MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dhamma?

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MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dhamma?

Postby starter » Sat Mar 15, 2014 6:05 pm

Greetings!

After pondering about the following teaching in MN 70 & MN 95 and its various translations, I believe that it's THE Dhamma (the Buddha's teaching -- the suttas), instead of the teachers' own "Dhamma talks", that one should give ear to, memorize, investigate, and practice:

"Idha, bhikkhave, saddhājāto upasaṅkamati, upasaṅkamanto payirupāsati, payirupāsanto sotaṃ odahati, ohitasoto dhammaṃ suṇāti, sutvā dhammaṃ dhāreti, dhatānaṃ dhammānaṃ atthaṃ upaparikkhati, atthaṃ upaparikkhato dhammā nijjhānaṃ khamanti, dhammanijjhānakkhantiyā sati chando jāyati, chandajāto ussahati, ussāhetvā tuleti, tulayitvā padahati, pahitatto samāno kāyena ceva paramasaccaṃ sacchikaroti, paññāya ca naṃ ativijjha passati."

Ven. Bodhi's translation:

"Here one who has faith in a teacher visits him; when he visits him, he pays respect to him; when he pays respect to him, he gives ear; one who gives ear hears the Dhamma; having heard the Dhamma, he memorises it; he examines the meaning of the teachings he has memorised; when he examines their meaning, he gains a reflective acceptance of those teachings; when he has gained a reflective acceptance of those teachings, zeal springs up in him; when zeal has sprung up, he applies his will; having applied his will, he scrutinises; having scrutinised, he strives; resolutely striving, he realises with the body the supreme truth and sees it by penetrating it with wisdom."

Ven. Thanissaro's translation:

"There is the case where, when conviction has arisen, one visits [a teacher]. Having visited, one grows close. Having grown close, one lends ear. Having lent ear, one hears the Dhamma. Having heard the Dhamma, one remembers it. Remembering, one penetrates the meaning of the teachings. Penetrating the meaning, one comes to an agreement through pondering the teachings. There being an agreement through pondering the teachings, desire arises. When desire has arisen, one is willing. When one is willing, one contemplates. Having contemplated, one makes an exertion. Having made an exertion, one realizes with the body the ultimate truth and, having penetrated it with discernment, sees it.

My personal understanding:

"Here, Monks, one whose faith [on the Buddha] has arisen approaches [a teacher, who was the source of verbal suttas]; when approaching, he pays respect; while paying respect, he gives ear; while giving ear [paying attention] he hears the Dhamma; having heard the Dhamma, he memorises it; having known it by heart, he investigates (ponders about) the Dhamma; having investigated it, the Dhamma insight arises; with the Dhamma insight arisen, mindfulness and desire arises; with desire arisen, he makes an effort (in applying/praticing the Buddha's Teaching); having made an effort, he examines (the result of his effort); having examined (the result of his effort), he strives; having strived, he realizes the superior truth with the very body; now having penetrated it with wisdom, he sees."

I don't think that the Buddha meant that we should approach a teacher and hear/memorize/investigate/practice this teacher's own teachings/Dhamma talks (instead of the suttas). The Dhamma should be timeless. If my "translation"/interpretation of this important passage is correct, then it can still apply today. Now the suttas are readily available to us. Instead of approaching a personal teacher and listening to his "Dhamma talks" (his own interpretation of the Dhamma) to learn the Dhamma, we'd better approach the suttas and read them directly, and then memorize them, investigate them, and practice them. Of course we should still have teachers to help us on the path. But the teachers' "Dhamma talks" should not be the source of THE Dhamma, to my opinion.

Metta to all!
Last edited by starter on Sat Mar 15, 2014 8:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The steps of the practice: to whose teaching to give ear

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Mar 15, 2014 6:17 pm

starter wrote:
My personal understanding:

"Here, Monks, one whose faith [on the Buddha] has arisen approaches [the suttas]; when approaching, he pays respect; while paying respect, he gives ear [pays close attention to the suttas]; while giving ear [paying attention] he hears the Dhamma; having heard the Dhamma, he memorises it; having known it by heart, he investigates (ponders about) the Dhamma; having investigated it, the Dhamma insight arises; with the Dhamma insight arisen, mindfulness and desire arises; with desire arisen, he makes an effort (in applying/praticing the Teaching); having made an effort, he examines (the result of his effort); having examined (the result of his effort), he strives; having strived, he realizes the superior truth with the very body; now having penetrated it with wisdom, he sees."

