Seek for Self?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.

Seek for Self?

Postby xabir » Sun Nov 03, 2013 5:07 am

Hello,

Someone is using this translation to claim that the Buddha is teaching an Atman doctrine. Can anyone please tell me if this is an accurate translation and what might Buddha actually mean here:

" But what have you, young men, to do with a woman ? " " We, Lord, a group of as many as thirty friends of high standing, with our wives, were amusing ourselves in this woodland grove ; one had no wife, (so) a woman of low standing was brought along for him. Then, Lord, as we were heedlessly amusing ourselves, that woman of low standing, taking our belongings, ran away. Consequently, Lord, we friends, doing our friend a service and seeking for that woman, are roaming about this woodland grove." || 2 || " What do you think of this, young men ? Which is better for you, that you should seek for a woman or that you should seek for the self ? " " Truly this were better for us. Lord, that we should seek for the self." " Well then, young men, you sit down, I will teach you dhamma." Source: Mahavagga I 31-32 THE BOOK OF THE DISCIPLINE (VINAYA-PITAKA) VOLUME IV (MAHAVAGGA) Translated by I. B. HORNER, M.A. http://archive.org/stream/bookofdiscipline14hornuoft/ bookofdiscipline14hornuoft_djvu.txt
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Re: Seek for Self?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Nov 03, 2013 5:58 am

xabir wrote:Hello,

Someone is using this translation to claim that the Buddha is teaching an Atman doctrine. Can anyone please tell me if this is an accurate translation and what might Buddha actually mean here:
I have a soft spot in my heart for I.B. Horner. She was very helpful to me in my early investigations of the Dhamma. That said, this translation is not as good as could be for any number of reasons.

that you should seek for a woman or that you should seek for the self ?
atta is the word is question here. It is not "the self," but "oneself" in this context. No need for a metaphysical thingie here.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Seek for Self?

Postby xabir » Sun Nov 03, 2013 7:26 am

Thanks tilbillings! :)
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Re: Seek for Self?

Postby lyndon taylor » Sun Nov 03, 2013 7:31 am

Atta is the pali word for the Sanskrit word Atman, the Buddha in various places obviously refers positively in some cases to the atta, SInce atta is translated several different ways in English, the no self crowd has simply claimed any positive refering to atta=atman has a different meaning than self, me I disagree.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: Seek for Self?

Postby xabir » Sun Nov 03, 2013 8:00 am

What could Buddha mean when he said not to seek for women but seek for oneself, anyway?
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Re: Seek for Self?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Nov 03, 2013 8:01 am

lyndon taylor wrote:Atta is the pali word for the Sanskrit word Atman, the Buddha in various places obviously refers positively in some cases to the atta, SInce atta is translated several different ways in English, the no self crowd has simply claimed any positive refering to atta=atman has a different meaning than self, me I disagree.
I have yet to see a Pali sutta where the Buddha speaks favorably of the atta in a metaphysical sense, but your meaning here is less than clear.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Seek for Self?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Nov 03, 2013 8:08 am

xabir wrote:What could Buddha mean when he said not to seek for women but seek for oneself, anyway?
Well, if he meant a metaphysical, self-existent, unchanging, self-identical self thingie, that would be of keen interest, given what he has said elsewhere:
    Monks, whatever contemplatives or priests who assume in various ways when assuming a self, all assume the five clinging-aggregates, or a certain one of them. SN III 46
The use of atta in the text in question points very much to a conventional use of the term.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Seek for Self?

Postby xabir » Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:59 am

Sure, I thought so as well. But what in this context does "seek for oneself" mean? Is it "seek liberation for oneself"? The translation isn't all that clear.
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Re: Seek for Self?

Postby boris » Thu Nov 07, 2013 9:18 am

It means more or less the same as the Delphic "know thy-self."
The man who wants to avoid grotesque collapses should not look for anything to fulfill him in space and time.

Nicolás Gómez Dávila
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Re: Seek for Self?

Postby seeker242 » Thu Nov 07, 2013 12:16 pm

"There are these two extremes that are not to be indulged in by one who has gone forth. Which two? That which is devoted to sensual pleasure with reference to sensual objects: base, vulgar, common, ignoble, unprofitable; and that which is devoted to self-affliction: painful, ignoble, unprofitable. Avoiding both of these extremes, the middle way realized by the Tathagata — producing vision, producing knowledge — leads to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding.


Seems to me that he is using the term in the same context as he is here. But to say that this "self-awakening" is positing some kind of eternal soul or a Hindu notion of Atman or something like that... is a HUGE stretch! Pretty nonsensical actually when you couple it with Anatta. In order for that to be the case, you would have to completely ignore all his teachings regarding Anatta and just pretend they don't exist...
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Re: Seek for Self?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Nov 07, 2013 6:32 pm

I'm not sure where Ven Thanissaro gets that "self-awakening" expression [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.011.than.html]. Here is Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation:
Bhikkhus, these two extremes should not be followed by one who has gone forth into homelessness. What two? The pursuit of sensual happiness in sensual pleasures, which is low, vulgar, the way of worldlings, ignoble, unbeneficial; and the pursuit of self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble, unbeneficial. Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathagata has awakened to the middle way, which gives rise to vision, which gives rise to knowledge, which leads to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana.
http://suttacentral.net/sn56.11/en/


Here's the Pali and tranlation from here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... index.html [Unfortunately pasting from the PDF messes up the diacriticals.]
Ete te bhikkhave ubho ante anupagamma,
Majjhima patipada tathagatena abhisambuddha,
Cakkhu-karanı ñana-karanı upasamaya abhiññaya
sambodhaya nibbanaya saavattati.

Avoiding both of these extremes, the middle way realized by the Tathagata—
producing vision, producing knowledge—leads to calm, to direct knowledge,
to self-awakening, to Unbinding.


So it seem that it is sambodhaya that is translated by Ven Thanissaro as "self-awakening", and by Ven Bodhi as "enlightenment".

:anjali:
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Re: Seek for Self?

Postby Dhammanando » Thu Nov 07, 2013 8:19 pm

mikenz66 wrote:So it seem that it is sambodhaya that is translated by Ven Thanissaro as "self-awakening", and by Ven Bodhi as "enlightenment".


Yes.

Ven. Thanissaro is following the commentators who take the ‘sam-’ part of words like ‘sambodha’, ‘sambodhi’, ‘sambuddha’, ‘sambujjhati’, etc. to be a shortened form of ‘sāmaṃ’ or ‘sayaṃ’, meaning ‘by oneself’.

Bhikkhu Bodhi is following modern scholars who take it to be ‘saṃ-’, a usually untranslatable intensifying prefix, here indicating completion.
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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