The translation of the steps of the practice in MN 70 & 95

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The translation of the steps of the practice in MN 70 & 95

Postby starter » Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:52 am

Greetings!

I'm attempting to translate the following important teaching on the steps of the practice that was repeatedly taught in different suttas such as MN 70 & 95:

"Idha, bhikkhave, saddhājāto upasaṅkamati, upasaṅkamanto payirupāsati, payirupāsanto sotaṃ odahati, ohitasoto dhammaṃ suṇāti, sutvā dhammaṃ dhāreti, dhatānaṃ dhammānaṃ atthaṃ upaparikkhati, atthaṃ upaparikkhato dhammā nijjhānaṃ khamanti, dhammanijjhānakkhantiyā sati chando jāyati, chandajāto ussahati, ussāhetvā tuleti, tulayitvā padahati, pahitatto samāno kāyena ceva paramasaccaṃ sacchikaroti, paññāya ca naṃ ativijjha passati."

"Here, Monks, one whose faith has arisen approaches; when approaching, he pays respect; while paying respect, he gives ear; while giving ear he hears the Dhamma; having heard the Dhamma, he memorises it; having known it by heart, he investigates (ponders about) the Dhamma; having investigated it, the Dhamma insight arises; with the Dhamma insight arisen, mindfulness and desire arises; with desire arisen, he makes an effort (in applying the Dhamma); having made an effort, he examines (the result of his effort); having examined (the result of his effort), he strives; having strived, he realizes the same group (body) of the superior truth; endowed with (true) knowledge, he now finds no ignorance". [I tend to think "ativijjha" is the misspelling of "avijja", which makes more sense here.]

After this attempt, I've to admit that I've lost confidence in the accuracy of some available (subjective) translations, and will read important sutta passages in Pali instead of relying on the translations.

Your input will be appreciated. Metta to all!
Last edited by starter on Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The translation of the steps of the practice in MN 70 &

Postby culaavuso » Thu Mar 13, 2014 1:33 am

starter wrote:Idha, bhikkhave,

bhikkhave is plural, but the translation given just says "monk".

starter wrote:pahitatto samāno kāyena ceva paramasaccaṃ sacchikaroti

kāyena here appears to be the instrumental form of kāya, in accord with most translations which render it as "with the body". In this translation it's somehow become accusative in the English rendering as "group".

starter wrote:paññāya ca naṃ ativijjha passati

For the meaning of ativijjha, see the Pali-English Dictionary Entry for ativijjhati.

Pali-English Dictionary: ativijjhati wrote:Ativijjhati
Ativijjhati [Sk. atividhyati, ati + vyadh] to pierce, to enter into (fig.), to see through, only in phrase paññāya ativijjha (ger.) passati to recognise in all details M i.480; S v.226; A ii.178.


There also appears to be some confusion in this translation between gerunds and present participles, such as
starter wrote:payirupāsanto sotaṃ odahati

becoming "having paid respect"
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Re: The translation of the steps of the practice in MN 70 &

Postby starter » Thu Mar 13, 2014 10:36 pm

Hello culaavuso,

Thanks for your input. I've incorporated some of your comments and revised the trial translation. As a beginner having a busy job, I'm trying to learn the original meaning of the Buddha's teaching by reading the Pali suttas using the helpful online Pali to English Dictionary on SuttalCentral. Grammar isn't that important to me, and I haven't taken any Pali course or studied Pali (except learning a little Pali pronunciation). I'm trying to see if I can learn Pali this way to enable me to understand the suttas. So the correction from you and other friends will be highly appreciated.

The Pali-English Dictionary's translation of "ativijjhati" / "paññāya ativijjha (ger.) passati" doesn't seem to fit here:

"paññāya ca naṃ ativijjha passatito": word to word translation would be "endowed with knowledge/wisdom, now no recognization in all details".

Even Pali-English Dictionary can make mistakes. For instance, the statement "Ativijjhati [Sk. atividhyati, ati + vyadh] to pierce, to enter into (fig.), to see through, only in phrase paññāya ativijjha (ger.) passati to recognise in all details M i.480; S v.226; A ii.178" doesn't seem to be correct, since in both MN 70 and MN 95, there's the phrase "paññāya ca naṃ ativijjha passatito".

To my immature opinion, "ativijjha" could be an ancient synonym or misspelling of "avijja".

