Rhys Davids: Buddhist Suttas Masthead

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I. The Book of the Great Decease

 

[1.1] I read this passage not as Sariputta admitting he was wrong, but as explaining how he was right (he says 'none greater' not 'the greatest', and his explanation tallies with that reading), and further I read this as him having done this deliberately in order to provoke the Buddha's response, and I read the Buddha here as understanding this from the get-go, and engaging in this dialog for the purpose of getting this explanation voiced for the benefit of others by Sariputta.

 

[3.1] 3.59. '"Whosoever, Ānanda, has thought out and developed, practised, accumulated, and ascended to the very heights of the four paths to saintship, and so mastered them as to be able to use them as a means of (mental) advancement and as a basis for edification — he, should he desire it, could remain in the same birth for a kalpa, or for that portion of a kalpa which has yet to run." Now the Tathagata has thought out and thoroughly practised them [in all respects as just now fully described], and might, should he desire it, remain alive for a kalpa, or for that portion of a kalpa which has yet to run.'
 
Walshe [3.3, pp 246]: "...the four roads to power...century..." And he footnotes: 1. Iddhipada. 2. Kappaŋ vā tiṭṭheyya kappāvasesaŋ vā. This passage is much disputed. The usual meaning of kappa is 'aeon' (but see PED for other senses). DA, however, takes it to mean 'thefull life-span' (i.e. in Gotama's day, 100 years: cf. DN 14.1.7). DA also takes avasesa to mean 'in excess' hesitation, and preferring the lesser 'miracle', I have translated the sense of kappa (as I take it) by 'a century'. This, of course, accords with DA. I have, however, adopted the usual meaning of avasesa as making good sense. For the Bddha, the 'remainder' would have been twenty years. PTS translators of the parallel passages have differed in their interpretations. Whereas RD in DN preferred 'aeon', Woodward as SN 51.10 (followed reluctantly by Hare at AN 8.70!) has 'allotted span', and at Ud 6.1 he tersely remarks: 'Supposed by some to mean "the aeon or world-period"'. It may be noted that LDB has 'world-period', while Mrs Bennett discreetly omits the passage."
 
Walshe's understanding takes the magic out of this...something I do not think the writers would have done even if the Buddha's intention was 100 years. Very long lifespan (700, 1000 years) is something that is frequently mentioned in the literature of power. It doesn't really take the full development of the Four Power Paths to live to be 100.

 

[4.1] I don't know about the physiology, but the psychology is that this "Elephant Look" shows a lack of anxiousness (= desire). It says 'this is worth stopping and turning-to-face to see.' In other words not done lightly.

[4.2] This topic of the last meal of the Buddha is much discussed in footnotes. (Interesting to see that this translation likely precedes the debate.) The debate usually concerns whether the food was 'pig-meat' or 'pig-food' (pork or truffles). I suggest that this is not the important thing to be looking at. The important thing is that here we are seeing a great sorcerer reaching his final moments, and 'picking up a final stitch' as it were...tying up a final loose end. And for my two cents: the meal was probably indigestable not because the food was bad but because the gods had infused it with a high concentration of good stuff...enough to wash out anything impure that might be left in the Buddha's system. Not to make less of this in any way, but those of us who have ventured into some of the more exotic psychadelics are very familiar with the purging some good medicines cause.

 

[5.1] This is section 9 of this Chapter in the PTS text.
 
'Kathaṃ mayaṃ bhante mātugāme paṭipajjāmā? ti //
'Adassanaṃ, Ānandā ti //
Dassane Bhagavā sati kathaṃ paṭipajjitabban? ti //
Anālāpo Ānandā ti //
Ālapantena pana bhante kathaṃ paṭipajjitabban? ti //
Sati Ānanda upaṭṭhāpetabbā ti // //

 
Walshe (LDB.16.5.9): "'Lord, how should we act towards women?' 'Do not see them, Ananda.' 'But if we see them, how should we behave, Lord?' 'Do not speak to them, Ananda.' 'But if they speak to us, Lord, how should we behave?''Practise mindfulness, Ananda.'
 
MO:
How should we, bhante, establish interaction with woman-kind?
See them not, Ananda.
And seeing, Bhagava, how then should we remember to establish interaction around them?
Without lip-flapping, Ananda.
And if they address us, bhante, how then should we establish interaction around them?
Established in Mind, Ananda.

 


 

III. The Tivijja Sutta

 

[edfnIII.1] (13th — #7 probably not counted here as it is a repition of parts of #6) See also: RD:DN.13

[edfnIII.2] Two things here, first that there are parallels to the Old Testiment as well as the New, and the question of who is borrowing from whom is by that made much more difficult, and second, I recall that there is some evidence that Jesus was in fact in contact with Tebetan Buddhists (and it would surprise me more that there was no contact than that there was some).
As Buddhists concerned with the method, this should be put "on the back burner". Presumably, when one has, one's self, reached the status of "Tivijjaman" (in the Buddhist system, one able to see past habitations, the future consequences of deeds, and the end of the Asavas) one will be able to see for one's self. Prior to that it should be see as no more important than any of the million million other raging debates out there.

 


 

V. The Citokhila Sutta

 

[edfnV.1] The footnotes from this point are my best guesses as the version from which I am working appears to have them mixed up.

 


 

VI. The Maha-Sudassana Sutta Sutta

 

[edfnVI.1] This is not correct. This confuses the idea of "Individuality" with "Self"; common speech with precise language. There is no "dissolution" of the "self" because there is no thing there that can be said to be the "self" to begin with and the dissolution of what is commonly understood to be the individual, at death or from moment to moment, has nothing to do with Nibbana. What we have, by the ending of the sankharas is the ending of the joining to gether of nama and rupa in individuality.

[edfnVI.j.1] The footnotes from here are garbled in my copy and I have reordered them to the best of my ability to piece them together logically.

[edfnVI2.1] The description of the Jhanas here poses some interesting questions. This sutta which needs to have been put together after the death of Gotama (which is not to say it is not a true discription of events), and is clearly directed at a lay audience, is describing the attainment of the Jhanas (including the Fourth Burning) by a layman prior to the birth of Gotama and his system. Does this indicate the understanding on the part of the reciters or alternatively of the Buddha, that the Jhanas preceded "Buddhism"? Does it presume a familiarity with and encouragement to attain the Jhanas in the intended audience? Or is it just a careless anachronism...?

[edfnVI2.2] Where this sutta rings true to me is at this paragraph, which brings not only this sutta back to the very spot where the Buddha is himself lying on his deathbed, but because the position of the Wheel-turning-king is the supreme attainment of the life in the world, we can see the perfect symetry of the picture of his life in the Buddha's own eye at this time when he is attaining the supreme attainment not in this world.

 


 

VII. All the Āsavas

 

[edfnVII.1] Here, by allowing for a "beyond and beside" at all, Rhys Davids betrays his belief in self and his essential misunderstanding of this basic doctrine. It is actually vital to the attaining of liberation that the notion of self be thoroughly understood as being a thing that is a conventional label applied to a phenomena that exists when the causes for it's existance have come together and ceases to exist when those causes are no longer operant. To understand this it is essential to understand that the idea of the Khandhas is a description of Absolutely Everything; that no one of them or combination of them is properly called the self; and that there is, outside of these no self. The idea that the Buddha does not deal with this subject is incorrect, a wide-spread myth that needs to be squashed.

 


 

END OF MOS NOTES ON BUDDHIST SUTTAS

 


 

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