Showing posts with label Confession. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Confession. Show all posts

09 July 2010

Confessions I

I've been reading an interesting paper by Eviatar Shulman on an interpretation of paṭicca-samuppāda. [1] We come to similar conclusions, but interestingly I disagree to some extent with how he gets to his conclusion. I'd like to write more about his thesis later, but today I am in a confessional mood. What I want to confess is that I simply do not understand paṭicca-samuppāda. The primary way that paṭicca-samuppāda is explained is through reference to the 12 nidānas. It's here that I want to focus, and I could begin by saying that other numbers of nidānas do not always number 12 - so is 12 the definitive number or just the most popular?

Some of the terminology is confusing: e.g. saṅkhārā, nāmarūpa, bhava. The confusion is only added to in the process of translation. Some of the explanations are confusing as well, but my focus here is on the canonical presentation. I should say upfront that although the idea that the 12 nidānas occur over three lifetimes is traditional, that idea is not explicit in any sutta. So I don't think this was the idea the Buddha had in mind, and I don't think we can use it to explain the scheme, though I will make some nods in that direction.

I think it's fair to say that saṅkhārā is the most confusing term in Buddhism. It literally means 'making together, or completing'. (Note the relationship to the name Sanskrit (saṃskṛta) which is often said to mean 'perfected' or 'polished'.) The most literal English translation would be confection: con = sam; khāra is from √kṛ 'to make or do', which is not cognate but coincides very closely to the Latin facere [2] and therefore to words such as affect, confect, defect, effect, faculty (etc there are many more examples). Saṅkhāra has several distinct senses but in this context is variously rendered "volitional tendencies, volitional formations (or just formations), mental dispositions, determinations". The idea that saṅkhāra is about volition or will I take to be related to the texts that explain it as cetanā, e.g. at S iii.60 saṅkhāra is explained as six kinds of cetanā: rūpasañcetanā, sadda-, gandha-, rasa-, phoṭṭabba- and dhammasañcetanā. Bhikkhu Bodhi renders them as 'volition regarding forms, -sounds, -odours, -tastes, -tactile objects, and -mental phenomena'. I'm still none the wiser - what is "volition regarding forms"? As I have often said: cetanā is how the Buddha defines kamma, but in this context it doesn't help.

Things get more complex when the texts say that saṅkhārā conditions viññāṇa - (typically translated as consciousness). The relationship is sometimes described as causal so formations (or whatever) cause consciousness, but the Pāli terminology suggests a conditional, rather than a causal relationship. [3] So volition precedes consciousness and is a (the?) condition for it to exist, and similarly when there is no volition there is no consciousness. The question then is how do volitions precede consciousness, in order to be a condition for it to arise? Are volitions not a product of consciousness rather than the other way around?

The situation gets substantially worse with nāmarūpa. Although the tradition is fairly unanimous that it means "mind and body" scholars are by no means agreed what the word means in a Buddhist context (or why it means that). Like saṅkhāra it is an old Vedic term and Joanna Jurewicz (a Sanskritist specialising in the Vedas) has used the Vedic origins of the names for the nidānas as a cipher to show that the Buddha intended them as a parody of the Vedas. However my friend Dhīvan examined this claim from the Buddhist point of view in his M.Phil thesis, and didn't find a great deal of evidence to support Jurewicz's conjecture. Let us leave aside the confusion amongst scholars and focus on the idea that nāma-rūpa means 'body and mind'. There are two conclusions from this. Firstly that body comes into being some time after consciousness has been operating - so volition precedes consciousness and body, and consciousness precedes body - this is somewhat counter-intuitive (backwards even). It gets worse if we follow some traditions and take form to be objects of consciousness - now consciousness is a condition for existence more generally (a variation on the strong Anthropic Principle?). Secondly we now effectively have the sequence: mind conditions mind, which conditions mind. Which is meaningless.

Having given rise to the body in this unusual fashion the sequence settles down and becomes conceptually easier - the senses are the condition for contact (phassa the meeting of sense organ and sense object) which is the condition for sensations (vedanā), which are the conditions desire (taṇha - literally 'thirst') which is the condition for grasping (upādāna). Grasping gives rise to being or becoming (bhava - although as previously stated we already 'are' by this time). I've discussed in the past that upādāna could mean 'fuel' and I would argue that desire fuelling the fire of becoming, makes marginally more sense than grasping as a condition for becoming. But what is bhava, what is becoming or being? Bhava means 'being' in quite a similar range of senses to the English word. It's an action noun from √bhū which is cognate with 'be'.

