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SN 12.35 says:

“Not a valid question,” the Blessed One replied. “Bhikkhu, whether one says, ‘What now is aging-and-death, and for whom is there this aging-and-death?’ or whether one says, ‘Aging-and-death is one thing, the one for whom there is this aging-and-death is another’—both these assertions are identical in meaning; they differ only in the phrasing.

Why are the following two statements identical in meaning:

  1. What now is aging-and-death, and for whom is there this aging-and-death?’

  2. ‘Aging-and-death is one thing, the one for whom there is this aging-and-death is another’

1
  • Because they are different from each other.
    – user23573
    Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 16:44

3 Answers 3

2

Two statements, 1 & 2.

Question 1: "What now is aging-and-death, and for whom is there this aging-and-death?"

Answer 2: "Aging-and-death is one thing, the one for whom there is this aging-and-death is another."

Question 1 presumes the state of affairs as given in Answer 2. Thus, since the statement in Answer 2 is malformed, Question 1 is malformed. How do we know that the state of affairs from Answer 2 is malformed?

"Timbarukkha, I don’t say that—with the feeling being the same as the one who feels, existing from the beginning—pleasure & pain are self-made.1 And I don’t say that—with feeling being one thing and the one who feels another, existing as the one struck by the feeling—pleasure & pain are other-made. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathāgata teaches the Dhamma via the middle..."

(SN 12.18)

The "one who feels," like the "one for whom there is aging-and-death," is contrary to dependent origination. "One who feels," in this instance is a pudgala theory, or a sattva theory: ultimately, a theory of subtle self-view.

2
  • very good. this answer sounds the same as this answer buddhism.stackexchange.com/a/46805/8157 Commented Mar 12, 2022 at 2:00
  • It is a re-worked version of an earlier answer that you said wasn't an answer. I added a sutta quote. I suppose it's an answer now.
    – Caoimhghin
    Commented Mar 12, 2022 at 22:04
1

The explanation has to be read as a whole to understand the context. It's about the body-and-soul duality.

Aging-and-death is a phenomena that visibly occurs to a body.

The two phrases are really the same because they imply that there is a body to which aging-and-death visibly occurs to, and that it is experienced by a soul.

If there is a separate body and soul, then this leads to eternalism and annihilationism, as explained in this answer.

This is an invalid question to ask, because it leads to eternalism and annihilationism, which renders it impossible to pursue the path to liberation ("living the holy life") because these are wrong views.

Instead, the Buddha taught the middle, which is dependent origination. This is the right view, conducive to pursuing the path to liberation.

When he had said this, a certain bhikkhu said to the Blessed One: “Venerable sir, what now is aging-and-death, and for whom is there this aging-and-death?”

“Not a valid question,” the Blessed One replied. “Bhikkhu, whether one says, ‘What now is aging-and-death, and for whom is there this aging-and-death?’ or whether one says, ‘Aging-and-death is one thing, the one for whom there is this aging-and-death is another’— both these assertions are identical in meaning; they differ only in the phrasing. If there is the view, ‘The soul and the body are the same,’ there is no living of the holy life; and if there is the view, ‘The soul is one thing, the body is another,’ there is no living of the holy life. Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma by the middle: ‘With birth as condition, aging-and-death. ’”
SN 12.35

1
  • this answer sounds wrong. for example, MN 140 says: the sage at peace is not born, does not age, does not die; he is not shaken and does not yearn. For there is nothing present in him by which he might be born. Not being born, how could he age? Not ageing, how could he die? Not dying, how could he be shaken? Not being shaken, why should he yearn? Commented Mar 12, 2022 at 1:58
0

Dependent origination defines "death" as the death of "beings in a category of beings". SN 23.2 and SN 5.10 define "a being" as strong attachment & a view. Thus as SN 5.10 says: "there is no being to be found" because "a being" is merely a thought or convention dependently arisen from ignorance.

Therefore, it appears both statements are wrong views or invalid, which is why they are the same.

SN 12.12 is similar. Questions including "for whom" are always invalid; thus always the same.

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