translation of cessation of suffering

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translation of cessation of suffering

Postby bartovan » Sun May 12, 2013 4:13 am

Hello,

I am new to this forum and came here because I have a very specific question about the translation of "the cessation of suffering". I hope you can help me.

I acquired recently the book "Pali Buddhist Texts explained to the beginner" by Rune E.A. Johansson and my question is the following:

On page 28 of the book, ch. 4 "The cessation of suffering" (Digha Nikaya II 310)":

There is the Pali phrase:
Yo tassa yeva tanhaya asesa-viraga-nirodho cago patinissaggo mutti analayo
(sorry I have no Pali accents).

Literally, word for word:
Yo tassa yeva: Just this
tanhaya: craving/thirst (noun)
asesa-viraga-nirodho: complete-indifference/freedom_from_desire-cessation (compound noun)
cago: abandoning (noun)
patinissaggo: rejecting (noun)
mutti: release (noun)
analayo: aversion (noun)

In the book (and generally in Buddhism I believe) this is translated as:
Just the complete indifference to and cessation of that very craving, the abandoning of it, the rejection of it, the freedom of it, the aversion towards it.


All the nouns following tanhaya are interpreted as referring to tanhaya, as having tanhaya as object.

My question is: purely technically speaking (making abstraction of meaning and only taking in consideration grammar), what would prevent me from translating as, for instance:
Just this, the complete cessation of the indifference towards craving, the abandoning of rejection, the release of aversion.


Now I know this may sound like "Buddhist nonsense", but I would really like to ask you to leave interpretation aside for a moment and only focus on grammar, if that would be possible...

In fact, the main points of my question are:

1) the compound asesa-viraga-nirodho: (complete, without remainder)-(indifference towards, freedom from desire)-cessation, could be translated as:
a) the complete indifference towards or freedom from cessation
b) the complete cessation of indifference or freedom from
How do I know, purely technically/gramatically speaking, which is correct? Is there a way in Pali, or is this up to the reader, depending on context and interpretation?

2) cago patinissaggo mutti analayo
Same question really, how do I know to which object they refer? In fact it's just a series of nouns if I understand correctly. So one could understand for instance cago to point to patinissaggo, or to tanhaya, or to the compound asesa-viraga-nirodho? Or is there something in the grammar, inflections and such, which would prevent me from doing this, which would "force" me to understand it in one way or another?

I would be very grateful if someone could shed some light on this; I'm sorry if this turns out to be a stupid question, thank you for your time in any case...
bartovan
 
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Re: translation of cessation of suffering

Postby Dmytro » Mon May 13, 2013 12:25 pm

Hi Bartovan,

1) the compound asesa-viraga-nirodho: (complete, without remainder)-(indifference towards, freedom from desire)-cessation, could be translated as:
a) the complete indifference towards or freedom from cessation
b) the complete cessation of indifference or freedom from


AFAIK, this compound can't be translated in such a way.
See http://dhamma.ru/paali/Pali_compounds.htm

2) cago patinissaggo mutti analayo
Same question really, how do I know to which object they refer?


You may find useful sentence diagramming:
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=14281

Best wishes, Dmytro
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Re: translation of cessation of suffering

Postby bartovan » Mon May 13, 2013 1:55 pm

Thanks for the links. I tried to understand the page about Pali compounds but it remains unclear really.

1) about the compound:
If I understand correctly the last word in the compound is predominant. So complete-indifference-cessation is: a kind of cessation. But which kind? Does the "complete" refer to "indifference", to "cessation", or to both? Leaving this question aside, remains the more important question: what is an "indifference-cessation"? I would imagine a cessation of indifference, but that's not the usual translation, which is more like: "a cessation that is like 'becoming indifferent towards', like "being free from" ". How can we know, purely from the text, which is correct?
If indifference-cessation really means "indifference towards and cessation of" why are they in a compound and not just one after another?

2) about the rest of the phrase:
Then we have four nouns: abandoning, rejecting, release, aversion.

Is there anything in the grammar that tells me how to link them together, to what they refer? The phrase is usually translated as all five (the compound and four nouns) referring to "craving", but is there something in the grammar that tells us so, or is this interpretation? Is there something, technically speaking, that impedes me from translating the whole phrase as, for instance: "Just this: the complete cessation of indifference, the abandoning of rejecting, the release of aversion."?

