Anguttara Nikaya


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Aŋguttara Nikāya
X. Dasaka-Nipāta
XXI. Karajakāya Vagga

Sutta 208

Karajakāya Suttaɱ

The Deed-born Body[1]

Translated from the Pali by Michael Olds

 


 

Translator's Introduction

Woodward and Bhks. Thanissaro and Bodhi all note that the transition from the opening passage to the case of the student of the Aristocrats who develops liberation of mind reads in the Pali as though it were a disjointed reference to a missing passage similar to or identical with the previous sutta or suttas. This may well be the case, or it may also be the case that as suggested in Bhk. Bodhi's translation, footnote 1, referencing the Chinese parallel, this and the previous sutta were at one time a single sutta and this passage refers to the training in the case of the student of the Aristocrats which has preceded. That these suttas should all be taken as one is, to my mind, the more logical solution as it is only in this sutta that the meaning of the idea that previously done deeds must be understood before pain can be brought to an end is made clear.

In addition the transitions between ideas in the material unique to this sutta are either disjointed or very difficult to follow.

Whatever the real case, I have taken a few liberties with grammar, punctuation and syntax to make this read as smoothly as possible as a stand-alone sutta.

The message of the sutta, as suggested above, is that the consequences of intentionally done acts are not fixed to the body with which they are performed, but follow after what we might call the identified-with indivuality, however manifested, perhaps threatening the enjoyment of liberation in heart, perhaps leading to rebirth, and that the only way to prevent this is to neutralize the returning energy.

Here translation becomes extremely important in identifying precisely the mechanism for this 'neutralization.'

There are three terms in this sutta which bear on the understanding of this idea:

1. Appaṭisaɱviditvā.

Used in the first two paragraphs:
Olds: 'without knowing the result', translating the term as: 'not-result-knowing'; [hear this in the sense of the biblical 'knowing': intimately connecting.]
Woodward: 'without experiencing the result thereof';
Bhk. Thanissaro: 'without having experienced [the results of]',
Bodhi: 'has not experienced [its results]'

2. Tatrāvasissati.

Olds: 'not mastered there'
Woodward: 'stays not in that range'
Bhk. Thanissaro: 'does not remain there'
Bhk. Bodhi: 'no ~ remains there'

3. Vedanīyaɱ.

Olds: 'must be understood'
Woodward: 'must be felt'
Bhk. Thanissaro: 'will be experienced'
Bhk. Bodhi: 'is all to be experienced'.

According to my translation the message of the sutta is:

There is no escape from kamma without understanding the consequences; this 'understanding' to be understood as having mastered, purged from the individual by understanding.
There is no ending pain without understanding the consequences of kamma.
Deeds of any measurable size done previously by this body are not fixed to the body with which they were done but if not mastered there, follow after the identified-with individuality.
To stop the consequences of previously done deeds from following the individuality into the future, the consequences must be understood here.

According to Woodward's translation the message of the sutta is:

There is no escape from kamma without experiencing the consequences of one's deeds;
There is no end of pain without experiencing the consequences of deeds.
Deeds done previously are not fixed to the body with which they were done but follow after the identified-with individuality.
To stop the consequences of previously done deeds from following the individuality into the future the consequences must be felt here.

The distinction between Woodward's translation and my own rests on the translation of the terms Woodward translates as 'experiencing' and 'felt'. I base my translation on logic, common sense, experience and the PED.

For Woodward the term means that the consequence is to be felt or lived out.
This does not take into account the numberless nature of the deeds one may have done in past lives nor the nature of kamma as understood in Gotama's system where the consequence is not a simple one-for-one, but is hugely magnified varying according to one's intent, one's state of mind at the time the deed is done, the nature of the deed and the nature of the recipient of the deed. It takes no long time to figure out that the attainment of arahantship (that is the escape from kamma or the ending of kamma as experienced by the individual) would be impossible if it were necessary for each past deed to be fully experienced.

Again, understanding the idea to be 'experience', there is nothing to be done by the individual to hasten the process.

Using the term 'understanding', (etymologically and contextually permitted by PED), what can be done is to neutralize the returning energy (consequence, rebound) of one's deeds through understanding and not responding.

The liar, for example, experiences the consequence of the lie in the form of false information.
Understanding the receipt of false information as the consequence of a previously done, if not remembered, lie, one does not respond with anger or constirnation and by that non-response brings that individual energy flow to a conclusion.
Understanding, generalizing off that understanding to all situations where one receives false information or the like, one rises above and cannot be reached by a whole category of consequences.
Understanding, generalizing off that experience one learns to abstain from lies in the face of temptation to lie,
and that brings to a conclusion the internal force perpetuating that form of bad action.

All this is to be done here as a matter of practicality: who knows if there will be the opportunity or wisdom to do it elsewhere?

According to Bhk. Thanissaro's translation the message of the sutta is:

There is no escape from kamma without experiencing the consequences of one's deeds;
There is no end of pain without experiencing the consequences of deeds.
Deeds done previously are not fixed to the body with which they were done but follow after the identified-with individuality.
His solution can be read in two opposing ways:
1. That all the consequences of previously done deeds will be experienced in the current lifetime and cannot be experienced elsewhere; or, reading his words as a command to the self: 2. That to stop the consequences of previously done deeds from following the individuality into the future the consequences must be experienced here.

