MN 117 has been tampered with

This analysis demonstrates that the Mahācattārīsaka Sutta has been tampered with material from the Abhidhamma and some of the late works found in the Khuddaka Nikāya, that it contains a number of statements which are in direct contradiction with the teachings found elsewhere in the four Nikāyas, and that it seeks to despise the original teaching of the Buddha to promote terminology and theories of late origin. The demonstration available here is supported by Bhikkhu Analayo's The Mahācattārīsaka-sutta in the Light of its Parallels – Tracing the Beginnings of Abhidharmic Thought, where besides confirming the arguments presented here, he provides additional evidences gathered through comparisons with the Chinese and Tibetan counterparts of this sutta, which do NOT contain the passages highlighted in the present document as being controversial.



Note: the books of the Khuddaka Nikāya mentioned here as well as the Abhidhamma have been composed after the passing away of the Buddha, and therefore no authentic sutta attributed to him can contain any material that comes from them. If we spot such import of material, it proves that the sutta in question has been tampered. The research made here will therefore include what is found in the suttas, the Vinaya, the Khuddaka Nikāya and the Abhidhamma, but not the Commentaries, which have been written quite a long time afterward (several centuries) and systematically use all the terms that existed previously.


Mahācattārīsaka Sutta
(Translation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu)

Evaṃ me sutaṃ...

Ariyaṃ vo, bhikkhave, sammāsamādhiṃ desessāmi saupanisaṃ saparikkhāraṃ. Taṃ suṇātha, sādhukaṃ manasi karotha...

I have heard that...

Monks, I will teach you noble right concentration with its supports and requisite conditions. Listen, and pay close attention...

It is announced here that the theme of this sutta is right concentration. However, as we shall see later, it will not be the case.


Katamo ca, bhikkhave, ariyo sammāsamādhi saupaniso saparikkhāro? Seyyathidaṃ – sammādiṭṭhi, sammāsaṅkappo, sammāvācā, sammākammanto, sammāājīvo, sammāvāyāmo, sammāsati; yā kho, bhikkhave, imehi sattahaṅgehi cittassa ekaggatā parikkhatā: ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, ariyo sammāsamādhi saupaniso itipi, saparikkhāro itipi.

Now what, monks, is noble right concentration with its supports & requisite conditions? Any singleness of mind equipped with these seven factors — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, & right mindfulness — is called noble right concentration with its supports & requisite conditions.

This part of the sutta is exactly identical with SN 45.28 as well as a part of DN 18, and is also similar to AN 7.45. It makes full sense and it looks like a genuine piece of teaching. However, the eight factors of the path presented now will suddenly become ten towards the end.


Tatra, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi pubbaṅgamā hoti. Kathañca, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi pubbaṅgamā hoti? Micchādiṭṭhiṃ ‘micchādiṭṭhī’ti pajānāti, sammādiṭṭhiṃ ‘sammādiṭṭhī’ti pajānāti – sāssa hoti sammādiṭṭhi.

Of those, right view is the forerunner. And how is right view the forerunner? One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view.

This is an explanation of the reason why the Buddha always puts sammādiṭṭhi as the first factor of the path, and it is not found in any other text, so that seems to be part of the genuine specific teaching that makes the interest of this sutta.


Katamā ca, bhikkhave, micchādiṭṭhi? ‘Natthi dinnaṃ, natthi yiṭṭhaṃ, natthi hutaṃ, natthi sukatadukkaṭānaṃ kammānaṃ phalaṃ vipāko, natthi ayaṃ loko, natthi paro loko, natthi mātā, natthi pitā, natthi sattā opapātikā, natthi loke samaṇabrāhmaṇā sammaggatā sammāpaṭipannā ye imañca lokaṃ parañca lokaṃ sayaṃ abhiññā sacchikatvā pavedentī’ti: ayaṃ, bhikkhave, micchādiṭṭhi.

And what is wrong view? 'There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no brahmans or contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is wrong view.

This is the well-known stock definition of micchādiṭṭhi, mostly used for householders, or with reference to outsiders. So far, so good.


Katamā ca, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi? Sammādiṭṭhiṃpahaṃ, bhikkhave, dvāyaṃ vadāmi – atthi, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi sāsavā puññabhāgiyā upadhivepakkā; atthi, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi ariyā anāsavā lokuttarā maggaṅgā.

And what is right view? Right view, I tell you, is of two sorts: There is right view with effluents [asava], siding with merit, resulting in the acquisitions [of becoming]; and there is noble right view, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.

This distinction of sammādiṭṭhi into two factors is quite original and is not found anywhere else. What is stated here is that there would be on one hand a sammādiṭṭhi which would be connected with puñña (merit), ie. with what characterizes lay people (interest for worldly gain), and would therefore be a 'vulgar' or 'inferior' type of sammādiṭṭhi, not leading to Nibbāna (since it is said to be "upadhivepakkā" ie. resulting in clinging to rebirth); and on the other hand there would be the 'noble' sammādiṭṭhi which would be the (real) factor of the path. Now if there was a sammādiṭṭhi which would be the true factor of the path and another one that would not really be so, the teaching of the Buddha would be grossly inconsistent and utterly confusing.

So it is said of the first type of sammādiṭṭhi:


atthi, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi sāsavā puññabhāgiyā upadhivepakkā;

There is right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in the acquisitions [of becoming];

Let us analyze these three terms:

1) 'sāsava' correctly means 'connected with the āsavas' (ie. mental impurities or corruptions of the mind). Saying that there is a sammādiṭṭhi which is 'sāsava' is in direct contradiction with statements made in other suttas. At SN 48.56 for example, we find:

SN 48.56

cittaṃ rakkhati āsavesu ca sāsavesu ca dhammesu

he protects the mind against the mental impurities and the mental states connected with the mental impurities

So saying that there is a right view which is connected with the āsavas would mean that that right view is a mental state against which the mind has to be protected! Moreover, at AN 10.139, it is said:

AN 10.139

Katamo ca, bhikkhave, sāsavo dhammo? Micchādiṭṭhi, micchāsaṅkappo... micchāsamādhi, micchāñāṇaṃ, micchāvimutti: ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, sāsavo dhammo. Katamo ca, bhikkhave, anāsavo dhammo? Sammādiṭṭhi, sammāsaṅkappo... sammāsamādhi, sammāñāṇaṃ, sammāvimutti: ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, anāsavo dhammo ti.

And what, bhikkhus, are the states connected with the mental impurities? Wrong view, wrong thinking... wrong concentration, wrong knowledge, wrong liberation: these are called, bhikkhus, states connected with the mental impurities. And what, bhikkhus, are the states disconnected from the mental impurities? Right view, right thinking... right concentration, right knowledge, right liberation: these are called, bhikkhus, states disconnected from the mental impurities.

