MN 22 Alagaddupama Sutta: The Snake Simile

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Re: MN 22 Alagaddupama Sutta: The Snake Simile

Postby Jechbi » Sun Aug 23, 2009 1:49 am

Macavity wrote:Your mind-reading powers are failing you.

This was not a matter of mind-reading. It was a matter of reading what you wrote about why the venerable's essays ought to influence how one understands his sutta translation.

Didn't mean to put you on the defensive ...
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
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Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: MN 22 Alagaddupama Sutta: The Snake Simile

Postby Macavity » Sun Aug 23, 2009 2:04 am

Jechbi wrote:
Macavity wrote:Your mind-reading powers are failing you.

This was not a matter of mind-reading. It was a matter of reading what you wrote about why the venerable's essays ought to influence how one understands his sutta translation.


Here's what you wrote: Those other essays have led you to draw conclusions about Ven. Thanissaro's intention, and to interpret this sutta translation in light of your assumptions about his intention.

But your chronology is wrong, for I encountered Thanissaro's translation of this sutta and saw the flaws in it before I knew anything about his quirky take on anatta.

You'll need to work a little harder at cetopariya-ñāṇa.
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Re: MN 22 Alagaddupama Sutta: The Snake Simile

Postby Jechbi » Sun Aug 23, 2009 3:06 am

Macavity wrote:You'll need to work a little harder at cetopariya-ñāṇa.

As I said earlier, this is not at all the case. Here's what you wrote in this thread:
Macavity wrote:If Thanissaro had accepted Nyanaponika's translation of this sutta, then his two essays The Not-self Strategy and No self or not self?, which dismiss the classical Theravada understanding of anatta as a speculative view, would never have been written. Nyanaponika's translation unambiguously supports the view that there is no self. Thanissaro's doesn't.

This was your own explanation for why the sutta translation ought to be regarded as suspect. So my comments were based on what you wrote, not on any kind of "mind-reading." At this stage, it's plain that our discussion no longer is about the sutta translation. If you wish to continue to discuss whether you think I'm engaged in "mind-reading," please PM me, although that seems really far-fetched.

I can assure you, however, that I was merely trying to discuss the sutta translation and your stated reasons for your criticism. You stated that your criticism was based on conclusions you had drawn as a result of your understanding of the two essays. At least that's what I understood you to say. I thought this thread was intended to discuss the sutta.

Edit: I have edited my earlier post to include the words "It appears to me that" ahead of my comments. I hope this addresses your concern. I apologize for my role in this misunderstanding.
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Uncover, then, what is concealed,
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Re: MN 22 Alagaddupama Sutta: The Snake Simile

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun Aug 23, 2009 6:58 am

can we please use this to discuss the sutta at hand and not as a platform for Thanissaro bashing? :heart: :group: :anjali:
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: MN 22 Alagaddupama Sutta: The Snake Simile

Postby appicchato » Sun Aug 23, 2009 7:12 am

Macavity wrote:Sure. If all dhammas are not self, and if nothing exists but dhammas...


No if's...it is what it is...
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Re: MN 22 Alagaddupama Sutta: The Snake Simile

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Aug 23, 2009 7:35 am

jcsuperstar wrote:can we please use this to discuss the sutta at hand and not as a platform for Thanissaro bashing? :heart: :group: :anjali:

Yes, this is a good idea. However, for unravelling some of the technicalities the translation, and whether or not one accepts the commentaries, is a crucial issue. Venerable Thanissaro states quite clearly in several places where he differs from the Commentaries, so it is hardly a criticism to point out that his translations do not always agree with the Classical Theravada. What one does with that information is up to the individual. Personally, I find it helpful to see well-reasoned argumentation of the pros and cons of the particular translations (but not so helpful to see endless discussion of the pros and cons of the different approaches to the Tipitika).

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Re: MN 22 Alagaddupama Sutta: The Snake Simile

Postby Jechbi » Sun Aug 23, 2009 4:16 pm

To get back to topic ...
Macavity wrote:
For me, any way, I did not find it so thoroughly ambiguous. After all, his translation clearly states that the idea of an eternal self is a "fool's teaching."


So what? "Can't be pinned down" still leaves open the possibility of a self that is indescribable, but not eternal (much like the puggala posited by the personalist schools).
Contrary to your representation here, the translation does not use the term "can't be pinned down." I have the impression that you're seeing ambiguity in this sutta translation where there is in fact clarity.

My impression is that this translation is intended to convey the meaning of the sutta in language that can be understood by a somewhat casual reader. This impression may be false. Regardless, the language in the "pinned down" passage to me conveys that the self "is not" pinned down in reality. It seems clear. I don't see how this passage, or the sutta translation, fails to support the anatta teaching.
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Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: MN 22 Alagaddupama Sutta: The Snake Simile

Postby mindfullmom » Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:35 pm

For someone of limited understanding, namely me, this discussion is very confusing.

I am confused about the difference between no self and non self and this section of the Notes:

13.Annihilationism is one of the two extremes of wrong view criticized most heavily by the Buddha (the other is eternalism, as represented by the sixth of the six view-positions). Some interpreters, citing this passage, have tried to limit the meaning of annihilationism simply to the idea of the annihilation of an existing being. The teaching that there is no self, they then argue, does not count as annihilationism because there is no self to be annihilated. This interpretation ignores SN 44.10, which counts the statement "there is no self" as siding with annihilationism.
As for the term, "existing being": SN 22.36 and SN 23.2 state that a being is defined by his/her/its objects of clinging. SN 5.10 indicates that one of the ways of overcoming clinging is to focus on how the concept of "being" arises, without assuming the truth of the concept. And as MN 72, SN 22.85, and SN 22.86 maintain, when clinging is gone, one is called not a being but a tathagata — who, freed from clinging, cannot be classified as or identified with anything at all.


I think I understand to this level: the aggregates are processes that are dependently arisen based on causes and conditions. The aggregates are what we falsely take to be our “self” and then cling to causing the whole round of samsara and the 6 wrong views listed in this sutta.

So, if clinging is gone then that would mean that the aggregates are still present with no agitation? Is that the correct understanding of non self?

I would greatly appreciate any suggestions for further reading and practice to correct and deepen my understanding. :smile:
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Re: MN 22 Alagaddupama Sutta: The Snake Simile

Postby Jechbi » Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:02 pm

Hi mom,

I think this thread might help as a starting point to sort through some of these questions.

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