AN 4.174 Kotthita Sutta:To Kotthita

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AN 4.174 Kotthita Sutta:To Kotthita

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Oct 30, 2014 9:29 am

AN 4.174 PTS: A ii 161 Thai 4.173 Kotthita Sutta: To Kotthita
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


How Sariputta answers the question, "What lies beyond Nibbana?"
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html



Then Ven. Maha Kotthita went to Ven. Sariputta and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to Ven. Sariputta, "With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media [vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, & intellection] is it the case that there is anything else?"

[Sariputta:] "Don't say that, my friend."

[Maha Kotthita:] "With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media, is it the case that there is not anything else?"

[Sariputta:] "Don't say that, my friend."

[Maha Kotthita:] "...is it the case that there both is & is not anything else?"

[Sariputta:] "Don't say that, my friend."

[Maha Kotthita:] "...is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?"

[Sariputta:] "Don't say that, my friend."

[Maha Kotthita:] "Being asked if, with the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media, there is anything else, you say, 'Don't say that, my friend.' Being asked if ... there is not anything else ... there both is & is not anything else ... there neither is nor is not anything else, you say, 'Don't say that, my friend.' Now, how is the meaning of your words to be understood?"

[Sariputta:] "The statement, 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media [vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, & intellection] is it the case that there is anything else?' objectifies non-objectification.[1] The statement, '... is it the case that there is not anything else ... is it the case that there both is & is not anything else ... is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectifies non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes. However far objectification goes, that is how far the six contact media go. With the remainderless fading & stopping of the six contact-media, there comes to be the stopping, the allaying of objectification.
Note

1. See MN 18. As Snp 4.14 points out, the root of the classifications and perceptions of objectification is the thought, "I am the thinker." This thought forms the motivation for the questions that Ven. Maha Kotthita is presenting here: the sense of "I am the thinker" can either fear or desire annihilation in the course of Unbinding. Both concerns get in the way of the abandoning of clinging, which is essential for the attainment of Unbinding, which is why the questions should not be asked.

See also: AN 4.42; AN 8.30.

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Re: AN 4.174 Kotthita Sutta:To Kotthita

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Oct 30, 2014 9:42 am

Some notes from Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation: 

(1) “Friend, with the remainderless fading away and cessation of the six bases for contact, is there anything else?” [879]
  • 879 The dialogue here seems to be concerned with the “ontological status” of the arahant who has attained the nibbāna element without residue remaining, that is, with the question whether the liberated person exists or does not exist after death.


(4) “With the remainderless fading away and cessation of the six bases for contact, is there neither something else nor nothing else?” “Do not say so, friend.” [880]
  • 880 Mp glosses mā h’evaṃ with evaṃ mā bhaṇi, “Do not speak thus,” and explains that the four questions are asked by way of eternalism, annihilationism, partial eternalism, and “eel-wriggling” (sassata-uccheda-ekaccasassata-amarāvikkhepa). Thus Sāriputta rejects each question. “Eel-wriggling” is agnosticism, skepticism, or intellectual evasiveness.


(1) “Friend, if one says: ‘With the remainderless fading away and cessation of the six bases for contact, there is something else,’ one proliferates that which is not to be proliferated. [881]
  • 881 Appapañcaṃ papañceti. Mp: “He creates proliferation [or speculations] in relation to something that should not be proliferated [or speculated about]. He travels along a path that one should not travel on.”

    The Pāli word papañca suggests mental fabrication, obsessive mental construction, and deluded conceptualization, which the commentaries say arise from craving, conceit, and wrong views (taṇhā, māna, diṭṭhi). It seems to me that Mp understands appapañcaṃ as a contraction of appapañciyaṃ. A Chinese parallel, SĀ 249, says at T II 60a16–20: “If one [makes any of these assertions about the six bases for contact], these are just empty words. With the vanishing, fading away, cessation, and stilling of the six bases for contact, one relinquishes empty falsehood and attains nibbāna.”