This directly contradicts any claim that there could be a right view connected with the mental impurities (ie. 'sāsava'). If any view is connected per se with the mental impurities, it is a wrong view. So this makes clear that this use of the word 'sāsava' in this context is a complete nonsense.

However, it is explainable by the fact that in later litterature the word seems to have drifted in meaning. In the Paṭisambhidāmagga of the Khuddaka Nikāya, we find for example:

Pts 213

Katamo sāsavo vimokkho? Cattāri ca jhānāni, catasso ca arūpasamāpattiyo: ayaṃ sāsavo vimokkho.

What is the liberation 'sāsava'? The four jhānas, and the four formless attainments: this is the liberation 'sāsava'.

This statement is also in direct contradiction with AN 10.139, where it is said that sammāsamādhi is not 'sāsava', but on the contrary 'anāsava'. Since sammāsamādhi is always defined as the attainment of the four jhānas (eg. at SN 45.8), we can easily conclude that according to AN 10.139, the four jhānas are not 'sāsava', but on the contrary 'anāsava'.

There is obviously here a shift in the meaning of the word 'sāsava'. In AN 10.139, it refers to a connection with unwholesomeness, whereas in the Paṭisambhidāmagga it refers to a connection with a general state of advancement which is (supposedly) not yet free from unwholesomeness (assuming the person attaining those jhānas is not already an arahant). Clearly, the author of the Mahācattārīsaka Sutta takes 'sāsava' in the latter sense, saying that there is a right view which is (supposedly) still connected with a state that is not yet free from unwholesomeness, and a right view which is more directly connected with a state free from unwholesomeness. This shift in meaning is most probably the reason why we eventually get such gross discrepancies between the Mahācattārīsaka Sutta and the rest of the suttas. It also proves that the manipulation of this sutta has taken place at a time late enough to have allowed for this shift in meaning to happen. Bhikkhu Analayo has pointed out that in later texts, magga has taken a very restricted meaning as refering to the process directly preceding the attainment of the fruitions, is sotāpatti etc., and that it is in that sense that the word is used here.



2) 'puññabhāgiya' means 'connected with merit', and is an extremely rare word. It appears only at the end of the verses of SN 6.13, at AN 6.63, and in one place in the Nettippakaraṇa of the Khuddaka Nikāya:

Net 33

Dve suttāni: vāsanābhāgiyañca nibbedhabhāgiyañca. Dve paṭipadā: puññabhāgiyā ca phalabhāgiyā ca. Dve sīlāni: saṃvarasīlañca pahānasīlañca. Tattha bhagavā vāsanābhāgiyaṃ suttaṃ puññabhāgiyāya paṭipadāya desayati, so saṃvarasīle ṭhito tena brahmacariyena brahmacārī bhavati. Tattha bhagavā nibbedhabhāgiyaṃ suttaṃ phalabhāgiyāya paṭipadāya desayati, so pahānasīle ṭhito tena brahmacariyena brahmacārī bhavati.

There are two types of suttas: connected with the performance of good deeds and connected with insight. There are two paths: connected with merit and connected with the fruitions. There are two types of virtue: the virtue of restraint and the virtue of abandoning. Where the Bhagavā taught the suttas connected with the performance of good deeds for the path connected with merit, one who leads the brahmic life develops the brahmic life observing the virtue of restraint.{1} Where the Bhagavā taught the suttas connected with insight for the path connected with fruition, one who leads the brahmic life develops the brahmic life observing the virtue of abandoning.

It is remarkable that the only place where this word occurs other than the two above mentioned suttas, is a text where there is also a distinction between 'inferior' teachings (connected with merit, not with abandoning but only restraining etc.) and 'superior' teachings (connected with insight, not merely restraining but abandoning etc.). This could be what inspired the author of the Mahācattārīsaka Sutta to make this distinction as a strategy to attract attention towards his 'new' teaching.



3) 'upadhivepakka' means 'resulting in attachment to rebirth', and is an original term that does not appear anywhere else outside the commentaries. Probably a creation of the author.




Next, the definition of the 'inferior' right view is given:


Katamā ca, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi sāsavā puññabhāgiyā upadhivepakkā? ‘Atthi dinnaṃ, atthi yiṭṭhaṃ, atthi hutaṃ, atthi sukatadukkaṭānaṃ kammānaṃ phalaṃ vipāko, atthi ayaṃ loko, atthi paro loko, atthi mātā, atthi pitā, atthi sattā opapātikā, atthi loke samaṇabrāhmaṇā sammaggatā sammāpaṭipannā ye imañca lokaṃ parañca lokaṃ sayaṃ abhiññā sacchikatvā pavedentī’ti: ayaṃ, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi sāsavā puññabhāgiyā upadhivepakkā.

And what is the right view that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions? 'There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are brahmans & contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is the right view that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions.

Removing the words 'sāsavā puññabhāgiyā upadhivepakkā', this is a stock teaching of the Buddha, which is rather common (eg. found at MN 110, SN 42.13, AN 3.118 etc.). But claiming that this view results in attachment to rebirth (since it is said to be 'upadhivepakka') as opposed to a view that would be the (real) factor of the path is clearly in direct contradiction with MN 60, where this very same view is described as being connected with sammāsaṅkappa and sammāvācā, and persuading somebody of it is said to be persuasion in what is the true Dhamma:

MN 60

...evaṃdiṭṭhino – ‘atthi dinnaṃ, atthi yiṭṭhaṃ, atthi hutaṃ, atthi sukatadukkaṭānaṃ kammānaṃ phalaṃ vipāko, atthi ayaṃ loko, atthi paro loko, atthi mātā, atthi pitā, atthi sattā opapātikā, atthi loke samaṇabrāhmaṇā sammaggatā sammāpaṭipannā ye imañca lokaṃ parañca lokaṃ sayaṃ abhiññā sacchikatvā pavedentī’ti...

...hold this view — 'There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are brahmans & contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves'...

Santaṃyeva kho pana paraṃ lokaṃ ‘atthi paro loko’ tissa diṭṭhi hoti, sāssa hoti sammādiṭṭhi. Santaṃyeva kho pana paraṃ lokaṃ ‘atthi paro loko’ti saṅkappeti, svāssa hoti sammāsaṅkappo. Santaṃyeva kho pana paraṃ lokaṃ ‘atthi paro loko’ti vācaṃ bhāsati, sāssa hoti sammāvācā... Santaṃyeva kho pana paraṃ lokaṃ ‘atthi paro loko’ti paraṃ saññāpeti, sāssa hoti saddhammasaññatti.

