Violent threats found in the Cula-Saccaka Sutta

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Violent threats found in the Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby dhammabum » Sat Jun 15, 2013 12:02 pm

What is one to make of the following:

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

When this was said, Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son was silent a second time.
Then the Blessed One said to him, "Answer now, Aggivessana. This is not the time to be silent. When anyone doesn't answer when asked a legitimate question by the Tathāgata up to three times, his head splits into seven pieces right here."

Now on that occasion the spirit (yakkha) Vajirapāṇin [Thunderbolt-in-Hand], carrying an iron thunderbolt, was poised in the air above Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son, (thinking,) "If Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son doesn't answer when asked a legitimate question by the Blessed One up to three times, I will split his head into seven pieces right here."

The Blessed One saw the spirit Vajirapāṇin, as did Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son. So Saccaka — afraid, terrified, his hair standing on end — seeking shelter in the Blessed One, seeking a cave/asylum in the Blessed One, seeking refuge in the Blessed One — said to the Blessed One, "Let Master Gotama ask me. I will answer.


It's surprising that the Buddha didn't scold Vajirapāṇin; rather he could be seen as an accomplice to the spirit's threats. I would be most appreciative for any insight on how best to interpret the above.

Thanks
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Re: Violent threats found in the Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby Aloka » Sat Jun 15, 2013 12:26 pm

I remembered seeing this sutta mentioned somewhere in Ajahn Sujato's Blog. Here it is:

The Ten Funniest Scenes from the Pali Canon

What? The Pali Canon is profound, difficult, revolutionary: but not funny, surely. And if it is, then why? What’s the nature and purpose of Dhamma humour?

Thankfully I’m going to leave aside weighty matters of interpretation and present here the definitive list of funniest scenes. If you have other suggestions, please leave them in the comments. In this list I am only considering the early Suttas. There’s plenty more humour in the Vinaya, and even more in the Jatakas, but it would just be too hard to choose.

10. Saccaka gets his comeuppance

Where?


Majjhima Nikaya 35, Culasaccaka Sutta

What’s up?

Saccaka the wanderer features in a few Suttas. Here he threatens to take on the Buddha in debate on the five aggregates and not-self, giving an elaborate series of similes on how he will drag the Buddha about ‘like a huge elephant would enjoy a game of washing hemp’.

Where’s the funny?

While Saccaka is boasting, there’s no doubting his pride is due for a painful fall, and the Sutta doesn’t disappoint. He ends up thoroughly humiliated, seating and depressed. But like all good thrashings in debate, it turns out to be a necessary antidote for his pride. He ends up becoming an arahant.

http://sujato.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/the-ten-funniest-scenes-from-the-pali-canon/




That all he had to say about it though.
.
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Re: Violent threats found in the Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby daverupa » Sat Jun 15, 2013 1:52 pm

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Violent threats found in the Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby pegembara » Sat Jun 15, 2013 3:00 pm

And the Blessed One uncovered his golden-colored body to the assembly. When this was said, Saccaka the Nigaṇṭha-son fell silent, abashed, sitting with his shoulders drooping, his head down, brooding, at a loss for words.

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

The phrasing of this sentence sounds rather unusual especially the part about "golden-colored body". There is a sutta somewhere where a monk was so enamored of the Buddha but was advised to practice the Dhamma rather than cling to the Buddha's "stinking" body. One wonders whether some bits were added to impress readers of the time like the "Marks of a Great Man" http://sujato.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/on-the-32-marks/
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: Violent threats found in the Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby BlackBird » Sun Jun 16, 2013 1:54 am

I think if anything it was just that the Buddha knew that the spiritual being was lurking around and getting miffed that the guy wasn't answering the Buddha's questions. I think the Buddha was just trying to protect the guys life rather than threatening him.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Violent threats found in the Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby daverupa » Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:08 am

Could be a pedagogical fable, too, if anything...
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Violent threats found in the Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby barcsimalsi » Sun Jun 16, 2013 12:03 pm

This may solve the mystery:
Kesi sutta wrote:"Kesi, I train a tamable person [sometimes] with gentleness, [sometimes] with harshness, [sometimes] with both gentleness & harshness.

"If a tamable person doesn't submit either to a mild training or to a harsh training or to a mild & harsh training, then I kill him, Kesi."

"But it's not proper for our Blessed One to take life! And yet the Blessed One just said, 'I kill him, Kesi.'"

