Ananda's appeal to the Buddha in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta

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Re: Ananda's appeal to the Buddha in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Postby Ben » Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:01 pm

Hi Kare

Kare wrote:The texts are not stenographical reports of what was said and done at the actual moment. They are probably based on real events and real sayings, but they were edited before collected into Nikayas and later written down.
Sometimes the Commentaries mention the editors, as for instance in the Therigatha Commentary: Imā tisso gāthā saṅgītikārehi ṭhapitā, "These three verses were added by the editors". Here, saṅgītikārehi refers to the editors.
When reading the Pali Texts, we should remember that they have been passing through the hands of editors, and we should also ask ourselves what motives the editors may have had for inserting passages or editing the text into the shape that has reached us.
We know that Ananda had an important position. He was the personal assistant of the Buddha, which means that he always had access to him, and, still more important, he could grant or bar access to the Master for others.
How did other monks react to this? Did some of them feel envy? Did some of them grasp the opportunity for revenge by inserting passages in the Mahaparinibbanasutta intending to blame Ananda for the death of the Buddha?
It is difficult to say for sure, ... :thinking: ... but my personal feeling is that these passages may be the result of editors having a chip on their shoulder against Ananda.


Do you have any evidence that supports your argument? If so, I would appreciate it you could share it with us.
Thanks

Ben
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Re: Ananda's appeal to the Buddha in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Postby Fede » Wed Sep 09, 2009 3:05 am

Peter wrote:There are many suttas where he sounds like an old grouch. It's not unusual. Then again, we do not see his face nor hear his voice. As anyone who has spent a decent amount of time online will tell you, text often comes across harsher than live speech.


Yes, quite......
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Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

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Re: Ananda's appeal to the Buddha in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Sep 09, 2009 3:41 am

After the Buddha's passing, it appears that some monks were jealous of Ananda, because of his close relationship with the Buddha.

All the directions are obscure, The teachings are not clear to me; With our benevolent friend gone, It seems as if all is darkness. For one whose friend has passed away, One whose teacher is gone for good, There is no friend that can compare With mindfulness of the body. The old ones have all passed away; I do not fit in with the new. And so today I muse alone Like a bird who has gone to roost.

Ananda from: Theragatha 17.3


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .olen.html

But this was by some monks, not all. The arahants at the First Council were . . . arahants and thus, free from envy and jealousy.
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Re: Ananda's appeal to the Buddha in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Sep 09, 2009 3:57 am

Greetings,

TheDhamma wrote:But this was by some monks, not all. The arahants at the First Council were . . . arahants and thus, free from envy and jealousy.


Yes. This was the main reason why I thought Kare's theory was interesting and thought-provoking, but that I couldn't sign up to it personally.

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)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Ananda's appeal to the Buddha in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Postby Ben » Wed Sep 09, 2009 4:01 am

Hi David
Forgive me, but I don't read a sense of others' jealousy in Ananda's verses.
He seems to be saying that no one is comparable to the Buddha, no friend can compare with his practice, and his sense of separateness from the 'new ones'.
His sense of separateness could be as a result of his own growing spiritual development and not some inter-personal tension. If I were to describe what I feel when confronted with the vast majority of humanity that I meet - it would be very close to:
There is no friend that can compare With mindfulness of [vedana]. The old ones have all passed away; I do not fit in with the new. And so today I muse alone Like a bird who has gone to roost.

To me, the declaration is incredibly profound and speaks of the experience of walking on the path.

There are also overtones above of the verse popularly known as 'the rhinoceros sutra'

bhayea mitra paḍibhaṇavaṃta
baho-ṣuda dhaṃma-dhara uraḍa
(*annae dhammaṃ vi)yigitsa prahae
ek(*o care khargaviṣaṇagapo)


One should cultivate a friend who is intelligent,
learned, a master of the dharma, noble.
(*Having understood the dharma)
[and] abandoned doubt, (*one should wander) alone (*like the rhinoceros.)

sayi labhea ṇivago sahayo
sardhacare sas̱ovihari dhiro
(*abhibhuya) sarvaṇi pariṣeaṇi
carea ten' atamaṇa svad(*ima')


If one should find a wise companion,
a well-behaved, strong fellow,
[then] (*overcoming) all dangers,
one should wander along with him, satisfied at heart, mindful.

ṇo ya labhea ṇivag(*o) sahayo
sardhacare sas̱ovihari dhiro
(*raya va ratha) viyidaṃ prahae
eko care khargaviṣaṇagap(*o)


If one should not find a wise companion,
a well-behaved, strong fellow,
[then] (*like a king who) has abandoned (*the realm) [which he had] conquered,
one should wander alone like the rhinoceros.

