John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby Dhammanando » Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:20 am

suttametta wrote:I write the following at the risk of

At times he contradicts himself; there is the passage about the monk who attained Arahatship while slitting his own throat, and then he makes a vinaya rule about not throwing yourself off a cliff.


The Vinaya prohibition you mention was laid down in the aftermath of a suicidal bhikkhu jumping off a cliff and surviving the fall but snuffing the unfortunate fellow he landed on. However, the rule itself speaks only of "throwing oneself off" and says nothing of cliffs. The prevailing interpretation in Thailand takes the rule as prohibiting bhikkhus from jumping from any high place for any reason whatever. According to this view the rule has no essential connection with suicide. For example, many years ago in a Thai monastery library I happened to jump down from a stool after retrieving a book from a high shelf. The librarian monk, a Vinaya scholar, came over and gave me a dressing down for (in his view) breaking this rule and told me that in future I should climb down, rather than jump, whenever there was a need to get from a high place to a low one.[*]

On the other hand, among the Sinhalese it seems that "throwing oneself off" is widely understood to be an idiomatic expression that covers all conceivable methods of killing oneself. This is the interpretation given by Ven. Thanissaro in his Monastic Code and was also my own understanding when I (with no suicidal intent) jumped off the library stool. In the years since then I've heard some clever arguments for both readings, but without finding either entirely compelling. My current policy is to play it safe by neither killing myself nor jumping off stools.

But to come to the point, no matter which reading of the rule we go with, it doesn't contradict the fact that certain bhikkhu disciples attained arahatta in the act of killing themselves. If the rule does indeed prohibit suicide, then it simply means that they attained arahatta after committing a dukkata offence (which is very minor and not the sort of offence that impedes dhammaabhisamaya). If the rule doesn't prohibit suicide, then they wouldn't even have committed a dukkata, for none are reported to have opted for leaping from high places as their chosen method.

Notes:
[*] And applying the Great References, presumably the rule would also include leaping from low places to high ones, thus barring bhikkhus from emulating the rather salubrious-looking practice of the Sisters of St. Beryl:

http://youtu.be/YK9kg-Ngz0Q
http://youtu.be/GV_A7YeOhfs
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby danieLion » Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:27 am

This post viewtopic.php?f=13&t=12221&start=40#p186393 and the Topic it's from might be of relevance.
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby suttametta » Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:30 am

Bhante, With respect, I find the reasoning presented to be humorous. I can't take it seriously. It just seems to me that the Buddha's rulings were ad hoc.

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby robertk » Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:42 am

Yes they were ad hoc. That is the way the Vinaya was set , the Buddha waited until the right occasion to set or alter the rules.

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby daverupa » Tue Jun 05, 2012 11:49 am

While I don't think this was mentioned in the OP, nevertheless is it not the case that the variegated Sutta transmissions we have differ less than the variegated Vinaya transmissions? I'm half-remembering a footnote in a Gombrich book to the effect that, while he could accept the early provenance of much of the Big Four Nikayas, the Vinaya was an altogether different matter (most of the patimokkha being an exception), but he didn't develop the comment.

I've read some Mula-Sarvastivada Vinaya translations by Schopen which depict the Buddha giving advice on what amounts to money loans at monasteries, which seems strikingly out of place. The Councils were also mostly Vinaya disputes, yes? It all begins to support the idea that scholastic differences are strongly represented in the Vinayas, but not so much in the Suttas...
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:10 pm

Interesting point Dave.

I thought Schopen was dealing with a much later vinaya.
Ven Sujato has compiled various criticisms of Schopen's arguments and related issues:
http://sujato.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/ ... y-schopen/
http://sujato.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/ ... some-news/

:anjali:
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby manas » Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:04 am

robertk wrote:Yes they were ad hoc. That is the way the Vinaya was set , the Buddha waited until the right occasion to set or alter the rules.


Hi robert, all,

I recall a question asked of the Buddha, something like "in the beginning of the Blessed One's dispensation, there were few rules, but many arahants; now, there are many rules, but fewer arahants. Why is this the case?" or words to that effect. If anyone could please remind me and all present where that was from, I would much appreciate it, because I think it might clarify things here. I mean, of course the rules seem to get made up as time passes. The Buddha only had to make a rule when there was a particular problem; when there was no problem, there was no need for a rule regarding it, afaics.

:anjali:
Last edited by manas on Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby Alex123 » Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:09 am

manas wrote:
robertk wrote:Yes they were ad hoc. That is the way the Vinaya was set , the Buddha waited until the right occasion to set or alter the rules.


