What is the "self-doer" in AN 6.38?

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zan
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What is the "self-doer" in AN 6.38?

Post by zan »

From the traditional Theravada (commentary tradition, Visuddhimagga, etc.), not any modern or non-orthodox interpretation, what is this "self-doer"?
I am just a learner. Keep that in mind when you read my words.

Just to be safe, assume all of my words could be incorrect. Look to an arahant for total accuracy and confirmation.
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Coëmgenu
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Re: What is the "self-doer" in AN 6.38?

Post by Coëmgenu »

zan wrote:From the traditional Theravada (commentary tradition, Visuddhimagga, etc.), not any modern or non-orthodox interpretation, what is this "self-doer"?
The Visuddhimagga doesn't address the Attakārīsutta. The text you are looking for, I think, is called the Manorathapurani, but there isn't a free copy available on the internet. My best guess is that you would be looking for Volume 1.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.

(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
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mikenz66
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Re: What is the "self-doer" in AN 6.38?

Post by mikenz66 »

There are some notes in the version on ATI:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .html#fn-3

Bhikkhu Bodhi has:

“Master Gotama, I hold such a thesis and view as this: ‘There
is no self-initiative; there is no initiative taken by others.’”
  • Natthi attakāro, natthi parakāro. Lit., “There is no self-doing, there
    is no other-doing.” The Buddha refutes him just below by point-
    ing out the obvious fact that the brahmin has come of his own
    free will (sayaṃ) and will depart of his own free will.
“Brahmin, I have never seen or heard of anyone holding such
a thesis and view as this. For how [338] can one who comes on
his own and returns on his own say: ‘There is no self-initiative;
there is no initiative taken by others’?

(1) “What do you think, brahmin? Does the element of insti-
gation exist?
  • Ārambhadhātu. Mp: “The energy that occurs by way of beginning
    [an activity]” (ārabhanavasena pavattaviriyaṃ). The next two ele-
    ments mentioned just below, nikkamadhātu and parakkamadhātu,
    can be understood respectively as the energy needed to persist
    in an action and to consummate it. The three are proposed as
    the antidote to dullness and drowsiness at 1:18 and SN 46:51, V
    105, 28 –106, 2 , and as means of nurturing the enlightenment factor
    of energy at SN 46:2, V 66, 9–15 , and SN 46:51, V 104, 14–20 .
...

:anjali:
Mike
santa100
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Re: What is the "self-doer" in AN 6.38?

Post by santa100 »

In AN 6.38, the Buddha corrected a brahman's wrong understanding that people are not responsible for their own actions. MN 135 showed that it's not the case.
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Coëmgenu
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Re: What is the "self-doer" in AN 6.38?

Post by Coëmgenu »

One has to tread carefully in regards to issues dealing with selves and selfhoods on dhammawheel. The trolls are hungry and alert for any taste of succulent nascent debate. Suffice to say the view "*I* will be annihilated upon death." is viewed as wrong by the Buddha.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.

(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
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robertk
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Re: What is the "self-doer" in AN 6.38?

Post by robertk »

Nina van Gorkom replied to a question about this sutta:

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/dha ... pics/48434

Nina van Gorkom
Message 3 of 13 , Aug 2, 2005
View Source
Hi Howard, Herman, and all,
I like Howard's elaboration, especially the ending: he
> wisely disabused him of his philosophy of hopelessness and helplessness.>
This can asnwer some of Herman's questions.
The translation is not quite clear. I used the PTS, and also the Thai and
co.
op 02-08-2005 00:56 schreef [email protected] op [email protected]:
Text: .... Good Gotama I am of this view and say: Nothing is done by the
self,
> nothing is done by others...
>
> Brahmin, is there an occasion for making effort?
---------
N: PTS: Is there such a thing as initiative?
Pali: for thing: dhaatu, element. Initiative: aarabbhadhaatu
Aarabbha: undertaking or effort, like aarambha, or viriyaarambha.
------
Text: Brahmin, when there is an occasion for making effort, when there is a
> sentient being making effort, this is the being doing and the
> otherness.
------
N: For occasion: dhaatu, element. PTS: this is among men the self-agency,
this is the other-agency.
Thai: doing for oneself, doing for someone else.
-------
Brahmin, when there is a going forth....re....,when there
> is a going forward, ...re.... when there is firmness, ...re... when
> there is uprightness .....re....when there is endurance, ....re....
> when there is a sentient being enduring, this is the being doing and
> the otherness.
-------
N: going forth, nikkama-dhaatu: the effort that has the nature (sabhaava) of
going away from laziness, according to the Co. Each of the following words
denoting a motion, standing or halting are actually all meaning effort. And
the word dhaatu is added in the sutta text to each of them.
thaama dhaatu, meaning: vigor, steadfastness, strength. PTS : halting.
The text above has: uprightness, but all of these words stand for: energy as
the Co. states. The element of energy. Energy is a conditioned element
devoid of self.
Thus in this sutta we find the two kinds of realities: the functional (or
conventional) and the ultimate realities (dhaatus) combined.
There is no conflict. We can think and talk about ourselves and others, lead
our daily life naturally, and at the same time develop more understanding of
ultimate truth, of the conditioned dhaatus.
Nina.
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Dhammanando
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Re: What is the "self-doer" in AN 6.38?

