MN 74: Dighanaka Sutta — To LongNails

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MN 74: Dighanaka Sutta — To LongNails

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:09 am

MN 74 PTS: M i 497 Dighanaka Sutta: To LongNails
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


A discussion of how to abandon doctrinaire views of radical acceptance, radical rejection, and any combination of the two.

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

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Rajagaha on Vulture's Peak Mountain, in the Boar's Cave. Then LongNails the wanderer[1] went to the Blessed One 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, "Master Gotama, I am of the view, of the opinion, that 'All is not pleasing to me.'"

"But even this view of yours, Aggivessana — 'All is not pleasing to me' — is even that not pleasing to you?'"

"Even if this view of mine were pleasing to me, Master Gotama, it would still be the same, it would still be the same."

"Well, Aggivessana, there are more than many in the world who say, 'It would still be the same, it would still be the same,' yet they both do not abandon that view and they cling to another view. There are fewer than few in the world who say, 'It would still be the same, it would still be the same,' and they both abandon that view and do not cling to another view.

"There are some brahmans & contemplatives who are of the view, of the opinion, that 'All is pleasing to me.' There are some brahmans & contemplatives who are of the view, of the opinion, that 'All is not pleasing to me.' There are some brahmans & contemplatives who are of the view, of the opinion, that 'A part is pleasing to me; a part is not pleasing to me.'

"With regard to those brahmans & contemplatives who are of the view, of the opinion, that 'All is pleasing to me': That view of theirs is close to being impassioned, close to bondage, close to delighting, close to holding, close to clinging. With regard to those brahmans & contemplatives who are of the view, of the opinion, that 'All is not pleasing to me': That view of theirs is close to not being impassioned, close to non-bondage, close to not-delighting, close to not-holding, close to not-clinging."

When this was said, LongNails the wanderer said to the Blessed One, "Master Gotama commends my viewpoint. Master Gotama recommends my viewpoint."

"With regard to those brahmans & contemplatives who are of the view, of the opinion that 'A part is pleasing to me; a part is not pleasing to me': Whatever is pleasing to them, their view is close to being impassioned, close to bondage, close to delighting, close to holding, close to clinging. Whatever is not pleasing to them, their view is close to not being impassioned, close to non-bondage, close to not-delighting, close to not-holding, close to not-clinging.

"With regard to those brahmans & contemplatives who are of the view, of the opinion, 'All is pleasing to me': A wise person among them considers that 'If I were to grasp and insist firmly on this view of mine that "All is pleasing to me," and to state that "Only this is true, all else is worthless," I would clash with two — the brahman or contemplative who is of the view, of the opinion that "All is not pleasing to me" and the brahman or contemplative who is of the view, of the opinion that "A part is pleasing to me; a part is not pleasing to me." I would clash with these two. Where there is a clash, there is dispute. Where there is a dispute, quarreling. Where there is quarreling, annoyance. Where there is annoyance, frustration.' Envisioning for himself clash, dispute, quarreling, annoyance, frustration, he both abandons that view and does not cling to another view. Thus there is the abandoning of these views; thus there is the relinquishing of these views.

"With regard to those brahmans & contemplatives who are of the view, of the opinion that 'All is not pleasing to me': A wise person among them considers that 'If I were to grasp and insist firmly on this view of mine that "All is not pleasing to me," and to state that "Only this is true, all else is worthless," I would clash with two — the brahman or contemplative who is of the view, of the opinion that "All is pleasing to me" and the brahman or contemplative who is of the view, of the opinion that "A part is pleasing to me; a part is not pleasing to me." I would clash with these two. Where there is a clash, there is dispute. Where there is a dispute, quarreling. Where there is quarreling, annoyance. Where there is annoyance, frustration.' Envisioning for himself clash, dispute, quarreling, annoyance, frustration, he both abandons that view and does not cling to another view. Thus there is the abandoning of these views; thus there is the relinquishing of these views.

"With regard to those brahmans & contemplatives who are of the view, of the opinion that 'A part is pleasing to me; a part is not pleasing to me': A wise person among them considers that 'If I were to grasp and insist firmly on this view of mine that "A part is pleasing to me; a part is not pleasing to me," and to state that "Only this is true, all else is worthless," I would clash with two — the brahman or contemplative who is of the view, of the opinion that "All is pleasing to me" and the brahman or contemplative who is of the view, of the opinion that "All is not pleasing to me." I would clash with these two. Where there is a clash, there is dispute. Where there is a dispute, quarreling. Where there is quarreling, annoyance. Where there is annoyance, frustration.' Envisioning for himself clash, dispute, quarreling, annoyance, frustration, he both abandons that view and does not cling to another view. Thus there is the abandoning of these views; thus there is the relinquishing of these views.

"Now, Aggivessana, this body — endowed with form, composed of the four primary elements, born from mother & father, nourished with rice & porridge, subject to inconstancy, rubbing, pressing, dissolution, and dispersion — should be envisioned as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, an emptiness, not-self. In one who envisions the body as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, an emptiness, not-self, any desire for the body, attraction to the body, following after the body is abandoned.