As to the translation of "pahitatto samāno kāyena ceva paramasaccaṃ sacchikaroti", the word to word translation would be "having strived,the same body "cera" (how to translate cera?) superior truth realizes". "kāya" could be translated either as physical body or a collection. It doesn't seem to make much sense to me that one realizes the superior truth with the same body. It appears more logical that one realizes the same collection/group of superior truth. But it's only my two cents.

Metta to all!

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Re: The translation of the steps of the practice in MN 70 &

Postby culaavuso » Thu Mar 13, 2014 11:33 pm

starter wrote:Grammar isn't that important to me

Without an understanding of Pali grammar, it's very hard to understand Pali. Since it's a synthetic language and can have significant variation in word ordering, many problematic translations are rooted in a poor understanding of the grammar. Sentences can easily have ambiguities that are unresolvable without an understanding of grammar.

starter wrote:The Pali-English Dictionary's translation of "ativijjhati" / "paññāya ativijjha (ger.) passati" doesn't seem to fit here:

"paññāya ca naṃ ativijjha passatito": word to word translation would be "endowed with knowledge/wisdom, now no recognization in all details".

Even Pali-English Dictionary can make mistakes. For instance, the statement "Ativijjhati [Sk. atividhyati, ati + vyadh] to pierce, to enter into (fig.), to see through, only in phrase paññāya ativijjha (ger.) passati to recognise in all details M i.480; S v.226; A ii.178" doesn't seem to be correct, since in both MN 70 and MN 95, there's the phrase "paññāya ca naṃ ativijjha passatito".

To my immature opinion, "ativijjha" could be an ancient synonym or misspelling of "avijja".

It's possible for the Pali-English Dictionary to make mistakes, but significant scholarship and dedicated research over an extended period of time has gone into its compilation. It would seem hasty to assume it in error without a comparable level of scholarship on the subject. The statement "only in the phrase" is referring to an idiomatic usage, not saying that the gerund only occurs in that phrase. There doesn't seem to be a good reason to assume that the gerund of ativijjhati is a misspelling of the noun avijjā here (NB: not avijja, which isn't a word listed in the Pali-English dictionary). Additionally, if it was the word "avijjā" then there's the additional problem that it doesn't appear to be a valid case of the noun.

paññāya ca naṃ ativijjha passati : a word for word translation could be:
paññā, instrumental = with wisdom
ca, indeclinable = then
ta, accusative (naṃ) = it
ativijjhati, gerund = having pierced/penetrated
passati = he sees.

Putting this together we get: he sees, then having penetrated it with wisdom.

The translation given by Bhikkhu Bodhi for this phrase is:
Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:sees it by penetrating it with wisdom


starter wrote:"kāya" could be translated either as physical body or a collection. It doesn't seem to make much sense to me that one realizes the superior truth with the same body. It appears more logical that one realizes the same collection/group of superior truth. But it's only my two cents.

However, kāyena is instrumental, not accusative. Whether it is translated as "body" or "collection", the case remains that its position in this sentence is "realizes by means of X" and not "realizes X". This shows the importance of understanding grammar in order to make a meaningful translation.

Regarding whether this makes sense, it might be worth considering some other suttas to provide context (which is also a common practice among reputable translators):

AN 4.45: Rohitassa Sutta wrote:I tell you, friend, that it is not possible by traveling to know or see or reach a far end of the cosmos where one does not take birth, age, die, pass away, or reappear. But at the same time, I tell you that there is no making an end of suffering & stress without reaching the end of the cosmos. Yet it is just within this fathom-long body, with its perception & intellect, that I declare that there is the cosmos, the origination of the cosmos, the cessation of the cosmos, and the path of practice leading to the cessation of the cosmos.


MN 10: Satipatthana Sutta wrote:Herein (in this teaching) a monk lives contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome, in this world, covetousness and grief;
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Re: The translation of the steps of the practice in MN 70 &

Postby Kare » Fri Mar 14, 2014 1:28 am

culaavuso wrote:
starter wrote:Grammar isn't that important to me

Without an understanding of Pali grammar, it's very hard to understand Pali. Since it's a synthetic language and can have significant variation in word ordering, many problematic translations are rooted in a poor understanding of the grammar. Sentences can easily have ambiguities that are unresolvable without an understanding of grammar.


