Feeling Of Insufficiency

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Feeling Of Insufficiency

Postby CalBudd » Mon Oct 28, 2013 3:55 am

When I browse the topics I feel very insufficient. I am left quite gasping at the number of Pali words and their English equivalents. Such as I am quite sure I have come across the word Sammaditthi many times but had to right now look up its meaning.

Some suttas are quite complex and take lot of time, even weeks to understand. Due to the effort of learning, the actual practice of Dhamma takes a backseat. For the first few years can I resort to study of books by various Venerables. I was given a list earlier by members here. Examples include "Essentials Of Buddhism" by Ven Pategama Gnanarama (214 pages ), "What Buddhists Believe" by K S Dhammananda (438 pages) and so on.

My point being in the limited time I have, I can read or learn to practice the Dhamma but not both. I am not looking for "Buddhism For Dummies" but it would be nice if there was one 900 page book in 3 Vols that covered all that a serious lay follower needed. Maybe I will have time to read all that there is on ATI website but that day is not today. I will rather like to learn basics (or little more than basics without entering complex discussions on epistemology) and integrate it into my life.

I am learning alone without any monastery (or Sangha) as I believe it is called. Can anyone suggest not a Buddhist Book For Dummies but the Buddhist method for the busy ? I am getting overwhelmed since religion is not my area of expertise. I have some knowledge of Western Philosophy and Hinduism. In Western Philosophy there are several books which summarize adequately the thoughts of Western philosophers such as "A History of Western Philosophy" by Bertrand Russell (835 pages). After that one is free to choose any school of thought one wishes to pursue - my favorite being at this moment Ludwig Wittgenstein. In Hindu Philosophy there is a specific given direction of study (which has changed from century to century) - you begin with Gita and if you need anything further than that proceed to 10 most important Upanishads and then study Vedanta.

I am not trying to compare but Buddhism seems to have philosophical rabbit holes everywhere - if one follows the nuances that are pointed out in this Forum - and one does not know if chasing any one of them is actually useful or not. Any help will be very much appreciated.

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Re: Feeling Of Insufficiency

Postby fivebells » Mon Oct 28, 2013 4:02 am

With Each and Every Breath will get you off to an excellent start.

If you really want to drill into the suttas, The Wings to Awakening[i/] at the same link. I would start with [i]Breath, though, it's more practically oriented.
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Re: Feeling Of Insufficiency

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Oct 28, 2013 4:10 am

Greetings,

CalBudd wrote:I am not trying to compare but Buddhism seems to have philosophical rabbit holes everywhere - if one follows the nuances that are pointed out in this Forum - and one does not know if chasing any one of them is actually useful or not. Any help will be very much appreciated.

I might suggest here making the Four Noble Truths your anchor.

If something appears disconnected from the Four Noble Truths (and the Eightfold Noble Path entailed in the fourth Truth) then you can probably afford to set it aside for now.

CalBudd wrote:Can anyone suggest not a Buddhist Book For Dummies but the Buddhist method for the busy ?

To which end, I would caution against adherance to a "method" or "technique" as a substitute for the Noble Eightfold Path. Any "methods" you adopt should demonstrably tie back to and complement the N8P... otherwise you're at risk of going down one of these rabbit holes that you're wary of. It might be tempting to "just do this", but the Suttas make clear that Right View is the forerunner to the other components being Right, so there is no substitute for Right View. This doesn't mean having views on everything, merely having correct view in relation to suffering and its cessation.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Feeling Of Insufficiency

Postby SarathW » Mon Oct 28, 2013 4:12 am

Hi Calbudd
You will never realise Nirvana by reading a book.
Buddha used more than twenty words to descibe Nirvna. They are still only words end of the day.

In summary Nirvana is cessation of suffering. You can discover this yourself without reading books.

A) Make a list of suffering.
B) Ask yourself “What is the origin of this?”
:meditate:
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Re: Feeling Of Insufficiency

Postby CalBudd » Mon Oct 28, 2013 4:18 am

fivebells wrote:With Each and Every Breath will get you off to an excellent start.

If you really want to drill into the suttas, The Wings to Awakening[i/] at the same link. I would start with [i]Breath, though, it's more practically oriented.


I have on the whole read or in process of reading,

The Foundations of Buddhism by Rupert Gethin
Fundamentals of Buddhism by Dr Peter D.Santina
The Noble Eightfold Path By Bhikkhu Bodhi
What Buddhists Believe by K S Dhammananda
Essentials Of Buddhism by Ven Pategama Gnanarama

My question is three fold,

Firstly, can I give reading the Suttas themselves (apart from 6 - 10 of the most important ones) a miss and substitute it with books by Venerables.
Second is since nuances are being made out daily by serious readers of Buddhism here, does one need to keep abreast of it all or just read and absorb what one has read already and move on.
Thirdly, in some books like The Noble Eightfold Path By Bhikkhu Bodhi there is a lot of Pali with English equivalent. Can I give the Pali a miss?

