Talk:Fetter (Buddhism)

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There seems to be a big discrepancy between the meaning given here and the actual texts. It would have been nicer if the author had indicated how s/he came across the translations.

I will discuss the descriptions of the ten fetters as given in the article. I will change them with the article if no one has objections to my arguments.

1. belief in an individual self (Pali: sakkāya-diṭṭhi) Well, this is OK looking but wouldn't it be nicer if we could rephrase as "Belief in an eternal, unchanging individual entity in one's self"?

2. doubt or uncertainty, especially about the teachings (vicikicchā) Agreeable.

3. attachment to rites and rituals (sīlabbata-parāmāso) Wrong. What sīlabbata-parāmāso means, literally, is "to believe in a rite or ritual, that it will save one from the cycle of suffering." The emphasis should be given on to why there is an attachment to a specific rite or ritual. This is the one place where Theravada is in stark contrast with many religions and philosophies, where Theravada never administers blind beliefs or derivatives thereof, including prayers, rites, ceremonies, etc. to attain freedom from suffering.

4. sensual desire (kāmacchando) This is pathetic. It clearly demonstrates the unfamiliarity of the author with the term kāma in Theravada context. Kāma, in Theravada context stands for "enjoyment" or "craving" from physical entities. Chanda, in Theravada context means "will", "longing" or "attachment". So the translation would be "attachement or longing to physical enjoyment". It should be emphasized at this point that the enjoyment goes beyond lust or sensuality: it encompasses all that is seen, heard, smelt, tasted or felt; in short, all that is perceived.

5. ill will (vyāpādo or byāpādo Agreeable, although it could be stated as "the will to enjoy another's pain".

6. lust for material existence, lust for material rebirth (rūparāgo) This is actually good; good in the sense that it captures both the meanings of rūparāga; but why the author never did the same with the next topic I don't know.

7. lust for immaterial existence (arūparāgo) - Pls see above.

8. comparison of self against others (māno) I had to edit this, there was simply no way I could leave the definition as it was. In fact, Māna is not just about pride; it has three categories: seyya-māno, sadisa-māno and heena-māno, which mean "pride", "equating oneself with another" and "considering oneself beneath another". Māna literally means "to measure", and there are three ways which one can measure oneself against others.

9. restlessness, distraction (uddhaccaŋ)Good.

10. ignorance (avijjā). This could be rephrased as "non realization". Vijjā stands for "to learn", or "knowledge". So Avijjā could be roughly translated as "ignorance", but here I suggest going beyond verbatim translation and actually rendering the meaning.--Cjdrox (talk) 13:16, 3 August 2010 (UTC)

All the translations are sourced: each entry has an accurate end note. If you want to add different translations based on different reputable sources, please do. As it is, you just changed a definition directly based on the PTS PED while retaining the PED end note; so as to attempt to maintain Wikipedia's accuracy, I'm going to revert your change. Why is there any confusion here? Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 18:54, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
To make it easier to add additional reliable sources, I just changed all the "ibids" to "Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25)." Also, Cjdrox, the kind of changes you're interested in making might be best expressed in the section Fetter_(Buddhism)#Individual_fetters, where the individual fetters are put in greater context (since a two or three word list entry is necessarily limited in its contextualization). As it is, only three individual fetters are explicitly elaborated upon. Your greater (well-sourced) elaborations would, I think, work well here. - Larry ( (talk) 19:22, 3 August 2010 (UTC))
Hi Cjdrox - just to make explicit a few of the reliable sources that probably influenced me when creating this, I've expanded the end notes to include translations by Bhikkhu Bodhi, Thanissaro Bhikkhu and Maurice Walshe. (There are other sources -- e.g., Nanamoli's Visuddhimagga and C.A.F. Rhys Davids' Dhammasangani translations -- but I thought I'd stick with translations of the suttas for this section's content. There's also, of course, Nyanaponika's AN translation and Nanamoli's MN translation, but since each of these were largely edited by Bodhi, I thought adding these would be redundant.)
You'll see, for instance, that translating "kaamacchando" as "sensual desire" and "avijjaa" as "ignorance" is widespread. There is certainly room for discussion regarding how best to concisely render terms such as "sakkaaya-di.t.thi" and "siilabbata-paraamaaso." Also, based on your observation regarding the discrepancy between the translations of "ruuparaago" and "aruuparaago," I expanded the latter (though I'm not confident that I struck the best balance).
Thanks for highlighting the last issue. Hope you find these additions and changes of benefit. Hope too you might further consider adding the details that you value, using reliable sources, to the Fetter_(Buddhism)#Individual_fetters section. Best,
Larry ( (talk) 23:34, 3 August 2010 (UTC))
Dawned on me while out for a jog that you might prefer "historians" over "translators," so I added Gethin and Harvey (who also use "sensual desire" for "kaamacchando," etc.). I did a brief check of texts by Gombrich, Robinson et al., and Warder, but did not see anything immediately pertinent (although I did see Warder also translates "avijja" as "ignorance").
Hope this helps, Larry ( (talk) 01:06, 4 August 2010 (UTC))

