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I’ve been reading about this term and have found it written in both ways. I don’t know if the difference is related to some kind of verb form.

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Yathābhūta is not correct in pali-sentence. We have to put the declension-mark at the end of yathābhūta, such as yathābhūtaṃ, before put it in the sentence.

Yathābhūta is adjective/adverb which is not complete, not ready to use, because the properties of word (vibhatti;case-endings;declension): preposition(sambandha), amount(vacana), and gender(liṅga), etc., must put at the end of every words, except ready-made-noun (nipāta), some standalone-prefix (upasagga-nipāta; I'm not sure for linguistic name), and compound-word (samāsa). So, it can not come alone, and you can not found only yathābhūta alone in pāli. It should to be yathābhūtaṃ (si-vibhatti), yathābhūtañāṇadassanaṃ (Deleted vibhatti because of compound-word; Vibhatti still be, but it disappear by pali-processing), yathābhūtena (nā-vibhatti), etc.

See: http://www.buddha-vacana.org/toolbox/noundec.html

For the explanation of the term "yathābhūta":

Yathā ... tathā = How it is ... as it is.

Bhūta = arising/becomming = upatti-bhava-paṭiccasamuppāda = upatti-becoming = jāti(rebirth) + jarā&maraṇa (old-age&death). bhū-root[as arise-term]+ta-suffix[as verb].

Arising of what? Arising of 5 aggregates in paṭiccasamuppāda-cycle. So:

  1. in Sutta. Saṃ. Saḷa. Dukkhadhammasutta, buddha use yathābhūta as arising and vanishing of 5 aggregates;
  2. In Sutta. Saṃ. Ni. Dukkhasutta, buddha describe arising and vanishing of 5 aggregates as paṭiccasamuppāda;
  3. In Khandhapabba of Sutta. Ma. Mū. Mahāsatipaṭṭhānasutta, buddha describe arising and vanishing of 5 aggregates as udayabbaya-ñāṇa-niddeso;
  4. Also, in Khandhapabba, buddha describe vipassanā in arising and vanishing of 5 aggregates as "samudayavayadhammānupassī vā" which commentary refer that dhamma-term as Dukkhadhammasutta;
  5. So, in Sutta. Khu. Paṭisambhidāmaggo udayabbayānupassanāñāṇa-niddesa & the path of purification maggāmaggañāṇadassanavisuddhiniddesa udayabbayañāṇakathā, Master Sāriputta and Master Buddhaghosa describe udayabbaya as paṭiccasamuppāda as well.

So, yathābhūta-ñāṇa is understanding of arising of 5 aggregates in paṭiccasamuppāda-cycle.

Another, I also describe yathābhūta in this answer: https://buddhism.stackexchange.com/a/26702/10100

Buddha have to cut the big sutta in DN/MN for the students who not smart enough to enlighten/understand/memorize at once. So, you can notice my reference are from DN&MN&SN&KN, and actually AN as well.

Pāli has a very strong structure. This is the reason why we can understand tipitaka's content by just fluent reciting&memorizing. But because of the complicate detail of Dhamma, so when we translate tipitaka to the other languages, such as english or especilly thai, we will lose many important words' properties. Then we can not understand/analysis/find the fact from some translation.

"Svākkhāto bhagavatā dhammo-the best dhamma was taught by buddha." is not just the psalms, but it is the fact by the linguistics and the truth.

