26 June 2009


'Eternalism' is the English translation of the Pāli terms sassatavāda or sassatadiṭṭhi. The former indicates the profession of a doctrine of eternalism, indicated by the word vāda meaning 'speech' or 'words'; while the second is the eternalist view or belief, using the word diṭṭhi 'see', or 'view' and by metaphor an 'idea'. In practice they are more or less synonymous. Sassata, therefore, should mean something like 'eternal'.

The Pāli English Dictionary (PED) suggests that sassata comes from the Vedic śaśvat, and means 'eternal, perpetual'. So far I have not found a convincing etymology of the word śaśvat. It is used in some form in the older books of the Ṛgveda, but not often. Of the words that begin with śaś- the vast majority are to do with hares or rabbits, or with the moon. Ancient Indians saw a rabbit in the moon and so named it, amongst other things, Śaśin - literally 'with a rabbit'. The root śaś is said to mean 'leap' and a rabbit is a leaper. These other words however all suggest something recurring: śaśaya, śaśīyas, śaśvadhā, śaśvāya, śaśvata, śaśvatika. Now one of these in particular gives us some information. Śaśīyas is a comparative in which the suffix -īyas is added to an adjective. The dictionary tells us that śaśīyas means 'more numerous, mightier, richer'. This suggests that there is an adjective śaśi or śaśī meaning 'numerous, mighty, rich', and a verbal root śaś. However neither is in the dictionary, or in the Whitney's list of verbal roots. As one friend said - not every word can be traced to a verbal root, and śaśvat may be irreducible. If there were a root śaś then the suffix -vat might be a possessive, and śaśvat may be conceived of as something like possessing numerousness. Etymology not withstanding the basic idea conveyed by śaśvat seems to be recurrent rebirth and redeath (punarbhava and punarmṛtyu).

Skeat's etymological dictionary relates "eternal" to the Indo-European root √i 'to go' which occurs in Sanskrit as the verb 'eti'. The same verb occurs in Pāli, and in the imperative may be familiar from the phrase ehi bhikkhu - "come monk" - with which the Buddha indicated that he had accepted someone as a disciple. The word comes into English via the Latin word ævum meaning 'age' or 'life period'. Eternal, age and aeon are related words.

This illustrates that when we translate we need to sensitive to nuance, because eternal suggests to an English speaker something which is 'always on'. And unending process or state. Whereas the India word suggests something which happens again and again, an recurrent process and a repeating state. Thought these two concepts are related, they are not identical. However eternalism is so established as the translation of sassata that I doubt it will change because I say so!

Let us turn to what eternalism is according to the Pāli Canon. We do not have to go far because sassatavāda is defined near the beginning of the first Sutta in the Canon - the Brahmajala Sutta. The eternalist doctrine is said to be applied in two ways: to the ātman and to the loko. I think that this is one of those occasions where the word 'loka' means the material world. We might translate it here as 'universe'. There are four ways that one can come to hold the sassata doctrine. The first three of these are of most interest to us. Firstly a person may, through meditation, experience recall of very many previous lives. And they may conclude that this process simply goes on for ever. Or they may, again in meditation, see either a few, or many world ages (these are two of the four cases). A world age is the almost infinitely long period in which the universe is created, persists, and is destroyed in a conflagration. Having seen these repeat themselves in visionary meditative experiences a person may come to believe that they just keep happening without end. The fourth involves reasoning - one simply comes up with a metaphysical theory. These kinds of theories are not all bad - the theories of physics and chemistry for instance are useful even though we know them to be only models - but in this case the theory is not helpful.

The idea that the ātman comes back again and again is a view from the early phase of Upaniṣads. Already in the later parts of the Ṛgveda there are hints that the Brahmins believed that having died here one went to the fathers (pitṛ) there, but after a time returned to live here again. This process seems to have been endless. In the Bṛhadāranyka Upaniṣad (BU) the idea undergoes a refinement which Johannes Bronkhorst associates with the śramaṇa group known as Ājivakas. We mainly know about the Ājivakas from the polemics against them in Buddhist texts. In the first chapter of BU there is a form of rebirth which is a cycling between this world and 'the other' and it is the ātman which journeys between the two. Note that here there is no sign of a way out of the cycle - no liberation or mokṣa. Later on again the Brahmins adopted the idea of mokṣa. Note that the reference to this world and the next is commonplace in the Pāli texts - which suggests that this version of rebirth remained current alongside other theories, for sometime.

