Excellent old book:George Grimm, The doctrine of the Buddha

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.

Excellent old book:George Grimm, The doctrine of the Buddha

Postby Digger » Sun May 26, 2013 3:45 pm

I just finished reading a book called “The Doctrine of the Buddha; The Religion of Reason” by George Grimm (1868-1945). It was written about 100 years ago by a German judge, intellectual and Pali scholar. About 500 pages long, it goes really deep into anatta, dependent co-arising, and other difficult topics with almost 500 direct Pali canon references to back up what the author is presenting. The subjects are explained brilliantly by someone who appears to have a truly deep grasp of what they are talking about and the writing ability to pass their knowledge to others. In a few places, you will see some differences between the author’s explanations and what is currently accepted / practiced. The author’s well supported contention is that he is presenting is the original doctrine that is contained in the older of the Pali texts.

A few links about the author:
http://www.freezoneearth.org/littlepurplenotebook/ch474.html

http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/damien.htm

http://www.quangduc.com/English/figure/18westerncontribution-3.html#GEORGE_GRIMM_

A link to the book on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Doctrine-Buddha-Religion-Reason/dp/817769507X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1369517953&sr=1-1&keywords=george+grimm

I would be very appreciative if a few here would take the time to read this book in its entirety and post your opinions of it here.

If you cannot obtain or afford a copy, send me a private message and I will buy and send books at no cost to the first half dozen or so who request one.
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Re: Excellent old book

Postby daverupa » Sun May 26, 2013 4:32 pm

Well, perhaps you'd like to suggest a few pages within the work which might serve as an example of what has impressed you. I have my copy waiting right here.

:reading:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Excellent old book

Postby Crazy cloud » Sun May 26, 2013 4:42 pm

I'm in, but awaites a little more teasing - "daverupa" has a nice suggestion

:candle:
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Re: Excellent old book

Postby gavesako » Sun May 26, 2013 7:43 pm

The positive-metaphysical extreme in the interpretation of Nibbana consists in the identification, or metaphysical association, of a refined or purified self (atta) with what, in the context of the respective view, is held to be Nibbana. Two main types of the metaphysical view can be distinguished, as the preceding paragraph already implies.
(1) The assumption of a universal and unitary (non-dual and non-pluristic) principle with which a purified self, one thought to be liberated from the empirical personality, either merges, or is assumed to be basically one. These views might differ in details, according to their being influenced either by Theosophy, Vedanta or Mahayana (the latter, with varying degrees of justification). [7]
(2) The assumption that the transcendental “selves” of the Arahats, freed from the aggregates, enter Nibbana, which is regarded as their “eternal home” and as “the only state adequate to them.” Nibbana itself is admitted to be non-self (anatta), while the Holy Ones (Arahats) are supposed to retain “in Nibbana” some kind of individuality, in a way unexplained and unexplainable. This view is, to our knowledge, advocated in such a way only by the German author Georg Grimm and his followers.

http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh011-p.html
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Re: Excellent old book

Postby BlackBird » Mon May 27, 2013 1:13 am

gavesako wrote:
The positive-metaphysical extreme in the interpretation of Nibbana consists in the identification, or metaphysical association, of a refined or purified self (atta) with what, in the context of the respective view, is held to be Nibbana. Two main types of the metaphysical view can be distinguished, as the preceding paragraph already implies.
(1) The assumption of a universal and unitary (non-dual and non-pluristic) principle with which a purified self, one thought to be liberated from the empirical personality, either merges, or is assumed to be basically one. These views might differ in details, according to their being influenced either by Theosophy, Vedanta or Mahayana (the latter, with varying degrees of justification). [7]
(2) The assumption that the transcendental “selves” of the Arahats, freed from the aggregates, enter Nibbana, which is regarded as their “eternal home” and as “the only state adequate to them.” Nibbana itself is admitted to be non-self (anatta), while the Holy Ones (Arahats) are supposed to retain “in Nibbana” some kind of individuality, in a way unexplained and unexplainable. This view is, to our knowledge, advocated in such a way only by the German author Georg Grimm and his followers.

http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh011-p.html



uugh... Not my cup of tea. Sounds like more Advaita than Dhamma.

Thanks Bhante.
"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

Nanavira Thera's teachings - An existential approach to the Dhamma | Ven. Bodhesako's essay on anicca
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Re: Excellent old book

Postby Digger » Mon May 27, 2013 2:39 pm

Regarding some "teasers", I was going to pick out and post a few quotes from the book. But just like showing someone a few pieces from a jigsaw puzzle, I don't think you can get a good feel of the book from a few quotes.

