In the Interest of Exposing my Ignorance

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In the Interest of Exposing my Ignorance

Postby ericmattingly » Fri May 25, 2012 2:46 am

Hey folks, here's a silly question that for some reason I cannot find an answer to.

On amazon.com there are the famous Wisdom Publications translations of certain Pali discourses and I'm thinking about buying one (In the Buddha's Words) to dip my toes into. I understand that this volume represents no traditional Buddhist text (or collection of texts), but is an anthology. My question involves the others. Are these other books each discrete sets of discourses-- that is, do they each have their own suttas with no or very little repetitions from the others? If I dig "In the Buddha's Words" and decide, say, to buy the Middle-length discourses is there any reason to later purchase the Long and Connected discourses (and, apparently, the forthcoming Numbered ones)? I guess what I'm asking is what the textual history of these collections is. Have they been compiled out of the Sutta Pitaka by the editors and translators, or do they have a deeper history? What is a "connected" discourse, and why are the others not connected? What about the smaller discourses? etc., and so on. I'm sure the books themselves explain it all very thoroughly, but I must spend my money wisely these days, and it mostly goes to food and gas.

Vale,
eric
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Re: In the Interest of Exposing my Ignorance

Postby Kim OHara » Fri May 25, 2012 3:36 am

Hi, Eric,
In the Buddha's Words is good - go for it!
After that, there is a whole shelf-full of suttas. The Christians make do with just one book, but we get lots - forty years' worth of teachings, not just a couple.
While you're reading ITBW, find your way around Access to Insight. Starting points:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/index.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bullitt/befriending.html#which

Happy hunting! :smile:

:namaste:
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Re: In the Interest of Exposing my Ignorance

Postby mikenz66 » Fri May 25, 2012 5:05 am

ericmattingly wrote:On amazon.com there are the famous Wisdom Publications translations of certain Pali discourses and I'm thinking about buying one (In the Buddha's Words) to dip my toes into. I understand that this volume represents no traditional Buddhist text (or collection of texts), but is an anthology.

It's very good. A selection of Pali suttas that is a very good cross-section of the entire collection of Pali suttas, arranged in a very helpful sequence.

You can read the first chapter here:
http://www.wisdompubs.org/pages/display ... yValue=104

:anjali:
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Re: In the Interest of Exposing my Ignorance

Postby hanzze_ » Fri May 25, 2012 5:12 am

If it is "THE WORD OF THE BUDDHA, An outline of the teachings of the Buddha in the Words of the Pali Canon" you might be able to get it also from budaedu.org. It's a little more a Dana wheel. You might find also other good books there.
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Re: In the Interest of Exposing my Ignorance

Postby Reductor » Fri May 25, 2012 6:58 am

ericmattingly wrote: My question involves the others. Are these other books each discrete sets of discourses-- that is, do they each have their own suttas with no or very little repetitions from the others? If I dig "In the Buddha's Words" and decide, say, to buy the Middle-length discourses is there any reason to later purchase the Long and Connected discourses (and, apparently, the forthcoming Numbered ones)? I guess what I'm asking is what the textual history of these collections is. Have they been compiled out of the Sutta Pitaka by the editors and translators, or do they have a deeper history? What is a "connected" discourse, and why are the others not connected? What about the smaller discourses? etc., and so on. I'm sure the books themselves explain it all very thoroughly, but I must spend my money wisely these days, and it mostly goes to food and gas.


The sutta pitaka is comprised of the Majjhima, Digha, Samyutta, Anguttara, and the rest. Without these there is nothing left.

Each book contains material arranged around a theme, or guiding principal. This means that some overlap of material has occurred, and so each book contains within it some suttas from the other books. An example would be Digha Nikaya sutta 22 and Majjhima Nikaya sutta 10, which are very much the same sutta, only with the end of DN22 having an expansion on a point of doctrine. Also in the DN we have the 16th sutta, which contains within it many scenes which are accorded sutta status of their own in other books (several being found in the Samyutta Nikaya).

In addition to the common inclusion of this or that sutta, there is the common use between suttas and books of various 'periscopes', or stock passages. These are numerous and scattered widely, especially among the four main books of the Digha, Majjhima, Samyutta and Anguttara.

I cannot say exactly why there are more than one book in the sutta pitaka, except that each book is thought to have been aimed at differing parts of the Buddhist community (as well as those outside it). For example, I have read that the Digha Nikaya is thought by some scholars to be a propagandic book, aimed at those members of the predominate Brahmanism society of India who were interested in the teachings of the Buddha. Compare this to the proposed intent of the Majjhima Nikaya: that it was aimed at new monks and nuns, in order to give them a firm grounding in doctrine, practice and culture. The Samyutta was suggested (perhaps by B. Bodhi?) to have been aimed at those within the monastic community with a penchant for more detailed discussion of the doctrine, while the Anguttara was aimed largely toward the laity, hence its many suttas about lay life.