Post by Dhammanando »

zan wrote:From the traditional Theravada (commentary tradition, Visuddhimagga, etc.), not any modern or non-orthodox interpretation, what is this "self-doer"?
It's a mistranslation. The words found in the body of the sutta are attakāra and parakāra, meaning 'self-determination' and 'determination by others'. The word attakārī occurs only as one of the variant readings of the name of the sutta.

"Self-determination" and "determination by others", together with "personal determination" (purisakāra) are among the things that are repudiated in the fatalistic teaching of Makkhali Gosāla. I can't recall how they are formally defined in the commentaries, but I do recall that the most useful source is the commentary to the Sāmaññaphala Sutta, translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi as Discourse on the Fruits of Recluseship. If anyone has a copy perhaps they would care to post the definitions.
Anabhirati kho, āvuso, imasmiṃ dhammavinaye dukkhā, abhirati sukhā.

“To not delight in this dhammavinaya, friend, is painful; to delight in it is bliss.”
(Sukhasutta, AN 10:66)
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robertk
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Re: What is the "self-doer" in AN 6.38?

Post by robertk »

Dhammanando wrote:
zan wrote:From the traditional Theravada (commentary tradition, Visuddhimagga, etc.), not any modern or non-orthodox interpretation, what is this "self-doer"?
It's a mistranslation. The words found in the body of the sutta are attakāra and parakāra, meaning 'self-determination' and 'determination by others'. The word attakārī occurs only as one of the variant readings of the name of the sutta.

"Self-determination" and "determination by others", together with "personal determination" (purisakāra) are among the things that are repudiated in the fatalistic teaching of Makkhali Gosāla. I can't recall how they are formally defined in the commentaries, but I do recall that the most useful source is the commentary to the Sāmaññaphala Sutta, translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi as Discourse on the Fruits of Recluseship. If anyone has a copy perhaps they would care to post the definitions.
Samannaphala Sutta 'The Doctrine of Makkhali
Gosala':

Makkhali Gosala said to me: 'Great king, there is no cause or
condition for the defilement of beings; beings are defiled without any
cause or condition. There is no cause or condition for the purification
of beings; beings are purified without cause or condition. There is no
self-determination, no determination by others, no personal determination.
There is no power, no energy, no personal strength, no personal
fortitude. All sentient beings, all living beings, all creatures, all
souls, are helpless, powerless, devoid of energy. Undergoing
transformation by destiny, circumstance, and nature, they experience
pleasure and pain in the six classes of men.
[..]
"Though one might think: 'by this moral discipline or observance or
austerity or holy life I will ripen unripened kamma and eliminate ripened
kamma whenever it comes up' - that cannot be. For pleasure and pain are
measured out. Samsara's limits are fixed, and they can neither be
shortened or extended. There is no advancing forward and no falling back.
Just as, when a ball of string is thrown, it rolls along unwinding until
it comes to its end, in the same way, the foolish and the wise roam and
wander (for the fixed length of time), after which they make an end to
suffering.'
zan
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Joined: Sun Aug 28, 2016 1:57 pm

Re: What is the "self-doer" in AN 6.38?

Post by zan »

mikenz66 wrote:There are some notes in the version on ATI:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .html#fn-3

Bhikkhu Bodhi has:

“Master Gotama, I hold such a thesis and view as this: ‘There
is no self-initiative; there is no initiative taken by others.’”
  • Natthi attakāro, natthi parakāro. Lit., “There is no self-doing, there
    is no other-doing.” The Buddha refutes him just below by point-
    ing out the obvious fact that the brahmin has come of his own
    free will (sayaṃ) and will depart of his own free will.
“Brahmin, I have never seen or heard of anyone holding such
a thesis and view as this. For how [338] can one who comes on
his own and returns on his own say: ‘There is no self-initiative;
there is no initiative taken by others’?

