Chinese version of MN 117 is different?

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Chinese version of MN 117 is different?

Postby vinasp » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:12 pm

Hi everyone,

I have, for many years, understood that the discourses known as the Chinese Agama's were, more or less, identical to the Pali Nikaya's. But I recently found a website which gave a translation, from the Chinese, of the Mahacattarisaka Sutta (MN 117). This chinese version seems to be substantially different, and raises some interesting questions.

The main page of the site: http://ariyavansa.org/

The Chinese translation: http://ariyavansa.org/dd-home/dd-030/

MN 117 with the differences in bold type: http://ariyavansa.org/dd-home/dd-030/dd-030s/

Best wishes, Vincent.
Last edited by vinasp on Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Chinese version of MN 117 is different?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:27 pm

Hi vincent,

That's interesting. To summarise: the version you link to does not have the abhidhammic/supermundane "noble right XXX". We've discussed before that this is the only Sutta with the supermundane stuff, but that it's the standard abhidhamma/commentary statement.

See:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 341#p16848
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=1255
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 814#p23845

I don't think it's accurate to refer to the "Chinese version". As I understand it, it's a Chinese translation of the Canon of an early sect (other than Theravada).

Metta
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Re: Chinese version of MN 117 is different?

Postby Brizzy » Wed Mar 17, 2010 3:41 am

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

I have, for many years, understood that the discourses known as the Chinese Agama's where, more or less, identical to the Pali Nikaya's. But I recently found a website which gave a translation, from the Chinese, of the Mahacattarisaka Sutta (MN 117). This chinese version seems to be substantially different, and raises some interesting questions.

The main page of the site: http://ariyavansa.org/

The Chinese translation: http://ariyavansa.org/dd-home/dd-030/

MN 117 with the differences in bold type: http://ariyavansa.org/dd-home/dd-030/dd-030s/

Best wishes, Vincent.


Hi

Really enjoyed reading your links. It appears that the acquisition of Right View is more straight forward & attainable than what some later teachings might infer.

:smile:

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Re: Chinese version of MN 117 is different?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Mar 17, 2010 3:52 am

Brizzy wrote:Really enjoyed reading your links. It appears that the acquisition of Right View is more straight forward & attainable than what some later teachings might infer.

And it will irritate those who seize on the expression "right view with taints" and argue that it's not important - it's just "right view for dummies" - and that one should go straight to "right view without taints"... :stirthepot:

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Re: Chinese version of MN 117 is different?

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Mar 17, 2010 4:31 am

While we're on about irritating people ... the most obvious interpretation of the discrepancy is that some commentarial text snuck into the sutta some time after the two traditions split, i.e. well after the Buddha's time.
:stirthepot:

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Re: Chinese version of MN 117 is different?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Mar 17, 2010 4:35 am

Yes, Kim, that's what Bhikkhu Bodhi suggests in his talks on the MN, and Ajahn Brahmali also suggests this on his talk about this Sutta at the BSWA website (which is currently being reformatted).

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Re: Chinese version of MN 117 is different?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Mar 17, 2010 4:37 am

Greetings Vincent,

Do you mind if we move this to the Early Buddhism forum?

That seems like a good place for it given some of the avenues of investigation it might take.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Chinese version of MN 117 is different?

Postby Brizzy » Wed Mar 17, 2010 4:42 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:While we're on about irritating people ... the most obvious interpretation of the discrepancy is that some commentarial text snuck into the sutta some time after the two traditions split, i.e. well after the Buddha's time.
:stirthepot:

Kim


Hi

It is obvious and it brings the sutta in line with the vast array of suttas in the four Nikayas. However just because something is obvious and makes sense, dont expect people to accept it. :stirthepot:

:smile:

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Re: Chinese version of MN 117 is different?

Postby vinasp » Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:37 am

Hi retrofuturist,

retrofuturist wrote:Do you mind if we move this to the Early Buddhism forum?


I don't mind at all, if you think it should go there. Please move it over.

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: Chinese version of MN 117 is different?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Mar 17, 2010 12:56 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

I have, for many years, understood that the discourses known as the Chinese Agama's were, more or less, identical to the Pali Nikaya's. But I recently found a website which gave a translation, from the Chinese, of the Mahacattarisaka Sutta (MN 117). This chinese version seems to be substantially different, and raises some interesting questions.

...
Best wishes, Vincent.


Vincent,

Although there are some basic philological generalizations that can be made, it is always important to remember a golden rule of such philological investigations: Look at each and every example individually as a unique case.

It is a bit like saying: just because the average of a group of numbers is 20, doesn't mean that every number, or in fact, any number at all, is actually 20.
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.

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Re: Chinese version of MN 117 is different?

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:24 pm

Please continue, Ven Pannasikhara -
"... and in this particular case we happen to know ..."
Because the "we" doesn't (yet) include "me". :smile:

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Re: Chinese version of MN 117 is different?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Thu Mar 18, 2010 2:36 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:Please continue, Ven Pannasikhara -
"... and in this particular case we happen to know ..."
Because the "we" doesn't (yet) include "me". :smile:

:namaste:
Kim


Sorry Kim, can you run that past me again?
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Re: Chinese version of MN 117 is different?

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:28 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:Please continue, Ven Pannasikhara -
"... and in this particular case we happen to know ..."
Because the "we" doesn't (yet) include "me". :smile:

:namaste:
Kim


Sorry Kim, can you run that past me again?

