upasampajja , how Thanissaro translates in the jhana formula

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upasampajja , how Thanissaro translates in the jhana formula

Postby frank k » Thu Mar 14, 2013 2:19 am

In sammaa samaadhi, the 4 jhaanas each use the expression upasampajja. CPED has

upasampajja: "having attained; having entered on"
(for each of the 4 jhanas it repeats that phrase)

Looking at Aanandajoti's translation, he translates the same as CPED, "having attained" the first absorption, etc.

Thanissaro, translations that phrase as
"he enters & remains " in the second jhana:

So as a translator, how much license do they generally have to change the grammatical tense?
I'm also curious how you get "enter and remains" from upasampajja. Looking up sampajja, it's defined as "succeeds".
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Re: upasampajja , how Thanissaro translates in the jhana formula

Postby Sylvester » Thu Mar 14, 2013 3:43 am

Taking a standard pericope -

Cattāro me, bhikkhave, jhānā. Katame cattāro? Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati.


You actually need to read the verbal cluster underlined as one. Some call this a "periphrastic" construction, of which Warder has much to say (p.233). To cut a long story short, upasampajja would be the absolutive/gerund of upasampajjati (attains/enters), while viharati (abides/remains) functions as a "mere" auxiliary verb.

As to how an absolutive/gerund can be interpreted, check out Dymtro's lovely post here - viewtopic.php?f=23&t=16316#p232556. There was a further discussion of another important absolutive vineyya here - viewtopic.php?f=23&t=15707#p225276.

Both translations are permissible. Bhante Anandajoti opted to translated the absolutive as a past action completed before the auxiliary verb. Ven T translates the absolutive as a gerund, ie contemporaneous with the auxiliary verb.

I don't see (at least not yet) any doctrinal dispute simmering beneath either translation. :stirthepot:
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Re: upasampajja , how Thanissaro translates in the jhana formula

Postby frank k » Thu Mar 14, 2013 2:57 pm

Thanks Sylvester. I wasn't implying a doctrinal dispute there, it was mainly a grammatical question. B.Bodhi translates as "enters upon and abides in.." (jhaanas). With the translation of "abide", then I clearly see the viharati, whereas with Thanissaro's "enters and remains" it made me think "upasampajja" contained that whole phrase. Thanissaro often chooses his English words to add very interesting wrinkles. "Enter and abide in" has a slightly different meaning to me than "enters and remains in", it's as if Thanissaro is trying to emphasize jhaana is a stable attainment, and not something one can just momentarily experience. (I don't know if that's his intention there, that's just how that English phrase strikes me)
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