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Sīlabbata-parāmāso

Trust in Ethics, Effort, and Ritual
[to bring about the end of pain]

References:

Puremind Press, Venerable Punnaji, Awakening Meditation, pp 8-72
Glossology: Sanyojana[AN 10.13]
ATI: Fetters
PTS: The Book of the Gradual Sayings: The Book of the Tens: II:ii:13: Fetters
[AN 1.1-97]
The Book of the Ones: The Yokes to Rebirth
Appendixes: The 10 Fundamantal Attachments
Discussion at: DhammaTalk: The Five Fetters to the Lower Rebirths

 


 

Pali MO Hare Horner Punnaji Bodhi Nanamoli Rhys Davids (Mrs)Rhys Davids Thanissaro Walshe Woodward
Sīlabbata-parāmāso attachment to trust in good works, ethics and rituals alienating moral principles adherence to rules and observances adherence to rules and observances wrong judgment as to rules and ritual wrong judgment as to rules and ritual grasping at precepts and practices attachment to rite and ritual

 

Pali Text Society
Pali English Dictionary
Edited by T. W. Rhys Davids and William Stede
[EDITED ENTRY]

 

Sīla: 1. nature, character, habit, behaviour; usually as -- in adj. function "being of such a nature," like, having the character of -- 2. moral practice, good character, Buddhist ethics, code of morality. -bbata [=vata2] good works and ceremonial observances Dh 271; A I.225; S IV.118; Ud 71; Sn 231, etc.; sīlavata the same Sn 212, 782, 790, 797, 803, 899; It 79 sq.; - -parāmāsa the contagion of mere rule and ritual, the infatuation of good works, the delusion that they suffice Vin I.184; M I.433; A III.377; IV.144 sq.. sīlabbatupādāna grasping after works and rites D II.58; Vism 569. -- The old form sīlavata still preserves the original good sense, as much as "observing the rules of good conduct," "being of virtuous behaviour."
Vata2 (m.andnt.) [cp. Vedic vrata vow. fr. vr.t, meaning later "milk" 1. a religious duty, observance, rite, practice, custom S I.143, 201; IV.180; A IV.461 (sīla, vata, tapas, brahmacariya); V.18. -subbata of good practice. Cp. patibbata, sīlabbata. - 2. manner of (behaving like) a certain animal (as a practice of ascetics), e. g. aja- like a goat J IV.318; go- like a cow M I.387; J IV.318; vagguli- bat practice J I.493; III.235; IV.299; hatthi- elephant behaviour.
Parāmāsa [parā+mr.sh, cp. Epic Sk. parāmarsha being affected by; as philos. term "reflection"] touching, contact, being attached to, hanging on, being under the influence of, contagion. In Asl. 49, Bdhgh analyses as parato āmasantīti parāmāsā: p. means "they handle dhamma's as other" (than what they really are, e. g. they transgress the real meaning of anicca etc. and say nicca). Hence the renderings in Asl. trs. "Reversion," in Dialogues III.28, 43, etc. "perverted" (parāmasāmi parāmaṭṭha) -- S III.46, 110; A II.42 (sacca-); III.377 (sīlabbata-), 438 (id.); V.150 (sandiṭṭhi-); D III.48; Para (adv.--adj.) [fr. Idg. *per, *peri (cp. pari); Ved. para, parā, paraṃ; Lat. per through, Gr. pe/raandpe/ran beyond; see Walde, Lat. Wtb. under perandalso pari, pubba, pura, purāṇa] 1. (adv.and prep.) beyond, on the further side of (with abl. or loc.), over.
Āmasati [ā + masati fr. mrsh] to touch (upon), to handle, to lay hold on Vin II.221; III.48 (kumbhiṃ); J III.319 (id.); A V.263, 266; J IV.67; Ps II.209.

 


 

Venerable Punnaji, Awakening Meditation, pp 8-72: "Assumed behaviour imposed from outside is called "silabbataparamasa" in Buddhism. This Pali word is commonly mistranslated as, "attachment to rites and rituals." This is a gross misunderstanding. The word "sila" refers to the negative or omission aspect of behaviour, "bata" refers to the positive or commission aspect, and "paramass" means, alienation or regarding something as foreign, or as an imposition from outside (parato amasati). The meaning has nothing at all to do with rites and rituals. It can ony mean, alienation of discipline, which is associated with shame and fear. It is morality based on conformity to a social or religious standard of behaviour. It is the obedience to commandments or rules given from outdside. It is not genuine goodness coming from within. It is external conformity."

This looks like Bhante Punnaji thinks the term is being applied positively: that is that trust in rights and rituals is a good thing. It's not! It is called a yoke to rebirth! So sila still means, as it does in other contexts, ethical behavior, only here it is understood that even ethical behavior will not end kamma, but only produce good kamma. And it is the same with effort and rites.

The meaning is the view of certain phenomena (such as rites and rituals, but also sila = ethical conduct, and including any behavior taken on willingly or unwillingly from the outside as a matter of faith) at the time of Stream Entry. At such a time one is able to see that these are not behaviors that could possibly bring about the end of dukkha, samsaric existance. All of the activities included that require "doing" are ruled out because they are downbound to kamma. Those that involve not-doing as encompassed in sila, if not accompanied by insight as to the need to let go, will have been accompanied by the intent to create good kamma by the abstention and will therefore, create kamma. This is not the goal.


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