best suttas to memorize? techniques?

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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby befriend » Sun Dec 23, 2012 1:17 pm

my method for memorizing the metta sutta was reading a couple stanzas then chanting it out loud then reading the next stanza chanting it etc... as a ceremonial thing and i did it so much it just stayed in my brain. that might be a method that would work. i think this way takes longer but it might not be as grueling.
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Dec 23, 2012 3:47 pm

equilibrium wrote:Why would one want to "memorize"?.....even if one could memorize all the suttas, surely by memorizing does not set one free?
Is "understanding" and "comprehension" not the main purpose?.....if done, one can let go rather than to "hold on".....by clinging.

can you carry the book with you everywhere you go?
if you have it memorised you can take it everywhere, and better yet reflect on its meaning far more often.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby equilibrium » Sun Dec 23, 2012 5:21 pm

Cittasanto wrote:
equilibrium wrote:Why would one want to "memorize"?.....even if one could memorize all the suttas, surely by memorizing does not set one free?
Is "understanding" and "comprehension" not the main purpose?.....if done, one can let go rather than to "hold on".....by clinging.

can you carry the book with you everywhere you go?

We're talking about two different things here.
if you have it memorised you can take it everywhere, and better yet reflect on its meaning far more often.

When one understands, one does not need to take it everywhere and reflect on its meaning.....as one knows in the mind.

Is it not true that the Dhamma is seen with the "mind" and not the "eyes"?
Iti 92. Sa"nghaa.tika.n.na sutta : Seeing the Dhamma [Excerpt]

This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: "Even if
a monk, taking hold of my outer cloak, were to follow right behind me, placing
his feet in my footsteps, yet if he were to be greedy for sensual pleasures,
strong in his passions, malevolent in mind, corrupt in his resolves, his
mindfulness muddled, unalert, uncentered, his mind scattered, and his faculties
uncontrolled, then he would be far from me, and I from him. Why is that? Because
he does not see the Dhamma. Not seeing the Dhamma, he does not see me (Dhamma.m
apassanto na ma.m passati).

"But even if a monk were to live one hundred leagues away, yet if he were to
have no greed for sensual objects, were not strong in his passions, not
malevolent in mind, uncorrupt in his resolves, his mindfulness established,
alert, centered, his mind at singleness, and his faculties well-restrained, then
he would be near to me, and I to him. Why is that? Because he sees the Dhamma.
Seeing the Dhamma, he sees me (Dhamma.m passanto ma.m passati)."

It is the "mind" that needs to be set free and not the eyes.....is it not?
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Dec 23, 2012 5:26 pm

equilibrium wrote:We're talking about two different things here.

I am talking about the teachings found in the suttas (you know what is being memorised here), what are you talking about?

equilibrium wrote:When one understands, one does not need to take it everywhere and reflect on its meaning.....as one knows in the mind.

and when one doesn't understand? and how does one know they understand?
Peeling the layers of meaning away can be a long task.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby Jaidyn » Sun Dec 23, 2012 7:44 pm

equilibrium wrote:Why would one want to "memorize"?.....even if one could memorize all the suttas, surely by memorizing does not set one free?
Is "understanding" and "comprehension" not the main purpose?.....if done, one can let go rather than to "hold on".....by clinging.


What do you think about what I wrote earlier? - "The benefits, as you probably know, are that you have access to them wherever you are, and you will "embody" the teachings in your daily life in a whole new way. You will start to see how more of the details in your daily life may relate to the details in the suttas."
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby equilibrium » Sun Dec 23, 2012 11:42 pm

Cittasanto wrote:I am talking about the teachings found in the suttas (you know what is being memorised here)
And what exactly is there to be "found"? and by who?

what are you talking about?
The OP is seeking ways to memorize suttas with different techniques.....but for what purpose exactly?
The real "Rain man" in the USA can probably remember all the suttas but for what purpose?.....does memory and recall of all the suttas allow one to be free?
Can reading along set one free?
Is it not about reading, understanding, comprehension and taking action if necessary for one to advance along the path.....so the mind can be free?

and when one doesn't understand? and how does one know they understand?
Peeling the layers of meaning away can be a long task.
You must already know or at least aware of that there are no such a thing as "layers of meaning" as these are all fabrications by the self, when the self is not there, there can only be one true meaning.....
One doesn't understand because the self is in the way.....creating fabrications.....preventing one from understanding.....hence obstruction.
When one understands, one will know as it is aligned with the teaching.....only when the self is removed.

