A nested enumeration of pain

(Last night at around 9pm we had a ferocious storm that knocked out power until sometime in the wee hours of the morning, and I was unable to complete the posting on time. Please accept my apologies.)

五陰盛苦
go.on.jou.ku

Literally: five – negative/shadow – prosper – suffering

Alternately: The pain that comes from the “five skandha” – that is, the five roots of attachment to the material world, which gives rise to all suffering. This is the eighth, and the most obscure, of the “eight sufferings” of 四苦八苦.

Notes: The five skandha are expressed in Japanese as 色 (shiki), physical objects; 受 (ju), the senses received from the physical world; 想 (sou), mental impressions; 行 (gyou) desires; and 識 (another shiki), consciousness.

陰 may be replaced with 蘊 (un), “pile up.” It turns out that this is closer in meaning to the original Sanskrit, and I’m wondering if 陰 isn’t just a phonetic alternative rendition to the “real” version using 蘊.

Reading 陰 as in or 盛 as sei in this compound is considered an error, although these are both valid pronunciations in other contexts.

This one comes to us from the Saṃyukta Āgama (Japanese 『雑阿含経』= Zou agon kyou), one of a group of five early Buddhist scriptures that are mainly known through their Chinese translations.

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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