(1) “What do you think, brahmin? Does the element of insti-
gation exist?
  • Ārambhadhātu. Mp: “The energy that occurs by way of beginning
    [an activity]” (ārabhanavasena pavattaviriyaṃ). The next two ele-
    ments mentioned just below, nikkamadhātu and parakkamadhātu,
    can be understood respectively as the energy needed to persist
    in an action and to consummate it. The three are proposed as
    the antidote to dullness and drowsiness at 1:18 and SN 46:51, V
    105, 28 –106, 2 , and as means of nurturing the enlightenment factor
    of energy at SN 46:2, V 66, 9–15 , and SN 46:51, V 104, 14–20 .
...

:anjali:
Mike
Thank you. I find it to be a bit of a riddle, mostly because the word "self" is used. Is it basically a naming convention? A kind of provisional "self" that is only conventionally and not ultimately existent?
I am just a learner. Keep that in mind when you read my words.

Just to be safe, assume all of my words could be incorrect. Look to an arahant for total accuracy and confirmation.
zan
Posts: 1122
Joined: Sun Aug 28, 2016 1:57 pm

Re: What is the "self-doer" in AN 6.38?

Post by zan »

Dhammanando wrote:
zan wrote:From the traditional Theravada (commentary tradition, Visuddhimagga, etc.), not any modern or non-orthodox interpretation, what is this "self-doer"?
It's a mistranslation. The words found in the body of the sutta are attakāra and parakāra, meaning 'self-determination' and 'determination by others'. The word attakārī occurs only as one of the variant readings of the name of the sutta.

"Self-determination" and "determination by others", together with "personal determination" (purisakāra) are among the things that are repudiated in the fatalistic teaching of Makkhali Gosāla. I can't recall how they are formally defined in the commentaries, but I do recall that the most useful source is the commentary to the Sāmaññaphala Sutta, translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi as Discourse on the Fruits of Recluseship. If anyone has a copy perhaps they would care to post the definitions.
Thank you. Could you please elaborate further? "Self" is actually the word that is confusing me. What is the meaning of the word in this context? Obviously it is not a permanent self, but what is it? Or am I looking at it backwards and it's actually just meaning 'determination originating in relation to a being', more or less as opposed to a 'being originating determination'?
I am just a learner. Keep that in mind when you read my words.

Just to be safe, assume all of my words could be incorrect. Look to an arahant for total accuracy and confirmation.
zan
Posts: 1122
Joined: Sun Aug 28, 2016 1:57 pm

Re: What is the "self-doer" in AN 6.38?

Post by zan »

robertk wrote:
Dhammanando wrote:
zan wrote:From the traditional Theravada (commentary tradition, Visuddhimagga, etc.), not any modern or non-orthodox interpretation, what is this "self-doer"?
It's a mistranslation. The words found in the body of the sutta are attakāra and parakāra, meaning 'self-determination' and 'determination by others'. The word attakārī occurs only as one of the variant readings of the name of the sutta.

"Self-determination" and "determination by others", together with "personal determination" (purisakāra) are among the things that are repudiated in the fatalistic teaching of Makkhali Gosāla. I can't recall how they are formally defined in the commentaries, but I do recall that the most useful source is the commentary to the Sāmaññaphala Sutta, translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi as Discourse on the Fruits of Recluseship. If anyone has a copy perhaps they would care to post the definitions.
Samannaphala Sutta 'The Doctrine of Makkhali
Gosala':

Makkhali Gosala said to me: 'Great king, there is no cause or
condition for the defilement of beings; beings are defiled without any
cause or condition. There is no cause or condition for the purification
of beings; beings are purified without cause or condition. There is no
self-determination, no determination by others, no personal determination.
There is no power, no energy, no personal strength, no personal
fortitude. All sentient beings, all living beings, all creatures, all
souls, are helpless, powerless, devoid of energy. Undergoing
transformation by destiny, circumstance, and nature, they experience
pleasure and pain in the six classes of men.
[..]
"Though one might think: 'by this moral discipline or observance or
austerity or holy life I will ripen unripened kamma and eliminate ripened
kamma whenever it comes up' - that cannot be. For pleasure and pain are
measured out. Samsara's limits are fixed, and they can neither be
shortened or extended. There is no advancing forward and no falling back.
Just as, when a ball of string is thrown, it rolls along unwinding until
it comes to its end, in the same way, the foolish and the wise roam and
wander (for the fixed length of time), after which they make an end to
suffering.'
Thanks!
I am just a learner. Keep that in mind when you read my words.