Because there actually is the next world, the view of one who thinks, 'There is a next world' is his right view. Because there actually is the next world, when he is resolved that 'There is a next world,' that is his right resolve. Because there actually is the next world, when he speaks the statement, 'There is a next world,' that is his right speech... Because there actually is the next world, when he persuades another that 'There is a next world,' that is persuasion in what is true Dhamma.

Now if we are forced to come to the conclusion that what is declared by the Buddha to be the true Dhamma is what leads to attachment to rebirth (since it is said to be 'upadhivepakka'), we are obviously lost in complete nonsense.



Next comes the so-called 'noble' right view:


Katamā ca, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi ariyā anāsavā lokuttarā maggaṅgā?

And what is the noble right view that is without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path?

Let us analyze these four terms:


1) 'ariya anāsava lokuttara': these three terms, taken separately, are rather common in the suttas, but their juxtaposition is quite peculiar, not found anywhere else but once in the Mahāniddesa of the Khuddaka Nikāya:

Nd 86

atha vā ye te phassā ariyā anāsavā lokuttarā suññatapaṭisaññuttā, te phasse vivitte passati.

Then, those contacts which are noble, without effluents, transcendent, connected with emptiness, he sees these contacts as separate.



2) 'maggaṅga' is a term which does not appear anywhere else in the suttas nor the Vinaya except for the name of SN 43.11 (but the word does not appear in the text of the sutta itself). On the other hand, it occurs about 140 times in the Abhidhamma. This is unequivocal.




And now the definition of that 'noble' right view:


Yā kho, bhikkhave, ariyacittassa anāsavacittassa ariyamaggasamaṅgino ariyamaggaṃ bhāvayato paññā paññindriyaṃ paññābalaṃ dhammavicayasambojjhaṅgo sammādiṭṭhi maggaṅgaṃ: ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi ariyā anāsavā lokuttarā maggaṅgā.

The discernment, the faculty of discernment, the strength of discernment, analysis of qualities as a factor for Awakening, the path factor of right view of one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is free from effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path. This is the noble right view that is without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.

This definition is quite peculiar to this sutta, not found anywhere else in the suttas nor the Vinaya. It is also surprising, because one would rather expect to see the other well-known definition of sammādiṭṭhi, which is always given in terms of the four noble truths (eg. SN 45.8). Another remarkable thing is that when he defines an important term, the Buddha doesn't just give a mere list of synonyms, but this kind of definition is a well-known habit in late texts, especially the Abhidhamma.

Let us now analyze these terms:

1) 'ariyacitta' is quite peculiar, not found anywhere else in the tipitakas. Apparently a creation of the author.

2) 'anāsavacitta' also a peculiar term not found anywhere else. That term could not refer to anything else than somebody whose mind is without impurities, ie. an arahant (as stated at the end of MN 2). So that would mean that right view becomes a 'factor of the path' only when one is already an arahant. Again this is sheer nonsense.

3) 'ariyamaggasamaṅgī' means 'one who is possessed of the noble path'. It is a very rare term that appears nowhere else than in two successive paragraphs of the Dhammasaṅgaṇī in the Abhidhamma:


Ds 1039

Katame dhammā maggahetukā? Ariyamaggasamaṅgissa maggaṅgāni ṭhapetvā; taṃsampayutto vedanākkhandho... viññāṇakkhandho: ime dhammā maggahetukā... Ariyamaggasamaṅgissa alobho, adoso, amoho: ime dhammā maggahetū; taṃsampayutto vedanākkhandho... viññāṇakkhandho: ime dhammā maggahetukā.

What are the phenomena which are conditions of the path? In one who is possessed of the noble path, the factors of the path are established; the associated aggregate of Feeling... aggregate of Consciousness: these phenomena are conditions of the path... In one who is possessed of the noble path, non-covetousness, non-aversion, non-delusion; the associated aggregate of Feeling... aggregate of Consciousness: these phenomena are conditions of the path.



4) 'paññā paññindriyaṃ paññābalaṃ dhammavicayasambojjhaṅgo':

this expression appears nowhere else than in the Cūḷaniddesa of the Khuddaka Nikāya, 5 times, for example in a definition of awakening:


Nc 107

Bodhi vuccati catūsu maggesu ñāṇaṃ paññā paññindriyaṃ paññābalaṃ dhammavicayasambojjhaṅgo vīmaṃsā vipassanā sammādiṭṭhi.

Awakening means knowledge of the four paths [sotāpatti etc.], discernment, the faculty of discernment, the strength of discernment, investigation of the Dhamma as a factor of awakening, examination, insight, right view.



5) 'dhammavicayasambojjhaṅgo sammādiṭṭhi maggaṅgaṃ':

this expression appears only once, in the Peṭakopadesa of the Khuddaka Nikāya, at the end of a long formula defining 'vipassanā':


Ptk 64

Tattha katamā vipassanā? Khandhesu vā dhātūsu vā... so yathābhūtaṃ vicayo... dhammavicayasambojjhaṅgo sammādiṭṭhi maggaṅgaṃ, ayaṃ vipassanā.

There, what is insight? In the aggregates or in the elements... as they really are, investigation... investigation of the Dhamma as a factor of awakening, right view as a factor of the path, this is insight.

So it is quite clear that all those terms and expressions are either invented or copied from the Khuddaka Nikāya or the Abhidhamma.




Next:


So micchādiṭṭhiyā pahānāya vāyamati, sammādiṭṭhiyā, upasampadāya, svāssa hoti sammāvāyāmo. So sato micchādiṭṭhiṃ pajahati, sato sammādiṭṭhiṃ upasampajja viharati, sāssa hoti sammāsati. Itime tayo dhammā sammādiṭṭhiṃ anuparidhāvanti anuparivattanti, seyyathidaṃ – sammādiṭṭhi, sammāvāyāmo, sammāsati.

One tries to abandon wrong view & to enter into right view: This is one's right effort. One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view: This is one's right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort, & right mindfulness — run & circle around right view.

This seems to be a genuine piece of teaching, and it is not found in any other text, so that seems to be also part of the authentic specific teaching that makes the interest of this sutta.


Tatra, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi pubbaṅgamā hoti. Kathañca, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi pubbaṅgamā hoti? Micchāsaṅkappaṃ ‘micchāsaṅkappo’ti pajānāti, sammāsaṅkappaṃ ‘sammāsaṅkappo’ti pajānāti, sāssa hoti sammādiṭṭhi. Katamo ca, bhikkhave, micchāsaṅkappo? Kāmasaṅkappo, byāpādasaṅkappo, vihiṃsāsaṅkappo: ayaṃ, bhikkhave, micchāsaṅkappo.