Why is a view that the ātman or the universe is eternal a bad thing? It is because there is no possibility of escape from the cycle. Escape from the cycle, liberation, mokṣa was a crucial aspect of the what the Buddha offered to his followers. It is likely that the Buddha was not the first to talk about escaping the round of rebirth, that the Jains and Ājivakas also believed that escape was possible which is what motivated them to do severe austerities. But clearly some people in the Buddha's day still believed in this relatively unsophisticated view of rebirth and did not accept that liberation was possible. If we do not believe in liberation we won't be motivated to practice with the intensity required for liberation. So the eternalist belief is counter-productive.

You may be wondering why these ancient metaphysics are still relevant. If we believe in rebirth at all, we certainly don't literally believe in an endless cycle of rebirths. Western Buddhists tend to take on views of rebirth consistent with whatever Buddhist tradition they follow, and they are forewarned against eternalism. It turns out the any kind of eternalistic belief denies the possibility of liberation, any kind of unchanging entity fouls up the logic of it. And we do tend to have eternalistic beliefs. The whole world view of Christianity is based around ideas of an eternal God, and an eternal soul; eternal heaven, eternal damnation. Salvation is not based on being liberated from suffering, but from an acceptance of Christ leading to eternity in heaven. Many Western Buddhists, even those not overtly bought up as Christians, will have a view like this lurking somewhere in their psyche. More over the idea of an eternal soul plays along with the human tendency to see ourselves as continuous over time, and going on with out end - we think we're going to live forever and so we don't face the world as though our time here is limited and precious.

19 June 2009

Who craves?

One time when the Buddha was dwelling at Sāvatthi*, a bhikkhu called Moḷiyaphagguno asked a series of related questions: Who consumes the nutriment of consciousness (ie receives the input from the senses)? Who makes contact? Who feels? Who craves? Who grasps? Sense impressions, sensations, craving, grasping are part of the list of nidānas or links - that is part of the sequence which is traditionally used to explain the workings of paṭiccasamuppāda or dependent arising. Each of the answers is similar and we can get a feel for the discourse by focussing on just one: craving.
‘‘Ko nu kho, bhante, tasatī’’ti? ‘‘No kallo pañho’’ti bhagavā avoca – ‘‘‘tasatī’ti ahaṃ na vadāmi. ‘Tasatī’ti cāhaṃ vadeyyaṃ, tatrassa kallo pañho – ‘ko nu kho, bhante, tasatī’ti? Evaṃ cāhaṃ na vadāmi. Evaṃ maṃ avadantaṃ yo evaṃ puccheyya – ‘kiṃpaccayā nu kho, bhante, taṇhā’ti, esa kallo pañho. Tatra kallaṃ veyyākaraṇaṃ – ‘vedanāpaccayā taṇhā, taṇhāpaccayā upādāna’’’nti. (SN 12:12; PTS S ii.13)
Who craves, Sir? The Blessed One said "that is not a proper question". I don't say "he craves". If I did say "he craves", then it might be a proper question, but I don't talk like that. A proper question would be: "with what condition is there craving?" And the proper answer is that because of sensations, there is craving; and because of craving, there is grasping.
Note here that 'he craves' is tasati, while 'craving' (the verbal-noun) is taṇhā, this literally means 'thirst' and is a poetic metaphor for craving more generally. The relationship is more obvious in Sanskrit where the verb is tṛṣyati and the noun tṛṣṇā. Each of the verses is structured identically and identifies the condition and what is conditioned by it - that is the cause and the effect - of the element being asked about. Here the sequence is
  • vedanā > taṇha > upādāna
  • sensation > craving > grasping
Note that the Buddha does not associate pronouns with the links. He does not speak in terms of "I crave", "you crave", "he/she/it craves". He talks in terms of "there is craving", and there is craving because the condition of sensation (vedanā) is present.** It is an application of the general principle "because of that being, this is (imasmiṃ sati, idam hoti)" to the existence of craving.

So the agent of craving is not a person, it is the process of paticcasamuppāda. Craving is in fact impersonal. Craving arises because there is sensation.*** By the way I have taken to translating vedanā as 'sensations' rather than the more usual 'feelings', because in English we talk about our emotions as 'feelings' and this is not what is intended in the Buddhist term. Emotions are a down stream product of experiencing vedanā that emerge as a result of papañca.