As with Woodward's use of the term 'experiencing' and the reasons for not doing so, so here with Bhk. Thanissaro's translation. If Bhk. Thanissaro's rendering of the solution follows the first way of reading him, the argument that applied to the indeterminate number of one's past deeds, and the amount of time it could take to experience them applies. There is no way this teaching could be applied to most people as the number of their deeds and the consequences thereof would take more than one lifetime to experience even if one did no new deeds which, without understanding kamma, would not be possible. If his solution is as per the second reading, then the argument is only with the use of the term experience.

According to Bhk. Bodhi's translation the message of the sutta is:

There is no escape from kamma without experiencing the consequences of one's deeds;
There is no end of pain without experiencing the consequences of deeds.
Deeds of any measurable size done previously do not remain in the state of one who has attained liberation of mind by loving-kindness.
He then asserts that the consequences of previously done deeds are all to be experienced in the current lifetime and do not follow along.

Again, with Bhk. Bodhi's translation the first objection is with the use of the term 'experience'. Then his translation appears to imply that deeds of measurable size are eliminated by the attainment of liberation of mind by loving-kindness. This statement contradicts the previous statement that the consequences of previously done deeds are to be experienced and is itself contradicticted by the statement at the end that the consequences of previously done deeds are all to be experienced in the current lifetime and do not follow. This last statement would raise the question as to why the sutta was spoken at all since there is no need for anyone to do anything as it will happen as a matter of the way things work. It is also stating by implication that there is no rebirth according to one's deeds.

As disjointed as it appears, the passage describing the cultivation of liberation of the heart through friendliness serves the purpose of illustrating the reason one should attend to the task of neutralizing one's kamma here: bad deeds, following one into higher states of mind are a danger to those states of mind.

Paranoia is a good example of this phenomena. Where for most people speaking badly of someone in power is a matter of poor judgment and carries with it the simple consequence of being judged as a speaker of poor judgment; for someone in an elevated state of mind where, say, the perception is 'all-is-one' one understands one's speech as having been made directly to the powerful man and could carry with it terrifying consequences such as having one's iphone, e-mail, and browser searches recorded for use against one. Fear is antithetical to liberation.

There remains then the difficulty of understanding the need or significance of the passage which describes the youth who because he has practiced liberation of the heart through friendliness has never done a bad deed and as a consequence cannot be touched by pain. It takes a great leap of faith to make this fit, but I will venture the suggestion that this is inserted here because of it's impossibility. Being impossible, it is a message to one who is not entirely free of bad deeds, to get busy.

This sutta, and others in the books of the Aŋguttara Nikāya that seem to have been mangled in one way or another are, to me, fields for discovery of great treasures. It is in these sutttas I believe that we find some of the original work of Gotama in an unedited state. Suttas whose construction was such that it was not understood by the compilers and so was left in it's original state ... to be seen as mangled only by those who have not achieved the elevated states necessary for their understanding.

 


 

The Deed-born Body

[1][pts][than][bodh] I Hear Tell Once Upon a Time Bhagava said this to the beggars gathered round:

I do not say, beggars, that
intentional acts done,
piled up,
are brought to non-existence,[2] without knowing the result[3],
and that then in this seen thing, or up-coming birth,
or in whatever curriculum it follows.

Nor is it that I say there is
making an end of pain
without knowing the result of
intentional acts done,
piled up.

Once, beggars,
the student of the Aristocrats,
is devoid of covetousness,
devoid of deviance,
not gone astray,
cognisant,
reflective,
and he abides pervading the first direction
with heart united in friendliness,
and so the second
and so the third
and so the fourth,
thus above,
below,
horizontally,
all around, everywhere —
he abides pervading
the entire world,
with heart united in friendliness,
abundant,
widespread,
measureless,
without hostility,
without deviance —
he has knowledge thus:

"Back then my heart was restricted, undeveloped,
but here now, my heart is measureless, well-developed,
but then however,
whatever deeds of any measure
that were not mastered there,
do not stand still there."

What do you think, beggars:

If he, from youth up,
had developed liberation of heart through friendliness,
would this young man then have done any bad deeds?

Not, indeed, in such a case as this, bhante.

And not having produced bad deeds,
could pain then have touched him?

Not, indeed, in such a case as this, bhante —
indeed, not having produced bad deeds, bhante,
what pain could touch him?

2. Liberation of heart through friendliness, beggars,
whether in a woman or a man,
must be made to be.

Whether woman, beggars, or man,
this mortal body is between-thought,
it is not taken along, beggars, when moving on.

Thus he has the knowledge:

'Then whatever were my bad acts
done before,
here in this deed-born-body,
all must be understood here,
for them not to come to development subsequently.'

Thus developed then beggars
liberation of heart through friendliness
leads the beggar here who was wise to non-returning,
a superior freedom not being invisioned.