Of those, right view is the forerunner. And how is right view the forerunner? One discerns wrong resolve as wrong resolve, and right resolve as right resolve. This is one's right view. And what is wrong resolve? Being resolved on sensuality, on ill will, on harmfulness. This is wrong resolve.

This also looks like genuine piece of teaching, all the more that it includes the otherwise well-known stock threefold definition of micchāsaṅkappa.


Katamo ca, bhikkhave, sammāsaṅkappo? Sammāsaṅkappaṃpahaṃ, bhikkhave, dvāyaṃ vadāmi – atthi, bhikkhave, sammāsaṅkappo sāsavo puññabhāgiyo upadhivepakko; atthi, bhikkhave, sammāsaṅkappo ariyo anāsavo lokuttaro maggaṅgo. Katamo ca, bhikkhave, sammāsaṅkappo sāsavo puññabhāgiyo upadhivepakko? Nekkhammasaṅkappo, abyāpādasaṅkappo, avihiṃsāsaṅkappo – ‘ayaṃ, bhikkhave, sammāsaṅkappo sāsavo puññabhāgiyo upadhivepakko’.

And what is right resolve? Right resolve, I tell you, is of two sorts: There is right resolve with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in the acquisitions [of becoming]; and there is noble right resolve, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path. And what is the right resolve that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions? Being resolved on renunciation, on freedom from ill will, on harmlessness. This is the right resolve that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions.

Here, the same thing as above happens. Sammāsaṅkappa is again divided in what 'results in attachment to rebirth' and what is 'noble', according to the pattern found at Net 33, dividing the teachings of the Buddha into two categories. But now, it goes still further into the nonsense: what is this time clearly defined elsewhere as a factor of the path (eg. at SN 45.8) and which therefore - besides of course leading to Nibbāna - according to AN 10.139, is 'anāsava', is now on the contrary said to be also 'sāsava' and to result in attachment to rebirth ('upadhivepakkha'). Here we are again lost in sheer nonsense.


Katamo ca, bhikkhave, sammāsaṅkappo ariyo anāsavo lokuttaro maggaṅgo? Yo kho, bhikkhave, ariyacittassa anāsavacittassa ariyamaggasamaṅgino ariyamaggaṃ bhāvayato takko vitakko saṅkappo appanā byappanā cetaso abhiniropanā vacīsaṅkhāro: ayaṃ, bhikkhave, sammāsaṅkappo ariyo anāsavo lokuttaro maggaṅgo. So micchāsaṅkappassa pahānāya vāyamati... sammādiṭṭhi, sammāvāyāmo, sammāsati.

And what is the noble right resolve that is without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path? The thinking, directed thinking, resolve, (mental) fixity, transfixion, focused awareness, & verbal fabrications of one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is without effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path. This is the noble right resolve that is without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path. One tries to abandon wrong resolve... circle around right resolve.

The list "takko vitakko saṅkappo appanā byappanā cetaso abhiniropanā" does not appear anywhere else in the suttas nor the vinaya, whether in full or in part, whereas it appears dozens of times in the Abhidhamma, eg. in the Vibhaṅga, where it precisely defines sammāsaṅkappa:

Vb 206

Tattha katamo sammāsaṅkappo? Yo takko vitakko saṅkappo appanā byappanā cetaso abhiniropanā sammāsaṅkappo maggaṅgaṃ maggapariyāpannaṃ: ayaṃ vuccati ‘‘sammāsaṅkappo’’.

There, what is right thinking? Thinking, directed thinking, resolve, (mental) fixity, transfixion, focused awareness, right thinking as a factor of the path, belonging to the path, this is called right thinking.

None of these three terms: appanā, byappanā and abhiniropana appears in any form anywhere else in the suttas nor the Vinaya, and it is very remarkable that at the only place where we find them, they appear all three together and on top of that, embedded in a typical Abhidhamma formula. This is absolutely unequivocal.

The association of vacīsaṅkhāra with sammāsaṅkappa does not appear anywhere else, so it looks like a personal touch from the author.

Next:


Tatra, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi pubbaṅgamā hoti. Kathañca, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi pubbaṅgamā hoti? Micchāvācaṃ ‘micchāvācā’ti pajānāti, sammāvācaṃ ‘sammāvācā’ti pajānāti; sāssa hoti sammādiṭṭhi. Katamā ca, bhikkhave, micchāvācā? Musāvādo, pisuṇā vācā, pharusā vācā, samphappalāpo: ayaṃ, bhikkhave, micchāvācā. Katamā ca, bhikkhave, sammāvācā? Sammāvācaṃpahaṃ, bhikkhave, dvāyaṃ vadāmi – atthi, bhikkhave, sammāvācā sāsavā puññabhāgiyā upadhivepakkā; atthi, bhikkhave, sammāvācā ariyā anāsavā lokuttarā maggaṅgā. Katamā ca, bhikkhave, sammāvācā sāsavā puññabhāgiyā upadhivepakkā? Musāvādā veramaṇī, pisuṇāya vācāya veramaṇī, pharusāya vācāya veramaṇī, samphappalāpā veramaṇī: ayaṃ, bhikkhave, sammāvācā sāsavā puññabhāgiyā upadhivepakkā. Katamā ca, bhikkhave, sammāvācā ariyā anāsavā lokuttarā maggaṅgā? Yā kho, bhikkhave, ariyacittassa anāsavacittassa ariyamaggasamaṅgino ariyamaggaṃ bhāvayato catūhi vacīduccaritehi ārati virati paṭivirati veramaṇī: ayaṃ, bhikkhave, sammāvācā ariyā anāsavā lokuttarā maggaṅgā. So micchāvācāya pahānāya vāyamati...

Of those, right view is the forerunner. And how is right view the forerunner? One discerns wrong speech as wrong speech, and right speech as right speech. And what is wrong speech? Lying, divisive tale-bearing, abusive speech, & idle chatter. This is wrong speech. And what is right speech? Right speech, I tell you, is of two sorts: There is right speech with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in the acquisitions [of becoming]; and there is noble right speech, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path. And what is the right speech that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions? Abstaining from lying, from divisive tale-bearing, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter. This is the right speech that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions. And what is the noble right speech that is without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path? The abstaining, desisting, abstinence, avoidance of the four forms of verbal misconduct of one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is without effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path. This is the noble right speech that is without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path. One tries to abandon wrong speech...