Please consider:

a) We are here together in this "Early Buddhism" discussion forum so I am going to assume it is to openly discuss early Buddhism
b) There is an old intelligently written book on early Buddhism that includes numerous (around 500) supporting Pali text references
c) This book does propose contradictions that I would like to openly discuss with others here
d) In order to discuss the book, others will also have to read it and not close their minds because of a "judgement" such as Gavesako's attachment
e) I am offering free of charge to send copies of the book to anyone who is so inclined to engage in this discussion or just wants to read it
f) Aside from anything contradictory, this book also intelligently presents many "accepted" topics in a way that even a "negatively biased" reader may benefit from

Also, can someone please send me a "test" private message (just hello is fine), and let me know that you have done so by posting here, just so I can make sure my email is receiving private messages (email troubles a while ago)

Thanks all!
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Re: Excellent old book

Postby ancientbuddhism » Mon May 27, 2013 3:22 pm

This Article may be of interest:

Vedanta and Buddhism: A Comparative Study, by Helmuth von Glasenapp

    “…The fact that in the Pali canon all worldly phenomena are said to be anatta has induced some scholars of the West to look for an Atman in Buddhism. For instance, the following "great syllogism" was formulated by George Grimm: "What I perceive to arise and to cease, and to cause suffering to me, on account of that impermanence, cannot be my ego. Now I perceive that everything cognizable in me and around me, arises and ceases, and causes me suffering on account of its impermanence. Therefore nothing cognizable is my ego." From that Grimm concludes that there must be an eternal ego-substance that is free from all suffering, and above all cognizability. …”
“The authentic and pure values – truth, beauty, and goodness – in the activity of a human being are the result of one and the same act, a certain application of the full attention to the object.”
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Re: Excellent old book

Postby daverupa » Mon May 27, 2013 4:15 pm

A quote beginning at the very end of page 145:

The definitive annihilation of these five groups happens in death. Hence, to the saint the process we call death is nothing but the annihilation of those things that are, because they belong to this world, transitory, painful, produced and therefore do not form his real essence, his true Self.


Here's a quote from page 229:

Everything is Anatta, not the I, and does not belong to my innermost essence, the whole external world as little as my corporeal organism together with consciousness. I am beyond all this, beyond the world. This was one of the truths which the Buddha had to tell us.


On page 371, the author sums up what he thinks the Buddha might have said to his Brahmin interlocutors:

Therefore you are always talking about the Atta, but I only speak of Anatta. In short, you have the Atta-method, the atta-vada, whereas I have the Anatta-method, the anatta-vada. And this I have because only thus is the Atta, that is, myself, able to become free from suffering and happy.


I am underwhelmed.

Digger wrote:d) In order to discuss the book, others will also have to read it and not close their minds because of a "judgement"...


Well, I ascertain that the author seems to have a previous conclusion, and his commentary on the numerous citations confirm this bias, even when the citations themselves do not support his annotation. He has said these things, not another, and they seem to miss the mark, do they not?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Excellent old book

Postby Digger » Tue May 28, 2013 12:40 am

For Daverupa:

If something misses the mark, that is what I would like to discuss.

Are you quoting from the hardcover or the paperback? I have the recent version of the paperback (copyright 2007) and the page numbers do not correlate with what you are quoting.

Regarding Grimm's presentation of Anatta, I am not "pro" one way or the other. I saw something controversial written by someone who is certainly intelligent that I would like to openly discuss.

Even with his presentation of Anatta aside, I liked the way Grimm laid out dependent co-arising and some of his other explanations. For example, page 231 of the paperback, section on discussing rebirth, "To the paroxysms of lust in the moment of coition thus stand opposed to the pangs of death of the creature just conceived". In the preface, he quotes Schopenhauer as saying that genuine geniuses (who are able to penetrate the depths of actuality) are so rare that they "reach hands to one another across the centuries". I think there are things worthwhile in this book.

Thanks!
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Re: Excellent old book

Postby mikenz66 » Tue May 28, 2013 3:46 am

Hi Digger,

I don't have time to read the book, but this is an interesting topic in the context of Early Buddhism. Theraveda, most of the other sects, and many (not all) modern interpreters, would disagree, but the Pudgalavada https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pudgalavada did subscribe to some sort of "self".

Since this is the Early Buddhism section, discussion of such various interpretations is very much to the point, whether one agrees with them or not is really an issue for another forum.