“Friend, as far as the range of the six bases for contact extends, just so far extends the range of proliferation. [882]
  • 882 Tāvatā papañcassa gati. Mp: “As far as the range of the six bases extends, just so far extends the range of proliferation, distinguished by way of craving, views, and conceit.”

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Re: AN 4.174 Kotthita Sutta:To Kotthita

Post by Coyote » Fri Oct 31, 2014 11:13 am

I find this topic quite difficult to understand and hard to put into practical terms in my head. Is the suggestion here that the four questions reflect a desire either for becoming or non-becoming (or views ect), and therefore that those who have reached this state would not think in those terms?
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: AN 4.174 Kotthita Sutta:To Kotthita

Post by santa100 » Fri Oct 31, 2014 2:51 pm

Coyote wrote:I find this topic quite difficult to understand and hard to put into practical terms in my head. Is the suggestion here that the four questions reflect a desire either for becoming or non-becoming (or views ect), and therefore that those who have reached this state would not think in those terms?
Per Ven. Bodhi's footnote, notice the central theme to the sutta:
The dialogue here seems to be concerned with the “ontological status” of the arahant who has attained the nibbāna element without residue remaining, that is, with the question whether the liberated person exists or does not exist after death.
So the intention is really for us worldlings who have not attained enlightenment to not asking the wrong questions.

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Re: AN 4.174 Kotthita Sutta:To Kotthita

Post by culaavuso » Fri Oct 31, 2014 6:58 pm

Coyote wrote:I find this topic quite difficult to understand and hard to put into practical terms in my head. Is the suggestion here that the four questions reflect a desire either for becoming or non-becoming (or views ect), and therefore that those who have reached this state would not think in those terms?
One interpretation could be that the questions are loaded questions which are based upon uninvestigated assumptions. Trying to precisely define the terms used in the questions may clarify the meaning.

It's also perhaps helpful to note that the questions in AN 4.173 are regarding whether anything else exists (atthi) or doesn't exist (n'atthi). These words are often interpreted as being associated with the doctrines of eternalism and nihilism. For a discussion of these words somewhat related to this context it might be helpful to read this post.

This is not the same as the word bhava which is often translated as "becoming".

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Re: AN 4.174 Kotthita Sutta:To Kotthita

Post by Coyote » Sat Nov 01, 2014 6:14 pm

Culaavuso and others,

My thinking is that the wrong views of eternalism and annihilationism are closely linked and fueled by the desire for becoming and non-becoming. It is this desire (and the associated views) that is the problem with these questions. The commentary cited in Bhikkhu Bodhi's notes would seem to support this idea.

Just as a reference for this idea Bhikkhu Anālayo discusses this from page 9 in "Excursions into the Thought World of the Pāli discourses" Chapter 1 "Craving", 1.2 "Types of Craving"
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: AN 4.174 Kotthita Sutta:To Kotthita

Post by culaavuso » Sat Nov 01, 2014 7:12 pm

Coyote wrote: My thinking is that the wrong views of eternalism and annihilationism are closely linked and fueled by the desire for becoming and non-becoming. It is this desire (and the associated views) that is the problem with these questions. The commentary cited in Bhikkhu Bodhi's notes would seem to support this idea.

Just as a reference for this idea Bhikkhu Anālayo discusses this from page 9 in "Excursions into the Thought World of the Pāli discourses" Chapter 1 "Craving", 1.2 "Types of Craving"
The views of eternalism and annihilationism do seem to be closely linked to and fueled by craving for becoming and non-becoming. However, questions asked in other suttas such as MN 35 or MN 93 also seem to be fueled by craving yet they are answered rather than being set aside. This seems to suggest that being fueled by craving is not sufficient reason for a question to be set aside. One difference seems to be that answering some questions could encourage the arising of craving and discourage appropriate attention in the present. Answering other questions that are fueled by craving may encourage appropriate attention and discourage the arising of further craving, which seems consistent with the cases in the suttas were questions fueled by craving were answered. In other words, the difference seems to be in the result of an answer rather than in the cause of the question.

