Aŋguttara Nikāya


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Aŋguttara Nikāya
Sattaka Nipāta
Mahāyañña-Vagga

Sutta 48

Saɱyoga-Visaɱyoga Dhamma-Pariyāya Suttaɱ

A Dhamma Curiculum
for
Self-Yoking and Self-Unyoking

Translated from the Pali
by
Michael M. Olds

 


 

Translator's Introduction

This sutta describes how attraction to and pondering the pleasures of contact with the opposite sex leads to the bondage of women to men and men to women and both to their respective sexes.
A sutta for anyone trying to deal with celebacy but also a sutta which reveals the real dyanamic of bondage to sexuality. It should also be of special interest to all those concerned with women's liberation as it clearly points out the error of blaming the other sex for one's bondage to it. In essence it is saying that sexual bondage is a reflection of self-love and that to free one's self from the bondage, one must free one's self from the self-love.
I can also see this sutta applying to the case of homosexuality, where the obsession with persons of the same sex is coming from an obsession with the marks of the opposite sex within one's self.
Another angle to this sutta is revealed in a story concerning the origin of femininity.

Look at the line reading:

Itthatte bhikkhave, abhiratā sattā purisesu saɱyogaɱ gatā.

Indulging in their feminity, beggars,
beings yoke themselves to masculinity.

The reverse is also stated.

First you need to know that at the Brahma-loka level and above there is no femininity; all beings there and above are classed as males. But it should be noted that the whole notion of sexuality of any variety is at an absolute minimum in these locations.

Femininity, according to this story, began with one brahma-god gazing fondly on the beauty of another brahma-god. The gazed-upon, delighting in the attention exagerates those aspects of himself which are attractive to the other and the story begins. According to this view life originates as masculine and devolves into the feminine.

I think there is another book that says something like this.

The corollary is that the evolution of the individual, as opposed to the evolution of the species, (see: Buddhism and the Idea of Evolution) can go both ways ... so to speak.

There is a great deal of sputtering by women concerning the fact that Buddhism holds that these higher realms are occupied by males exclusively, that Maras and Buddhas and Wheel-turning Emporors are always males; that women bhikkhus should always act deferentially towards male bhikkhus, etc. That griping is misplaced and reflects a lack of vision and a disbelief in rebirth. With the belief in rebirth there is a relaxed perspective concerning such things. A woman, truely desiring to becme a Mara or Buddha is going to face millions of years of training both as male and female and as a multiplicity of different species; there will be plenty of time to become a male. Women desiring to become a Wheel-turning-Emporor will also require extensive training in a variety of rebirths in which there will be plenty of opportunity to becme a male. Women desiring to enter the Brahma loka or who become non-returners in brahma lokas will be reborn there as males.

I am not the one saying this. This is the way it is in the suttas. (see: AN 1.280 ff.; AN 51) What I can see is the logic of the situation. Maras and Buddhas need to command respect. A woman simply does not command the respect of a male in this world, right or wrong. The need for the respect of these stations overrides the need for 'fairness' or 'equal opportunity' between the sexes.

Again, as to the ever-bubbling-up carping at the statement that allowing women to enter the order reduced the lifespan of the Dhamma, the logic is also clear: If men alone had been allowed to enter the order, women who desired to enter the order could become men in the next birth and do so then, thus stretching out the pool of candidates for positions in the Sangha and lengthining its life. But women, demonstrating in the clearest possible way that it is their excessive indulgence in the emotional that results in their being disrespected, went on to mess with the story in a tragic way.

Do I need to say this? None of this, in any way justifies practices in this world which discriminate against women. In fact, I'd put a nickle on the likelihood that discriminative behavior towards women was a key factor in rebirth as a woman. See how you like it. On the other hand to say that the way women dress and make themselves up here today [USA Thursday, November 08, 2018 5:55 PM] is not provocation to sexual advances (there is a lesson there in flowers and bees that I am sure you can see) is absolute blindness or calculated deception. And for women to say that men should learn better self control when provoked is also to be blind to the reality of the weaknesses of the majority of men. Life is a game, you either play it or you don't; if you do, you lose. If you don't like the way the game ends up always hurting you, stop playing. Stop playing with fire and you will be burned less often. What you shouldn't waste your time doing is trying to stop the game. There's too much money in it. Let it go.

ON ANOTHER NOTE

The careful reader will note that I have translated 'Saɱyoga' as 'self-yoking' where 'self' = 'saɱ'. As in the case of my translation of 'sankhāra' as 'own-' I am attempting to come to grips with the fact that this most-used prefix is very seldom an aspect of the translated term, e.g.: Hare, Bhk. Thanissaro: 'bondage'; Bhk. Bodhi: 'union'; Sister Upalavanna: 'association'. All of those could be translations of the 'yoga' part without reference to the 'coɱ'.