:anjali:
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Re: Excellent old book

Postby daverupa » Tue May 28, 2013 2:07 pm

Digger wrote:Are you quoting from the hardcover or the paperback? I have the recent version of the paperback (copyright 2007) and the page numbers do not correlate with what you are quoting.


I have a .pdf version, so there may be a mixup. As I recall, one of those quotes was at the very beginning of a chapter, so perhaps a correlation can be derived - I'm away from that file at the moment, else I'd hunt down the details. I'll have to look into it.

:reading:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Excellent old book

Postby ancientbuddhism » Tue May 28, 2013 2:36 pm

George Grimm is not the only scholar to muddle the anattā doctrine of the Nikāyas with either vedic or Upaniṣadic ātman ontology or later Theosophy.

    ◦ A.K. Coomaraswamy:

    Buddha and the Gospel of Buddhism, 1916:

    “…it is at least certain that at this period there existed no fundamental doctrinal opposition of Brāhmanism and Buddhism; but Gautama, and some other Kahattriyas, and some Brāhmans were alike engaged in one and the same task.

    At first sight nothing can appear more definite than the opposition of the Buddhist An-attā, ‘no-Ātman,’ and the Brāhman Ātman, the sole reality. But in using the same term, Attā or Ātman, Buddhist and Brāhman are talking of different things, and when this is realized, it will be seen that the Buddhist disputations on this point lose nearly all their value. It is frankly admitted by Professor Rhys Davids that “The neuter Brahman is, so far as I am aware, entirely unknown in the Nikāyas, and of course the Buddha’s idea of Brahmā, in the masculine, really differs widely from that of the Upanishads.”

    There is nothing, then, to show that the Buddhists ever really understood the pure doctrine of the Ātman, which is ‘not so, not so.’ The attack which they led upon the idea of the soul or self is directed against the conception of eternity in time of an unchanging individuality; of the timless spirit they do not speak, and yet they claim to have disposed of the theory of Ātman!

    In reality both sides were in agreement that the soul or ego (manas, ahamkāra, vijñāna, etc.) is complex and phenomenal, while of that which is ‘not so’ we know nothing.” (p. 199)

    “Either Gautama was only acquainted with popular Brāhmanism, or he chose to ignore its higher aspects.”

    “… those whome he defeats in controversy so easily are mere puppets who never put forward the doctrine of the unconditioned Self at all. Gautama meets no foeman worthy of his steel, and for this reason the greater part of Buddhist polemic is unavoidably occupied in beating the air.” (p. 200)

    Gotama the Buddha, 1948 (?) (w/ translations by I.B. Horner):

    “What has Buddhism to say of the Self? “That’s not my Self” (na me so attā); this, and the term “non-Self-isness” (anattā) predicated of the world and all “things” (sabbe dhammā anattā) [n. 2 Identical with the Brahmanical “of those who are mortal, there is no Self”, (anātmā hi martyah, ŚB. ii. 2.2.3).] have formed the basis of the mistaken view that Buddhism “denies [not merely the self but also] the Self.” But a moments consideration of the logic of the words will show that they assume the reality of a Self that is not any one or all of the “things” that are denied of it.” (p. 21)

    ◦ C.A.F. Rhys Davids:

    Her early scholarly contributions to the Pali Text Society were straight-forward at first, however, sometime after her son was killed in action in WWI (1917) she turned to spiritualism in an effort to communicate with her son, pivotal to a change of viewpoint when she began to deny the doctrine of anatta as central to the aims of the Buddha’s teachings.

    She claimed that the Buddha taught the way to a ‘More’ in man, a Upaniṣadic model of not seeking the Self in the body or mind, but rather in the great Self.

    She further claimed that it was ‘monasticism’ that began interpreting the doctrine of anatta as ‘pure nihilism’. (Rhys Davids, C.A.F (1938) pp. 33-5, 53; (1934) p. 67.

    ◦ Christmas Humphries:

    In his entry for Anatta (P.) Anātman (Sk.) in the Popular Dictionary of Buddhism (1984) claimed that:

    The essentially Buddhist doctrine of non-ego. One of the ‘Three Signs of Being’ with
    Anicca and Dukkha. The doctrine of the non-separateness of all forms of life, and the
    opposite of that of an immortal and yet personal soul. As applied to man it states that
    there is no permanent ego or self in the five skandhas (q.v.) which make up the
    personality. The Buddha, however, nowhere denied the existence of an ego or soul, but
    taught that no permanent entity, not subject to Anicca and Dukkha, can be found in any of
    the human faculties. That which pertains to any human being is not immortal; that which
    is immortal and unchanging is not the possession of any one human being. The Reality
    behind the flux of Samsāra (q.v.) is an indivisible unity, and the separate possession of no
    part of it. (See Attavāda, Ego, Sakkāya.)