I don't think that the Buddha meant that we should approach a teacher and hear/memorize/investigate/practice this teacher's own teachings (instead of the suttas). The Dhamma should be timeless. If my "translation"/interpretation of this important passage is correct, then it can still apply today. Now the suttas are readily available to us. Instead of approaching a personal teacher and listening to his "Dhamma talks" (his own interpretation of the Dhamma) to learn the Dhamma, we'd better approach the suttas and read them directly, and then memorize them, investigate them, and practice them. Of course we should still have teachers to help us on the path. But the teachers' "Dhamma talks" should not be the source of the Dhamma, to my opinion.

Metta to all!


    I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Savatthi in the Eastern Monastery, the palace of Migara's mother, together with many well-known elder disciples — with Ven. Sariputta, Ven. Maha Moggallana, Ven. Maha Kassapa, Ven. Maha Kaccana, Ven. Maha Kotthita, Ven. Maha Kappina, Ven. Maha Cunda, Ven. Revata, Ven. Ananda, and other well-known elder disciples. On that occasion the elder monks were teaching & instructing. Some elder monks were teaching & instructing ten monks, some were teaching & instructing twenty monks, some were teaching & instructing thirty monks, some were teaching & instructing forty monks. The new monks, being taught & instructed by the elder monks, were discerning grand, successive distinctions.
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


    As for the individual who has attained neither internal tranquillity of awareness nor insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, he should approach an individual who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment... and ask him, 'How should the mind be steadied? How should it be made to settle down? How should it be unified? How should it be concentrated? How should fabrications be regarded? How should they be investigated? How should they be seen with insight?' The other will answer in line with what he has seen & experienced: 'The mind should be steadied in this way. The mind should be made to settle down in this way. The mind should be unified in this way. The mind should be concentrated in this way. Fabrications should be regarded in this way. Fabrications should be investigated in this way. Fabrications should be seen in this way with insight.' Then eventually he [the first] will become one who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment.
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


If my "translation"/interpretation of this important passage is correct, then it can still apply today. You have significantly rewritten/altered what the sutta in question says. You might want to rethink your take in this text.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: The steps of the practice: to whose teaching to give ear

Postby culaavuso » Sat Mar 15, 2014 7:04 pm

AN 8.53: Gotami Sutta wrote:As for the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to dispassion, not to passion; to being unfettered, not to being fettered; to shedding, not to accumulating; to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to entanglement; to aroused persistence, not to laziness; to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome': You may categorically hold, 'This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher's instruction.'


AN 3.65: Kalama Sutta wrote:So in this case, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering' — then you should abandon them.
...
Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them.


Iti 107 wrote:Monks, householders are very helpful to you, as they provide you with the requisites of robes, alms food, lodgings, and medicine. And you, monks, are very helpful to householders, as you teach them the Dhamma admirable in the beginning, admirable in the middle, and admirable in the end, as you expound the holy life both in its particulars and in its essence, entirely complete, surpassingly pure. In this way the holy life is lived in mutual dependence, for the purpose of crossing over the flood, for making a right end to suffering and stress.


Note that at the time of the Buddha's parinibbana there were no written suttas:

DN 16: Maha-parinibbana Sutta wrote:Now the Blessed One spoke to the Venerable Ananda, saying: "It may be, Ananda, that to some among you the thought will come: 'Ended is the word of the Master; we have a Master no longer.' But it should not, Ananda, be so considered. For that which I have proclaimed and made known as the Dhamma and the Discipline, that shall be your Master when I am gone.

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Re: MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dham

Postby starter » Sat Mar 15, 2014 9:43 pm

Greetings!

DN 16: Maha-parinibbana Sutta:

"Now the Blessed One spoke to the Venerable Ananda, saying: "It may be, Ananda, that to some among you the thought will come: 'Ended is the word of the Teacher; we have a Teacher no longer.' But it should not, Ananda, be so considered. For that which I have proclaimed and made known as the Dhamma and the Discipline, that shall be your Teacher when I am gone."