The smaller books are of various ages, and it is not agreed among Theravada pracitioners, and less so those that study the canon from outside any one tradition, which among them are from the Buddha's mouth or from the first generation of monks and nuns, and which have come from more recent commentators. For example, the Dhammapada is thought to be old, as well as the SuttaNipata, whereas the books on Divine abodes and ghosts are thought to be more recent.

Lastly, the naming of the Samyutta comes from the way that Nikaya is organized internally, where each section contains many short suttas all discussing one very specific point of doctrine. These suttas are "yolked together", Sam-yutta, by their common theme and subsequently massed together in their own specific chapters. The Anguttara,in comparison, is called the "Numerical book" because each chapter is organized by how many doctrinal elements are contained in the suttas it contains. For example, the eleventh chapter has suttas that each elaborate eleven elements of doctrine.

Anyway, welcome to the forum. Hopefully I didn't miss the intent of your post, and have helped answer some of your questions.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: In the Interest of Exposing my Ignorance

Postby Alobha » Fri May 25, 2012 9:12 am

hanzze_ wrote:If it is "THE WORD OF THE BUDDHA, An outline of the teachings of the Buddha in the Words of the Pali Canon" you might be able to get it also from budaedu.org. It's a little more a Dana wheel. You might find also other good books there.


:goodpost:
[url="http://www.theravada-dhamma.org/page2/page40/page169/page169.html"]theravada-dhamma.org[/url] has a dana link, too. I didn't read Bhikku Bodhis compilation but i still use Nyanatilokas compilation to look things up sometimes.
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Re: In the Interest of Exposing my Ignorance

Postby cooran » Fri May 25, 2012 9:22 am

Hello Alobha,

Maybe you mean: http://theravada-dhamma.org/page2/page4 ... ge169.html ?

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: In the Interest of Exposing my Ignorance

Postby BKh » Fri May 25, 2012 1:21 pm

ericmattingly wrote:...If I dig "In the Buddha's Words" and decide, say, to buy the Middle-length discourses is there any reason to later purchase the Long and Connected discourses (and, apparently, the forthcoming Numbered ones)?...


Simple answer, yes, you will eventually need them all if you want to have a complete collection. The overlap is negligible. I have created a resource sheet for obtaining a near complete Sutta Pitiaka collection that you can download here:

http://readingfaithfully.org/buildingasuttalibrary/

In terms of working with scarce financial resources, I would recommend that you fully dedicate yourself to the In the Buddha's Words anthology, planning on reading the sutta sections through at least three times. This will give you a great foundation and allow you to gain more benefit from the complete books when you purchase them. While you are doing that, you may want to write and request a copy of Ajahn Thanissaro's Handful of Leaves anthology. I think even shipping is free to the USA. Like the Wisdom Publication series, they are organized in the traditional books, although not all suttas are included (Note: some books are called anthologies because they draw from throughout the cannon, some because they are not a complete traditional collection). You may also want to request the sutta anthologies available from Metta Forest Monastery. They draw from throughout the cannon, but are focused on specific topics (e.g. merit, mindfulness of the body, stream entry). When you write to them you can also request the Dhammapada and Udana.

You may want to print out a copy of the chart found on this page and use it as a bookmark while you are reading anthologies:
http://readingfaithfully.org/2012/01/01/simple-chart-of-the-sutta-pitaka/
This will help you get a good sense of the structure of the Sutta Pitaka.

thereductor wrote:In addition to the common inclusion of this or that sutta, there is the common use between suttas and books of various 'periscopes', or stock passages. These are numerous and scattered widely, especially among the four main books of the Digha, Majjhima, Samyutta and Anguttara.


These stock passages don't really impact on the decision to purchase the whole canon. (@thereductor: I think the word you are looking for is pericope, not periscope. It is pronounced pa-RIK-a-pee, not PERI-kope. And it doesn't mean stock passage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pericope defines it as "a set of verses that forms one coherent unit or thought, suitable for public reading from a text..." I'm not sure why people have started using it to refer to stock passages. I guess some stock passages are "one coherent unit or thought" but certainly not all. But by definition every single word in the canon is included in a pericope of some sort.)
http://www.readingfaithfully.org Daily Practice with the Suttas
http://www.audtip.org Audio Sutta Recordings
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Re: In the Interest of Exposing my Ignorance

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri May 25, 2012 4:46 pm

ericmattingly wrote:Hey folks, here's a silly question that for some reason I cannot find an answer to.

On amazon.com there are the famous Wisdom Publications translations of certain Pali discourses and I'm thinking about buying one (In the Buddha's Words) to dip my toes into. I understand that this volume represents no traditional Buddhist text (or collection of texts), but is an anthology. My question involves the others. Are these other books each discrete sets of discourses-- that is, do they each have their own suttas with no or very little repetitions from the others? If I dig "In the Buddha's Words" and decide, say, to buy the Middle-length discourses is there any reason to later purchase the Long and Connected discourses (and, apparently, the forthcoming Numbered ones)? I guess what I'm asking is what the textual history of these collections is. Have they been compiled out of the Sutta Pitaka by the editors and translators, or do they have a deeper history? What is a "connected" discourse, and why are the others not connected? What about the smaller discourses? etc., and so on. I'm sure the books themselves explain it all very thoroughly, but I must spend my money wisely these days, and it mostly goes to food and gas.