Well, I guess it really is time for me to go head on:

The ten fetters have 'specific' meanings, which no one can be disputed about. But since this is encyclopedic content, we should provide sources. Yes, you are right. But my questions are:

1. What were your criteria in selecting the sources? Apart from Rhys Davis' translations, I see that all your sources are biased to the viewpoint of modern Theravada. According to Wikipedia's NPOV policy, I should have challenged it right there.

2. Your citation #15,, does not list any of the translations you mention, where did you get the individual translations? None of the items under Abhidhamma Pitaka enumerations has any source. The above link is just a verbatim translation and a short description of the term Fetters. I have the right to demand that you provide actual verbatim renderings.

3. According to your citation, the third fetter is merely translated into English. For a complete understanding, please refer to the original text. I have found a near enough English translation:

4. This is embarrassing, Larry, your own sources contradict you. According to the Rhys Davis' translation, the following is mentioned: "A more logical definition is given by Dhammapāla on Vv 11 (VvA 11). He classifies as follows: 1. manāpiyā rūpādi -- visayā. -- 2. chandarāga. -- 3. sabbasmiŋ lobha. -- 4. gāmadhamma. -- 5. hitacchanda. -- 6. serībhāva, i. e. k. concerned with (1) pleasant objects, (2) impulsive desire, (3) greed for anything, (4) sexual lust, (5) effort to do good, (6) self -- determination."

So you see, Mr. Larry, sensual lust is but one interpretation. It is clearly not acceptable to specialize in one meaning, even if it is highlighted in some contexts by no matter how qualified authors, when the term very, very clearly can have several meanings.

5. A word about the term 'māno': Larry, could you please cite just one place where the term is stated to have this particular meaning only, in Theravada context? I agree that the term's original meaning was 'pride', in Vedic context, but in Buddhism, especially Theravada, the term has threefold meaning. Please see this excellent thesis by an active researcher on the word.

It explains two things:

(a) The original meaning of the word: as stated on the preface, "As for the meaning, mana means conceit or pride", and,

(b) The meaning in Theravada Buddhist context: as stated in the same preface: "...when it is caused by the thinking that ‘I am superior to others’ and liking down others, by comparing oneself with others like ‘I am better’, ‘I am equal ’ and ‘I am worse’, and by clinging to worldly conditions such as gain, fame, praise and happiness, respectively."

Please challenge me on Buddhist context of the term only. I am not answerable on other contexts.

Plus, as a closing thought, please read my contributions on

- (cjdrox) (talk) 05:39, 7 August 2010 (UTC)

