What Does "Buddadhamma" Mean?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

What Does "Buddadhamma" Mean?

Postby danieLion » Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:47 pm

Greetings,

I searched Dhammawheel for, "What is the buddhadhamma?" and "buddhadhamma" but it yielded nothing clarifying. It's a term that gets used a lot around here but without much clarification on what, exaclty, the users mean by it. I Googled "buddhamma" and was directed to Wikepedia's "Buddhism" page, which implies "buddhadhamma" is a synonym for "Buddhism." I'm familiar with the term sāsana and that some use it to mean "the teachings" or "the religion" but it, much like the term "buddhadhamma" seems to imply some kind of dispensationalism: that there is some temporal (historical?) cut-off point where the Buddhamma ended and the non-Buddhadhamma "age" began.

I find this confusing because we find Thanissaro Bhikkhu, for instance, saying things like this in his Preface to the Wings to Awakening:

Because the Pali tradition is still a living one, the doctrinal and historical contexts do not account for the full range of meanings that practicing Buddhists continue to find in the texts. To provide this living dimension, I have drawn on the teachings of modern practice traditions where these seem to harmonize with the message of the Canon and add an illuminating perspective (my emphases).


So if the Pali tradition is part of the "buddhadhamma," this implies that the "buddhadhamma" is also a living tradition and not a dispensation with a temporal beginning and end. And if we insist that the "buddhadhamma" is a dispensation, then are we not relying way to heavily on not only the informal fallacy of an argument to tradition but also the informal fallacy of an argument to authority? But if, as the Thanissaro passage I cited asserts, modern Buddhists are part of that tradition and have some authority of their own, then we cannot with honesty or integrity say that the tradition is final or ultimately authoritative, can we?

Thank you for your time and consideration.
danieLion
 
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: What Does "Buddadhamma" Mean?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sun Mar 10, 2013 5:32 pm

danieLion wrote:Greetings,

I searched Dhammawheel for, "What is the buddhadhamma?" and "buddhadhamma" but it yielded nothing clarifying. It's a term that gets used a lot around here but without much clarification on what, exaclty, the users mean by it. I Googled "buddhamma" and was directed to Wikepedia's "Buddhism" page, which implies "buddhadhamma" is a synonym for "Buddhism." I'm familiar with the term sāsana and that some use it to mean "the teachings" or "the religion" but it, much like the term "buddhadhamma" seems to imply some kind of dispensationalism: that there is some temporal (historical?) cut-off point where the Buddhamma ended and the non-Buddhadhamma "age" began.

Most people who use the term seem to use it as a synonym for sāsana, and you're right that it just means "what the Buddha taught."

Historically, when a teacher had a system or philosophy he or she expounded, it would be referred to as their dhamma; Nigantha Nātaputta's teachings would be "Nigantha's Dhamma," for example. So Buddhadhamma is just "the Awakened One's Dhamma," and thus must specifically refer to that which was actually taught by the historical Buddha. To me, Buddhadhamma is a large but not all-encompassing subset of the larger Buddhist tradition, just like Darwin's personal writings form a large part, but not the whole of, Darwinism.

So if the Pali tradition is part of the "buddhadhamma," this implies that the "buddhadhamma" is also a living tradition and not a dispensation with a temporal beginning and end.

The Buddhadhamma is fixed and unchanging as it refers to teachings that were given in a specific historical period by a specific historical figure, both the period and the figure being long gone at this point. However, the tradition surrounding that teaching, drawing inspiration from it and working to clarify it, is of course dynamic and living.

And if we insist that the "buddhadhamma" is a dispensation, then are we not relying way to heavily on not only the informal fallacy of an argument to tradition but also the informal fallacy of an argument to authority?

It depends on how one defines dispensation. Buddhism definitely revolves around a core of concepts and claims made by the Buddha, some of which are not immediately verifiable and must be at least cautiously entertained through confidence in the Blessed One's teachings. This is not an appeal to authority or tradition but, as it is with any system of learning, a pragmatic first assumption that must be made in order to progress down the path to verification.

But if, as the Thanissaro passage I cited asserts, modern Buddhists are part of that tradition and have some authority of their own, then we cannot with honesty or integrity say that the tradition is final or ultimately authoritative, can we?

Again, the teachings of the Buddha are final and authoritative, but we as followers have the responsibility and right to interpret and explore those teachings in good faith, keeping the core integrity of the sāsana while working diligently to apply it in meaningful and productive ways the world around us.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
User avatar
LonesomeYogurt
 
Posts: 900
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:24 pm
Location: America

Re: What Does "Buddadhamma" Mean?