Also, comparison can be made between George Grimm, Steven Collins and Ṭhānissaro. All three reduced the anattā doctrine in the Nikāyas to a mere contemplative strategy.
“The authentic and pure values – truth, beauty, and goodness – in the activity of a human being are the result of one and the same act, a certain application of the full attention to the object.”
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Re: Excellent old book

Postby daverupa » Wed May 29, 2013 12:10 am

Okay, it looks as though I'm using a 1994 reprint, which may have used different pagination.

The quote I referred to earlier as being on page 229 is the beginning of section III, The most excellent Truth of the Annihilation of Suffering - Nibbana, so that should be easy to find.

Page 145 comes under section I, subsection The Subject of Suffering. It's just after a sutta passage involving "brother Yamaka".

& page 371 is in the appendix, a couple of paragraphs before the beginning of 2. The Metaphysics of the Buddha.

:reading:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Excellent old book

Postby Digger » Thu May 30, 2013 1:24 am

For Daverupa:

Ok, your page 145 is my page 172. Are you reading the Yamaka Sutta and saying that it, and/or any other suttas clearly demonstrate that there is "no self", i.e. if there is no self in a, b, c, d, e, then it or something does not exist elsewhere, as Grimm is presenting? Unfortunately I am unable to read Pali myself, so I must accept as correct English interpretations that I read. Are you stating your position from your ability to read and properly translate Pali or are you, as I, reading English interpretations? Please understand I am not saying this or anything to be argumentative or insulting, just trying to dig deep and understand clearly.

I guess a similar question could be asked regarding your page 229 quote (my page 299) and your page 371 (my page 501).

I am not pushing that Grimm is correct or incorrect, just trying to understand why you think he is not. And from what others recently posted here, Grimm is clearly not alone in his interpretation (others sided with him from both roughly 25 centuries ago and in the past 100 years). This is an area where I can understand the arguments of both sides.

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this.
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Re: Excellent old book

Postby daverupa » Thu May 30, 2013 11:17 am

Digger wrote:For Daverupa:

Ok, your page 145 is my page 172. Are you reading the Yamaka Sutta and...


So, in each of my three cases, the statement is prima facie false; it reminds me of discussion over whether or not a tathagata exists after death. Notice that the language used by the author in each case ("[the arahant's] real essence, his true Self"; "my innermost essence"; "only thus is the Atta, that is, myself, able to become free from suffering and happy") is nowhere in the citations he's using.

Building a network of appeal to authority isn't the best way to get around this problem; the papers I've seen cited thus far have clearly contextualized Grimm's position as an outlying inaccuracy, though unique in some respects.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Excellent old book

Postby Kim OHara » Thu May 30, 2013 11:53 am

ancientbuddhism wrote:George Grimm is not the only scholar to muddle the anattā doctrine of the Nikāyas with either vedic or Upaniṣadic ātman ontology or later Theosophy.
...
Also, comparison can be made between George Grimm, Steven Collins and Ṭhānissaro. All three reduced the anattā doctrine in the Nikāyas to a mere contemplative strategy.

I didn't know of Collins so I searched and came up with http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha326.htm which discusses his ideas and quotes him, especially in note [1].

It suggests to me that there might be two sets of reasons behind the inclination to claim that a Self of some kind does exist in spite of the anatta teachings. The older one (including Grimm) I have always seen as a simple inability amongst the early European scholars to fully accept the possibility of no-self because it is so strangely opposed to all they thought they knew.
The newer one (Collins and maybe others) flows instead from the re-categorisation of Buddhism from 'religion' to 'psychotherapy'. In this view, 'anatta' is what the mahayanists would call 'skillful means', a therapeutic strategy with no real truth value.
:?
Of course, I could be completely wrong ...

:namaste:
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Re: Excellent old book

Postby ancientbuddhism » Thu May 30, 2013 2:18 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:George Grimm is not the only scholar to muddle the anattā doctrine of the Nikāyas with either vedic or Upaniṣadic ātman ontology or later Theosophy.
...
Also, comparison can be made between George Grimm, Steven Collins and Ṭhānissaro. All three reduced the anattā doctrine in the Nikāyas to a mere contemplative strategy.

