Evolution or devolution, or both? (Agganna Sutta)

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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mikenz66
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Re: Evolution or devolution, or both? (Agganna Sutta)

Post by mikenz66 »

Greetings Nori,

It's not simple to classify which texts are early and which are later. See, for example, the discussion in this thread: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... ead#unread" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; which indicates that the different parts of that particular sutta were probably written at different times (and that the later part also appears in the Samyutta Nikaya).

Now, is the Agganana Sutta a later addition, or something that Buddha actually taught, and if the latter, what are we to make of it? What is the point of that teaching? Presumably the point was to help end suffering.

As discussed here: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=7464" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; it is quite likely that the Buddha made use of connections to, and parodies of, Vedic ideas in his teaching. Richard Gombrich has a discussion of the Agganna Sutta in "What the Buddha Thought". I'll try to find it later...

This talk makes good use of this sutta:
One Breath
Ajahn Sujato talks about Buddhism and the environment.

http://community.dhammaloka.org.au/thre ... 8#post1728" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


:anjali:
Mike
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Nicholas Weeks
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Re: devolution

Post by Nicholas Weeks »

Humans devolving from a supra-physical, god-like status is a common thread in Vedic and other ancient beliefs. Buddha taught the same idea.

Modern materialistic notions of mind being tacked onto the body and resulting from varied chemical & fleshy interactions is wrong; not only wrong but inverted.

When Buddha said his Dhamma goes "against the current", that is true in so many ways we have never thought of.

Have not read it, but Cremo's work Human Devolution gives the Vedic explanation.
Better it is to live one day virtuous and meditative than to live a hundred years immoral and uncontrolled. Dhammapada
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Ben
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Re: devolution

Post by Ben »

Will wrote:When Buddha said his Dhamma goes "against the current", that is true in so many ways we have never thought of.
Really? How can you be so sure?
“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.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Nicholas Weeks
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Re: devolution

Post by Nicholas Weeks »

Ben wrote:
Will wrote:When Buddha said his Dhamma goes "against the current", that is true in so many ways we have never thought of.
Really? How can you be so sure?
Sure about what? The "current" quote you can look up. "Never thought of" means the Buddha's wisdom is far deeper than mine - but not Ben's?
Better it is to live one day virtuous and meditative than to live a hundred years immoral and uncontrolled. Dhammapada
alan
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Re: Evolution or devolution, or both? (Agganna Sutta)

Post by alan »

I think Ben is questioning your assertion that Buddha taught the ideas found in the Vedas.
Can't quite understand your second paragraph. Can you clarify this assertion?

There is a general understanding of "against the current", but you take another tack. You seem to imply there is something we don't know. Care to share your wisdom?
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Nicholas Weeks
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Re: Agganna Sutta

Post by Nicholas Weeks »

alan wrote:I think Ben is questioning your assertion that Buddha taught the ideas found in the Vedas.
Can't quite understand your second paragraph. Can you clarify this assertion?

There is a general understanding of "against the current", but you take another tack. You seem to imply there is something we don't know. Care to share your wisdom?
I will wait for Ben to clarify his own remark.

The 2nd para is about the purely materialistic notion of human origin, up from the slime, with mind & consciousness being just brain activity. The sutta says there was no real "origin", but a non-physical deva-like existence with consciousness.

What many do not believe or know is that Buddha teaches, in this sutta, a human genesis that contradicts modern science. Not much of an insight really, just trusting Buddha over materialistic science.
Better it is to live one day virtuous and meditative than to live a hundred years immoral and uncontrolled. Dhammapada
Nori
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Re: Evolution or devolution, or both? (Agganna Sutta)

Post by Nori »

mikenz66 wrote:It's not simple to classify which texts are early and which are later. ..which indicates that the different parts of that particular sutta were probably written at different times..
Hi Mike,

It is understood by most monks and scholars alike, that the Sutta Nipata and the Dhammapada are some of the earliest works in the Tipitaka. This is beyond any doubt (though sections may have been added at different times). This is determined from: a) the language - which is an earlier form of Pali, b) the setting of the suttas - which is pre-monastic, and c) oral tradition and knowledge passed down by monks.

From Fausboll / Muller introduction:
"The collection of discourses, Sutta-Nipâta, which I have here translated, is very remarkable, as there can be no doubt that it contains some remnants of Primitive Buddhism. I consider the greater part of the Mahâvagga, and nearly the whole of the Atthakavagga as very old. I have arrived at this conclusion from two reasons, first from the language, and secondly from the contents.