I second this with all my heart. In a synthetic language like Pali, it is extremely important to understand the grammar. Almost every word consists of two elements: the dictionary element + the grammatical element. And both are equally important for understanding the meaning of the sentence.
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Re: The translation of the steps of the practice in MN 70 &

Postby starter » Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:57 pm

Hello culaavuso and Kare,

Many thanks for your very helpful comments. I've realized the importance of Pali grammar, and will surely learn it. After learning "naṃ" is the accusative of "ta" (it) instead of "no" as indicated in the online Pali-English Dictionary of Sutta Central, I agree that "paññāya ca naṃ ativijjha passati" should be translated as "he sees, then having penetrated it with wisdom". I now withdraw my speculation that "ativijjha" could be an ancient synonym or misspelling of "avijja".

Considering the sutta references culaavuso kindly provided, I also agree with the translation "one realizes the superior truth with the same body".

Would it be possible for you and other Pali scholars to contribute to the online Pali-English Dictionary of Sutta Central (please see http://suttacentral.net/mn70/pi) to make it better? During my first attempt of translating the Pali passage cited in the first post using this online Pali-English Dictionary, I've noticed that there seem to be quite some not so accurate translations (and missing words), despite my lack of knowledge of Pali. But I highly appreciate that this dictionary is freely available online which really facilitates the reading of Pali suttas. If this dictionary can be improved, it'll greatly benefit many practitioners and we can understand the original teaching of the Buddha better.

With my gratitude and metta,

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Re: The translation of the steps of the practice in MN 70 &

Postby Kare » Sat Mar 15, 2014 12:20 am

Yes, the PTS dictionary can be improved. But that is a large task. PTS is working on a new dictionary, by Margaret Cone. Two volumes have appeared, in 2001 and 2010, which says something about how time-consuming the work is. I thought I'd wait until it is complete, so I have not seen those two volumes yet. Has anyone here seen them?

http://www.palitext.com/
http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse. ... K3lFbFz/IA

But once you are familiar with the grammar, you will recognize forms that are not always listed as words in a dictionary. So my best recommendation for you is to plunge into the study of Pali grammar. There are already threads here at this forum with lots of information about study books. And, before you know it, you'll discover that grammar is fun! :thumbsup:
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Re: The translation of the steps of the practice in MN 70 &

Postby pulga » Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:57 pm

starter wrote:Considering the sutta references culaavuso kindly provided, I also agree with the translation "one realizes the superior truth with the same body".


"pahitatto samāno kāyena ceva paramasaccaṃ sacchikaroti"

I would take "pahitatto samāno" to be a present participle periphrastic, i.e. "being self-controlled". Leaving the emphatic particle "eva" untranslated I render the passage: "being self-controlled he realizes with the body the ultimate truth".
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Re: The translation of the steps of the practice in MN 70 &

Postby starter » Sat Mar 15, 2014 5:15 pm

pulga wrote:
starter wrote:Considering the sutta references culaavuso kindly provided, I also agree with the translation "one realizes the superior truth with the same body".


"pahitatto samāno kāyena ceva paramasaccaṃ sacchikaroti"

I would take "pahitatto samāno" to be a present participle periphrastic, i.e. "being self-controlled". Leaving the emphatic particle "eva" untranslated I render the passage: "being self-controlled he realizes with the body the ultimate truth".


Hi pulga,

I thought "pahitatto" means "having strived" in the context of this sutta. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Thanks and metta!

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Re: The translation of the steps of the practice in MN 70 &

Postby pulga » Sun Mar 16, 2014 2:33 am

starter wrote:
I thought "pahitatto" means "having strived" in the context of this sutta. Please correct me if I'm wrong.


Pahitatta is a adjectival compound of the past participle pahita and atta. Padahati can also means to control, thus we have self-controlled. Samāna is the present participle of √as (to be). It's also common to see pahitatta combined periphrastically with vi+√har, e.g. the Buddha's exhortation: "pahitattá viharatha".

Periphrasis is also used with past participles, e.g. "so evam pabbajito samáno pátimokkhasamvarasamvuto viharati... ". It's an aspect of Pali worth getting acquainted with.
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Re: The translation of the steps of the practice in MN 70 &

Postby danielgbg » Sun Mar 23, 2014 7:37 pm

starter wrote:As a beginner having a busy job, I'm trying to learn the original meaning of the Buddha's teaching by reading the Pali suttas using the helpful online Pali to English Dictionary on SuttalCentral.


