Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:50 am

Greetings,

Venerable Dhammanando's recent studies have revealed some interesting insights... http://www.facebook.com/dhammanando

Re-reading the Nettipakarana. Kaccayana gives an intriguing treatment of the Mahaparinibbanasutta's four mahapadesas. Unlike all other interpreters, ancient and modern, he doesn't conceive them as having anything at all to do with appeals to textual authority. "Conformity to sutta" for Kaccayana is conformity to the Dhamma's general thread of meaning, which is the 4 ariyasacca.

And "vinaya" in "conformity to vinaya" is taken not in the sense of monastic discipline or Vinaya Pitaka, but in the most common sense that this term has in the Sutta Pitaka: raaga-vinaya dosa-vinaya moha-vinaya, "removal of attachment, aversion and delusion".

Then a third yardstick is given: "conformity to dhammataa", which Kaccayana identifies with paticcasamuppaada. This is not found in the Pali Mahaparinibbanasutta but is present in the Sanskrit version and (if I remember right) four parallel passages in the Chinese Agamas.

So, on this reading a putative buddhavacana may be accepted as such if it conforms to two points of principle: the four truths and paticcasamuppaada, and if it is effective in practice in bringing about the three removals.

I think, for many reasons, it is the reading most likely to be faithful to the Buddha's intent

The problem with all the textual authority interpretations is that in an age of oral transmission you simply couldn't put them into practice without violating a cardinal injunction of the whole mahapadesa procedure.

I mean the injunction not to play favourites...

"don't rejoice in..." "don't reject..."

It also jives well with the Kalama Sutta

After Buddhaghosa there come two attempts to harmonize the Paleo-Orthodox take on the mahapadesas with the Sumangalavilasini's Neo-Orthodox interpretation (or rather the one of the six interpretations that Buddhaghosa himself approved of).

One attempt (the "Unified Interpretation", we might call it) combines them into a single rather unwieldy method.

And the other (the "Non-Overlapping Magisteria Interpretation") treats the Paleo-Orthodox Netti approach as concerned only with an individual's private verification, and the Neo-Orthodox with public demonstration.

By the time of the Sinhalese Renaissance and the sub-commentaries the Unified Interpretation has become the de facto official view

At least in theory. But in practice it is the Neo that is always applied in textual argument.

I think the Paleo is long overdue for a revival.

Note that the terms he uses for the yardsticks are sutta and vinaya, not dhamma and vinaya. And note the passage's fourth scenario - this is a great group of monks.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:57 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Venerable Dhammanando's recent studies have revealed some interesting insights...
He is getting a bit radical in his old age.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Postby daverupa » Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:44 am

tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Venerable Dhammanando's recent studies have revealed some interesting insights...
He is getting a bit radical in his old age.


More time spent meditating, perhaps?
    "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: Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Postby Prasadachitta » Tue Sep 20, 2011 2:53 pm

So, on this reading a putative buddhavacana may be accepted as such if it conforms to two points of principle: the four truths and paticcasamuppaada, and if it is effective in practice in bringing about the three removals.


This is my understanding of how the Mahayana in general regards buddhavacana. It makes a whole lot of sense to me. Even though I know he is not around....

Thanks Bhante Dhammanando
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Re: Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:04 pm

Interesting. Is this more of a "what is well spoken is the Dhamma" reading rather than a "what exactly I said is the Dhamma" reading?

I must admit I don't really understand this bit:
The problem with all the textual authority interpretations is that in an age of oral transmission you simply couldn't put them into practice without violating a cardinal injunction of the whole mahapadesa procedure.

I mean the injunction not to play favourites...


:anjali:
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Re: Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Postby Prasadachitta » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:39 pm

Dharma-worship consists of determining the Dharma according to
the Dharma; applying the Dharma according to the Dharma; being in harmony with relativity;
being free of extremist convictions; attaining the tolerance of ultimate birthlessness and non
occurrence of all things; realizing selflessness and living-beinglessness; refraining from struggle
about causes and conditions, without quarrelling or disputing; not being possessive; being free
of egoism; relying on the meaning and not on the literal expression; relying on gnosis and not on
consciousness; relying on the ultimate teachings definitive in meaning, and not insisting on the
superficial teachings interpretable in meaning; relying on reality, and not insisting on opinions
derived from personal authorities; realizing correctly the reality of the Buddha; realizing the
ultimate absence of any fundamental consciousness; and overcoming the habit of clinging to an
ultimate ground. Finally, attaining peace by stopping everything from ignorance to old age, death,
sorrow, lamentation, misery, anxiety and trouble, and realizing that living beings know no end
to their views concerning these twelve links of dependent origination; then, noble son, when you
do not hold to any view at all, it is called the unexcelled Dharma-worship.


Here is an excerpt from Robert Thurman,s translation of the The Vimalakirti Nirdesa. An early Mahayana text. I thought it has an interesting resonance with the Sutta being discussed.

Metta

Prasadachitta
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Re: Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:13 pm

daverupa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Venerable Dhammanando's recent studies have revealed some interesting insights...
He is getting a bit radical in his old age.