“Here, monks, a monk might speak like this: ‘I have heard this directly from the Gracious One, friends, directly I learned it: “This is the Teaching, this is the Discipline, this is the Teacher’s Dispensation.”’ That monk’s speech, monks, is not to be rejoiced over, not to be scorned at. Without having rejoiced over it, without having scorned it, after learning those words and syllables well, they should be laid alongside the Discourses (the Dhamma), they should be compared with the Discipline (the Vinaya).

If, when these are laid alongside the Discourses, compared with the Discipline, they do not fit in with the Discourses, they do not compare well with the Discipline, you may here come to this conclusion: ‘Certainly this is not the Gracious One’s word, it is not well learned by that monk,’ and, monks, you should abandon it. If when these are laid alongside the Discourses, compared with the Discipline, they do fit in with the Discourses, they do compare well with the Discipline, you may come to this conclusion: ‘Certainly this is the Gracious One’s word, it is well-learned by that monk.’ This, monks, is the first Great Referral you should bear in mind.

Here, monks, a monk might speak like this: ‘In a certain dwelling place lives a Community with elders and leaders, I have heard this directly from that Community, directly I learned it: “This is the Teaching, this is the Discipline, this is the Teacher’s Dispensation.”’ Those monks’ speech, monks, is not to be rejoiced over, not to be scorned at. Without having rejoiced over it, without having scorned it, after learning those words and syllables well, they should be laid alongside the Discourses, they should be compared with the Discipline.

If, when these are laid alongside the Discourses, compared with the Discipline, they do not fit in with the Discourses, they do not compare well with the Discipline, you may here come to this conclusion: ‘Certainly this is not the Gracious One’s word, it is not well learned by that Community,’ and, monks, you should abandon it. If when these are laid alongside the Discourses, compared with the Discipline, they do fit in with the Discourses, they do compare well with the Discipline, you may here come to this conclusion: ‘Certainly this is the Gracious One’s word, it is well-learned by that Community.’ This, monks, is the second Great Referral you should bear in mind.

Here, monks, a monk might speak like this: ‘In a certain dwelling place live many elders, very learned, who have learned the traditions, who are bearers of the Teaching, bearers of the Discipline, bearers of the Tabulation, I have heard this directly from those elders, directly I learned it: “This is the Teaching, this is the Discipline, this is the Teacher’s Dispensation.”’ Those monks’ speech, monks, is not to be rejoiced over, not to be scorned at. Without having rejoiced over it, without having scorned it, after learning those words and syllables well, they should be laid alongside the Discourses, they should be compared with the Discipline.

If, when these are laid alongside the Discourses, compared with the Discipline, they do not fit in with the Discourses, they do not compare well with the Discipline, you may here come to this conclusion: ‘Certainly this is not the Gracious One’s word, it is not well learned by those elders,’ and, monks, you should abandon it. If when these are laid alongside the Discourses, compared with the Discipline they do fit in with the Discourses, they do compare well with the Discipline, you may here come to this conclusion: ‘Certainly this is the Gracious One’s word, it is well-learned by those elders.’ This, monks, is the third Great Referral you should bear in mind.

Here, monks, a monk might speak like this: ‘In a certain dwelling place lives one elder, very learned, who has learned the traditions, a bearer of the Teaching, a bearer of the Discipline, a bearer of the Tabulation, I have heard this directly from that elder, directly I learned it: “This is the Teaching, this is the Discipline, this is the Teacher’s Dispensation.”’ That monk’s speech, monks, is not to be rejoiced over, not to be scorned at. Without having rejoiced over it, without having scorned it, after learning those words and syllables well, they should be laid alongside the Discourses, they should be compared with the Discipline.

If, when these are laid alongside the Discourses, compared with the Discipline they do not fit in with the Discourses, they do not compare well with the Discipline, you may here come to this conclusion: ‘Certainly this is not the Gracious One’s word, it is not well learned by that elder,’ and, monks, you should abandon it. If when these are laid alongside the Discourses, compared with the Discipline, they do fit in with the Discourses, they do compare well with the Discipline, you may here come to this conclusion: ‘Certainly this is the Gracious One’s word, it is well-learned by that elder.’ This, monks, is the fourth Great Referral you should bear in mind. These, monks, are the Four Great Referrals you should bear in mind.”