-- Gandari version of the Rhinoceros Sutra: http://www.ebmp.org/p_wrk_samples.php


Having said that, I do not compare myself with Ananda nor his achievements.
Metta

Ben
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Re: Ananda's appeal to the Buddha in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Sep 09, 2009 4:11 am

Hi Ben,

It is in Andrew Olendzki's 'translator's intro' at the access to insight link:

After the Buddha's final passing Ananda seems to have been treated somewhat badly by some of the other monks, who were jealous of his close relationship with the master. Poems like this one suggest that Ananda passed a lonely old age and never ceased mourning for his beloved teacher and friend.


I'm not sure if he is basing it off of just that passage from Ananda or if there is more supporting evidence for that in the Commentaries.
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Re: Ananda's appeal to the Buddha in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Sep 09, 2009 4:32 am

Ben wrote:Hi David
Forgive me, but I don't read a sense of others' jealousy in Ananda's verses.


If you have Ven Nanamoli's LIFE OF THE BUDDHA, (I'm at work so I do not have it hand) look at the final chapters where there is an interesting if not unpleasant inteeraction between Ven Kassapa and Ananda.
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.

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Re: Ananda's appeal to the Buddha in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Postby Ben » Wed Sep 09, 2009 5:14 am

Thanks Tilt
I don't have a copy of Life of the Buddha. Perhaps its about time I put it on the reading list.
I do remember Hecker - or perhaps Nyanaponika Thera telling the story of how Maha Kassapa gave Ananda a great shelacking one day in the presence of younger monks. But if memory served me well it was due to the behaviour of a young nun who was just a little bit naughty in the Melrose Place kinda way. Because of Ananda's close relationships, particularly with the nuns, and because (I think the young nun attempted to invoke the influence of Ananda) he copped a verbal whalloping from Mahakassapa.
Though i could be wrong - my copy of Great Disciples of the Buddhais packed up with the rest of my dhamma books prior to our move this Friday.
Metta

Ben
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Re: Ananda's appeal to the Buddha in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Sep 09, 2009 5:32 am

Bhikkhuni Thullatissa remarked, "How could the Revered Kassapa presume to speak Dhamma in the presence of the Revered Ananda, the learned sage? This is as if a needle peddler wanted to sell a needle to the needle maker."

When Kassapa heard the nun's remarks, he asked Ananda: "How is it, friend Ananda, am I the needle peddler and you the needle maker, or am I the needle maker and you the needle peddler?"

Ananda replied: "Be indulgent, venerable sir. She is foolish woman.

"Beware, friend Ananda, or else the Sangha may further examine you. How is it, friend Ananda, was it you to whom the Exalted One referred in the presence of the Sangha when saying: 'I, O monks, can attain at will the four fine-material and immaterial meditative absorptions, the cessation of perception and feeling, the six supernormal knowledges; and Ananda, too, can so attain'?"

"Not so, venerable sir."

"Or was it that he said: 'Kassapa, too, can so attain'?"

SN 16.10
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Re: Ananda's appeal to the Buddha in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Postby Individual » Wed Sep 09, 2009 9:55 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

I'm trying to work out the significance of the following passage from DN16.

Is there some lesson to be learned from it? Why would the Buddha drop hints, only to effectively go "too bad, so sad" once Ananda worked out what the Buddha was hinting about.

I don't see the sense in it, and am confused here about the Buddha's intentions (assuming of course that it is a legitimate passage... Maurice Walshe raises some serious doubts about the legitimacy of certain passages of this sutta).

I think that analyzing the suttas too much can lead one to doubt their veracity or the Buddha's virtue. However, with the great preponderance of humor and satire, in sharp contrast to the later Buddhist writings, it seems plausible that much of the suttas were not historically accurate but neither were they intentional lies either.

To explain what I mean, it's important to understand the mindset of early human beings. Early in human history, there wasn't a very sharp distinction between fiction and non-fiction. When people would write stuff down or create stories, they would blend fact with fiction, not for malicious reasons but because that's just the way things were. Either fiction was passed off as fact because it was something received by word-of-mouth and subject to exaggeration, or they intentionally engaged in creative improvement of what they already knew... to make the stories better or to glorify the subject matter. What they were doing may have actually been known but nobody cared because it was a good story. Aside from Buddhist texts, you see examples of this in the Bible and among the Greek poets.

