October 8, 2018 at 4:04 pm #18775
“Those who realized the Noble Truths well taught by him who is profound in wisdom (the Buddha), EVEN THOUGH THEY MAY BE EXCEEDINGLY HEEDLESS, they will not take an eighth existence (in the realm of sense spheres). This precious jewel is the Sangha. By this (asseveration of the) truth may there be happiness.” The words in capitals is what gives rise to my question.
Ye ariyasaccāni vibhāvayanti,
Kiñcāpi te honti bhusaṃ pamattā,
Na te bhavaṃ aṭṭhamamādiyanti;
This of course refers to the number of existences still left for a Sotapanna. How is it said here that a Sotapanna has the license to be exceedingly heedless? The translation cannot be right, I sense. He is free of only apayagami deeds.
burnesebuddhisttemple.org and indonesianbuddhistsociety.wordpress even qualify ‘heedless’ by the adverb ‘extremely’:
“however extremely heedless they may be ; they do not take an eight rebirth”
However, Robert Chalmers in Buddha’s Teachings: ‘Being the Sutta-Nipata or Discourse Collection’ (v.230) has ‘though they BACKSLIDE’ instead of the unequivocal ‘however HEEDLESS be they afterwards.’ Of course, ‘backslide’ leaves one the possibility to get on the right track once again in time, a kind of back-and forth ‘progress’; the same can hardly be said for ‘heedless’.
QUESTION; What is the correct translation of the verse : Kiñcāpi te honti bhusaṃ pamattā,
“Any evil action he may still do by deed, word or thought, he is incapable of concealing it; since it has been proclaimed that such concealing is impossible for one who has seen the Path (of Nibbana). This precious jewel is the Sangha. By this (asseveration of the) truth may there be happiness.
QUESTION: What is meant here by ‘concealing'(any evil action)?…and ‘such concealing is impossible for one who has seen the Path? Is it because the one on the Path has now become so authentic, so true to himself and to others,so transparent, that he does not even try to conceal it because he has no interest to do so? Is this what is implied here?
Metta to all
October 8, 2018 at 6:18 pm #18776
“How is it said here that a Sotapanna has the license to be exceedingly heedless? The translation cannot be right, I sense. He is free of only apayagami deeds.”
- Yes. The translation could be better. What is meant is if one attains the Sotapanna stage, then even if one is not diligent (i.e., does not strive hard), one will attain Arahanthood within 7 seven bhava (which could be a long time, by the way; even one existence in the human realm could be many thousands of years; in deva and brahma realms it could be millions or billions of years).
- These are called “dhammata” or “laws of nature”. Buddha did not dictate them, he just discovered them.
“What is the correct translation of the verse : Kiñcāpi te honti bhusaṃ pamattā,”
– It says even if one is “extremely negligible” or “not taking an effort at all”. But that probably meant to indicate one’s behavior in the current life where he just attained the Sotapanna stage.
– Obviously, one will “catch up” in later births or at least later bhava. He still has a long time!
““Any evil action he may still do by deed, word or thought, he is incapable of concealing it; since it has been proclaimed that such concealing is impossible for one who has seen the Path (of Nibbana). This precious jewel is the Sangha. By this (asseveration of the) truth may there be happiness.
QUESTION: What is meant here by ‘concealing'(any evil action)?…and ‘such concealing is impossible for one who has seen the Path? Is it because the one on the Path has now become so authentic, so true to himself and to others,so transparent, that he does not even try to conceal it because he has no interest to do so? Is this what is implied here?”
- The verse above this one says there are six kamma that a Sotapanna is incapable of doing: killing mother, father or an Arahant, seek refuge in anything other than Buddha Dhamma, commit niyata micca ditthi, and Sangha bedha. (These are not listed there).
- So, it is POSSIBLE that a Sotapanna could do any bad kamma outside of those, but UNLIKELY. Even if he is forced to do something, he will not do so willingly and will not be able to conceal it, if done. He will show remorse without doubt; he will not be able to conceal it.
– However, he will never be ABLE TO do a kamma that could make him be reborn in the apayas.
October 8, 2018 at 11:39 pm #18778
Thank you Lal,
-“He will show remorse without doubt”.-
That is clear, but it did not ‘surface’,it eluded me, when I was absorbed in formulating the question.
One other point (unrelated to this) I have been meaning to raise concerns the wording: ‘taking that which is not given’ instead of the single words ‘theft’ or ‘stealing’. I do not know whether it is the only way possible to convey the idea of stealing in Pali, but in English there is of course a difference.
Say one comes across a fruit tree in the woods or finds a valuable object in a public place. In both instances, one is taking, if he does, that which is not given. In the first case he just helps himself to the fruit without even the idea of doing something immoral (still, the fruit is ‘not given’); now if it is a companion who picks the fruit and gives it to him, he would now be taking only that which ‘has been given’. But the ‘act’ remains the same, something which had not been given was taken. In contrast, in the case of the valuable object one feels a moral obligation to hand it over to the authorities, sincerely hoping that in this way it finds its way back to its owner.