An interesting conclusion here is that we aren't personally responsible for the arising of craving (or hatred) in the present. There can be no doubt that we are responsible for our present actions, but because of the situation we are in, if there is sensation then there will automatically be craving - until we are awakened this is involuntary. But we don't need to feel guilty about experiences which have arisen in dependence on causes. The text is not trying to pin the blame on anyone. There can be no blame for a natural process. We don't blame rain for being wet. This exposes an aspect of the ancient Buddhist world view which is that some things are dhammatā - the natural thing, a natural law. Dhammatā literally means lawfulness - it is an abstract noun from dhamma in the sense of law or principle.

The Buddha is saying then that the arising of craving in dependence on sensations is a natural process, a natural law even. Such things as craving are unavoidable, they just happen. However we cannot rest here, because the rest of the story is that where there is craving there is grasping (upādāna), and grasping is the fuel (a more literal meaning of upādāna) for becoming (bhava) which leads to birth, old age, and death - in other words it all leads to dukkha, to sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā - grief, lamenting, misery, dejection, and trouble. So if we simply acquiesce to this process then we are stuck with the misery of it.

Fortunately for us there are other dhammatā or natural laws (or other aspects of the law) which means we can address the problem of suffering in two basic ways. Firstly by removing the causes: where there is no craving there is no grasping, where there is no contact there is no craving, etc which is the solution recommended by this sutta. When this ceases, that ceases also. Secondly we can try to cultivate positive states. For instance through practising ethics, we generate non-remorse, which gives rise to joy, to rapture, etc, which we know after Sangharakshita as 'the spiral path'. There are a few variants on the spiral path in the canon (for a list see my essay A Footnote to Sangharakshita's A Survey of Buddhism). The spiral path also represents a dhammatā in that the texts say that if we only begin and persist, the effects will follow quite naturally. Both of these approaches lead to freedom from suffering - the ultimate goal of the Buddha's path in the Pāli texts.

A note here for Mahāyanists: it's often said that the so-called 'Arahant Ideal', the ideal of awakening propagated in the Pāli texts is selfish. It's clear from this text that the ideas of a self or the idea of my suffering or my awakening, are not properly phrased. The Buddha does not talk in terms of I, me, mine; thou, thy, thine; or he, him, his etc. There can be no question therefore of only practising to remove "my suffering", because "my suffering" is an improper use of language. It is simply that there is suffering, and it arises in dependence on a cause. One can either remove the cause, or one can cultivate the opposite, but "I" doesn't come into it. While compassion for all beings, or awakening for the sake of all beings is more explicit in Mahāyana discourse, it is only a restatement of something implicit in the Pāli texts, something which perhaps did not need to be stated so boldly at the time.

Once again this texts focuses on the nature of experience - sensory input and how we process it. It seems especially important to understand the nature of this relationship between sensations, craving, and grasping. It is equally important not to get caught up in trying to figure out what Reality is, or dwelling on metaphysics. You have access to all the information you need - it is your own experience. What is required is a systematic investigation of your experience of things, which does not require much in the way of definitions and discussion, or even education for that matter. If you can sit quietly and pay attention to the effects of sensations on mind/body, then you are well on your way.

* The Moḷiyaphagguna Sutta is in the Saṃyutta Nikāya (SN 12:12; PTS S ii.13). My translation based on the Pāli text from tipitika.org. Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi on pg 541-2 in his Connected Discourses of the Buddha; and by Bhikkhu Thanissaro on Access to Insight as the Phagguna Sutta.
** It is a quirk of Pāli and Sanskrit that one doesn't need to use a verb "to be" in order to assert the existence of something. Just stating 'taṇhā' is sufficient. Although one can say 'taṇhā hoti' - there is suffering - in these Pāli sentences 'to be' is not used, but is understood. Note that this way of talking without pronouns is similar to some of the ways that Benjamin Lee Whorf records being used amongst indigenous Americans.
*** I think this view of dependent arising as impersonal and the eschewing of pronouns is an argument against a literal reading of rebirth, but that is a more complex story than I can address here.

12 June 2009

The Group and the Individual

One of the distinctive teachings of Sangharakshita has been his exploration of the dynamics of groups and individuals in relationship to them. I've always found it helpful to keep in mind. My thinking in this area is also influenced by Colin Wilson's seminal book The Outsider, and by the first spiritual influence in my life: the Richard Bach story Jonathan Livingstone Seagull. I'm also a fan of Jane Goodall's book In the Shadow of Man about her time studying chimpanzees at Gombe Stream which I think provides many insights into our social nature. From these disparate sources and personal experience I have strung together a kind of personal narrative about groups.