I'm not really trying to find alternate meanings here, just trying to understand up to what point the Pali text guides, "hard-codes", the meaning... I'm not searching to criticize translators either, they do a tremendous job. Just curious really in how far this noble truth as we know it is modern interpretation and how much is hard-coded in the original phrase...

Thanks in advance for any help...
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Re: translation of cessation of suffering

Postby Dmytro » Mon May 13, 2013 6:20 pm

Hi Bartovan,

bartovan wrote:Thanks for the links. I tried to understand the page about Pali compounds but it remains unclear really.


Well, that's an essential knowledge. One has to learn the basics of Pali compounds to comprehend them.

bartovan wrote:Is there anything in the grammar that tells me how to link them together, to what they refer?


Yes, it's called declension and conjugation.
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Re: translation of cessation of suffering

Postby bartovan » Tue May 14, 2013 8:29 am

Great. Couldn't you (or anyone else) tell me, concerning this specific phrase, how the declension and conjugation of the words work here, please?
Also concerning the compound, how do I know whether it is "cessation of an indifference-kind" or "cessation of indifference towards" etc. What in these words guides us towards one or another meaning? If it's just "cessation and indifference", why are they in a compound?

I know I'm supposed to learn Pali myself but I really can't do this at this time in my life, so if anyone would please lend me their knowledge and apply it in this one single case, I would be very grateful... They seem basic questions to me, to which someone with some decent knowledge of Pali could easily and in short answer, no? I don't mean to take all your time either...

many thanks in advance for your friendly guidance and time...
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Re: translation of cessation of suffering

Postby Dmytro » Tue May 14, 2013 1:30 pm

bartovan wrote:Great. Couldn't you (or anyone else) tell me, concerning this specific phrase, how the declension and conjugation of the words work here, please?


Yo tassāyeva taṇhāya asesavirāganirodho cāgo paṭinissaggo mutti anālayo.

If you'd look up the table
http://dhamma.ru/paali/tables/palisufi.htm

you'll find the -āya ending of taṇhāya :

-āya f. sg. instr. abl. dat. gen. loc. kaññāya, gāthāya

feminine singular
cases with such an ending: instrumental, ablative, dative, genitive

tassā refers to taṇhāya and agrees with it in case. As you can see from the table:

-ssā pron. f. sg. dat. gen. tassā, sabbassā

The rest of the words have the ending of nominative case, and agree in that case.

-o 1. m. sg. nom. buddho, dhammo, so, sabbo

Yeva is indeclinable.

The only possible option is that tassā taṇhāya is in genitive case, which can be translated in English as "of that craving".
The rest of the words, in nominative case, refer to tassā taṇhāya . If they were to refer to one another, some of them would change in case.

bartovan wrote:Also concerning the compound, how do I know whether it is "cessation of an indifference-kind" or "cessation of indifference towards" etc.


I won't explain all about compounds, but I would like to point out that "indifference" is a poor translation for virāga , which means 'dispassion' here.

If you would like to understand better the meaning of this Pali phrase, I would recommend the ending of Chachakka sutta:

Nibbindaṃ virajjati, virāgā vimuccati, vimuttasmiṃ vimuttamiti ñāṇaṃ hoti: 'khīṇā jāti, vusitaṃ brahmacariyaṃ, kataṃ karaṇīyaṃ, nāparaṃ itthattāyā'ti pajānātīti.

Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion, he is fully released. With full release, there is the knowledge, 'Fully released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'"

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

Chachakka sutta explains in practice the sequence of "seven selective recognitions" (virāga and nirodha are the last two of seven) which culminate in Nibbana.
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Re: translation of cessation of suffering

Postby bartovan » Tue May 14, 2013 2:00 pm

Thank you very much for your long and detailed explanation.

So if I understand correctly: if it were to mean "the abandoning of rejecting" for instance, then "rejecting" (patinissaggo) should be genitive, which it is not. It's nominative. Right? So that's why we know it all applies to tassa tanhaya, which is the only genitive part of the sentence.

Thanks also for sending me the other link to the discussion about Mahaparinibbana sutta. It struck me that what monks should develop is not not-self, dispassion, cessation, etc., but rather: the perception of those (and others).

In any case many thanks for your time and effort.
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