five.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... -questions
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Re: MN 35: Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby mikenz66 » Thu May 10, 2012 6:54 am

See Verse 6 of the Buddha-jaya-maṅgala Gāthā
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=11333&start=20#p171687

:anjali:
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Re: MN 35: Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby mikenz66 » Fri May 11, 2012 9:31 am

Now on that occasion Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha’s son was staying at Vesālī, a debater and a clever speaker regarded by many as a saint.
    BB: According to MA, Saccaka was the son of Niga˚ṭha (Jain) parents who were both skilled in philosophical debate. He had learned a thousand doctrines from his parents and many more philosophical systems from others. In the discussion below he is referred to by his clan name, Aggivessana.

He was making this statement before the Vesālī assembly: “I see no recluse or brahmin, the head of an order, the head of a group, the teacher of a group, even one claiming to be accomplished and fully enlightened, who would not shake, shiver, and tremble, and sweat under the armpits if he were to engage in debate with me. Even if I were to engage a senseless post in debate, it would shake, shiver, and tremble if it were to engage in debate with me, so what shall I say of a human being?”
    This image of engaging a senseless post is interesting...

Then, when it was morning, the venerable Assaji dressed, and taking his bowl and outer robe, went into Vesālī for alms.
    BB: Ven. Assaji was one of the first five disciples of the Buddha.

“This is how the Blessed One disciplines his disciples, Aggivessana, and this is how the Blessed One’s instruction is usually presented to his disciples: ‘Bhikkhus, material form is impermanent, feeling is impermanent, perception is impermanent, formations are impermanent, consciousness is impermanent. Bhikkhus, material form is not self, feeling is not self, perception is not self, formations are not self, consciousness is not self. All formations are impermanent; all things are not self.
    BB: This summary of the doctrine omits the second of the three characteristics, dukkha or suffering. MA explains that Assaji omitted this in order to avoid giving Saccaka the opportunity to attempt a refutation of the Buddha’s doctrine.
I must admit, I don't quite understand this comment...

:namaste:
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Re: MN 35: Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby Sam Vara » Fri May 11, 2012 7:32 pm

“This is how the Blessed One disciplines his disciples, Aggivessana, and this is how the Blessed One’s instruction is usually presented to his disciples: ‘Bhikkhus, material form is impermanent, feeling is impermanent, perception is impermanent, formations are impermanent, consciousness is impermanent. Bhikkhus, material form is not self, feeling is not self, perception is not self, formations are not self, consciousness is not self. All formations are impermanent; all things are not self.
BB: This summary of the doctrine omits the second of the three characteristics, dukkha or suffering. MA explains that Assaji omitted this in order to avoid giving Saccaka the opportunity to attempt a refutation of the Buddha’s doctrine.
I must admit, I don't quite understand this comment...


Hi Mike,

I took it to mean that Assaji was presenting Aggivessana with two propositions which he believed that he (Aggivessana) would agree with, so as not to start an argument. His assumption was that Aggivessana would be OK with the aggregates being impermanent and not self, but that unsatisfactoriness would be contentious.

In fact, Aggivessana takes issue with the non-self bit when he gets to meet the Buddha. And it is interesting that the Buddha presents the same propositions to Aggivessana as his disciple did earlier.
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Re: MN 35: Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby mikenz66 » Fri May 11, 2012 7:42 pm

Sam Vega wrote:In fact, Aggivessana takes issue with the non-self bit when he gets to meet the Buddha. And it is interesting that the Buddha presents the same propositions to Aggivessana as his disciple did earlier.

Yes, that's why it seemed confusing. Perhaps Ven. Assaji was trying to be less contentious, but didn't realise that even by deleting dukkha wasn't enough to prevent an argument...

:anjali:
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Re: MN 35: Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby Sam Vara » Fri May 11, 2012 7:47 pm

Yes, that's why it seemed confusing. Perhaps Ven. Assaji was trying to be less contentious, but didn't realise that even by deleting dukkha wasn't enough to prevent an argument...


