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Pāḷi: together… but separately?

by Denis Wallez (@DenisWallez)
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te vasantā pi ekato'va vasanti,
pakkamantā pi ekato'va pakkamanti.

could be translated as

When dwelling, they dwell together,
when going forth, they go forth together.

This is found in describing how a monastic rule, the second training rule on furniture, came to be.

The funny thing is that ekato is an adverb meaning as one, from one, together… as well as on one side and separately!


A translation as together thereby implicitly points to some “us vs. them” mentality… a together separately!

In English, there's a similar implicit meaning for together. The proposed translation would likely be understood as describing a close-knit group of people, excluding those who don't enthusiastically join in every single activity of the group…

The etymology of together seems (through old English) to rely on to gather; the Pāḷi similarly seems to rely on as one; and yet, both communicate an underlying dualistic view of the world, some “us vs. them” mentality (in which belonging is tied to excluding).


It's interesting, then, to look how the meaning of together is informed by the context, really!

“We should work together on this” would point to a desire to find a common ground. But “members of that community live together” would more likely point to separation… “We vs. they”, “us vs. them”…

In Pāḷi, it

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