[Buddha-l] Loving your object of study

curt curt at cola.iges.org
Mon Dec 3 10:49:53 MST 2007

Dan Lusthaus wrote:
> Pa.tisallana is usually understood as retiring for the purpose of
> meditation. In the old days, when learning was oral, it was a public
> activity -- one didn't seclude away to privately pour over a book. Today, to
> read is to go into this kind of seclusion.
> The fifth monk DOESN'T neglect pa.tisallana and has the inner mental peace.
> Here it implies pulling away from the "working at it," to get it. How do we
> know that this is the case, and not just some scholarly over-interpretation?
> Doesn't this imply that secluded meditation is a necessary, indispensible
> condition?
> We know this is not an over-interpretation and meditation per se is not the
> necessary ingredient, since this entire sutta is immediately followed in the
> Anguttara by another sutta with the same name, that is virtually
> word-for-word identical with the one in the online translation -- except for
> one thing. Instead of the negative refrain above, we find:
> Uttari~ncassa pa~n~naya attha.m nappajanati
> I.e., pa~n~naa (prajna), knowledge, insight, is what is lacking. And the
> fifth monk this time is the one who exercises inner knowledge. The positive
> refrain describing this monk is: Uttarincassa pannaya attha.m pajanati.
> He learns (memorizes), teaches, etc., until he embodies prajna, until he
> thinks for himself. Does this mean that this is a parallel way to retiring
> to meditate? An ancillary practice? Discuss amongst yourselves.

This seems to indicate that "what is missing" from the first four monks 
is something that can be looked at in two different ways - and/or that 
it is commonly thought of as two separate things. In the first case the 
"fifth monk" does not neglect pa.tisallana 
(seclusion/withdrawal/meditation) and he does attend to samatha.

But in the second case that Dan has now drawn our attention to, the 
"fifth monk" attends to prajna, as opposed to samatha.

How should these two cases be understood together? To me it sounds like 
confirmation of the old adage that meditation requires both samatha and 
prajna - calmness/clarity of mind *and* the activity of insight. Or, as 
Chih-i liked to say "stopping and seeing".

Curt Steinmetz

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