"There are these three kinds of feeling: a pleasant feeling, a painful feeling, and neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling. On the occasion when one feels a pleasant feeling, one does not feel either a painful feeling or a neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling. One feels only a pleasant feeling on that occasion. On the occasion when one feels a painful feeling, one does not feel either a pleasant feeling or a neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling. One feels only a painful feeling on that occasion. On the occasion when one feels a neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling feeling, one does not feel either a pleasant feeling or a painful feeling. One feels only a neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling on that occasion.

"A pleasant feeling is inconstant, fabricated, dependently co-arisen, subject to ending, subject to vanishing, fading, ceasing. A painful feeling is also inconstant, fabricated, dependently co-arisen, subject to ending, subject to vanishing, fading, ceasing. A neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling is also inconstant, fabricated, dependently co-arisen, subject to ending, subject to vanishing, fading, ceasing.

"Seeing this, an instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with pleasant feeling, disenchanted with painful feeling, disenchanted with neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling. Disenchanted, he grows dispassionate. From dispassion, he is released. With release, there is the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns, 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.' A monk whose mind is thus released does not take sides with anyone, does not dispute with anyone. He words things by means of what is said in the world but without grasping at it."

Now at that time Ven. Sariputta was sitting[2] behind the Blessed One, fanning him. The thought occurred to him, "Indeed, it seems that the Blessed One speaks to us of the abandoning of each of these mental qualities through direct knowledge.[3] Indeed, it seems that the One Well-gone speaks to us of the relinquishing of each of these mental qualities through direct knowledge."[4] As Ven. Sariputta was reflecting thus, his mind was released from fermentations through not-clinging. While in LongNails the wanderer there arose the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: "Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation."

Then LongNails the wanderer — having seen the Dhamma, having attained the Dhamma, having known the Dhamma, having fathomed the Dhamma, having crossed over and beyond uncertainty, having no more perplexity, having gained fearlessness, having becoming independent of others with regard to the Teacher's message — said to the Blessed One: "Magnificent, Master Gotama! 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 Master Gotama — through many lines of reasoning — made the Dhamma clear. I go to Master Gotama for refuge, to the Dhamma, and to the Community of monks. May Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone to him for refuge, from this day forward, for life."[5]


Notes

1 The Commentary states that LongNails (Dighanakha) was a nephew of Ven. Sariputta.

2. Following the Thai edition of the Canon. The Burmese and PTS editions say that Ven. Sariputta was standing.

3. The Pali word no in this sentence can mean either "indeed" or "to us."

4. Compare this account of Ven. Sariputta's awakening with the account given in MN 111.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

5. The Commentary states that after delivering this discourse the Buddha returned to the Bamboo Grove outside of Rajagaha and met with 1,250 arahant disciples to deliver the Ovada Patimokkha — the event commemorated every year on Magha Puja.
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Re: MN 74: Dighanaka Sutta — To LongNails

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:52 am

Various translations and some comments are here:
http://www.vgweb.org/sutta.aspx
Specifically: http://www.vgweb.org/sutta/m74.pdf

Introduction by Victor Gunasekara

This sutta is given to the “wanderer” Dighanaka who is however addessed throughout as Aggivessana. No explanation is given for this change in names. The term “wanderer” is given to persons who were engaged in a philosophical or religious quest. From the discourse we can infer that Dighanaka was a sceptic, i.e. who did not accept any proposition. The Commentary calls him an “Annihilationist”, i.e. someone who did not believe in re-birth or in the doctrine of kamma-vipaka (action-result).

There are two major themes in the discourse. One relates to the philosophical positions that people may hold
(sections 2-8) and the other is devoted to the analysis of feelings (sections 9-15). It is the latter for which this sutta is better know. It is generally regarded as an exposition on feelings or sensations (vedana). The commentary refers to it in several places as the vedanapariggahanasuttanta (Discourse on the Grasping after Feelings). This aspect of the Sutta is explored in the article “The Science of Feelings” by Ven Vinayarakkhita which is given later in this document.

However the discussion on feelings is only part of the discourse.

The first part of the Sutta deals with the refutation of Dighanaka’s scepticism, and other views. The Buddha
confounds D2ghanaka by saying that his view that “nothing is acceptable” is also a view which at least must be acceptable, thus contradicting his claim that nothing is acceptable to him. Even though seems to accept the logic of this statement he still insists that he hold on to his scepticism.

This leads the Buddha to make a distinction between those who hold on to their view, in spite of the existence
of other plausible views, and those who are willing to give up their view. This is what the Buddha seems to say in the somewhat cryptic section 3 of the Sutta. Dighanaka is not willing to give up his view and thus belongs to the majority while there is a minority who are open-minded and willing to give up a (wrong) view, or give up all views.

In section 5 Dighanaka takes the Buddha’s position as involving a commendation of his own views. This leads
the Buddha to delve more into the subject and in the course identifies several of the leading views entertained by the philosophers of his day. He does not give a comprehensive listing as in the Brahmajaala sutta where some 64 views are identified and dealt with. Instead he lists only three views which are related in some way to the skeptical view of Dighanaka.