Āṇi Sutta:

"In future time, there will be bhikkhus who will not listen to the utterance of such discourses which are words of the Tathāgata, profound, profound in meaning, leading beyond the world, (consistently) connected with emptiness, they will not lend ear, they will not apply their mind on knowledge, they will not consider those teachings as to be taken up and mastered.

On the contrary, they will listen to the utterance of such discourses which are literary compositions made by poets, witty words, witty letters, by people from outside, or the words of disciples, they will lend ear, they will apply their mind on knowledge, they will consider those teachings as to be taken up and mastered.

Thus, bhikkhus, the discourses which are words of the Tathāgata, profound, profound in meaning, leading beyond the world, (consistently) connected with emptiness, will disappear.

Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train thus: 'We will listen to the utterance of such discourses which are words of the Tathāgata, profound, profound in meaning, leading beyond the world, (consistently) connected with emptiness, we will lend ear, we will apply our mind on knowledge, we will consider those teachings as to be taken up and mastered.' This is how, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves.

Metta to all!

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Re: MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dham

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Mar 15, 2014 10:47 pm

starter wrote:Greetings!

DN 16: Maha-parinibbana Sutta: . . .
All the quotes in this msg do not erase the fact that you rewrote the MN 70 passage to fit how you think the text should read.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dham

Postby starter » Sun Mar 16, 2014 2:03 am

I'd like to add that to my understanding, the Buddha clearly instructed his followers to place faith on HIS words -- the Dhamma (his discourses/suttas) and Vinaya, instead of any other "Dhamma teachers" no matter who they are, when he is gone. It's a pity that some of his followers taught their own teaching or interpretation of HIS Teaching (what they considered as the Dhamma), instead of the Buddha's discourses. I think this is the major reason why the true Dhamma has/had almost disappeared in some countries.

As to if I "rewrote the MN 70 passage to fit how you think the text should read" or not, I'll leave it to those who understand Pali and the Buddha's teaching. I thought I only put my personal understanding in parentheses without claiming they are the Buddha's teaching.

Thanks and metta!

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Re: MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dham

Postby pulga » Sun Mar 16, 2014 3:04 am

starter wrote: But the teachers' "Dhamma talks" should not be the source of THE Dhamma, to my opinion.


Unless of course you believe a teacher to be of noble right view.

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Re: MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dham

Postby santa100 » Sun Mar 16, 2014 3:27 am

starter wrote:I'd like to add that to my understanding, the Buddha clearly instructed his followers to place faith on HIS words -- the Dhamma (his discourses/suttas) and Vinaya, instead of any other "Dhamma teachers" no matter who they are, when he is gone. It's a pity that some of his followers taught their own teaching or interpretation of HIS Teaching (what they considered as the Dhamma), instead of the Buddha's discourses. I think this is the major reason why the true Dhamma has/had almost disappeared in some countries.

Of course the suttas are vital elements, but it doesn't mean one should simply discard the commentary and respected teachers' insight. How does one know if s/he has properly understood the deep meaning of some cryptic passage, for example, one from SN 1.38:
Then another devata uttered this inspired utterance in the presence of the Blessed One: “See his concentration well developed and his mind well liberated—not bent forward and not bent back, and not blocked and checked by forceful suppression(??)!

That's where the insight of the commentary and respected teachers come into play. Ven. Bodhi and the Comy. clarified:
..the mind accompanied by lust is said to be “bent forward” (abhinatam), that accompanied by hate to be "bent back" (apanatam)...This is not achieved, not fixed, forcefully, with effort, by way of abandoning in a particular respect or by way of abandoning through suppression as is the mundane-jhana mind or insight; but rather (it is achieved) because the defilements have been completely cut off..

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Re: MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dham

Postby starter » Sun Mar 16, 2014 3:34 pm

pulga wrote:
starter wrote: But the teachers' "Dhamma talks" should not be the source of THE Dhamma, to my opinion.


