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Pamāda - Dhamma Wheel

Pamāda

Explore the ancient language of the Tipitaka and Theravāda commentaries

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Pamāda

Postby Jechbi » Fri Nov 06, 2009 6:14 am


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Re: Pamāda

Postby Ben » Fri Nov 06, 2009 6:37 am

Hi Jechbi
I am no authority on Pali but I would argue that one (indulging in intoxicating drinks) begets the other (intoxication).
Kare's observation on another thread which stated the wise thing to do is to refrain from intoxicants and thereby not become intoxicated seems to be a good rule of thumb.
Metta

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“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
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Re: Pamāda

Postby Jechbi » Fri Nov 06, 2009 7:40 am

Thanks, Ben. My question is actually narrower than that. I'm wondering if someone can authoritatively respond on the question of which translation is accurate.

It might be that the Pali language is so lacking in nuance that it's impossible to say with certainty, I don't know.

I'm really just interested in what the precept wording says, regardless of what opinions we all might share regarding taking intoxicants.

Metta

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Re: Pamāda

Postby Kare » Fri Nov 06, 2009 12:36 pm

Since English is not my native language, I feel that I sometimes express myself a little clumsily. Maybe this gives a somewhat better description of my analysis:

... surāmerayamajjapamādaṭṭhānaṃ pahāya surāmerayamajjapamādaṭṭhānā paṭivirato hoti

In the composite word surāmerayamajjapamādaṭṭhānā the last element, -ṭhānā, "condition", is the main element. We can ask: "Which condition?", and then we find that -majjapamāda- is a qualifying element which describes the condition. "majjapamāda" consists of two synonyms (the heaping up of synonyms is very common in the Pali texts) saying approximately the same: "intoxication". We can then go further and ask: "What kind of intoxication?", and find that surāmeraya- (two alcoholic drinks) describe what kind of intoxication is meant. So the expression talks about the condition of intoxication from alcoholic drinks.
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Re: Pamāda

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Nov 06, 2009 3:22 pm

The translation at the Concise Pali-English Dictionary
A.P. Buddhadatta Mahathera:

pamāda (m.) negligence; indolence; remissness; carelessness.
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Re: Pamāda

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Nov 06, 2009 3:28 pm

From the same dictionary as I quoted above:

majja : [nt.] an intoxicant.

If this is a correct translation, then the precept is to be against intoxicants, which cause carelessness and heedlessness. The trouble with that is that it is sort of vague as someone could say that one drink does not make them careless or heedless.
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Re: Pamāda

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:51 pm

From the dictionary above:

veramaṇī : [f.] abstinence.

Thus, we have the full precept translated word-for-word:

samadiyami = I undertake
sikkhapadam = the training precept
veramani = of abstaining from

suramerayamajja-pamadatthana
beer-cider-carelessness-intoxicants-condition

which would then seem to be: "I undertake the training precept of abstaining from intoxicants which cause carelessness."

Again, still a little vague, but if we see majja as an intoxicant and not intoxication, then we have further evidence that this was meant to be the complete non-use of alcohol.
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Re: Pamāda

Postby Kare » Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:58 pm

Mettāya,
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Re: Pamāda

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:08 pm

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Re: Pamāda

Postby Kare » Fri Nov 06, 2009 11:24 pm

Mettāya,
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Re: Pamāda

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Nov 06, 2009 11:35 pm

Okay, thanks for that detailed analysis! Especially with Bhante Dhammanando away, it is good to see this analysis from someone proficient in Pali.

So we have: "Abstention from the condition {of carelessness [(caused) by the intoxicants (beer /and cider)]} "

So, then the next question, perhaps not related to this thread, would be does one drink cause the condition of carelessness?
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Re: Pamāda

Postby notself » Fri Nov 06, 2009 11:38 pm

One drink? I would think it depends on body size, general hydration, whether one's stomach is empty and many other factors. If I had one drink on an empty stomach, I would not get behind the wheel.
Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he is indeed the noblest victor who conquers himself. ---Dhp 103

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Re: Pamāda

Postby Kare » Fri Nov 06, 2009 11:58 pm

One drink? As I have said earlier, and as notself just said, this depends on a lot of factors. My general advice would be: If in doubt, don't take that drink. But this is something that each and everyone must decide for themselves - and of course take the responsibility for their decisions.
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Re: Pamāda

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Nov 07, 2009 3:24 am

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Re: Pamāda

Postby Jechbi » Sat Nov 07, 2009 4:14 pm

Hi Kare,

I certainly appreciate all your efforts here. Thanks! :thumbsup:

For the sake of discussion, I'd like to take a closer look at how the root word "thana" is used in other words, because that might help inform how we interpret it here.

Generally speaking, I've noticed that root words take on subtly different meanings and nuances when they are put together with other words, because the root-word meaning becomes flavored with the other words connected to it. Based on what I've seen, it doesn't make sense to say that one root word has complete primacy over the others in terms of emphasis of meaning.