The three views considered are: (1) Everything is acceptable to me. (2) Nothing is acceptable to me. (3)
Something is acceptable to me, something is not acceptable to me. The Buddha says that a person holding any of these three views is likely to come into conflict with those who hold the other two kinds of view. These lead to clashes, disputes, quarrels and vexation. Foreseeing this the person holding any of these views will give up their view but not take any of the other views.

The Buddha then changes the subject and considers the right way of regarding the body. He says that it should be regarded as impermanent, suffering etc. This is the usual Buddhist position. This is introduced at this stage to develop on the theme of feelings (vedana), one of the five components (khanda) which make up the empirical person.

This section is considered in the article “The science of feelings” by Ven. Vinayarakkhita which is given below.
Hence there is no need to consider it in detail here.

The Buddha identifies three kinds of feelings – pleasant, unpleasant and neutral. Only one of these feelings
can exist in any given moment, although it is possible for feelings to change rapidly. Contemplation of feeling
(vedananupassana) is an important meditation technique in Buddhism. The Buddha argues that all kinds of feeling are “ impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to destruction, vanishing, fading away, and ceasing.”

However the object of contemplation of feeling is to go beyond feeling. This is called dispassion and it is
through this that the mind is liberated.

Sariputta who had overheard the discourse on feelings, reflected on the discourse and attained arhantship.
Dighanaka became a sotapanna.


The Science of Feelings by Ven M. Vinayarakkhita

VEDANANUPASSANA

What I feel that is, what I don’t feel that is not. This is the common feeling of all. Feelings form an important
part of life. The body exists because one feels the body, pain exists because one feels the pain, and pleasure exists because one feels pleasure, and hence the general understanding that I feel therefore ‘I am’ looks as if it is absolutely right. This in turn leads to all other negativity’s like Ego, Pride, selfishness, hatred, jealousy and false view of Soul or Atman.

Buddha taking these very subject of feelings as the basis for his teaching, taught his followers the science of
feelings called Vedananupassana also known as the contemplation on feelings and thus leading them on to the path of Sila, Samadhi, and Panya he finally made them realize the ultimate truth of Impermanence, Suffering and No-Self.

Buddha in Dighanaka sutta (M.N.74.11-13 B.P.S.) while explaining the doctrine to Aggivessana says:
“Pleasant feeling Aggivessana is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to destruction, vanishing, fading away and ceasing. Painful feeling too is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to destruction, vanishing, fading away and ceasing. Neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling too is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to destruction, vanishing, fading away and ceasing.” “Seeing thus, a well taught noble disciple becomes disenchanted with pleasant feeling, disenchanted with painful feeling, disenchanted with neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. Being disenchanted he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion his mind is liberated. When it is liberated there comes the knowledge: “It is liberated”. 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. “He whose mind is liberated thus, Aggivessana, sides with none and disputes with none; he employs the speech currently used in the world without adhering to it.”

The modern humanity too is suffering from three feelings namely feeling of excitement, feeling of
entertainment and feeling of exhaustion. This triangle of triple E’s i.e. excitement, entertainment and exhaustion can be equated to the mystical Bermuda triangle, which pulls anything down to the seabed, by its strange gravitational power. Same is the case with this triple E’s triangle. Firstly one by feeling various things gets excited and runs after it and having entertained himself / herself with it, sooner or later he / she gets exhausted and with an interval this process of excitement, entertainment and exhaustion starts again. This process is repeated again and again throughout one’s life till death.


Buddha with his own effort and wisdom discovered the anti-dotes for these three evil E’s. He taught Sila,
Samadhi and Panya. The anti-dote for excitement is sila because it teaches restraint and this restraint is the direct and immediate way to counter excitement. The anti-dote for entertainment is samadhi because when compared to the worldly entertainment with its evil consequences Samadhi is the real happiness with no evil consequences at all. The anti-dote for exhaustion is Panya, which gives the right understanding, and bliss seeked by the suffering and exhausted humans and is born out of through understanding of Impermanence, Suffering and No-Self.(Anitya, Dukkha, Anatta).

The Buddha says of expressions employing the word “I” and “Self”. These are merely names, expressions,
turns of speech; designations in common use in the world, which the Tathaagata too uses without misapprehending them. (D.N.9.53/i.202,B.P.S.)
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.09.0.than.html
    In the same way, when there is a gross acquisition of a self... it's classified just as a gross acquisition of a self. When there is a mind-made acquisition of a self... When there is a formless acquisition of a self, it's not classified either as a gross acquisition of a self or as a mind-made acquisition of a self. It's classified just as a formless acquisition of a self.

    "Citta, these are the world's designations, the world's expressions, the world's ways of speaking, the world's descriptions, with which the Tathagata expresses himself but without grasping to them."

