A Manual of the Excellent Man (bodhisatta path)

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Will
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A Manual of the Excellent Man (bodhisatta path)

Postby Will » Thu Jan 01, 2009 2:54 am

I have ordered this work by the Venerable Ledi Sayādaw - Uttama Purisa Dīpanī - A Manual of the Excellent Man. It is also online at Bhante Pesala's site.

http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Ledi/Uttama/uttama.html

My first question is: Who here has read it, in translation or the original;

and secondly - what did you think of it?
Last edited by Will on Wed May 26, 2010 2:50 pm, edited 3 times in total.
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta

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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Postby Ben » Thu Jan 01, 2009 4:17 am

Hi Will

I have read Ledi Sayadaw's work - like all of his works, brilliant but terse. His other works which are published under the title of 'Manuals of Dhamma' (available via www.pariyatti.com and www.dhammabooks.com) is also worthwhile ordering.

I think Ledi Sayadaw a teacher who is considered to be in keeping with the Mahavihara. In the late 19th Century the Sayadaw was one of the preemminent Theravadin scholar monks and he corresponded with Rhys Davids. Ledi Sayadaw is also cited as the 'grand-father' of the modern vipassana revivalist movement that spawned the later teachers Mahasi Sayadaw and U Ba Khin (via Saya Thetgyi).

There was some controversy with his translation of some Abhidhammic text where he claims to have corrected the errors of earlier commentators. This point is touched on in Bhikkhu Bodhi's 'A comprehensive manual of the Abhidhamma'. I don't know much about the Sayadaw's controversial translation. I don't know enough about the controversy to be able to fill you in. Perhaps others can help.

As for Uttama Purisa Dīpanī - A Manual of the Excellent Man, I highly recommend. My own copy is with a friend.
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
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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Postby Dhammanando » Thu Jan 01, 2009 5:31 am

Hi Will,

The point that Ben touched upon —Bhikkhu Bodhi's account of the criticisms by Ledi Sayadaw of a mediaeval Abhidhamma commentary by Sumangalasāmī— is online: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/abhiman.html

    Abhidhammatthavibhavini-Tika, or in brief, the Vibhavini, written by Acariya Sumangalasami, pupil of the eminent Sri Lankan elder Sariputta Mahasami, also in the twelfth century. This tika quickly superceded the Old Commentary and is generally considered the most profound and reliable exegetical work on the Sangaha. In Burma this work is known as tika-gyaw, "the Famous Commentary." The author is greatly respected for his erudition and mastery of the Abhidhamma. He relies heavily on older authorities such as the Abhidhamma-Anutika and the Visuddhimagga-Mahatika (also known as the Paramatthamanjusa). Although Ledi Sayadaw (see below) criticized the Vibhavini extensively in his own commentary on the Sangaha, its popularity has not diminished but indeed has even increased, and several Burmese scholars have risen to defend it against Ledi Sayadaw's criticisms.

    [...]

    Paramatthadipani-Tika, "The Elucidation of the Ultimate Meaning," by Ledi Sayadaw. Ledi Sayadaw of Burma (1846-1923) was one of the greatest scholar-monks and meditation masters of the Theravada tradition in recent times. He was the author of over seventy manuals on different aspects of Theravada Buddhism, including philosophy, ethics, meditation practice, and Pali grammar. His tika created a sensation in the field of Abhidhamma studies because he pointed out 325 places in the esteemed Vibhavini-tika where he alleged that errors and misinterpretations had occurred, though his criticisms also set off a reaction in defense of the older work.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,

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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Postby Will » Thu Jan 01, 2009 7:20 pm

Thank you for responding Ben & Bhante Dhammanando.

But Bhante you said nothing about having read (or not) the Uttama Purisa Dīpanī and what you think of it?
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta

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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Postby Ben » Thu Jan 01, 2009 9:52 pm

Hi Will

Was there anything specific in Uttama Purisa Dīpanī that you wanted to discuss?
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: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Jan 02, 2009 4:04 am

Hi Will,

But Bhante you said nothing about having read (or not) the Uttama Purisa Dīpanī


In his foreward to the Dīpanī Ven. Pesala writes:

    "The origin of this edition deserves some mention since it has been so long in coming to print. I think it was in 1991 that James Patrick Stewart-Ross, an American Buddhist, visited me at the Burmese Vihāra in Wembley, England and gave me a stack of computer disks, on which were more than thirty voluminous works by various authors. Many of them were by the Venerable Ledi Sayādaw. Mr Ross had spent many years collecting works by famous Burmese Sayādaws and had made heroic efforts to get English translations made. While living in Thailand, he made many trips into Burma, to search out able translators and typists to help him with this colossal undertaking."

In the late 80's I was one of the team of typists and proofreaders working for James Stewart-Ross, so I've read all the Ledi material on Pesala's site many times over. :)

and what you think of it?