The moral, as I see, is that of always being mindful of how one’s actions may affect others; if adversely, refrain, if beneficially, persist. Here the case of the fruit would fall under neither, but under ‘does not affect them at all’
Is there more that one should see …or, is this understanding enough to live by and apply? Does it satisfy all that is meant by ‘not taking that WHICH IS NOT GIVEN’?
Ever so grateful
P.S… excluding, no need to say, other subtle forms of theft like time-wasting or deliberate negligence at work, immoral though ‘legal’ forms of transactions and all else done to one’s benefit at the expense of others.
October 9, 2018 at 6:28 am #18779
“Say one comes across a fruit tree in the woods or finds a valuable object in a public place. In both instances, one is taking, if he does, that which is not given.”
We can clarify these by looking at the “intention” (whether there is greed involved), and also “whether anyone will be harmed by a given action”. That is the bottom line.
In the case of the fruit tree in a forest, it does no harm to anyone to eat a fruit from it. So, that is not theft.
But in the latter, there is someone who lost that item. So, if there a “lost and found” office at the public place, one should return it there.
But if one finds a valuable thing lying on the road, say, then it is fine to take it, unless there is a way to find the owner. If it is really valuable one could give it to charity on behalf of the (unknown) owner.
So, depending on the situation, we can figure out what to do.
October 9, 2018 at 6:44 am #18780
Thank you Lal,
Now I know I have the full import of this.
with Infinite gratitude
October 9, 2018 at 10:42 pm #18796AkvanParticipant
My response is in regard to the difference between “taking what is not given” and stealing and also instances where a person picks a fruit or picks something valuable from the street.
With regard to ownership of objects there are absolute / ultimate (paramaththa) rules as well as conventional (sammatha) norms. The law of the land will fall under these conventional norms / rules.
Let’s take an example where person A loses an object and drops it on the road. In the ultimate sense after A drops that object, he loses ownership of it and no one owns that object. If B walks by and picks it up and keeps it for himself he has not stolen anything, as the object didn’t belong to A, or anyone else. This is in the ultimate sense. However, in the conventional sense and even with laws of the land B may have stolen that object from A, as A still may have ownership over it.
In a similar way, if B steals something from A, say by grabbing his bag and running off, in the ultimate sense the ownership of that bag changes from A to B after the point that B takes hold of the bag. There was an instance where a man stole a monks bowl and when the monk tried to forcefully take it back from the man, the monk was told that the bowl now belongs to the man and it he shouldn’t take it back from him.
So in the ultimate sense, there can be a difference between “taking what is not given” and “stealing”.
Of course as Lal mentioned the intention plays a vital part in this process as well.
October 10, 2018 at 1:22 am #18797
Thank you Akvan:
-for taking the time.
I see what you mean. To myself it is like this, and this is what I go by: all these ‘laws’, absolute/conventional, are meant to deter people from stealing, or, one can say, to protect people from having their belongings stolen, a kind of enforcement; on the one side, as to the moral aspect, on the other, as to the legal (laws of the land) aspect of it.
However, there is a higher law – that of the Heart. At times this ‘inner’law clashes with external ones (what is legal), and even when an external law would give me he ‘right’to do something, still I go by the inner law if I feel that is the right way to go.
Even saying that intention plays a vital part…intention plays an all-important part, THE important part. In the case you mention – where person A loses an object and drops it on the road as well as if B walks by and picks it up and keeps it for himself he has not stolen anything… This is in the ultimate sense- To me this is not the ultimate sense. I place myself in the state of mind in which the one who lost the object must be in. Would he/she not like to have that object back? How would I feel if it were I who lost it and someone returns it? Would I not be overjoyed? As it is, I am overjoyed myself thinking how overjoyed that person would be.
Then there are the benefits. The merits of the good deed can be transferred to others (more good taking place). This does not occur to me until hours after. On the selfish side, I must admit,(in my case)I have prevented myself from accumulating another object, another burden.
Metta to you and to all
October 10, 2018 at 7:53 am #18803
Akvan said: “Let’s take an example where person A loses an object and drops it on the road. In the ultimate sense after A drops that object, he loses ownership of it and no one owns that object.”
Legally that is true.
However, that thing one may have dropped could be one’s wedding ring, or some critical and valuable thing over which one may lose sleep. It will be hugely beneficial to see if it can be returned to the owner.
As I said above, each case needs to be evaluated on its own. There is no need to worry about trying to return a dollar bill that one finds on the road.
Akvan said: “In a similar way, if B steals something from A, say by grabbing his bag and running off, in the ultimate sense the ownership of that bag changes from A to B after the point that B takes hold of the bag. ”
That will not even hold legally.
That is a clear case of stealing or adinnadana. If that is not stealing, I don’t know what is. That is a very dangerous way of thinking. Of course, I know that Akvan does not act that way. But even to say that is not a good idea. Someone may latch on to that idea.