Perhaps at this point the early Buddhists realised that this is a bit circular - we've already come into being (in body and mind - mind three times even!), and now the nidānas are telling us about how being is conditioned. This short circuits the nidāna chain. But it leaves two links unaccounted for: birth (jati), old age and death (jarāmaraṇa). Sometimes all the various kinds of suffering are added onto jarāmaraṇa - especially the wonderfully miserable compound sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā. The move from becoming to birth is fine, except that we already have both mind and body, etc. The death, which does follow naturally from birth, but then where do we go? In Indian thinking we go to birth. The traditional circle suggests that death is a condition for ignorance. But again this makes no sense, and in any case we do not find the Pāli phrase anywhere in the canon: jarāmaraṇapaccaya avijjā. Old age and death are not in fact a condition for anything!

One major problem with the idea that the nidānas occur over three lifetimes is that if each link can only cease by the ceasing of the previous one, then we need to tackle ignorance (avijjā) in a past life in order to be liberated in this or a future life. This necessity for retro-active action is probably the greatest flaw in that in approach and seems to be an insurmountable problem.

Far from being a straight forward chain or circle the nidāna sequence is like a game of snakes and ladders (one proceeds up, down, sideways, and often retraces one's steps). I've realised that in fact it does not make sense to me on it's own terms. I've always found the received explanations quite pleasing and even useful - and I've been hearing about it for more than 15 years. But when I look closely it's not quite that the emperor has no clothes, it's more like he got dressed in the wrong order and used a mix of styles. It's disconcerting to get this far and realise that I can't make head nor tale of the Buddha's most important teaching on its own terms!

One of the ways scholars have understood the nidāna chain is to chop it up: it is "clearly" made of at least two, if not three shorter sequences mashed together. I was not initially very happy with this approach, but it's grown on me. I can more or less make sense of the chain from the six senses up to becoming. I think we can hive off birth and death as explanatory of what is meant by becoming - becoming is the cycle of birth and death (and therefore only makes sense in the context of rebirth). In which case, contra the three lifetimes model, the last two links go nowhere, they just cycle from birth to death. The most worrisome part are the links from ignorance to name and form. My inclination is just to say they don't make sense, but I think it's important to say that they don't make sense to me. However we hardly need them because the process we are interested in does not require them. I think ignorance as a problem comes in later after we have contact, but as a cause it probably conditions all the other links directly.

Eviatar Shulman points out that at some points there really are ontological implications to the nidānas (if for instance viññāṇa gives rise to nāmarūpa (and rūpa is either 'the body' or 'forms'); or taṇha/upādāna give rise to bhava 'being': this is ontology), but I notice that the terms which appear to have ontological implications are also the ones involving most confusion and ambiguity. I'd like to focus on this in a future post.

So I can make sense of the teaching, but I have to do what other Buddhists have done and chop it about, make stuff up, and bluff to a certain extent. Which is hardly intellectually satisfying. It's all rather embarrassing.

Notes.
  1. Shulman, Eviatar. 'Early Meanings of Dependent-Origination,' Journal of Indian Philosophy, 36(2) 2008: 297-317. http://www.springerlink.com/content/7656238535363p05/
  2. A direct Sanskrit cognate to facere would be √dhā present dadhati, though the sense has drifted away from 'do' towards 'put'.
  3. Contrarily as Krishna Del Toso makes clear in his blog post on cause/condition in early Buddhism the distinction between the two types of relationship (hetu vs paccaya) only solidified in later texts. In favour of my statement the imasmiṃ idaṃ hoti formula, which almost always appears in conjunction with the 12 nidana paṭicca-samuppāda formula and appears to be a comment on how the links are connected, implies a conditional rather than causal relationship; as does the word paṭicca itself.

06 February 2009

Did King Ajātasattu Confess to the Buddha, and did the Buddha Forgive Him?