  • 1
    To summarise: in Pali, an adjective is declined to match the noun it qualifies -- i.e. to match the noun's gender (masculine, feminine, or neuter), the noun's case (e.g. nominative, accusative, etc.), and whether the noun is singular or plural. Therefore you won't find the adjective yathābhūta written as such, because when it's used in a sentence its ending changes (to match its noun) according to the rules of declension. – ChrisW Jun 2 '18 at 2:04
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    @ChrisW You shouldn't summarize like that because yathābhūta can qualifies verb, too. And when it qualifies verb, it will not depend on verb's vibhatti or noun's vibhatti, it will use only karana-vibhatti to be adverb. The summary should be something like this: yathābhūta is not correct in sentence. We have to put the declension-mark at the end of yathābhūta, such as yathābhūtaṃ, before put it in the sentence. – Bonn Jun 2 '18 at 2:33
  • Thanks Bonn and @Chris. You've been really helpful. As far as I understand yathābhūtaṃ will add a relation to what in English would be the pronoun it, am I right? I have two more questions: Can yathābhūta be used as a term or should it be always used in a sentece? If it can be used as a term, how would you translate it? – Oscar Jun 3 '18 at 6:45
  • @Oscar I edited my answer again to try to answer your question. – ChrisW Jun 4 '18 at 23:23
  • I edited my answer for you both. It looks too much pali and reference. But it's good for understanding whole tipitaka. – Bonn Jun 5 '18 at 1:10
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This dictionary says that yathābhūta is an adjective, whereas yathābhūtaṃ is an adverb

I haven't seen how yathābhūta is used in practice. Where is yathābhūta even used? I can only find yathābhūtaṃ.

But grammatically I presume that an "adjective" would qualify a noun (e.g. "he sees a true thing"), whereas an "adverb" qualifies a verb (e.g. "he truly sees a thing").


I know the blank space might change the context, but I've found the 4 variations, so I'm hopping you know something more about this

I don't know about the Pali scripts, but in some scripts there are no blank spaces in the script, forexamplethetextiswrittenlikethis and it's up to the reader to know where each word ends (I think it's like that when you have to understand any spoken language too).

Furthermore (or rather, more importantly), Pali (like German) has compound words.

English has some compound words too, like "butter knife" and "farsighted".

So for example SN 12.23 includes:

I say that truly knowing and seeing has a vital condition.
Yathābhūtañāṇadassanampāhaṃ, bhikkhave, saupanisaṃ vadāmi, no anupanisaṃ.

More literally:

"Truly-knowing-and-seeing, monks, I say, is not without a condition."

To translate a long, compound word like "Yathābhūtañāṇadassanampāhaṃ" you deconstruct it into its various component root words.


I have two more questions: Can yathābhūta be used as a term or should it be always used in a sentece? If it can be used as a term, how would you translate it?

Dictionary definitions of the roots of the word are:

  • Yathā (i.e. "according to" or "in accordance with")
  • Bhūta (i.e. "natural", "genuine", "true").

So "according to the truth" or "true" or "truly" is a common translation.

Bhūta also apparently means things like "creatures", "beings", "biological kingdoms", "elements" -- so I might translate it as "seeing things according to their nature", or "seeing the nature of thing" (or, possibly, "naturally seeing things" or "seeings things naturally").

It could be translated "seeing things in their proper categories" -- for example AN 4.179 ...

Reverend Ānanda, it’s because some sentient beings don’t really understand which perceptions make things worse, which keep things steady, which lead to distinction, and which lead to penetration.

... talks about "really understanding" whether a perception belongs to one of three or four categories.

It also means "everything", "nature", and "the result of becoming" -- so it might mean "seeing things as natural". Buddhism has a lot to say about "all created things" (e.g. it says sabbe sankhara anicca) ... so perhaps that too should be included in the view (see e.g. SN 22.55).

According to the context in which it's used (in sentences, in suttas), it's often associated with samadhi and enlightenment.

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    I agree with the above answer. I could only find the word yathābhūtaṃ in the suttas. Click on the link: legacy.suttacentral.net/search?query=yath%C4%81bhuta&lang= – Dhammadhatu Jun 1 '18 at 10:33
  • Thanks for the answer. I'm still confused in some way. Perhaps, I'm making a mistake. The term I'm looking for tells to look at reality "as it is". I just read one of Osho's books an he uses the term "yatha bhtuam" to make this point out, but in some other sources I've found it written as "yatha bhuta" like in this link [Reality in Buddhism] (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality_in_Buddhism) I know the blank space might change the context, but I've found the 4 variations, so I'm hopping you know something more about this. Thanks a lot! – Oscar Jun 1 '18 at 15:56
  • @Oscar I added to the answer ... does that answer your query? – ChrisW Jun 1 '18 at 19:57

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