"It is true, Kesi, that it's not proper for a Tathagata to take life. But if a tamable person doesn't submit either to a mild training or to a harsh training or to a mild & harsh training, then the Tathagata doesn't regard him as being worth speaking to or admonishing. His knowledgeable fellows in the holy life don't regard him as being worth speaking to or admonishing. This is what it means to be totally destroyed in the Doctrine & Discipline, when the Tathagata doesn't regard one as being worth speaking to or admonishing, and one's knowledgeable fellows in the holy life don't regard one as being worth speaking to or admonishing."

Violent it may sound, i think the message is implying an untamable person is destroy either way so it makes no different. Anyway, the buddha can read people's mind which indicate he knew what he was doing and it is not an option for non-buddha like us to kill people whom we think are dumb.
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Re: Violent threats found in the Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby dhammabum » Tue Jun 18, 2013 1:51 am

barcsimalsi wrote:This may solve the mystery:
Kesi sutta wrote:"Kesi, I train a tamable person [sometimes] with gentleness, [sometimes] with harshness, [sometimes] with both gentleness & harshness.

"If a tamable person doesn't submit either to a mild training or to a harsh training or to a mild & harsh training, then I kill him, Kesi."

"But it's not proper for our Blessed One to take life! And yet the Blessed One just said, 'I kill him, Kesi.'"

"It is true, Kesi, that it's not proper for a Tathagata to take life. But if a tamable person doesn't submit either to a mild training or to a harsh training or to a mild & harsh training, then the Tathagata doesn't regard him as being worth speaking to or admonishing. His knowledgeable fellows in the holy life don't regard him as being worth speaking to or admonishing. This is what it means to be totally destroyed in the Doctrine & Discipline, when the Tathagata doesn't regard one as being worth speaking to or admonishing, and one's knowledgeable fellows in the holy life don't regard one as being worth speaking to or admonishing."

Violent it may sound, i think the message is implying an untamable person is destroy either way so it makes no different. Anyway, the buddha can read people's mind which indicate he knew what he was doing and it is not an option for non-buddha like us to kill people whom we think are dumb.


Thanks to those who have responded thus far!

Interestingly, Bhikkhu Bodhi has addressed the issue in a Dhamma talk about this Sutta (min 2:00):
http://www.beyondthenet.net/audio/BhikkhuBodhi/MN_35_culasaccaka_sutta/MM_35_part_01/MN_35_culasaccaka%20sutta_Part1_09.mp3

I'm still not convinced his explanation does justice to the text, however.

I'm curious barcsimalsi, do you think the Kesi Sutta from which you quote would require the same exegesis to understand the Cula-Saccaka Sutta? Do you think since the phrase "then I kill him" is used metaphorically then all violent references from the Buddha are equally metaphorical?
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Re: Violent threats found in the Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby barcsimalsi » Tue Jun 18, 2013 4:50 am

dhammabum wrote: I'm curious barcsimalsi, do you think the Kesi Sutta from which you quote would require the same exegesis to understand the Cula-Saccaka Sutta?

I consider the violent threat in Cula-saccaka sutta as harsh training to enlighten Saccaka.

dhammabum wrote:Do you think since the phrase "then I kill him" is used metaphorically then all violent references from the Buddha are equally metaphorical?

No.
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Re: Violent threats found in the Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby Sylvester » Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:36 am

pegembara wrote:There is a sutta somewhere where a monk was so enamored of the Buddha but was advised to practice the Dhamma rather than cling to the Buddha's "stinking" body.


That would be the Commentarial account (DhA 25.11) of Ven Vakkali.

I like to call these tough love strategies the appropriate response to the "baby with a stone in the mouth" syndrome. See MN 58. There's a parallel in AN 5.7. Requires a fair amount of skill (if not psychic powers) for a teacher to know if it'll be worthwhile employing this strategy. MN 58 and AN 5.7 both mention the necessity of the act, even if it drew blood from the crawler, but AN 5.7 goes further in recognising that the action is necessary even if it caused distress (vihesā = annoyance).
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Re: Violent threats found in the Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby pegembara » Mon Jun 24, 2013 4:28 am

"For a long time, Lord, I have wanted to come and set eyes on the Blessed One, but I had not the strength in this body to come and see the Blessed One."

"Enough, Vakkali! What is there to see in this vile body? He who sees Dhamma, Vakkali, sees me; he who sees me sees Dhamma. Truly seeing Dhamma, one sees me; seeing me one sees Dhamma."[3]

Vakkali Sutta: Vakkali
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html
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Re: Violent threats found in the Cula-Saccaka Sutta

Postby dhammabum » Tue Apr 01, 2014 11:13 pm

It might be bad form to comment on this post so long after I started it, but I wanted to thank everyone again for their thoughtful responses and to also provide a link to an academic whitepaper on the subject; it looks like I'm in good company:

https://journals.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/i ... /8623/2530

With metta
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