"Although there are some basic philological generalizations that can be made, it is always important to remember a golden rule of such philological investigations: Look at each and every example individually as a unique case," from your previous post, could have continued, "and in this particular case we happen to know ..." and I was just expressing a wish that it had done so.
Perhaps my request should have been more direct. :juggling:
I'm the one who should be apologising.
:namaste:
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Re: Chinese version of MN 117 is different?

Postby Wind » Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:33 am

So do we know if it's only MN 117 that is different than the Chinese version? Or are there more discrepancies in other Suttas? I think it's critical to observe the discrepancies to figure out what happened.

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Re: Chinese version of MN 117 is different?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:12 am

Wind wrote:So do we know if it's only MN 117 that is different than the Chinese version? Or are there more discrepancies in other Suttas? I think it's critical to observe the discrepancies to figure out what happened.

What happened? Time and distance.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Chinese version of MN 117 is different?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:41 am

Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:What happened? Time and distance.


Yes, though interestingly in this case it's the Theravadins at risk of being accused of doctoring the suttas by the naughty, naughty heretics... usually it's the other way around.

No one is ever wholly praised or blamed.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: Chinese version of MN 117 is different?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Mar 18, 2010 6:01 am

retrofuturist wrote:Yes, though interestingly in this case it's the Theravadins at risk of being accused of doctoring the suttas by the naughty, naughty heretics... usually it's the other way around.

What did you expect? Most of what's available to us is written by Theravada for Theravada.

Of course, since this particular passage is consistent with the Abhidhamma and the Commentaries, if one buys into the "Theravada Package" it's not really an issue. It's not like it's some gaping error that would make my practise seem worthless. I've always interpreted that Sutta as saying that one needs the regular right view to make progress and the other version is just the end result of the path. So if a bit of Abhidhamma/Commentary has snuck in, it's really of no practical concern to me.

At the risk of going off topic (but to further explain my comments above) I think that the cases where scholars such as Gombrich have pointed out different ways of interpreting Suttas in light of the prevailing Brahmin or Jain views are more interesting than this sort of minor "tamperings" of the Suttas to to bring them more in line with the Commentaries or Abhidhamma.

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Re: Chinese version of MN 117 is different?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Mar 18, 2010 7:24 am

Wind wrote:So do we know if it's only MN 117 that is different than the Chinese version? Or are there more discrepancies in other Suttas? I think it's critical to observe the discrepancies to figure out what happened.


They are from different schools so, YES!
each school used there own doctrine to compile the texts, whether latter work crept in or was influenced by this is another matter, but out of the 7 satipatthana suttas each has differences, sections or words included or not depending on the compiler of that particular version, one according to Sujato is obviously incompletely edited.

I do not know about the other comparative suttas to comment on them, but if you are editing or compiling your particular interpretation will creep in somewhere, and if it is done by a group of like minded people this may give more emphasis.
I think it is unwise to say something is creeping in when it could be the case of it creeping out, if the related text supports the inclusion of the differences then are the differences wrong or is the omition wrong?

there is only two question that need answered, does it align with Dhamma? or does it shift the corresponding teachings within its own tradition?
sure if it is a no to either of these questions then more examination is needed, and if it a yes to both then comparative study of the corresponding text where differences are maybe worthwhile in finding out why there is/are differences, the answer could be simple or complex, nothing more than what is being pointed to (the path an aspect of the path or the fruit) or something else someone may have gotten it wrong, or both have gotten it correct.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Chinese version of MN 117 is different?

Postby vinasp » Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:09 pm

Hi everyone,

Here is the 'blog' entry for 04/08/08 by 'ariyavansa', the bhikkhu who runs the site:

"... The Discourse of the Great Forty, which is #117 of the collection. This was a difficult discourse to come back to after our break because there some statements in it that are not consistent with the other discourses of the Majjhima Nikáya. It seems quite likely that some sentences were added in at some later point reflecting the thinking of later compilers of the Pali Cannon and of the Abhidhamma. These additions imply a different layout of the path which includes a Supramundane Path along with what would be considered the normal Eight-Fold Path. Whether we consider the Supramundane Path an actual teaching of the Buddha or not should not stop us from looking carefully at this discourse, as it adds an extra dimension to the Noble Eight-Fold Path. For our study of this discourse, I have added to my usual source of the Majjhima Nikáya in the Pali Cannon, the Madhyáma Ágama of the Chinese Buddhist Scriptures to get a clearer understanding of this discourse. So, we have two study pages for your consideration – the First Version of the Mahácattárisaka Sutta is from the Chinese text and reflects what might be called a more traditional view of the Path while still introducing the additional qualities of the Path. The Second Version of the Mahácattárisaka Sutta is from the Pali text and includes not only the additional two qualities, but also speaks of the Supramundane Path which, as I said, seems to be a later development influenced by the Abhidhamma. Otherwise, the two versions are practically identical."

Link: http://ariyavansa.org/2008/08/04/04-08-08/

Some info about ariyavansa bhikkhu: http://ariyavansa.org/ariyavansa-bhikkhu/

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: Chinese version of MN 117 is different?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Mar 19, 2010 4:34 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:What happened? Time and distance.


Yes, though interestingly in this case it's the Theravadins at risk of being accused of doctoring the suttas by the naughty, naughty heretics... usually it's the other way around.

No one is ever wholly praised or blamed.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Differences do not necessitate the idea of "doctoring", implying deliberate and calculated changes. A basic understanding of early sutta transmission should put this accusation to rest. Then it is not an issue of praise or blame at all.
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