Feelings (vedana) in paticcasamupaada is explained as follows:

Vedana paccaya tanha; feelings as the base, craving arises;
Tanha paccaya upadanam; craving as the base, attachment arises;
Upadana paccaya bhava; attachment as the base, the process of becoming arises;
Bhava paccaya jati; process of becoming as the base, birth arises;
Jati paccya jara-maranam; birth as the base, ageing and death arise;
Soka-parideva together with sorrow, lamentation,
Dukkha-domanassupayasa sambhavanti. physical & mental sufferings & tribulations.
Evame-tassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa thus arises this entire mass of suffering
samudayo hoti.

When these very vedana (feelings) are understood properly and one develops detachment and equanimity
towards them it leads to the cessation of entire mass of suffering as explained in the following:

Vedana nirodha tanha nirodho; with cessation of attachment to feelings, craving ceases;
Tanha nirodha upadana nirodho; Upadana nirodha ... with cessation of craving, clinging ceases;

Evame-tassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa nirodho hoti. - thus the entire suffering ceases.

Thus Buddha has very well explained how delusive are the feelings of I, Self, Ego etc. These feelings when
misapprehended develops false view thereby leading human beings to greed, hatred and delusion. Here naturally a question arises if there is no I or self, who gets the results of kamma. The Buddha in answer said: “I have taught you, O bhikkhus, to see conditionality everywhere in all things i.e. Imasmim sati idam hoti; - when this is, that is; Imassupada idam uppajjati; - this arising, that arises; Imasmim asati idam na hoti; - when this is not, that is not; Imassa nirodha idam nirujjhati. – this ceasing, that ceases.”

In addition to the paticcasamupaada and the conditioned genesis as explained above the Buddha throughout
his teaching as stressed to see the reality as it is and experience the ultimate true nature of all things i.e.

Impermanence in permanence,
Suffering in pleasures and
No self in ourselves.

Albert Einstein has rightly said “The religion in the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a
personal God and avoid dogma and theology covering both the natural and the spiritual; it should be based on a
religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity. BUDDHISM
answers this description.”
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Re: MN 74: Dighanaka Sutta — To LongNails

Postby kirk5a » Tue Jun 05, 2012 11:50 am

Victor Gunasekara wrote:Here naturally a question arises if there is no I or self, who gets the results of kamma. The Buddha in answer said: “I have taught you, O bhikkhus, to see conditionality everywhere in all things

That question appears as the thought of the "senseless" Bhikkhu near the end of MN 109, but the Buddha's response is translated in completely different ways, apparently owing to different editions of the Pali, according to Bhikkhu Bodhi (in footnote to MN109).

One rendering is as above (Walpola Rahula p.66 What the Buddha Taught), but the other is "Now, bhikkhus, you have been trained by me through interrogation on various occasions in regard to various things." (Bhikkhu Bodhi) / "Now, monks, haven't I trained you in counter-questioning with regard to this & that topic here & there?" (Ven. Thanissaro)

Personally I find the former a potent response to that commonly expressed doubt.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: MN 74: Dighanaka Sutta — To LongNails

Postby daverupa » Tue Jun 05, 2012 1:16 pm

kirk5a wrote:
Victor Gunasekara wrote:Here naturally a question arises if there is no I or self, who gets the results of kamma. The Buddha in answer said: “I have taught you, O bhikkhus, to see conditionality everywhere in all things

Personally I find the former a potent response to that commonly expressed doubt.


Can we say this is related to SN 12.12?

Ven.-Moliya-Phagguna said to the Blessed One, "Lord, who feeds on the consciousness-nutriment?"

"Not a valid question," the Blessed One said.
    "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: MN 74: Dighanaka Sutta — To LongNails

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Jun 05, 2012 10:54 pm

Introduction by Victor Gunasekara

...From the discourse we can infer that Dighanaka was a sceptic, i.e. who did not accept any proposition. The Commentary calls him an “Annihilationist”, i.e. someone who did not believe in re-birth or in the doctrine of kamma-vipaka (action-result).


This might well be so, but it is not something that is obvious from Thanissaro's translation. Dighanaka/Aggivessana merely says

"Master Gotama, I am of the view, of the opinion, that 'All is not pleasing to me.'"


This looks more like a judgement on the hedonic tone of his experiences than a statement about knowledge, or a statement about annihilationism. He is not pleased with his world. More similar to the quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet

this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire,—why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.


than the views either of a thorough-going sceptic (who would after all have difficulty with the proposition "The world is unpleasing") or of an annihilationist. One can believe in the eternal nature of the soul, yet still feel that things are unpleasant.

Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation is radically different, in that he translates Aggivessana's statement of his position as

“Master Gotama, my doctrine
and view is this: “Nothing is acceptable to me.”


which sends us in the direction of epistemology rather than emotional response, propositional analysis rather than the man's overall stance towards his world. "Nothing is acceptable to me" means something like "No statement about how things are is accepted by me", which does indeed make Aggivessana a sceptic. In this, BB was probably influenced by commentarial tradition, especially M.A. iii 204, which explains sabbam (all) as "all uprisings and re-linkings" which also makes him (Aggivessana) an annihilationist.

The earlier translation by I.B. Horner has

I, good Gotama, speak thus, I am of this view: all is not pleasing to me


which makes her more like Thanissaro in this respect.

