mikenz66 wrote:Hi Phil,
Perhaps a little off topic, but I think Bhikkhu Bodhi's interpretations are quite tame compared to academics such as Gombrich and Gethin.
Besides, unlike some other influential monastic interpreters of Suttas, such as Ven Thanissaro, Ajahn Buddhadasa, and various students of Ajahn Chah, Bhikkhu Bodhi is careful to explain where his opinions differ from the standard Theravada interpretation.
I do know that many contemporary academic commentators (e.g. B. Allan Wallace, David Loy and Sallie B. King) are also Buddhist practitioners who are committed to tradition, even whilst they attempt to think about Buddhism critically.
zavk wrote:Academic commentators tend to take a more contextual approach to the study of Buddhist texts ...
Monastic commentators, on the hand, tend to be more committed towards tradition (as they should for they have a responsibility to further the agenda of the Sangha: maintain the Dhamma for future generations). ...
Second hand testimony and so on is all over the commentaries but there is plenty enough to work with in the Tipitika which is presented as the Buddha's direct and definitive teachings in the appropriate language and forms within the Dhamma and Vinaya teachings as a whole. If it is a questionable comment by someone else then it is questionable to the extent that a question matters in the overall context. Nothing of great or essential significance is missing from the Buddha's words where they are clearly recorded as such that need be added or subtracted in any subsequent comment that I can see. If I start on a process of removing his clearly spoken and the equally thoroughly well received and preserved discourses in an editorial way I don't think I can expect to walk away with much in the end. I can see how much there is to loose by doing so at all from my pov. I recognize that points of departure for divergent views are abundantly available to us at all times regardless of the other observation. I don't presume to occupy the high ground of the Buddha's outlook, only to use it and a employ a pali speaking outlook as my chosen beacon for truth within and without Theravada. I try to align my questioning outside Theravada discussions to the acceptable forms within the other traditions and try to learn proper forms of respectful understanding and speech. it is too much to take on all of it comprehensively in a beneficial way for my real and ongoing need.jcsuperstar wrote:i dont think anyone is saying the buddha lied, i think what may be being pointed at is there may be some things in the suttas the buddha didnt say...
I'm only pumped because it works for me. Sure, read, reflect, consider, I'm all for it. I'm a voracious reader. I had to learn to moderate a kind of compulsion to read over the years. I'll read anything I can on the Tipitaka and Theravada tradition from any source. Probably a few times if it is really interesting or helpful. The doctrine, imho, stands up to exhaustive ethical scrutiny. People's ethics (or is it at times 'aesthetics' that are noted?) rarely stand up to much scrutiny at all. As for texts and books. I know what I keep going back to again and again simply because I have been reading so much all of my life. I find the Buddha's spoken words, now text of course, unique, outstanding, superior. I have read way too much in my life. I was a kid that emptied libraries of reading material on a regular basis. I still read, with more moderation and now that I am middle aged I have made my way through a lot of literature in the english language. There is no comment on the Buddha or what is written about his words that really changes the fact that those thoughts, composed in that way, are uniquely brilliant and effective for me as instructions for life and achieving my highest aspirations. That is how I feel and what I think about it and I'm sure many other monastic writers have similar thoughts and feelings. They are on the whole very down to earth about things which is always a good idea. Academic writers do have many other legitimate concerns that monastics do not have and so they do have to address all of these things in a different way and a different kind of individuated perspectives comes to bear. It's all good from my POV. Information all informs me about something so it is only a matter of it's relative value.zavk wrote:Hi nathan,
Your commitment to tradition is admirable and most inspiring. I aspire to have the level of faith you have--as appropriate to the context of my own experience of course.
In my opinion, critical readings of Buddhist doctrine and practice has a certain ethical function. I don't see such work as aiming to debunk or disprove Buddhism. Rather, I see them as a means to better illuminate the conditionality of the teachings, to better demonstrate how the teachings arose, and will continue to develop, co-dependently in and out of various contexts. This guards against the misuse of doctrine for authoritarian purposes (note: this doesn't amount to a disregard for 'authority' but is more precisely, a critique of 'authoritarianism'). As I see it, an investigation of conditionality that is rooted in ethical concerns is in line with core Buddhist ideals. And in turn, it is the indispensable component of ethics that guards against or prevents such inquiries from sliding into indiscriminate relativism.
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