Naturally I think very highly of it, or I wouldn't have volunteered for Ross's team. As far as I know there's nothing of Ledi Sayadaw in English that anyone thinks is at odds with the classical Theravadin understanding. His controversial book, the Paramatthadīpanī, is at present only available in Pali, Burmese and Thai.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,

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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Postby Will » Fri Jan 02, 2009 4:17 am

Ben wrote:Hi Will

Was there anything specific in Uttama Purisa Dīpanī that you wanted to discuss?
Kind regards

Ben


After I have read it - probably. But I just wanted to get some impressions from others first.

Bhante Dhammanando, I thank you for your remarks about thinking highly of the work. I just do not wish to go down any bypaths or deadends. I had read that the modern vipassana movement had Ledi Sayadaw as a prime mover. So when I heard critics say, of the modern movement, that vipassana is about the only thing that is taught & practiced, I wondered if he also thought little or no Dhamma foundation or preparation is needed.
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta

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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Jan 02, 2009 4:54 am

Hi Will,

Will wrote:Bhante Dhammanando, I thank you for your remarks about thinking highly of the work. I just do not wish to go down any bypaths or deadends. I had read that the modern vipassana movement had Ledi Sayadaw as a prime mover. So when I heard critics say, of the modern movement, that vipassana is about the only thing that is taught & practiced, I wondered if he also thought little or no Dhamma foundation or preparation is needed.


Though one will meet some teachers who have little or nothing to teach but the particular meditation method they have learned, and some practitioners whose interest in the Dhamma doesn't extend beyond the particular method that they have learned, one shouldn't characterize the whole of the modern vipassanā movement (or movements, rather) in this way.

The monks who founded these movements were for the most part Burmese scholarly contemplatives, men of great learning whose literary output covers a vast field. Ledi Sayādaw, for example, wrote and spoke on everything from meditation to Abhidhamma to Pali grammar to the evils of eating cows.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,

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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Postby sherubtse » Sat Jan 03, 2009 7:05 pm

Will wrote:I have ordered this work by the Venerable Ledi Sayādaw - Uttama Purisa Dīpanī - A Manual of the Excellent Man. It is also online at Bhante Pesala's site.


Thanks for the reference, Will.

Ven Pesala's site has lots of good stuff, most (all?) of it from the traditional Burmese masters. There's stuff there that seems to go way back, and is thus a nice counter-poise to current writings on meditation and the Dhamma.

With metta,
Sherubtse

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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Postby fig tree » Thu Jan 15, 2009 6:07 am

Will wrote:My first question is: Who here has read it, in translation or the original;

and secondly - what did you think of it?

I haven't read the whole thing, but I've read part of the translation. It seemed to me to have a charming straightforwardness about it.

The editor's preface says that it was written in 7 weeks. In this case, I would guess that was the speed of an author who already had his material pretty clear in his own mind.

Fig Tree

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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Postby Will » Thu Jan 15, 2009 3:10 pm

Not wanting to read so much online, I ordered this work, plus some others by the same author. They arrived yesterday, so I will soon be pestering all with more questions.
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta

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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Postby Will » Fri Jan 16, 2009 7:21 pm

First puzzlement - is it a typo on pages 2-3 re: Sila, where it says that it manifests only as verbal purity? It does not mention bodily purity, whereas the first part of the comments does mention bodily purity. The online edition has only "verbal purity" too.

Also, is the Sayadaw translating or paraphrasing the Pali verses in italics?
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta

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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Jan 16, 2009 8:23 pm

Hi Will,

Will wrote:First puzzlement - is it a typo on pages 2-3 re: Sila, where it says that it manifests only as verbal purity? It does not mention bodily purity, whereas the first part of the comments does mention bodily purity. The online edition has only "verbal purity" too.


Yes, it's a typo. It should be "moral" not "verbal".

Also, is the Sayadaw translating or paraphrasing the Pali verses in italics?


It's a Burmese-style explanatory translation. For example, the word "bodhisambhāra" literally means "requisites of awakening", but the sayadaw translates it "meritorious deeds for fulfilling the perfections".

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,

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Re: Invocation

Postby Will » Fri Jan 16, 2009 10:09 pm

Thanks for clarifying Bhante. :smile:

Now back to the invocation or whatever is the proper name for Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammasambuddhassa. Any reason why these particular three titles of Buddha are being used? And why no mention of Dhamma & Sangha?

I recall a Tibetan Rinpoche using that invocation before a talk he gave. Quite a pleasant surprise - I like simplicity - where possible.
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta

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Re: Invocation

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Jan 16, 2009 10:41 pm

Hi Will,

Will wrote:Now back to the invocation or whatever is the proper name for Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammasambuddhassa. Any reason why these particular three titles of Buddha are being used?


Ancient custom. This formula is one of the oldest for praising the Buddha, dating all the way back to the Suttas. In the Dhanañjanī Sutta, for example, the wife of Dhanañjanī, after becoming a follower of the Buddha, would sometimes be moved to exclaim it out loud while doing the housework, to the great annoyance of her brahmin husband.

And why no mention of Dhamma & Sangha?



