Please read that short thread first before reading on. (Note: You can't find AT's translation of AN8.19, but the same metaphorical comparison occurs at Udana, his note above is from http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html)1. The Pali here reads, na āyataken'eva papāto. The Commentary insists that this phrase means, "with no abrupt drop-off." There are three reasons for not accepting the Commentary's interpretation here. (a) The first is grammatical. The word āyataka means "long, drawn out; lasting a long time." To interpret āyatakena, the instrumental of a word meaning "long, drawn out," to mean "abrupt" makes little sense. (b) The second reason is geographical. The continental shelf off the east coast of India does have a sudden drop-off after a long gradual slope. (c) The third reason is doctrinal. As noted in the interpretation of the simile, the shape of the ocean floor corresponds to the course of the practice. If there were no sudden drop-off, there would be no sudden penetration to awakening. However, there are many cases of sudden penetration in the Canon, Exhibit A being Bāhiya's attainment of arahantship in Ud 1.10. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
I've been mulling over the 2 different takes on this, and want to get to the bottom of it, since I need a proper translation for my book.
I get what he means by "To interpret āyatakena, the instrumental of a word meaning "long, drawn out," to mean "abrupt" makes little sense." However, the idea of "long" can still agree with the idea of a long drop-off, which is of course is sudden or abrupt. Thus, "with no *long* drop-off."
As for the geographical reason, perhaps in practical terms the people then don't consider the drop-off that is so far off the shore.
As for the doctrinal reason, Bāhiya's case was really a sudden penetration. However he didn't go through a gradual training. So, perhaps we don't have to take that into consideration.
Also, I find AT's "with a sudden drop-off only after a long stretch" for "na āyatakeneva papāto" hard to fathom. Can we just transpose the "ena" like that? And what happened to the "na"?
I'd like to hear other's thoughts on this.