Postby rohana » Sun Mar 10, 2013 6:01 pm

According to my understanding,

a) Buddha-Sāsana is the fourfold community of Bhikkhus, Bhikkhunis, Upāsakas and Upāsikās. They started with the Buddha and at some future point will end.

b) Buddha-Dharma is simply the doctrine of the Buddha. Here the word Dharma is used in a more general sense to mean 'doctrine' or 'teaching'. Hence, Buddha-Dharma, Hindu-Dharma, etc(Hindus call their religion Sanātana Dharma, i.e. 'the eternal doctrine').

I don't think anybody's saying a modern Buddhist has no authority - nobody's being forced to accept anything against their will. One will prefer to side with the traditional understanding(s) more or less depending on how reliable they think the tradition is, based on their own understanding and the practical results they have obtained.

But there is no way of completely doing away with tradition: the way we understand the Pāli language, for example, comes from tradition. If one can't read Pāli, then one is at the mercy of tradition even more (since all translations are interpretations too), whether it's Bhikkhu Bodhi's traditional understanding, or whether it's Ven. Thanissaro's, or Stephen Batchelor's. Tradition is like a tree, with some branches closer to the trunk (e.g. Pā Auk Sayādāw), with some far away from it(e.g. John Peacock), and some in between(e.g. Ven. Ñāṇānanda). I don't think anyone has a perfect alignment with the trunk.

It's also a matter of how much time and energy we can spend. If there's infinite time, then we can try down every avenue, try out every little pet theory, etc. But we can't, so we have to make judgements, make a stand at some point, and decide how much we want to stick with this or that tradition. Most of us don't have time to try out Ven. Brahmavamso's jhāna teachings, and then try Ven. Gunaratana's jhāna teachings, and then Brasington's, etc. So we have to make a choice and stick with it, for some time at least. It's also based on the goal: is your goal a stress free life, or is it Sōtāpatti? If the goal is Sōtāpatti, and if you think the Mahāsi tradition is capable of delivering it, then any other concerns about that tradition is going to look very trivial to you.
"Delighting in existence, O monks, are gods and men; they are attached to existence, they revel in existence. When the Dhamma for the cessation of existence is being preached to them, their minds do not leap towards it, do not get pleased with it, do not get settled in it, do not find confidence in it. That is how, monks, some lag behind."
- It. p 43
rohana
 
Posts: 77
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:43 pm

Re: What Does "Buddadhamma" Mean?

Postby danieLion » Sun Mar 10, 2013 6:02 pm

danieLion wrote:Greetings,

I searched Dhammawheel for, "What is the buddhadhamma?" and "buddhadhamma" but it yielded nothing clarifying. It's a term that gets used a lot around here but without much clarification on what, exaclty, the users mean by it. I Googled "buddhamma" and was directed to Wikepedia's "Buddhism" page, which implies "buddhadhamma" is a synonym for "Buddhism." I'm familiar with the term sāsana and that some use it to mean "the teachings" or "the religion" but it, much like the term "buddhadhamma" seems to imply some kind of dispensationalism: that there is some temporal (historical?) cut-off point where the Buddhamma ended and the non-Buddhadhamma "age" began.

LonesomeYogurt wrote:Most people who use the term seem to use it as a synonym for sāsana, and you're right that it just means "what the Buddha taught." Historically, when a teacher had a system or philosophy he or she expounded, it would be referred to as their dhamma; Nigantha Nātaputta's teachings would be "Nigantha's Dhamma," for example. So Buddhadhamma is just "the Awakened One's Dhamma," and thus must specifically refer to that which was actually taught by the historical Buddha. To me, Buddhadhamma is a large but not all-encompassing subset of the larger Buddhist tradition, just like Darwin's personal writings form a large part, but not the whole of, Darwinism.

How can you get specific about an historical figure? History generalizes and narrates (ask any historiagrapher).
danieLion wrote:So if the Pali tradition is part of the "buddhadhamma," this implies that the "buddhadhamma" is also a living tradition and not a dispensation with a temporal beginning and end.

LonesomeYogurt wrote:The Buddhadhamma is fixed and unchanging as it refers to teachings that were given in a specific historical period by a specific historical figure, both the period and the figure being long gone at this point. However, the tradition surrounding that teaching, drawing inspiration from it and working to clarify it, is of course dynamic and living.

Your seem to be reifying the "buddhadhamma." Please explain to me how this is not a false dichotomy.
danieLion wrote:And if we insist that the "buddhadhamma" is a dispensation, then are we not relying way to heavily on not only the informal fallacy of an argument to tradition but also the informal fallacy of an argument to authority?

LonesomeYogurt wrote:It depends on how one defines dispensation. Buddhism definitely revolves around a core of concepts and claims made by the Buddha, some of which are not immediately verifiable and must be at least cautiously entertained through confidence in the Blessed One's teachings. This is not an appeal to authority or tradition but, as it is with any system of learning, a pragmatic first assumption that must be made in order to progress down the path to verification.