When a person pays homage to the Buddha he is implicitly also paying homage to the Dhamma and Saṅgha. This is based upon avinābhāva-naya, the principle that when certain things are necessarily connected, if one thing is mentioned then the others are included by implication. So likewise, when one pays homage to the Dhamma alone or the Sangha alone. Saṅgharakkhita, for example, begins his Subodhālaṅkāra by praising only the Dhamma, but the ṭīkā to his treatise comments:

    tathā hi lokuttaradhammanissitapariyattisaṅkhātasabbaññubhāratiyā manosampīṇanāsīsanāpadesena attano nissesadhammaratane pasādo pakāsito. so pana dhammappasādo tadavinābhāvato buddhasaṅghesupi siddhoti ratanattayavisayaṃ paṇāmaṃ vaṅkavuttiyā dasseti.

    "For in this manner, his [Saṅgharakkhita's] confidence in the Dhamma Jewel in its entirety is demonstrated by expressing a wish to find satisfaction of mind in the scriptures that constitute the word of the Omniscient One, upon which the supramundane dhammas depend. Moreover, that confidence in the Dhamma is effective also with respect to the Buddha and the Saṅgha owing to their inseparability from it [tadavinābhāvato], and so in an oblique manner he shows reverence that has [all] Three Jewels as its scope."

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,

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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Postby Will » Sun Jan 18, 2009 7:54 pm

I certainly am happy, and hope others are too, that Bhante Dhammanando is taking the time to respond to questions - particularly this great work. I am still pondering Chapter One and will continue to do so.

This verse is quoted by the Sayadaw:
“Virtue observed out of craving for glorious existences and material well-being is inferior; virtue observed for one’s own release is moderate; virtue observed to liberate all beings, which is the perfection of virtue, is superior.” (Visuddhimagga)


Now without the context this passage is an exact match for (and precursor by 500 years) the three stages of the path that Atisha & Je Tsongkhapa made famous. But my query is about "all" beings in the quote - is that word in Buddhagosha's original? Because, later in this chapter, when the Sayadaw is explaining the Noblest Aspiration, "all beings" are not mentioned.

Here is what Ledi Sayadaw writes:

What is meant by “the Noblest Aspiration”? It is the verbal and mental undertaking that the bodhisatta had made at some point of time aeons before taking up the perfections.

It was made in these terms:

“As a man who knows his own strength, what use is there to get to ‘the yonder shore’ (nibbāna) alone? I will attain to Supreme Knowledge and then convey men and devas to the yonder shore.”

That was the pledge that sent the ten thousand universes reeling and echoing in applause. That was the bodhisatta’s earnest wish. For he intensely aspired to Supreme Self-Enlightenment thus:

“Knowing the Truth, I will let others know it. Freeing myself from the world, I will free others. Having crossed over, I will enable others to cross.”

This fervent and most daring aspiration is called “the Noblest Aspiration.”


That sure sounds like a Mahayana motivation.

Later on in chapter one is this:
The detailed process of laying the foundation for the aspiration to, and the fulfilment of, Perfect Enlightenment is dealt with in the scriptures in fifteen catechisms.


What are the 15 catechisms?
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta

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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Postby Will » Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:05 am

Further on in ch. 1:

The Perfect Enlightenment of a Buddha is also of these three types, which are also called: (i) ugghātitaññūbodhi, (ii) vipañcitaññūbodhi, and (iii) ñeyyabodhi respectively.

A Buddha who depends on wisdom for his enlightenment, after receiving the assurance, has to fulfil the ten perfections, the ten higher perfections, and the ten supreme perfections for four aeons and a hundred thousand world cycles.

A Buddha who depends on diligence must fulfil the perfections for eight aeons and a hundred thousand world cycles.

A Buddha who depends on confidence must fulfil the perfections for sixteen aeons and a hundred thousand world cycles.


What does "depends on" mean?
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta

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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Jan 19, 2009 5:46 am

Hi Will,

Will wrote:What does "depends on" mean?


It means that the quality in question (wisdom, energy or faith) is the chief supporting condition in that Bodhisatta's progress.

So in the case of Gotama, for example, it was wisdom (paññā, prajñā).

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,

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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Postby Will » Mon Jan 19, 2009 5:55 am

Dhammanando wrote:Hi Will,

Will wrote:What does "depends on" mean?


It means that the quality in question (wisdom, energy or faith) is the chief supporting condition in that Bodhisatta's progress.

So in the case of Gotama, for example, it was wisdom (paññā, prajñā).

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu


Wisdom as the principal supporting condition makes sense in a Buddha, but energy directed toward what or faith in what - dependent arising?
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta

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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Jan 19, 2009 9:26 am

Hi Will,

Will wrote:Wisdom as the principal supporting condition makes sense in a Buddha, but energy directed toward what or faith in what - dependent arising?


Energy consisting in the usual four right efforts (to put away arisen akusala, prevent unarisen akusala, generate unarisen kusala, and develop arisen kusala), but with especial reference to the fulfillment of the perfections.

Faith in Dhamma and the enlightenment of the Tathāgatas.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,


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