A good discussion of questions to be set aside along with a number of selections from the Pāḷi discourses can be found in the book Skill in Questions.
[url=http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/skill-in-questions.pdf]Skill in Questions[/url] (p. 261-265) by Ven. Thānissaro Bhikkhu wrote: The consistency in his teaching was teleological, in that all the issues he discussed were aimed at a single end. As he repeatedly stated, all he taught was stress and the end of stress. Thus he was free to put questions aside on the grounds that they did not lead to that end. And, as we shall see, this was his primary reason for putting a wide variety of questions aside.
...
The Buddha wanted to focus attention on the kammic process of creating a perception of self or cosmos, for to view these processes as actions was to enter the path to the end of stress through the framework of the four noble truths. This, for him, was the most important knowledge one could have on these topics.
...
He was unwilling to encourage conjecture about what lay beyond ordinary human powers to measure in space and time. Instead, he encouraged people to view the cosmos simply as the basic sensory information from which the concept or perception of world or cosmos is derived. Focusing here, they could see how the process of becoming, leading to stress, was created through the creation of those concepts, thus framing their attention appropriately in terms of the four noble truths. But as for the limits of the cosmos “out there,” the Buddha advised that the issue be put aside.

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Re: AN 4.174 Kotthita Sutta:To Kotthita

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Nov 01, 2014 7:23 pm

It does seem to me that Van Thanissaro's translation of papanca as "objectification" is rather forced in this context: 
"The statement, 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media [vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, & intellection] is it the case that there is anything else?' objectifies non-objectification.
Ven Bodhi's translation is: 
“Friend, if one says: ‘With the remainderless fading away and cessation of the six bases for contact, there is something else,’ one proliferates that which is not to be proliferated.
The "proliferation" translation that Ven Bodhi uses originates from Ven Nanananda's book, Concept and Reality: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 30#p316130

Of course, there is often difficulty translating a Pali word into a single English word, so it can be helpful to have multiple translation suggestions.

See these threads for more discussion on papanca: 
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=14229
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=12375

:anjali:
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Re: AN 4.174 Kotthita Sutta:To Kotthita

Post by culaavuso » Sat Nov 01, 2014 9:17 pm

mikenz66 wrote: The "proliferation" translation that Ven Bodhi uses originates from Ven Nanananda's book, Concept and Reality: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 30#p316130

Of course, there is often difficulty translating a Pali word into a single English word, so it can be helpful to have multiple translation suggestions.
The word papañca seems to share with dukkha and several other words a difficulty in finding good single word English translations. It can be helpful to know a particular translator's preference and consider the meaning as being that of the underlying Pāḷi word rather than relying heavily on the English translation to provide the full depth of meaning. Regarding the use of "objectification" in this context Ven. Ñāṇananda's book may be informative:
[url=http://www.seeingthroughthenet.net/files/eng/books/other/concept_and_reality.pdf]Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought[/url] (p. 6) by Ven. Bhikkhu Katukurunde Ñāṇananda wrote: The deliberate activity implied by the third person verb is seen to stop at 'papañceti'. Now comes the most interesting stage of the process of cognition. Apparently it is no longer a mere contingent process, nor is it an activity deliberately directed, but an inexorable subjection to an objective order of things. At this final stage of sense-perception, he who has hitherto been the subject, now becomes the hapless object.
...
Like the legendary resurrected tiger which devoured the magician who restored it to life out of its skeletal bones, the concepts and linguistic conventions overwhelm the worldling who evolved them. At the final and crucial stage of sense-perception, the concepts are, as it were, invested with an objective character.
[url=http://www.seeingthroughthenet.net/files/eng/books/other/concept_and_reality.pdf]Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought[/url] (p. 90) by Ven. Bhikkhu Katukurunde Ñāṇananda wrote: A dream may be proved false in the light of waking experience, but all the same, it is relatively true as a fact of experience. Similarly, the deluding character of concepts is a fact of experience and must not be ignored on that account. Concepts, for all their vicious potency to delude us, are not to be blamed per se, for they are merely objectifications or projections of our own taṇhā, māna and diṭṭhi—our cravings, our conceit, and our views. Hence, in the last analysis, concepts have to be tackled at their source. They are not so much to be demolished, as to be comprehended and transcended.
This aspect of papañca of investing concepts with an objective character seems to be what Ven. Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu highlights with his translation as "objectification".