Does the rest of the Sutta give us any more clues on which is the more correct translation? It does, but unfortunately whichever translation one takes, the evidence is contradictory. The passage

With regard to those brahmans & contemplatives who are of the view, of the opinion, that 'All is not pleasing to me': That view of theirs is close to not being impassioned, close to non-bondage, close to not-delighting, close to not-holding, close to not-clinging."

When this was said, LongNails the wanderer said to the Blessed One, "Master Gotama commends my viewpoint. Master Gotama recommends my viewpoint."


seems to support the idea that it is Aggivessana's emotional response to the world which is the issue. Agivessana thinks that his being hacked off with existence is sufficiently close to nibbida and viraga to earn him the Buddha's approval.

But the later section on how views about one's world can lead to disputes and quarreling seems to support the reading of BB and the commentaries that this is about statements describing the world. A modern reader can more easily see that that such propositions about how the world is are contestable. But faced with Aggivessana saying that he finds the world displeasing in itself, we are more likely to say something like "there is no arguing over taste", etc., and pass on.

Interesting that the Buddha's attempt to challenge his position works in both cases. Aggivessana's view can either make him happy that he holds it (Thanissaro, Horner) or it can be logically inconsistent with his position that there are no sustainable positions (Bhikkhu Bodhi) Either way, he is gently reminded that he cannot be as right as he thinks he is...
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Re: MN 74: Dighanaka Sutta — To LongNails

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 11:31 pm

Thanks for that interesting comment, Sam.

Here are Bhikkhu Bodhi's comments:

Then the wanderer Dīghanakha went to the Blessed One and exchanged greetings with him.
BB: Dı̄ghanakha was Ven. Sāriputta’s nephew. At the time he approached the Buddha, Sāriputta had been a bhikkhu for only two weeks and was still a stream-enterer.


When this courteous and amiable talk was finished, he stood at one side and said to the Blessed One: “Master Gotama, my doctrine and view is this: ‘Nothing is acceptable to me.’”
BB: MA holds that Dı̄ghanakha is an annihilationist (ucchedavādin ) and explains this assertion to mean: “No [mode of] rebirth is acceptable to me.” However, the text itself does not give any concrete evidence supporting this interpretation. It seems much more likely that Dı̄ghanakha’s statement, “Nothing is acceptable to me” (sabbaṁ me na khamati), is intended to apply specifically to other philosophical views, and thus shows Dı̄ghanakha to be a radical sceptic of the class satirically characterised at MN 76.30 as “eel-wrigglers”. His assertion would then be tantamount to a wholesale repudiation of all philosophical views.

    MN 76.30
    http://www.metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pit ... ka-e1.html
    BB translation:
    “Again, Sandaka, here a certain teacher is dull and confused. Because he is dull and confused, when he is asked such and such a question, he engages in verbal wriggling, in eel-wriggling: ‘I don’t say it is like this. And I don’t say it is like that. And I don’t say it is otherwise. And I don’t say it is not so. And I don’t say it is not not so.’
      MA: This position is called eel-wriggling (amarāvikkhepa) because the doctrine roams about here and there, like an eel diving in and out of the water, and thus it is impossible to catch hold of it. In the Sāmaññaphala Sutta this position is ascribed to Sañjaya Belaṭṭhiputta (DN 2.32/1.58–59). It is quite possible that the “eel-wrigglers” were a class of radical sceptics who questioned the entire prospect of apodictic knowledge about ultimate issues.
        DN 2
        http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
        "When this was said, Sañjaya Belatthaputta said to me, 'If you ask me if there exists another world [after death], if I thought that there exists another world, would I declare that to you? I don't think so. I don't think in that way. I don't think otherwise. I don't think not. I don't think not not. If you asked me if there isn't another world... both is and isn't... neither is nor isn't... if there are beings who transmigrate... if there aren't... both are and aren't... neither are nor aren't... if the Tathagata exists after death... doesn't... both... neither exists nor doesn't exist after death, would I declare that to you? I don't think so. I don't think in that way. I don't think otherwise. I don't think not. I don't think not not.'

What is interesting about these exchanges is that this shrill insistence (to paraphrase):
I don't have a view about this stuff...

is not considered by the Buddha to be particularly helpful. There seems to be a fine line between eel-wriggling and what the Buddha says in suttas such as this one:
[Vacchagotta] "Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

[The Buddha] "A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origin, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origin, such its disappearance; such is perception... such are mental fabrications... such is consciousness, such its origin, such its disappearance.' Because of this, I say, a Tathagata — with the ending, fading out, cessation, renunciation, & relinquishment of all construings, all excogitations, all I-making & mine-making & obsession with conceit — is, through lack of clinging/sustenance, released."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Perhaps the difference is that the eel-wrigglers are those who are "faking" the "not having a view" condition.
Something for us all to be wary of... :sage:

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Re: MN 74: Dighanaka Sutta — To LongNails

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jun 06, 2012 6:48 am

No takers to the question of how to distinguish an "eel wriggler" from someone worth listening to on the basis of suttas such as those quoted above?