Hi CJ -
Thanks for the thoughtful responses. As you took a few days to respond, I'd like to do the same. (Sounds like we both have busy lives :-) ) Alternately, I can address one or two of your points sooner; are there one or two items you'd like to prioritize?
With metta, (talk) 19:13, 7 August 2010 (UTC)
The Buddha has been often misrepresented on the subject of self. Just read the MN 2 and MN 26 and that should clear it up. Mitsube (talk) 22:11, 7 August 2010 (UTC)
Sure, we all have busy lives. Take your time, It's all right. In the meantime, there are some additional things as well that I would like to bring up:
1. The Ten fetters are mentioned in yet another way, but with Kāmarāgo, Ruparāgo and Aruparāgo replaced by just Rāgo. The justification can be found in Abhidhamma, which states that there are three possible interpretations of Rāga: Kāmarāgo, Ruparāgo and Aruparāgo.
2. The ten fetters are the same as Nīvarana (surprise, surprise!). It just happens to be yet another interpretation of The Fetters. Refer to Dhāthukkhandha for this topic.
Is it OK if I rephrase the article after two weeks?
With Metta,
Cjdrox (talk) 05:27, 8 August 2010 (UTC)
Hi CJ -
Of course, it would be fine if you were to add to this article ASAP using context-sensitive reliable sources.
I'm still having some trouble understanding why there is an air of conflict between us here. I'm getting the sense, based in part on the conversation with User:Peter_jackson you identified, that we are agreed that:
  1. For WP articles, reliable, verifiable sources are best (e.g., per WP:RS, WP:V) and that, when such sources are not available, it is beneficial to attempt to adapt these WP guidelines as best we can.
  2. No matter how "true" we know something to be, WP discourages material being introduced that is not published (e.g., per WP:NOR).
  3. The concept of the "fetters" in Buddhism is complex, reflected differently in different places in the literature, and documenting this variety (and perhaps evolution) is a good thing.
  4. End notes are a good means for documenting sources.
Assuming we are in agreement on these, then I get the sense that the nature of our apparent disputation concerns:
(a) Is the structure of the current article best?
(b) What qualifies as a "reliable source" (per WP:RS, WP:V, etc.) here?
(c) What is the best manner to aggregate these sources' information?
I hope it's clear, I'm trying to avoid getting in a discussion of "I'm right" and "you're wrong." I appreciate that you and I are both reasonable, have significant domains of knowledge, and aspire to share our knowledge in a way that benefits others. I hope too that we both aspire to refrain from divisive and harsh language, yes? (Admittedly, for me, these last sikkhaapadaani are works-in-progress.)
Regarding (a) above, the article's structure, I'm wondering if you are finding the current division of information between "lists" (Fetter_(Buddhism)#Lists_of_fetters) and "analysis" (Fetter_(Buddhism)#Individual_fetters) problematic, non-intuitive, misleading. Thus, for instance, when I read your concern about the list section's identification of maano as "conceit" (e.g., based on a consensus of Bodhi, Thanissaro and Walshe), I see a natural solution to be to create a new entry in the "analysis" section (e.g. Fetter_(Buddhism)#Conceit_(māno)), in which you can include statements such as, "According to the Abhidhamma ...." or "In SN 1.9 ...". (Sorry for my lack of specificity on canonical material ... I'm typing this while watching my son's gym class, without access to any literature.) Would this work? Or do you feel that the "lists" and "analysis" sections should be combined, perhaps the way in which the five aggregates are introduced in the WP Skandha article (see Skandha#Definition)? Or, perhaps to maximize authenticity, might it be best to identify the terms first in Pali and then to provide some brief English language exposition, such as:
maano: often translated as "conceit" or "pride," this concept really has to do with ....
I'd also like to further explore the possible disharmony caused by (b) and (c) above as well, but if you could share your thoughts about this assessment and discussion of possible solutions at this point, I'd appreciate it.
Be safe, healthy and happy, Larry ( (talk) 14:43, 9 August 2010 (UTC))
Hi CJ -
I've taken more time to re-read the linked thesis that you identified above -- looks very interesting -- and, personally, I'd appreciate it if you could add information such as that to this WP article.
Along these lines, if I may, I'd like to flesh out a little more the first option that I'm proposing just above. First, let me acknowledge something that might be irking you that I've not explicitly acknowledged: this WP article is far from complete! It has many inadequacies. Just to take one: in the "Individual fetters" section, I initially hoped to explore each of the enumerated fetters more fully; but other priorities arose. So, I limited the "individual fetters" section to the first three fetters. Based on what you've written above, I'd again like to suggest that I think you could add a lot of valuable information to this section. For instance, after re-writing the "individual fetters" section intro some, I can see something like:

Individual fetters

Among the following fetters, the first three are mentioned in the aforementioned ....

Identity view (sakkāya-diṭṭhi)
Doubt (vicikicchā)
Attachment to rites and rituals (sīlabbata-parāmāso)
Sensual desire (kāmacchando)
Conceit (māno)

The original meaning of māna is "conceit" or "pride." The meaning in Theravada Buddhist context is:

...when it is caused by the thinking that ‘I am superior to others’ and liking down others, by comparing oneself with others like ‘I am better’, ‘I am equal ’ and ‘I am worse’, and by clinging to worldly conditions such as gain, fame, praise and happiness, respectively.[appropriate citation]

Would adding to this article in this manner seem of interest or value to you?
Best, Larry ( (talk) 16:46, 10 August 2010 (UTC))

Hi Larry,

First of all, sorry about my prolonged absence, and thanks for your proactive contribution.

Here is a summary of my position with regards to this article.