Yes. It could be that the Sutta has a subtext along the lines of "There's no pleasing some people", or is making a point about representing the Dhamma in its completeness.
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Re: MN 35: Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby mikenz66 » Fri May 11, 2012 8:43 pm

5. Now at that time five hundred Licchavis had met together in an assembly hall for some business or other. Then Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha’s son went to them and said: “Come forth, good Licchavis, come forth! Today there will be some conversation between me and the recluse Gotama. If the recluse Gotama maintains before me what was maintained before me by one of his famous disciples, the bhikkhu named Assaji, then just as a strong man might seize a long-haired ram by the hair and drag him to and drag him fro and drag him round about, so in debate I will drag the recluse Gotama to and drag him fro and drag him round about. Just as a strong brewer’s workman might throw a big brewer’s sieve into a deep water tank, and taking it by the corners, drag it to and drag it fro and drag it round about, so in debate I will drag the recluse Gotama to and drag him fro and drag him round about. Just as a strong brewer’s mixer [229] might take a strainer by the corners and shake it down and shake it up and thump it about, so in debate I will shake the recluse Gotama down and shake him up and thump him about. And just as a sixty-year-old elephant might plunge into a deep pond and enjoy playing the game of hemp-washing, so I shall enjoy playing the game of hemp-washing with the recluse Gotama. [*] Come forth, good Licchavis, come forth! Today there will be some conversation between me and the recluse Gotama.”

    * BB: MA explains that men play this game when preparing hemp cloth. They bind up handfuls of rough hemp, immerse them in the water, and beat them on planks to the left, right, and middle. A royal elephant saw this game, and plunging into the water, he took up water in his trunk and sprayed it on his belly, his body, both sides, and his groin.


“I assert thus, Master Gotama: ‘Material form is my self, feeling is my self, perception is my self, formations are my self, consciousness is my self.’ And so does this great multitude.”

    BB: In asserting the five aggregates to be self he is, of course, directly contradicting the Buddha’s teaching of anattā. He ascribes this view to the “great multitude” with the thought that “the majority cannot be wrong.”

“What has this great multitude to do with you, Aggivessana? Please confine yourself to your own assertion alone.”

    With rejoinders like this, the Buddha would do well in Question Time in a Westminster-style parliament...
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Re: MN 35: Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby mikenz66 » Sat May 12, 2012 9:56 am

“Master Gotama, a head-anointed noble king—for example, King Pasenadi of Kosala or King Ajātasattu Vedehiputta of Magadha—would exercise the power in his own realm to execute those who should be executed, to fine those who should be fined, and to banish those who should be banished. For even these [oligarchic] communities and societies such as the Vajjians and the Mallians exercise the power in their own realm to execute those who should be executed, to fine those who should be fined, and to banish those who should be banished; so all the more so should a head-anointed noble king such as King Pasenadi of Kosala or King Ajātasattu Vedehiputta of Magadha. He would exercise it, Master Gotama, and he would be worthy to exercise it.”

13. “What do you think, Aggivessana? When you say thus: ‘Material form is my self,’ do you exercise any such power over that material form as to say: ‘Let my form be thus; let my form not be thus’?” When this was said, Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha’s son was silent.

    BB: The Buddha is here suggesting that the aggregates are not self because they lack one of the essential characteristics of selfhood—being susceptible to the exercise of mastery. What cannot come under my mastery or perfect control cannot be identified as “my self.”


Now on that occasion a thunderbolt-wielding spirit holding an iron thunderbolt that burned, blazed, and glowed, appeared in the air above Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha’s son, thinking: “If this Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha’s son, when asked a reasonable question up to the third time by the Blessed One, still does not answer, I shall split his head into seven pieces here and now.”375 The Blessed One saw the thunderbolt-wielding spirit and so did Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha’s son. Then Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha’s son was frightened, alarmed, and terrified. Seeking his shelter, asylum, and refuge in the Blessed One himself, he said: “Ask me, Master Gotama, I will answer.”