For example to quote from his book -
The most deeply grounded is the level of latent tendency (anusaya), where a defilement merely lies dormant without displaying any activity. The second level is the stage of manifestation (pariyutthana), where a defilement, through the impact of some stimulus, surges up in the form of unwholesome thoughts, emotions, and volitions. Then, at the third level, the defilement passes beyond a purely mental manifestation to motivate some unwholesome action of body or speech. Hence this level is called the stage of transgression (vitikkama).

Can I read the English and forget the Pali words. I am not looking for new books. I am confused enough by the ones I have. It is not the concept that is confusing. Few things can be more confusing to read than Wittgenstein, but when I am reading Western Philosophy I am not actually expected to practice it also. But reading, then reading nuances, then practicing becomes a headache. At the end of the day I guess Buddha just wanted me to be a kind, gentle, non judgmental, generous, contemplative human being and not get tied up in whether something was meant in this way by him or in that way. I hate hermeneutical headaches set up by scholars from all sides of Buddhism on top of the task of practicing Dhamma.
Last edited by CalBudd on Mon Oct 28, 2013 4:40 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Feeling Of Insufficiency

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Oct 28, 2013 4:26 am

Greetings,

CalBudd wrote:Firstly, can I give reading the Suttas themselves (apart from 6 - 10) of the most important ones from a miss and substitute it with books by Venerables.

One problem you'll come up against following this sort of approach is that each teacher you encounter will have their own personal and different way of looking at things... their own perspective or approach. Not to say whether these perspectives or approaches are right or wrong, but its very likely they'll use different expressions, different words, different emphases and you might find that you're actually learning a similar thing, a thousand different ways. You will also have no objective criteria by which to decide which way to favour in the instance that there is perceived conflict between the explanations.

I find that taking the Buddha's own teaching, as captured within the Sutta Pitaka, to be the "gold standard". Seemingly, so did the Buddha himself...

DN 16 wrote:And there the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Now, bhikkhus, I shall make known to you the four great references. Listen and pay heed to my words." And those bhikkhus answered, saying:

"So be it, Lord."

Then the Blessed One said: "In this fashion, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu might speak: 'Face to face with the Blessed One, brethren, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation'; or: 'In an abode of such and such a name lives a community with elders and a chief. Face to face with that community, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation'; or: 'In an abode of such and such a name live several bhikkhus who are elders, who are learned, who have accomplished their course, who are preservers of the Dhamma, the Discipline, and the Summaries. Face to face with those elders, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation'; or: 'In an abode of such and such a name lives a single bhikkhu who is an elder, who is learned, who has accomplished his course, who is a preserver of the Dhamma, the Discipline, and the Summaries. Face to face with that elder, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation.'

"In such a case, bhikkhus, the declaration of such a bhikkhu is neither to be received with approval nor with scorn. Without approval and without scorn, but carefully studying the sentences word by word, one should trace them in the Discourses and verify them by the Discipline. If they are neither traceable in the Discourses nor verifiable by the Discipline, one must conclude thus: 'Certainly, this is not the Blessed One's utterance; this has been misunderstood by that bhikkhu — or by that community, or by those elders, or by that elder.' In that way, bhikkhus, you should reject it. But if the sentences concerned are traceable in the Discourses and verifiable by the Discipline, then one must conclude thus: 'Certainly, this is the Blessed One's utterance; this has been well understood by that bhikkhu — or by that community, or by those elders, or by that elder.' And in that way, bhikkhus, you may accept it on the first, second, third, or fourth reference. These, bhikkhus, are the four great references for you to preserve."

Perhaps if you are going to give anything "a miss", it might be subsequent explanations from yet another bhikkhu. You may well think that by doing so you're exposing yourself to missing something of importance, but the following sutta suggests that is not the case...

SN 56.31 wrote:Once the Blessed One was staying at Kosambi in the simsapa forest. Then, picking up a few simsapa leaves with his hand, he asked the monks, "What do you think, monks: Which are more numerous, the few simsapa leaves in my hand or those overhead in the simsapa forest?"

"The leaves in the hand of the Blessed One are few in number, lord. Those overhead in the simsapa forest are more numerous."