1. I agree with your last suggestion about "mano", as long as it clearly identifies, and at the same time distinguishes between two things: The original meaning, as being conceit, and pride; and the meaning in Buddhist context (which, in my opinion, should be emphasized since this is an article about Buddhism, after all) which has a threefold meaning. Furthermore, I appreciate if you could include the distinction somehow in the first sentence that identifies the term, so as to make it clear that we are dealing with a specific meaning in a specific context. I especially like the phrasing "often translated as "conceit" or "pride," this concept really has to do with ....". I think we can reach a consensus here pretty well.

2. The structure of the article could do better, so as to better reflect the original structure of the Pali Canon more closely, but I think we have more urgent matters to consider. I mean, the structure would not matter, however correct, if the article itself was incapable of delivering accurate factual details on the topic in question. When going for reliable sources, I suggest we stick to the Pali Canon (and reliable, authentic translations thereof) more than anything else, for I have seen many a secondary rendering gone wayward when applied to the core, abstract concepts in Buddhism. I agree on your issues raised, basically, but I beg leave to disagree on what qualifies as authentic.

3. Plus, in a happier and more serious tone, I think it is time to unify all the articles on fetters, the four noble truths, the eightfold path and so on, because in Buddhist context, those are really different formulations of the same philosophy. Of course, this is tedious work, and I suppose it will take a good many months to correctly cross-refer all the articles. For example, I see that the article on 'Nivarana' being in an orphan stage. Nobody, in the whole history of the article, has bothered about unifying this with the article Fetters; apparently nobody has found enough reliable sources to assert that the two are actually different formulations of the same philosophy. There, I must give credit to you, for bringing up the concept of eight fetters. This, I see, as a good starting point in unification.

Lastly, Larry, there is no talk of who is right and who is wrong, it is just a matter of "what" is right and "what" is wrong. I appreciate your effort as much as I value my arguments; my personal policy is "let opinions clash, not people". It was a pleasure working with you in this regard.

Best, cjdrox. Cjdrox (talk) 11:06, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

New Structure Proposed[edit]

Hello everybody,

Due to various complications arisen during the past few weeks on several topics, I have decided to summarize the issues raised and I am suggesting a structural re-shape of the article so as to provide better insight into the topic.

Here are the issues, as I see them.

1. Issues in translation: I allow that the translations are no doubt authentic, but the issue I am raising is that the mere translations verbatim (word-to-word) seem to fail in conveying the actual meaning of the topic in question.

2. Issues in structure: Although the current structure is marginally satisfactory, I vote for a more logical structuring of the article. For example, the current article lists no more than three Fetters in detail, and those, too, fall short of the mark when compared against the Pali commentaries.

3. Issues in impact: This is threefold, as I see it; theoretical impact (weight of the theory in Buddhism and its various branches), philosophical impact (impact on other religions and schools of thought) and historical impact (how the concept evolved over time and geographical distribution). I perceive that these threefold impacts are scarcely discussed.

As a first step in reforming, in agreement with dear Larry, thanking for his painstaking effort, I propose the following structure.

1. Introductory paragraph describing (a) a brief, authentic and accurate description on what is meant by the term in Buddhist context, and (b) the theoretical importance assigned to the theory within the Buddhist context.

2. A list of Individual Fetters which list down the Ten fetters, the most commonly found version, with accurate translations which are not mere translations of the word, (e.g. the case of Mana), but translations that are in the context of Buddhist philosophy and doctrine. I would like to see the section 'The Three Fetters' moved down the tree, as it seems very inappropriately placed in the hierarchy of the theoretical framework, as per original Pali Commentaries.

3. List of Fetters in detail, where each fetter is taken singularly and treated on its own; here can go the evolution of a term, as in the case of mano.

4. A section with a list/table/chart of a Result of Cutting the Fetters. The chart, I see, is praiseworthy, and I vote it should be preserved. I would like to see a short description and a cross-reference to the main article on each term used on the table/chart.

5. A section on the impact of the theory; this I propose to be of three sub-sections, as stated early, i.e. Theoretical, Philosophical and Historical. It seems appropriate to introduce the socio-spiritual background in the period Lord Buddha taught, and here can go the beautiful and elegant chart describing the views of contemporary philosophers in India at that time. An in-article cross-reference is well suited from the First Fetter to here, as it is clear that the Pali discourses almost always give some glimpse of the theories of contemporary teachers.

6. A list of variants, which describe the other versions of the Fetters, with relationship or connection with the chief/main version, preferably with the sub-schools there are found, i.e. a variant along with in what school of thought it is found. The list shall not be limited to Buddhist schools. The section named 'Fetters related to householder affairs' can go here, as a subsection.

Please comment on this section; I love to see as many different views as possible before reaching a consensus!

