I have been looking for any corroboration one way or another as to where any changes in Pali suttas have occurred, and felt I could see patterns but had no strong case to make one way or another until a recent discussion in E-Sangha directed me toward MN 117 “The Great Forty” as the best evidence that the Buddha taught karma as a necessary part of his path. What I read said that it was included as part of “Right View” and a quick skim of that sutta supported that reading. The sutta is about the requisites for concentration and though methods of meditation are not directly addressed, the structure of the sutta indicates that Right View is the primary support. It further states that Right View, Right Effort, and Right Mindfulness work particularly well together (-“run a circle round right view”-) and then goes on to outline other supports: right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood.
[I will be using the Access to Insight translation here – though it is somewhat shortened – you are of course welcome to use any version you like, you should be able to follow along just as well and perhaps even provide different wording of translations, which could help.]
The part we will be most concerned with comes early in the sutta, and is, in fact, the beginnings of the heart of the teaching, since “Right View is the forerunner” throughout the sutta, and here we begin by dealing with Right View, which is discussed in three varieties: (1) Wrong View, (2) Right View with effluents, and (3) the Right View without effluents.
I would like to start looking for context in this sutta in the section on “Wrong View” and get your thoughts on it. We have a series of things apparently spoken by those who hold wrong views. The first phrase quoted shows that they say, “There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed.” What would someone mean when they say this? Surely not that they believe no one ever gives anything, never offers anything, never sacrifices anything; I feel sure it's not a face-value statement though if you think it is, I'd be glad to hear your reasoning. If not face value, what exactly do you think the wrong view is that involves a negation of what is given, offered, sacrificed?
The same question needs to be asked of “There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions.” Who holds this view and why?
And who would hold the view that “There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings”? Who would say there are “no priests or contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves”? Are each of these separate items in a list of views that different individuals hold? In other words, does one person hold the wrong view that “There is no this world, no next world” and another holds the wrong view that “There is no mother, no father”? Or is this one long set of negative views that represent one philosophy?
These are the questions I began by asking myself, and I'd like your views, also.
and thanks in advance for looking at this with me