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What exactly is the "bodily knot of adherence to dogmatic assertion of truth" or "insistence that this is the only truth" in the sutta below?

Why is it a bodily knot or tie?

Please provide examples.

The Pali term is "idaṁsaccābhiniveso kāyagantha".

SN 45.174 translated by Ven. Bodhi:

“Bhikkhus, there are these four knots. What four? The bodily knot of covetousness, the bodily knot of ill will, the bodily knot of distorted grasp of rules and vows, the bodily knot of adherence to dogmatic assertion of truth. These are the four knots.

This Noble Eightfold Path is to be developed for direct knowledge of these four knots, for the full understanding of them, for their utter destruction, for their abandoning.”

SN 45.174 translated by Ven. Sujato:

“Mendicants, there are these four ties. What four? The personal ties to covetousness, ill will, misapprehension of precepts and observances, and the insistence that this is the only truth. These are the four ties.

The noble eightfold path should be developed for the direct knowledge, complete understanding, finishing, and giving up of these four ties.”

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A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma (of which Bhikkhu Bodhi is general editor) says,

The bodily knots are so called because they tie the mind to the body or the present body to bodies in futures existences. Here the term "body" (kaya) applies to both the mental and physical body in the sense of an aggregation. Of the four knots, covetousness means craving or greed, which pulls beings towards desirable objects. Ill will is identical with the cetasika hatred, which is manifested as aversion towards undesirable objects. "Adherence to rites and ceremonies" is the belief that the performance of rituals constitutes the means to liberation. Dogmatic belief is the firm conviction that one's own view is the only truth and that all other views are false. There last two bodily knots are both aspects of the cetasika wrong view.

You might recognise the phrase, "only this is true, all other views are false", from other suttas.

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The Buddha taught 4 yokes;

The yoke of sensuality, the yoke of becoming, the yoke of views, & the yoke of ignorance. - AN 4.10

4 clingings;

sense-pleasure clinging (kamupadana)
views clinging (ditthupadana)
rites-and-rituals clinging (silabbatupadana)
self-doctrine clinging (attavadupadana)

The expression

Bhikkhus, there are these four knots. What four? The bodily knot of covetousness, the bodily knot of ill will, the bodily knot of distorted grasp of rules and vows, the bodily knot of adherence to dogmatic assertion of truth. These are the four knots.

As i understand it, one can interpret the knots as untied by unyoking, unyoked one enjoys non-clinging. 1st & 2nd knots are fully untied at the unyoking from sensuality as anagamin, 3rd & 4th would be untied by a stream enterer as the 3rd is silabattaparamasa fetter and the phrase in question i assume is an untieing due to unyoking from the yoke of views, & the yoke of ignorance, a non clinging to the doctrine of self & pernicious wrong views, these too are abandoned by a sotapanna.

As to why it's a bodily knot, i guess because it binds to getting a body due to being yoked becoming/existence but some say Kaya is a tricky word and if one makes those assertions then one can pull different interpretations.

Also one can interpret the knots closer to the tangle sutta.

There is this verse (SN 7.6):

A tangle within, a tangle without, people are entangled in a tangle. Gotama, I ask you this: who can untangle this tangle?

[The Buddha:] A man established in virtue, discerning, developing discernment & mind, a monk ardent, astute: he can untangle this tangle.

Those whose passion, aversion, & ignorance have faded away, arahants, their effluents ended: for them the tangle's untangled.

Where name-&-form, along with perception of impingement & form, totally stop without trace: that's where the tangle is cut.

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From a Zen standpoint, I quite like the Bodhi translation (though I feel that that Sujato version might be a more accurate translation). What strikes me about it is how viscerally "right" it feels. Anyone who's ever spent more than 15 minutes on the cushion knows what a knot is. We're made of knots. They are the woven karma of our experience. When we first sit down on the cushion, our mind is knotted but so is our body. Our body-mind is tangle of tensions. We can't sit more than twenty minutes without feeling the need to shift, to loosen, and relax our efforts. The more we persist, the tighter those knots seem to become. We may even find a place in our practice where they threaten to strangle us on our cushions.

Knots are frustrating. The more we claw at them, the tighter and more impossible they seem. But if you keep coming back to that place of tension, eventually, the body-mind begins to loosen. Sometimes that loosening is gradual. We only notice it in retrospect...like pounds lost over a series of weeks. Other times, it happens in a flash of insight. On those occasions, it's like being stuck in a game of solitaire only to have that "one special card" appear in your draw. Suddenly the game moves at an accelerated clip and scores of cards suddenly fall into place. We sigh in relief and feel that opening down to our very bones.

If you've ever struggled with your meditation, if you've ever wondered how people can sit for hours with seemingly little effort, it's because they've undergone this process over and over again. Having cut off all grosser bodily knots, they sit with easy. The tensions that now they face are subtle, deep, and can only be addressed in the deep samadhi that is available to them now that the baser knots have been untied.

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  • You discussed knots. But what about the knot of adherence to dogmatic assertion of truth? – ruben2020 Apr 20 at 17:43
  • It's just another knot. Same as any other. For what purpose was it tied? What is it tied to in our psyche? How is it keeping us bound? That knot serves different functions for different people. Some may experience out of an abundance of piety, others from fear, still others to their precious but incomplete insight. It's a common theme, but its manifestation is unique to our psychology. Only by identifying the nuances of our knot will it unravel. Sit with it and see. – user20010 Apr 20 at 18:02

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