    BB: MA identifies this spirit (yakkha) as Sakka, ruler of the gods.
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Re: MN 35: Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby Sam Vara » Sat May 12, 2012 7:16 pm

13. “What do you think, Aggivessana? When you say thus: ‘Material form is my self,’ do you exercise any such power over that material form as to say: ‘Let my form be thus; let my form not be thus’?” When this was said, Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha’s son was silent.

BB: The Buddha is here suggesting that the aggregates are not self because they lack one of the essential characteristics of selfhood—being susceptible to the exercise of mastery. What cannot come under my mastery or perfect control cannot be identified as “my self.”


This idea - that the aggregates are not self because they are not under our complete control - occurs in several suttas. The analogy with kingship is not altogether convincing, however. The power exercised over his realm by a king is not all that different from that exercised over one's body. A king has the ability to make some interventions (executions and other forms of exemplary justice) which serve to keep the realm together for a few years. He could not (even today) control every last detail of what his subjects think or do. In the same way, we can move our bodies and control their postures, have some limited control over their shape, and keep them together for a few years. The difference is not so great that a comparison would immediately prompt one to conclude that the body is so less obviously under one's control that it cannot be one's self.
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Re: MN 35: Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby mikenz66 » Sat May 12, 2012 8:49 pm

That's a good point, but I think similes are supposed to be inspiring, rather than exact. One could argue with similes such as form being like a lump of foam as well...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Besides, perhaps Kings appeared a bit more powerful back in those days...

:anjali:
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Re: MN 35: Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby mikenz66 » Sat May 12, 2012 9:19 pm

The argument in this sutta is the same as given in many other suttas, such as
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .mend.html
However, in this sutta the discussion with Saccaka is a little more lively than the discourse to the five monks.

In both cases Buddha begins with not-self linked to non-control, as discussed above:
    “What do you think, Aggivessana? When you say thus: ‘Material form is my self,’ do you exercise any such power over that material form as to say: ‘Let my form be thus; let my form not be thus’?”

He then proceeds to a different argument, linking impermanence, suffering, and not-self:
    “Pay attention, Aggivessana, pay attention how you reply! What you said afterwards does not agree with what you said before, nor does what you said before agree with what you said afterwards. What do you think, Aggivessana, is material form permanent or impermanent?”
    —“Impermanent, Master Gotama.”—
    “Is what is impermanent suffering or happiness?”
    —“Suffering, Master Gotama.”—
    “Is what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change fit to be regarded thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self’?”
    —“No, Master Gotama.”

Bhikkhu Bodhi notes that the following text:
    “What do you think, Aggivessana? That being so, do you not adhere to suffering, resort to suffering, hold to suffering, and regard what is suffering thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self’?”

    “How could I not, Master Gotama? Yes, Master Gotama.”
is absent from the PTS edition. He comments:
    The five aggregates are here called suffering because they are impermanent and not susceptible to the exercise of mastery.

So, although at the start Ven. Assaji, and later the Buddha, avoided mentioning dukkha, now the dukkha of the aggregates is pounded home...

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Re: MN 35: Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby mikenz66 » Sun May 13, 2012 9:22 am

    “Let be, Master Gotama, that talk of ours and of other ordinary recluses and brahmins. It was mere prattle, I think. But in what way is a disciple of the Master Gotama one who carries out his instruction, who responds to his advice, who has crossed beyond doubt, become free from perplexity, gained intrepidity, and become independent of others in the Teacher’s Dispensation?”

    “Here, Aggivessana, any kind of material form whatever, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near—a disciple of mine sees all material form as it actually is with proper wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ [235] Any kind of feeling whatever…Any kind of perception whatever…Any kind of formations whatever…Any kind of consciousness whatever, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near—a disciple of mine sees all consciousness as it actually is with proper wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ It is in this way that a disciple of mine is one who carries out my instruction, who responds to my advice, who has crossed beyond doubt, become free from perplexity, gained intrepidity, and become independent of others in the Teacher’s Dispensation.”
BB: These are the characteristics of a sekha. The arahant, in contrast, not only possesses the right view of non-self, but has used it to eradicate all clinging, as the Buddha now explains:

    25. “Master Gotama, in what way is a bhikkhu an arahant with taints destroyed, one who has lived the holy life, done what had to be done, laid down the burden, reached his own goal, destroyed the fetters of being, and is completely liberated through final knowledge?”

