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Believing that 'there is mother and father' is listed as right view affected by the taints.

“And what, bhikkhus, is right view that is affected by the taints, partaking of merit, ripening in the acquisitions? ‘There is what is given and what is offered and what is sacrificed; there is fruit and result of good and bad actions; there is this world and the other world; there is mother and father; there are beings who are reborn spontaneously; there are in the world good and virtuous recluses and brahmins who have realised for themselves by direct knowledge and declare this world and the other world.’ This is right view affected by taints, partaking of merit, ripening in the acquisitions.

MN 117

  1. To what extent does right view *not affected by the taints* deny that there is a mother and father?
  2. What logic or analysis does right view *not affected by the taints* employ to deny this?
  3. Are mother and father to be denied altogether?
  4. Is there no such thing as mother and father for one who is awakened?
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  • You may deny Mother and Father but Mother and Father wont deny you. So Relationships exist. Oct 19, 2023 at 15:40

4 Answers 4

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The full 'View' passage from that sutra list three kinds of view:

  • Wrong view, which denies mother and father (among other things)
  • Tainted right view, accepts mother and father (among other things)
  • Noble right view, which does not reject or accept (or even mention) mother and father

The point here is that 'mother' and 'father' are (ultimately) mental constructs that like all mental constructs are given to dukkha. It's wrong to reject and disrespect the roles; it's better to accept and be compliant to the roles; it's best to see the true nature of the situation, is which the roles are constructs. This is meant to show a developmental arc:

  • Wrong view is headstrong and proud, accepts no authority, rejects all wisdom, offers nothing to anyone. It is a self-centered view.
  • Tainted right view is submissive and humble, accepts and relies on authority and received wisdom, gives and sacrifices whatever is supposed to be given and sacrificed. It is an other-dependent, self-abnegating view.
  • Noble right view is in the middle between these. It neither accepts nor rejects authority and wisdom, and neither clings nor sacrifices. It investigates the nature of things, and doesn't embrace the appearances. It is the view that sets aside self and other-selves.
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  • It is correct that the sutta does not mention 'mother and father' for Right View of the Noble Ones, but there are other suttas which mention Right View that specify how a Noble One deals with such conventions: SN 5.10
    – user13375
    Oct 19, 2023 at 15:30
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As I understand it, the mind of the enlightened is a superset of all the points of view, not a subset (nor an empty set). This is why it is called omniscience or "the knowledge of all modes/aspects" (sarvajñatā, sarva-ākāra-jñatā).

The view in which there's mother and father is a valid mundane view, and as such it is one dimension of the multidimensional supramundane omniscience of the Buddha, along with other perspectives like "a being is a convention".

It's like looking from multiple angles at the same time. Or looking with two eyes and combining it together in 3D picture.

So it doesn't deny mother and father, it just doesn't stop at mother and father and looks deeper and broader.

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The noble right view of MN117 doesn't talk about parents.

There is no "my" mother and "my" father, without the self ("me"). Whose mother and father are they? They are mother and father relative to a self.

The noble right view doesn't deny parents. It leads to the end of clinging (upadana) to parents.

The Buddha taught to have gratitude towards parents and repay them by ensuring they learn and practise the Dhamma.

"I tell you, monks, there are two people who are not easy to repay. Which two? Your mother & father. Even if you were to carry your mother on one shoulder & your father on the other shoulder for 100 years, and were to look after them by anointing, massaging, bathing, & rubbing their limbs, and they were to defecate & urinate right there [on your shoulders], you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. If you were to establish your mother & father in absolute sovereignty over this great earth, abounding in the seven treasures, you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. Why is that? Mother & father do much for their children. They care for them, they nourish them, they introduce them to this world. But anyone who rouses his unbelieving mother & father, settles & establishes them in conviction; rouses his unvirtuous mother & father, settles & establishes them in virtue; rouses his stingy mother & father, settles & establishes them in generosity; rouses his foolish mother & father, settles & establishes them in discernment: To this extent one pays & repays one's mother & father."
AN 2.31-32

In this world it’s a blessing to serve one’s mother and one’s father. And it’s a blessing also to serve ascetics and brahmins.
Dhp 332

The noble right view ends clinging to parents.

When a wise lay follower has put at ease another wise lay follower who is sick, suffering, gravely ill with these four consolations, they should say: ‘Are you concerned for your mother and father?’ If they reply, ‘I am,’ they should say: ‘But sir, it’s your nature to die. Whether or not you are concerned for your mother and father, you will die anyway. It would be good to give up concern for your mother and father.’
SN 55.54

"There is mother and father" in the context of right view with taints (that sides with merit) appear to implicitly mean that parents are important and worth respecting and taking care of. It doesn't merely mean that parents exist.

