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Avaṇṇāraha Suttaṃ

(A.i.84)

Worthy of Blame

“Endowed with four things, monks, one arises in hell as surely as if taken and put there.¹ What four? Without having properly investigated and examined one speaks in praise of the blameworthy, without having properly investigated (ananuvicca) ² and examined (pariyogahetvā) one speaks in dispraise of the praiseworthy,³ without having properly investigated and examined one shows satisfaction (pasādaṃ) in a matter that does not inspire confidence, without having properly investigated and examined one shows dissatisfaction (appasādaṃ) in a matter that inspires confidence. Endowed with these four things, monks, one arises in hell as surely as if taken and put there.

“Endowed with four things, monks, one arises in heaven as surely as if taken and put there. What four? Having properly investigated and examined one speaks in dispraise of the blameworthy, having properly investigated and examined one speaks in praise of the praiseworthy, having properly investigated and examined one shows dissatisfaction in a matter that does not inspire confidence, having properly investigated and examined one shows satisfaction in a matter that inspires confidence. Endowed with these four things, monks, one arises in heaven as surely as if taken and put there.

Notes:

1. The PTS dictionary contains a long discussion under the head word yathā on this term “Yathā bhataŋ nikkhitto evaŋ niraye,” with no satisfactory conclusion. Bhikkhu Bodhi translates it as “Deposited in hell as if brought there.” The meaning from the context is clear that one who does not investigate matters properly is sure to be reborn in hell.

2. Buddhists should be sceptical by nature, and query matters from all angles until they have penetrated the meaning and made sure that their view is correct. Even then, they should not be closed minded since knowledge acquired later may reveal what was previously not obvious.

3. Speaking in dispraise of the praiseworthy can be very dangerous. Not knowing that someone is a noble one, or speaking in dispraise of the Buddha and his Arahant disciples is obstructive kamma that prevents further spiritual progress. If in doubt about their virtues, one should keep quiet. If one says anything to blame or denigrate the noble ones, one should ask for forgiveness to remove the obstruction. Speaking in praise of persons or actions that are blameworthy may encourage others to fall into similar wrong views or to do evil deeds. The first precept is broken even if one speaks in praise of killing, e.g. voting for or campaigning for the death sentence for serious crimes, or praising soldiers who kill others in battle. Even speaking in praise of bull-fighting or fishing is the unwholesome kamma of killing living beings. If one makes a thorough examination in the light of the Buddha’s teaching it will be clear that killing and cruelty are blameworthy.

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