We humans are social animals. This is the first thing to understand, and remember. We are social by biology and psychology. We do not have any choice in this matter - as humans we are defined by our relationship to social groups. The average person will participate in a number of groups over their lifetime. Family is the most important in early life, but as soon as we start to socialise outside the family our peers have a massive influence as well. We have school groups - classes, years, school - sports groups, interest groups, political groups, etc. Generally speaking, and genuine loners not withstanding, we operate best in groups - it is natural, and beneficial.

The key quality of a group is that it provides support and stability - of various kinds. As social animals we are psychologically attuned to groups and feel lonely without one. Loneliness can become a pathology. Groups fulfil, or help to fulfil, our biological needs - the lower end of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Groups conserve - they preserve culture, and custom and keep it alive. Again, we don't fair well without these. So groups are necessary and beneficial, but there is a dark side to the group. Groups can become riots or mobs, or can perpetrate larger more heinous corporate acts like slavery and genocide. Groups seem to have the capacity to act in ways that are not simply the sum of their parts, that is not individual behaviour writ large.

Now spiritual growth or progress is, at least as far as Buddhism is concerned, an individual matter. Each individual is responsible for their own conscious acts and the consequences of them. Each one can choose to be moral or immoral, to pursue higher states of consciousness or not. Groups are what Sangharakshita has called the lower evolution - progress is collective, very very slow and limited to the cultural or material sphere. The individual undertakes the higher evolution which is an evolution of consciousness. This focus on the individual consciousness is a relatively new thing in human evolution - dating from only about 2500 years ago. It was the Buddha and his contemporaries in India, Asia, and Europe who began to promote the individual, to examine the individual and to conceive of the individual as the unit of progress rather than the tribe or family or nation. The period when this began to happen is sometimes called the Axial Age - and is broadly speaking the eight centuries centred on the fourth century before the common era.

Now the group generally speaking has two responses to an individual who - for what ever reason - stands apart: assimilation, or anihilation. In the former case the group seeks to coop the member back in, to lull them back to sleep, to coerce them to conform. If this doesn't work, or the group is oriented to the other strategy then the individual is cast out - whether figuratively or literally - or in extreme cases killed. Shunning is a practice common to the Christian and Buddhist traditions for instance! There is a very rare exception to these in the case of the powerful leader. Sometimes someone has such charisma that they single-handedly change the group to their way. But even then things can still turn nasty as many martyrs have discovered.

So any person who sets out on a spiritual journey is likely to experience turbulence in their relationships with groups. This is a given because they are trying to be different. Sometimes old relationships simply break down under the strain. This is something that has to be born by each individual, they don't necessarily set our to break bonds or upset the status quo, but it is almost inevitable at some point. The group values the group per se, over any one individual, and this is why groups persist and are supportive. It is natural for a group to react this way!

A lot of this will be familiar to most people in the FWBO - it's a core Sangharakshita teaching. One of his aphorisms is "the group is always wrong!" However, as is the way with these things the teaching is taken too literally. A manifestation of this is knee-jerk anti-establishment attitudes and behaviour. Sometimes people are simply critical of any group activity or any form of collectivity. This can be seen as a reaction against groups. The person still defines themselves in terms of the group, rather than membership they focus on opposition. Some of this is down to disappointing experiences of organised religions, some to unresolved psychological conflicts, and any number of other reasons. But it ignores our fundamental needs, and is impractical.

One of the first things the Buddha did on becoming enlightened was to set out to tell people what he had discovered. He sought out the most receptive people he knew and they soon saw for themselves the breakthrough. Thus a collective was created that continues to exist in many forms around the globe that we call sangha. As Jamie Lee Curtis's character says in A Fish Called Wanda - "the central philosophy of Buddhism is not 'everyman for himself'". Jump to the future and we find that the sangha needs structures to facilitate communication, it is helpful to have people organising events, and to create venues for practising and teaching. We need these institutions, else we do not create the best conditions for our own practice, and for helping other people to find the Dharma and take up the practice as well.

