Gombrich

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

Gombrich

Postby Bugleberry » Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:45 am

Are his books a good place to start for this forum?
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Re: Gombrich

Postby andre9999 » Fri Apr 22, 2011 12:30 pm

"What the Buddha Thought"? Sounds like I'm going to be heading to the library today.

Ben, you tricked me with your deleted post. :)
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Re: Gombrich

Postby Ben » Fri Apr 22, 2011 12:49 pm

Sorry Andre.
Yes, I do recommend "What the Buddha Thought". A very good friend gave me a copy as a gift. I also recommend another of his works: "How Buddhism Began: the conditioned genesis of the early teachings".
Have fun in the library!

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Gombrich

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Apr 22, 2011 1:02 pm

I liked those Gombrich's books, but it seems to me that their purpose is to argue for a particular thesis (or theses). Not that that is a bad thing, but the point is that they are not really a general introduction to early Buddhism.

For a general, modern, introduction to the early schools there are books such as:
Rupert Gethin, The Foundations of Buddhism (1998)

:anjali:
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Re: Gombrich

Postby pulga » Fri Apr 22, 2011 1:12 pm

Books written about early Buddhism are interesting and entertaining, especially when like Gombrich's they are well written. But any historical approach to understanding the Dhamma is on shaky ground.
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Re: Gombrich

Postby andre9999 » Fri Apr 22, 2011 1:16 pm

pulga wrote:Books written about early Buddhism are interesting and entertaining, especially when like Gombrich's they are well written. But any historical approach to understanding the Dhamma is on shaky ground.


This is something I've been wanting lately. While I'm an agnostic, I do own a Christian study bible, which really helps bring a lot of context to reading the bible... authorship, audience, footnotes, etc. Does anything similar exist for Buddhism?
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Re: Gombrich

Postby pulga » Fri Apr 22, 2011 2:45 pm

andre9999 wrote:This is something I've been wanting lately. While I'm an agnostic, I do own a Christian study bible, which really helps bring a lot of context to reading the bible... authorship, audience, footnotes, etc. Does anything similar exist for Buddhism?


History in of itself is speculative, and to apply it to the message an individual man Siddhattha Gotama taught 2,500 years ago in a pre-literate culture radically different than our own, in a language we have yet to fully understand, seems really quite dubious to me. It may be a necessary evil to some extent, but the best thing to do is to apply it sparingly with great caution, basing our understanding of the Dhamma on direct experience and what little we're able to glean from the Pali Suttas.

I'm not much into Kierkegaard, but after reading parts of his Concluding Unscientific Postscript placing one's faith in the speculations of Buddhist academics seems like sheer folly. But as I said, some books on early Buddhism are still entertaining and make for enjoyable reading. They were written over a century ago, but the works of Hermann Oldenberg are still listed in the bibliographies of books published today. He delves into the upanishads and their influence on the Buddha's teachings and the culture that they emerged from. Richard Gombrich is the best current academic that I enjoy reading. And of course there's Peter Masefield whose ideas I don't always agree with, but whose knowledge of Pali and the Suttas I still respect. His ideas can be disconcerting, if not downright troubling, but I'm afraid some of them do have merit.
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Re: Gombrich

Postby Bugleberry » Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:44 pm

andre9999 wrote:This is something I've been wanting lately. While I'm an agnostic, I do own a Christian study bible, which really helps bring a lot of context to reading the bible... authorship, audience, footnotes, etc. Does anything similar exist for Buddhism?


me too

:anjali:
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Re: Gombrich

Postby Bugleberry » Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:45 pm

you folks are awesome, thanks
:anjali:
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Re: Gombrich

Postby Ben » Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:45 pm

Hi Mike
mikenz66 wrote:I liked those Gombrich's books, but it seems to me that their purpose is to argue for a particular thesis (or theses). Not that that is a bad thing, but the point is that they are not really a general introduction to early Buddhism.

For a general, modern, introduction to the early schools there are books such as:
Rupert Gethin, The Foundations of Buddhism (1998)

:anjali:
Mike

Yes, I agree. I think Gombrich is definitely an important author but not the only, nore definitive, early Buddhism authority. I think he provides an invaluable point of view, just not the only point of view.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
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Re: Gombrich

Postby Bugleberry » Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:26 am

no offense, but you guys are kind of going over my head now...and you're right, i will have to go to a library...are his books that rare? how long do posts stay open? i don't feel like i could say anything worthwhile to your responses 'til i've read at least one of the books you guys (or gals?) recommended...i mean, have fun with the topic 'n all, but i'm in the dust...i vow to get current asap...his name was on a book list at sit i go to under "scholarly" and it's the only one i recall...there might've been a Wynne too...
:anjali:
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Re: Gombrich

Postby IanAnd » Sat Apr 23, 2011 6:31 am

Mikenz66 wrote:
Bugleberry wrote:Are his books a good place to start for this forum?

For a general, modern, introduction to the early schools there are books such as:
Rupert Gethin, The Foundations of Buddhism (1998)

I agree. For beginners, Gethin's work is an excellent place to start. That and Walpola Rahula's What the Buddha Taught. Both these (together) would be a good place to start.

Once you have your "sea legs" in the Dhamma so to speak, then you may benefit from looking into the works of Gombrich as he brings out some insights in the practice (or perhaps just a different way of looking at it) which may not have been referenced in quite the same way in the other two books.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: Gombrich

Postby some1 » Wed Apr 27, 2011 5:25 am

pulga wrote:History in of itself is speculative, and to apply it to the message an individual man Siddhattha Gotama taught 2,500 years ago in a pre-literate culture radically different than our own, in a language we have yet to fully understand, seems really quite dubious to me. It may be a necessary evil to some extent, but the best thing to do is to apply it sparingly with great caution, basing our understanding of the Dhamma on direct experience and what little we're able to glean from the Pali Suttas....

Relating to that, below is an excerpt from the "Historical Notes" in Thanissaro Bhikkhu's "The Dhammapada: A Translation". Just beware of such academic trap. Personally, I enjoy learning the different perspectives presented by the historical studies.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/dhp/dhp.intro.than.html#intro wrote:Thus, although the scholarship devoted to the different recensions of the Dhp has provided a useful service in unearthing so many variant readings of the text, none of the assumptions used in trying sort through those readings for "the original" Dhp have led to any definite conclusions. Their positive success has been limited mainly to offering food for academic speculation and educated guesses. On the negative side, though, they have succeeded in accomplishing something totally useless: a wholesale sense of distrust for the early Buddhist texts, and the poetic texts in particular. If the texts contain so many varying reports, the feeling goes, and if their translators and transmitters were so incompetent, how can any of them be trusted? This distrust comes from accepting, unconsciously, the assumptions concerning authorship and authenticity within which our modern, predominately literate culture operates: that only one version of a verse could have been composed by its original author, and that all other versions must be later corruptions. In terms of the Dhp, this comes down to assuming that there was only one original version of the text, and that it was composed in a single language.

However, these assumptions are totally inappropriate for analyzing the oral culture in which the Buddha taught and in which the verses of the Dhp were first anthologized. If we look carefully at the nature of that culture — and in particular at clear statements from the early Buddhist texts concerning the events and principles that shaped those texts — we will see that it is perfectly natural that there should be a variety of reports about the Buddha's teachings, all of which might be essentially correct. In terms of the Dhp, we can view the multiple versions of the text as a sign, not of faulty transmission, but of an allegiance to their oral origins.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... html#intro
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