I didn't know of Collins so I searched and came up with http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha326.htm which discusses his ideas and quotes him, especially in note [1].

It suggests to me that there might be two sets of reasons behind the inclination to claim that a Self of some kind does exist in spite of the anatta teachings. The older one (including Grimm) I have always seen as a simple inability amongst the early European scholars to fully accept the possibility of no-self because it is so strangely opposed to all they thought they knew.
The newer one (Collins and maybe others) flows instead from the re-categorisation of Buddhism from 'religion' to 'psychotherapy'. In this view, 'anatta' is what the mahayanists would call 'skillful means', a therapeutic strategy with no real truth value.
:?
Of course, I could be completely wrong ...

:namaste:
Kim


Collins's Selfless Persons is still a resource for me, his odd conclusions notwithstanding. He certainly considered the anattā doctrine as polemical to Brahmanism, but then falls short of understanding the necessity of a contemplative realisation of it.

As for anattā as a strategy, I have found it interesting that writers from such different periods and points-of-view can craft similar language around it.

For all of his meandering Ṭhānissaro’s ‘not-self strategy’ seems connected with his unique interpretation of a nibbānic consciousness that survives death, and a little eternalistic for a Theravādin bhikkhu.

Collins’s soterological strategy, as you say, may well have the age of psychotherapy as its support. Perhaps, in some way, Collins viewpoints have influenced the secular (or consensus) Buddhist trends we see now?

And then there is Grimm with his ‘anattā-method’. Would he, like the other earlier thinkers, have been influenced by theosophy perhaps?

Also, with reference to the footnote on Collins you mentioned, it discusses “allegiance to the doctrine of anattā” as a social orientation set apart from the Brahmanical. For what its worth Baily and Mabbett discuss this in The Sociology of Early Buddhism, as does Bronkhorst in Greater Magadha and Buddhism in the Shadow of Brahmanism, although they may not share Collins’s other conclusions wrt anattā.
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Re: Excellent old book

Postby Kim OHara » Thu May 30, 2013 10:23 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:Collins’s soterological strategy, as you say, may well have the age of psychotherapy as its support. Perhaps, in some way, Collins viewpoints have influenced the secular (or consensus) Buddhist trends we see now?

I'm not sure which came first but Collins' anatta-as-skillful-means is certainly a natural fit with secular Buddhism.
ancientbuddhism wrote:And then there is Grimm with his ‘anattā-method’. Would he, like the other earlier thinkers, have been influenced by theosophy perhaps?

He may have been influenced by Theosophy or any of the other peculiarly 'New Age' movements which were swirling around Europe at the time (Gurdjieff, spiritualism, etc) but I see that generation of European scholars as being unable to escape the pervasive influence of Christianity. Christianity shaped the whole culture in a way that we have trouble imagining: everyone was Christian. Every philosopher, novelist, journalist and scientist of the previous couple of centuries was Christian, every religious building was Christian (apart from a few pagan ruins) ... and the whole business of Christianity was to give an eternal self a happy eternal life.
In that context, anatta is almost unthinkable - and if someone did manage think it, they would find it almost impossible to stop old habits reasserting themselves. Every time there was any doubt, some kind of eternal self would be the completely automatic fallback position.
I see it all the time in writing from that period, to the extent that I now find it unreadable. And it's not because I'm at all anti-Christian - as I've said elsewhere on DW, some of my best friends are Christian and I happily work in a Christian school. It's just that I think the dhamma works best best when not muddied by eternalist additions.

:namaste:
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Re: Excellent old book

Postby nibbuti » Thu May 30, 2013 11:58 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:Also, comparison can be made between George Grimm, Steven Collins and Ṭhānissaro. All three reduced the anattā doctrine in the Nikāyas to a mere contemplative strategy.

If it is indeed so and not otherwise, this would suggest putthujjanahood of named fellows, since the suttas state many times that all things are anatta (except when spoken by a putthujjana).

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Re: Excellent old book

Postby Dmytro » Fri May 31, 2013 6:17 am

Hi nibbuti,

nibbuti wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:Also, comparison can be made between George Grimm, Steven Collins and Ṭhānissaro. All three reduced the anattā doctrine in the Nikāyas to a mere contemplative strategy.

If it is indeed so and not otherwise, this would suggest putthujjanahood of named fellows, since the suttas state many times that all things are anatta (except when spoken by a putthujjana).


Would you please give a single example of sutta that states "all things are anatta"?
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