For example, the most common "thana" word I know is "satipatthana," which has the roots:

sati: presence of mind, to remember

pa: intense, or going beyond

thana: a state or condition, standing still

Please note that "thana" has both a being definition as well as a doing definition. I don't think we can ignore that.

If we were to analyze the word "satipatthana" in the same manner that you have analyzed the word "suramerayamajjapadamatthana," then we'd have to conclude that satipatthana is some kind of condition caused by sati. But in practical usage, the word "satipatthana" is much more than just that. The meaning of the word is not just some condition, but also a practice, an activity. I think this is crucial for understanding the word "satipatthana" (and also the way "thana" fits into this word): It is a practice, and it is flavored with sati.

Another example might be "thirasanna padatthana," or strong perception, which is one of the causes for the arising of sati. Again, it has the root word "thana." But does that mean it's just a condition? Or it is also a practice, an activity?

By the same token, "suramerayamajjapadamatthana" strikes me as a word that describes not just a condition, but also a practice, in this case an activity flavored with alcohol and heedlessness, all blended together in a unified concept. One stumbling block for me in your translation, Kare, is your use of the phrase "caused by" to separate alcohol away from what you perceive as the more important root words. You attribute this separation to grammar, but your selection of "caused by" does not appear to me to be a function of grammar. Rather, it appears to be a function of your interpretation.

So in trying to understand the Pali, I would be inclined to look at "satipatthana" and "suramerayamajjapadamatthana" in the same way. If "satipatthana" is a word for a kind of practice, then that means "suramerayamajjapadamatthana" also is a word for a kind of practice.

Which means that the 5th precept (as enunciated in Pali) is best understood as abstention from a certain practice.

I stand to be corrected. Thanks for your willingness to discuss.

:anjali:

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Re: Pamāda

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Nov 07, 2009 4:50 pm

I have found further understanding of this precept by seeing what the buddha said 'pamada' (perhaps carelessly translated as carelessness, heedlessness) was.

"When a monk dwells without restraint over the faculty of the intellect, the mind is stained with ideas cognizable via the intellect. When the mind is stained, there is no joy. There being no joy, there is no rapture. There being no rapture, there is no serenity. There being no serenity, he dwells in suffering. The mind of one who suffers does not become centered. When the mind is uncentered, phenomena (dhammas) don't become manifest. When phenomena aren't manifest, one is classed simply as one who dwells in heedlessness.

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

The main effect of alcohol for me is that it dulls my mindfulness and clarity of perception. This immediately (even after one drink) affects my ability to experience phenomena as they really are.

best wishes

RYB
With Metta

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Re: Pamāda

Postby Kare » Sat Nov 07, 2009 7:22 pm

Hi Jechbi,

You are right that thana is an element in patthana. But there is still a difference between thana and patthana. The difference is the prefix pa-. Prefixes usually have some general meaning, but their meaning is often not so clear and simple that we can deduce the meaning of the resulting word when we add a prefix to a root. So trying to translate pa- and -thana separately, and then hoping that these translations will add up to give the meaning of patthana, is a rather unsafe method. Prefixes do not behave like normal words in a compound do.

This is a general rule that goes for many languages. Let's take one English example. The meaning of "hold" is relatively clear and simple. Now, you can add the prefix be- (and maybe a good dictionary or lexicon can give some kind of meaning to it), but once you add be- and -hold, you get "behold", which means something quite different from the normal meanings of "hold".

Therefore trying to deduce the meaning of thana from patthana is not very relevant. It is possible that patthana really should be upatthana, so that the prefix is upa- and not pa-, but that does not make much difference here.

You then asked about my inserting "caused by". In a tappurisa compound there is a case relationship between the separate elements of the compound. Cases describe relationships that in English mostly are expressed through prepositions, so in order to transfer this case relationship when translating, we just have to insert some prepositions. I chose "caused by" in order to make the meaning clear, but I might also just have used a single word, as for instance "by" or maybe "through".

Since cases in inflected languages (like Pali) carry much of the meaning that prepositions carry in analytical languages (like English), we lose important nuances (and may risk turning the meaning of the expression upside down) if we forget to insert necessary words while translating. Of course there are certain problems involved, as well. In resolving this kind of compound words it is often possible to discuss exactly what case relationships are involved, since the elements of a compound are stripped of case endings or inflections - and if you read the Pali commentaries, you will find that this often is done. The commentator list different alternatives and say that if this case is intended, the meaning will be such and such, but if that case is intended, the meaning will be such and such. Often, but not always, the commentator after giving the alternatives, then says which interpretation is to be preferred.
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Re: Pamāda

Postby Jechbi » Sat Nov 07, 2009 7:44 pm


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Re: Pamāda

Postby Kare » Sat Nov 07, 2009 9:45 pm

Mettāya,
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Re: Pamāda

Postby Jechbi » Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:23 pm



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