It continues as previously, the standard definition of micchāvācā is given, after which the genuine definition of sammāvācā as given at SN 45.8 is also despised, again in contradiction with the rest of the suttas, and another one is proposed, which is obviously an import from the Abhidhamma, for the formula "catūhi vacīduccaritehi ārati virati paṭivirati veramaṇī" does not appear anywhere else:

Vb 206

Tattha katamā sammāvācā? Yā catūhi vacīduccaritehi ārati virati paṭivirati veramaṇī akiriyā akaraṇaṃ anajjhāpatti velāanatikkamo setughāto sammāvācā maggaṅgaṃ maggapariyāpannaṃ: ayaṃ vuccati “sammāvācā”.

There, what is right speech? The abstaining, desisting, abstinence, avoidance of the four forms of verbal misconduct, the non-doing, the not-doing, not getting into the offense, not passing beyond the limit, putting down the causeway bridge [leading to the offense], right speech as a factor of the path, belonging to the path: this is called 'right speech'.




Tatra, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi pubbaṅgamā hoti... Katamo ca, bhikkhave, micchākammanto? Pāṇātipāto, adinnādānaṃ, kāmesumicchācāro: ayaṃ, bhikkhave, micchākammanto. Katamo ca, bhikkhave, sammākammanto? Sammākammantaṃpahaṃ, bhikkhave, dvāyaṃ vadāmi – atthi, bhikkhave, sammākammanto sāsavo puññabhāgiyo upadhivepakko; atthi, bhikkhave, sammākammanto ariyo anāsavo lokuttaro maggaṅgo. Katamo ca, bhikkhave, sammākammanto sāsavo puññabhāgiyo upadhivepakko? Pāṇātipātā veramaṇī, adinnādānā veramaṇī, kāmesumicchācārā veramaṇī: ayaṃ, bhikkhave, sammākammanto sāsavo puññabhāgiyo upadhivepakko. Katamo ca, bhikkhave, sammākammanto ariyo anāsavo lokuttaro maggaṅgo? Yā kho, bhikkhave, ariyacittassa anāsavacittassa ariyamaggasamaṅgino ariyamaggaṃ bhāvayato tīhi kāyaduccaritehi ārati virati paṭivirati veramaṇī: ayaṃ, bhikkhave, sammākammanto ariyo anāsavo lokuttaro maggaṅgo. So micchākammantassa pahānāya vāyamati...

Of those, right view is the forerunner... And what is wrong action? Killing, taking what is not given, illicit sex. This is wrong action. And what is right action? Right action, I tell you, is of two sorts: There is right action with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in the acquisitions [of becoming]; and there is noble right action, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path. And what is the right action that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions? Abstaining from killing, from taking what is not given, & from illicit sex. This is the right action that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions. And what is the noble right action that is without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path? The abstaining, desisting, abstinence, avoidance of the three forms of bodily misconduct of one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is without effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path. This is the noble right action that is without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path. One tries to abandon wrong action...

Same thing as above, same contradictions with the rest of the suttas, import of the formula from the same place in the Vibhaṅga:

Vb 206

Tattha katamo sammākammanto? Yā tīhi kāyaduccaritehi ārati virati paṭivirati veramaṇī akiriyā akaraṇaṃ anajjhāpatti velāanatikkamo setughāto sammākammanto maggaṅgaṃ maggapariyāpannaṃ: ayaṃ vuccati “sammākammanto”.

There, what is right action? The abstaining, desisting, abstinence, avoidance of the four forms of bodily misconduct, the non-doing, the not-doing, not getting into the offense, not passing beyond the limit, putting down the causeway bridge [leading to the offense], right action as a factor of the path, belonging to the path: this is called 'right action'.


Next:


Tatra, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi pubbaṅgamā hoti... Katamo ca, bhikkhave, micchāājīvo? Kuhanā, lapanā, nemittikatā, nippesikatā, lābhena lābhaṃ nijigīsanatā: ayaṃ, bhikkhave, micchāājīvo.

Of those, right view is the forerunner... And what is wrong livelihood? Scheming, persuading, hinting, belittling, & pursuing gain with gain. This is wrong livelihood.

This time, the definition of micchāājīvo corresponds to a(n interesting) list of blameworthy activities given in DN, and at AN 5.83 as follows:

AN 5.83

Pañcahi, bhikkhave, dhammehi samannāgato thero bhikkhu sabrahmacārīnaṃ appiyo ca hoti amanāpo ca agaru ca abhāvanīyo ca. Katamehi pañcahi? Kuhako ca hoti, lapako ca, nemittiko ca, nippesiko ca, lābhena ca lābhaṃ nijigīsitā.

Endowed with these five things, bhikkhus, an elder bhikkhu is disagreeable to his fellows in the brahmic life, disgusting, he is not venerable and not to be respected. Which five? He manipulates by way of behavior, he manipulates by way of speech, he reads omens, he belittles, and he seeks to accumulate acquisitions.

It is quite natural that one would have to make such an import, since according to what we know from the scriptures, the Buddha never gives a definition of wrong livelihood, he rather leaves it to everyone's appreciation. It also almost the case with right livelihood as well:


Katamo ca, bhikkhave, sammāājīvo? Sammāājīvaṃpahaṃ, bhikkhave, dvāyaṃ vadāmi – atthi, bhikkhave, sammāājīvo sāsavo puññabhāgiyo upadhivepakko; atthi, bhikkhave, sammāājīvo ariyo anāsavo lokuttaro maggaṅgo. Katamo ca, bhikkhave, sammāājīvo sāsavo puññabhāgiyo upadhivepakko? Idha, bhikkhave, ariyasāvako micchāājīvaṃ pahāya sammāājīvena jīvikaṃ kappeti: ayaṃ, bhikkhave, sammāājīvo sāsavo puññabhāgiyo upadhivepakko. Katamo ca, bhikkhave, sammāājīvo ariyo anāsavo lokuttaro maggaṅgo? Yā kho, bhikkhave, ariyacittassa anāsavacittassa ariyamaggasamaṅgino ariyamaggaṃ bhāvayato micchāājīvā ārati virati paṭivirati veramaṇī: ayaṃ, bhikkhave, sammāājīvo ariyo anāsavo lokuttaro maggaṅgo. So micchāājīvassa pahānāya vāyamati...

And what is right livelihood? Right livelihood, I tell you, is of two sorts: There is right livelihood with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in the acquisitions [of becoming]; and there is noble right livelihood, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path. And what is the right livelihood that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions? There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones abandons wrong livelihood and maintains his life with right livelihood. This is the right livelihood that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions. And what is the noble right livelihood that is without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path? The abstaining, desisting, abstinence, avoidance of wrong livelihood of one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is without effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path. This is the noble right livelihood that is without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path. One tries to abandon wrong livelihood...

