Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman

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Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman

Postby convivium » Thu Mar 28, 2013 6:32 pm

A little-known Thai woman has been identified by researchers as the most likely author of an important Buddhist treatise, previously attributed to a high-profile monk [Ajahn Mun].
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21936656
http://www.leeds.ac.uk/news/article/3384/literary_sleuths_find_genuine_author
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman

Postby Alex123 » Fri Mar 29, 2013 8:03 pm

Interesting.

What I find sad is that I hear more and more about texts being authored by someone else.

I used to think that the Sutra of Hui Neng was, finally, a Buddhist text whose authenticity was relatively certain, as it is reportedly a verbatim transcript of a Dharma talk given by the Patriarch, recorded by a professional scribe who attended the talk. I figured one couldn't be more trustworthy than that, and I trusted this for years. Then I came across a different translation at a library in Rangoon, written by a fellow named Yampolsky, of Columbia University. In his introduction he made a number of very interesting and disillusioning statements. First he declared that his translation was based on a recently discovered manuscript of the Sutra which is older than the traditionally accepted version and differs from it in many respects. Then he went on to deduce that the Sutra doesn't really represent a discourse of Hui Neng, but is a forgery written by one of the Patriarch's disciples, which then underwent extensive modification over many years…although it was in all likelihood originally based on the teachings of the master. Not only that, but he further wrecked the illusion by hypothesizing that Hui Neng probably wasn't really the Sixth Patriarch at all, and that the story of his receiving the emblems of the Patriarchate secretly from the Fifth Patriarch, and so on, are apocryphal. The real Sixth Patriarch was presumably the timid senior monk belittled in the story, who wrote inferior poetry on the monastery wall; but his school, "the gradual school" of the north, died out, so no one could contest the claims of the forged Sutra declaring that Hui Neng was secretly the Sixth Patriarch. This would explain, among other things, why the lineage ended with the Sixth, with no Seventh. It all goes to show the hopeless unreliability of "authentic" sacred scriptures, and the unscrupulousness even of dedicated spiritual practitioners when it comes to recording them. The moral of the story is that the effect of a text---its usefulness in expanding consciousness, or at least in knocking us out of ruts---is of real importance, not its supposed authenticity or even its factuality. http://thebahiyablog.blogspot.ca/2013/0 ... ttvas.html
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Re: Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman

Postby convivium » Fri Mar 29, 2013 8:05 pm

Why do you find this sad Alex?
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman

Postby Alex123 » Fri Mar 29, 2013 8:26 pm

I find it sad that we cannot fully trust the alleged authorship of at least some suttas, be it in Pali Canon, or elsewhere. I was surprised at something that two Theravadin bhikkhus have said.

I guess suttas are rough guide for personal development where one has to use one's discernment to fill in precise details on what to do and how to explore rather than total and infallible Authority.
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Re: Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman

Postby convivium » Fri Mar 29, 2013 8:38 pm

there is an article from sati buddhist studies i liked about this issue. it uses various methodologies to trace the authenticity of the suttas.
it concludes that the buddha taught sila, samma samadhi and panna (and the rest is commentary anyway).
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman

Postby polarbuddha101 » Fri Mar 29, 2013 8:45 pm

Alex123 wrote: I was surprised at something that two Theravadin bhikkhus have said.



What did they say that was surprising?
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman

Postby Alex123 » Fri Mar 29, 2013 8:48 pm

I have read quite a bit about analysis of earlier vs later suttas. Unfortunately we cannot know totally for sure what Buddha as historic person has actually said. We don't even know what dialects and when He spoke them.

Often there are unproven assumptions such as:
Buddha did or didn't teach complex philosophy, so very abstract suttas are earlier/later.

Linguistic analysis where earlier Pali words and grammatical forms imply that they are earlier, vs texts with later pali grammar.
The problem is that grammatical analysis can work when the sutta is sufficiently big and varied. If sutta is short and uses limited set of words, then we cannot judge. Also we do not know if the Buddha talked in later form of pali or earlier. He could also have used more archaic forms of pali. Later texts could also use more archaic forms of pali. Large texts could have material from different time periods.

We also have no voice recording of Buddha as historical person. We just have written texts that were first written centuries after the Buddha.

