Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kathavatthu - Of our Religion; Experience as inseparable from Personality; Certain Fetters; Supernormal Potency

Points of Controversy
Subjects of Discourse


1. Of our Religion.
Controverted Point.—That our religion is (has been and
may again be) reformed.1
From the Commentary.—Because after the three Councils at which
the differences in our Religion were settled, some—for instance, certain
of the Uttarapathakas—hold that it has been reformed, that there was
such a person as a Reformer of the Religion, and that it is possible
yet to reform it.
[1] Th.—What, then, has been reformed—the Applica-
tions in Mindfulness ? the Supreme Efforts ? the Steps to
Iddhi ? the Moral Controls ? the Moral Forces ? the Seven
Branches of Enlightenment? Or was that made good
which had been bad ? Or was that which was allied with
vicious things—Intoxicants, Fetters, Ties, Floods, Yokes,
Hindrances, Infections, Graspings, Corruptions—made free
herefrom ? You deny all this, but your proposition [as
stated] implies one or the other.
[2] Or do you mean that anyone has reformed the
religion founded by the Tathagata ? If so, in which of
the doctrines enumerated has he effected a reform ? Again
you deny. .. .
[3] Or if you hold that the religion may again be re-
formed, what in it is there that admits of reformation ?

Literally, 'made new.'

2. Of Experience as Inseparable from Personality.
Controverted Point.—That an ordinary person is not
exempt1 from experiencing the phenomena2 of all the three
spheres of life.
From the Commentary. —That is to say, at one and the same
moment, since his understanding -does not suffice to distinguish the
three kinds. Our doctrine only entitles us to say that the individual
is inseparable from such [mental] phenomena as arise at present in him.
[1] Th.—You imply that an ordinary person is insepar-
able from the contacts, the feelings, perceptions, volitions,
cognitions, faiths, efforts, mindfulnesses, concentrations,
understandings, belonging to all three spheres? You deny;
but what else can you mean?
[2] Again, you imply that when he makes a gift, say,
of raiment, etc , at that moment he is enjoying not only the
giver's consciousness, but also the Rupa-consciousness of
the Four Jhanas, the Arupa-consciousness of the four
[3] Opponent.—But is an ordinary person capable of
distinguishing whether his actions leading to a Rupa-world
or Arupa-world ? If not, then surely he cannot be separated
from actions leading to all three spheres.

3. Of Certain Fetters.
Controverted Point.—That Arahantship is won without
a certain 'Fetter -quantity being cast off .
From the Commentary.—Some—for instance, the Mahasanghikas—
hold this view with respect to the Fetters of ignorance and doubt, for
the reason that eyen an Arahant does not know the whole range of

1 Avivitto, rendered below 'inseparable.'
2 Dhammehi. The Br. translator of the text (unlike the Br.
translator of the Commentary) reads here kammehi (actions), as
in the final sentence of this discourse.

[1] Th.—Do you imply that Arahantship is won without
the extirpation of theory of soul, or doubt, or contagion of
mere rule and ritual, or lust, or hate, or dulness, or indis-
cretion?1 You deny that you do, but your proposition
cannot then be maintained.
[2] Or do you imply that the Arahant is prone to lust,
hate, dulness, conceit, pride, despair, corruption ? Is not
the opposite true of him ? How then can you say there
are certain Fetters he has not cast off?
[3] M.—[If I am wrong, tell me] : does an Arahant know
with the complete purview of a Buddha? You agree he
does not. Hence I am right.

4. Of Supernormal Potency (iddhi).
Controverted Point.—That either a Buddha or his dis-
ciples have the power of supernormally performing what
they intend.
From the Commentary.—'Iddhi' is only possible in certain direc-
tions. It is absolutely impossible by it to contravene such laws as
that of Impermanence, etc.2 But it is possible by iddhi to effect
the transformation of one character into another in the continuity of
anything,3 or to prolong it in its own character. This may be accom-
plished through merit or other causes, as when, to feed bhikkhus, water
was turned into butter, milk, etc., and as when illuminations were
prolonged at the depositing of sacred relies. This is our orthodox
doctrine. But some, like the Andhakas, hold that iddh i may always
be wrought by will, judging by the venerable Pilindavaccha willing
that the palace of the king be all of gold.4
[1] Th.—Do you imply that the one or the other could
effect such wishes as 'Let trees be ever green ! ever bios-

It is curious that the Theravadin does not confine himself to one
or other of the Fetter-categories. However, there was more than one
category, and the'list given may have formed another of them. Cf .
Bud. Psy. Eth., p. 303.
I.e., of Ill (as inseparable from life), and of No-soul, and other
natural laws, as in the text.
Santati . See Compendium, p. 252
Vinaya Texts, ii. 65.

soming ! ever in fruit! Let there be perpetual moonlight!1
Let there be constant safety! Let there be constant
abundance of alms ! Let there be always abundance of
grain' ? [2] Or such wishes as ' Let this factor of con-
sciousness that has arisen [contact, feeling], etc., not cease!'
[3] Or such wishes as ' Let this body, this mind, become
permanent!' [4] Or such wishes as ' Let beings subject to
birth, old age, disaster, death, not be born, grow old, be
unfortunate, die !' All this you deny. "Where then is your
proposition ?
[5] A.—But if I am wrong, how was it that when the
venerable Pilindavaccha resolved: 'Let the palace of Seniya
Bimbisara, King of Magadha, be only of gold!' it was
even so? . . .

Junhang. The Br. translator renders this by 'growth.'


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