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Book of Eights: Chapter 9

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran

Since nobody made a Chapter 9 thread I'll do so now, even though it's a little late.

Chapter 9 is the Discourse to Māgandiya, or Peace without Views. The poem is presented as a back-and-forth between the Buddha and a man named Māgandiya. It is about both the avoidance of sensual pursuits and not clinging to views. According to Gil, it is much quoted, and also gives us a little insight into the context of debate about spirituality at the time.

[the Buddha said]
"Seeing craving, aversion, and lust
I have no desire for sex.
What is this, full of urine and excrement,
[That] I wouldn't even want to touch with my foot?"

From Māgandiya's response we find out that the Buddha was talking about a beautiful woman.

I thought it's an interesting talking point because of the extremity of the Buddha's statement. He sees her as the truth of her body - blood, bone, urine, excrement - not as her surface beauty. But in making his point he is choosing to strongly state his preference, not to show compassion. It's a dramatic device.

Then Māgandiya asks him, what "worldview, virtue, practice, lifestyle, and state of becoming" does he declare? According to Gil these were the traditional areas of spiritual life.

("Māgandiya," said the Blessed One)
"Considering the doctrines [people] cling to,
It does not occur to me to say,
'I proclaim this.'
Seeing—but not grasping—these views,
I knew and saw inner peace."

The rest of the poem goes on to talk about not thinking in terms of inferior, superior or equal, not disputing, not quarrelling, and not grasping. I find it quite beautiful, a lot of it coming back to "nothing whatsoever should be clung to." These then are supposedly the path to inner peace.

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