And the telling of stories serves an important social role that cannot be fulfilled if such stories are strictly fiction or non-fiction. If the stories we share are strictly fiction, they aren't taken as seriously; they aren't regarded as applicable to experience. But if such stories are strictly fiction, they do not catch the reader's attention, there may be substance lacking, so the message isn't as clear. Imagine how the world might be a bit different if people regarded Aesop's fables as fact. But on the other hand, let's imagine how the world's religions might be a bit different if they were aware of any of the flaws of their founders or the various inaccuracies there might be.

Fictional media, like books and media, serves a similar role of defining virtues, creating a framework for worldview, and a path for self-fulfillment, but it's often not quite specifically targeted at that (think of how many movies are crap) and even if it is, it isn't taken as seriously because it's seen as mere entertainment. Non-fiction, though, is generally boring and depressing.

A person might find fault with this, saying that the truth is the truth is the truth, and yet psychologists will tell you that the faculty of memory is as much a creative process as it is recollective. Should we be as neurotically obsessed over "what really happened," with regards to our personal lives too? That is, can we not trust or value the human memory because memories are at least partly re-created and not merely recalled?

Lastly, the Digha Nikaya seems to be particularly reflective of this sort of thing. The other collections are somewhat more literal, or so I've heard. But regarding the suttas as entirely literally true is dubious and trying to reconstruct the past history is probably a waste of time.
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Re: Ananda's appeal to the Buddha in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Sep 09, 2009 11:16 am

Greetings Individual,

Individual wrote:Lastly, the Digha Nikaya seems to be particularly reflective of this sort of thing. The other collections are somewhat more literal, or so I've heard.


From my readings, that seems a fair assessment.

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: Ananda's appeal to the Buddha in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Postby Kare » Tue Sep 15, 2009 11:10 pm

Ben wrote:Hi Kare

Kare wrote:The texts are not stenographical reports of what was said and done at the actual moment. They are probably based on real events and real sayings, but they were edited before collected into Nikayas and later written down.
Sometimes the Commentaries mention the editors, as for instance in the Therigatha Commentary: Imā tisso gāthā saṅgītikārehi ṭhapitā, "These three verses were added by the editors". Here, saṅgītikārehi refers to the editors.
When reading the Pali Texts, we should remember that they have been passing through the hands of editors, and we should also ask ourselves what motives the editors may have had for inserting passages or editing the text into the shape that has reached us.
We know that Ananda had an important position. He was the personal assistant of the Buddha, which means that he always had access to him, and, still more important, he could grant or bar access to the Master for others.
How did other monks react to this? Did some of them feel envy? Did some of them grasp the opportunity for revenge by inserting passages in the Mahaparinibbanasutta intending to blame Ananda for the death of the Buddha?
It is difficult to say for sure, ... :thinking: ... but my personal feeling is that these passages may be the result of editors having a chip on their shoulder against Ananda.


Do you have any evidence that supports your argument? If so, I would appreciate it you could share it with us.
Thanks

Ben


I have already given evidence for the existence of editors. They are mentioned in the commentaries. And it should be self-evident that the Buddha did not present his teachings like this: "Now, listen, guys - here I am going to give you Sutta 87 in the Majjhima Nikaya!" We see the hands of the editors clearly in the compiling and ordering of texts into the canonical collections.

Now, if we look at the Chinese Agamas, we find mainly the same doctrinal stuff as in the Pali Canon. But the arrangement of texts, chapters and paragraphs is sometimes different from the Pali Canon. This shows that different editors took different decisions. It also clearly indicates that the longer texts were not delivered in one piece, but was composed by the editors putting together shorter sayings of the Buddha and also adding their own stuff.

Next, we should read the texts with a critical eye, and not like naive believers. We should also remember that the texts were not composed in order to give readers a few thousand years ahead in time an objective and exact description of what was going on. They were composed for an contemporary audience, and they were composed for a reason. The editors probably were not mindless copying machines, but living human beings with their own views and their own intentions. Surely the main intention was to preserve the teachings of the Buddha. But we have to ask ourselves if they also had other intentions. Did they for instance try to make the teachings more convincing by adding stuff that they knew would appeal to their contemporary audiences? Did they try to lessen new converts fears of the gods by describing how gods came and paid their respects to the Buddha?

If we feel shocked by such thoughts as these, we should remember that "pious fraud" is a well-known phenomena in all religions. Believers adapt the message - often with the best of intentions, but also with intentions connected with preserving or increasing their own status and power. We would be rather naive if we thought Buddhists immune against this kind of thing - especially since we can observe it on a broader scale in the Mahayana writings. Read for instance "Text as Father", by Alan Cole, where he gives very interesting analysis of the Lotus Sutra and other Mahayana texts, showing how these were composed in order to rob the "old schools" of authority. It would of course be easy to say, "Oh, but they were Mahayana Buddhists ... Theravada Buddhists would never do such a thing!" But who would we be deceiving - except ourselves?

