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avyākṛta-vastu


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(Skt.). The four avyākṛta-vastu, or ‘questions which have not been determined (by the Buddha)’ are (1) whether the world is eternal, or not, or both, or neither; (2) whether the world is infinite in space, or not, or both, or neither; (3) whether the Tathāgata exists after death.or not, or both, or neither; (4) whether the soul (ātman) is identical with the body or different from it. These four questions were put to the Buddha on several occasions, including once by Vacchagotta in the Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta of the Majjhima Nikāya. The Buddha made no reply because any answer he might have given would have been open to misinterpretation, given the frame of reference that the questions presuppose. In addition, he felt that to discuss speculative questions of this kind is a distraction from the task of overcoming the passions and gaining insight into the true nature of things. In this connection he taught the parable of the poisoned arrow which tells of a man wounded by an arrow who refuses to have it withdrawn until he has the answer to a number of irrelevant questions concerning the archer. Rather than waste time in futile speculation, the urgency is to withdraw the arrow and put an end to suffering.

(1) whether the world is eternal, or not, or both, or neither; (2) whether the world is infinite in space, or not, or both, or neither; (3) whether the Tathāgata exists after death.or not, or both, or neither; (4) whether the soul (ātman) is identical with the body or different from it.

Subjects: Buddhism.


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