[Buddha-l] Lists in Pali

Bruce Burrill brburl at charter.net
Tue Sep 25 07:03:18 MDT 2012

the seven factors of awakening, when developed and cultivated, lead 
to utter revulsion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to 
bodhi, to nibbana. SN v 82

lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to 
direct knowledge, to self-awakening [sambodhi], to nibbana. This is 
why I have taught them. SN v 437

When a list of words such as this is used in the Pali suttas, what is 
going on? I have recently been told: "In Pali as well, consecutive 
listing of the words doesn't mean they are synonyms. On the contrary, 
Buddha's words are so laconic that he wouldn't waste two words to 
denote the same thing." That does not seem quite correct.

Now, somewhere I have either been told by one my Pali teachers(Paul 
Griffiths and Frances Wilson), or I read  from Warder, Gombrich or 
Johansson or somebody that such lists are making a point, either 
pointing to a progression or to differing attributes of the same 
thing. I'd appreciate a learned opinion.or two on this matter.


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