More time spent meditating, perhaps?
Non sequitur.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:16 pm

Prasadachitta wrote:
Dharma-worship consists of determining the Dharma according to
the Dharma; applying the Dharma according to the Dharma; being in harmony with relativity;
being free of extremist convictions; attaining the tolerance of ultimate birthlessness and non
occurrence of all things; realizing selflessness and living-beinglessness; refraining from struggle
about causes and conditions, without quarrelling or disputing; not being possessive; being free
of egoism; relying on the meaning and not on the literal expression; relying on gnosis and not on
consciousness; relying on the ultimate teachings definitive in meaning, and not insisting on the
superficial teachings interpretable in meaning; relying on reality, and not insisting on opinions
derived from personal authorities; realizing correctly the reality of the Buddha; realizing the
ultimate absence of any fundamental consciousness; and overcoming the habit of clinging to an
ultimate ground. Finally, attaining peace by stopping everything from ignorance to old age, death,
sorrow, lamentation, misery, anxiety and trouble, and realizing that living beings know no end
to their views concerning these twelve links of dependent origination; then, noble son, when you
do not hold to any view at all, it is called the unexcelled Dharma-worship.


Here is an excerpt from Robert Thurman,s translation of the The Vimalakirti Nirdesa. An early Mahayana text. I thought it has an interesting resonance with the Sutta being discussed.
The unforunate problem with the Mahayana, this the Vimala, taken as a whole, certainly illustrates it, is thet they pushed, in a number of different directions, far beyond: "on this reading a putative buddhavacana may be accepted as such if it conforms to two points of principle: the four truths and paticcasamuppaada, and if it is effective in practice in bringing about the three removals."
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:23 pm

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:Is this more of a "what is well spoken is the Dhamma" reading rather than a "what exactly I said is the Dhamma" reading?

It's a bit tricky to tell, but even with this more "open" definition, there's no aribtariness to it.

Dhammanando wrote:"Conformity to sutta" for Kaccayana is conformity to the Dhamma's general thread of meaning, which is the 4 ariyasacca.

And "vinaya" in "conformity to vinaya" is taken not in the sense of monastic discipline or Vinaya Pitaka, but in the most common sense that this term has in the Sutta Pitaka: raaga-vinaya dosa-vinaya moha-vinaya, "removal of attachment, aversion and delusion".

Then a third yardstick is given: "conformity to dhammataa", which Kaccayana identifies with paticcasamuppaada. This is not found in the Pali Mahaparinibbanasutta but is present in the Sanskrit version and (if I remember right) four parallel passages in the Chinese Agamas.

So, on this reading a putative buddhavacana may be accepted as such if it conforms to two points of principle: the four truths and paticcasamuppaada, and if it is effective in practice in bringing about the three removals.

Whether or not one would be prepared to jettison the more traditional rendering, it's hard to argue against the 4NT, paticcasamuppaada & the removal of attachment, aversion and delusion, constituting a useful benchmark.

If it is true... it would seem that it makes understanding what the Buddha actually meant by paticcasamuppaada (and making it 'known'), all the more important.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:27 pm

Yes, that's what I meant, I think... That it's talking about having the right understanding rather than preserving the words.

:anjali:
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Re: Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:50 pm

Greetings Mike,

Actually, it reminded me of the two poll options I put in the recent poll on the objectives of retreat - viewtopic.php?f=17&t=9705

- Validation of Right View, transforming it to Right Knowledge or insights (correlates to knowledge of 4NT & paticcasamuppaada)
- Mental purification through the weakening of unwholesome tendencies, asavas, cravings etc. (correlates to removal of attachment, aversion and delusion)

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:59 pm

retrofuturist wrote:If it is true... it would seem that it makes understanding what the Buddha actually meant by paticcasamuppaada (and making it 'known'), all the more important.
And who determines that?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:02 pm

Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:And who determines that?

We have to - who else is going to do that for us?

Ven. D. wrote:the other (the "Non-Overlapping Magisteria Interpretation") treats the Paleo-Orthodox Netti approach as concerned only with an individual's private verification

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:04 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:And who determines that?

We have to - who else is going to do that for us?

Ven. D. wrote:the other (the "Non-Overlapping Magisteria Interpretation") treats the Paleo-Orthodox Netti approach as concerned only with an individual's private verification

Metta,
Retro. :)
And if I do not agree with you?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:05 pm

Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:And if I do not agree with you?

...then you don't agree with me.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:12 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:And if I do not agree with you?

...then you don't agree with me.

Metta,
Retro. :)
Then, of course, you do not have the Buddha Word, but I do.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:14 pm

Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:Then, of course, you do not have the Buddha Word, but I do.

Quite possibly - it's an individual Dhammic pursuit, not an egalitarian Welfare State.

What's more likely though is it being a case of differing flavours and differing degrees, until they're fully known for oneself.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:03 am

retrofuturist wrote:What's more likely though is it being a case of differing flavours and differing degrees, until they're fully known for oneself.
It rather looks like that is where we are already.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:25 am

So no-one can explain what this means in words of one syllable?
Dhammanando wrote:The problem with all the textual authority interpretations is that in an age of oral transmission you simply couldn't put them into practice without violating a cardinal injunction of the whole mahapadesa procedure.

I mean the injunction not to play favourites...

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:55 am

Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:It rather looks like that is where we are already.

If one already takes comprehension of paticcasamuppada as integral to the Dhamma, then yes...

Ven. D wrote:Then a third yardstick is given: "conformity to dhammataa", which Kaccayana identifies with paticcasamuppaada

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)


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