Is there a general method of analysing suttas?

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wornoutskin
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Is there a general method of analysing suttas?

Postby wornoutskin » Sat Aug 02, 2014 9:37 pm

Hello all,
I'm very new to Buddhism, and I am attempting to understand as much as I can. I am a person who learns the best from written analysis of any material I want to absorb, and I was wondering if there are established methods of tackling suttas, like a series of questions one should ask to get further insight that could be applicable to any sutta...
I've gleaned some information from "Befriending the Suttas: Tips on Reading the Pali Discourses" (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/befriending.html). Some questions they suggest include:
  • What is the setting?
  • What is the story?
  • Who initiates the teaching?
  • Who is teaching?
  • To whom are the teachings directed?
  • What is the method of presentation?
  • What is the essential teaching?
  • How does it end?
  • What does this sutta have to offer me?
Are there any more questions I could add that you may have found beneficial, or you think would be helpful?

With metta,
wornoutskin
He who neither goes too far nor lags behind,
greedless he knows: "This is all unreal,"
--such a monk gives up the here and the beyond,
just as a serpent sheds its worn-out skin.

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mikenz66
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Re: Is there a general method of analysing suttas?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Aug 02, 2014 9:42 pm

Hi wornoutskin,

I highly recommend Bhikkhu Bodhi's collection of Suttas, In the Buddha's Words, which lays out a framework for understanding the different flavours of suttas, from those dealing with household life to renunciation and nibbana.

See this thread: viewtopic.php?f=25&t=14640 for a preview by way of freely available material. However, the book itself is inexpensive, and well worth having.

:anjali:
Mike

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wornoutskin
Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:37 pm
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Re: Is there a general method of analysing suttas?

Postby wornoutskin » Sat Aug 02, 2014 9:52 pm

Thanks for this!
It looks like an excellent and detailed resource. I'll find a copy as soon as I can.
He who neither goes too far nor lags behind,
greedless he knows: "This is all unreal,"
--such a monk gives up the here and the beyond,
just as a serpent sheds its worn-out skin.

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Mkoll
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Re: Is there a general method of analysing suttas?

Postby Mkoll » Sat Aug 02, 2014 10:02 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi wornoutskin,

I highly recommend Bhikkhu Bodhi's collection of Suttas, In the Buddha's Words, which lays out a framework for understanding the different flavours of suttas, from those dealing with household life to renunciation and nibbana.

See this thread: viewtopic.php?f=25&t=14640 for a preview by way of freely available material. However, the book itself is inexpensive, and well worth having.

:anjali:
Mike

Seconded! It's the best introduction a beginner can get, IMO.
Peace,
James

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mikenz66
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Re: Is there a general method of analysing suttas?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Aug 02, 2014 10:05 pm

That shouldn't be difficult. Meanwhile I've given links to Bhikkhu Bodhi's notes on that thread, which should keep you going for a while.

From the Introduction (PDF) link, P28:
I will briefly supply background information about the Nikayas later
in this introduction. First, however, I want to outline the scheme that I
have devised to organize the suttas. Although my particular use of this
scheme may be original, it is not sheer innovation but is based upon a
threefold distinction that the Pali commentaries make among the types
of benefits to which the practice of the Dhamma leads: (1) welfare and
happiness visible in this present life; (2) welfare and happiness per-
taining to future lives; and (3) the ultimate good, Nibbana (Skt: nirvana).
...

:anjali:
Mike


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