Just to be safe, assume all of my words could be incorrect. Look to an arahant for total accuracy and confirmation.
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Coëmgenu
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Re: What is the "self-doer" in AN 6.38?

Post by Coëmgenu »

Don't take my word on it, its a confusing sutta for sure, but I think the main area of exposition in the sutta is kamma-generated-by-self or kamma-generated-by-other, and the opinions on these two kammas that were held by a different teacher other than the Bhagavān, and refutation of the views of that other teacher, more so than about the existence or nonexistence of the self or any other selves.
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Fri Dec 16, 2016 3:00 am, edited 3 times in total.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.

(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
chownah
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Re: What is the "self-doer" in AN 6.38?

Post by chownah »

zan wrote:
Dhammanando wrote:
zan wrote:From the traditional Theravada (commentary tradition, Visuddhimagga, etc.), not any modern or non-orthodox interpretation, what is this "self-doer"?
It's a mistranslation. The words found in the body of the sutta are attakāra and parakāra, meaning 'self-determination' and 'determination by others'. The word attakārī occurs only as one of the variant readings of the name of the sutta.

"Self-determination" and "determination by others", together with "personal determination" (purisakāra) are among the things that are repudiated in the fatalistic teaching of Makkhali Gosāla. I can't recall how they are formally defined in the commentaries, but I do recall that the most useful source is the commentary to the Sāmaññaphala Sutta, translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi as Discourse on the Fruits of Recluseship. If anyone has a copy perhaps they would care to post the definitions.
Thank you. Could you please elaborate further? "Self" is actually the word that is confusing me. What is the meaning of the word in this context? Obviously it is not a permanent self, but what is it? Or am I looking at it backwards and it's actually just meaning 'determination originating in relation to a being', more or less as opposed to a 'being originating determination'?
I think I understand dhammanando's post so I offer my understanding which many be incorrect.
I think he is saying that it is the pali word "attakāra" is being mistranslated into the english "self".....and that the pali "attakāra" when it is coupled with "parakāra" should not be translated as "self doer" because this will tend to make the reader associate the term with the not self doctrine which in pali is not expounded using the pali "attakara" but instead uses some other word (I forget what it is in pali). He further says that the attakara coupled with parakara could better be translated as a name for a kind of determinism found in the fatalistic teaching of Makkhali Gosāla and which is refuted by him in his teachings. In other words the term does not refer to a self agent but rather it points to a choice making agent or some agent which makes a determination which effects the future and thus is a refutation of fatalism. It is unfortunate that the translation of "self doer" makes it sound like it is some kind of self which makes a determination......of course this begs the question of how this determination actually does come about.
chownah
zan
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Re: What is the "self-doer" in AN 6.38?

Post by zan »

In Sujato's translation the problem evaporates. As Venerable Dhammanando clarified: the translation in the op is a mistranslation. Instead of "Self doer" Sujato has "own volition". Much less prone to seem attached to the self doctrines. Volition is not a soul.
numbered discourses 6

4. deities

38. One’s Own Volition
Then a certain brahmin went up to the Buddha, and exchanged greetings with him. When the greetings and polite conversation were over, he sat down to one side and said to the Buddha:

“Master Gotama, this is my doctrine and view: One does not act of one’s own volition, nor does one act of another’s volition.”

“Well, brahmin, I’ve never seen or heard of anyone holding such a doctrine or view. How on earth can someone who comes and goes on his own say that one does not act of one’s own volition, nor does one act of another’s volition?

What do you think, brahmin, is there an element of initiative?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Since this is so, do we find sentient beings who initiate activity?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Since there is an element of initiative, and sentient beings who initiate activity are found, sentient beings act of their own volition or that of another.

What do you think, brahmin, is there an element of persistence … exertion … strength … persistence … energy?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Since this is so, do we find sentient beings who have energy?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Since there is an element of energy, and sentient beings who have energy are found, sentient beings act of their own volition or that of another.

Well, brahmin, I’ve never seen or heard of anyone holding such a doctrine or view. How on earth can someone who comes and goes on his own say that one does not act of one’s own volition, nor does one act of another’s volition?”

“Excellent, Master Gotama! Excellent! … From this day forth, may Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge for life.”
I am just a learner. Keep that in mind when you read my words.

Just to be safe, assume all of my words could be incorrect. Look to an arahant for total accuracy and confirmation.
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