Jaidyn wrote:What do you think about what I wrote earlier? - The benefits, as you probably know, are that you have access to them wherever you are, and you will "embody" the teachings in your daily life in a whole new way. You will start to see how more of the details in your daily life may relate to the details in the suttas.
Overall, it sounds wise indeed. The benefits are the fruits.....Depends on what one means by the word "embody", sounds like acting or impersonating although there is a difference between action by knowing and action by acting.....two very different things.
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Dec 24, 2012 12:22 am

equilibrium
please read the OP and title. you are coming at this with assumptions which are both unfair and missing things. Jumping to the end rather than where someone is helps no-one.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby Jaidyn » Mon Dec 24, 2012 10:46 am

equilibrium wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:
Jaidyn wrote:What do you think about what I wrote earlier? - The benefits, as you probably know, are that you have access to them wherever you are, and you will "embody" the teachings in your daily life in a whole new way. You will start to see how more of the details in your daily life may relate to the details in the suttas.
Overall, it sounds wise indeed. The benefits are the fruits.....Depends on what one means by the word "embody", sounds like acting or impersonating although there is a difference between action by knowing and action by acting.....two very different things.


You are correct. It depends on what I mean with "embody". One way of understanding "embody" is: "You will start to see how more of the details in your daily life may relate to the details in the suttas", and therefore the suttas will influence your behavior to a greater extent - you simply get a sharper vision and act accordingly. On the other hand, the memory of the suttas does not guarantee you get the right vision.

The "action by knowing and action by acting" i do not understand, and i do not grasp what difference you mean, and how it relates to memorizing (you may have an interesting conclusion but I don´t see it clearly yet)
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby Jaidyn » Mon Dec 24, 2012 10:58 am

equilibrium wrote:
what are you talking about?
The OP is seeking ways to memorize suttas with different techniques.....but for what purpose exactly?
The real "Rain man" in the USA can probably remember all the suttas but for what purpose?.....does memory and recall of all the suttas allow one to be free?
Can reading along set one free?
Is it not about reading, understanding, comprehension and taking action if necessary for one to advance along the path.....so the mind can be free?



The real "Rain man" could remember them exactly and it would not mean anything to him if he is not interested in buddhism.

On the other hand: The suttas as memorized will have an impact (even a great impact) on a persons mind if she or he is interested in buddhism. The access to the content will just be quick and precise and the person may use the memorized teaching as a tool along the path.

Also The real "Rain man" will not experience the joy of cognizing the teaching, while the buddhist-student will experience it in a great amount. We often talk about how the words of the buddha touches our hearts, and having them memorized will not only make the words touch our hearts, but they will really "hug" our hearts. Memorizing brings a greater intensity to the words as felt in the mind.

"cognizing the teaching" here means both remembering it and thinking about it in relation to experiences and other thoughts, and the rain man only does the former, having no interest in the later and therefore does not experience the joy.
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby Bakmoon » Mon Dec 24, 2012 7:16 pm

Jaidyn wrote:
equilibrium wrote:
what are you talking about?
The OP is seeking ways to memorize suttas with different techniques.....but for what purpose exactly?
The real "Rain man" in the USA can probably remember all the suttas but for what purpose?.....does memory and recall of all the suttas allow one to be free?
Can reading along set one free?
Is it not about reading, understanding, comprehension and taking action if necessary for one to advance along the path.....so the mind can be free?



The real "Rain man" could remember them exactly and it would not mean anything to him if he is not interested in buddhism.

On the other hand: The suttas as memorized will have an impact (even a great impact) on a persons mind if she or he is interested in buddhism. The access to the content will just be quick and precise and the person may use the memorized teaching as a tool along the path.

Also The real "Rain man" will not experience the joy of cognizing the teaching, while the buddhist-student will experience it in a great amount. We often talk about how the words of the buddha touches our hearts, and having them memorized will not only make the words touch our hearts, but they will really "hug" our hearts. Memorizing brings a greater intensity to the words as felt in the mind.

"cognizing the teaching" here means both remembering it and thinking about it in relation to experiences and other thoughts, and the rain man only does the former, having no interest in the later and therefore does not experience the joy.


Excellent point. One other benefit that I have found is that during daily life, we often forget ourselves and act in ways contrary to the Dhamma. But when we memorize passages, often when these situations confront us, we can call to mind passages we have memorized to help us. I know that when I get angry I like to call to mind parts of the Metta sutta, or the stock passage description of right effort, and it makes it a lot easier to abandon the anger by reminding yourself that the teaching says to do so.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby equilibrium » Mon Dec 24, 2012 11:18 pm

Jaidyn wrote:On the other hand, the memory of the suttas does not guarantee you get the right vision.
This is interesting.