In lieu of a blog post this week I would like to draw your attention to my recent publication in the Journal of Buddhist Ethics: Did King Ajātasattu Confess to the Buddha, and did the Buddha Forgive Him? In this article I explore a passage from the Sāmaññphala Sutta (DN 2). This is the well known account of the meeting between King Ajātasattu and the Buddha. At the end of the discourse the king becomes a lay disciple and then confesses to the Buddha that he has killed his father, King Bimbisāra. The article begins with a translation problem. Although the action clearly describes a confession, the word often translated as confession - paṭikaroti - means no such thing. In trying to establish what the word does mean I looked at every occurrence in the suttas, and the Pāli commentaries on them, showing that the text uses a stock phrase (or pericope) which is employed in many different settings. This highlighted a feature of Buddhist confession which is distinct from religious confession in the west - that it does not involve reparation or making amends (despite what the translators say!).

In order to better understand what is happening I locate the action in the context of the early Buddhist theory of karma, and in the broader religious context of the day. The latter was deeply concerned with ritual purity, and, having been polluted with the return to ritual purity. The Buddha reinterpreted ritual purity as ethical purity, and confession in early Buddhism is a way of returning to ethical purity. The results of karma cannot be avoided, hence there is no reparation, no requirement to make amends in the confession. However through spiritual practice - including ethical purity - one can avoid creating new karmic results (kamma-vipaka), but crucially one can also reduce the impact of karmic consequences. I believe this is because we become more emotionally robust through spiritual practice, and that we are more able to contain painful vedanā (experience, sensation, feeling). To put it another way we are less likely to be blown off course by the worldly winds. The king however is doomed to rebirth in hell because patricide is an "unforgivable" offence. In fact this fate is undone in later version of the story which are preserved in Chinese translations of the sutta and a Sanskrit frgament. Here the charisma of the Buddha is such that it help Ajātasattu escape his fate. This change is one that deserves more attention but I don't speak Chinese!

Having established what the story is telling us I revisit the phrase 'yathadhamma paṭikaroti' around which the action hinges. I have shown by this point that previous translators (T W R Rhys Davids, Maurice Walsh) have misunderstood this term, and that the Pali-English Dictionary has also misunderstood it. There is no sense of "making amends" in any of the suttas which use this phrase, only of returning to ethical purity. In fact the phrase is difficult to translate into English and I have tentatively suggested that "Dharmically counteract" at least accurately renders the sense of the Pāli. Being an unattractive phrase it is unlikely to catch on, but I couldn't think of anything better.

A subsidiary issue arises in that some translators (Piya Tan, Ñāṇamoli) have understood Ajātasattu to be asking forgiveness and the Buddha to be offering forgiveness. I show that this does not make sense in the context, and it does not make sense in terms of Buddhist doctrine. The king is merely asking the Buddha to acknowledge his resolution to be ethical in the future, and the Buddha acknowledges the intention as an intention. Nothing more.

In early Buddhism confession is mostly associated with the bhikkhu sangha, but as my article shows confession clearly was part of a more general religious landscape with laypeople and even non-Buddhists confessing evil actions. One minor point which I make is that it is the actions which are done foolishly, in confusion, and unskillfully (yathābālaṃ yathāmūḷhaṃ yathā-akusalaṃ). Most translators change the adverb into an adjective describing the person rather than the action. This is consistent with Judeo-Christian ideas of culpability, but not with Buddhist views.

I hope this little precis will encourage people to read the whole article. Those with no Pāli at all may find the first couple of pages a bit daunting, but it soon settles down to discussing the implications, so don't be discouraged!


P.S. some of the ideas that emerged while researching this article have already appeared in blog posts: follow the link to other blog posts on confession.

02 May 2008

Mitigating Karma

As part of my research into confession in early Buddhism I have been interested in the idea that it might be possible to escape the consequences of one's actions. Can confession of a transgression, for instance, help one to avoid the consequences of an action? Although there is a commentarial tradition of counteracting-karma (upapīḷlaka-kamma) which can counteract or suppress the effects of karma, I have not found much in the Canon itself on ways to mitigate karma. Recall that shortly after becoming an Arahant, Angulimāla is pelted with missiles and returns from his alms round cut and bleeding. This, the Buddha tells him, is the result of his previous actions. If that karma did not ripen in the present then he would spend 100's or 1000's of years in hell. There is it seems, in the Nikāya's anyway, no escaping the fruits of one's actions. Richard Gombrich confirms this when he says: “Theravāda Buddhism knows no penances. If you have done, said or thought a wrong, doctrine says, nothing can simply cancel that out”. (Gombrich 1988, 108)

However there are some ways in which the effects of karma may be off-set or mitigated. Chiefly this is achieved through reflection, experiencing remorse, and abstaining from harmful actions in future. Although this cannot affect the consequences of actions already undertaken, it does mean that one can be free of suffering at some point if one refrains from unskilful action in the present.

