alan... wrote:... whereas theravada is a progressive step by step teaching laid out in the suttas and elaborated on in the commentary and by later teachers, zen can only be transmitted from master to student by direct interaction?
Is it true that Theravada (or other early forms) can be adequately understood just from Sutta and ancient and modern Commentary?
I've been working through Patrick Kearney's [currently latest] retreat talks:
http://www.dharmasalon.net/Audio/BMIMC% ... BMIMC.html
and yesterday came to:
12 On truth
We examine what the Buddha means by “truth,” by unpacking Cankī Sutta (With Cankī MN95). This occurs during a debate between the Buddha and Kāpaṭhika, a brilliant young brāhmaṇa student.
Patrick points out, there and in other talks, that when the Buddha talks about "truth" he's talking about personal experience (not facts from books) and in the Suttas it is learned by paying careful attention to a teacher (who is found to be worthy of putting faith into after careful observation). Often the teacher is the Buddha himself:
E.g. MN 47:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 84#p223084
The Scope of Free Inquiry according to the Vimamsaka Sutta and its Madhyama Agama Parallel by Bhikkhu Analayo.
However, Patrick used MN 95, Canki Sutta, as the basis for discussion.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
When, on observing that the monk is purified with regard to qualities based on delusion, he places conviction in him. With the arising of conviction, he visits him & grows close to him. Growing close to him, he lends ear. Lending ear, he hears the Dhamma. Hearing the Dhamma, he remembers it. Remembering it, he penetrates the meaning of those dhammas. Penetrating the meaning, he comes to an agreement through pondering those dhammas. There being an agreement through pondering those dhammas, desire arises. With the arising of desire, he becomes willing. Willing, he contemplates (lit: "weighs," "compares"). Contemplating, he makes an exertion. Exerting himself, he both realizes the ultimate meaning of the truth with his body and sees by penetrating it with discernment.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html
It is as soon as by testing him, he comes to see that he is purified from ideas provocative of lust, hate, and delusion, that he then plants his faith in him. When he visits him he respects him, when he respects him he gives ear, one who gives ear hears the True Idea, he remembers it, he investigates the meaning of the ideas remembered. When he does that he acquires a preference by pondering the ideas. That produces interest. One interested is actively committed. So committed he makes a judgment. According to his judgment he exerts himself. When he exerts himself he comes to realize with the body the ultimate truth, and he sees it by the penetrating of it with understanding. That is how there is discovery of truth. But there is as yet no final arrival at truth. How is truth finally arrived at? Final arrival at truth is the repetition, the keeping in being, the development, of those same ideas. That is how there is final arrival at truth."
20. “When he has investigated him and has seen that he is purified from states based on delusion, then he places faith in him; filled with faith he visits him and pays respect to him; having paid respect to him, he gives ear; when he gives ear, he hears the Dhamma; having heard the Dhamma, he memorises it and examines the meaning of the teachings he has memorised; when he examines their meaning, he gains a reflective acceptance of those teachings; when he has gained a reflective acceptance of those teachings, zeal springs up; when zeal has sprung up, he applies his will; having applied his will, he scrutinises; having scrutinised, he strives; resolutely striving, he realises with the body the supreme truth and sees it by penetrating it with wisdom. In this way, Bhāradvāja, there is the discovery of truth; in this way one discovers truth; in this way we describe the discovery of truth. But as yet there is no final arrival at truth.”
 Tūleti. MA: He investigates things in terms of impermanence, and so forth. This stage thus seems to be that of insight contemplation.
 Although applying the will (ussahati) appears similar to striving (padahati), the former may be understood as the exertion undertaken prior to insight contemplation, the latter as the exertion that brings insight up to the level of the supramundane path.
 MA: He realises Nibbāna with the mental body (of the path of stream-entry), and having penetrated the defilements, he sees Nibbāna with wisdom, making it clear and evident.
 While the discovery of truth in this context appears to signify the attainment of stream-entry, the final arrival at truth (saccānuppatti) seems to mean the full attainment of arahantship.
So, clearly, the Truth is experienced, not discovered by pondering. In this case the experience comes from practice based on a respectful interaction with a trusted teacher.
Patrick makes a number of other points about Truth, but this post is getting a little long, so I'll give some opportunity for comment...