"In the same way, monks, those things that I have known with direct knowledge but have not taught are far more numerous [than what I have taught]. And why haven't I taught them? Because they are not connected with the goal, do not relate to the rudiments of the holy life, and do not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding. That is why I have not taught them.

"And what have I taught? 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress': This is what I have taught. And why have I taught these things? Because they are connected with the goal, relate to the rudiments of the holy life, and lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding. This is why I have taught them.

"Therefore your duty is the contemplation, 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress.' Your duty is the contemplation, 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'"

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Feeling Of Insufficiency

Postby CalBudd » Mon Oct 28, 2013 4:37 am

SarathW wrote:You will never realise Nirvana by reading a book.


Not to be disrespectful but I am just looking to get through rest of this life without seriously messing it up. Nibbana is far from my aspiration. Meditate as you said - yes. But with no expectation other than making my mind little quieter.

retrofuturist wrote:I find that taking the Buddha's own teaching, as captured within the Sutta Pitaka, to be the "gold standard". Seemingly, so did the Buddha himself...


My problem in a nutshell. The Sutta Pitaka is vast. Also its nuances are unending as posts here by serious readers and practitioners of Buddhism show.

Let me compare it to chess

A ) Complete lay player knows how to move the pieces and how to play the game. By practice they get better depending on how intelligent they are. But never as good as those who know chess theory.
B ) Expert knows the first 20 openings and counter moves as also theory behind middle and end game.
C ) Better expert but below a master knows first 50 openings and counters and variations of the first 50 openings and in all then about 150 variations of first 6 moves.
D ) Master knows latest theory.
E ) Grandmaster contributes to latest theory.

Can I just be Grade B in Buddhism. Just read the books and practice Dhamma best I can and forget complexities till such date when I have lot of time to spare.
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Re: Feeling Of Insufficiency

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Oct 28, 2013 4:53 am

CalBudd wrote:Can I just be Grade B in Buddhism. Just read the books and practice Dhamma best I can and forget complexities till such date when I have lot of time to spare.


Sure, why not?

Nice chess analogy. George Koltanowski was a great chess player. He became an International Master at the age of 47. He seemed to play even better in his later years in a game/sport known for its many child-chess prodigies. He was one of the greatest blindfold players of all time. At the age of 57 on 4 December 1960, in San Francisco, California, Koltanowski played 56 consecutive games blindfolded, with only ten seconds per move. He won fifty and drew six games. Koltanowski still holds the record in the Guinness Book of Records.

So there is plenty of time to learn the rest when you have time to spare.

(by the way, speaking of chess, only a couple of weeks until the World Championship match between Anand and Carlsen, to be held in Chennai, India)
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Re: Feeling Of Insufficiency

Postby robertk » Mon Oct 28, 2013 4:54 am

As Retro said, right view is crucial, without it one can go down a long and winding rabbit hole indeed.
Try this thread
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=15952
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Re: Feeling Of Insufficiency

Postby CalBudd » Mon Oct 28, 2013 5:01 am

David N. Snyder wrote:(by the way, speaking of chess, only a couple of weeks until the World Championship match between Anand and Carlsen, to be held in Chennai, India)


Will try to keep track, though at that level I cannot make head or tail after the first 10 moves. Why moving rook pawn forward to A3 brings wild cheers from one camp. Goes over my head.

Thank you for the affirmation. Best to do it at one's own pace instead of getting overwhelmed.

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Re: Feeling Of Insufficiency

Postby Sanjay PS » Mon Oct 28, 2013 5:08 am

Hi Calbudd ,

In the meantime ,whenever you find that you have time to spare just 11 days of your life , kindly try doing a 10 day course at a centre nearest to your place of residence ( www.dhamma.org ) . The course is open for both lay people as well as those who have taken to the robes , and there are no charges what so ever .

Its when learning and applying the practical part of Dhamma (pattitati) in a conducive environment , that the theoretical part of Dhamma (parriyati) gets out meaning to the many words that we encounter while digging deeper .

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Re: Feeling Of Insufficiency

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Oct 28, 2013 5:16 am

Greetings,

CalBudd wrote:My problem in a nutshell. The Sutta Pitaka is vast. Also its nuances are unending as posts here by serious readers and practitioners of Buddhism show.

How about...

Suttas for the Householder
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=259

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Feeling Of Insufficiency

Postby CalBudd » Mon Oct 28, 2013 5:31 am

Sanjay PS wrote:Hi Calbudd ,

In the meantime ,whenever you find that you have time to spare just 11 days of your life , kindly try doing a 10 day course at a centre nearest to your place of residence ( http://www.dhamma.org ) . The course is open for both lay people as well as those who have taken to the robes , and there are no charges what so ever .