So I guess we need to get the message (let go of craving!) and develop wisdom as much as possible.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman

Postby Alex123 » Fri Mar 29, 2013 8:50 pm

polarbuddha101 wrote:
Alex123 wrote: I was surprised at something that two Theravadin bhikkhus have said.



What did they say that was surprising?


Example:


Paññobhāsa Bhikkhu:
Please consider that nobody on this planet can logically, demonstratively prove the following four points:

That a great Indian sage called Gotama Buddha ever really existed;
Even if he did exist, that he was a fully enlightened being;
Even if he did exist and was a fully enlightened being, that he always spoke the truth (or that any fully enlightened being necessarily always speaks the truth); and
Even if Gotama Buddha really, historically existed, and was a fully enlightened being, and always spoke the truth, that the Pali Buddhist texts accurately, reliably represent what he said.
http://thebahiyablog.blogspot.ca/2012/0 ... icism.html

Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
And although every conceivable scrap of literary or archeological evidence seems to have been examined, no air-tight historical proof or disproof of these claims has surfaced. What has surfaced is a mass of minor facts and probabilities — showing that the Pali canon is probably the closest detailed record we have of the Buddha's teachings — but nothing more certain than that. Archeological evidence shows that Pali was probably not the Buddha's native language, but is this proof that he didn't use Pali when talking to native speakers of that language? The canon contains grammatical irregularities, but are these signs of an early stage in the language, before it was standardized, or a later stage of degeneration? And in which stage of the language's development did the Buddha's life fall? http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... icity.html
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Re: Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Mar 29, 2013 9:31 pm

A healthy amount of skepticism can be good to be inquisitive and investigating, but too much and it will impede any shot at progress. It would be vicikicchā, the 2nd hindrance to enlightenment and also a hindrance to meditation.

Doubting if the Buddha even existed? Why even be a monk or even a Buddhist?

There are Ashoka's edicts and the archeological finds of sites mentioned in the Pali Canon. The first four Nikayas are most certainly Buddhavacana; there is repetition, similar teachings and prose.
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Re: Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman

Postby m0rl0ck » Fri Mar 29, 2013 9:38 pm

The important thing to remember in this imo is that, however one views the authenticity of whatever document in question, its the authenticity of the insight and day to day practice that are important.
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman

Postby Alex123 » Fri Mar 29, 2013 9:49 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:Doubting if the Buddha even existed? Why even be a monk or even a Buddhist?


Good question. I've even read one monk who said something approximately that "Buddhism is a faith like Christianity".

If I remember it was about that Buddhist can say "Dhamma offers Nibbana during this life. No need to die first" and a Christian could reply: "Who cares about Nibbana in this life if one will go to eternal hell?"


David N. Snyder wrote:There are Ashoka's edicts and the archeological finds of sites mentioned in the Pali Canon.


So what if they mention someone? Does that mean that it is absolute truth?

Do we have physical remains of Buddha? How do we know it is His remains and not some monk's?

David N. Snyder wrote:The first four Nikayas are most certainly Buddhavacana; there is repetition, similar teachings and prose.


Or it could be a creation of monks in first council. We don't know.

I do believe that Buddha existed, but I understand that there is no proof that He existed. It is an inspiring, though strange story. He was shocked by seeing an Old man. But what about his parents and or grandparents? If he was trained to be a warrior, didn't he witness less-than-pleasant sights?
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Re: Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Mar 29, 2013 9:59 pm

Alex123 wrote:It is an inspiring, though strange story. He was shocked by seeing an Old man. But what about his parents and or grandparents?


Not in the Suttas. See: http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=4_Sights
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Re: Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman

Postby Hickersonia » Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:01 pm

Alex123 wrote:
Paññobhāsa Bhikkhu:
Please consider that nobody on this planet can logically, demonstratively prove the following four points:

That a great Indian sage called Gotama Buddha ever really existed;
Even if he did exist, that he was a fully enlightened being;
Even if he did exist and was a fully enlightened being, that he always spoke the truth (or that any fully enlightened being necessarily always speaks the truth); and
Even if Gotama Buddha really, historically existed, and was a fully enlightened being, and always spoke the truth, that the Pali Buddhist texts accurately, reliably represent what he said.
http://thebahiyablog.blogspot.ca/2012/0 ... icism.html

Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
And although every conceivable scrap of literary or archeological evidence seems to have been examined, no air-tight historical proof or disproof of these claims has surfaced. What has surfaced is a mass of minor facts and probabilities — showing that the Pali canon is probably the closest detailed record we have of the Buddha's teachings — but nothing more certain than that. Archeological evidence shows that Pali was probably not the Buddha's native language, but is this proof that he didn't use Pali when talking to native speakers of that language? The canon contains grammatical irregularities, but are these signs of an early stage in the language, before it was standardized, or a later stage of degeneration? And in which stage of the language's development did the Buddha's life fall? http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... icity.html


I find these statements, which I have read previously, to be strangely encouraging. Here we have two serious, practicing monks who have transcended the idea that we can know these things, or even that we necessarily need to, with 100% certainty. Part of this is "faith," and the other part is not purporting to know things that are not truly known by you.

Their healthy admission of some sort of skepticism is part of what attracted me to the Buddha's teachings in the first place. Faith is a critical component, it is like pushing the primer button on your lawnmower engine. Without it, you can't start mowing the lawn but it won't run the engine by itself either. Practice is where we get to really know what we can know, and really see what we can see. To attest to anything else as unequivocally true is to lie.

They aren't saying that the teachings don't "work," that the realization of Nibbana is false, impossible, or anything like that, they're simply saying that it is impossible for someone alive today to know with 100% certainty that the texts have not been corrupted in some manner.

Well, I suppose impossible unless you can speak with Devas who were living at the same time as the Buddha... I haven't learned how to do this either though.
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Re: Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman

Postby Alex123 » Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:12 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:Not in the Suttas. See: http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=4_Sights


Thank you for that link. Unfortunately there is a lot of mythological elements in Buddha's story, so much so, that I can only believe He existed - though I don't have proof that He did.

In MN36 it says that his mother and father were present when He went forth. He didn't sneak out of the palace, and no hints of wife and child:
before my enlightenment, when I was not enlightened, yet a seeker of enlightenment, it occurred to me: The household life is full of troubles and defilements. It is not possible to lead the completely pure holy life while living in a household. What if I shaved head and beard, donned yellow clothes and went forth. Even in the prime of youth, with black hair, against the wish of mother and father, when they were crying with tearing eyes, I shaved head and beard, donned yellow robes leaving the household became homeless.
http://metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/ ... ta-e1.html


In MN123, his mother was supposed to have died seven days after she gave birth to him
`Venerable sir I have heard these words from the Blessed One himself and you acknowledged them. "ânanda, seven days after the birth ofthe one aspiring enlightenment, the mother of the one aspiring enlightenment passed away and was born with the happy gods"
http://metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/ ... tta-e.html



And of course, we don't even know Buddha's name. At least not in Pali Canon. Buddha is a title. Gotama is name of clan.
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Re: Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman

Postby Buckwheat » Sat Mar 30, 2013 4:47 am

Reminds me of Ajahn Chah's translation for anicca: uncertain
Disciples, this I declare to you: All conditioned things are subject to disintegration – strive on untiringly for your liberation.

Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman

Postby Dan74 » Sat Mar 30, 2013 6:14 am

m0rl0ck wrote:The important thing to remember in this imo is that, however one views the authenticity of whatever document in question, its the authenticity of the insight and day to day practice that are important.


:goodpost:

Maybe this is relevant?

don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.065.than.html
_/|\_
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Re: Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman

Postby Kusala » Sat Mar 30, 2013 9:30 am

Alex123 wrote:I have read quite a bit about analysis of earlier vs later suttas. Unfortunately we cannot know totally for sure what Buddha as historic person has actually said. We don't even know what dialects and when He spoke them.

Often there are unproven assumptions such as:
Buddha did or didn't teach complex philosophy, so very abstract suttas are earlier/later.

Linguistic analysis where earlier Pali words and grammatical forms imply that they are earlier, vs texts with later pali grammar.
The problem is that grammatical analysis can work when the sutta is sufficiently big and varied. If sutta is short and uses limited set of words, then we cannot judge. Also we do not know if the Buddha talked in later form of pali or earlier. He could also have used more archaic forms of pali. Later texts could also use more archaic forms of pali. Large texts could have material from different time periods.