We not only find here what we meet with in other Pâli poetry, the fuller Vedic forms of nouns and verbs in the plural, as avîtatamhâse, panditâse, dhammâse, sitâse, ... &c.; ...; contracted (or sometimes old) forms, as santyâ, gakkâ, duggakkâ, ...; but also some unusual (sometimes old) forms and words, as apukkhasi, ... All this proves, I think, that these parts of the book are much older than the Suttas...

In the contents of the Suttanipâta we have, I think, an important contribution to the right understanding of Primitive Buddhism, for we see here a picture not of life in monasteries, but of the life of hermits in its first stage. We have before us not the systematizing of the later Buddhist church, but the first germs of a system, the fundamental ideas of which come out with sufficient clearness."

----

Not challenge you, just FYI.

Just to make a point, there are no such mythologies contained in either of these books.

With Metta,
Nori
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rhinoceroshorn
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Re: Evolution or devolution, or both? (Agganna Sutta)

Post by rhinoceroshorn »

DNS wrote: Thu Apr 15, 2010 2:01 pm
Lazy_eye wrote: From the evolutionary standpoint how could any of this be true? We are primates and sexual differentiation occurred much further back in evolutionary history, before there were even primates let alone humans. (Note: I don't mean this as a rhetorical question. I'm asking how we can or should interpret the sutta in light of the evidence about human origins).
Hi LE,

Not literally true, correct, but many similarities to how life did evolve in this Sutta and in others. The lack of sex organs is compatible to the first bacteria and forms of life as we know it from science. The first forms of life did not have sex differentiation, but eventually 'multiplied' and later formed sex differentiation and organs.

I agree, not literally correct as it is written in DN 27, but close enough for a broad interpretation to compare to a natural scientific process and much, much better than as found in creation stories and myths from other religions. For example, focusing on the role of craving and natural selection, rather than an all-powerful creator god who makes us what we are today.
Thanks for this! :thumbsup:
Without resistance in all four directions,
content with whatever you get,
enduring troubles with no dismay,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.
Sutta Nipāta 1.3 - Khaggavisana Sutta
Image
But if they hit you with a stick...?"
"...I will think, 'These people are very civilized, in that they don't hit me with a knife.'..."
"But if they hit you with a knife...?"
"...I will think, 'These people are very civilized, in that they don't take my life with a sharp knife.'..."
SN35.88
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rhinoceroshorn
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Re: Evolution or devolution, or both? (Agganna Sutta)

Post by rhinoceroshorn »

Maybe the human realm really came from the animal realm. The suttas don't deny this idea of one realm coming from the other.
Asuras came from devas, for example. They were expelled from Tāvatiṃsa. :buddha1:
Without resistance in all four directions,
content with whatever you get,
enduring troubles with no dismay,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.
Sutta Nipāta 1.3 - Khaggavisana Sutta
Image
But if they hit you with a stick...?"
"...I will think, 'These people are very civilized, in that they don't hit me with a knife.'..."
"But if they hit you with a knife...?"
"...I will think, 'These people are very civilized, in that they don't take my life with a sharp knife.'..."
SN35.88
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Kim OHara
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Re: Evolution or devolution, or both? (Agganna Sutta)

Post by Kim OHara »

rhinoceroshorn wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:01 pm
DNS wrote: Thu Apr 15, 2010 2:01 pm
Lazy_eye wrote: From the evolutionary standpoint how could any of this be true? We are primates and sexual differentiation occurred much further back in evolutionary history, before there were even primates let alone humans. (Note: I don't mean this as a rhetorical question. I'm asking how we can or should interpret the sutta in light of the evidence about human origins).
Hi LE,

Not literally true, correct, but many similarities to how life did evolve in this Sutta and in others. The lack of sex organs is compatible to the first bacteria and forms of life as we know it from science. The first forms of life did not have sex differentiation, but eventually 'multiplied' and later formed sex differentiation and organs.

I agree, not literally correct as it is written in DN 27, but close enough for a broad interpretation to compare to a natural scientific process and much, much better than as found in creation stories and myths from other religions. For example, focusing on the role of craving and natural selection, rather than an all-powerful creator god who makes us what we are today.
Thanks for this! :thumbsup:
:thinking:
That's an extreme necro, rhinoceroshorn - 9 years!