Its when learning and applying the practical part of Dhamma (pattitati) in a conducive environment , that the theoretical part of Dhamma (parriyati) gets out meaning to the many words that we encounter while digging deeper .

sanjay


Certainly Sanjay. But at this time I am unable to take so many days leave. When I have time surely will do.

Question to Retro - does "Suttas for Householders" mean Suttas aimed at instructing how householders should lead their life or the most essential Suttas one should know.
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Re: Feeling Of Insufficiency

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Oct 28, 2013 7:04 am

Greetings,

CalBudd wrote:Question to Retro - does "Suttas for Householders" mean Suttas aimed at instructing how householders should lead their life or the most essential Suttas one should know.

Suttas given to householders (i.e. non-monastics)... so if you apply the logic from the Simsapa Sitta (SN 56.31) then this may well be all you might need to know as a householder... certainly to get to the "Grade B" you speak of.

What you do when you get there... well, I suspect you'll know at the time.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Feeling Of Insufficiency

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Oct 28, 2013 8:05 am

CalBudd wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:I find that taking the Buddha's own teaching, as captured within the Sutta Pitaka, to be the "gold standard". Seemingly, so did the Buddha himself...


My problem in a nutshell. The Sutta Pitaka is vast. Also its nuances are unending as posts here by serious readers and practitioners of Buddhism show.

I suggest that you read In the Buddha's Words by Bhikkhu Bodhi. It's cheap, short, and contains an excellent selection of high-quality translations with very good explanations by one of the leading modern expositors of the suttas. Once you've read that a couple of times, and have a good grasp of those suttas, you'll be able to easily fit any sutta you come across into the framework of that selection. If you have time, there is also a series of lectures by Bhikkhu Bodhi that goes into much more detail: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2392

:anjali:
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Re: Feeling Of Insufficiency

Postby chownah » Mon Oct 28, 2013 8:45 am

CalBudd,
Please, please, please, take a look at Wings to Awakening by Thanissaro Bikkhu and after a quick look at his style report back what you think......it is easily accessed on line and it shouldn't take long to do this. Thanissaro's style is very user friendly and he is pretty good at giving sutta references too. I'm not trying to promote him but I think I know where you are coming from as I have had similar experiences I think so please give it a try......just take a little peak.
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Re: Feeling Of Insufficiency

Postby reflection » Mon Oct 28, 2013 9:15 am

Hi,

So you ask for a sort of guide to guide you through the suttas and will teach you what you need, am I correct? If so, that poses a problem because every practitioner is different! There are thousands of suttas and later teachings for a reason: What rings a bell with one person, doesn't with the other. So books are often quite general for that reason. In my experience, to take that step deeper you will need to do some research and teachings/sutta searching for yourself.

I would personally suggest this page, starting at the oldest talk and working towards the most recent. It features Ajahn Brahm reading and commenting on suttas on a deep level (much deeper than his famous talks)
http://www.dhammaloka.org.au/downloads/ ... hamma.html

But again, everybody is different, so you may not like it.

That having said, the most important thing is to practice. You might read a sutta, don't find it appealing at all, only to realize at a later date what it meant, but that will happen only through practice. Also, find the right balance between meditation, other practice and study. You may not need much study anyway. There will be many people not that well versed in the suttas but still very wise.
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Re: Feeling Of Insufficiency

Postby fivebells » Mon Oct 28, 2013 1:06 pm

chownah wrote:Please, please, please, take a look at Wings to Awakening by Thanissaro Bikkhu and after a quick look at his style report back what you think...


Given CalBudd's aspirations, Wings to Awakening is probably not the best book to recommend. With Each and Every Breath is a far simpler document which covers the same conceptual ground and makes the pragmatic implications explicit.
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Re: Feeling Of Insufficiency

Postby CalBudd » Mon Oct 28, 2013 2:53 pm

A big thank you to everyone. I have downloaded "Wings Of Awakening" and "Each & Every Breath". I am a great fan of Ajahn Brahm. So thanks to Reflection for sharing the link. Now let me go back and read for few months and then get back to all of you with further questions,

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Re: Feeling Of Insufficiency

Postby chownah » Mon Oct 28, 2013 3:17 pm

CalBudd,
Just another thought.......a good online Pali dictionary for getting English definitions quickly is Nayanatiloka's Dictionary and is available in a few places online and I think it can be downloaded but I'm not sure.......I use this a lot and am glad that I learned about it early on in my Buddhist studies......I still use it a lot.
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