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 [Dhamma Talk]


SN 3.22.24

The Buddha teaches that it is only by thoroughly understanding, being detached from, and giving up body, sense-experience, perception, own-making and consciousness that attainment of the ending of pain is possible.

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Recommended translation: Understanding, or Thorough Knowledge, Woodward translation
Index of Available translations: SN 3.22.24



The word to understand here is abhijāna: abhi + jñā; abhi = over; jñā = to know. PED relates this to memory or recollection and knowledge achieved through experience; Bhk. Bodhi appears to go with its association with abhiññā which is a higher form of knowledge especially associated with magic powers. His translation in this context ('directly knowing') would imply knowing extra sensorialy, seeing things without the intervention of identification with an experiencer of them. Here in this sutta abhijāna is found in a list which would seem to point to an understanding at a somewhat lower level, that is an intellectual, (accomplished by way of recollection) comprehension which would remind one of the instability, painful and selfless nature of the object. In other words to understand this as 'directly knowing' would be to start out at too high a level, beginning at the end result. Starting out at that point would not require becoming detached and giving up; these things are already aspects of directly knowing. ... but perhaps this is an instruction that is intended to be heard at two levels. I hear jñā or ññā as our 'Yes?' or 'Yeah? or Germanic 'Ja?' with pointing finger or hand gesture meaning 'is this not so?', 'do you see?' = 'you know?''you understand?' So I would hear 'above knowing' in this way as 'comprehensive knowledge' or 'knowledge beyond doubt' because achieved through experience. So in that sense 'direct', but 'direct' is not found in the etymology. The alternate title for this sutta 'Parijana' would indicate that abhiññā was a synonym and meant something like 'thorough' knowledge (Woodward's translation).

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