SN 20.3 Kula Sutta. Families.

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SN 20.3 Kula Sutta. Families.

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:22 am

SN 20.3 Kula Sutta. Families.
Translated by Bhikkhu Sujato


As a family with few men and many women is easily attacked, non-human beings may attack a mendicant without love.
https://suttacentral.net/sn20.3

At Sāvatthī. “Mendicants, those families with many women and few men are easy prey for bandits and thieves. In the same way any mendicant who has not developed and cultivated the heart’s release by love is easy prey for non-humans. Those families with few women and many men are hard prey for bandits and thieves. In the same way a mendicant who has developed and cultivated the heart’s release by love is hard prey for non-humans. So you should train like this: ‘We will develop the heart’s release by love. We’ll cultivate it, make it our vehicle and our basis, keep it up, consolidate it, and properly implement it.’ That’s how you should train.”

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Re: SN 20.3 Kula Sutta. Families.

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:44 am

Bhikkhu Bodhi's comments:

“Bhikkhus, just as it is easy for burglars to assail those families that have many women and few men, so too it is easy for nonhuman beings to assail a bhikkhu who has not developed and cultivated the liberation of mind by lovingkindness.
  • The simile is also at Vin II 256,16-18 and AN IV 278,22-25, but with a different application.
    “Ānanda, if females had not gained the going forth from the lay life to homelessness in the teaching and training proclaimed by the Realized One, the spiritual life would have lasted long. The true teaching would have remained for a thousand years. But since they have gained the going forth, now the spiritual life will not last long. The true teaching will remain only five hundred years.

    It’s like those families with many women and few men. They’re easy prey for bandits and thieves. In the same way, the spiritual life does not last long in a teaching and training where females gain the going forth.

    https://suttacentral.net/an8.51/en/sujato#sc26--27
    Corehi kumbhatthenakehi is lit. “pot-thief bandits.”

    Spk explains: Having entered the houses of others, having surveyed the scene by the light of a lamp, desiring to steal the belongings of others, they make a lamp in a jar (ghaṭe) and enter. Even mud-sprites (paṃsupisācakā) assail those devoid of development of lovingkindness, how much more then powerful nonhumans?

    Amanussa, lit. “nonhuman,” usually denotes a malevolent spirit or demon.

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Sam Vara
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Re: SN 20.3 Kula Sutta. Families.

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:12 am

Many thanks, Mike.

The concept of being under attack by "nonhumans" is interesting, not least because one might assume that the development of loving-kindness would also protect one against human malevolence. Other humans, especially if they share one's culture, are attuned to the expression of emotion, and we might expect similar protection.

I remember a monk telling me that his Thai teacher (I think it was Ajahn Chah) sometimes played around with the supernatural fears of local supporters, telling them that they were constantly surrounded by malevolent non-humans and needed to protect themselves. These amanussa were, he said, their neighbours who did not keep the precepts. There was a general view (which I have often heard from Ajahn Chah's monks, but can't recall seeing in the suttas) that one only became properly "human" once one had undertaken to keep the lay-person's precepts. Until then, one was a type of friendly or unfriendly animal, depending on the "training" one had received.

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Re: SN 20.3 Kula Sutta. Families.

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:19 am

Loving kindness seems to commonly be invoked for protection. Here's a sutta about protection from animals:
https://suttacentral.net/an4.67
...
I love the footless creatures,
the two-footed I love,
I love the four-footed,
the many-footed I love.
...
snakes and scorpions, centipedes,
spiders and lizards and mice.
I’ve made this safeguard, I’ve made this protection:
go away, creatures!
And so I revere the Blessed One,
I revere the seven perfectly awakened Buddhas.”
:heart:
Mike

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Re: SN 20.3 Kula Sutta. Families.

