SN 1.81 Araṇa Sutta: Without Conflict

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SN 1.81 Araṇa Sutta: Without Conflict

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:25 pm

SN 1.81 [SN i 44] <SN i 102> Araṇa Sutta: Without Conflict
Tranlsated by Bhikkhu Bodhi


http://suttacentral.net/en/sn1.81

"Who here in the world are placid?
Whose mode of life is not squandered?
Who here fully understand desire?
Who enjoy perpetual freedom?

“Whom do parents and brothers worship
When he stands firmly established?
Who is the one of humble birth
That even khattiyas here salute?”

“Ascetics are placid in the world;
The ascetic life is not squandered;
Ascetics fully understand desire;
They enjoy perpetual freedom.

“Parents and brothers worship an ascetic
When he stands firmly established. [140]
Though an ascetic be of humble birth
Even khattiyas here salute him.”

Note

[140] Spk: Firmly established in virtue.

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Re: SN 1.81 Araṇa Sutta: Without Conflict

Post by culaavuso » Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:45 pm

mikenz66 wrote: “Ascetics are placid in the world;
The ascetic life is not squandered;
Ascetics fully understand desire;
They enjoy perpetual freedom.
This is an interesting choice of translation given the commonly discussed contrast between asceticism and the Middle Way. It looks like the original Pāḷi for the word ascetic was samaṇa which might also be translated as a wanderer or a recluse. Ven. Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu translates the word as "contemplative" in suttas such as DN 2: Sāmaññaphala Sutta, which is somewhat related to the mention of khattiyas saluting.

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Re: SN 1.81 Araṇa Sutta: Without Conflict

Post by Sam Vara » Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:23 pm

culaavuso wrote:
mikenz66 wrote: “Ascetics are placid in the world;
The ascetic life is not squandered;
Ascetics fully understand desire;
They enjoy perpetual freedom.
This is an interesting choice of translation given the commonly discussed contrast between asceticism and the Middle Way. It looks like the original Pāḷi for the word ascetic was samaṇa which might also be translated as a wanderer or a recluse. Ven. Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu translates the word as "contemplative" in suttas such as DN 2: Sāmaññaphala Sutta, which is somewhat related to the mention of khattiyas saluting.
Interesting point. Bhikkhu Bodhi tends to alternate between "ascetic" and "recluse" - the latter, for example, in the Culasihanada Sutta http://suttacentral.net/en/mn11. I can't see any contextual reason for the choice, although "wanderer" tends to detract from the aspect of being "placid in the world".

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Re: SN 1.81 Araṇa Sutta: Without Conflict

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:32 pm

Interesting points. I don't see how "asceticism", is contrary to the middle way. (Perhaps it depends on what you mean by "ascetic".) It's "the pursuit of self-mortification" http://suttacentral.net/en/sn56.11 that is criticised. Restraint and asceticism is praised in many suttas, such as the "graduated training" suttas:
He abstains from injuring seeds and plants. He practises eating only one meal a day, abstaining from eating at night and outside the proper time. He abstains from dancing, singing, music, and theatrical shows. He abstains from wearing garlands, smartening himself with scent, and embellishing himself with unguents. He abstains from high and large couches. He abstains from accepting gold and silver. He abstains from accepting raw grain. He abstains from accepting raw meat. He abstains from accepting women and girls. He abstains from accepting men and women slaves. He abstains from accepting goats and sheep. He abstains from accepting fowl and pigs. He abstains from accepting elephants, cattle, horses, and mares. He abstains from accepting fields and land. He abstains from going on errands and running messages. He abstains from buying and selling. He abstains from false weights, false metals, and false measures. He abstains from accepting bribes, deceiving, defrauding, and trickery. He abstains from wounding, murdering, binding, brigandage, plunder, and violence.

“He becomes content with robes to protect his body and with almsfood to maintain his stomach, and wherever he goes, he sets out taking only these with him. Just as a bird, wherever it goes, flies with its wings as its only burden, so too the bhikkhu becomes content with robes to protect his body and with almsfood to maintain his stomach, and wherever he goes, he sets out taking only these with him. Possessing this aggregate of noble virtue, he experiences within himself a bliss that is blameless.
http://suttacentral.net/en/mn27
:anjali:
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Re: SN 1.81 Araṇa Sutta: Without Conflict

Post by culaavuso » Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:07 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Interesting points. I don't see how "asceticism", is contrary to the middle way. (Perhaps it depends on what you mean by "ascetic".) It's "the pursuit of self-mortification" http://suttacentral.net/en/sn56.11 that is criticised. Restraint and asceticism is praised in many suttas, such as the "graduated training" suttas
It does seem to depend on what is meant by ascetic. The context of the usage often helps indicate the appropriate meaning. This distinction between restraint and self-mortification seems important in understanding the middle way. In other contexts, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi seems to equate asceticism and self-mortification:
[url=http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/wheel433.html]The Buddha and His Dhamma[/url] by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote: Having left his teachers, the Bodhisatta adopted a different path, one that was popular in ancient India and still has followers today: the path of asceticism, of self-mortification, pursued in the conviction that liberation is to be won by afflicting the body with pain beyond its normal levels of endurance. For six years the Bodhisatta followed this method with unyielding determination. He fasted for days on end until his body looked like a skeleton cloaked in skin; he exposed himself to the heat of the midday sun and the cold of the night; he subjected his flesh to such torments that he came almost to the door of death. Yet he found that despite his persistence and sincerity these austerities were futile. Later he would say that he took the path of self-mortification further than all other ascetics, yet it led, not to higher wisdom and enlightenment, but only to physical weakness and the deterioration of his mental faculties.