Like most religious people Buddhists believe that everyone could benefit from doing what we do - I am a fervent believer of this in relation to Buddhist practice, though doubtful about taking on religious beliefs. Although we need to be a true individual, evolving our own consciousness, in practice this is difficult. Supportive conditions, including a positive social network of like minded people, are essential. This means that there is always likely to be a tension between the group and the individual.

05 June 2009

Keeping up Appearances

One time the Buddha was staying near the town of Āpaṇa in the country of the Angas. Anga was to the west of Magadha in what we would now most likely call Western Bengal. After taking alms in Āpaṇa, the Buddha retired to a forest grove for the day where he met an interesting character named Potaliya after whom the sutta is named* The text says that he was sampanna-nivāsana-pāvuraṇo chatta-upāhanāhi - possessed of clothing and cloak, a parasol** and sandals. That is to say he was well dressed by the standards of the day, and massively over dressed by the standards of the samaṇas. Despite his appearance Potaliya considered himself to have gone forth from the home life, and so he was miffed when the Buddha addressed him as "gahapati". This word is usually translated as 'householder' - we'll come back to this. After Potaliya complains about being called gahapati, he and the Buddha have a discussion about what going forth is really like, and the Buddha offers an intriguing definition of it. Potaliya says that he has sabbe kammantā paṭikkhittā sabbe vohārā samucchinna - stopped all work and given up all of his business interests.

So let us begin by looking more closely at this word gahapati (Sanskrit gṛhapati). I have mentioned it before in my collection of philological odds and ends. There I noted that Jan Nattier says that the term seems to have meant something rather more than householder. Gaha does mean house, but pati means "lord, master" - so it is more literally house-master. The thing is that, as in much of Western history, very few people in the Buddha's day would have owned property. Witness the fact that the word for house in Latin, domus, also gives us the words domain, dominion, and dominant. The owner of a house (dominus) was someone of considerable means, not to say power. Similarly the word pati (lord) has a Latin cognate potis meaning 'powerful, able, capable' from which we get our English word potent. So a gahapati (Latin domus-potens?) is more literally someone who has the power of, or over, a dominion. In terms of social standing the gahapati is often mentioned alongside brahmins and kṣatriyas - ie alongside, but not included in the two higher varṇas or classes. It seems as though gahapati was a kind of title for someone not from the higher varṇas, but who was none-the-less a significant person in terms of wealth and influence, most likely a successful merchant. We can note here that the Buddha thought of Potaliya as a gahapati because of his clothing and appearance - he dressed like a rich man. In these days where home ownership is the norm in the West it is a bit hard to grasp the meaning of gahapati when translated as householder. I was thinking that 'squire' (a non-aristocratic landowner) would have done nicely in T.W. Rhys Davids' day, but is a bit archaic now - I quite like the idea of the Buddha greeting Potaliya as squire. I suggest that 'landlord' might come closer than householder to capturing the meaning.

So this is the first point of the sutta - you can't walk around dressed like a rich person and claim to have gone forth (take note monks in silk robes!). Potaliya says that he's given up his work and left his money to his children. He takes a back seat in business affairs and relies on his children for food and clothing. We might say 'early retirement on a fat pension'. In contemporary times we find many of our Buddhist brethren concerned with fashion and appearance (especially the craze for having tattoos!). Many of us own property, have careers and families. The point is not so much that the lifestyle is wrong, but that we should not kid ourselves about having gone forth when we have not! If we still have a cell-phone and a computer, and CDs and DVDs; if we own a house or any other substantial property, then we are quite simply householders - we are not monks. In the FWBO we used to talk about semi-monastic lifestyles - somewhere in between. My observation is that most people are more semi than monastic - we like our little luxuries.

That said the teaching which comes next is not concerned with appearances at all. The Buddha does not ask Potaliya to give up his clothes and parasol, doesn't even talk in material terms and he latches onto this phrase "vohārā samucchinna" - giving up business. Note here that Potaliya was using vohāra in the sense of his work, but the Buddha has retained the word but is using it in a more general sense - a rhetorical technique he uses quite often. Potaliya's phrase vohārā smucchinna, then, is used as a synonym of the more familiar word pabbajana - going forth.