Just like in the precedent cases, the formula appears nowhere else than in the Vibhaṅga:

Vb 206

Tattha katamo sammāājīvo? yā micchāājīvā ārati virati paṭivirati veramaṇī akiriyā akaraṇaṃ anajjhāpatti velāanatikkamo setughāto sammāājīvo maggaṅgaṃ maggapariyāpannaṃ — ayaṃ vuccati “sammāājīvo”.

There, what is right livelihood? The abstaining, desisting, abstinence, avoidance of wrong livelihood, the non-doing, the not-doing, not getting into the offense, not passing beyond the limit, putting down the causeway bridge [leading to the offense], right livelihood as a factor of the path, belonging to the path: this is called 'right livelihood'.


Next:


Tatra, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi pubbaṅgamā hoti. Kathañca, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi pubbaṅgamā hoti? Sammādiṭṭhissa, bhikkhave, sammāsaṅkappo pahoti, sammāsaṅkappassa sammāvācā pahoti, sammāvācassa sammākammanto pahoti, sammākammantassa sammāājīvo pahoti, sammāājīvassa sammāvāyāmo pahoti, sammāvāyāmassa sammāsati pahoti, sammāsatissa sammāsamādhi pahoti, sammāsamādhissa sammāñāṇaṃ pahoti, sammāñāṇassa sammāvimutti pahoti.

Of those, right view is the forerunner. And how is right view the forerunner? In one of right view, right resolve comes into being. In one of right resolve, right speech comes into being. In one of right speech, right action... In one of right action, right livelihood... In one of right livelihood, right effort... In one of right effort, right mindfulness... In one of right mindfulness, right concentration... In one of right concentration, right knowledge... In one of right knowledge, right release comes into being.

This seems to be a genuine piece of teaching, it also appears elsewhere, eg. at SN 45.1, AN 10.103 and DN 18. The discrepancy here is with the statements made at the beginning of the sutta: 1) that the main theme of this sutta is right concentration 2) that its supports and requisite conditions, which constitute the secondary theme, amount to seven. Suddenly, right knowledge and right liberation sneak into the text, we have now ten factors, and right concentration is no longer treated as a particular center of interest.


Iti kho, bhikkhave, aṭṭhaṅgasamannāgato sekkho, dasaṅgasamannāgato arahā hoti

Thus the learner is endowed with eight factors, and the arahant with ten.

This is an original statement, probably invented by the author, for there is no reason to consider that one has to be an arahant to have experiences of right knowledge.


Tatra, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi pubbaṅgamā hoti. Kathañca, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi pubbaṅgamā hoti? Sammādiṭṭhissa, bhikkhave, micchādiṭṭhi nijjiṇṇā hoti. Ye ca micchādiṭṭhipaccayā aneke pāpakā akusalā dhammā sambhavanti te cassa nijjiṇṇā honti. Sammādiṭṭhipaccayā aneke kusalā dhammā bhāvanāpāripūriṃ gacchanti. Sammāsaṅkappassa, bhikkhave, micchāsaṅkappo nijjiṇṇo hoti…pe… sammāvācassa, bhikkhave, micchāvācā nijjiṇṇā hoti… sammākammantassa, bhikkhave, micchākammanto nijjiṇṇo hoti… sammāājīvassa, bhikkhave, micchāājīvo nijjiṇṇo hoti… sammāvāyāmassa, bhikkhave, micchāvāyāmo nijjiṇṇo hoti… sammāsatissa, bhikkhave, micchāsati nijjiṇṇā hoti… sammāsamādhissa, bhikkhave, micchāsamādhi nijjiṇṇo hoti… sammāñāṇassa, bhikkhave, micchāñāṇaṃ nijjiṇṇaṃ hoti… sammāvimuttassa, bhikkhave, micchāvimutti nijjiṇṇā hoti. Ye ca micchāvimuttipaccayā aneke pāpakā akusalā dhammā sambhavanti te cassa nijjiṇṇā honti. Sammāvimuttipaccayā ca aneke kusalā dhammā bhāvanāpāripūriṃ gacchanti.

Of those, right view is the forerunner. And how is right view the forerunner? In one of right view, wrong view is abolished. The many evil, unskillful qualities that come into play with wrong view as their condition are also abolished, while the many skillful qualities that have right view as their condition go to the culmination of their development. In one of right resolve, wrong resolve is abolished... In one of right speech, wrong speech is abolished... In one of right action, wrong action is abolished... In one of right livelihood, wrong livelihood is abolished... In one of right effort, wrong effort is abolished... In one of right mindfulness, wrong mindfulness is abolished... In one of right concentration, wrong concentration is abolished... In one of right knowledge, wrong knowledge is abolished... In one of right release, wrong release is abolished. The many evil, unskillful qualities that come into play with wrong release as their condition are also abolished, while the many skillful qualities that have right release as their condition go to the culmination of their development.

This is exactly identical with AN 10.106, and it looks like a genuine piece of teaching.


Iti kho, bhikkhave, vīsati kusalapakkhā, vīsati akusalapakkhā. Mahācattārīsako dhammapariyāyo pavattito appaṭivattiyo samaṇena vā brāhmaṇena vā devena vā mārena vā brahmunā vā kenaci vā lokasmiṃ.

Thus, monks, there are twenty factors siding with skillfulness, and twenty with unskillfulness. This Dhamma discourse on the Great Forty has been set rolling and cannot be stopped by any contemplative or brahman or deva or Mara and Brahma or anyone at all in the world.

This is a very grandiloquent formula, used for example at the end of the famous Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (SN 56.11).


