|Siem Reap, Angkor, Bayon, Cambodia (Olivier Héron/flickr.com)|
NOTE: This is a sutra about clinging to views. Its central message is conveyed in two similes, the Parable of the Snake and the Parable of the Raft. They focus on the skillfulness needed to grasp right-view properly as a means of leading to liberating-insight (enlightenment) and the cessation of all suffering (nirvana), rather than something to cling to, then letting it go when right-view has done its job. The first section of the discourse focuses on the danger of misapprehending the Dharma in general, particularly its conventional teachings on sensuality and its ultimate teachings on views of "self."
Why does the Buddha call the offending monk, Arittha, a "foolish man"? It is to impress on him and the other monastics how dangerous the view he has clung to is. In this way, the Buddha is compassionate even as he sounds harsh. Were he to call him a fool and send him away, that would be harsh. But he has him listen as the other monks are asked questions about the correct understanding of the Teaching.
"Certainly not, venerable sir. For in many ways has the Blessed One told us of those obstructive things that they are indeed obstructions and that they necessarily obstruct one who pursues them..."
"Similarly, O monks, there are here some foolish men who study the Teaching; having studied it, they do not wisely examine the purpose of those teachings. To those who do not wisely examine the purpose, these teachings will not yield insight. They study the Teaching only to use it for criticizing or for refuting others in disputation. They do not experience the (true) purpose for which they (ought to) study the Teaching. To them these teachings wrongly grasped, will bring harm and suffering for a long time. And why? Because of their wrong grasp of the teachings.
"Similarly, O monks, there are here some noble sons who study the Teaching; and having learned it, they examine wisely the purpose of those teachings. To those who wisely examine the purpose, these teachings will yield insight. They do not study the Teaching for the sake of criticizing nor for refuting others in disputation. They experience the purpose for which they study the Teaching; and to them these teachings being rightly grasped, will bring welfare and happiness for a long time. Why? It is because of their right grasp of the teachings.
|Cambodia (Olivier Heron/flickr.com)|