Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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mikenz66
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Re: Alternative rendering of DN16's "four great references"

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:01 am

And I also must admit I have difficulty in figuring out how to number "the four" in the passage.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .vaji.html
8-11. Then the Blessed One said: "In this fashion, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu might speak: 'Face to face with the Blessed One, brethren, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation'; or: 'In an abode of such and such a name lives a community with elders and a chief. Face to face with that community, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation'; or: 'In an abode of such and such a name live several bhikkhus who are elders, who are learned, who have accomplished their course, who are preservers of the Dhamma, the Discipline, and the Summaries. Face to face with those elders, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation'; or: 'In an abode of such and such a name lives a single bhikkhu who is an elder, who is learned, who has accomplished his course, who is a preserver of the Dhamma, the Discipline, and the Summaries. Face to face with that elder, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation.'

"In such a case, bhikkhus, the declaration of such a bhikkhu is neither to be received with approval nor with scorn. Without approval and without scorn, but carefully studying the sentences word by word, one should trace them in the Discourses and verify them by the Discipline. If they are neither traceable in the Discourses nor verifiable by the Discipline, one must conclude thus: 'Certainly, this is not the Blessed One's utterance; this has been misunderstood by that bhikkhu — or by that community, or by those elders, or by that elder.' In that way, bhikkhus, you should reject it. But if the sentences concerned are traceable in the Discourses and verifiable by the Discipline, then one must conclude thus: 'Certainly, this is the Blessed One's utterance; this has been well understood by that bhikkhu — or by that community, or by those elders, or by that elder.' And in that way, bhikkhus, you may accept it on the first, second, third, or fourth reference. These, bhikkhus, are the four great references for you to preserve."

They are sometimes numbered like the following, but I'm not quite sure how these related to the "accept it on the first, second, third, or fourth reference" above.
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... a_teaching
Four Great References for analyzing a teaching:
1. Without approval and without scorn, carefully study and examine it

2. Check to see if it is in the discourses

3. If it is in the discourses, check to see if verifiable by the Discipline

4. If it meets these references, you can conclude that it is a teaching of the Dhamma

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

Postby chownah » Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:39 am

Mikenz66,
My interpretation is much different from yours...I take the four references to be:
1. The Buddha
2.a community with elders and a chief.
3.several bhikkhus who are elders
4.a single bhikkhu who is an elder,
chownah

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

Postby Travis » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:53 am

Hi Mike,
From what I can tell chownah is right that the 4 References are:
chownah wrote:1. The Buddha
2.a community with elders and a chief.
3.several bhikkhus who are elders
4.a single bhikkhu who is an elder


What Dhammanando is discussing are the three criteria or "yardsticks" for evaluating the 4 references. What (I believe) Dhammanando is saying is that the yardsticks for evaluating the refernces are misinterpreted as "Dhamma and Discipline" but are in fact referencing the 4 NT and "removal of attachment, aversion and delusion" with a third which is absent from the Pali texts, but found in the Agamas, paticcasamupada. Otherwise when evaluating one of the four references you would have to rely on another of the references, because the Dhamma was only spoken, so it would be "playing favorites."
Last edited by Travis on Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:58 am

Hi Chownah, Travis,

Yes, that's the other way I've seen of reading it. What I posted was a quote, not my opinion. Since they are mentioned so often I found it surprisingly difficult to find a clear statement what the number 4 actually maps to in the sutta when I went looking for it...

It's clear from what I did find that "four great references" was not a term used by the Buddha, but a later appellation.

Not that it matters to the meaning of the Sutta, but it matters to the meaning of the discussion...

:anjali:
Mike

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

Postby Travis » Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:11 am

I see. In any case, I hope my explanation helped with the one bit:
mikenz66 wrote: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...


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

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:29 am

Yes, it was certainly helpful for that. Thanks!

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

Postby Prasadachitta » Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:05 pm

tiltbillings wrote: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."


Hi Tilt,

Since a whole lot comes under the heading Mahayana I would not argue with that. I regard the Vimila as a work of literature rather than a historical record. My point is that it contains the excerpt I quoted. If you take such literature with this advise in mind then your conclusions will conform with or be conducive to the Path. Im not at all interested to make Mahayanists of anyone. Its not a term I apply to myself.

Metta

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"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 Alex123 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:35 pm

mikenz66 wrote:And I also must admit I have difficulty in figuring out how to number "the four" in the passage.



Either one bhikkhu or a group of bhikkhus may state something, and it can either match suttas or do not match. So, 2x2 = 4 possibilities.

1) If what one bhikkhu says is found in sutta & vinaya, then we can say that it is Buddha's word.
2) If what group of bhikkhus say that which is found in sutta & vinaya, then we can say that it is Buddha's word.
3) If what one bhikkhu says is not found in sutta & vinaya, then we can say that it is not Buddha's word.
4) If what group of bhikkhus say that which is not found in sutta & vinaya, then we can say that it is not Buddha's word.

Four possibilities. This is how I understand it.
"dust to dust...."

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

Postby ancientbuddhism » Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:26 pm

A Philological Approach to Buddhism - K.R. Norman

I just added this to the Early Buddhism Resources page.

This is an excellent series. What Mr. Norman points out is that it is not as simple as even some scholars and translators would think to interpret what the Buddha meant.
Anuvicca papañca nāmarūpaṃ
ajjhattaṃ bahiddhā ca rogamūlaṃ,
sabbarogamūlabandhanā pamutto
anuvidito tādi pavuccate tathattā
.

“Having known the naming of objects,
With its proliferation, its root in illness – within and without;
One is released from bondage to the root of all illness.
And thus is called the Knowing One – the Such.

– Sn. 3.6 (Sabhiyasuttaṃ)

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

A Handful of Leaves


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