seanpdx wrote:*grin* It's a very worthwhile endeavour! [Meaning the study of Pali]
And one that I will have to take up in the near future. How many people on this forum study pali, I wonder.
If you would rather not (i.e. take up formal study of Pali), since it can take up so much more time and effort in your practice, the only thing you really have to be wary of is finding a translator who knows how to translate the correct intent
preserved in the discourses. On that end, Nyanaponika Thera, Bhikkhu Nanamoli, Bhikkhu Bodhi, and Thanissaro Bhikkhu have all proved themselves worthy of our trust in my humble opinion. From there, all you have to do is become cognizant of the various important Pali terms and how they were used in the discourses in order to solidify your understanding of the original intent of the suttas. So, it is the terms themselves
that you want to become clear about. A good translator can provide you with the correct contextual intent of the passage being examined such that there would be no need to take up a formal study of Pali. Just make sure that the terms being defined are understood correctly, providing the correct intent according to how an experienced translator views this.
Just to provide one example of this, it wasn't until I came across Bh. Bodhi's explanation of his translation of the term "satipatthana" in an Introduction in his translated volume on the Samyutta Nikaya that I began to have a better understanding of how this term was used within the context of the teachings. In brief, while satipatthana
had in the past been translated as "the foundations
of mindfulness," his explanation of how "upatthana" could also be taken to express the idea of "the establishment
of mindfulness," this added a new dimension to my understanding of viewing this word in terms of a more active setting. When you read the translated version of the two Satipatthana Suttas
, the instruction says to "establish mindfulness before undertaking meditation." Having this understanding made all the difference in my interpretation of how this instruction was to be taken. It also helped me to begin eliminating the five hindrances to meditation; and thereafter my meditation sessions became less difficult to enter and thus more efficient in producing a beneficial end result. Little things like that can help you understand the intent of passages and as such, the necessity to take up a formal study of Pali (unless it becomes something you really
want to do for personal reasons) can be precluded. All I'm saying is that most people don't want to become Pali scholars just in order to read and comprehend the discourses. If you have a good translation, that's all you really need.
Just some food for thought, that's all.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV