AN 4.53 Paṭhamasaṃvāsa Sutta. Living Together (1st).

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AN 4.53 Paṭhamasaṃvāsa Sutta. Living Together (1st).

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Jul 04, 2018 4:59 am

AN 4.53 Paṭhamasaṃvāsa Sutta. Living Together (1st).
Translated by Bhikkhu Sujato


Living with gods and zombies
https://suttacentral.net/an4.53

At one time the Buddha was traveling along the road between Madhura and Verañja, as were several householders, both women and men. The Buddha left the road and sat at the root of a tree, where the householders saw him. They went up to the Buddha, bowed, and sat down to one side. The Buddha said to them:

“Householders, there are four ways of living together. What four?
1. A male zombie living with a female zombie;
2. a male zombie living with a goddess;
3. a god living with a female zombie;
4. a god living with a goddess.

And how does a male zombie live with a female zombie? It’s when the husband kills living creatures, steals, commits sexual misconduct, lies, and uses alcoholic drinks that cause negligence. He’s unethical, of bad character, living at home with his heart full of the stain of stinginess, abusing and insulting ascetics and brahmins. And the wife is also … unethical, of bad character … That’s how a male zombie lives with a female zombie.

And how does a male zombie live with a goddess? It’s when the husband … is unethical, of bad character … But the wife doesn’t kill living creatures, steal, commit sexual misconduct, lie, or use alcoholic drinks that cause negligence. She’s ethical, of good character, living at home with her heart rid of the stain of stinginess, not abusing and insulting ascetics and brahmins. That’s how a male zombie lives with a goddess.

And how does a god live with a female zombie? It’s when the husband … is ethical, of good character … But the wife … is unethical, of bad character … That’s how a god lives with a female zombie.

And how does a god live with a goddess? It’s when the husband … is ethical, of good character … And the wife is also … ethical, of good character … That’s how a god lives with a goddess. These are the four ways of living together.
  • When both are unethical,
    miserly and abusive,
    then wife and husband
    live together as zombies.

    When the husband is unethical,
    miserly and abusive,
    but the wife is ethical,
    kind, rid of stinginess,
    she’s a goddess living
    with a zombie for a husband.

    When the husband is ethical,
    kind, rid of stinginess,
    but the wife is unethical,
    miserly and abusive,
    she’s a zombie living
    with a god for a husband.

    When both are faithful and kind,
    restrained, living properly,
    then wife and husband
    say nice things to each other.

    They get all the things they need,
    so they live at ease.
    Their enemies are downhearted,
    when both are equal in ethics.

    Having practiced the teaching here,
    both equal in precepts and observances,
    those who desire sensual pleasure rejoice,
    delighting in the heavenly realm.”

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Re: AN 4.53 Paṭhamasaṃvāsa Sutta. Living Together (1st).

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Jul 04, 2018 5:03 am

Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation uses more conventional terms, but we can see where Bhikkhu Sujatu's "zombie" translation comes from, by examining the Pali:
  • “Householders, there are these four ways of living together. What four? A wretch lives together with a wretch; a wretch lives together with a female deva; a deva lives together with a wretch; a deva lives together with a female deva.
    • Wretch is a translation of Chava, lit. a corpse. Mp: “Such a person is called a corpse because he or she is dead through the death of their virtuous qualities.”

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Re: AN 4.53 Paṭhamasaṃvāsa Sutta. Living Together (1st).

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Jul 04, 2018 8:45 am

Many thanks, Mike.

The "zombie" translation jarred with me a bit at first, on account of the pop culture connotations. But, as you say, it makes sense given the term chava, which can mean either:
New Concise Pali English Dictionary
chava
m.f. & mfn.

(m. f.) a corpse; a dead body.
(mfn.) vile; base; wretched; inferior; paltry.
There is also that expression in the Dhammapada, where it is said that "The heedless are as if dead already". Here, the Pali is different: mata for "dead", presumably at least partly for poetic effect:
Appamattā na mīyanti ye pamattā yathā matā.


(Which sounds good even when I stumble through it!)

If the favoured translation in your sutta is "zombie", then the fact that different words are used would seem to strengthen the idea of a heedless person who is no better than the walking dead. I wonder if the idea crops up elsewhere in the canon? I have heard Ajahn Sucitto use similar figures of speech to describe those who are merely animated by their desires and contacts. They lack true autonomy. I especially like this one:
The mind is grabbed and thrown from this point to
that point: to this sound, to this mood, to this urgent duty. For
many people the mind is something that is activated by these
forces and pressures that are outside it, rather than something
that freely acts — like a dead fish in a washing machine, it may
be moving around a lot, but that doesn’t mean it’s alive.
(from The Mind, the World, and the Dhamma)

And, cross-culturally, we have Jesus saying "Let the dead bury the dead" when someone claimed that funeral rites were more urgent than discipleship.