Hi robert, all,

I recall a question asked of the Buddha, something like "in the beginning of the Blessed One's dispensation, there were few rules, but many arahants; now, there are many rules, but fewer arahants. Why is this the case?" or words to that effect. If anyone could please remind me and all present where that was from, I would much appreciate it, because I think it might clarify things here. I mean, of course the rules seem to get made up as time passes. The Buddha only had to make a rule when there was a particular problem; when there was no problem, there was no need for a rule regarding it, afaics.

:anjali:



SN16.13

“Venerable sir, what is the reason, what is the cause, why formerly there were fewer training rules but more bhikkhus were established in final knowledge, while now there are more training rules but fewer bhikkhus are established in final knowledge?”

“That’s the way it is, Kassapa. When beings are declining and the true Dhamma is disappearing there are more training rules but fewer bhikkhus are established in final knowledge. Kassapa, the true Dhamma does not disappear so long as a counterfeit of the true Dhamma has not arisen in the world.
SN16.13 BB Trans
"dust to dust...."

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:15 am

Alex123 wrote:SN16.13

“Venerable sir, what is the reason, what is the cause, why formerly there were fewer training rules but more bhikkhus were established in final knowledge, while now there are more training rules but fewer bhikkhus are established in final knowledge?”

“That’s the way it is, Kassapa. When beings are declining and the true Dhamma is disappearing there are more training rules but fewer bhikkhus are established in final knowledge. Kassapa, the true Dhamma does not disappear so long as a counterfeit of the true Dhamma has not arisen in the world.
SN16.13 BB Trans
A rather selective quotation. Also, quote the full final paragraph SN II 225.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby Alex123 » Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:23 am

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Såvatthi in Jeta’s Grove, Anåthapindika’s Park. Then the Venerable Mahåkassapa approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him:

Venerable sir, what is the reason, what is the cause, why formerly there were fewer training rules but more bhikkhus were established in final knowledge, while now there are more training rules but fewer bhikkhus are established in final knowledge?”

“That’s the way it is, Kassapa. When beings are declining and the true Dhamma is disappearing there are more training rules but fewer bhikkhus are established in final knowledge. Kassapa, the true Dhamma does not disappear so long as a counterfeit of the true Dhamma has not arisen in the world. But when a counterfeit of the true Dhamma arises in the world, then the true Dhamma disappears.

“Just as, Kassapa, gold does not disappear so long as counterfeit gold has not arisen in the world, but when counterfeit gold arises then true gold disappears, so the true Dhamma does not disappear so long as a counterfeit of the true Dhamma has not arisen in the world, but when a counterfeit of the true Dhamma arises in the world, then the true Dhamma disappears.

“It is not the earth element, Kassapa, that causes the true Dhamma to disappear, nor the water element, nor the heat element, nor the air element. It is the senseless people who arise right here who cause the true Dhamma to disappear.

“The true Dhamma does not disappear all at once in the way a sink ships. There are, Kassapa, five detrimental things that lead to the decay and disappearance of the true Dhamma. What are the five? Here the bhikkhus, the bhikkhun¥s, the male lay followers, and the female lay followers dwell without reverence and deference towards the Teacher; they dwell without reverence and deference towards the Dhamma; they dwell without reverence and deference towards the Sangha; they dwell without reverence and deference towards the training; they dwell without reverence and deference towards concentration. These, Kassapa, are the five detrimental things that lead to the decay and disappearance of the true Dhamma.

“There are five (other) things, Kassapa, that lead to the longevity of the true Dhamma, to its non-decay and non-disappearance. What are the five? Here the bhikkhus, the bhikkhunis, the male lay followers, and the female lay followers dwell with reverence and deference towards the Teacher; they dwell with reverence and deference towards the Dhamma; they dwell with reverence and deference towards the Sangha; they dwell with reverence and deference towards the training; they dwell with reverence and deference towards concentration. These, Kassapa, are the five things that lead to the longevity of the true Dhamma, to its non-decay and non-disappearance.” SN 16.13 The Counterfeit of the True Dhamma BB Trans
"dust to dust...."

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby Hanzze » Wed Jun 06, 2012 5:57 am

But it also mentioned in a Sutta that Vinaya will decay after the Dhamma has disappeared and that would be a very indices of a maybe present situations and tendencies. A conclusion "We are much into Dhamma and therefore we reduce the Vinaya" or "because we are much into Dhamma we can reduce or deny it" could be maybe misinterpretation from this sutta.

I guess the Vinaya is a very well measuring unit to identify "a counterfeit of the true Dhamma" and we can see that among many sects (where preaching and actions are much controversies).
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jun 06, 2012 6:19 am

Members,

Could we please get back to the topic of this thread, that was started to examine the issues involved in determining which parts of the Canon (if any) are likely to be the word of the Buddha.

