SN 20.10 Biḷāra Sutta. A Cat.

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mikenz66
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SN 20.10 Biḷāra Sutta. A Cat.

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Aug 24, 2018 9:33 am

SN 20.10 Biḷāra Sutta. A Cat.
Translated by Bhikkhu Sujato

https://suttacentral.net/sn20.10

At Sāvatthī. Now at that time a certain junior mendicant socialized with families too often. The mendicants said to him: “Venerable, don’t socialize with families too often.” But that mendicant, when spoken to by the mendicants, did not stop. And then several mendicants went up to the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and told him what had happened. The Buddha said:

“Once upon a time, mendicants, a cat was standing by an alley or a drain or a dustbin hunting a little mouse: ‘When that little mouse comes out to feed, I’ll catch it right there and eat it!’ And then that little mouse came out to feed. The cat caught it and hastily swallowed it without chewing. And that little mouse ate its intestines and mesentery, resulting in death and deadly pain.

In the same way, take a certain monk who robes up in the morning and, taking his bowl and robe, enters the village or town for alms without guarding body, speech, and mind, without establishing mindfulness, and without restraining the sense faculties. There he sees a female scantily clad, with revealing clothes. Lust infects his mind, resulting in death or deadly pain. For it is death in the training of the noble one to reject the training and return to a lesser life. And it is deadly pain to commit one of the corrupt offences for which rehabilitation is possible. So you should train like this: ‘We will enter the village or town for alms guarding body, speech, and mind, establishing mindfulness, and restraining the sense faculties.’ That’s how you should train.”

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mikenz66
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Re: SN 20.10 Biḷāra Sutta. A Cat.

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Aug 24, 2018 9:47 am

Comments from Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation.
  • “Bhikkhus, once in the past a cat stood by an alley or a drain or a rubbish bin...
    • Sandhisamalasaṅkaṭīre. Spk explains sandhi as an alley between two detached houses; samala as a channel for the discharge of waste from a house; and saṅkatīra as a rubbish bin; see too Ps III 418,16 (commenting on MN I 334,27 [MN 50]).

      At MLDB p. 433 the compound was translated, “by a door-post or a dust-bin or a drain,” but it seems these last two nouns should be inverted.
      • Just as an owl on a branch waiting for a mouse meditates, premeditates, out-meditates, and mismeditates, or just as a jackal on a river-bank waiting for fish meditates, premeditates, out-meditates, and mismeditates, or just as a cat, waiting for a mouse by an alley or drain or rubbish bin, meditates, premeditates, out-meditates, and mismeditates, or just as a donkey unladen, standing by a door-post or a dustbin or a drain, meditates, premeditates, out-meditates, and mismeditates, so too, these bald-pated recluses, these swarthy menial offspring of the Kinsman’s feet, claim: “We are meditators, we are meditators!” and with shoulders drooping, heads down and all limp, they meditate, premeditate, out-meditate, and mismeditate.’
  • With his mind invaded by lust he meets death or deadly suffering. For this, bhikkhus, is death in the Noble One’s Discipline: that one gives up the training and returns to the lower life. This is deadly suffering: that one commits a certain defiled offence of a kind that allows for rehabilitation.
    • Aññataraṃ saṅkiliṭṭhaṃ āpattiṃ āpajjati yathārūpāya āpattiyā vuṭṭhānaṃ paññāyati. An offence motivated by a defilement (in this case lust) but of a kind that can be expiated by undergoing the appropriate penalty (as opposed to an offence of the pārājikā class, which does not allow for expiation but requires permanent expulsion from the Saṅgha).

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Sam Vara
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Re: SN 20.10 Biḷāra Sutta. A Cat.

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Aug 24, 2018 10:32 am

Many thanks Mike. There are quite a few points, albeit minor, that I found interesting here.

The first is the nice parallel between "death or deadly pain", which is common throughout the suttas for the results of dark kamma, and the different levels of monastic offence. (As per BB's notes) Here, "death" equates to the pārājika offence of sexual intercourse, whereas the implied lesser sexual offences equate to the difficulty of re-establishing a good practice thereafter. I was familiar with the idea of "death in the training", and even being "killed"
(as per the Kesi Sutta: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html) but not the idea of "deadly pain" for a lesser offence.

It is also interesting how the perils are described both in quantitative and in qualitative terms. The "certain junior mendicant" was socialising with families "too often". Yet presumably, if he had his mindfulness established and sense doors guarded, then frequent contact would not cause problems for him. It seems to be the depth of contact (i.e. the sort that allows him glimpses of scantily-clad females) and his mental unpreparedness which cause the problems.

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Re: SN 20.10 Biḷāra Sutta. A Cat.

Post by Bundokji » Fri Aug 31, 2018 6:41 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 10:32 am
It is also interesting how the perils are described both in quantitative and in qualitative terms. The "certain junior mendicant" was socialising with families "too often". Yet presumably, if he had his mindfulness established and sense doors guarded, then frequent contact would not cause problems for him. It seems to be the depth of contact (i.e. the sort that allows him glimpses of scantily-clad females) and his mental unpreparedness which cause the problems.
I share the same understanding. I remember vaguely a dhamma talk by Ajahn Brahm in which he said that many lay female practitioners who visit his monastery dress up decently which is praiseworthy, but if they are doing it not to disturb the monks, the monks should be mindful enough not to be disturbed.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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