Vale,
eric

The Digha, Majjhima, Samyutta, etc. are all different, but as some have said, they contain slight overlaps both in thematic content and and style. Together they all make up the Sutta Pitaka, which is but one of three branches of the entire Tipitika (the others being the Vinaya and Abhidhamma). Titles like "Long," "Middle-length," or "Connected" are just descriptors for the arrangement of the suttas within; The Digha Nikaya contains longer, more philosophical and persuasive suttas, while the Khuddaka (or "Minor") Nikaya contains shorter and more poetic suttas.

Historically, most would say that the Samyutta Nikaya was the first Nikaya to be finalized, but the Majjhima is recommended by a lot of people as the most fundamental and important text for a beginner. That's really up to you though; I actually prefer the Samyutta quite a bit. Either way, I recommend reading In The Buddha's Words and spending some time with it. There's quite a bit in there to stew over! When you're interested in moving forward, I'd recommend either the Majjhima Nikaya or the Samyutta Nikaya, but either one is wonderful of course. The Digha Nikaya is a little intense, however. I'd stay away until you feel ready for it.

Good luck, Dhamma friend!
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: In the Interest of Exposing my Ignorance

Postby Reductor » Fri May 25, 2012 5:20 pm

BKh wrote:
thereductor wrote:In addition to the common inclusion of this or that sutta, there is the common use between suttas and books of various 'periscopes', or stock passages. These are numerous and scattered widely, especially among the four main books of the Digha, Majjhima, Samyutta and Anguttara.


These stock passages don't really impact on the decision to purchase the whole canon. (@thereductor: I think the word you are looking for is pericope, not periscope. It is pronounced pa-RIK-a-pee, not PERI-kope. And it doesn't mean stock passage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pericope defines it as "a set of verses that forms one coherent unit or thought, suitable for public reading from a text..." I'm not sure why people have started using it to refer to stock passages. I guess some stock passages are "one coherent unit or thought" but certainly not all. But by definition every single word in the canon is included in a pericope of some sort.)


Thank you for the both correcting my spelling of 'pericope' as well as providing the correct definition. I'll admit that I failed to look that up first before using it, instead using it in what seems an incorrect sense. My mistake.

Since I did not address it in my post above when I should have, I'll say that the amount of shared material is far outweighed by material unique to each book. In that regard it is good to acquire all the books, although there isn't a rush to do so, since good anthologies exist which are cheaper.

So again, thank you, Bkh, for making that clear.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: In the Interest of Exposing my Ignorance

Postby ericmattingly » Fri May 25, 2012 6:26 pm

Thanks everyone. I have a much better idea of what these collections are now. I'll definitely start with In the Buddha's Words, then go from there. I like the suggestion that I read each Sutta three times. I think I'll make that part of my practice. It's interesting, most of my reading in Buddhism has been in the zen tradition, and while there is some good stuff out there (especially Dogen) I find myself hungry (?) for the actual Suttas. I've been reading "What the Buddha Taught" and it has really gotten me interested in the Theravada perspective. Once more, you guys and gals have my thanks.

vale,
eric

P.S. that "Building a Sutta Library" list is very well put together. I'm going to keep that in mind for the future.
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Re: In the Interest of Exposing my Ignorance

Postby mikenz66 » Fri May 25, 2012 9:15 pm

Hi Eric,

You might also be interested in Bhikku Bodhi's talks based on In the Buddha's Words
See: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2392

And when you get to the Majjhima Nikaya, there is a long series of talks on those suttas here:
http://bodhimonastery.org/a-systematic- ... ikaya.html
In fact, it was organising those talks that led him to assemble In the Buddha's Words.

The discussions, and particularly answers to questions, in those lectures are often very interesting.

Since the suttas are an oral medium I like to listen rather than just read, so do check out the resources here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/outsourc ... tml#suttas

:anjali:
Mike
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Re: In the Interest of Exposing my Ignorance

Postby BKh » Mon May 28, 2012 12:52 am

ericmattingly wrote:I like the suggestion that I read each Sutta three times.

Just to clarify, my suggestion was to read the book three times, not each sutta three times in a row. Of course, either way is valuable. The idea behind starting at the beginning of the book when you reach the end is that you will have a greater understanding of things as you re-read the material. And the idea behind doing it all several times is that you get a very strong sense of what is in the book. That way you will always know where to go when you are looking for a familiar sutta.

One of the good things about this particular anthology is that Bhante doesn't do a lot of slicing and dicing of the suttas. Most of them are presented in their entirety. As you start to own the full collections, though, you might want to read the complete suttas when they have been excerpted.

P.S. that "Building a Sutta Library" list is very well put together. I'm going to keep that in mind for the future.

Thanks for the feedback. I welcome any other comments as you try and use it.

BKh
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