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:27 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:19 am
Loving kindness seems to commonly be invoked for protection. Here's a sutta about protection from animals:
https://suttacentral.net/an4.67
...
I love the footless creatures,
the two-footed I love,
I love the four-footed,
the many-footed I love.
...
snakes and scorpions, centipedes,
spiders and lizards and mice.
I’ve made this safeguard, I’ve made this protection:
go away, creatures!
And so I revere the Blessed One,
I revere the seven perfectly awakened Buddhas.”
:heart:
Mike
Sure. I was merely wondering why the protection was presented in a specific way (i.e. non-human beings) rather than generally, to all beings.

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Re: SN 20.3 Kula Sutta. Families.

Post by Kim OHara » Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:56 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:19 am
Loving kindness seems to commonly be invoked for protection. Here's a sutta about protection from animals:
https://suttacentral.net/an4.67
...
I love the footless creatures,
the two-footed I love,
I love the four-footed,
the many-footed I love.
...
snakes and scorpions, centipedes,
spiders and lizards and mice.
I’ve made this safeguard, I’ve made this protection:
go away, creatures!
And so I revere the Blessed One,
I revere the seven perfectly awakened Buddhas.”
:heart:
Mike
I'm sure St Francis of Assisi understood this principle :smile: although I guess he might have wanted to change the last couple of lines.

Like most of what's in the dharma, it can be validated by our own everyday experience. I've seen countless lower-level examples of this in my own life, although I wouldn't rely on it if I found myself too close to a crocodile.

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: SN 20.3 Kula Sutta. Families.

Post by JohnK » Thu Jul 12, 2018 2:52 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:12 am
...telling them that they were constantly surrounded by malevolent non-humans and needed to protect themselves. These amanussa were, he said, their neighbours who did not keep the precepts. There was a general view (which I have often heard from Ajahn Chah's monks, but can't recall seeing in the suttas) that one only became properly "human" once one had undertaken to keep the lay-person's precepts...
This reminds me of something that is in the suttas: the Buddha's teaching strategy of redefining a Brahmin from a matter of birth to a matter of behavior -- just substituting "human" for "Brahmin." :)
"...the practice is essentially a practice, and not a theory to be idly discussed...right view leaves unanswered many questions about the cosmos and the self, and directs your attention to what needs to be done to escape from the ravages of suffering." Thanissaro Bhikkhu, On The Path.

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Re: SN 20.3 Kula Sutta. Families.

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:20 pm

JohnK wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 2:52 pm
This reminds me of something that is in the suttas: the Buddha's teaching strategy of redefining a Brahmin from a matter of birth to a matter of behavior -- just substituting "human" for "Brahmin." :)
Yes, like this example:
Whoever does no wrong
in body,
speech,
heart,
is restrained in these three ways:
he's what I call
a brahman.
I find that very heartening and egalitarian. Thanks for the reminder, John. The Buddha often does this trick of using an established term and then redefining the meaning.

:anjali:

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Re: SN 20.3 Kula Sutta. Families.

Post by JohnK » Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:31 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:20 pm
...The Buddha often does this trick of using an established term and then redefining the meaning.
I think this is related to the recent humor topic -- speaking to a Brahmin and redefining "Brahmin" in a way that "pokes fun" at their sense of privilege.
"...the practice is essentially a practice, and not a theory to be idly discussed...right view leaves unanswered many questions about the cosmos and the self, and directs your attention to what needs to be done to escape from the ravages of suffering." Thanissaro Bhikkhu, On The Path.

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Re: SN 20.3 Kula Sutta. Families.

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:41 pm

JohnK wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:31 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:20 pm
...The Buddha often does this trick of using an established term and then redefining the meaning.
I think this is related to the recent humor topic -- speaking to a Brahmin and redefining "Brahmin" in a way that "pokes fun" at their sense of privilege.
Yes, Richard Gombrich picks this up all the time. "Kamma" was (apparently!) used to mean ritual action performed by Brahmins, and the Buddha then says that we are all doing it all the time. And telling the sacred fire-worshippers that the world is on fire and we need to extinguish it...

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