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Re: MN 74: Dighanaka Sutta — To LongNails

Postby cooran » Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:35 am

Hello Mike, all,

Worth a read:

Eel Wrigglers and Buddhist Practice
[…………………
The Buddha labeled such people “Eel wrigglers” in the Brahmajala Sutta (DN 1). There he identifies four types of Eel wrigglers. ……………….]
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/americanbu ... ctice.html

with metta
Chris
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Re: MN 74: Dighanaka Sutta — To LongNails

Postby Sam Vara » Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:47 am

Hi Mike,

No takers to the question of how to distinguish an "eel wriggler" from someone worth listening to on the basis of suttas such as those quoted above?


Blimey! What a question! Here goes anyway...

I really like your point about faking the lack of taking a position. Whether or not this is the intended distinction, it is certainly something that we ought to be aware of, in ourselves and in other people. It would appear that having strong views on how things are is part of our Kammic legacy, in that most of us have spent time cultivating or at least subscribing to or acquiescing in such views. They are what our culture expects and values, and maybe even offer some type of evolutionary advantage. I for one would be misrepresenting my own reality if I just airily said that I was beyond such stuff. Perhaps the honest approach is to say what views we have got, but to acknowledge that they are just that - views. And maybe to go further and acknowledge that holding them can be a source of unease or even embarrassment.

The Buddha's statement on

Such is form, such is its origin, such its disappearance...etc


is compatible with what many suttas say about Right View. The Sammaditthi Sutta for example, begins by equating Right View with knowing the wholesome/unwholesome, and their roots. It then asks

"But, friend, might there be another way in which a noble disciple is one of right view... and has arrived at this true Dhamma?"


and Sariputta responds with several "versions" of Right View, none of which are incompatible with the "such is..." formulation given by the Buddha.

The eel-wriggler question is important, because we live in an age where many educated people have been intellectually trained to be sceptical with regard to foundational knowledge. But they still have a lot to say!

Perhaps another approach is to see the eel-wrigglers as those who are (like me and most of the people I know) lacking in direct knowledge and insight, but who are nevertheless prepared to trade on their expression of this as a means of gaining a livelihood or status. Rather than admitting to themselves that they don't know and then getting on with their practice, Bellatthaputta and his like are making too much of it. They push themselves forward as teachers, and their view as the truth about views. Calling them "eel-wrigglers" is a gentle slap for making out that the content of their mind is somehow better than average, when it is not.

Well, that's my view, anyway! And because it isn't a particularly useful one, I'd be happy to swap it for a better one...
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Re: MN 74: Dighanaka Sutta — To LongNails

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jun 06, 2012 9:36 am

Hi Chris and Sam, Thanks for the input.
Sam Vega wrote:Well, that's my view, anyway! And because it isn't a particularly useful one, I'd be happy to swap it for a better one...

Actually, I didn't think it was that bad...

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Re: MN 74: Dighanaka Sutta — To LongNails

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jun 07, 2012 9:54 am

“This view of yours, Aggivessana, ‘Nothing is acceptable to me’—is not at least that view acceptable to you?”

“If this view of mine were acceptable to me, Master Gotama, it too would be the same, it too would be the same.”

BB:This exchange, as interpreted by MA and MṬ, should be understood as follows: The Buddha suggests, by his question, that Dı̄ghanakha’s assertion involves an inherent contradiction. For he cannot reject everything without also rejecting his own view, and this would entail the opposite position, namely, that something is acceptable to him. However, though Dı̄ghanakha recognises the implication of the Buddha’s question, he continues to insist on his view that nothing is acceptable to him.


“Well, Aggivessana, there are plenty in the world who say: ‘It too would be the same, it too would be the same,’ yet they do not abandon that view and they take up still some other view. Those are few in the world who say: ‘It too would be the same, it too would be the same,’ and who abandon that view and do not take up some other view.
BB: MA says that the first sentence refers to those who first take up a basic eternalist or annihilationist view and then subsequently adopt secondary variations on that view; the second sentence refers to those who abandon their basic view without adopting an alternative.

But if, as seems plausible, Dı̄ghanakha was a radical sceptic, then the Buddha’s statement might be understood to point to an unsatisfactoriness inherent in the sceptic’s position: it is psychologically uncomfortable to insist on remaining in the dark. Thus most sceptics, while professing a rejection of all views, surreptitiously adopt some definite view, while a few abandon their scepticism to seek a path to personal knowledge.
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Re: MN 74: Dighanaka Sutta — To LongNails

Postby Sam Vara » Thu Jun 07, 2012 10:19 am

Nice picture, Mike. In the blue half-light, it's difficult to differentiate between a wriggling eel and a wrongly-grasped water-snake...

Bhikkhu Bodhi follows the commentaries in treating Dighanakha as a sceptic, yet I haven't seen a compelling reason for this, rather than treating him as a person who is cynical or depressed. (I'm seeing him as a proto-Goth...)