Why don't you use the Digital Pali Reader? A marvelous software for your pali studies :smile:

http://pali.sirimangalo.org/
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Re: The translation of the steps of the practice in MN 70 &

Postby Dmytro » Thu Apr 03, 2014 5:18 am

Kare wrote:Yes, the PTS dictionary can be improved. But that is a large task. PTS is working on a new dictionary, by Margaret Cone. Two volumes have appeared, in 2001 and 2010, which says something about how time-consuming the work is. I thought I'd wait until it is complete, so I have not seen those two volumes yet. Has anyone here seen them?


I use them, they are in many respects much better than the older PTS dictionary.

For the first letters of the alphabet (up to kāpurisa) there's also an excellent Critical Pali Dictionary:
http://pali.hum.ku.dk/cpd/
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Re: The translation of the steps of the practice in MN 70 &

Postby starter » Fri Apr 04, 2014 2:15 am

Hello Friends,

Thanks for all your help. Is the online Pali-English Dictionary on Sutta Central (please click on the Pali to English Dictionary tab on the link: http://suttacentral.net/mn1/pi) using the Digital Pali Reader?

By the way, for the relevant discussion on this quoted passage, please see the following threads

1) "MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dhamma?":
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=20224

2) "Who can be the teacher of effacement?":
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=16183

Metta to all!

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Re: The translation of the steps of the practice in MN 70 &

Postby Ananda26 » Sat May 03, 2014 2:42 pm

starter wrote:Greetings!

I'm attempting to translate the following important teaching on the steps of the practice that was repeatedly taught in different suttas such as MN 70 & 95:

"Idha, bhikkhave, saddhājāto upasaṅkamati, upasaṅkamanto payirupāsati, payirupāsanto sotaṃ odahati, ohitasoto dhammaṃ suṇāti, sutvā dhammaṃ dhāreti, dhatānaṃ dhammānaṃ atthaṃ upaparikkhati, atthaṃ upaparikkhato dhammā nijjhānaṃ khamanti, dhammanijjhānakkhantiyā sati chando jāyati, chandajāto ussahati, ussāhetvā tuleti, tulayitvā padahati, pahitatto samāno kāyena ceva paramasaccaṃ sacchikaroti, paññāya ca naṃ ativijjha passati."

"Here, Monks, one whose faith has arisen approaches; when approaching, he pays respect; while paying respect, he gives ear; while giving ear he hears the Dhamma; having heard the Dhamma, he memorises it; having known it by heart, he investigates (ponders about) the Dhamma; having investigated it, the Dhamma insight arises; with the Dhamma insight arisen, mindfulness and desire arises; with desire arisen, he makes an effort (in applying the Dhamma); having made an effort, he examines (the result of his effort); having examined (the result of his effort), he strives; having strived, he realizes the same group (body) of the superior truth; endowed with (true) knowledge, he now finds no ignorance". [I tend to think "ativijjha" is the misspelling of "avijja", which makes more sense here.]

After this attempt, I've to admit that I've lost confidence in the accuracy of some available (subjective) translations, and will read important sutta passages in Pali instead of relying on the translations.

Your input will be appreciated. Metta to all!


Its great to study Pali also, but I think the Bhikkhu Bodhi English translation is pretty decent on Middle Length Discourses #70 and #90 and in general very helpful for study of Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha 1-152 and Connected Discourses of the Buddha Chapters 1-56.
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Re: The translation of the steps of the practice in MN 70 &

Postby Sylvester » Sat May 03, 2014 3:40 pm

pulga wrote:
starter wrote:Considering the sutta references culaavuso kindly provided, I also agree with the translation "one realizes the superior truth with the same body".


"pahitatto samāno kāyena ceva paramasaccaṃ sacchikaroti"

I would take "pahitatto samāno" to be a present participle periphrastic, i.e. "being self-controlled". Leaving the emphatic particle "eva" untranslated I render the passage: "being self-controlled he realizes with the body the ultimate truth".



Yoohoo. Might the construction be what Wijesekara alludes to as a semi nominative absolute (p.35)?