Yo hi koci, bhikkhave, samaṇo vā brāhmaṇo vā imaṃ mahācattārīsakaṃ dhammapariyāyaṃ garahitabbaṃ paṭikkositabbaṃ maññeyya tassa diṭṭheva dhamme dasasahadhammikā vādānuvādā gārayhaṃ ṭhānaṃ āgacchanti – sammādiṭṭhiṃ ce bhavaṃ garahati, ye ca micchādiṭṭhī samaṇabrāhmaṇā te bhoto pujjā, te bhoto pāsaṃsā. sammāsaṅkappaṃ ce bhavaṃ garahati, ye ca micchāsaṅkappā samaṇabrāhmaṇā te bhoto pujjā, te bhoto pāsaṃsā. sammāvācaṃ ce bhavaṃ garahati…pe… sammākammantaṃ ce bhavaṃ garahati… sammāājīvaṃ ce bhavaṃ garahati… sammāvāyāmaṃ ce bhavaṃ garahati… sammāsatiṃ ce bhavaṃ garahati… sammāsamādhiṃ ce bhavaṃ garahati… sammāñāṇaṃ ce bhavaṃ garahati … sammāvimuttiṃ ce bhavaṃ garahati, ye ca micchāvimuttī samaṇabrāhmaṇā te bhoto pujjā, te bhoto pāsaṃsā. Yo koci, bhikkhave, samaṇo vā brāhmaṇo vā imaṃ mahācattārīsakaṃ dhammapariyāyaṃ garahitabbaṃ paṭikkositabbaṃ maññeyya tassa diṭṭheva dhamme ime dasasahadhammikā vādānuvādā gārayhaṃ ṭhānaṃ āgacchanti. Yepi te, bhikkhave, ahesuṃ okkalā vassabhaññā ahetuvādā akiriyavādā natthikavādā tepi mahācattārīsakaṃ dhammapariyāyaṃ na garahitabbaṃ napaṭikkositabbaṃ amaññiṃsu. Taṃ kissa hetu? Nindābyārosaupārambhabhayā ti.

If any brahman or contemplative might think that this Great Forty Dhamma discourse should be censured & rejected, there are ten legitimate implications of his statement that would form grounds for censuring him here & now. If he censures right view, then he would honor any brahmans and contemplatives who are of wrong view; he would praise them. If he censures right resolve... right speech... right action... right livelihood... right effort... right mindfulness... right concentration... right knowledge... If he censures right release, then he would honor any brahmans and contemplatives who are of wrong release; he would praise them. If any brahman or contemplative might think that this Great Forty Dhamma discourse should be censured & rejected, there are these ten legitimate implications of his statement that would form grounds for censuring him here & now. Even Vassa & Bhañña — those teachers from Okkala who were proponents of no-causality, no-action, & no-existence — would not think that this Dhamma discourse on the Great Forty should be censured & rejected. Why is that? For fear of criticism, opposition, & reproach.

This is obviously a copy from AN 4.30:


MN 117:

Yo hi koci, bhikkhave, samaṇo vā brāhmaṇo vā imaṃ mahācattārīsakaṃ dhammapariyāyaṃ garahitabbaṃ paṭikkositabbaṃ maññeyya tassa diṭṭheva dhamme dasasahadhammikā vādānuvādā gārayhaṃ ṭhānaṃ āgacchanti – sammādiṭṭhiṃ ce bhavaṃ garahati, ye ca micchādiṭṭhī samaṇabrāhmaṇā te bhoto pujjā, te bhoto pāsaṃsā. sammāsaṅkappaṃ ce bhavaṃ garahati, ye ca micchāsaṅkappā samaṇabrāhmaṇā te bhoto pujjā, te bhoto pāsaṃsā. sammāvācaṃ ce bhavaṃ garahati…pe… sammākammantaṃ ce bhavaṃ garahati… sammāājīvaṃ ce bhavaṃ garahati… sammāvāyāmaṃ ce bhavaṃ garahati… sammāsatiṃ ce bhavaṃ garahati… sammāsamādhiṃ ce bhavaṃ garahati… sammāñāṇaṃ ce bhavaṃ garahati … sammāvimuttiṃ ce bhavaṃ garahati, ye ca micchāvimuttī samaṇabrāhmaṇā te bhoto pujjā, te bhoto pāsaṃsā. Yo koci, bhikkhave, samaṇo vā brāhmaṇo vā imaṃ mahācattārīsakaṃ dhammapariyāyaṃ garahitabbaṃ paṭikkositabbaṃ maññeyya tassa diṭṭheva dhamme ime dasasahadhammikā vādānuvādā gārayhaṃ ṭhānaṃ āgacchanti. Yepi te, bhikkhave, ahesuṃ ukkalā vassabhaññā ahetuvādā akiriyavādā natthikavādā tepi mahācattārīsakaṃ dhammapariyāyaṃ na garahitabbaṃ napaṭikkositabbaṃ amaññiṃsu. Taṃ kissa hetu? Nindābyārosaupārambhabhayā ti.

AN 4.30:

Yo kho, paribbājakā, imāni cattāri dhammapadāni garahitabbaṃ paṭikkositabbaṃ maññeyya, tassa diṭṭheva dhamme cattāro sahadhammikā vādānuvādā gārayhaṃ ṭhānaṃ āgacchanti. Katame cattāro? Anabhijjhaṃ ce bhavaṃ dhammapadaṃ garahati paṭikkosati, ye ca hi abhijjhālū kāmesu tibbasārāgā samaṇabrāhmaṇā te bhoto pujjā te bhoto pāsaṃsā. Abyāpādaṃ ce bhavaṃ dhammapadaṃ garahati paṭikkosati, ye ca hi byāpannacittā paduṭṭhamanasaṅkappā samaṇabrāhmaṇā te bhoto pujjā te bhoto pāsaṃsā. Sammāsatiṃ ce bhavaṃ dhammapadaṃ garahati paṭikkosati, ye ca hi muṭṭhassatī asampajānā samaṇabrāhmaṇā te bhoto pujjā te bhoto pāsaṃsā. Sammāsamādhiṃ ce bhavaṃ dhammapadaṃ garahati paṭikkosati, ye ca hi asamāhitā vibbhantacittā samaṇabrāhmaṇā te bhoto pujjā te bhoto pāsaṃsā. Yo kho, paribbājakā, imāni cattāri dhammapadāni garahitabbaṃ paṭikkositabbaṃ maññeyya, tassa diṭṭheva dhamme ime cattāro sahadhammikā vādānuvādā gārayhā ṭhānā āgacchanti. Yepi te paribbājakā ahesuṃ ukkalā vassabhaññā ahetukavādā akiriyavādā natthikavādā, tepi imāni cattāri dhammapadāni na garahitabbaṃ na paṭikkositabbaṃ amaññiṃsu. Taṃ kissa hetu? Nindābyārosanaupārambhabhayā ti.





Conclusion:


It has been demonstrated in this analysis that in this sutta:

1) there are some teachings that we find in other suttas as well.

2) there are peculiar teachings not found anywhere else that look quite authentic, which tends to prove that there would be an authentic version of this sutta.

3) there are distinctions made in the teachings of the Buddha, which are apparently based on an opinion expressed in the Khuddaka Nikāya and according to which there is an 'inferior' portion of the teaching siding with merit etc. and a superior 'noble' one connected with insight etc.