The Buddha's first argument is applicable to all forms of absolutism in thought. If you believe something absolutely, then whatever you believe colours - or even undercuts - your own thought as well. Notable that Dighanakha just bats it aside and says he will carry on believing it anyway. I'm thinking that if Dighanakha's view was about truth and scepticism, then he would not have been able to do this as easily as if it were about emotion. A sceptic would have thought out their position, as it is about truth, rather than hedonic tone.

most sceptics, while professing a rejection of all views, surreptitiously adopt some definite view, while a few abandon their scepticism to seek a path to personal knowledge.


BB is right about this, but again, the same applies to those who are self-consciously miserable. They take some pleasure in their self-view.
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Re: MN 74: Dighanaka Sutta — To LongNails

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jun 08, 2012 8:43 pm

“Aggivessana, there are some recluses and brahmins whose doctrine and view is this: ‘Everything is acceptable to me.’ There are some recluses and brahmins whose doctrine and view is this: ‘Nothing is acceptable to me.’ And there are some recluses and brahmins whose doctrine and view is this: ‘Something is acceptable to me, something is not acceptable to me.’
BB: MA identifies the three views here as eternalism, annihilationism, and partial eternalism. The eternalist view is close to lust (sārāgāya santike), etc., because it affirms and delights in existence in however sublimated a form; annihilationism is close to non-lust, etc., because, though involving a wrong conception of self, it leads to disenchantment with existence. If the second view is understood as radical scepticism, it could also be seen as close to non-lust in that it expresses disillusionment with the attempt to buttress the attachment to existence with a theoretical foundation and thus represents a tentative, though mistaken, step in the direction of dispassion.

Among these, the view of those recluses and brahmins who hold the doctrine and view ‘Everything is acceptable to me’ is close to lust, close to bondage, close to delighting, close to holding, close to clinging. The view of those recluses and brahmins who hold the doctrine and view ‘Nothing is acceptable to me’ is close to non-lust, close to non-bondage, close to non-delighting, close to non-holding, close to non-clinging.”

When this was said, the wanderer Dīghanakha remarked: “Master Gotama commends my point of view, Master Gotama recommends my point of view.”
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Re: MN 74: Dighanaka Sutta — To LongNails

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Jun 08, 2012 9:29 pm

Among these, the view of those recluses and brahmins who hold the doctrine and view ‘Everything is acceptable to me’ is close to lust, close to bondage, close to delighting, close to holding, close to clinging. The view of those recluses and brahmins who hold the doctrine and view ‘Nothing is acceptable to me’ is close to non-lust, close to non-bondage, close to non-delighting, close to non-holding, close to non-clinging.”


Lust, etc. are not necessarily associated with eternalism; but they are with the view that things in the world are acceptable.
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Re: MN 74: Dighanaka Sutta — To LongNails

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:21 am

“Now, Aggivessana, a wise man among those recluses and brahmins who hold the doctrine and view ‘Everything is acceptable to me’ considers thus:
MA: This teaching is undertaken to show Dı̄ghanakha the danger in his view and thereby encourage him to discard it.

‘If I obstinately adhere to my view “Everything is acceptable to me” and declare: “Only this is true, anything else is wrong,” then I may clash with the two others: with a recluse or brahmin who holds the doctrine [499] and view “Nothing is acceptable to me” and with a recluse or brahmin who holds the doctrine and view “Something is acceptable to me, something is not acceptable to me.” I may clash with these two, and when there is a clash, there are disputes; when there are disputes, there are quarrels; when there are quarrels, there is vexation.’ Thus, foreseeing for himself clashes, disputes, quarrels, and vexation, he abandons that view and does not take up some other view. This is how there comes to be the abandoning of these views; this is how there comes to be the relinquishing of these views.
...
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Re: MN 74: Dighanaka Sutta — To LongNails

Postby Sam Vara » Sat Jun 09, 2012 5:48 pm

mikenz66 wrote:“Now, Aggivessana, a wise man among those recluses and brahmins who hold the doctrine and view ‘Everything is acceptable to me’ considers thus:
MA: This teaching is undertaken to show Dı̄ghanakha the danger in his view and thereby encourage him to discard it.

‘If I obstinately adhere to my view “Everything is acceptable to me” and declare: “Only this is true, anything else is wrong,” then I may clash with the two others: with a recluse or brahmin who holds the doctrine [499] and view “Nothing is acceptable to me” and with a recluse or brahmin who holds the doctrine and view “Something is acceptable to me, something is not acceptable to me.” I may clash with these two, and when there is a clash, there are disputes; when there are disputes, there are quarrels; when there are quarrels, there is vexation.’ Thus, foreseeing for himself clashes, disputes, quarrels, and vexation, he abandons that view and does not take up some other view. This is how there comes to be the abandoning of these views; this is how there comes to be the relinquishing of these views.
...


And here, I am more inclined to veer round to the opposite (i.e. Bhikkhu Bodhi's) position. This seems to be less about Aggivessana's feelings towards the world, and more about his "doctrine" of how it should be seen. It is more likely scepticism and annihilationism than cynicism. The reason for this is that simply liking or not liking the world is not likely to bring one into conflict with those who feel differently about it. De gustibus non est disputandum, etc. Disputes occur over matters of alleged fact, and this is supported by the phrase "Only this is true, anything else is wrong". The different translations (Thanissaro and Horner) include a similar phrase. This seems at this point to be an epistemological dispute about the possibility of knowledge of the world - possibly about knowledge of dependent origination.

