tiltbillings wrote:There is, bhikkhus, a not-born, a not-brought-to-being, a not-made, a not-conditioned.
-- J. Ireland
There is, monks, an unborn -- unbecome -- unmade -- unfabricated.
Monks, there is a not-born, a not-brought-to-being, a not-made, a not-compounded.
-- F.L. Woodward
In Pali the line reads:
"Atthi [There is] ajaata.m [unborn], abhuuta.m [unproduced], akata.m, [unmade], asankhata.m [unconditioned]."
What these translations fail to get across is that the four “un/not” words are in Pali adjectives. The noun is unstated. There is what? There is what that is ajaata.m, etc?
As mysterious as Udana 80 sounds, context gives a look at what the text is about. The immediate context, the sutta opens:
Thus have I heard. At one time the Lord was staying near Savatthi in the Jeta Wood at Anathapindika's monastery. On that occasion the Lord was instructing, rousing, inspiring, and gladdening the bhikkhus with a Dhamma talk connected with Nibbana, and those bhikkhus, being receptive and attentive and concentrating the whole mind, were intent on listening to Dhamma. Then, on realizing its significance, the Lord uttered on that occasion this inspired utterance: There is, bhikkhus, a not-born….
What we see is that the subject is nibbana. There is what?
Nibbana. The four adjective modify, describe nibbana. So in the forms we have them above or in variations they are used to describe or characterize nibbana or are synonyms of nibbana.
Now, we can try to take the un-words as nouns, translating them as tappurisa
compounds, which is the most common way, giving us “the unconditioned,” or we can take them as being bahubbihi
compounds, which more accurately reflects what is going in the text in question.
A far better translation:
This said by the Blessed One, the Worthy One, was heard by me in this
way: "Monks, there is freedom from birth, freedom from becoming, freedom from
making, freedom from conditioning.
For, monks if there were not this freedom from birth, freedom from becoming,
freedom from making, freedom from conditioning, then escape from that which is
birth, becoming, making, conditioning, would not be known here.
But, monks, because there is freedom from birth, freedom from becoming, freedom
from making, freedom from conditioning, therefore the escape from that which is
birth, becoming, making, conditioning is known.”
[Here is the Buddha’s own verse commentary on his statement.]
This meaning the Blessed One spoke, it is spoken here in this way:
That which is born, become, arisen, made, conditioned,
And thus unstable, put together of decay and death,
The seat of disease, brittle,
Caused and craving food,
That is not fit to find pleasure in.
Being freed of this, calmed beyond conjecture, stable,
Freed from birth, freed from arising, freed from sorrow,
Freed from passions, the elements of suffering stopped,
The conditioning [of greed, hatred and delusion] appeased,
This is ease [bliss]. -- Iti 37-8