This appears to as more false dichotomizing. And if you define "buddhadhamma" from a "buddhadhamma" perspective, how are you not reasoning in a circle?
danieLion wrote:But if, as the Thanissaro passage I cited asserts, modern Buddhists are part of that tradition and have some authority of their own, then we cannot with honesty or integrity say that the tradition is final or ultimately authoritative, can we?

LonesomeYogurt wrote:Again, the teachings of the Buddha are final and authoritative, but we as followers have the responsibility and right to interpret and explore those teachings in good faith, keeping the core integrity of the sāsana while working diligently to apply it in meaningful and productive ways the world around us.

This also appears to me as even more false dichotomizing. If they are final and authoritative, then we cannot claim to have either "the responsiblity" or "the right" to explore them.
danieLion
 
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: What Does "Buddadhamma" Mean?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sun Mar 10, 2013 6:41 pm

danieLion wrote:How can you get specific about an historical figure? History generalizes and narrates (ask any historiagrapher).

Obviously the Buddha did teach something. That something is the Buddhadhamma. It's as simple as that. By saying this, I'm not claiming that somehow I (or anyone else) have the true knowledge of what is and isn't Buddhadhamma, but some things can be agreed upon - the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, Kamma, Anapanasati, etc.

Your seem to be reifying the "buddhadhamma." Please explain to me how this is not a false dichotomy.

I am not reifying anything. The Buddha taught something, and what he taught is the Buddhadhamma. Our interpretations and extrapolations are not. "Buddhadhamma" just means "The teachings of the Awakened One." Buddhaghosa is not the awakened one, Thanissaro Bhikkhu is not the awakened one, you and I are not the awakened one. That is the dichotomy here, and it is not false. The significance of the division is up for debate, but its existence is not.

The teachings of Aristotle, as collected in the Corpus Aristotelicum, are the "Aristotledhamma" whereas the larger school of Aristotelianism is not. Much of what we consider Aristotelianism was not actually taught by Aristotle. This isn't bad, but a dichotomy can absolutely be drawn between the original teachings of the man Aristotle and the elaborations on his theory done by later thinkers. Would you claim there is no meaningful category difference between that which Aristotle himself wrote in Analytics and the work of Alasdair MacIntyre 2,000 years later?

danieLion wrote:This appears to as more false dichotomizing. And if you define "buddhadhamma" from a "buddhadhamma" perspective, how are you not reasoning in a circle?

What on Earth is the "Buddhadhamma perspective?" The idea that the Buddha taught something? The view that the Buddha's original teachings are in a different category than those elaborating on them? Those aren't positions; they're self-evident assumptions.

This also appears to me as even more false dichotomizing. If they are final and authoritative, then we cannot claim to have either "the responsiblity" or "the right" to explore them.

Why is that the case?
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
User avatar
LonesomeYogurt
 
Posts: 900
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:24 pm
Location: America

Re: What Does "Buddadhamma" Mean?

Postby danieLion » Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:06 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
danieLion wrote:How can you get specific about an historical figure? History generalizes and narrates (ask any historiagrapher).

Obviously the Buddha did teach something. That something is the Buddhadhamma. It's as simple as that. By saying this, I'm not claiming that somehow I (or anyone else) have the true knowledge of what is and isn't Buddhadhamma, but some things can be agreed upon - the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, Kamma, Anapanasati, etc.

Granted.
danieLion wrote:Your seem to be reifying the "buddhadhamma." Please explain to me how this is not a false dichotomy.

LonesomeYogurt wrote:I am not reifying anything. The Buddha taught something, and what he taught is the Buddhadhamma. Our interpretations and extrapolations are not. "Buddhadhamma" just means "The teachings of the Awakened One." Buddhaghosa is not the awakened one, Thanissaro Bhikkhu is not the awakened one, you and I are not the awakened one. That is the dichotomy here, and it is not false. The significance of the division is up for debate, but its existence is not.

The teachings of Aristotle, as collected in the Corpus Aristotelicum, are the "Aristotledhamma" whereas the larger school of Aristotelianism is not. Much of what we consider Aristotelianism was not actually taught by Aristotle. This isn't bad, but a dichotomy can absolutely be drawn between the original teachings of the man Aristotle and the elaborations on his theory done by later thinkers. Would you claim there is no meaningful category difference between that which Aristotle himself wrote in Analytics and the work of Alasdair MacIntyre 2,000 years later?

Good point.

danieLion wrote:This appears to as more false dichotomizing. And if you define "buddhadhamma" from a "buddhadhamma" perspective, how are you not reasoning in a circle?