As for the "instrumental" here, he also gives a humongous list of instrumentals functioning as adverbs - sections 74 & 75.
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Re: The translation of the steps of the practice in MN 70 &

Postby pulga » Sun May 04, 2014 12:53 am

Thanks, Sylvester. You probably have something to teach me.

Sylvester wrote: Might the construction be what Wijesekara alludes to as a semi nominative absolute (p.35)?


I think it would be according to Prof. Wijesekara. Does Warder touch upon the idea in his Introduction to Pali? In Lesson 24 (pg. 233) he discusses auxiliary verbs and lists as along with hú (bhú), car, (ṭ)ṭhā, vatt, and vi-har as all partaking of periphrastic constructions implying a temporal sense. How would Wijesekara classify the Buddha's admonition "pahitattá viharatha"? Is pahitatta here nominative? Or should the stress be placed on the past participle pahita, i.e. does the word mean "self-controlled" or "a self that is controlled" ?


(According to the PTS Dictionary pahitatta is the only use of pahita in the Pali Canon.)
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Re: The translation of the steps of the practice in MN 70 &

Postby Sylvester » Sun May 04, 2014 4:44 am

pulga wrote:Thanks, Sylvester. You probably have something to teach me.


Oh please, you're making me blush. :embarassed:


Sylvester wrote: Might the construction be what Wijesekara alludes to as a semi nominative absolute (p.35)?


I think it would be according to Prof. Wijesekara. Does Warder touch upon the idea in his Introduction to Pali?


As far as I can tell, Warder only discusses the absolute constructions for the genitive and locative. Not surprising, since Wijesekara opines that the nominative absolute are uncommon in Pali and Skt.


In Lesson 24 (pg. 233) he discusses auxiliary verbs and lists as along with hú (bhú), car, (ṭ)ṭhā, vatt, and vi-har as all partaking of periphrastic constructions implying a temporal sense.


Yup, that's right. It seems that a present participle periphrastic is discussed at pg 238. The stars are somewhat aligned in this case, as both this periphrastic reading and the nominative absolute reading have temporal dimensions. The former for duration, while the latter indicating contemporaneity (between the verbs in the subordinate and main clauses) given the present participle.


How would Wijesekara classify the Buddha's admonition "pahitattá viharatha"? Is pahitatta here nominative? Or should the stress be placed on the past participle pahita, i.e. does the word mean "self-controlled" or "a self that is controlled" ?


I have not seen this discussed by Wijesekara, but I think he would not depart from the plain reading of pahitatta as a participle. We can dispense with ä self that is controlled" given its Vedic nuance as a substantive rather than a pronoun.

The trick now is to ask - is the participle pahitatta functioning adnominally (ie as a adjective) or adverbally (as a verb)? I don't think it could be adnominal, since the as verb always describes substantive nouns, not adjectives. However, if it is functioning adverbally, then it is possible to read it as either periphrastic with samāna, or as a nominative absolute, where both participles are related as such to a silent/suppressed substantive noun in the nominative.

The only reason why I wonder if the nominative absolute may not be a likelier (statistically) candidate is because the periphrastic seems (in my limited reading) uncommon in a subordinate clause. The absolute constructions, by definition, need to be in a subordinate clause. To be sure, Warder does list periphrastics in subordinate clauses, but they seem to be in the minority.

:anjali:
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Re: The translation of the steps of the practice in MN 70 &

Postby pulga » Sun May 04, 2014 11:48 am

Sylvester wrote:The only reason why I wonder if the nominative absolute may not be a likelier (statistically) candidate is because the periphrastic seems (in my limited reading) uncommon in a subordinate clause. The absolute constructions, by definition, need to be in a subordinate clause. To be sure, Warder does list periphrastics in subordinate clauses, but they seem to be in the minority.


Duroiselle also explains a bit about the nominative absolute in his grammar on page 314. I don't own his grammar, but after discovering that Warder makes no mention of such an absolute, I can see the value in other grammars that go beyond Warder. What Duroiselle has to offer seems more user-friendly than Wijesekara: not as thorough, but less intimidating.
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Re: The translation of the steps of the practice in MN 70 &

Postby Sylvester » Mon May 05, 2014 3:31 am

Methinks it's not his essay that intimidates you but this -

Image

:tongue:
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Re: The translation of the steps of the practice in MN 70 &

Postby pulga » Mon May 05, 2014 4:12 am

I feel like I've just been asked a question about adverbial clauses.
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