The "action by knowing and action by acting" i do not understand, and i do not grasp what difference you mean, and how it relates to memorizing (you may have an interesting conclusion but I don´t see it clearly yet)
Under SN36.6: The Arrow: illustrates the point that a run-of-the-mill person against a noble one where the noble one has only one pain being physical and a run-of-the-mill person has two pains being both mental and physical. This is a good example to use because it shows the ability to let go, now this cannot be achieved by reading alone nor even by memory, it takes something else isn't it.
If we were to use Mr rain man again say in a discussion against a noble person, Mr rain man can recall the entire sutta with ease and probably better than the noble person.....there is a limitation here and this is where it stops for Mr rain man.
The real test is when they are both hit by the arrow and can they do it?.....to achieve one pain. The noble one can do it without even trying but Mr rain man tries his hardest, in fact acting as he can do it, recalling the sutta text in his mind.....yet he is still a run-of-the-mill person.....with two pains......and why is that?
Hence the meaning of action by knowing (noble one) and action by acting (Mr rain man)......two very different things.

If the teaching is true that we have to let go.....then why are we trying to accumulate by memory of the suttas?.....is this not the opposite of what is required?.....can we imagine the amount of suttas that needs to be remembered?.....is this really necessary?....maybe Mr rain man can do it by memory but doubt any of us here can achieve anywhere close.....can we imagine the amount of words, the stress involved?
Do we think someone who is noble actually remembers all the suttas?

Anyway, Merry Christmas!
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby alan... » Tue Dec 25, 2012 1:08 am

equilibrium wrote:Why would one want to "memorize"?.....even if one could memorize all the suttas, surely by memorizing does not set one free?
Is "understanding" and "comprehension" not the main purpose?.....if done, one can let go rather than to "hold on".....by clinging.


because that's how people have been doing it since as far back as our knowable history of buddhism goes for one. for another when you're randomly stuck with an emotion or a thought on the dhamma or simply a question, or whatever it is extremely helpful to have a little mental library with a direct quote from the suttas at hand. i can't imagine why memorizing them would not be a good idea. from your enso i'm guessing you're a zen guy? zen is fantastic and from a zen perspective perhaps you're exactly correct. however from a theravada perspective it is a good idea. at least as far as i know, the majority of theravada temples practice memorization and lots of lay practitioners in theravada countries memorize them as well. not to mention all the people on this thread talking about it.

but like i said, i don't know about zen. from what i gather zen is very unique and may not agree with memorization. but i'm not sure, do zen monks memorize sutras? i feel like i saw monks and nuns chanting the heart sutra from memory at the zendo when i used to go... but i could be wrong...

i don't know of any school of buddhism that would be opposed to memorization and i feel fairly confident all schools would recommend it. other than some sects of zen because zen places a huge amount of emphasis on non attachment to even the dharma "if you see the buddha on the road, kill him!".

oh and the sixth patriarch ripping up sutras and all that showing his enlightenment and it's independence from scripture.
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Dec 25, 2012 1:30 am

This is essentially a link to the PDF of everything I have memorised, and what I used http://www.buddhanet.net/cmdsg/bm2.htm

if you start memorising the pali satipatthana I have a good sound file to help.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby alan... » Tue Dec 25, 2012 2:31 am

Cittasanto wrote:This is essentially a link to the PDF of everything I have memorised, and what I used http://www.buddhanet.net/cmdsg/bm2.htm

if you start memorising the pali satipatthana I have a good sound file to help.

Cool! So you learned the somewhat standard ones used by actual bhikkhus? Awesome. I might do the same aftrr i read them
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Dec 25, 2012 2:34 am

alan... wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:This is essentially a link to the PDF of everything I have memorised, and what I used http://www.buddhanet.net/cmdsg/bm2.htm

if you start memorising the pali satipatthana I have a good sound file to help.

Cool! So you learned the somewhat standard ones used by actual bhikkhus? Awesome. I might do the same aftrr i read them

standard? Maybe in the west but I did learn them while in the monastery as an anagarika.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby alan... » Tue Dec 25, 2012 2:42 am

Cittasanto wrote:
alan... wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:This is essentially a link to the PDF of everything I have memorised, and what I used http://www.buddhanet.net/cmdsg/bm2.htm

if you start memorising the pali satipatthana I have a good sound file to help.

Cool! So you learned the somewhat standard ones used by actual bhikkhus? Awesome. I might do the same aftrr i read them

standard? Maybe in the west but I did learn them while in the monastery as an anagarika.


oh i meant like the ones that would be chanted in a temple by bhikkhus as opposed to random suttas picked from the canon based on personal preference. so "standard" in that they would be the standard for chanting in a temple and not selected totally personally by an individual.
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby Jaidyn » Tue Dec 25, 2012 11:51 am

equilibrium wrote:
Jaidyn wrote:On the other hand, the memory of the suttas does not guarantee you get the right vision.
This is interesting.