Why would this be?

I have a theory. I speculate that the original term (in all forms: sa san saŋ saɱ) as coined by the originators of language itself had a meaning intended to convey the idea of ownership, personalization, self or something relating to the self and that while the sheer number of words using this prefix made it impossible for later generations, more democratic (or less self-centered) in inclinations, to change the spelling, what they did in stead was to convert the idea of 'self' or 'own' to 'with', as in 'by-way-of' which can be ignored with no damage to the basic idea. Goal accomplished. In other words I am saying that in the Buddhist vocabulary, the prefix is meaningful and should be being con-sidered alongsid er more con-ventional renderings. Right here, for example, with the two terms 'sankhāra' and 'saɱyoga' we have, in stead of, say 'fabrication' and 'bondage', the much more informative 'own-making' and 'self-yoking': for is it not the entire dynamic involved in the process of being reborn the poking one's head into the yoke, the yoking of one's identity, to an existing thing in the world and calling the result 'my own'?

 


 

[1][pts][upal][than] I HEAR TELL:

Once upon a time, Bhagava, Sāvatthi-town revisiting.

There he said this to the beggars gathered round:

"Beggars!"

And the beggars responding:

"Venerable!"

The Lucky Man said:

"I will teach you, beggars, a Dhamma-discourse
on self-yoking and self-unyoking.

Lend ear,
pay close attention,
I will speak!"

"Even so, bhante!" the beggars responded.

And the Lucky Man said:

"And what, beggars, is the Dhamma-discourse
on self-yoking and self-unyoking?

 

§

 

2. As regards her own sex, beggars, a woman mentally studies woman's forces:
woman's work,
woman's types,
woman's wishes,
woman's expressions,
woman's equipage.

She is fascinated by such,
over-indulges in such.

-◦-

As regards the male sex, fascinated,
over-indulging in such,
a woman mentally studies man's forces:
man's work,
man's types,
man's wishes,
man's expressions,
man's equipage.

She is fascinated by such,
over-indulges in such.

-◦-

She, fascinated,
over-indulging such,
longs to be yoked to the external
and whatever pleasure and mental ease
are the results of such self-yoking,
for that too she longs.

Indulging in their feminity, beggars,
beings yoke themselves to masculinity.

In this way then, beggars,
woman escapes not feminity.

3. As regards his own sex, beggars, a man mentally studies man's forces:
man's work,
man's types,
man's wishes,
man's expressions,
man's equipage.

He is fascinated by such,
over-indulges in such.

-◦-

As regards the female sex, fascinated,
over-indulging in such,
a man mentally studies woman's forces:
woman's work,
woman's types,
woman's wishes,
woman's expressions,
woman's equipage.

He is fascinated by such,
over-indulges in such.

-◦-

He, fascinated,
over-indulging such,
longs to be yoked to the external
and whatever pleasure and mental ease
are the results of such self-yoking,
for that too he longs.

Indulging in their masculinity, beggars,
beings yoke themselves to femininity.

In this way then, beggars,
man escapes not masculinity.

Such, beggars, is self-yoking.

 

§

 

And how, beggars, is there had self-unyoking?

2. As regards her own sex, beggars, a woman does not mentally study woman's forces:
woman's work,
woman's types,
woman's wishes,
woman's expressions,
woman's equipage.

She is not fascinated by such,
does not over-indulge in such.

-◦-

As regards the male sex, not fascinated,
not over-indulging in such,
a woman does not mentally study man's forces:
man's work,
man's types,
man's wishes,
man's expressions,
man's equipage.

She is not fascinated by such,
does not over-indulges in such.

-◦-

She, not fascinated,
not over-indulging such,
does not long to be yoked to the external
and whatever pleasure and mental ease
would be the results of such self-yoking,
for that too she does not long.

Not indulging in their feminity, beggars,
beings do not yoke themselves to masculinity.

In this way then, beggars,
woman escapes feminity.

3. As regards his own sex, beggars, a man does not mentally study man's forces:
man's work,
man's types,
man's wishes,
man's expressions,
man's equipage.

He is not fascinated by such,
does not over-indulges in such.

-◦-

As regards the female sex, not fascinated,
not over-indulging in such,
a man does not mentally study woman's forces:
woman's work,
woman's types,
woman's wishes,
woman's expressions,
woman's equipage.

He is not fascinated by such,
does not over-indulge in such.

-◦-

He, not fascinated,
not over-indulging such,
does not long to be yoked to the external
and whatever pleasure and mental ease
would be the results of such self-yoking,
for that too he does not long.

Not indulging in their masculinity, beggars,
beings do not yoke themselves to femininity.

In this way then, beggars,
man escapes masculinity.

Such, beggars, is self-unyoking.

 


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