AN 3.67 Kathavatthu Sutta: Topics for Discussion

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AN 3.67 Kathavatthu Sutta: Topics for Discussion

Postby mikenz66 » Tue May 17, 2011 9:09 pm

AN 3.67 PTS: A i 197
Kathavatthu Sutta: Topics for Discussion
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"Monks, there are these three topics for discussion. Which three?

"One may talk about the past, saying, 'Thus it was in the past.' One may talk about the future, saying, 'Thus it will be in the future.' Or one may talk about now in the present, saying, 'Thus it is now in the present.'

"Monks, it's through his way of participating in a discussion that a person can be known as fit to talk with or unfit to talk with. If a person, when asked a question, doesn't give a categorical answer to a question deserving a categorical answer, doesn't give an analytical (qualified) answer to a question deserving an analytical answer, doesn't give a counter-question to a question deserving a counter-question, doesn't put aside a question deserving to be put aside, then — that being the case — he is a person unfit to talk with. But if a person, when asked a question, gives a categorical answer to a question deserving a categorical answer, gives an analytical answer to a question deserving an analytical answer, gives a counter-question to a question deserving a counter-question, and puts aside a question deserving to be put aside, then — that being the case — he is a person fit to talk with.

"Monks, it's through his way of participating in a discussion that a person can be known as fit to talk with or unfit to talk with. If a person, when asked a question, doesn't stand by what is possible and impossible, doesn't stand by agreed-upon assumptions, doesn't stand by teachings known to be true,[1] doesn't stand by standard procedure, then — that being the case — he is a person unfit to talk with. But if a person, when asked a question, stands by what is possible and impossible, stands by agreed-upon assumptions, stands by teachings known to be true, stands by standard procedure, then — that being the case — he is a person fit to talk with.

"Monks, it's through his way of participating in a discussion that a person can be known as fit to talk with or unfit to talk with. If a person, when asked a question, wanders from one thing to another, pulls the discussion off the topic, shows anger & aversion and sulks, then — that being the case — he is a person unfit to talk with. But if a person, when asked a question, doesn't wander from one thing to another, doesn't pull the discussion off the topic, doesn't show anger or aversion or sulk, then — that being the case — he is a person fit to talk with.

"Monks, it's through his way of participating in a discussion that a person can be known as fit to talk with or unfit to talk with. If a person, when asked a question, puts down [the questioner], crushes him, ridicules him, grasps at his little mistakes, then — that being the case — he is a person unfit to talk with. But if a person, when asked a question, doesn't put down [the questioner], doesn't crush him, doesn't ridicule him, doesn't grasp at his little mistakes, then — that being the case — he is a person fit to talk with.

"Monks, it's through his way of participating in a discussion that a person can be known as drawing near or not drawing near. One who lends ear draws near; one who doesn't lend ear doesn't draw near. Drawing near, one clearly knows one quality, comprehends one quality, abandons one quality, and realizes one quality.[2] Clearly knowing one quality, comprehending one quality, abandoning one quality, and realizing one quality, one touches right release. For that's the purpose of discussion, that's the purpose of counsel, that's the purpose of drawing near, that's the purpose of lending ear: i.e., the liberation of the mind through no clinging.

Those who discuss when angered, dogmatic, arrogant,
following what's not the noble ones' way,
seeking to expose each other's faults,
delight in each other's misspoken word,
slip, stumble, defeat.
Noble ones
don't speak in that way.

If wise people, knowing the right time,
want to speak,
then, words connected with justice,
following the ways of the noble ones:
That's what the enlightened ones speak,
without anger or arrogance,
with a mind not boiling over,
without vehemence, without spite.
Without envy
they speak from right knowledge.
They would delight in what's well-said
and not disparage what's not.
They don't study to find fault,
don't grasp at little mistakes.
don't put down, don't crush,
don't speak random words.

For the purpose of knowledge,
for the purpose of [inspiring] clear confidence,
counsel that's true:
That's how noble ones give counsel,
That's the noble ones' counsel.
Knowing this, the wise
should give counsel without arrogance."


Notes

1. Reading aññaatavaada with the Burmese edition. An alternate translation would be, "the teachings of those who know."

2. According to the Commentary, these qualities are, respectively, the noble truth of the path, the noble truth of stress, the noble truth of the origination of stress, and the noble truth of the cessation of stress.

See also:
AN 4.42; http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
AN 5.165; http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Sn 4.8 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: AN 3.67 Kathavatthu Sutta: Topics for Discussion

Postby mikenz66 » Tue May 17, 2011 9:12 pm

Individual requested that we discussed this Sutta, since he had some questions that he wanted to clarify. Unfortunately, he left us before I got to it:
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=7798
but he has given us some good questions to ponder.

:anjali:
Mike

Individual wrote:I am especially interested in a further distinction between when and how one should give:
  • A categorical answer
  • An analytical answer
  • A counter-question
  • Putting a question aside

This is not a personal jab at anyone. I just think it is a great sutta, with lessons in there for us all.

For me:

They don't study to find fault,
don't grasp at little mistakes.
don't put down, don't crush,
don't speak random words.

Thanks. :)

I'm also curious to know where a "poetic" answer would fit in the four-fold classification above. Because the Buddha sometimes spoke in plain speech using literal meaning, but sometimes uttered stanzas and metaphors. How would such speech relate to the classification above? Is it that conventional truth is literal and ultimate truth is not? It would seem so to me.

:namaste:
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Re: AN 3.67 Kathavatthu Sutta: Topics for Discussion

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Wed May 18, 2011 8:43 pm

Anumodana Mike. Thank you for this sutta. Reading it over I almost feel as if none of us are fit to speak or be spoken to most of the time. Lots of grist for the mill. Metta.
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Re: AN 3.67 Kathavatthu Sutta: Topics for Discussion

Postby mikenz66 » Sat May 21, 2011 9:38 pm

I note that simply avoiding answering any questions is not recommended:
If a person, when asked a question, doesn't give a categorical answer to a question deserving a categorical answer, doesn't give an analytical (qualified) answer to a question deserving an analytical answer, doesn't give a counter-question to a question deserving a counter-question, doesn't put aside a question deserving to be put aside, then — that being the case — he is a person unfit to talk with.

:anjali:
Mike
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