AN 10.93 - Ditthi Sutta

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery. Then Anathapindika the householder left Savatthi in the middle of the day to see the Blessed One, but the thought then occurred to him, “Now is not the right time to see the Blessed One, for he is in seclusion. And it is not the right time to see the monks who are developing their minds [in meditation], for they are in seclusion. What if I were to visit the park of the wanderers of other persuasions?” So he headed to the park of the wanderers of other persuasions.
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Now on that occasion the wanderers of other persuasions had come together in a gathering and were sitting, discussing many kinds of bestial topics,[1] making a great noise and racket. They saw Anathapindika the householder coming from afar, and on seeing him, hushed one another: “Be quiet, good sirs. Don’t make any noise. Here comes Anathapindika the householder, a disciple of Gotama the contemplative. He is one of those disciples of Gotama the contemplative, clad in white, who lives in Savatthi. These people are fond of quietude and speak in praise of quietude. Maybe, if he perceives our group as quiet, he will consider it worth his while to come our way.” So the wanderers fell silent.
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Then Anathapindika the householder went to where the wanderers of other persuasions were staying. On arrival he greeted them courteously. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, the wanderers said to him, “Tell us, householder, what views Gotama the contemplative has.”
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“Venerable sirs, I don’t know entirely what views the Blessed One has.”
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“Well, well. So you don’t know entirely what views Gotama the contemplative has. Then tell us what views the monks have.”
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“I don’t even know entirely what views the monks have.”
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“So you don’t know entirely what views Gotama the contemplative has or even that the monks have. Then tell us what views you have.”
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“It wouldn’t be difficult for me to expound to you what views I have. But please let the venerable ones expound each in line with his position, and then it won’t be difficult for me to expound to you what views I have.”
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When this had been said, one of the wanderers said to Anathapindika the householder, “The cosmos is eternal. Only this is true; anything otherwise is worthless. This is the sort of view I have.”
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Another wanderer said to Anathapindika, “The cosmos is not eternal. Only this is true; anything otherwise is worthless. This is the sort of view I have.”
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Another wanderer said, "The cosmos is finite… The cosmos is infinite… The soul & the body are the same… The soul is one thing and the body another… After death a Tathagata exists… After death a Tathagata does not exist… After death a Tathagata both does & does not exist… After death a Tathagata neither does nor does not exist. Only this is true; anything otherwise is worthless. This is the sort of view I have."
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When this had been said, Anathapindika the householder said to the wanderers, “As for the venerable one who says, ‘The cosmos is eternal. Only this is true; anything otherwise is worthless. This is the sort of view I have,’ his view arises from his own inappropriate attention or in dependence on the words of another. Now this view has been brought into being, is fabricated, willed, dependently originated. Whatever has been brought into being, is fabricated, willed, dependently originated, that is inconstant. Whatever is inconstant is stress. This venerable one thus adheres to that very stress, submits himself to that very stress.” (Similarly for the other positions.)
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When this had been said, the wanderers said to Anathapindika the householder, “We have each & every one expounded to you in line with our own positions. Now tell us what views you have.”
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“Whatever has been brought into being, is fabricated, willed, dependently originated, that is inconstant. Whatever is inconstant is stress. Whatever is stress is not me, is not what I am, is not my self. This is the sort of view I have.”
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“So, householder, whatever has been brought into being, is fabricated, willed, dependently originated, that is inconstant. Whatever is inconstant is stress. You thus adhere to that very stress, submit yourself to that very stress.”
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“Venerable sirs, whatever has been brought into being, is fabricated, willed, dependently originated, that is inconstant. Whatever is inconstant is stress. Whatever is stress is not me, is not what I am, is not my self. Having seen this well with right discernment as it actually is present, I also discern the higher escape from it as it actually is present.”
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When this had been said, the wanderers fell silent, abashed, sitting with their shoulders drooping, their heads down, brooding, at a loss for words. Anathapindika the householder, perceiving that the wanderers were silent, abashed… at a loss for words, got up & went to where the Blessed One was staying. On arrival, having bowed down to the Blessed One, he sat to one side. As he was seated there, he told the Blessed One the entirety of his conversation with the wanderers.
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[The Blessed One said:] “Well done, householder. Well done. That is how you should periodically refute those foolish men with the Dhamma.” Then he instructed, urged, roused, and encouraged Anathapindika the householder with a talk on Dhamma. When Anathapindika the householder had been instructed, urged, roused and encouraged by the Blessed One with a talk on Dhamma, he got up from his seat and, having bowed down to the Blessed One, left, keeping the Blessed One on his right side. Not long afterward, the Blessed One addressed the monks: “Monks, even a monk who has long penetrated the Dhamma in this Doctrine and Discipline would do well to refute the wanderers of other persuasions with the Dhamma periodically in just the way Anathapindika the householder has done.”

I read this outstanding and exceptionally relevant sutta today and have nothing but “Sadhu!” to say about it.

Given recent events here on the CT forum and well, the entire thread of American society at this time, this sutta has given me so much to look for in myself. From this day I go forth seeking to abandon my views, forsake attachment to my views, and to be unfettered by my views.

To summarize the sutta:
Anathapindika is the Buddha’s foremost lay disciple in generosity. He wants to go to the Buddha and the Sangha, but instead decides to go to the park where wanderers from many sects gather to discuss their views instead, after recalling it’s meditation time at the monastery. Upon arrival, he has the humility to not immediately begin talking about his views, but instead listens to the views of others. Once this is done, he doesn’t dispute their views, but instead looks to their origin. He then says that all views are conditioned and therefore subject to anicca, anything subject to anicca is ultimately unsatisfactory (dukkha), and anything dukkha is not self. The wanderers of other sects try to corner him and say that his view about views is subject to the same conditions, but he responds that while he has taken this view, he is not attached to it because he sees the escape from attachment itself (note: this is really prescient - he’s saying that this view is simply skillful means as it leads to non-attachment and you don’t need to be attached to the view itself to abandon attachment). He then goes to the Buddha who praises him.

How true this is. My views are so different than they were even six months ago, let alone a year, two years, five…ten…twenty years. How fickle views are before and after an election. What is there to hold on to besides what will eventually slip through our fingers?

Isn’t this sutta of such supreme relevance in today’s world? Social media has given everyone’s views an easy platform, and exposed just how radically attached human beings are to their views…even enough to call their own views “the truth!”

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Discussing the Suttas meaning, and what floats your boat based on quotes, is surely the remedy for many of the philosophical discussions which can be misinterpreted and then lead to disagreement.

Sādhu for posting

Here is the commentary to that sutta. It is odd that people (usually westerners) blindly reject them. Mostly it is just a dictionary of terms.
The bold words are what appears in the mula, and then the definition follows. For instance it explains what slumped shoulders means. The later commentaries are shorter because writing on technical terms happened earlier in the texts or nikaya, or in different nikaya. One should not accuse the commentary of being silent on issues. Everything was written by hand, so they kept the repetitions to a minimum.

3. Kiṃdiṭṭhikasuttavaṇṇanā
93. Tatiye saṇṭhāpesunti iriyāpathampi vacanapathampi saṇṭhāpesuṃ. Appasaddavinītāti appasaddena mattabhāṇinā satthārā vinītā. Paratoghosapaccayā vāti parassa vā vacanakāraṇā. Cetayitāti pakappitā. Maṅkubhūtāti domanassappattā nittejā. Pattakkhandhāti patitakkhandhā. Sahadhammenāti sahetukena kāraṇena vacanena.
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