The Buddha begins by outlining a system of ethics, and then says that the culmination of his path is, in effect, the going forth from addiction to sensual pleasure. His disciples undertake eight practises in order to give "give up business". These are abandoning killing living beings (pāṇātipāto), taking the not given (adinnādāna), false speech (musāvāda), slander (pisuṇā vācā), greedy desires (giddhilobha), angry blame (nindārosa), consuming-rage (kodhūpāyāso), arrogance (atimāna). The noble disciple goes forth by abandoning the negative quality, and by developing the positive opposite. This set of eight precepts is similar in content and spirit to the ten kusala-kammā, the ten skilful actions which members of the Western Buddhist Order (and incidentally Shingon followers) undertake. There is nothing here about haircuts, or clothing, or meal times and the suggestion is that going forth is synonymous with practising ethics - that is going forth from unwholesome behaviour, speech and mental states.

Why begin with ethics? The text answers this on several levels. Firstly someone killing living beings etc, would blame themselves - ie experience guilt; they would be censured by the wise; and they would be destined for an unhappy rebirth after death. Furthermore killing a living being etc is itself a fetter (saṃyojana) and a hindrance (nīvaraṇa). Lastly killing living beings etc creates taints (āsāva) trouble (vighāta) and distress (pariḷāha), while abstaining does not create them. I see this list as appealing to the reader in different ways. We may not, for instance, be so motivated by rebirth, but we might care about the opinions of our kalyana mitras. Or we might be thinking in terms of trying to not create extra hurdles for ourself in life. However we relate to ethics we need to reflect on how our behaviour impacts on other beings, and how that affects us in return. This is conditionality in the gross sense.

But the Buddha cautions Potaliya by saying that going forth is not complete with ethics. Cutting off of all business affairs - really retiring from the world - is not simply a matter of ethics. Now the discussion becomes more reflective, the Buddha invites Potaliya to consider a number of metaphors for his relationship to pleasurable sensation (kāmā).

I have been making this point over and over for some time now. In order to really be free we must begin to understand the effect of sensations on our minds - especially pleasant sensations. The Buddha, for instance, compares sensual pleasure to a bone cleaned of all meat, but smeared in blood and thrown to a dog. Clearly the bone would be very attractive - would smell and taste nice, but it would not provide any sustenance. A number of similar metaphors follow reflecting the unsatisfactory nature of experiences. They are intended as subjects for reflection, intended as meditation subjects in other words. First ethics to prepare the way, and then meditation from which wisdom can arise. Wisdom is seeing that the conditioned nature of experience (yathābhūta) and results in the cutting off from 'business' entirely and in all ways (sabbena sabbaṃ sabbathā sabbaṃ vohārasamuchhedo).

Potaliya understands the Buddha's message, he sees that although he has retired from his worldly affairs, he has not renounced his addiction to sensual pleasures. Up to this point he has been quite confused in fact. He is now inspired by the example of the samaṇas and respects them, and he becomes a Buddhist by stating that he goes for refuge to the three jewels.

So the emphasis here is not on a monastic lifestyle even though the starting point is the incongruency of a wealthy man believing he has retired from the world when he still has fine clothes. The Buddha never criticises Potaliya directly about what he is wearing. He just offers him a more complete vision of vohārasamuchhedo or giving up business. It's not that Potaliya or other rich merchants like Anāthapiṇḍika could not practise the Dharma. They could, and Anāthapiṇḍika for one attains stream entry. The problem is fooling ourselves about what constitutes the path and where we are on it.

I think this is a sutta which speaks to the contemporary Western Buddhist - we are often very well off materially compared to, for example, our Indian Buddhist brethren. An amusing manifestation of this is when people justify little luxuries by invoking the middle way - meaning that though it is in fact an indulgent luxury, that in view of the massive luxury we live surrounded by it is not so much. This is not the middle way as I understand it, this is the kind of rationalisation that Potaliya was involved in. Be that as it may our first task as Buddhists is not to become homeless and give away our possessions - the real meaning of going forth is a rigorous engagement with ethics, going forth from unwholesome acts of body, speech and mind; followed by serious, prolonged and determined reflection on the nature of experience and our responses to experience. If we are honestly doing this, then we will naturally be more inclined to renunciation, and not concerned with appearances.

* Potaliya Sutta MN 54, PTS M i.359. My own translations. Translated by Ñāṇamoli and Bodhi in the Middle Length Discources p.466f, and in part by Thanissaro on Access to Insight. Pāli text from www.tipitaka.org.
** PED suggests that parasol for chatta would be misleading since the pole of a chatta was fixed to the circumphrance rather than centre of the circle. However the two have the same purpose.
My thanks to Joe Shier for drawing my attention to the Potaliya Sutta.
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