LonesomeYogurt wrote:What on Earth is the "Buddhadhamma perspective?" The idea that the Buddha taught something? The view that the Buddha's original teachings are in a different category than those elaborating on them? Those aren't positions; they're self-evident assumptions.

That's what the OP is about. But if they're self-evident, assuming is not required.

danieLion wrote:This also appears to me as even more false dichotomizing. If they are final and authoritative, then we cannot claim to have either "the responsiblity" or "the right" to explore them.

LonesomeYogurt wrote:Why is that the case?


I was merely asking you to explain why you think what you said makes logical (for what it's worth) sense to you.

I'm not making or building a case or cases. I'm exploring ideas.

"The world is all that is case" (Wittgensten, Tractatus).

“For a large class of cases—though not for all—in which we employ the word ‘meaning’ it can be defined thus: the meaning of a word is its use in the language” (Wittgenstein, Investigations).
(Edit: typo fix.)
Last edited by danieLion on Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
danieLion
 
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: What Does "Buddadhamma" Mean?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:28 pm

danieLion wrote:That's what the OP is about. But if they're self-evident, assuming is not required.

Haha, you're right; that was a clumsy phrase on my part.

danieLion wrote:I was merely asking you to explain why you think what you said makes logical (for what it's worth) sense to you.

I believe that the words of the Buddha can be authoritative for Buddhism, i.e. one who identifies or practices as a Buddhist must accept the teachings of the Buddha - again, a category inside of and integral to but still smaller than the larger doctrinal set of "Theravada Buddhism." I do not believe, however, that this adherence to the Buddhadhamma must be a slavish or unquestioning one. Provided we have integrity, humility, and a dedication to the truth, I see no reason why we can't work out amongst ourselves how to best interpret and apply the Blessed One's teachings.

For example, the Buddha taught that sexual misconduct is unwholesome; that teaching isn't going anywhere. The questions of what constitutes sexual misconduct and how to best to deal with it in our lives and in our society, however, are questions that we must figure out for ourselves - using the spirit of the teachings, reference to the suttas, common sense, compassion, and reason. Perspectives on personal practice and behavior, as well as larger discussions of social and cultural issues like gay marriage, abortion, substance abuse, poverty, and inequality, can be formed through this same method, one that respects the authority of the Buddha's dispensation while honoring our ability as reasonable human beings to make a refuge unto ourselves.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
User avatar
LonesomeYogurt
 
Posts: 900
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:24 pm
Location: America

Re: What Does "Buddadhamma" Mean?

Postby danieLion » Mon Mar 11, 2013 12:44 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
danieLion wrote:That's what the OP is about. But if they're self-evident, assuming is not required.

Haha, you're right; that was a clumsy phrase on my part.

danieLion wrote:I was merely asking you to explain why you think what you said makes logical (for what it's worth) sense to you.

I believe that the words of the Buddha can be authoritative for Buddhism, i.e. one who identifies or practices as a Buddhist must accept the teachings of the Buddha - again, a category inside of and integral to but still smaller than the larger doctrinal set of "Theravada Buddhism." I do not believe, however, that this adherence to the Buddhadhamma must be a slavish or unquestioning one. Provided we have integrity, humility, and a dedication to the truth, I see no reason why we can't work out amongst ourselves how to best interpret and apply the Blessed One's teachings.

For example, the Buddha taught that sexual misconduct is unwholesome; that teaching isn't going anywhere. The questions of what constitutes sexual misconduct and how to best to deal with it in our lives and in our society, however, are questions that we must figure out for ourselves - using the spirit of the teachings, reference to the suttas, common sense, compassion, and reason. Perspectives on personal practice and behavior, as well as larger discussions of social and cultural issues like gay marriage, abortion, substance abuse, poverty, and inequality, can be formed through this same method, one that respects the authority of the Buddha's dispensation while honoring our ability as reasonable human beings to make a refuge unto ourselves.

I agree. The precepts are a good example of "working out your own salvation" but doing so with the guidance of the Buddha's ethics.
danieLion
 
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: What Does "Buddadhamma" Mean?

Postby Nyorai » Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:35 am

Is meaningless but can be explained in detail. Which is the reason for not as simple to grasp it because there is nothing that can really be in grasping but it did not separate from the grasp. Basically, for living beings, it means unsurpassed compassion, and in non living beings, it means an immutable being. All traditions are basically rivers flowing into the same ocean. metta :anjali:
ImageTo become vegetarian is to step into the stream which leads to nirvana.
If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your path. He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self.Image
User avatar
Nyorai
 
Posts: 58
Joined: Sun Mar 10, 2013 2:44 am


Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Feathers, Jetavan and 6 guests