Therefore I think we should read with a critical eye ... not in order to belittle the Buddha, his teachings or those who preserved his teachings - but in order not to waste time and energy on those parts of the texts that were composed specifically for an audience in India two thousand years ago. The real Dhamma of the Buddha shines clearly through all that superfluous stuff anyway, and I am convinced we spend our time better on concentrating on that.
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Re: Ananda's appeal to the Buddha in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Postby appicchato » Tue Sep 15, 2009 11:39 pm

:goodpost:
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Re: Ananda's appeal to the Buddha in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Sep 16, 2009 12:16 am

appicchato wrote::goodpost:


Agreed.
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.

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Re: Ananda's appeal to the Buddha in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Sep 16, 2009 12:40 am

:goodpost:

Spot on.

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: Ananda's appeal to the Buddha in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Sep 16, 2009 3:48 am

Well said Kare!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Re: Ananda's appeal to the Buddha in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Postby clw_uk » Wed Sep 16, 2009 5:10 pm

:goodpost:


I quite like this passage of what you said


Next, we should read the texts with a critical eye, and not like naive believers. We should also remember that the texts were not composed in order to give readers a few thousand years ahead in time an objective and exact description of what was going on. They were composed for an contemporary audience, and they were composed for a reason. The editors probably were not mindless copying machines, but living human beings with their own views and their own intentions. Surely the main intention was to preserve the teachings of the Buddha. But we have to ask ourselves if they also had other intentions. Did they for instance try to make the teachings more convincing by adding stuff that they knew would appeal to their contemporary audiences? Did they try to lessen new converts fears of the gods by describing how gods came and paid their respects to the Buddha?


metta
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Re: Ananda's appeal to the Buddha in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Postby Mawkish1983 » Thu Sep 17, 2009 6:36 am

:focus:
Peter wrote:a Buddha cannot make major decisions on his own but needs to be asked... having completely eliminated craving. He does not crave to teach or to help people, he does not crave to live. He does what is asked of him.

I like this. I don't know why, but I do. I think maybe this is a perfect way to distinguish between karuna and pity. The Buddha must have oozed karuna, but without the craving to help that would have come from pity. So much karuna that the Master became our servant, remaining here in this dukkha-filled world for years and years to teach us the dhamma simply because he was asked to. Thanks Peter. I may have interpreted this all wrong but even so it's helped me :)
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Re: Ananda's appeal to the Buddha in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Postby Fede » Thu Sep 17, 2009 7:02 am

Kare wrote:Therefore I think we should read with a critical eye ... not in order to belittle the Buddha, his teachings or those who preserved his teachings - but in order not to waste time and energy on those parts of the texts that were composed specifically for an audience in India two thousand years ago. The real Dhamma of the Buddha shines clearly through all that superfluous stuff anyway, and I am convinced we spend our time better on concentrating on that.


And what means do the poor, new and unknowing studious Buddhists have, of knowing what these are?

Sometimes the indications are obvious, but at others, it's far more complicated, subtle and difficult to discern....

Therefore I guess we have to try to ascertain within our own logic and framework of discernment, what sits well and is entirely compatible with other teachings, and what appears to contradict or go against the gist of other teachings, where there appears to be conflict.

Would that be appropriate?

Maybe I'll just stick to the good ol' reliable, inarguable, definitive and unshakeable 4 and 8..... :thinking: :shrug:

:namaste:
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Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: Ananda's appeal to the Buddha in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Sep 17, 2009 7:05 am

Mawkish1983 wrote::focus:
Peter wrote:a Buddha cannot make major decisions on his own but needs to be asked... having completely eliminated craving. He does not crave to teach or to help people, he does not crave to live. He does what is asked of him.

I like this. I don't know why, but I do. I think maybe this is a perfect way to distinguish between karuna and pity. The Buddha must have oozed karuna, but without the craving to help that would have come from pity. So much karuna that the Master became our servant, remaining here in this dukkha-filled world for years and years to teach us the dhamma simply because he was asked to. Thanks Peter. I may have interpreted this all wrong but even so it's helped me :)


I did not catch that the first around. Interesting but very odd. Where does one draw the line between major decisions and minor ones? Does craving fuel only major decisions? Can one decide something without craving? Of course he decides not to act on everything asked of him, even though they are major decisions. The Buddha refused Mara's many requests after his awakening, which indicates making a major decision or two. He refused Devadatta's requests. Interesting idea. Does this warrant a separate thread?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
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