With Metta, Cjdrox (talk) 14:48, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Hi Cjdrox -
Kudos to you for articulating your ideas so well and soliciting feedback. I am sincerely impressed by both.
I apologize for not having responded yet to our last thread and for the flaccidity of this reply to your generous and thoughtful post above. I'm regrettably overwhelmed with other tasks at this time and don't see myself contributing meaningfully to WP any time soon. (My primary reason for writing now is to ensure that you don't await feedback from me prior to proceeding.)
I appreciate -- and probably share much of -- your worldview and am grateful for your efforts. I would only ask that, when you re-write this article -- which I welcome -- that you source your statements, whether from the Canon or the Commentaries or some other source. And I hope if you are challenged by those who insist upon WP:RS you understand that -- while they might be diluting the buddhavacana -- they are only abiding by Wikipedia's very reasonable expectations for the text we leave on their servers, under their brand name.
Good luck with your efforts. Good luck with all your dhammic pursuits. With metta,
Larry ( (talk) 00:14, 26 August 2010 (UTC))
Hi Larry-
Thanx for your kind co-operation. For the time being, I also will not be making any rash changes to the article. Rather, I decided to complete your list on List of Individual Fetters first, since it serves both as a good starting point and a key area of knowledge. Only after completing all the existing articles will I be able move onto restructuring it, by which time I will be lucky enough to see you back again!

Cjdrox (talk) 17:30, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

"kāmacchando" vs. "kāmatrishna"[edit]

Hi Elvenmuse -

I see you recently made a number of edits to this page, many of which are laudable for the accuracy and conscientiousness. You probably don't hear it enough though you should: Thank you, Elvenmuse, for making Wikipedia a better resource for the world!

There were a couple of related edits though about which I'd like to share with you my thoughts, if I may:

  1. the translation of "kāmacchando" was changed from "sensual desire" to "sensual craving"
  2. "craving" was then wiki-linked to a WP dab page: Trishna (instead of, e.g., Taṇhā?)
  3. a query/comment was inserted stating: "kāmacchando or kāmatrishna? sutric reference missing for kāmacchando".

I'd like to start by addressing the last point first because, I think, without suttic [neologism alert?] authority, the other two issues are kind of dubious, yes? :-) So, if I may point out, and perhaps it's something worth changing (?), I put the references for this list's elements at the very top of the list, so it wouldn't have to be repeated for each item. It's currently end note #6:

These fetters are enumerated, for instance, in SN 45.179 and 45.180 (Bodhi, 2000, pp. 1565-66). This article's Pali words and English translations for the ten fetters are based on Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), p. 656, "Saŋyojana" entry (retrieved 2008-04-09).

So, the end note explicitly identifies Samyutta Nikaya (SN) 45.179 and SN 45.180. While I don't know of a widely recognized authoritative online English translation of these suttas, here, e.g., is one redaction of the former sutta's Pali text: . Also, if you look at the referenced "Rhys Davids & Stede" text (i.e., the PTS Pali-English Dictionary entry), you'll see that that entry references the following suttas: "e.g., A i.232 sq.; ii.5, 133; v.17; D i.156; ii.92, 252; M i.432; S v.61, 69; Th 2, 165; Pug 17" (using PTS notation -- let me know if you'd like me to translate :-) ). So, addressing the third point first, these are some sutta citations, which have been placed at the beginning of the list. (Perhaps a different method of citing these might be desirable?)

Addressing point one, the end note associated with "kāmacchando" (currently, #10) explicitly states:

Bodhi (2000), p. 1565 (SN 45.179), Gethin (1998), p. 73, Harvey (2007), p. 71, Thanissaro (2000) and Walshe (1995), p. 26, translate kāmacchando as 'sensual desire.'

(For that matter, if you dig into the aforementioned PTS PED entry for "chando," you'll see there too that "kamachando" is translated in such a manner.) Thus, given all these well respected authoritative translations, would it not be best to go with the translation of these reliable sources?

As for point #2, well, if we are taking about chando and not tanha, then why wiki-link :-) ? (If you're inclined though, there is a smidge of a entry re: kaama in Buddhism at Kama#Kama_in_Buddhism :-) )

So, might we revert back the kama[c]chando-related changes? Thanks again for all your thoughtfulness and integrity. Best, Larry ( (talk) 16:03, 12 September 2011 (UTC))

It's been three weeks since posting these concerns and a suggested action to be taken, without any response. So I'm going to go ahead and implement the suggested action. - Larry ( (talk) 20:09, 1 October 2011 (UTC))