However a couple of texts suggest that it is possible to "dilute" the effects of karma through spiritual practice. The Lonaphala Sutta (AN 3.99) begins by pointing out that the same trifling fault may send one person to hell, and yet another may only experience a fleeting trifling pain in the here and now. Why is that? It is because the former person has made no effort to develop themselves, which the latter has. There follow three images the most interesting one involving a salt crystal.

If a salt crystal is dropped into a small amount of water, that water is rendered undrinkable. However if you drop a single salt crystal into the Ganges River it will make very little difference (presumably the Ganges was a lot cleaner in the Buddha's day because drinking it now could be fatal!). Spiritual practice in this sutta means "development of the body (kāya), virtue (sīla), the mind (citta) and understanding (pañña); and dwelling in the unrestricted, large-hearted, immeasurable [state]". The last seems to be a reference to the Brahmavihara meditations. This list is a variation on the threefold path of ethics, meditation, and wisdom; it also resembles the foundations of mindfulness (satipaṭṭhāna).

Such spiritual practice makes one 'bigger' and so the effects of karma are diluted. One of my teachers has suggested that we could think of merit (puñña) in terms of emotional robustness. Through practice we become more emotionally robust, less pushed around by the vicissitudes of life. We are more able to maintain equanimity in the face of provocation.

A related notion can be found in the Devadaha Sutta (MN 101) . In this sutta a man is suffering from jealousy. He is made angry by the sight of his lover laughing and joking with another man. but the sutta points out that his suffering may cease if he is able to unhook himself from the attachment to his lover. This need not mean letting go of love itself, but specifically letting go of attachment and clinging - remove the cause and the effect is removed. One can mitigate the effects of jealousy by removing the cause for the arising of a painful mental state. One sees this also in the Buddha's response to painful physical sensations - in a sutta called The Dart (SN 36.6). The Bhagavan's foot is pierced by a sliver of stone, but he does not respond with aversion to painful sensations which cannot be avoided, and so does not suffer. Morphine apparently works in this way: taking morphine does not block painful sensations from reaching the brain the way some other pain killers do, but it changes the perceptual relationship to the pain, with the result that one relaxes and is not distressed by it.

Whatever developments came afterwards, the message of the Pāli Canon seems reasonably clear. Having acted one will inevitably experience the consequences of that action. However the consequences may be mitigated to some extent through spiritual practices. The basic approach is simply to reflect on previous actions and consequences so that one learns not to create more difficulties. But a benefit from doing this, and of spiritual practice generally, is that when painful consequences do happen, we are able to be more robust, more equanimous, and so we suffer less.

We become like a great river that can absorb a little salt crystal without being rendered unfit to drink. However I suppose that the state of the Ganges in the present is something of a warning against complacency. Even a great river may become disastrously polluted if we are not careful. I take this to be an image for guarding the gates of the senses - just because we become more robust does not mean that we can more freely indulge our bad habits.


Reference.
  • Gombrich, Richard. Theravāda Buddhism : a Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo. 1st ed. London: Routledge, 1998.
Suttas on Access to Insight.

image: ℓ u m i è r e

01 March 2008

More on Confession

I've been following up my research into confession in Early Buddhism. It is clear from the Pali texts that no one short of Awakening is expected to be able to act ethically at all times. So there are procedures for monastics which deal with confession in quit some detail. As I mentioned in my earlier blog post on the confession of Ajatasattu, there are also some paradigms for confession which are not specifically for monastics. A model is put forward in a sutta in the Anguttara Nikaya (A i.103).

The first step is to realises that you have done something wrong. Often Buddhists will insist that there is no right and wrong, that actions are skilful or unskilful. Right and wrong create a too rigid dichotomy. The texts do however talk about "faults" and "transgressions". Transgression is quite a good word because it reminds us that we measure our behaviour against the scale of the ethical precepts that we take on as Buddhists. The Pali word is accayo which literally means "going on, or beyond". There are boundaries to behaviour. Until we have Awakened it may no come naturally to act in ways that cause no harm, either to ourselves or others. The metaphor in Pali, as it is in English, is that we "see" that we have transgressed. We see it for ourselves through reflection and introspection. We may not always be very good at recognising transgressions, but practising awareness heightens ethical sensitivity as well. Often it is a matter of, as Sangharakshita says, an imaginative identification with the other person.