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Re: SN 1.81 Araṇa Sutta: Without Conflict

Post by Mkoll » Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:10 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Interesting points. I don't see how "asceticism", is contrary to the middle way. (Perhaps it depends on what you mean by "ascetic".) It's "the pursuit of self-mortification" http://suttacentral.net/en/sn56.11 that is criticised. Restraint and asceticism is praised in many suttas, such as the "graduated training" suttas:
I agree. Practiced to its utmost as a bhikkhu, the Buddhist path is an ascetic one, no doubt about it. It fits the definition perfectly.
American Heritage Dictionary wrote:as·cet·ic (-stk)
n.
A person who renounces material comforts and leads a life of austere self-discipline, especially as an act of religious devotion.
adj.
1. Leading a life of self-discipline and self-denial, especially for spiritual improvement. See Synonyms at severe.
2. Pertaining to or characteristic of an ascetic; self-denying and austere: an ascetic existence.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Re: SN 1.81 Araṇa Sutta: Without Conflict

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Jul 29, 2014 3:25 am

Yes, that's the meaning of "ascetic" I was taking. To me there is a big difference between asceticism and self-mortification.

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Re: SN 1.81 Araṇa Sutta: Without Conflict

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Jul 29, 2014 3:38 am

culaavuso wrote: In other contexts, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi seems to equate asceticism and self-mortification:...
It could be taken as such in that particular case. However, Bhikkhu Bodhi has changed his preferred translations and terminology over the years (even different editions of the Middle Length Discourses have variations in translation...). It also depends on how you parse the sentence:
Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:Having left his teachers, the Bodhisatta adopted a different path, one that was popular in ancient India and still has followers today: the path of asceticism, of self-mortification, pursued in the conviction that liberation is to be won by afflicting the body with pain beyond its normal levels of endurance.
It perhaps could be read as:
...the path of asceticism and self-mortification...
:anjali:
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Re: SN 1.81 Araṇa Sutta: Without Conflict

Post by culaavuso » Tue Jul 29, 2014 4:57 am

Sam Vara wrote:Bhikkhu Bodhi tends to alternate between "ascetic" and "recluse" - the latter, for example, in the Culasihanada Sutta http://suttacentral.net/en/mn11. I can't see any contextual reason for the choice, although "wanderer" tends to detract from the aspect of being "placid in the world".
This difference could be a matter of changing of preferred translation over time. The introduction to the year 2000 edition of The Connected Discourses of the Buddha does not discuss the word samaṇa, but the Pāḷi-English Glossary lists only one translation for it: "ascetic". This is possibly just a situation where consistency is desirable throughout the translation but no single English word fully captures the subtleties of meaning.

The introduction to the year 2009 (fourth edition) of The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha discusses the word briefly, glossing the meaning as "ascetics" though often leaving the word untranslated during the discussion. In the list of major changes in terminology from Ven. Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli, the word samaṇa is listed as originally translated as "monk" but exclusively translated as "recluse" in Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation. It doesn't seem to purely be a change in preferred terminology over time, however, since the word ascetic is used as a gloss in the introductory discussion.
[url=http://www.wisdompubs.org/book/middle-length-discourses-buddha]The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha (Introduction)[/url] by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote: The Middle Country of India in which the Buddha lived and taught in the fifth century B.C. teemed with a luxuriant variety of religious and philosophical beliefs propagated by teachers equally varied in their was of life. The main division was into the brahmins and the non-brahmanic ascetics, the samaṇas or "strivers".
...
The samaṇas, on the other hand, did not accept the authority of the Vedas, for which reason from the perspective of the brahmins they stood in the ranks of heterodoxy. They were usually celibate, lived a life of mendicancy, and acquired their status by voluntary renunciation rather than by birth. The samaṇas roamed the Indian countryside sometimes in company, sometimes as solitaries, preaching their doctrines to the populace, debating with other ascetics, engaging in their spiritual practices, which often involved severe austerities (see MN 51.8). Some teachers in the samaṇa camp taught entirely on the basis of reasoning and speculation, while others taught on the basis of their experiences in meditation.
Another possibility is that there is an intentional emphasis communicated in the word choice, perhaps suggesting that what Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi has elsewhere described as self-transcendence is deliberately being highlighted. This could make sense with SN 1.81 since the renunciant character of the samaṇa lifestyle seems integral to the meaning.
[url=http://www.vipassana.com/resources/bodhi/self-transformation.php]Self-transformation[/url] by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote: In the proper practice of the Dhamma both principles, that of self-transformation and that of self-transcendence, are equally crucial. The principle of self-transformation alone is blind, leading at best to an ennobled personality but not to a liberated one. The principle of self-transcendence alone is barren, leading to a cold ascetic withdrawal devoid of the potential for enlightenment. It is only when these two complementary principles work in harmony, blended and balanced in the course of training, that they can bridge the gap between the actual and ideal and bring to a fruitful conclusion the quest for the end of suffering.
It may also be worth considering the degree to which SN 1.81 is a description of a cultural environment. A modern practitioner of any form of asceticism in a culture devoid of khattiyas would not likely be saluted by them. The fact that khattiya defies a simple translation into English here seems to indicate the difficulty inherent in translating samaṇa in this same passage.

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