    “Here, Aggivessana, any kind of material form whatever, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near—a bhikkhu has seen all material form as it actually is with proper wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self,’ and through not clinging he is liberated. Any kind of feeling whatever…Any kind of perception whatever…Any kind of formations whatever …Any kind of consciousness whatever, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near—a bhikkhu has seen all consciousness as it actually is with proper wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self,’ and through not clinging he is liberated. It is in this way that a bhikkhu is an arahant with taints destroyed, one who has lived the holy life, done what had to be done, laid down the burden, reached his own goal, destroyed the fetters of being, and is completely liberated through final knowledge.
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Re: MN 35: Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby mikenz66 » Mon May 14, 2012 9:52 am

“When a bhikkhu’s mind is thus liberated, he possesses three unsurpassable qualities: unsurpassable vision, unsurpassable practice, and unsurpassable deliverance.
    BB: MA gives several alternative explanations of these three terms. They are mundane and supramundane wisdom, practice, and deliverance. Or they are entirely supramundane: the first is the right view of the path of arahantship, the second the remaining seven path factors, the third the supreme fruit (of arahantship). Or the first is the vision of Nibb̄na, the second the path factors, the third the supreme fruit.
When a bhikkhu is thus liberated, he still honours, respects, reveres, and venerates the Tathāgata thus: ‘The Blessed One is enlightened and he teaches the Dhamma for the sake of enlightenment. The Blessed One is tamed and he teaches the Dhamma for taming oneself. The Blessed One is at peace and he teaches the Dhamma for the sake of peace. The Blessed One has crossed over and he teaches the Dhamma for crossing over. The Blessed One has attained Nibbāna and he teaches the Dhamma for attaining Nibbāna.’”

Then, it being morning, the Blessed One dressed, and taking his bowl and outer robe, he went with the Sangha of bhikkhus to the park of Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha’s son and sat down on the seat made ready. Then, with his own hands, Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha’s son served and satisfied the Sangha of bhikkhus headed by the Buddha with the various kinds of good food. When the Blessed One had eaten and had put his bowl aside, Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha’s son took a low seat, sat down at one side, and said to the Blessed One: “Master Gotama, may the merit and the great meritorious fruits of this act of giving be for the happiness of the givers.”

“Aggivessana, whatever comes about from giving to a recipient such as yourself—one who is not free from lust, not free from hate, not free from delusion—[237] that will be for the givers. And whatever comes about from giving to a recipient such as myself—one who is free from lust, free from hate, free from delusion—that will be for you.”

    BB: Though Saccaka admitted defeat in debate, he must have still considered himself a saint, and thus did not feel impelled to go for refuge to the Triple Gem. Also, because he continued to regard himself as a saint, he must have felt that it was not proper for him to dedicate the merit of the alms offering to himself, and thus he wished to dedicate the merit to the Licchavis. But the Buddha replies that the Licchavis will gain the merit of providing Saccaka with food to offer to the Buddha, while Saccaka himself will gain the merit of offering the food to the Buddha. The merit of giving alms differs in quality according to the purity of the recipient, as explained at MN 142.6.

    http://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/T ... suttam.htm
      There are these fourteen offerings to an individual.
      What fourteen?
      A gift one gives to a Realised One, a Worthy One, a Perfect Sambuddha,
      this is the first offering to an individual.
      ...

Saccaka returns in MN 36 Maha-Saccaka Sutta: The Longer Discourse to Saccaka
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
That sutta contains quite a lot about the Buddha's search for awakening.

Bhikkhu Bodhi notes this from the Commentary:
    MA: Saccaka approached with the intention of refuting the Buddha’s doctrine, which he failed to do in his earlier encounter with the Buddha (in MN 35). But this time he came alone, thinking that if he were to suffer defeat no one would know about it. He intended to refute the Buddha with his question about sleeping during the day, which he does not ask until close to the end of the sutta.
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