:anjali:
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jun 06, 2012 6:21 am

mikenz66 wrote:Members,

Could we please stick to the topic of this thread, that was started to examine the issues involved in determining which parts of the Canon (if any) are likely to be the word of the Buddha.

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby danieLion » Wed Jun 06, 2012 9:19 am

Ajahn Sujato wrote: The GIST [General Integrated Sutta Theory] asks three questions. Firstly, what are the earliest texts? This question is applied to three historical strata: the first discourses, the first collection of discourses, and the first Abhidhamma. The three strata are each established independently; that is, we do not rely on our identification of the earliest discourses in order to establish the earliest collection, and we do not rely on either of these to establish the earliest Abhidhamma. Rather, to establish each layer we use two basic criteria: the concordance of the texts and the testimony of the tradition. An important confirmation for the validity of the criteria is the elegance of the results. This becomes apparent when we answer the second question: how are the three strata related to each other? And the third question is: how are the three strata related to the rest of the Nikāyas/Āgamas? The results of this inquiry, I might mention in advance, are entirely mundane; so mundane, in fact, that they could easily be dismissed as merely stating the obvious. But what is more important here is not so much the conclusions as the method; we are trying to put on a sound basis, what up till now, has largely been a matter of subjective opinion (A History of Mindfulness: How Insight Worsted Tranquility in the Satipatthana Sutta, pp. 13, 14).


pdf links:
http://www.dhammaweb.net/dhammabook/view.php?id=95
http://sites.google.com/site/santipada/ ... to%27swork
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Jun 06, 2012 11:55 am


Quite a good answer to the OP, from the look of it. I haven't taken the time to read it all but the approach seems very sensible.

:namaste:
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby danieLion » Wed Jun 06, 2012 10:14 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Interesting point Dave.

I thought Schopen was dealing with a much later vinaya.
Ven Sujato has compiled various criticisms of Schopen's arguments and related issues:
http://sujato.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/ ... y-schopen/
http://sujato.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/ ... some-news/

:anjali:
Mike

Highlights from Ajahn Sujato's A Higher Criticism of Archaeology (second link above):
Ajahn Sujato wrote:Practically, the situation has not changed all that much. While there is a small but vigorous circle of scholars pursuing comparative studies, and a tiny group of greats who have mastered a wide range of texts in the Buddhist languages, the reality is that most studies, even today, are based on the texts of only one school or tradition, with occasional references to other traditions, usually based on secondary sources. Comparative study is not a monolithic orthodoxy that needs destroying so that Buddhist studies can get modern, it is a fledgling and undernourished inquiry that needs long years of support before we can truly evaluate its worth.

But, and again this seems to have totally escaped the modern critics, direct comparison of corresponding texts is merely a starting point....

[L]ook at the state of doctrinal development evidenced in the texts. As is well known to textual scholars, the canonical Suttas must, in any meaningful inquiry into Buddhist doctrines, be considered fundamental. Doctrinal variation within the early strata exists, but is startlingly minor. Significant development emerges with the class of literature known as Abhidhamma, which must postdate the Sutta literature. But it is not until the latest strata of Abhidhamma literature (as evidenced by doctrine and the testimony of the schools) that we start to see fully articulated sectarian doctrines....

The conclusions of Buddhist textual studies were not made on the basis of the childish assumptions described by Fogelin and his mentors. They are the outcome of a long, patient, and detailed examination of a vast corpus of texts, scrutinized from every possible angle. Of course this process is imperfect, of course the findings do not always agree, of course we can pick holes in one approach or the other. But the stability of the findings – and in broad outlines, there has been a remarkable degree of stability – is indicative of their substantial and varied foundations . The findings of the archaeological revisionists have not withstood such a test of time (my emphases).

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby daverupa » Wed Jun 06, 2012 10:43 pm

So do we correctly trace extant Theravada Vinaya to the abhidhammic period, and only portions to a pre-sectarian period (e.g. patimokkha, some Khandhaka)?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby danieLion » Thu Jun 07, 2012 12:21 am

Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:The Samyutta Nikāya and the Samyuktāgama

The Pali commentaries, and even the canonical Cullavagga, give an account the the First Buddhist Council which conveys the impression that the participating elders arranged the Sutta Pitaka into essentially the form in which it has come down to us today, even with respect to the precise sequence of texts. This is extremely improbable, and it is also unlikely that the council established a fixed and final recension of the Nikāyas. The evidence to the contrary is just too massive. This evidence includes the presence in the canon of suttas that could only have appeared after the First Council (e.g., MN Nos. 84, 108, 124); sings of extensive editing internal to the suttas themselves; and, a weighty factor, the differences in content and organizations between the Pali Nikāyas and the Northern Indian Āgamas preserved in the Chinese Tripitaka. It is much more likely that what took place at the First Council was the drafting of a comprehensive scheme for classifying the suttas (preserved only in the memory banks of the monks) and the appointment of an editorial committee (perhaps several) to review the material available and cast it into a a format conducive to easy memorization and oral transmission. Possibly too the editorial committee, in compiling an authorized corpus of texts, would have closely considered the purposes their collections were intended to serve and then framed their guidelines for classification in ways designed to fulfill their purposes.... The distribution of the texts among groups of reciters (bhānakas), charged with the task of preserving and transmitting them to posterity, would help to explain the divergences between the different recensions as well as the occurrences of the same suttas in different Nikāyas....