We also have no voice recording of Buddha as historical person. We just have written texts that were first written centuries after the Buddha.

So I guess we need to get the message (let go of craving!) and develop wisdom as much as possible.


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Thus indeed, is that Blessed One: He is the Holy One, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, sublime, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.

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The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
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Re: Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman

Postby iforgotmyname » Sun Mar 31, 2013 7:49 am

Alex123 wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:Not in the Suttas. See: http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=4_Sights


Thank you for that link. Unfortunately there is a lot of mythological elements in Buddha's story, so much so, that I can only believe He existed - though I don't have proof that He did.

In MN36 it says that his mother and father were present when He went forth. He didn't sneak out of the palace, and no hints of wife and child:
before my enlightenment, when I was not enlightened, yet a seeker of enlightenment, it occurred to me: The household life is full of troubles and defilements. It is not possible to lead the completely pure holy life while living in a household. What if I shaved head and beard, donned yellow clothes and went forth. Even in the prime of youth, with black hair, against the wish of mother and father, when they were crying with tearing eyes, I shaved head and beard, donned yellow robes leaving the household became homeless.
http://metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/ ... ta-e1.html


In MN123, his mother was supposed to have died seven days after she gave birth to him
`Venerable sir I have heard these words from the Blessed One himself and you acknowledged them. "ânanda, seven days after the birth ofthe one aspiring enlightenment, the mother of the one aspiring enlightenment passed away and was born with the happy gods"
http://metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/ ... tta-e.html



And of course, we don't even know Buddha's name. At least not in Pali Canon. Buddha is a title. Gotama is name of clan.


Alex - in MN36 it clearly says that the Buddha utters the words "what if" and he's clearly teaching Saccaka the Jain - so he must be stating how "one" would think before one left his house and not necessarily about what went on when the Buddha himself decided to do just that - remember all of this is conversation with the aim of brining someone closer to understanding something.
"Why wouldn't it have, Aggivessana? Before my Awakening, when I was still an unawakened Bodhisatta, the thought occurred to me: 'Household life is confining, a dusty path. Life gone forth is the open air. It isn't easy, living in a home, to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, a polished shell. What if I, having shaved off my hair & beard and putting on the ochre robe, were to go forth from the household life into homelessness?'

It could also very well mean how he had thought before he decided to leave: "how ones parents would think" in spirit, regardless of whether or not they are alive - and remember Buddha had a foster mother who became the first Buddhist nun, maybe it is her he had meant. So you see, don't take this stuff literally, and come to conclusions as a means to some end. We should use our reasoning, Buddha himself has always taught that.

I started reading RIchard Gombrich's book recently (someone here had posted a link to it somewhere - it's called How Buddhism Began). It's a good book, and in one section at least (I haven't read the whole thing, yet), he analyses how we should look at the Sutta's - he introduces the problems caused by language, its translation, the massive time periods it had taken to write these Suttas down, and reminds us to take into account what is said in the context of the time, the particular story and the processes that have taken place on the text we are reading today (in English, Chinese, even the original Pali one). While this may seem a little obvious, we don't always look at it this way - and it's hard to because we're so used to thinking what we read is what was meant.

None of this means all Sutta's a worthless or they are some how all lies. We shouldn't get stuck on the literal aspects of this stuff and come to conclusions, rather concentrate on the "spirit" of the words, and all of the Buddha's teachings as a whole.
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Re: Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Mar 31, 2013 6:59 pm

Kusala wrote:“Buddhism would remain what it is even if it were proved that the Buddha never lived.” - Christmas Humphreys


Perhaps . . . in today's world, especially among Western-born convert Buddhists who are attracted to the self-help teachings of getting out of suffering. But if it would have been proven that the Buddha never lived in say, 100 CE, then I don't think it would have survived and made it to the 20th century. It is because the Buddhists in the Buddhist countries venerated and even worshiped the Buddha, that it stood the test of time, imo; not because of any magical power of worship, but so that it did not die out as just another old philosophy no longer in vogue.
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Re: Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman

Postby Alex123 » Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:06 pm

Thank you all for your replies.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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