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Book of Eights: Chapter 13

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran

This chapter is called “the greater discourse on the dead end”, and it’s theme is the futility of intense debates and disputes on religious and philosophical doctrine.

The Buddha unequivocally asserts that sages do not get involved in doctrines - not even to oppose them. Instead he goes into attachment to views, and it’s consequences. He says sages give up blameable and blameless, pure and impure, even peace.

The poem ends with,

Having given up old contaminants without forming new ones,
They neither pursue desires nor get entrenched in doctrines.
Free from viewpoints, not clinging to the world,
Wise ones have no self-reproach.

They are not an enemy to any doctrine
Seen, heard, or thought out.
Not forming opinions, not shut down, and not desirous,
They are sages, wise ones who have laid their burdens down.

But in Gil’s commentary there is an interesting paragraph, which asks the questions: ”In letting go of blameable and blameless actions, as well as the desire for purity and impurity, and not clinging to peace, how does a sage live? Does a sage avoid being virtuous or doing things that are blameless? Is this an ideal of ethical indifference and inaction?” The poem doesn’t answer these quandaries.

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