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20 causes of contention

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20 causes of contention (attachment to views):

1. Those who, adhering to their views, dispute “this only is the truth,” either bring blame upon themselves or obtain praise thereby.

2. The result of the praise is trifling and not enough to bring about tranquillity. I say there are two results of dispute [victory and defeat]; having seen this, let no one dispute, realizing nibbāna where there is no dispute.

3. The wise one does not embrace all those views that have arisen amongst worldly people. Should he who is free from views be pleased with what has been seen and heard and remain dependent on them?

4. Those who consider moral practices to be the highest say: “purity comes through restraint; having undertaken a holy practice, let us train in it whence purity comes.” But those so-called experts are still immersed in samsāra.

5. If he falls away from moral conduct and holy practices, he trembles, having failed in his action; he longs here for purity like a traveller who has lost his caravan while he is away from home.

6. Having abandoned formal religious practices altogether and actions both “good” and “bad”, neither long for “purity” nor “impurity,” he wanders aloof abstaining from both without adhering to either extreme.

7. Practising loathsome penances or adhering to what has been seen, heard or thought, they praise purity in high voices - but they are not free from craving for recurring existence.

8. For him who desires, more desires result; he trembles, deluded by imaginary views. For him who has overcome death and birth why should he tremble and what would he yearn for?

9. What some regard as the highest view others consider to be worthless. They all claim to be experts: which of them indeed is right?

10. Each one claims that his own view is perfect and the belief of others is inferior. Thus they enter into dispute; thus each of them says that his own opinion is true.

11. If a view becomes worthless because it is censured by others, then no one will be distinguished because each one firmly regards another’s view as low whilst one’s own alone is regarded as true.

12. Just as they honour their views, likewise they praise their ways. If all their views are true then their purity must also be peculiar to them.

13. To the noble one there is no lead from others, nothing to embrace after investigation of views; he, therefore, has transcended disputation, for he does not see another’s view as the best.

14. “I know and see, this is just so” thus saying, some claim purity through that view. What is the point in saying that one has “seen” (the truth) if rival views are put forward.

15. The man sees mind and matter and having seen he takes them as permanent. Let him see either much or little for experts do not say: “purity comes by that.”

16. Not easy to discipline is the dogmatist who says this is the truth, being misguided by views: Saying that good is in such preconceptions, he is given to saying that purity is inherent as he has so seen.

17. The noble one having perceived things through knowledge, does not enter into speculations. Having learnt of diverse theories that have arisen among others, he is indifferent to them whilst others labour to embrace them.

18. The sage, being freed from worldly ties, remains peaceful among the restless. He is indifferent to sectarian squabbles, not embracing them whilst others remain attached.

19. Having abandoned former defilements, not inducing new ones, not become partisan, he is free from dogmatic views. Being wise, he neither clings to the world nor blames himself.

20. By overcoming all the theories based on seen, heard or thought he is a sage who has released his burden and is liberated, not imaginative in views, not aspiring for anything, so said the Buddha.

(from Khuddaka Nikaya, Sutta Nipata)


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