I see tree things in Buddhism (this is my own interpretation): The own intentions resulting in actions, the experience of phenomenon and the teaching as given in form of concepts (we can also say the teaching comes by inspiration from associating with noble ones, but i leave that out for this discussion). While the teachings in themselves can be said to be correct, they need to be set in the context of experiences and intentions. It is the dynamics between these three things that will lead to progress or not. "Vision" here is understood as the resulting dynamics between the three factors. "Wrong vision" here is the result of any of the tree factors being insufficient. If teaching is insufficient you will not observe the phenomenon correctly (by way of impermanence), if experiencing (focusing awareness) is lacking it does not matter if you know the conceptual teaching about impermanence because you will not "see for yourself". If right intention - avoiding the unwholesome and encourage the wholesome - is lacking, you will be said to not be free enough from desires to actually experience what the teaching is pointing at.

Therefore i say "the memory of the suttas does not guarantee you get the right vision"

Now it becomes a question about what emphasis we put on the teaching and on the other two factors. To answer the question I would want to regard the nature of the individual and also assume the individuals needs will vary across time. But another question: can the memorizing of the teaching be said to have any good general effect common to all individuals putting effort into memorizing?

equilibrium wrote:
The "action by knowing and action by acting" i do not understand, and i do not grasp what difference you mean, and how it relates to memorizing (you may have an interesting conclusion but I don´t see it clearly yet)
Under SN36.6: The Arrow: illustrates the point that a run-of-the-mill person against a noble one where the noble one has only one pain being physical and a run-of-the-mill person has two pains being both mental and physical. This is a good example to use because it shows the ability to let go, now this cannot be achieved by reading alone nor even by memory, it takes something else isn't it.
If we were to use Mr rain man again say in a discussion against a noble person, Mr rain man can recall the entire sutta with ease and probably better than the noble person.....there is a limitation here and this is where it stops for Mr rain man.
The real test is when they are both hit by the arrow and can they do it?.....to achieve one pain. The noble one can do it without even trying but Mr rain man tries his hardest, in fact acting as she or he can do it, recalling the sutta text in his mind.....yet she or he is still a run-of-the-mill person.....with two pains......and why is that?
Hence the meaning of action by knowing (noble one) and action by acting (Mr rain man)......two very different things.


An interesting observation. Memorizing, in my reflection, may give a sort of confidence overshadowing the real ability of the person to avoid "the second arrow". I would like to recall what I described as the dynamics between tree things - experience, intention and teaching. If we are unable to react as the noble one we have to question not only the emphasis on the teaching but also intention and our way of experiencing.

But... to make my view of an important distinction clear: the teachings is not used as a tool to avoid the second arrow. It is used as a tool to figure out for yourself how to avoid the second arrow. You are correct, to my mind, in that the teaching is dropped at some point (i look at your speculation in the next quote). The noble one has released his grip on the teaching as she or he needs it not anymore to figure out how to learn to avoid the second arrow. The noble one should be beyond the dynamics with the three factors i described. The process of the three factors interacting is just the learning-process involved prior to reaching the final goal.

equilibrium wrote:If the teaching is true that we have to let go.....then why are we trying to accumulate by memory of the suttas?.....is this not the opposite of what is required?.....can we imagine the amount of suttas that needs to be remembered?.....is this really necessary?....maybe Mr rain man can do it by memory but doubt any of us here can achieve anywhere close.....can we imagine the amount of words, the stress involved?
Do we think someone who is noble actually remembers all the suttas?

Anyway, Merry Christmas!


The accumulation need not to be obsessive. It may look obsessive because it requires such a tremendous effort. People may also be obsessed with just the book just reading, while others are not. The same applies to memorizing.

The accumulation may be because of contra productive attachment, but may also be because of good reasons. We have to regard the characteristics of the individual - the details of the three factors interacting.
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby alan... » Tue Dec 25, 2012 6:04 pm

Cittasanto wrote:
equilibrium wrote:We're talking about two different things here.

I am talking about the teachings found in the suttas (you know what is being memorised here), what are you talking about?

equilibrium wrote:When one understands, one does not need to take it everywhere and reflect on its meaning.....as one knows in the mind.

and when one doesn't understand? and how does one know they understand?
Peeling the layers of meaning away can be a long task.

I second this post. Until you're fully enlightened you need to reflect on the teachings.
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby equilibrium » Tue Dec 25, 2012 6:44 pm

alan... wrote:Until you're fully enlightened you need to reflect on the teachings.

This caught my eyes so will be brief, are you aware if there is a difference between someone who is enlightened and fully enlightened?.....and is fully enlightened possible when there is a teaching?
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby alan... » Tue Dec 25, 2012 8:04 pm

equilibrium wrote:
alan... wrote:Until you're fully enlightened you need to reflect on the teachings.

This caught my eyes so will be brief, are you aware if there is a difference between someone who is enlightened and fully enlightened?.....and is fully enlightened possible when there is a teaching?

Stream entry, once returner, non returner, arahant (essentially fully enlightened but debated). If you cant become fully enlightened even more reason to keep the suttas in mind.
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