4) the word 'sāsava' is used here in a sense which is consistent with late literature, but that is in direct contradiction with otherwise well-known teachings of the four Nikāyas, which proves that the falsification of this sutta has taken place late enough for this semantic drift to have happened.

5) we find very rare words and expressions found only in the Khuddaka Nikāya or the Abhidhamma, and not anywhere else in the four Nikāyas.

6) alternate definitions of the factor of the path are given, which are doubtlessly taken from the Abhidhamma, since outside this sutta they do not appear anywhere else than there.

7) there is an underlying contempt of the ancient teachings and the author seeks to promote teachings found in the Khuddaka Nikāya and Abhidhamma.

This is more than enough to prove that this sutta, though it seems to contain original and authentic material, has been largely falsified.

This study has also shown that even in what is to be considered as the most ancient strata of buddhist scriptures, there are counterfeit teachings aiming at belittling the original message of the Buddha in order to promote newer terminologies and theories, that are presented as being of higher value, but that actually contradict the ancient teachings.

This is a good opportunity to recall the reflection reportedly made to Sandaka by Ānanda:

MN 76

Puna caparaṃ, sandaka, idhekacco satthā anussaviko hoti anussavasacco. So anussavena itihitihaparamparāya piṭakasampadāya dhammaṃ deseti. Anussavikassa kho pana, sandaka, satthuno anussavasaccassa sussutampi hoti dussutampi hoti tathāpi hoti aññathāpi hoti.

Furthermore, Sandaka, now a certain teacher is one who goes by a tradition, who takes a tradition for the truth. He teaches a dhamma in conformity with what he has heard, through what has been transmitted dogmatically, through what has been handed down in a collection of texts. But when a teacher goes by a tradition, taking a tradition for the truth, some is well transmitted, some is ill transmitted, some is factual and some is otherwise.




Rather than concluding from all this that it is not worth studying the early Pali scriptures, we should conclude that we must concentrate on the earliest and most authentic material available, ie:

1) we should concentrate on those statements that do not call on faith to be accepted, that are on the contrary easily verifiable in one's own experience, that are simple and easy to understand intellectually, yet profound, enlightening, inspiring and inviting to make an effort, as for example the following statements:

SN 12.52

Upādānīyesu bhikkhave, dhammesu assādānupassino viharato taṇhā pavaḍḍhati (...) Upādānīyesu bhikkhave, dhammesu ādīnavānupassino viharato taṇhā nirujjhati.

In one who remains focusing on the allure of clingable phenomena, craving increases (...) In one who remains focusing on the drawbacks of clingable phenomena, craving ceases.


2) we should also look for the teachings that are repeated many times everywhere in the Pali scriptures. For that, see the Pali Formulae page.

3) we should rely primarily on our own self-discipline and correct practice, as the Buddha explains it to Ānanda:

SN 47.13

Taṃ kutettha, ānanda, labbhā: 'yaṃ taṃ jātaṃ bhūtaṃ saṅkhataṃ palokadhammaṃ, taṃ vata mā palujjī'ti. Netaṃ ṭhānaṃ vijjati. Tasmātihānanda, attadīpā viharatha attasaraṇā anaññasaraṇā, dhammadīpā dhammasaraṇā anaññasaraṇā.

From when, Ānanda, could one obtain: "May what is born, come to existence, constructed, and by nature subject to disintegration not disintegrate"? That is impossible. Therefore, Ānanda, you should remain with yourself as an island, with yourself as a refuge, without another refuge, with the Dhamma as an island, with the Dhamma as a refuge, without another refuge.

Kathañcānanda, bhikkhu attadīpo viharati attasaraṇo anaññasaraṇo, dhammadīpo dhammasaraṇo anaññasaraṇo? Idhānanda, bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā, vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ; vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā, vineyya loke abhijjhā-domanassaṃ; citte cittānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā, vineyya loke abhijjhā-domanassaṃ; dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā, vineyya loke abhijjhā-domanassaṃ.

And how, Ānanda, does a bhikkhu remain with himself as an island, with himself as a refuge, without another refuge, with the Dhamma as an island, with the Dhamma as a refuge, without another refuge? Here, Ānanda, a bhikkhu remains observing the body in the body, ardent, understanding thoroughly, mindful, having given up craving and affliction towards the world; he remains observing feelings in feelings, ardent, understanding thoroughly, mindful, having given up craving and affliction towards the world; he remains observing the mind in the mind, ardent, understanding thoroughly, mindful, having given up craving and affliction towards the world; he remains observing dhammas in dhammas, ardent, understanding thoroughly, mindful, having given up craving and affliction towards the world.

Evaṃ kho, ānanda, bhikkhu attadīpo viharati attasaraṇo anaññasaraṇo, dhammadīpo dhammasaraṇo anaññasaraṇo. Ye hi keci, ānanda, etarahi vā mamaccaye vā attadīpā viharissanti attasaraṇā anaññasaraṇā, dhammadīpā dhammasaraṇā anaññasaraṇā; tamatagge mete, ānanda, bhikkhū bhavissanti ye keci sikkhākāmā ti.

This, Ānanda, is how a bhikkhu remains with himself as an island, with himself as a refuge, without another refuge, with the Dhamma as an island, with the Dhamma as a refuge, without another refuge. Whoever, Ānanda, now or after my passing away, remains with himself as an island, with himself as a refuge, without another refuge, with the Dhamma as an island, with the Dhamma as a refuge, without another refuge, will be the highest of the bhikkhus who desire the training.




Bodhi leaf

Note


1. the brahmic life observing the virtue of restraint: this is inconsistent with what we find elsewhere in the suttas. The following question appears more than fifty times in the 4 Nikāyas:

Kim·atthiyaṃ samaṇe gotame brahma·cariyaṃ vussatī ti?
For what purpose is the brahmic life lived under the ascetic Gotama?

Here are some proposed answers that make it clear that the brahmic life is connected with abandoning, not merely restraining:

SN 51.15:
Chanda·p·pahān·atthaṃ kho, brāhmaṇa, bhagavati brahma·cariyaṃ vussatī ti.
It is for the purpose of abandoning desire, brahman, that the brahmic life is lived under the ascetic Gotama.

AN 7.9:
Sattannaṃ, bhikkhave, saṃyojanānaṃ pahānāya samucchedāya brahmacariyaṃ vussati.
The brahmic life, bhikkhus, is lived for the abandoning, the cutting off of the seven fetters.

It is also interesting to note the progression of distortion inventing an 'inferior' and a 'superior' path, between this passage of the Khuddaka Nikāya, the Mahācattārīsaka Sutta and theories to come afterward, such as the superiority of the so-called bodhisattva path over the 'arahantship path' taught by the Buddha.