:coffee:
Kim
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confusedlayman
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Re: Evolution or devolution, or both? (Agganna Sutta)

Post by confusedlayman »

rhinoceroshorn wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:12 pm Maybe the human realm really came from the animal realm. The suttas don't deny this idea of one realm coming from the other.
Asuras came from devas, for example. They were expelled from Tāvatiṃsa. :buddha1:
are both tavatmsa and asura are same realm but different continent? or two different planets?
dont think
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confusedlayman
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Re: Evolution or devolution, or both? (Agganna Sutta)

Post by confusedlayman »

May be gods came to human world and they become human

then extintion

then single cell to humans again? however the physical aspect is not at all relavence to buddhism.. we focus on mental evolution...
dont think
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rhinoceroshorn
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Re: Evolution or devolution, or both? (Agganna Sutta)

Post by rhinoceroshorn »

confusedlayman wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 8:56 am
rhinoceroshorn wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:12 pm Maybe the human realm really came from the animal realm. The suttas don't deny this idea of one realm coming from the other.
Asuras came from devas, for example. They were expelled from Tāvatiṃsa. :buddha1:
are both tavatmsa and asura are same realm but different continent? or two different planets?
Apparently asuras and devas shared the same realm, but at some point they were divided.

From Kulāvaka Jātaka.

Image
Image
Without resistance in all four directions,
content with whatever you get,
enduring troubles with no dismay,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.
Sutta Nipāta 1.3 - Khaggavisana Sutta
Image
But if they hit you with a stick...?"
"...I will think, 'These people are very civilized, in that they don't hit me with a knife.'..."
"But if they hit you with a knife...?"
"...I will think, 'These people are very civilized, in that they don't take my life with a sharp knife.'..."
SN35.88
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rhinoceroshorn
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Re: Evolution or devolution, or both? (Agganna Sutta)

Post by rhinoceroshorn »

Kim OHara wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 12:45 am That's an extreme necro, rhinoceroshorn - 9 years!

:coffee:
Kim
Some topics are too good to be left in the past. :tongue:
Without resistance in all four directions,
content with whatever you get,
enduring troubles with no dismay,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.
Sutta Nipāta 1.3 - Khaggavisana Sutta
Image
But if they hit you with a stick...?"
"...I will think, 'These people are very civilized, in that they don't hit me with a knife.'..."
"But if they hit you with a knife...?"
"...I will think, 'These people are very civilized, in that they don't take my life with a sharp knife.'..."
SN35.88
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SDC
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Re: Evolution or devolution, or both? (Agganna Sutta)

Post by SDC »

Here is a post of mine from Classical Theravada. I was surprised to pick up on this little nugget. Not sure if I'm misreading but I thought it was interesting:

-------


If you back up to the beginning of DN 27 (Aggañña Sutta), you'll see this exchange:
DN 27 wrote:Then the Buddha said to Vāseṭṭha, “Vāseṭṭha, you are both brahmins by birth and clan, and have gone forth from the lay life to homelessness from a brahmin family. I hope you don’t have to suffer abuse and insults from the brahmins.”

“Actually, sir, the brahmins do insult and abuse us with their typical insults to the fullest extent.”

“But how do the brahmins insult you?”

“Sir, the brahmins say: ‘Only brahmins are the highest caste; other castes are inferior. Only brahmins are the light caste; other castes are dark. Only brahmins are purified, not others. Only brahmins are Brahmā’s rightful sons, born of his mouth, born of Brahmā, created by Brahmā, heirs of Brahmā. You’ve both abandoned the best caste to join an inferior caste, namely these shavelings, fake ascetics, riffraff, black spawn from the feet of our Kinsman. This is not right, it’s not proper!’ That’s how the brahmins insult us.”

“Actually, Vāseṭṭha, the brahmins are forgetting their tradition when they say this to you.
Keeping that in mind, it seems the entire sutta beyond that point is about the Brahmin tradition in itself and not from the perspective of the Dhamma. There is only a brief reference at the end where he points out how the different "circles" can gain Right View if they practice the Dhamma.

---

In terms of the world in the Noble One's Discipline:
SN 35.116 wrote:The eye is that in the world by which one is a perceiver of the world, a conceiver of the world . The ear … The nose … The tongue … The body … The mind is that in the world by which one is a perceiver of the world, a conceiver of the world. That in the world by which one is a perceiver of the world, a conceiver of the world—this is called the world in the Noble One’s Discipline.
There is also AN 4.45 "To Rohitassa" about the origin and the end of the world.

Hope this helps.
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