 

§

 

Again, beggars,
the student of the Aristocrats,
devoid of covetousness,
devoid of deviance,
not gone astray,
cognisant,
reflective,
abides pervading the first direction
with heart united in sympathy,
and so the second
and so the third
and so the fourth,
thus above,
below,
horizontally,
all around, everywhere —
he abides pervading
the entire world,
with heart united in sympathy,
abundant,
widespread,
measureless,
without hostility,
without deviance —
he has knowledge thus:

"Back then my heart was restricted, undeveloped,
but here now, my heart is measureless, well-developed,
but then however,
whatever deeds of any measure
that were not mastered there,
do not stand still there."

What do you think, beggars:

If he, from youth up,
had developed liberation of heart through sympathy,
would this young man then have done any bad deeds?

Not, indeed, in such a case as this, bhante.

And not having produced bad deeds,
could pain then have touched him?

Not, indeed, in such a case as this, bhante —
indeed, not having produced bad deeds, bhante,
what pain could touch him?

2. Liberation of heart through sympathy, beggars,
whether in a woman or a man,
must be made to be.

Whether woman, beggars, or man,
this mortal body is between-thought,
it is not taken along, beggars, when moving on.

Thus he has the knowledge:

'Then whatever were my bad acts
done before,
here in this deed-born-body,
all must be understood here,
for them not to come to development subsequently.'

Thus developed then beggars
liberation of heart through sympathy
leads the beggar here who was wise to non-returning,
a superior freedom not being invisioned.

 

§

 

Again, beggars,
the student of the Aristocrats,
devoid of covetousness,
devoid of deviance,
not gone astray,
cognisant,
reflective,
abides pervading the first direction
with heart united in empathy,
and so the second
and so the third
and so the fourth,
thus above,
below,
horizontally,
all around, everywhere —
he abides pervading
the entire world,
with heart united in empathy,
abundant,
widespread,
measureless,
without hostility,
without deviance —
he has knowledge thus:

"Back then my heart was restricted, undeveloped,
but here now, my heart is measureless, well-developed,
but then however,
whatever deeds of any measure
that were not mastered there,
do not stand still there."

What do you think, beggars:

If he, from youth up,
had developed liberation of heart through empathy,
would this young man then have done any bad deeds?

Not, indeed, in such a case as this, bhante.

And not having produced bad deeds,
could pain then have touched him?

Not, indeed, in such a case as this, bhante —
indeed, not having produced bad deeds, bhante,
what pain could touch him?

2. Liberation of heart through empathy, beggars,
whether in a woman or a man,
must be made to be.

Whether woman, beggars, or man,
this mortal body is between-thought,
it is not taken along, beggars, when moving on.

Thus he has the knowledge:

'Then whatever were my bad acts
done before,
here in this deed-born-body,
all must be understood here,
for them not to come to development subsequently.'

Thus developed then beggars
liberation of heart through empathy
leads the beggar here who was wise to non-returning,
a superior freedom not being invisioned.

 

§

 

Again, beggars,
the student of the Aristocrats,
devoid of covetousness,
devoid of deviance,
not gone astray,
cognisant,
reflective,
abides pervading the first direction
with heart united in detachment,
and so the second
and so the third
and so the fourth,
thus above,
below,
horizontally,
all around, everywhere —
he abides pervading
the entire world,
with heart united in detachment,
abundant,
widespread,
measureless,
without hostility,
without deviance —
he has knowledge thus:

"Back then my heart was restricted, undeveloped,
but here now, my heart is measureless, well-developed,
but then however,
whatever deeds of any measure
that were not mastered there,
do not stand still there."

What do you think, beggars:

If he, from youth up,
had developed liberation of heart through detachment,
would this young man then have done any bad deeds?

Not, indeed, in such a case as this, bhante.

And not having produced bad deeds,
could pain then have touched him?

Not, indeed, in such a case as this, bhante —
indeed, not having produced bad deeds, bhante,
what pain could touch him?

2. Liberation of heart through detachment, beggars,
whether in a woman or a man,
must be made to be.

Whether woman, beggars, or man,
this mortal body is between-thought,
it is not taken along, beggars, when moving on.

Thus he has the knowledge:

'Then whatever were my bad acts
done before,
here in this deed-born-body,
all must be understood here,
for them not to come to development subsequently.'

Thus developed then beggars
liberation of heart through detachment
leads the beggar here who was wise to non-returning,
a superior freedom not being invisioned.

 


[1] There is no title to this sutta in the PTS text. Woodward and Bhk. Thanissaro take their titles from one aspect of the content. I take my title from the Sri Lanka Buddha Jayanti Tripitaka Series version which is also the title of the Chapter.

[2] Vyantībhāva. Vya = via; anta = end; exist.

[3] Appaṭisaŋviditvā. a = not; paṭi = reflex, reflect back; saŋ = with, own; viditvā = to know or find; Childers: to feel experience of. Woodward and Bhks. Thanissaro and Bodhi all translate 'without experiencing'.

 


 

References:

AN 10.207


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