Bodhyangas in EA

Bhikkhu Sujato

Below I offer two translations of the standard passage on the seven awakening-factors. These passages occur in the suttas translated in the BSR. In both cases, however, the translators seem not to have recognized this very common passage – an indication of the problems with the text. In the second version, indeed, the omission of ‘energy’ leaves only six awakening-factors. Sadly, though, this would not seem to justify the claim that the Buddha taught we can get enlightened without even trying! It is just one of the many glaring errors in the EA text.

I include these new translations in order to point out some of the difficulties of the text of EA. The Chinese translator has frequently used non-standard renderings, is inconsistent, omits important phrases, and sometimes doesn’t understand his text. Once we take the many vagaries into account there is no doubt the two passages were translated from similar or identical Indic originals. And there is no reason to think that this Indic original was different from the Pali in any significant respect.

I have compared this passage with a Sanskrit version from the Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, and cannot find any significant variations between the Sanskrit and Pali that might account for the problems.

The first passage is taken from the EA version of the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta. This passage on the awakening-factors is not the same as that found in all other versions of the satipatthana material, and further confirms the eccentric nature of our source. The second comes from a sutta on the three ‘bases of meritorious action’ (puññakiriyavatthu). This grouping of generosity, ethics, development has become so common in Buddhism that it is surprising to note that it occurs very rarely in the Nikāyas, and is never explained in detail. The main reference is AN 8.36, where it is listed under the number ‘eight’ for the eight results of the practice, rather than the expected ‘three’. EA’s explanation is, therefore, welcome, and makes explicit the identification of ‘development’ with the awakening-factors, which we would expect from so many other passages in the Pali.

EA 12.1

《增壹阿含經》卷5:「云何比丘法法相觀意止。於是。比丘修念覺意。依觀.依無欲.依滅盡。捨諸惡法。修法覺意.修精進覺意.修念覺意.修猗覺意.修三昧覺意.修護覺意.依觀.依無欲.依滅盡。捨諸惡法。如是。比丘法法相觀意止」(CBETA, T02, no. 125, p. 569, a18-23)

‘And how does a monk practice the satipatthana of contemplating a dhamma in dhammas? Here, a monk develops the awakening-factor[1] of mindfulness, dependant on seeing, dependant on dispassion, dependant on cessation, reliquishing,[2] and refraining from bad dhammas. He develops the awakening-factor of dhamma[3]… He develops the awakening-factor of energy… He develops the awakening-factor of mindfulness [sic!][4]… He develops the awakening-factor of tranquillity[5]… He develops the awakening-factor of samadhi[6]… He develops the awakening-factor of equanimity[7], dependant on seeing, dependant on dispassion, dependant on cessation, relinquishing and refraining from bad dhammas. That is how a monk practices the satipatthana of contemplating a dhamma in dhammas.’
EA 21.2

《增壹阿含經》卷12:「彼[20]法云何名思惟為福業。於是。比丘。修行念覺意。依無欲。依無觀。依滅盡。依出要。修[21]法覺意。修念覺意。修猗覺意。修定覺意。修護覺意。[22]依無欲。依無觀。依滅盡。依出[23]要。是謂名思惟為福[24]業。」(CBETA, T02, no. 125, p. 602, c2-7)

[20]〔法〕-【明】。[21](擇)+法【聖】。[22]〔依無欲〕-【聖】。[23]要+(道)【聖】。[24](之)+業【宋】【元】【明】。
‘And what is that dhamma that is called the meritorious action consisting of development[8]? Here, a monk develops the awakening-factor of mindfulness, dependant on dispassion, dependant on no-seeing [sic!][9], dependant on cessation, dependant on relinquishment[10]. He develops the awakening-factor of dhamma… [text omits vīrya]… He develops the awakening-factor of mindfulness [sic!]… He develops the awakening factor of tranquillity… He develops the awakening-factor of samadhi[11]… He develops the awakening-factor of equanimity, dependant on dispassion, dependant on no-seeing [sic!], dependant on cessation, dependant on relinquishment. That is what is called the practice of the meritorious action consisting of development.’

[1] Text has 意, which usually stands for manas or citta, although clearly the phrase is equivalent to the usual aṅga.

[2] Text has捨, clearly standing for vossagga/vyavasarga, and the following phrase would probably to stand for the usual pariṇāma/pariṇata, though it is hard to see how the Chinese translator got 諸惡法 out of this; possibly attempting a paraphrase of ‘giving up evil dhammas’.

[3] Both versions just translate dhamma here rather than the expected dhammavicaya, but there is a variant reading of 擇法, ‘investigating dhamma’. (My thanks to Rod Bucknell for this and other tips in these passages).

[4] Text has 念, the usual rendering of smṛti, as just above, but here clearly standing for prīti. The following version has the same rendering.

[5], which Pasadika, in his translation of the following passage, reads as yi, ‘an exclamation indicating admiration’, and wonders whether this could be related to the mysterious ‘exclamation’ in the five theses attributed to the Mahāsaṅghika. This would provide some much-needed confirmation of the connection between EA and the Mahāsaṅghika. Alas, 猗 can also be read as e, ‘gentle, soft, and pliant’, and in the context of the awakening-factors this must stand for passaddhi. Both versions use the same term.

[6] Text has a transcription of the Sanskrit.

[7] Both versions have , which usually means gupta, ‘guarded’, but can also stand for upekṣā.

[8] Text has 思惟, which often stands for manasikāra, as Pasadika has it, but can also stand for bhāvanā

[9] Text has 觀, ‘no seeing’, which is obviously absurd, and is repeated mechanically just below. The previous version had as the first phrase ‘dependant on seeing’. This stands in the same place as the Pali vivekanissita ‘dependant on seclusion’. No doubt our Chinese translator had something similar before him. In any case, this second version appears to transpose this phrase from the first to second place, after ‘dependant on dispassion’, and unfortunately mechanically reproduces the negative particle 無.

[10] Text has 依出要, where 依 repeats the ‘dependant’ of the previous phrases, probably by mistake, as this is neither in the Pali nor the earlier EA version. 出 stands for vyavasarga: although Fu Yuan dictionary does not mention this exact rendering, there are many similar meanings. The earlier version had 捨 in the same place. The text then adds要, the sense of which is unclear. Pasadika takes it as ‘necessary’, but it would seem to stand for pariṇāma. The usual meaning is ‘invitation’, which just might have had the requisite nuance of ‘ripening’; alternatively, another meaning of the Chinese is to investigate or examine, and this might have been the mistaken understanding of the Chinese translator. The earlier version had諸惡法. It seems likely the Chinese translator simply didn’t understand his text.

[11] Here the text translates samadhi as 定, whereas in the previous passage we had a transliteration of the Indic.