Unless of course you believe a teacher to be of noble right view.


-- Unless you are a stream winner or above, you can't judge and just "believe" a teacher is of noble right view, no matter how they claim to be. I think that's why the Buddha laid down the Four Great Referrals and instructed us:

"For that which I have proclaimed and made known as the Dhamma and the Discipline, that shall be your Teacher when I am gone."

Thanks and metta!

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Re: MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dham

Postby starter » Sun Mar 16, 2014 4:27 pm

santa100 wrote:Of course the suttas are vital elements, but it doesn't mean one should simply discard the commentary and respected teachers' insight.


-- I didn't mean one should discard the commentary and respected teachers' insight. I indicated "Of course we should still have teachers to help us on the path. But the teachers' "Dhamma talks" should not be the source of THE Dhamma". I'd take them as their own understanding of the Dhamma, instead of the Buddha's teaching; and they could be wrong.

santa100 wrote:How does one know if s/he has properly understood the deep meaning of some cryptic passage, for example, one from SN 1.38:
Then another devata uttered this inspired utterance in the presence of the Blessed One: “See his concentration well developed and his mind well liberated—not bent forward and not bent back, and not blocked and checked by forceful suppression(??)!

That's where the insight of the commentary and respected teachers come into play. Ven. Bodhi and the Comy. clarified:
..the mind accompanied by lust is said to be “bent forward” (abhinatam), that accompanied by hate to be "bent back" (apanatam)...This is not achieved, not fixed, forcefully, with effort, by way of abandoning in a particular respect or by way of abandoning through suppression as is the mundane-jhana mind or insight; but rather (it is achieved) because the defilements have been completely cut off..


-- After checking the Agama equivalents of SN 1.38, which are SA2 287 and SA 1289 (ancient translations), as well as the rest of SN 1.38, I've to point out that not bent forward and not bent back was translated in SA2 287 as [color=#0000BF]終不矜高亦不卑下 (not place himself above or below -- no conceit); not blocked and checked by forceful suppression was translated in both SA2 287 and SA 1289 as "為於戒取縛, 持戒之所縛 [not by way of forceful discipline (for observing sila)]. We can better "lend ear" to the Agama suttas, instead of some disciples' personal interpretations of the suttas which may be correct or may be wrong. of course even the Agama sutta translations could sometimes be inaccurate as well, but all the relevant suttas in both languages should be able to help us understand the meaning of some difficult passages.
[/color]

The meaning of a "well liberated" mind is also defined right below the above-cited passage in SN 1.38:

Though brahmins learned in the five Vedas
Practise austerities for a hundred years,
Their minds are not rightly liberated:
Those of low nature do not reach the far shore.

They founder in craving, bound to vows and rules,
Practising rough austerity for a hundred years,
But their minds are not rightly liberated:
Those of low nature do not reach the far shore.

There is no taming here for one fond of conceit,
Nor is there sagehood for the unconcentrated:
Though dwelling alone in the forest, heedless,
One cannot cross beyond the realm of Death.

Having abandoned conceit, well concentrated,
With lofty mind, everywhere released:
While dwelling alone in the forest, diligent,
One can cross beyond the realm of Death.

SA2 287: http://www.cbeta.org/cgi-bin/goto.pl?li ... 0_p0473c27
"...
第八天復作是言。沙門瞿曇猶如分陀利。觀彼禪寂
極為善定。終不矜高亦不卑下。止故解脫。解
脫故止。時第八天。即說偈言。
非彼清淨心  假使滿百千
通達五比施  為於戒取縛
沒溺愛欲海  不能度彼岸"

SA 1289: http://www.cbeta.org/cgi-bin/goto.pl?li ... 9_p0355a19

觀彼三昧定  善住於正受
解脫離諸塵  不踊亦不沒
其心安隱住  而得心解脫

為欲之所迫  持戒之所縛
勇捍行苦行  經歷於百年
其心不解脫  不離於塵垢
是則卑下類  不度於彼岸

心居憍慢欲  不能自調伏
不得三昧定  牟尼之正受
獨一居山林  其心常放逸
於彼死魔軍  不得度彼岸

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Re: MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dham

