Mr Man wrote:
Hopefully I have understood you correctly, Ven Thanissaro has misunderstood the pali and as a result the translation is not correct?
I wonder (if that is the case) if the mistranslation has come about because of an understanding of the term which comes from elsewhere. Do you have any idea on how this is translated/understood in Thailand?
Ven T is too astute a translator to have misunderstood the Pali. Sorry, but I don't know how this is treated in Thai.
He could have translated appatiṭṭhita viññāṇa
in one of 2 ways - ie nominally (where appatiṭṭhita
is functioning as an adjective that qualifies viññāṇa
) or adverbially (where appatiṭṭhita
is with reference to a verb standing in a relation to viññāṇa
). Let's take a look at a fuller section of SN 12.38, and you can decide which construction is correct -
Yato ca kho bhikkhave, no ceva ceteti, no ca pakappeti, no ca anuseti, ārammaṇametaṃ na hoti viññāṇassa ṭhitiyā.
Ārammaṇe asati patiṭṭhā viññāṇassa na hoti.
Tadappatiṭṭhite viññāṇe avirūḷhe āyatiṃ punabbhavābhinibbatti na hoti.
Āyatiṃ punabbhavābhinibbattiyā asati āyatiṃ jātijarāmaraṇaṃ sokaparideva dukkhadomanassupāyāsā nirujjhanti.
But, bhikkhus, when one does not intend, and one does not plan, and one does not have a tendency towards anything, no basis exists for the maintenance of consciousness.
When there is no basis, there is no support for the establishing of consciousness.
When consciousness is unestablished and does not come to growth, there is no production of future renewed existence.
When there is no production of future renewed existence, future birth, aging-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair cease.
Some prelim notes. You will actually not find the term appatiṭṭhita viññāṇa
anywhere in the suttas. It's a concept that has actually been squeezed into existence out of those suttas where these phrases occur -
Appatiṭṭhitena ca, bhikkhave, viññāṇena godhiko kulaputto parinibbuto’’ti
However, bhikkhus, with consciousness unestablished, the clansman Godhika has attained final Nibbana.- SN 3.123
Tadappatiṭṭhite viññāṇe avirūḷhe āyatiṃ - SN 12.38 above
I've also indented the relevant sentences into separate lines, to lay bare the grammatical structure of each of the 3 sentences I've coloured red.
If you're not familiar with Pali, you'll have to either take it on faith in me
or check the grammars that the 1st and 3rd sentences are locative absolute constructions. This means that the noun and the participle are both inflected in the locative case. The participle in these 2 sentences asati
is the negation of sati
, the locative form of santa
, which is the present participle of atthi
, the existential verb.
What then about the 2nd sentence where the verb/participle is not asati
? Is there even any verb at all, or is appatiṭṭhite
functioning nominally as an adjective?
To me, the answer is clear. When suttas present a sequence, you do not expect the thread underlying its structure to be interrupted by something extraordinary. Given that the 1st and 3rd sentences are employing the famous locative absolute construction of idappaccayatā
, there is no reason to believe that the 2nd sentence is not also an example of the locative absolute at work. If this is correct, then appatiṭṭhite
cannot be functioning nominally as an adjective, but is functioning adverbially ie in the context of a verb. This is consistent with the earlier clause in the 1st sentence that says patiṭṭhā viññāṇassa na hoti
(there is no establishment of consciousness).
The "unestablished consciousness" is a non-existing thing. Take a look at AN 3.76 where you get a clear idea of what establishment of consciousness mean. It means the establishment of consciousness within any of the 3 dhātu
that define bhava
There was a lengthier discussion of this issue here - http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=12515