The contradictory nature of this Sutta suggests to me that we are dealing here with a composite discourse made up of two which were originally separate. This would account for the Dighanakha/Agivessana confusion as well.
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Re: MN 74: Dighanaka Sutta — To LongNails

Postby vinasp » Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:31 pm

Hi everyone,

From: G.C.Pande, Studies in the Origins of Buddhism, Motilal Banarsidass,
Delhi, fourth revised edition, 1995.

"Sutta 74 depicts Buddha as a thorough-going sceptic, who would not hold
even the sceptical thesis itself [127].
The ideal monk viewing the body and the three feelings as non-self, is
emancipated, and "Evem vimuttacitto kho Aggivesana bhikkhu na kenaci
samvadati, na kenaci vivadati, yanca loke vuttam tena voharati aparamasam
ti" [128] This sutta seems to represent an early strand of thought.
It only expresses more logically and very uncomprimisingly that opposition
to holding any "opinion" (ditthi) which is found prominently even in the
earliest texts, e.g., in the Atthakavagga of the Sn." [page 168.]

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: MN 74: Dighanaka Sutta — To LongNails

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:40 pm

Hi Sam,
Sam Vega wrote:And here, I am more inclined to veer round to the opposite (i.e. Bhikkhu Bodhi's) position. This seems to be less about Aggivessana's feelings towards the world, and more about his "doctrine" of how it should be seen. ...

Yes, it is confusing, isn't it? I initially thought of this Sutta as straightforwardly saying that just denying all views wasn't the same as relinquishing them, which I expressed above as:
Perhaps the difference is that the eel-wrigglers are those who are "faking" the "not having a view" condition.

But perhaps it is more complicated than that, or either the translations or the original are a bit mixed up.

Sam Vega wrote:The contradictory nature of this Sutta suggests to me that we are dealing here with a composite discourse made up of two which were originally separate. This would account for the Dighanakha/Agivessana confusion as well.

It may be a composite, but it seems quite common in suttas for the Buddha to use a different name, such as a clan name, when addressing someone.

:anjali:
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Re: MN 74: Dighanaka Sutta — To LongNails

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:48 am

“A wise man among those recluses and brahmins who hold the doctrine and view ‘Something is acceptable to me, something is not acceptable to me’ considers thus: ‘If I obstinately adhere to my view “Something is acceptable to me, something is not acceptable to me” and declare: “Only this is true, anything else is wrong,” then I may clash with the two others: with a recluse or brahmin who holds the doctrine and view “Everything is acceptable to me” and with a recluse or brahmin who holds the doctrine and view “Nothing is acceptable to me.” I may clash with these two, and when there is a clash, there are disputes; when there are disputes, there are quarrels; when there are quarrels, there is vexation.’ Thus, foreseeing for himself clashes, disputes, quarrels, and vexation, he abandons that view and does not take up some other view. This is how there comes to be the abandoning of these views; this is how there comes to be the relinquishing of these views.

“Now, Aggivessana,[*] this body made of material form, consisting of the four great elements, procreated by a mother and father, and built up out of boiled rice and porridge, is subject to impermanence, to being worn and rubbed away, to dissolution and disintegration. It should be regarded as impermanent, as suffering, as a disease, as a tumour, as a dart, as a calamity, as an affliction, as alien, as disintegrating, as void, as not self. When one regards this body thus, one abandons desire for the body, affection for the body, subservience to the body.
[*] MA: At this point Dı̄ghanakha has discarded his annihilationist view. Thus the Buddha now undertakes to teach him insight meditation, first by way of the impermanence of the body and then by way of the impermanence of the mental factors under the heading of feeling.
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Re: MN 74: Dighanaka Sutta — To LongNails

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:05 am

“Seeing thus, a well-taught noble disciple becomes disenchanted with pleasant feeling, disenchanted with painful feeling, disenchanted with neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. Being disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion [his mind] is liberated. When it is liberated there comes the knowledge: ‘It is liberated.’ 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.’

“A bhikkhu whose mind is liberated thus, Aggivessana, sides with none and disputes with none; he employs the speech currently used in the world without adhering to it.”

BB: MA quotes a verse that says that an arahant may use the words “I” and “mine” without giving rise to conceit or misconceiving them as referring to a self or ego
    (SN 1:25/i.14). http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html
    Bonds are gone for him without conceits,
    All delusion's chains are cast aside:
    Truly wise, he's gone beyond such thoughts.
    That monk still might use such words as "I,"
    Still perchance might say:
    "They call this mine."
    Well aware of common worldly speech,
    He would speak conforming to such use.
See too DN 9.53/i.202, where the Buddha says of expressions employing the word “self”: “These are merely names, expressions, turns of speech, designations in common use in the world, which the Tathāgata uses without misapprehending them.”
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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