MN 139, Part 2: Synopsis

Cultivating oneself, communicating with others, and seeking out good influences so as to avoid conflict. Sounds reasonable.

Greetings, Friendlies!

Continuing with MN 139 for the April’s CPP homework. Some highlights:

Cultivating Oneself

Eightfold Path (Aṭṭhaṅgika Magga)

Gotama condemns both devotion to sensual pleasure and devotion to asceticism. He claims that the Eightfold Path is a Middle Way between the two.


Gotama divides pleasure into two types: pleasure derived from the five physical senses, and pleasure derived from meditation (specifically, Jhānas 1-4). He claims that the former pleasure should be feared while the latter pleasure should be cultivated and developed.

Communicating With Others

Talking about Dhamma

Gotama says that one should speak about behaviors or proclivities, not about people.

For example, when talking about sensual pleasure, we wouldn’t say, “People who indulge in sensual pleasure are practicing wrong.” That’s speaking about people. Instead we would say, “Indulging in sensual pleasure is a behavior that leads to harm.” Talk about the behavior or the saṅkhāra, not about the person.

Speech in General (Sammā-vācā)

  1. Gotama says, in general, do not speak of someone who is not present. In the case that someone is not present but the thing you want to say about them is 1, true (taccha?), 2, correct (bhūta?), and 3, beneficial (atthasaṁhita), you still must judge whether or not it is the right time to say it.
  2. In general, do not speak harshly to someone. In the case that what you want to say to them is 1, true, 2, correct, and 3, beneficial, you still must judge whether or not it is the right time to say it.
  3. Speak in an unhurried manner.
  4. Don’t disparage regional or cultural language. Look for meaning. Try to understand and speak so that you can best be understood by your interlocutor.

Good Influence(r)s (Kalyana Mitta)

Seek out models for the kind of behavior we ourselves want to enact, and allow their being-in-the-world to influence our own.

So As to Avoid Conflict

And why are we doing all this? Gotama says so as to avoid conflict, of both the internal and external varieties.

With friendliness!

PS: Part 1, considerations on the title, is over here.

4 replies on “MN 139, Part 2: Synopsis”

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