Khuddaka Nikaya


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Sutta Nipata
4
Sutta 9. Magandiya Sutta

[pali] [faus]

To Magandiya

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
For free distribution only.

 


 

[Magandiya offers his daughter to the Buddha, who replies:]

On seeing [the daughters of Mara]
-- Discontent, Craving, and Passion --
there wasn't even the desire for sex.
So what would I want with this,
filled with urine and excrement?
I wouldn't want to touch it
    even with my foot.

Magandiya:

If you don't want
this gem of a woman, coveted
by many kings,
then for what sort of viewpoint,
precept, practice, life,
attainment of [further] becoming
do you argue?

The Buddha:

'I argue for this'
doesn't occur to one
when considering what's grasped
    among doctrines.
Looking for what is        ungrasped
with regard to views,
and detecting inner peace,
    I saw.

Magandiya:

Sage, you speak
without grasping
at any preconceived judgments.
This 'inner peace':
what does it mean?
    How is it,
by an enlightened person,
    proclaimed?

The Buddha:

He doesn't speak of purity
in connection with     view,
                learning,
                knowledge,
                precept or practice.
Nor is it found by a person
through lack of view,
        of learning,
        of knowledge,
        of precept or practice.[1]
Letting these go, without grasping,
    at peace,
    independent,
one wouldn't long for becoming.

Magandiya:

If he doesn't speak of purity
in connection with     view,
                learning,
                knowledge,
                precept or practice.
and it isn't found by a person
through lack of view,
        of learning,
        of knowledge,
        of precept or practice,
it seems to me that this teaching's
    confused,
for some assume a purity
    in terms of
    -- by means of --
        a view.

The Buddha:

Asking questions
dependent on view,
you're confused
by what you have grasped.
And so you don't glimpse
    even
the slightest
    notion
[of what I am saying].
That's why you think
    it's confused.

Whoever construes
    'equal,'
    'superior,' or
    'inferior,'
by that he'd dispute;
whereas to one unaffected
by these three,
    'equal,'
    'superior,'
do not occur.

Of what would the brahman say 'true'
            or 'false,'
disputing with whom:
he in whom 'equal,' 'unequal' are not.

Having abandoned home,
living free from society,
    the sage
in villages
creates no intimacies.
Rid of sensual passions, free
from yearning,
he wouldn't engage with people
in quarrelsome debate.[2]

Those things
aloof from which
he should go about in the world:
the great one
wouldn't take them up
and argue for them.

As the prickly lotus
is unsmeared by water and mud,
so the sage,
    an exponent of peace,
        without greed,
    is unsmeared by sensuality and
        the world.

An attainer-of-wisdom isn't measured
                made proud[3]
        by views or
        by what is thought,
        for he isn't affected by them.
He wouldn't be led
by action,[4] learning;
doesn't reach a conclusion
    in any entrenchments.

For one dispassionate toward perception
    there are no ties;
for one released by discernment,
        no
    delusions.
Those who grasp at perceptions and views
go about butting their heads
    in the world.

 


[1] The Pali of the first sentence puts the words for "view, learning, knowledge, precept, and practice" in the instrumental case. This case stands for the relationship "by means of" or "because of" but it also has an idiomatic meaning: "in terms of." (To keep the translation neutral on this point, I have translated with the idiom, "in connection with," which can carry both possibilities.) The second sentence puts the words for lack of view, etc., in the ablative case, which carries the meaning "because of" or "from."

If we assume that the instrumental case in the first sentence is meant in the sense of "by means of," then we are dealing -- as Magandiya asserts -- with plain nonsense: the first sentence would say that a person cannot achieve purity by means of views, etc., while the second sentence would be saying that he cannot achieve purity by means of no view, etc. The fact that the two sentences place the relevant terms in different grammatical cases, though, suggests that they are talking about two different kinds of relationships. If we take the instrumental in the first sentence in the sense of "in terms of," then the stanza not only makes sense but also fits in with teachings of the rest of the Pali discourses: a person cannot be said to be pure simply because he/she holds to a particular view, body of learning, etc. Purity is not defined in those terms. The second sentence goes on to say that a person doesn't arrive at purity from a lack of view, etc. Putting the two sentences together with the third, the message is this: One uses right views, learning, knowledge, precepts, and practices as a path, a means for arriving at purity. Once one arrives, one lets go of the path, for the purity of inner peace, in its ultimate sense, is something transcending the means by which it is reached.

In the stanza immediately following this one, it's obvious that Magandiya has not caught this distinction.

For further illustrations of the role of Right View in taking one to a dimension beyond all views, see AN X.93, AN X.96, and MN 24. (The analogy of the relay coaches in MN 24 actually seems more tailored to the issues raised by the Buddha's remarks in this discourse than it does to the question it addresses in that discourse.) See also sections III/H and III/H/i in The Wings to Awakening.

[2] An explanation of this stanza, attributed to Ven. Maha Kaccana, is contained in SN XXII.3.

[3] "Measured... made proud" -- two meanings of the Pali word manameti.

[4] "Action" here can mean either kamma in its general sense -- i.e., the attainer-of-wisdom has gone beyond creating kamma -- or in a more restricted sense, as ritual action. According to Nd.I, it refers to the factor of "fabrication" (sankhara) in the analysis of dependent co-arising (see SN XII.2).

 


 

See also:
SN I.1;
Sn V.7

 


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