Anatta - a hindrance?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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bharadwaja
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Anatta - a hindrance?

Post by bharadwaja » Tue Jun 03, 2014 6:20 pm

In the Brahmajāla sutta the Buddha tells some monks that being anattamāna would be antarāya.

Anattamāna - someone who is defined by anatta (i.e. not self-posessed, not self-controlled, unlike oneself), opposite of attamāna (self-possessed).

Antarāya - something that occurs in between (antara), i.e. an obstacle or hindrance.

So being anattamāna would be antarāya.

Form is anatta - so not giving importance to form would remove that hindrance. Similarly for the other 'aggregates'.

So the Buddha is trying to advise the bhikkus that anatta is to be avoided to ensure that monks are mindful of their self i.e. atta?

Most translations either gloss over the word anattamāna or mistranslate it.

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Re: Anatta - a hindrance?

Post by walkart » Tue Jun 03, 2014 7:09 pm

Anatta is all that devoid of self existance, devoid of idependance, that is conditioned.

All 5 khandhas (form feeling perception mental formation consciousness) are conditioned fenomenas devoid of self existance. So there is no place for SELF.

PS I'm sorry, if it's purely linguistic question.

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Re: Anatta - a hindrance?

Post by culaavuso » Tue Jun 03, 2014 10:02 pm

bharadwaja wrote:In the Brahmajāla sutta the Buddha tells some monks that being anattamāna would be antarāya.
According to suttacentral's Pali DN1, the word in question appears to be anattamana not anattamāna. This would seem to suggest the opposite of attamana which the Pali Text Society's dictionary defines as "delighted, pleased, enraptured". This appears to coincide with Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation as "upset". The context in DN1 also seems to explain specifically how such a state of mind would be an obstacle.
DN 1: Brahmajāla Sutta wrote: If, bhikkhus, others speak in dispraise of me, or in dispraise of the Dhamma, or in dispraise of the Sangha, you should not give way to resentment, displeasure, or animosity against them in your heart. For if you were to become angry or upset in such a situation, you would only be creating an obstacle for yourselves. If you were to become angry or upset when others speak in dispraise of us, would you be able to recognize whether their statements are rightly or wrongly spoken?

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Re: Anatta - a hindrance?

Post by bharadwaja » Wed Jun 04, 2014 8:22 am

anattamanā is the word (apologies for the mistake earlier)

Yes it is the opposite of attamanā.

No it has nothing to do with being displeased or upset, if you have been following my reasoning above. The first part of the word is anatta. The suffix is -manā (not mana or mano "mind" which is what the dictionary assumes it to be). Even if manā is interpreted as mana, I fail to understand how anatta-mind can mean "upset".

It is my opinion Bodhi has apparently mistranslated the word for the same reason.

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Re: Anatta - a hindrance?

Post by culaavuso » Wed Jun 04, 2014 5:44 pm

bharadwaja wrote:The first part of the word is anatta. The suffix is -manā (not mana or mano "mind" which is what the dictionary assumes it to be). Even if manā is interpreted as mana, I fail to understand how anatta-mind can mean "upset".
It appears that mana has become manā in this case because it is plural since it is being used to discuss the mental states of more than one monk. The dictionary explains that atta here is atta1 and not atta2. The etymology and definition for atta1 is given as:
PTS Pali-English Dictionary wrote: [ā + d + ta; that is, pp. of ādadāti with the base form reduced to d. Idg *d -- to; cp. Sk. ātta] that which has been taken up, assumed.
This seems to suggest that attamana would be something like the English idiom "with uplifted mind" or as the PTS dictionary explains it "having an up raised mind".

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Re: Anatta - a hindrance?

Post by bharadwaja » Wed Jun 04, 2014 10:35 pm

Thank you Culaavuso for the explanation.
It appears that mana has become manā in this case because it is plural since it is being used to discuss the mental states of more than one monk
Yes, that makes sense.
culaavuso wrote:
PTS Pali-English Dictionary wrote: [ā + d + ta; that is, pp. of ādadāti with the base form reduced to d. Idg *d -- to; cp. Sk. ātta] that which has been taken up, assumed.
This seems to suggest that attamana would be something like the English idiom "with uplifted mind" or as the PTS dictionary explains it "having an up raised mind".
The alternative meaning of atta that the PED suggests cannot be applied to mana (i.e. mind), because the word does not mean up-lifted or anything related to lifting.

It means physically "taken" (as an opposite of "given", since the PED derives it from da "to give", see da & dadāti). To therefore derive a meaning of "joyful mind" for attamana seems contrived, it does not follow from the etymology that the PED itself posits for atta.

Besides, the PED suggests that Pali atta should be compared to Sanskrit ātta, but in Sanskrit ātta-mana to my knowledge never occurs as a compound (and Sanskrit has about 100x the literary corpus of Pali), except in Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit where it occurs as a back-formation from the Pali form (and relying on which would make it a circular argument).

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Re: Anatta - a hindrance?

Post by piotr » Thu Jun 05, 2014 3:34 pm

Hi,

Referencing only to etymology (especially when it's not clear or one doesn't know how to do it properly) can be quite misleading and puzzling. But as culaavuso was trying to show you bharadwaja, you can get meaning of this word from context:

In Brahmajāla-sutta it's said that when people speak in dispraise of Buddha, Dhamma or Sangha then being kupita and anattamana can be an obstacle for listeners. On the other hand when people speak in praise of Buddha, Dhamma or Sangha then being ānandi, sumana or uppilāvita can be an obstacle for listeners.