It may also be informative to read Ven. Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu's introduction to MN 18 which discusses papañca and his choice to translate it as "objectification":
[url=http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.018.than.html]MN 18 Introduction[/url] by Ven. Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu wrote: Translating papañca: As one writer has noted, the word papañca has had a wide variety of meanings in Indian thought, with only one constant: in Buddhist philosophical discourse it carries negative connotations, usually of falsification and distortion. The word itself is derived from a root that means diffuseness, spreading, proliferating. The Pali Commentaries define papañca as covering three types of thought: craving, conceit, and views. They also note that it functions to slow the mind down in its escape from samsara. Because its categories begin with the objectifying thought, "I am the thinker," I have chosen to render the word as "objectification," although some of the following alternatives might be acceptable as well: self-reflexive thinking, reification, proliferation, complication, elaboration, distortion. The word offers some interesting parallels to the postmodern notion of logocentric thinking, but it's important to note that the Buddha's program of deconstructing this process differs sharply from that of postmodern thought.

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Re: AN 4.174 Kotthita Sutta:To Kotthita

Post by SarathW » Sat Nov 01, 2014 10:09 pm

In a lighter note. :)
When you take a child to an excursion or go on a trip he/she continually ask the question "Are we there yet, Are we there yet"
or they ask questions about the destination.
The child will have a true understanding only when he/she is get to the destination.
So best thing is to enjoy the journey than worry about the destination.
:focus:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: AN 4.174 Kotthita Sutta:To Kotthita

Post by chownah » Sun Nov 02, 2014 4:07 am

My view is that papanca has many different meanings and in suttas like this it is usually instructive to try each of the meanings in turn and see what insight can be had from each.

also, one meaning of papanca (according to Nyanatiloka's dictionary) is "differentiation"......which means "objectification" more or less in that to differentiate between things one must objectify them first.

also, note that it seems that Thanissaro is saying that the remeainderless fading away of the six sense media is non-objectification.....while Boddhi seems to be saying that it is non-proliferation. Both meanings can provide useful insight I think.
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Re: AN 4.174 Kotthita Sutta:To Kotthita

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Nov 03, 2014 6:33 pm

Thanks for all of the interesting input. With respect to translations of papanca, it seems to me that the translation "proliferation" emphasises the creation of concepts aspect and the "objectification" the "I" aspect of the proliferation. The former has the disadvantage of not pointing to the "I" aspect, and the latter the disadvantage of sounding rather passive. Therefore, as culaavuso observes: 
It can be helpful to know a particular translator's preference and consider the meaning as being that of the underlying Pāḷi word rather than relying heavily on the English translation to provide the full depth of meaning.
:anjali:
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Re: AN 4.174 Kotthita Sutta:To Kotthita

Post by vinasp » Tue Nov 04, 2014 1:06 pm

Hi everyone,

Another aspect of this discourse, only hinted at so far, is that Sariputta's final statement seems to claim that, for some persons, there is the attainment of Nibbana after death.

This would appear to contradict the orthodox Mahavihara position.

My reasoning is as follows:

1. One synonym for Nibbana is 'nippapanca' - the absence of proliferation. The cessation of papanca is, therefore, the attainment of Nibbana.

2. Sariputta's final statement is:

"With the remainderless fading away and cessation of the six bases for contact there is the cessation of proliferation, the subsiding of proliferation."

A philosophical question: How does Sariputta know what happens after death?