October 10, 2018 at 9:10 pm #18810AkvanParticipant
I am in no way trying to promote stealing or any such thing. I was just trying to explain how in an ultimate (pramaththa) sense the ownership of things work. And also trying to explain how the ultimate (pramaththa) laws may defer from conventional and legal rules. Again I am not trying to promote anything illegal. As long as we are living in this world, we have to abide by the rules and laws of that country both conventional norms and written legal laws.
On a personal level I have resolved that if I lose something, or someone steals something from me, I will try and not to take it back from them, as I have lost ownership of that item. By doing this I am trying to practice the act of not taking someone else’s objects in an ultimate and extreme sense. Also I try not to ask for someone else’s things, although it is not stealing if I ask for it, and thereby try to abstain from “taking what is not given”. Of course both of these are very hard to practice, while living our mundane daily lives.
Sorry again if I gave out any wrong messages.
October 11, 2018 at 3:22 am #18811
Of course, I knew that and I said so.
You said: “I was just trying to explain how in an ultimate (pramaththa) sense the ownership of things work. And also trying to explain how the ultimate (pramaththa) laws may defer from conventional and legal rules. .”
The conventional laws do not need to be different from ultimate (pramaththa) sense, especially in cases like ownership. If conventional law and order breaks down, we will have a chaotic situation. If one can just grab something from another, would not that lead to chaos?
The point is that when one makes progress on the Path, he/she will not care much if someone else takes things from him/her. The “sense of ownership” goes down. That is true. But we cannot impose that on the whole society, because law and order will break down.
I can see that the precept about “musavada” (making “adhamma as dhamma”) is different from “conventional lying”. But I don’t see how stealing can be justified in any way.
Because this involves breaking a very fundamental precept of not hurting another person: “In a similar way, if B steals something from A, say by grabbing his bag and running off, in the ultimate sense the ownership of that bag changes from A to B after the point that B takes hold of the bag. ”
October 11, 2018 at 6:27 am #18813Johnny_LimParticipant
So, to err on the safe side is not to adopt the finders keepers mentality?
October 11, 2018 at 8:07 am #18814
Johnny, why ‘to err’? To ‘err’ means to act in a wrong way due to not being able to tell between kusala and akusala – vicikicca. And if you ARE able to tell, then it (snatching a bag) is stealing.
If only we were able to always put ourselves in the shoes of ‘that other’ most of these questions would not even arise.
October 11, 2018 at 8:16 am #18815Johnny_LimParticipant
Apparently, finders keepers is a form of Theft by Finding. It’s even punishable by law in some countries.
Sometimes it’s not so clear whether it’s right to do it or not. If you picked up cash on the street, it’s yours. There’s no way to determine who dropped it. But if you picked up a wallet containing cash and identification card (not necessarily ID card but any form of traceable identification e.g bank card, employment pass etc.), then you should make an effort to return it to the owner. i.e. make a police report.
October 11, 2018 at 8:26 am #18816
I am with you there.
Always – the interests, the necessities, the feelings of the other are the same as yours. There is no difference.
October 11, 2018 at 8:39 am #18817
Y not said: “If only we were able to always put ourselves in the shoes of ‘that other’ most of these questions would not even arise.”
That is really the bottom line. In fact, that was Buddha’s advise to the people of Kalama in the Kalama Sutta.
Put it in another way: Nibbana (cooling down), starting from the very basic level is to remove greed, hate, and ignorance (greed and hate arise due to ignorance).
- So, if a given action causes one to be uncomfortable that is due to greed, hate, ignorance arising. This is what is called “taapa” (or “heat”) in Satipatthana. One should avoid such actions.
- On the other hand, returning a lost item to the owner (whenever possible) is a non-greed, non-hate action done without ignorance. That always lead to joy in the heart in both people, opposite of taapa.
Both actions lead to cooling down of the mind.
October 12, 2018 at 6:33 am #18826
Snp 2.14 Dhammikasutta (SC verse 398):
What is “ungiven”—anything, anywhere,
THAT’S KNOWN TO BE OTHERS’, its theft one should avoid.
Neither order things taken,
nor others’ removal approve—
all of this “ungiven” let the hearkener avoid
Tato adinnaṃ parivajjayeyya,
Kiñci kvaci sāvako bujjhamāno;
Na hāraye harataṃ nānujaññā,
Sabbaṃ adinnaṃ parivajjayeyya
Here,’what is ungiven’ is qualified (at long last!) with ‘that’s known to be others’. Not that I was in any doubt after all that has been said in this topic, but here we have it plainly from the Suttas.
Otherwise, ‘taking what is not given’, taken literally, would mean that, just as it would be wrong to pick a fruit from tree in the forest,so would be drinking water from a river and taking the very air that we breathe – which is absurd. This reminds me of what I had read once: anything that does not make sense cannot be a teaching of the Buddha.
Metta to all
October 12, 2018 at 9:29 am #18830
Good observation. I had not seen that. Thank you!
Yes. There are many short suttas in the Sutta Nipatha and Anguttara Nikāya, that summarize key concepts.
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