Gombrich and Insight

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
User avatar
Posts: 12404
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Gombrich and Insight

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Mar 03, 2009 7:41 am

There is an interesting article by Richard Gombrich here:

It refers back to a review by Bhikkhu Bodhi
of Gombrich's book "How Buddhism Began: The Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings".

It is curious that in Chapter IV: Retracing an ancient debate: how insight worsted concentration in the Pali Canon Gombrich seems to think that "dry insight" (without Jhana) means not doing formal meditation at all. This would be news to modern "Insight" meditators, following the techniques taught by Sayadaw Mahasi, Goenka, etc...

From Bhikku Bodhi's review:
My second objection is to his insistence on interpreting alternative approaches to the path advocated in the suttas as competitive opposites. Thus, because the canon recognizes two types of arahants, those "liberated in both ways" and those "liberated by wisdom," Gombrich holds that a debate was underway between those monks who favoured meditation and those who thought insight was so far superior that meditation could be dispensed with. He appeals for support to the Susīma Sutta (SN 12:70), which he reads as implying that enlightenment can be attained without meditation (pp. 125_26).

This sort of dialog between the "Academic Scholarship" of Professor Gombrich and the "Monastic Schoarship" of Bhikkhu Bhodhi (which extends to the footnotes in Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of the Samyutta Nikaya) is useful and stimulating. It's just a pity that the timescale is so long. A thread on DhammaWheel with the Venerable and the Professor going head to head would be very entertaining...


User avatar
Posts: 8280
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Gombrich and Insight

Postby cooran » Tue Mar 03, 2009 8:11 am

Hello Mike, all,

I know Richard Gombrich is an Academic ~ but is he also a practising Buddhist?

---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

User avatar
Posts: 21576
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Gombrich and Insight

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Mar 03, 2009 8:19 am

is he also a practising Buddhist?

He says no.

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

Return to “General Theravāda discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests

Google Saffron, Theravada Search Engine