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: AN 4.174 Kotthita Sutta:To Kotthita

Post by theend » Tue Nov 04, 2014 1:36 pm

vinasp wrote:Another aspect of this discourse, only hinted at so far, is that Sariputta's final statement seems to claim that, for some persons, there is the attainment of Nibbana after death.

This would appear to contradict the orthodox Mahavihara position.

My reasoning is as follows:

1. One synonym for Nibbana is 'nippapanca' - the absence of proliferation. The cessation of papanca is, therefore, the attainment of Nibbana.

2. Sariputta's final statement is:

"With the remainderless fading away and cessation of the six bases for contact there is the cessation of proliferation, the subsiding of proliferation."

A philosophical question: How does Sariputta know what happens after death?
Hello,

I don't see that the "remainderless fading away and cessation of the six bases for contact" equals death. Instead, in case of the living arahat, the senses have ceased to be bases for contact.

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Re: AN 4.174 Kotthita Sutta:To Kotthita

Post by chownah » Tue Nov 04, 2014 1:59 pm

About the remainerless fading away and cessation of the six bases for contact.
When the buddha talks about in seeing is only the seen he is talking about awareness of vision without the need to have an objectified model of the elements of the seeing process namely the eye, the eye object, and eye consciousness. When seeing this way one does not differentiate the eye experience as being anything other than experience. In this sense the eye, the eye object, and eye consciousness are all the result of papance or fabrication and so must be dropped in order to experience only the seen in the seeing. If you think about it if you are not indulging in a doctrine of self there will be no thing called the eye nor a thing called the eye object nor a thing called the eye consciousness......there will only be the seen in the seeing...no eye, no eye object, no eye consciousness....and if this becomes your default mode for experience you will have the remainerless fading away and cessation of the eye.....the same goes for the other five sense spheres.....I guess.....don't know for sure.
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Re: AN 4.174 Kotthita Sutta:To Kotthita

Post by vinasp » Tue Nov 04, 2014 5:11 pm

Hi theend,

Quote: - "I don't see that the "remainderless fading away and cessation of the six bases for contact" equals death. Instead, in case of the living arahat, the senses have ceased to be bases for contact."

That is the alternative interpretation, which I also follow, So I agree with you. But I wanted to explore the implications of the other view.

Many people seem to think that the six bases (salayatana) are the actual senses. Of course, they can also be understood in other ways.

I believe that the bhikkhu who is an 'ordinary man' (puthujjana) does understand the six bases as the actual senses. The noble disciple has a different interpretation.

But the question here, is whether the 'six bases for contact' are to be considered as equivalent to the 'six bases', or not.

I would argue that the two terms are interchangeable and mean the same thing. So the cessation of the six bases for contact could only be understood by the puthujjana in terms of physical death.

So a puthujjana would understand Sariputta's final statement to mean that arahants attain Nibbana after death.

It is only in the case of the death of the Arahant that there is a cessation of the six bases for contact, in the understanding of the puthujjana.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: AN 4.174 Kotthita Sutta:To Kotthita

Post by theend » Wed Nov 05, 2014 2:29 pm

vinasp wrote:I believe that the bhikkhu who is an 'ordinary man' (puthujjana) does understand the six bases as the actual senses. The noble disciple has a different interpretation.
I would not say that the six bases are not the actual senses. As I see it, the difference lies in regarding the senses as "I" or "mine". For the puthujjana, the notion that I see or that seeing is mine has priority over the fact that there is an (actual) eye, and because of that, he wrongly views that eye as something that fits into his notion of being the seer, i.e. he regards the eye as something "internal", belonging to himself, something that is "build into" his ability to see.

The noble disciple no longer has this wrong view: He no longer takes for granted that experience is mine, so he is not forced to view the senses in a way that would maintain the appropriation.

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Re: AN 4.174 Kotthita Sutta:To Kotthita

Post by Zom » Wed Nov 05, 2014 4:39 pm

Many people seem to think that the six bases (salayatana) are the actual senses. Of course, they can also be understood in other ways.
Thinking that salayatana is not the actual sense bases but something else is... proliferation! :tongue:

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