Post on “Dasa Akusala and Anatta – The Critical Link”

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    • #38847

      Dasa Akusala and Anatta – The Critical Link
      Under #7 the following verse is listed:
      Adhammō ca, bhikkhave, veditabbō anattho ca; dhammō ca veditabbō attho ca,” with the translation: “Bhikkhus, it is to be comprehended that adhamma leads to anattā (helplessness), and dhamma leads to attā (refuge in Nibbāna).”
      Then the next addition is:
      “Furthermore, those who are still clinging to the incorrect interpretation of ’anatta’ as ‘no-self’ should be able to clearly see that it leads to the foolish statement: ‘Bhikkhus, it is to be comprehended that adhamma leads to no-self, and dhamma leads to self.’”

      Under #15:
      Adhammañca viditvā anatthañca, dhammañca viditvā atthañca yathā dhammo yathā attho tathā paṭipajjitabbaṁ,“ that is also in the Patama Adhamma Sutta of #7 above.
      That means, “Knowing that adhamma leads to anattha and dhamma leads to attha, you should practice accordingly (following yathā dhammo will lead to yathā attho.)”

      The translations given make complete sense and that statement, of course, does not make sense at all. I looked at the sutta reference on Sutta central some time ago and I didn’t find a translation of this verse (or so I thought). To my surprise, I came across a translation of it now. But “anattho” and “attho” aren’t translated as “no-self” and “self.”

      The entire verse is translated as:
      “Mendicants, you should know bad principles and good principles.
      And you should know bad results and good results.
      Knowing these things, your practice should follow the good principles with good results.”
      (I noticed a similar translation for German and Spanish).

      So, they seem to make a distinction between atta/anatta and attha/anattha (which I wasn’t aware of). A reference to “self” and “no-self” in the post seems therefore misplaced.

      Checking the individual definition, I found this:
      Anattha: not the goal; disadvantage; harm; what is unprofitable, useless.
      Attha: aim, purpose, goal; advantage, profit, benefit (among a whole list of other possible definitions).
      It seems in other suttā one of these translations is used. They are never translated as “self” and “no-self.”

      I’m not saying the above definitions are correct (but they come closer to the deeper meaning than “no-self”). The more detailed definitions of the terms given on this website make the most sense to me, by far. I’m merely stating how these are interpreted elsewhere. I didn’t come across this information before.
      I find it useful to know because explanations can sometimes be stated more efficiently knowing from what angle others are seeing things, e.g., seeing anicca as impermanence. This is what Lal also has done in relation to many key terms on the website like with the post, “Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta – Wrong Interpretations.”

      Speaking of anicca, I also came to learn that aniccha and niccha (with the h) are never translated as impermanence and permanence.
      Aniccha’s definition, as per sutta central is: “having no wish, without desire.”
      Strangely enough, I can’t see a translation for Niccha.
      So also here, they distinguish between anicca and aniccha.
      As far as I’ve learned from, the added h adds an emphasis to the words.
      I can’t verify this from the Tipitaka myself since my Pali knowledge is non-existent, but I have no doubt about the deeper meanings of anicca as presented on the website, considering the progress I’ve made.

      Regarding anicca/aniccha and nicca/niccha, I’d be interested in how these verses below ought to be translated (especially the bolded parts). Would you mind taking a look, Lal?

      The first one is:
      Ūnūdaro mitāhāro,
      Appicchassa alolupo;
      Sadā icchāya nicchāto,
      Aniccho hoti nibbuto.

      Sutta Nipāta 3.11 Nālakasutta

      English translation for reference:
      With empty stomach, taking limited food,
      few in wishes, not greedy;
      truly hungerless regarding all desires,
      desireless, one is quenched.

      And the verse with both aniccha and anicca:
      Sukhajīvino pure āsuṁ,
      bhikkhū gotamasāvakā;
      Anicchā piṇḍamesanā,
      anicchā sayanāsanaṁ;
      Loke aniccataṁ ñatvā,
      dukkhassantaṁ akaṁsu te.

      Saṁyutta Nikāya 2.25 Nānātitthiyavagga Jantusutta

      English translation for reference:
      The mendicants used to live happily,
      as disciples of Gotama;
      Desireless they sought alms;
      desireless they used their lodgings.
      Knowing that the world was impermanent,
      they made an end of suffering.

    • #38850

      I am glad that you are spending time digging into this issue.

      Here are the correct interpretations that I believe are consistent with ANY reference in the Tipitaka:

      1. Nicca means the view/perception that something/anything in the world can be maintained to one’s satisfaction and can bring benefits.
      – Icca is the craving for worldly things based on the above perceived “nicca nature.”
      – Anicca is the opposite of nicca.

      2. The words with the additional letter “h” (niccha, iccha, aniccha) emphasizes those characteristics.

      Now, if anyone can find contrary evidence to the above, we can discuss them.

      3. Conversely, many English translations ALMOST ALWAYS translate “anicca” as “impermanence.” That is wrong.
      – They sometimes correctly translate “iccha/niccha/aniccha” (as in #2 above). An example of the correct translation is the first verse that you referenced.

      4. An example of an incorrect translation is in the second verse that you referenced:
      Sukhajīvino pure āsuṁ, bhikkhū gotamasāvakā;
      Anicchā piṇḍamesanā, anicchā sayanāsanaṁ;
      Loke aniccataṁ ñatvā, dukkhassantaṁ akaṁsu te

      Translated in “Jantu sutta (SN 2.25)“:
      “The mendicants used to live happily, as disciples of Gotama,
      Desireless they sought alms; desireless they used their lodgings.
      Knowing that the world was impermanent, they made an end of suffering.”

      Here, the translator INCORRECTLY translated “anicca” as “impermanent.”
      – That does not flow with the rest of the verse/sutta.

      If you repeat this exercise, you will find more inconsistencies.

    • #38882

      Thank you for taking the time to respond, Lal.
      So how would you rate the translation of the other part of that second verse (in italics)?

      Sukhajīvino pure āsuṁ,
      bhikkhū gotamasāvakā;
      Anicchā piṇḍamesanā,
      anicchā sayanāsanaṁ;

      Loke aniccataṁ ñatvā,
      dukkhassantaṁ akaṁsu te.

      With my knowledge of Pali, I’m only able to detract the meaning from “Loke aniccam natva,”
      which I assume means “knowing that nothing in this world can be kept to one’s satisfaction…”

    • #38883

      ñatvā” means “with that understanding”.
      – So, your translation is good.

      Also, you may have missed the recent discussion: “Peṭakopadesa
      – There are many possible (related) meanings to “anicca.” The same holds for “anatta.” See at the end of “6. Suttatthasamuccayabhūmi

    • #38907

      I came across a discussion here at Puredhamma a few weeks back. I’m not sure if it’s completely relevant to this discussion, but I thought it might have some minor relevance.

      Wrong English translations of Aniccha, Anatta, Sakkaya ditthi… etc

      About 4/5 down the page, there’s a list of contemplation objects based on aniccānupassanā, dukkhānupassanā, anattānupassanā.

      In the Petakopadesa post where Lal mentions “There are even more words used to describe anicca in another Tipitaka Commentary. It is not necessary to analyze each of them”.

      I’m not sure if Lal was mentioning about this commentary (Patisambhidamagga)? For my own practice, I don’t / haven’t contemplated on all those contemplation objects. I thought it can be of benefit to a Buddha dhamma practitioner to be at least exposed to it.

    • #38909

      Thanks Lal and Gem, I haven’t seen some of that. It’s always great to be able to broaden your understanding, looking at things from different angles.
      I’ll be sure to through these links.

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