When one clings to self, it is wrong view and nihilistic to deny those things (this world, other world, parents etc.). It leads to misconduct. When one clings to self, it is right view to accept those things (this world, other world, parents etc.) and it brings merit and avoids misconduct. When one is liberated, he is anyway no longer clinging to the self and anything that belongs to the self or part of the self.

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  • @YesheTenley "there is mother and father" in the context of right view with taints (that sides with merit) appear to implicitly mean that parents are important and worth respecting and taking care of. It doesn't merely mean that parents exist.
    – ruben2020
    Oct 19, 2023 at 18:26
  • @YesheTenley The noble right view of MN117 doesn't talk about parents. I didn't say the noble ones don't talk about parents. A person cannot be a mother or father without having a child. Relationships are relative to self identity.
    – ruben2020
    Oct 19, 2023 at 18:35
  • @YesheTenley When one clings to self, it is wrong view and nihilistic to deny those things. It leads to misconduct. When one clings to self, it is right view to accept those things and it brings merit and avoids misconduct. When one is liberated, he is anyway no longer clinging to the self and anything that belongs to the self or part of the self.
    – ruben2020
    Oct 19, 2023 at 18:54
  • Is it a correct summary of your position that right view does not deny mother or father, but that right view denies "my" mother or "my" father, then?
    – user13375
    Oct 20, 2023 at 16:12
  • @YesheTenley Yes. Noble right view discourages clinging to parents.
    – ruben2020
    Oct 20, 2023 at 16:37
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The mundane right view partakes only of merit (and not Nibbana). The supramundane right view does not deny the mundane right view but simply ceases to have attachment/ripening in the acquisitions towards it. Below are supramundane views that include mother & father:

'A boil,' monks, is another word for this body composed of the four elements, born of mother & father, fed on rice & porridge, subject to impermanence, rubbing & massaging, breaking-up & disintegrating. It has nine openings, nine un-lanced heads. Whatever would ooze out from it would be an uncleanliness oozing out, a stench oozing out, a disgust oozing out. Whatever would be discharged from it would be an uncleanliness discharging, a stench discharging, a disgust discharging. For that reason, you should become disenchanted with this body.

AN 9.15

Above, mother & father appear rendered to be merely biological rather than self-notions.

Below, mother & father are rendered to be self-notions or "beings" ("satta") to be abandoned.

Long have you experienced the death of a mother. The tears you have shed over the death of a mother while roaming & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — are greater than the water in the four great oceans.

Long have you experienced the death of a father... the death of a brother... the death of a sister... the death of a son... the death of a daughter... loss with regard to relatives... loss with regard to wealth... loss with regard to disease. The tears you have shed over loss with regard to disease while roaming & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — are greater than the water in the four great oceans.

Why is that? From an inconstruable beginning comes samsara. A beginning point is not evident, though beings ["satta"; mental fabrications of "beings"] hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are roaming & wandering on. Long have you thus experienced stress, experienced pain, experienced loss, swelling the cemeteries — enough to become disenchanted with all fabricated things, enough to become dispassionate, enough to be released.

SN 15.3

Remember, per SN 5.10 & SN 23.2, "satta" ("beings") are views & mental fabrications. Remember, per SN 12.2, mother & father are a "class of beings" ("satta-nikaye") mentally born as "birth" ("jati"). For Arahants, "birth" ("jati") had ended.

Therefore, the supramundane view does not deny the biological mother & father.

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  • What pali word(s) do you translate as 'views & mental fabrications'?
    – user13375
    Oct 20, 2023 at 12:54
  • View = ditthi, as found in SN 5.10 Oct 20, 2023 at 21:32
  • Fabrication = sankhara, as found in SN 22.81, about fabricating 'self'. While the word sankhara is not found in SN 5.10 & SN 23.2, what is described in those suttas is fabricating (sankhara). Oct 20, 2023 at 21:33
  • sabbasaṅkhāresu is the word in SN 15.3 which I believe means "all compounded phenomena" although it is translated as "fabricated thing" I think Bodhi usually translates it in other places as 'conditioned phenomena'
    – user13375
    Oct 20, 2023 at 22:21
  • sabbasaṅkhāresu is the plural of sankhara it would seem
    – user13375
    Oct 20, 2023 at 22:30

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