"pabham" -- better "lucid" instead of "luminous"?

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"pabham" -- better "lucid" instead of "luminous"?

Post by starter » Sun Mar 06, 2011 3:13 am

Hello Friends,

After reading Ajahn Maha Boowa's description of the "well-cleansed (but not yet fully-cleansed) mind" -- the radiant citta (which could vanish after realizing its deceitful nature), the awareness or consciousness which is very close to the non-manifestive "luminous (pabham) all around" consciousness mentioned by the Buddha, I wonder if it's better to translate "pabham" as "lucid" or "splendourful" instead of "luminous", since it has the three meanings according to Bhikkhu Bodhi’s comment from note 513 to the Majjhima Nikæya:
“MA [the ancient Commentary] offers three explanations of the phrase "sabbato pabham":
(1) completely possessed of splendour (the meaning chosen but somehow translated into "luminous");
(2) possessing being everywhere;
(3) a ford accessible from all sides, i.e., through any of the thirty-eight meditation objects.

Then the luminous all-around citta containing "Avijjã (which "has usurped the citta’s “knowing nature” and distorted its intrinsic quality of simply “knowing” by creating the false duality of the “knower” and the “known”") wouldn't be confused with the Buddha's transcendent knowing consciousness, and the confusion and turmoil so caused could be avoided.

Now I've realized more we can't be too attached to the words of the suttas ...

Metta to all,


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Re: "pabham" -- better "lucid" instead of "luminous"?

Post by beeblebrox » Sun Mar 06, 2011 7:36 pm

Seems like "pabha" is made up of two parts... from the PED:

Pa = Directional prefix of forward motion, in applied sense often emphasizing the action as carried on in a marked degree or even beyond its mark. Thus the sphere of pa -- may be characterized in following:

1. forth, forward, out; "papatati" = fall forward, i.e. down;
2. intensive in a marked degree, more than ordinarily; "pabhāti" = shine forth;
3. onward; "pavattati" = move on;
4. in front of, before; "padvāra" = before the door;
5. [PED definition unclear, but I think "reflexion"]; "pakūjin" = signing out to (each other).

Bhā = the light, splendour.

Pabhā = shine, radiance (the light that goes forward; onward; is intensive; in front; reflexive).

Candappabhā = moonshine (or the light of the moon that goes forward; onward; etc).


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