So you can conclude that not only anattamana is close in meaning to kupita but also has opposite meaning to ānandi, sumana and uppilāvita. And these words are not a mystery.

Also take a look at the end of Brahmajāla where stock formula with the opposite of anattamana appears. The meaning is — again — crystal clear.
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...

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Re: Anatta - a hindrance?

Post by bharadwaja » Thu Jun 05, 2014 6:51 pm

piotr wrote:In Brahmajāla-sutta it's said that ... when people speak in praise of Buddha, Dhamma or Sangha then being ānandi, sumana or uppilāvita can be an obstacle for listeners.
Exactly, but why is attamana not mentioned as an obstacle (while anattamana is so mentioned) if it is close to, or identical to, uppilāvita? And why are the monks said to become attamana at the end of the discourse, as mentioned in the stock phrase, if that is exactly what the Buddha asks them in this discourse to avoid!?

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Re: Anatta - a hindrance?

Post by piotr » Thu Jun 05, 2014 7:38 pm

Hi,
bharadwaja wrote:
piotr wrote:In Brahmajāla-sutta it's said that ... when people speak in praise of Buddha, Dhamma or Sangha then being ānandi, sumana or uppilāvita can be an obstacle for listeners.
Exactly, but why is attamana not mentioned as an obstacle (while anattamana is so mentioned) if it is close to, or identical to, uppilāvita?
Maybe because Pali is a rich language with lots of synonyms.
And why are the monks said to become attamana at the end of the discourse, as mentioned in the stock phrase, if that is exactly what the Buddha asked them to avoid?
He didn't ask them to avoid attamana when he teaches them and they approve the teaching.
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...

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Re: Anatta - a hindrance?

Post by bharadwaja » Thu Jun 05, 2014 8:50 pm

You don't seem to have understood the point, but thank you for your opinion.
Last edited by bharadwaja on Thu Jun 05, 2014 9:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Anatta - a hindrance?

Post by piotr » Thu Jun 05, 2014 8:57 pm

bharadwaja wrote:You don't seem to have understood the point, but thank you for your opinion.
And the point is?
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Re: Anatta - a hindrance?

Post by bharadwaja » Thu Jun 05, 2014 9:13 pm

The Buddha says "mamaṃ vā, bhikkhave, pare vaṇṇaṃ bhāseyyuṃ, dhammassa vā vaṇṇaṃ bhāseyyuṃ, saṅghassa vā vaṇṇaṃ bhāseyyuṃ, tatra ce tumhe assatha ānandino sumanā uppilāvitā tumhaṃ yevassa tena antarāyo"

You are saying uppilāvita/ānanda/sumana = attamana.

But at the end, the monks become attamana (attamanā te bhikkhū bhagavato bhāsitaṃ abhinandunti). So according to your interpretation, they are getting themselves into a hindrance (antarāya) by virtue of listening to this discourse?

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Re: Anatta - a hindrance?

Post by piotr » Thu Jun 05, 2014 9:45 pm

bharadwaja wrote:The Buddha says "mamaṃ vā, bhikkhave, pare vaṇṇaṃ bhāseyyuṃ, dhammassa vā vaṇṇaṃ bhāseyyuṃ, saṅghassa vā vaṇṇaṃ bhāseyyuṃ, tatra ce tumhe assatha ānandino sumanā uppilāvitā tumhaṃ yevassa tena antarāyo"

You are saying uppilāvita/ānanda/sumana = attamana.
Yes, that's what I'm saying.

The point of this part of Brahmajala is to point out that any disturbance in mind (positive or negative) is a hindrance to proper judgement of what others say about Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Therefore if one wants to think clearly, separate truth from falsehood, know if criticism is adequate, know if praise is deserved, one should avoid any disturbance in mind. Then with calm mind one can honestly respond to this praise or criticism.
But at the end, the monks become attamana (attamanā te bhikkhū bhagavato bhāsitaṃ abhinandunti). So according to your interpretation, they are getting themselves into a hindrance (antarāya) by virtue of listening to this discourse?
Of course not, the end of the sutta has rather different context. Here attamana is joy because of Buddha's words, not because of someone (true or false) praise.
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...

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Re: Anatta - a hindrance?

Post by piotr » Thu Jun 05, 2014 9:53 pm

BTW,

in Vinaya "kupito anattamanoti" is glossed as "anabhiraddho āhatacitto khilajāto". Again, no doubts what it means...
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...

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Re: Anatta - a hindrance?

Post by bharadwaja » Fri Jun 06, 2014 8:15 am

piotr wrote:The point of this part of Brahmajala is to point out that...
That's not what I am talking about.... my question is specific to attamana. Attamana is never called antarāya in any sutta.

Your approach seems to be to ride roughshod over subtle differences in language, by blindly declaring them all as synonyms.
But at the end, the monks become attamana (attamanā te bhikkhū bhagavato bhāsitaṃ abhinandunti). So according to your interpretation, they are getting themselves into a hindrance (antarāya) by virtue of listening to this discourse?
Of course not, the end of the sutta has rather different context. Here attamana is joy because of Buddha's words, not because of someone (true or false) praise.
Again that's your own misinterpretation. The anattamana itself is the hindrance (while attamana is never described a hindrance), irrespective of whether the attamana or anattamana is caused by the Buddha's words or other people's words.

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