The Role of the Samyutta Among the Four Nikāyas

Joy Manné ["Categories of Sutta in the Pali Nikāyas"...pp. 71-84] has challenged the assumption that length alone explains the differences between the Nikāyas ("Categories of Sutta in the Pali Nikāyas"...pp. 71-84). By carefully comparing the suttas of DN with those of MN, Manné concludes that the two collections are intended to serve two different purposes within the Buddha's dispensation. In her view, DN was primarily intended for the purpose of propaganda to attract converts to the new religion, and thus is aimed mainly at non-Buddhists favourably disposed to Buddhism; MN, in contrast, was directed inwards towards the Buddhist community and the practice. Manné also proposes that "each of the first four Nikāyas came about in order to serve a distinct need and purpose in the growing and developing Buddhist community" (p. 73)....

[T]he suttas in SN (as also in AN) were, as a general rule, not targetted at outsiders or even at the newly converted, but were intended principally for those who had already turned for refuge to the Dhamma and were deeply immersed in its study and practice.

The Connected Discourses of the Buddha, "General Introduction," pp. 28-30, 31, 32, 54

(This seems very similar to me to the widely accepted theory that each of the Christian synoptic gospels were proselytically and doctrinally audience specific.)
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby Dmytro » Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:15 am

Hi Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:Peacock restates this in the interview. In the earliest strata there is no organisation into noble truths, dependent origination, three characteristics, and so on.


On one hand, as you noted, the earliest strata have such elements.

On the other hand, the aspects mentioned - "noble truths, dependent origination, three characteristics" are the pillars of rationalistic and doctrinal Western Buddhism, and the expression "Noble Truth" a Western invention. These aspects were selected to represent a "doctrine" of the Buddha's Teaching, while there's really no doctrine. Instead, there's a roadmap for practice. So searching for the doctrines in the Canon would at best produce apparitions of them.

It also should be noted that the Buddha steadily worked on improving the roadmap. The careful reader can observe the progress from hardly understandable experiential pointers in Sutta-nipata, to stuggeringly comprehensive frameworks of practice - in Satipatthana sutta, Chachakka sutta, Mahaparinibbana sutta. It is evident that Buddha in the course of the teaching career formulated better and better ways of presenting the Path.

"Ariya-sacca" (usualy mistranslated as "Noble Truths")
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=4283
are just one concise way of formulating the "paticca-samuppada" (Conditioned Arising), which occurs relatively rarely in the Canon.
And the Conditioned Arising is a much more comprehensive and flexible map that presented in the doctrinal twelve-link formulation:
http://dhamma.ru/lib/paticcas.htm .

The "three characteristics" (tilakkhaṇa) are altogether a Commentarial thing. The Buddha rather taught the seven kinds of selective recognition (satta-sanna) viewtopic.php?f=23&t=2834#p40805 , with anicca-dukkha-anatta as a shortened version.

Buddha didn't ever try to formulate some comprehensive unified doctrine, the things he taught were just a handful of leaves from the huge forest of his knowledge. So presenting his teaching as a set of doctines is a Procrustean work.

I have explored other lectures of John Peacock as well, and he evidently presents some of the Buddhist urban legends. One of them is linking of dukkha to the axle-hole, the myth taken from a least likely explanation in the Monier-Williams dictionary:
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=6077#p183962

I wonder if John Peacock and his fellows are just surprised not to find the familiar Western Buddhism doctrines in the Sutta-nipata.

:namaste:
Dmytro

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:29 am

Dmytro wrote:Hi Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:Peacock restates this in the interview. In the earliest strata there is no organisation into noble truths, dependent origination, three characteristics, and so on.


On one hand, as you noted, the earliest strata have such elements.

On the other hand, the aspects mentioned - "noble truths, dependent origination, three characteristics" are the pillars of rationalistic and doctrinal Western Buddhism, and the expression "Noble Truth" a Western invention. These aspects were selected to represent a "doctrine" of the Buddha's Teaching, while there's really no doctrine. Instead, there's a roadmap for practice. So searching for the doctrines in the Canon would at best produce apparitions of them
And don't forget that the idea of a "canon" is also a Western "invention."
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson


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