It is important to recall here that what the Buddha meant by kamma was cetana - intention or volition (A vi.13). Karma was originally the ritual actions carried out by Brahmins to restore them to ritual purity. The Buddha turned the notion of "purity" on its head and said that it consisted in pure conduct - not breaking the ethical precepts. The vinaya talks quite explicitly about the purity/impurity of monastics in these terms (Vin i.124). Confession, in this way of thinking consists in two aspects. Firstly having seen one's transgression as a transgression, one reveals this to another person. Secondly one resolves to be restrained in the future.

The Ratana Sutta emphasise that one should waste no time in confessing (Sn 232 and SnA i.278). One should not conceal a transgression for even a moment. I think the reason for this relates back to the idea equating action with intention. The intention to hide a transgression is not a skilful intention. As I said in my earlier blog post it can be difficult to feel motivated to reveal a transgression with the threat of punishment hanging over you. However it is better to get it out! The Vinaya says that having transgressed and wishing to be pure again, should confess because revealing makes him comfortable (Vin i.103). With regards to who we should confess to, the Ratana commentary suggests a teacher; a wise person; or a fellow practitioner. The point of confession in very many of the passages I have been studying is "restraint in the future". Confession - experiencing remorse, revealing a transgression, and making a resolution not to transgress again, helps us to keep the precepts in future. In case it is not clear we do this in order to minimise harmful effects on ourselves and others.

Having returned ourself to purity we are in a position to hear, to accept in the Pali terminology, the confessions of others. This necessity for prior purity is emphaised in the Vinaya which sets out procedures for monastics to follow if, for instance, everyone in a particular monastery has "fallen into a fault". One monk must go and seek out others to whom he can confess and return to accept the confessions of their fellows (Vin i.126). This quid pro quo is quite important for the functioning of a spiritual community, although I do not think that strict ritual purity is necessary for non-monastics (see my rant on superstition and ritual purity). If we have taken on precepts, however, then we do need to have someone sympathetic with whom to talk over our practice of them. Accepting a confession need not be an empty ritual. In the Majjhima Nikaya 140 the Buddha does not immediately accept Bhaddhali's confession. It is clear that the Buddha knows Bhaddali quite well, and knows that he is a bit half-hearted and inattentive at times. Bhaddali must request acceptance three times and endure quite a severe reprimand in order to convince the Buddha of his contrition: at one point the Buddha says to him "weren't you, Bhaddali, at that time an empty, vain, failure?" (M i.440). Ouch!

One last thing which caught my eye this week is that the Vinaya does not allow for collective confession. Over the years I have seen a number of discussions of so-called "collective karma" - does it exist or not. In one story in the Vinaya however a monk who mentions that he is not the only one to have fallen into a particular fault, but that everyone in the monastery has also. But the message is clear: it is no business of yours whether another has or has not fallen into a fault: take care of your own faults! (Vin i.127) So, even if there is such a thing as collective karma, you are still responsible for your own actions.


image: www.ordinarymind.net

15 February 2008

Confession in Buddhism

Confession in Buddhism is somewhat different than in Catholicism as we can see in the story of the fruits of the homeless life. (Sāmaññaphala Sutta - DN 2 *). In this story the conscience of King Ajāttasattu is pricking him - after all he has killed his mother and father and usurped the crown! He decides that a visit to a holy man might help him sleep better at night. After quizzing his courtiers on who to visit he decides to go to see the Buddha. As they approach they must abandon their transport and go on foot into the jungle. Since the Buddha is staying with a great company of monks, the King thinks he should be able to hear them, but all is silent - the murderer is worried about being assassinated himself! However they come into the presence of the Buddha and after a long talk Ajāttasattu goes for refuge to the Buddha as a lay follower, and then confesses his murderous actions. The Buddha's response, to the king in the first place, and to the bhikkhus after he has gone, highlight the two very important aspects of confession in Buddhism.

