phil wrote: I posted this elsewhere before self-editing it out, but I think Bhikkhu Bodhi's talks on the Majhimma Nikaya do somewhat of a disservice to the commentaries, if I may use that blanket term. During a typical talk, there are usually a couple of cases where he says he disagrees with the commentary and expresses instead his own opinion. ...
This is in contrast to some other translators who just present their own ideas without explaining that they are in conflict with the commentary.
clw_uk wrote:This is interesting, in your opinion why do you feel that they should state that they are conflicting with the commentary, wouldnt it only be important if they were conflicting with say the Suttas?This is in contrast to some other translators who just present their own ideas without explaining that they are in conflict with the commentary.
It depends on what you want, I guess. If you want to learn Theravada Buddhism as it has been taught for centuries then you need to learn what the commentaries have to say. If you want one man's personal opinion on what the suttas mean then you don't need to hear what the commentaries say.
Ven. Bodhi's class is not meant to be one man's interpretation of the suttas. It is a class on Theravada Buddhism, and that includes the information in the commentaries. If I go to a class to learn Theravada then that's what I expect to learn. If the teacher has in the course of his studies formed a personal opinion in conflict with that tradition then I am happy to hear what he has to say. But for him to substitute his own opinion without telling anyone that is what he is doing is deceptive and irresponsible.
The Lord Buddha pointed out that meditators, as well as philosophers
dispute and quarrel with each other because similarly, they see only one-side
of the truth, or have only one way of looking at things. They dogmatically
cling to their views, maintaining that they alone have a monopoly of that
truth. All of the Buddhas consider and see all sides of the truth. That is why
the suttas are so much more important than the commentaries. Although the
comments made about a sutta may be helpful, it is absolutely necessary to
check what the commentary says against the original sayings of the Buddha.
This proves that genuine Buddhism is in no way be called unilateral.
According to this Buddhist way of thinking, experience is multi-faceted and
the Buddhist view is therefore multilateral. If truth is multi-faceted, it cannot
be stated in a unilateral way!
This is why the Buddha said, \I do not dispute with the world, though
the world disputes with me. No one who is aware of the whole truth can
dispute with this world." When a person asked the Lord Buddha for his
view, he replied that his view was that he did not oppose anyone in the
world, whether human, divine or diabolical. If this is the Buddhist position,
how can Buddhist meditators come in conflict with each other, or for that
matter, with anyone in the world?
When meditation practitioners become dogmatic, they cease looking for
Truth (Dhamma) because dogmatism separates all people, including those
who seek to open and purify their minds. This denitely causes conflict and
verbal daggers to be thrown. Meditation and mental purication is supposed
to teach us love, compassion and tolerance. If this is so, how can dogmatism
prevail in the name of Truth?
clw_uk wrote:the commentaries can be looked at as a certain teachers understanding and teaching method
the commentaries can be looked at as a certain teachers understanding and teaching method
This seems to me a misunderstanding of what the commentaries are.
clw_uk wrote:clw_uk wrote:
To me thats what they are, interpretations and elaborations on teachings such as what you find given at Dhamma talks or books, when they discuss meditation they are discussing a technique
The difference is that the Commentaries are not just the work of one person, but collections of huge amounts of information from many many monks. According to the tradition some would have been direct disciples and many (all?) arahants. What we have today was assembled by Ven Buddhaghosa, but that doesn't mean that they were his work. Of course a modern teacher or book is going to be easier to approach, but it is useful to be able to go back and see what the Suttas and Commentaries say.
clw_uk wrote:This is why i feel sometimes they are correct and other times they are not which is why i feel one should read them with caution
How about giving equal bandwidth to cautioning people against taking too seriously the modern teachers who tend to downplay the Commentaries, such as Venerables Buddhadasa, Vimalaramsi, Sumedho, Thanissaro, and Brahm? And especially those pesky western "insight" teachers...
clw_uk wrote:I agree with you caution always needs to be there in reguards to any teaching, i only mentioned it because the commentaries can sometimes be seen by some beginers as very authoritative
1. Sutta: the three baskets of the Tipiṭaka.
2. Suttānuloma: a direct inference from the Tipiṭaka.
3. Atthakathā: a commentary.
4. Attanomati: the personal opinions of later generations of teachers.
So beginners should be particularly strongly cautioned not to put too much weight on the current generation of teachers without checking the Vinaya/Suttas/Abhidhamma/Logic/Commentaries...
Well, of course, the standard Theravada view is that they ARE very authoritative.
That's what makes it "Theravada", after all...
clw_uk wrote:I dont think taking the commentaries as authoritative is what makes Theravada
What would make it Theravada rather than "Nikaya-based Buddhism" then?
mikenz66 wrote:So beginners should be particularly strongly cautioned not to put too much weight on the current generation of teachers without checking the Vinaya/Suttas/Abhidhamma/Logic/Commentaries...
We listen to the teachers, we practice, we study the Vinaya/Suttas/Abhidhamma/Logic/Commentaries
clw_uk wrote:Not everyone studies the Abhidhamma or Commentaries nor needs to IMO
And you know this how?
Actually, perhaps you're right. It seems to me that many Westerners would be advised to develop their dana, sila, and faith before reading the Tipitika, and then starting with Paritta (Protective) Suttas ,such as the Ratana, Mahāmaṅgala, Mettā...
But if you're determined to jump to Suttas that might be described as "proto-Abhidhammic" (the suttas on elements, sense bases, dependent origination, etc) the Commentaries and Abhidhamma might be helpful to make sense of them...
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