Postby santa100 » Sun Mar 16, 2014 7:46 pm

starter wrote:After checking the Agama equivalents of SN 1.38, which are SA2 287 and SA 1289 (ancient translations), as well as the rest of SN 1.38, I've to point out that not bent forward and not bent back was translated in SA2 287 as [color=#0000BF]終不矜高亦不卑下 (not place himself above or below -- no conceit); not blocked and checked by forceful suppression was translated in both SA2 287 and SA 1289 as "為於戒取縛, 持戒之所縛 [not by way of forceful discipline (for observing sila)]. We can better "lend ear" to the Agama suttas, instead of some disciples' personal interpretations of the suttas which may be correct or may be wrong. of course even the Agama sutta translations could sometimes be inaccurate as well, but all the relevant suttas in both languages should be able to help us understand the meaning of some difficult passages.

Sorry I don't understand Chinese. Please provide a reference of Agama equivalence of SN 1.38 in English.

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Re: MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dham

Postby binocular » Sun Mar 16, 2014 8:35 pm

starter wrote:I'd like to add that to my understanding, the Buddha clearly instructed his followers to place faith on HIS words -- the Dhamma (his discourses/suttas) and Vinaya, instead of any other "Dhamma teachers" no matter who they are, when he is gone. It's a pity that some of his followers taught their own teaching or interpretation of HIS Teaching (what they considered as the Dhamma), instead of the Buddha's discourses. I think this is the major reason why the true Dhamma has/had almost disappeared in some countries.

As long as Pali dictionaries and grammars are written by people, one will be at least implicitly relying on people for understanding the suttas.

And secondly, a translation is usually also simultaneously an interpretation. Unless one composes a highly academic translation, with explaining the variety of meanings of each term, one is firmly in the domain of interpretation.

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Re: MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dham

Postby starter » Sun Mar 16, 2014 9:54 pm

santa100 wrote:Sorry I don't understand Chinese. Please provide a reference of Agama equivalence of SN 1.38 in English.


--The Agama equivalents of SN 1.38 are SA2 287 and SA 1289. See Suttacentral.

As to binocular's comments, I hope the Pali dictionaries and grammars can be improved to be more reliable, with the explanations of the variety of meanings of each term, so that we can have more accurate understanding of the suttas. Even though these are still interpretation-dependent, they are far closer to the Dhamma than the other teachers' own teachings.

Thanks and metta!

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Re: MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dham

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Mar 16, 2014 11:39 pm

Even if you have an excellent translation (which, others have pointed out, requires knowledge of grammar, context, background, etc --- a dictionary is never a satisfactory translation tool on its own), it still has to be interpreted. If one is just starting out, then some advice on interpretation seems prudent.

Furthermore, if one is attempting to put the instructions into practice, it can be very useful to have someone more experienced to point out when one is going wrong. It's very easy to fool oneself --- this is about working on greed, hatred, and delusion...

:anjali:
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Re: MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dham

Postby starter » Mon Mar 17, 2014 2:40 pm

mikenz66 wrote: If one is just starting out, then some advice on interpretation seems prudent.

Furthermore, if one is attempting to put the instructions into practice, it can be very useful to have someone more experienced to point out when one is going wrong. It's very easy to fool oneself --- this is about working on greed, hatred, and delusion..."
:anjali:
Mike


-- Sure. As long as we take these as advice, which may be right may be wrong, instead of the Buddha's teaching. And we need to apply the Four Great Referrals to make sure these advice are in accordance with the discourses.

:anjali:

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Re: MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dham

Postby daverupa » Mon Mar 17, 2014 3:07 pm

starter wrote:And we need to apply the Four Great Referrals to make sure these advice are in accordance with the discourses.


Are the Dhamma and Discipline referred to in that passage coextensive with the Tipitaka? No. The Nikayas and the Suttavibhanga? No. Most of the first four Nikayas and the Patimokkha? Somewhat...

So the Four Great References, when referring to the Dhamma and the Discipline, are hardly the slam dunk source of surety we'd all like them to be, and in fact the application of these References can unseat many traditional aspects of Buddhism-at-large: momentariness, merit transfer, mundane/supramundane, to say nothing of the mahayanas, and more.

The Great References themselves may be a later formulation of the simple statement that the Dhamma and Discipline will be our guides when the Buddha is gone.

Things aren't so very clear-cut, in short, and that's even after one has reading proficiency in Pali...
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dham

Postby culaavuso » Mon Mar 17, 2014 3:59 pm

daverupa wrote:Are the Dhamma and Discipline referred to in that passage coextensive with the Tipitaka? No.


This seems to be evident from the fact that there are suttas that directly state they are from a time after the parinibbana.

MN 108: Gopakamoggallāna Sutta wrote:Thus have I heard. On one occasion the venerable Ānanda was living at Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels’ Sanctuary, not long after the Blessed One had attained to final Nibbāna.


Also of note is the fact that there are suttas that were not taught by the Buddha:

MN 9: Sammādiṭṭhi Sutta wrote:Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. There the venerable Sāriputta addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Friends, bhikkhus.”—“Friend,” they replied. The venerable Sāriputta said this...


Some, but not all, of these instances were explicitly approved of by the Buddha:

MN 44: Culavedalla Sutta wrote:I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Rajagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels' Sanctuary. Then Visakha the lay follower went to Dhammadinna the nun and, on arrival, having bowed down to her, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to her, "'Self-identification, self-identification,' it is said, lady. Which self-identification is described by the Blessed One?"
...
Then Visakha the lay follower, delighting & rejoicing in what Dhammadinna the nun had said, bowed down to her and, keeping her to his right, went to the Blessed One. On arrival, having bowed down to the Blessed One, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there he told the Blessed One the full extent of the conversation he had had with Dhammadinna the nun. When this was said, the Blessed One said to him, "Dhammadinna the nun is wise, Visakha, a woman of great discernment. If you had asked me those things, I would have answered you in the same way she did. That is the meaning of those things. That is how you should remember it."

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Re: MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dham

Postby pulga » Mon Mar 17, 2014 4:28 pm

I find it intriguing that some teachers give the impression that they have a correct understanding of the Dhamma, e.g. Ven. Thanissaro, Ven. Ñanananda, and Ven. Ñanavira while a monk like Ven. Bodhi inspires through his familiarity with the Suttas in their original Pali all the while presenting himself as a puthujjana with the willingness to consider multiple interpretations. Taking the idea of a parato ghosa - a voice from beyond - to heart, is it worth making a leap of faith? Or is it better to resign ourselves to an eclectic muddle?

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Re: MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dham

Postby starter » Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:46 pm

pulga wrote:Taking the idea of a parato ghosa - a voice from beyond - to heart, is it worth making a leap of faith? Or is it better to resign ourselves to an eclectic muddle?


-- The faith on the Buddha and his teaching occurs naturally. If we want to liberate ourselves from suffering forever like the Buddha, then we'd better follow his instruction.


THE Dhamma includes the discourses spoken by the Buddha, and those spoken by the arahants that were approved by him to teach.

Metta to all!

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Re: MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dham

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Mar 17, 2014 11:29 pm

pulga wrote:I find it intriguing that some teachers give the impression that they have a correct understanding of the Dhamma, e.g. Ven. Thanissaro, Ven. Ñanananda, and Ven. Ñanavira while a monk like Ven. Bodhi inspires through his familiarity with the Suttas in their original Pali all the while presenting himself as a puthujjana with the willingness to consider multiple interpretations. ...

It's a tricky problem, isn't it? On the one hand, if a teacher sincerely believes that the Dhamma is being misrepresented, then explaining the problem would seem to be the responsible thing to do. On the other hand, there are different ways to interpret the Dhamma, and some criticisms I read appear to me to be a matter of taste. Furthermore, I think that it is important to careful distinguish instructions from a teacher and writings that are intended to be part of analytical/commentarial discussion/argument. Instruction manuals don't generally pretend to explore all possibilities, and it should not be judged as if they are an encyclopaedic, analytical work.

In terms of analytical works, I personally, prefer the style that Bhikkhu Bodhi (among others) uses. To me, he clearly explains what he thinks is the Theravada interpretation, clearly explains where he differs, and leaves the listener/reader with the information necessary to draw her/his own conclusions.


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