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Re: AN 4.53 Paṭhamasaṃvāsa Sutta. Living Together (1st).

Post by JohnK » Wed Jul 04, 2018 4:07 pm

Thanks, Mike and SV.
mikenz66 wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 4:59 am
...They get all the things they need..
I was wondering about that "all the things they need" -- (e.g., need for what? all?).
I see that B. Bodhi translates as "many benefits accrue to them" -- his translation does not raise the questions of "need for what?" and "all?" -- it also leaves open the continued results of their past kamma.
(I don't know which is a more literal translation, e.g., if the Pali leaves open the two questions of "need for what?" and "all?")
...those who desire sensual pleasure rejoice,
delighting in the heavenly realm.”
B. Bodhi makes the meaning more explicit "...delighting [after death] in a deva world, they rejoice, enjoying sensual pleasure."
(This may also reflect back on "needed for what?" -- NOT for unbinding.)
"...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: AN 4.53 Paṭhamasaṃvāsa Sutta. Living Together (1st).

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Jul 04, 2018 7:46 pm

Hi John,

Thanks for that. I'm not much of a Pali scholar, but it's great to be able to turn on line-by-line Pali with Bhikkhu Sujato's translations:
They get all the things they need,
Atthāsaṃ pacurā honti,
[benefits abundant exist]
https://suttacentral.net/an4.53/en/sujato#11.1
those who desire sensual pleasure rejoice,
Nandino devalokasmiṃ,
[delight heavenly-realm]

delighting in the heavenly realm.”
modanti kāmakāmino”ti.
[rejoices following-desires]
https://suttacentral.net/an4.53/en/sujato#12.3--12.4

Obviously one needs more than dictionary lookup to really get how to translate those, and Bhikkhu Sujato seems to have reordered the phrases.

:heart:
Mike

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Re: AN 4.53 Paṭhamasaṃvāsa Sutta. Living Together (1st).

Post by DooDoot » Wed Jul 04, 2018 9:01 pm

JohnK wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 4:07 pm
B. Bodhi makes the meaning more explicit "...delighting [after death] in a deva world, they rejoice, enjoying sensual pleasure."
How is adding words into a sutta making it more "explicit"? B. Bodhi corrupts the sutta by adding "after death".
JohnK wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 4:07 pm
(This may also reflect back on "needed for what?" -- NOT for unbinding.)
The sutta appears simply a (lokiya) sutta for lay people who need sensual pleasures for happiness. Its not related to (lokuttara) Nibbana.

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Re: AN 4.53 Paṭhamasaṃvāsa Sutta. Living Together (1st).

Post by JohnK » Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:47 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 9:01 pm
JohnK wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 4:07 pm
B. Bodhi makes the meaning more explicit "...delighting [after death] in a deva world, they rejoice, enjoying sensual pleasure."
How is adding words into a sutta making it more "explicit"? B. Bodhi corrupts the sutta by adding "after death".
My post was in the spirit of investigation not meaning to claim any expertise.
"Explicit" may well have been a poor word to choose. "Specific" (correct or incorrect) may have been a better choice.
(Not knowing Pali, I was assuming that the "after death" part was explicitly or implicitly in the Pali, and BB was making sure his reader's got that -- in which case it would be more "specific.")
Of course, things may be more complicated than that -- for example, your suggestion of a "corruption." BTW, BB does show "after death" in brackets -- in the printed version I have -- acknowledging I think that he added it -- perhaps less corrupt.
Certainly, Sujato's translation includes some specificity that does not appear to be in the original, e.g., the "all the things they need" part -- I'm not sure just when "translator choice" ends and "corruption" begins.
The more I read and try to understand the suttas, the more I think learning Pali would be a good idea -- but more time practicing is probably an even better idea. :)
"...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: AN 4.53 Paṭhamasaṃvāsa Sutta. Living Together (1st).

Post by JohnK » Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:51 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 9:01 pm
JohnK wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 4:07 pm
(This may also reflect back on "needed for what?" -- NOT for unbinding.)
The sutta appears simply a (lokiya) sutta for lay people who need sensual pleasures for happiness. Its not related to (lokuttara) Nibbana.
Yes, apparently so. And thanks for the Pali of the two sutta types.
"...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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