The Buddha says to the king:
"Indeed, King, transgression [accayo] overcame you when you deprived your father, that good and just king, of his life. But since you have acknowledged the transgression and confessed is as is right, we will accept it. For he who acknowledges his transgression as such and confesses it for betterment in future, will grow in the noble discipline."
The word accayo literally means "going on, or beyond", and in the moral sphere, means acting outside the established norms - so transgression is quite a good translation.

However once the king departs, the Buddha says to the bhikkhus:
"The king is done for, his fate is sealed, bhikkhus. If the king had not killed his father... then as he sat there the pure and spotless dhamma-eye would have arisen in him."
The King leaves feeling much relieved, having unburdened himself, having experienced remorse, and resolved to do better in the future. This is the benefit of confessing. It brings the unskilful act to consciousness and helps us to see the consequences of the action, and by reflecting like this we are less likely to act unskilfully in the future. The King is actually better off that he was. On the other side the Buddha was able to just hear his confession. Perhaps not everyone would be able to hear about someone killing their parents and maintain their equanimity, but the Buddha can. He is able to see that despite the crime, that the King is genuinely remorseful, and that it is important to witness that and encourage it. The past is gone, we can't change it, but we can change now and experience liberation in the future.

However notice that Buddha does not absolve the King. He does not because he cannot. The fruits of the action cannot be neutralised. Indeed if he had not committed the heinous act (patricide was considered a very horrible crime in ancient India) he would have experienced Insight (the opening of the dhamma-eye) after listening to the Buddha.

Equally the Buddha does not rub it in. He does not tell him, "OK you confessed, but you're still going to suffer". The Buddha is not cruel, he acknowledges a small goodness for what it is, and lets the King depart without much comment. However he does not let the opportunity pass to reinforce his message for the bhikkhus. He did not want them to think they could simply confess and get away with things. As a King, Ajāttasattu had a lot of responsibilities, and it is clear that he placed these above self-knowledge or liberation. He wanted to be the king so badly that he murdered his parents. The bhikkhus, however, have ostensibly abandoned worldly concerns and are supposed to be devoting themselves to attaining liberation. They cannot afford to be casual about the consequences of their actions. So the Buddha drives home the message by pointing out that the King is "done for" - the implication is that the consequences of his actions are going to be severe, that even a face to face meeting with the Buddha cannot save him from a great deal of suffering in the future. Most likely he is repeatedly reborn in hell realms.

There is another important point here. At the beginning of the story the king is restless, tormented by his conscience, and even a little paranoid. Unconfessed unskilfulness weighs on our conscience. We feel guilty and we fear punishment. The Buddha knows there is no need to punish Ajāttasattu as he is suffering in the present, and will continue to suffer in the future. This is a very difficult idea for Westerners. We are inculcated with the idea that guilt demands punishment. Society demands that someone who transgresses must have some harm inflicted upon them. We do not believe in an ethical universe in which everyone must live with the consequences of their actions, and in which evil definitely results in pain for the evil doer. This is not enough. We want to see justice (ie punishment) in the here and now. Christians also abrogate the notion that judgement for sins is God's prerogative. In fact the threat of punishment makes confession, makes taking full responsibility for our actions, all the more difficult. It is only when the threat of punishment is removed that we can fully confess our actions, experience remorse, and take the necessary actions to make amends or to prevent a repetition. Given that so few people wholeheartedly take on Buddhist ethical precepts, it may mean that we have limited opportunities for confession in the Buddhist sense. We may also have to exercise patience with those who seek to inflict harm on us as punishment. There is a lot more that could be said on the issue of culpability and justice from a Buddhist point of view but it must wait.

To sum up: in Buddhism one is encouraged to confess to someone who is able to receive the confession, this is important. Our confessor should at a minimum understand the ethical precepts we follow, and ideally should have some experience in following them. The point of confession is to experience remorse, to reflect on the consequences of our actions, with the hope that it helps us to restrain ourselves in future. In practice this results in a sense of relief. Confession does not, and cannot absolve us from responsibility for our actions, the consequences of which will still manifest. If we take Buddhist practice seriously then we try to behave ethically. An important aspect of this is to acknowledge our failures and to learn from them. Confession is indispensable in this process.


*translations are from Walsh, M. The Long Discourses of the Buddha. (Boston : Wisdom, 1995) p.91ff. There are some problems with the translation that I will regale you with in a separate essay. They don't affect my conclusions.

image: a king who got his crown illegitimately meets a holy man... from Daily Mail