Recommendations for my study?

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Recommendations for my study?

Postby PsychedelicSunSet » Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:06 pm

I've recently started trying to study Sutta. My practice consists of reading a chapter of the Dhammapada a day, and rereading and reflecting upon it through out the day, occasionally taking down verses that speak to me personally. As well as that, I read for about half an hour (or simply one chapter, depending) from In the Buddha's Words by Bhikku Bodhi before my nightly meditation. As I get closer to the end of In the Buddha's Words, I'm wondering what my next step should be. Should I reread the book? Or perhaps acquire a copy of one of Bhikku Bodhi's translations of the discourses of the Buddha? In the Buddha's Words seems to be a spoon feeding of the texts, which has been very nice, but I'm wondering if jumping into the deep end would be wise yet?

Any opinions on how I should proceed, or simply my study in general are welcome.


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Re: Recommendations for my study?

Postby daverupa » Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:08 pm

I see study beginning well enough; I'd read a Nikaya when possible, though perhaps the anthology you have is perfectly sufficient at present. Beyond that, converse with good friends and eventually their recommendations will accrue.

How goes the practice of what's being studied?
    "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: Recommendations for my study?

Postby PsychedelicSunSet » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:18 am

daverupa wrote:I see study beginning well enough; I'd read a Nikaya when possible, though perhaps the anthology you have is perfectly sufficient at present. Beyond that, converse with good friends and eventually their recommendations will accrue.

How goes the practice of what's being studied?



Daverupa,

Thank you for responding. Which Nikaya would you recommend to a beginner? I've heard the Middle Length Discourses is a good starting point, but I haven't heard any reasons why. And while it is certainly an excellent starting point, I'm not sure if rereading it would be beneficial or not. At least immediately rereading it. And unfortunately I have no friends in the Dhamma. There's no group at my school for Buddhists, nor anywhere near by. I don't really have the free time to drive far distances. I'm friends with a Monk in a Wat back home in Massachusetts, but I go to school in Connecticut. I can reach him by email, but he is very slow to respond. It takes weeks usually, especially since he recently had a stroke. In addition to that, when I originally talked to him about the possibility of reading Sutta, he advised me not to. This however was at a time when I was reading about practicing much more than practicing, and he's of the Thai Forest Tradition. Which I'm under the impression started because at the time there was a lot of focus on Sutta study, and it was a departure from studying to learning more from experiences as the Buddha had said. So he may be biased against Sutta in general, although I've never spoken to him about it.

As for how it's going-
The Dhammapada study has been interesting. I'm enjoying the slow digestion of it. I don't know if I've necessarily learned anything in particular from it, so much as its been reinforcing things I've already learned. In addition, certain verses serve as inspirations to stay on the path, or keep motivated in certain aspects. For instance, I've recently decided to quit smoking. I came across a verse that particular spoke to me as to why to not smoke. Now whenever I feel like smoking a cigarette, I either think of or read the verse. As for In the Buddhas Words, I feel as though I'm learning quite a bit. I've been reading a lot about Buddhism for the past year, and practicing for the past few months or so, but I've always felt that there were a lot of gaps in my knowledge in terms to how things relate. I feel as though the Sutta's have been filling those gaps in more so than I could by further reading. Often reading different people's teachings on certain things just confuses me more, but there seems to be a consistency in the Sutta's thats been helping. I'm simply worried that the reason the Sutta's are so clear is because Bhikku Bodhi does some explaining before each chapter, and that there's foot notes which explain certain cultural tid bits that I haven't had exposure to, and that if I jumped into a Nikaya I would be confused. I just don't want to do more harm than good by going too quickly, as I've recently been getting much more serious about my practice, and I don't want to get ahead of myself in my excitement.


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Re: Recommendations for my study?

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:55 am

PsychedelicSunSet wrote:I'm wondering what my next step should be.

I suppose it depends on what your goal is. What is your goal?

Should I reread In the Buddha's Words?

Couldn't hurt.

Honestly, if I had this book before I had already purchased all his Nikaya books I don't know if I would've have bought the Nikaya books at all. In the Buddha's Words is an excellent anthology.

Actually, I would have bought them simply because I like collecting things, but that's not a good Buddhist reason. ;)
- Peter

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Re: Recommendations for my study?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 2:10 am

Hi PsychedelicSunSet

If you find "In the Buddha's Words" useful, I would recommend reading through it again with the help of Bhikkhu Bodhi's lectures: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2392

Bhikhku Bodhi also has an older series of lectures on the Majjhima Nikaya (MN) which I would recommend as the next step:
http://bodhimonastery.org/a-systematic- ... ikaya.html
This uses the same general classifications as In the Buddha's Words, and, in fact, he says in the introduction to In The Buddha's Words that he wrote that book after giving the MN talks.

Note that In the Buddha's Words uses a lot of Samyutta Nikaya (SN) material, so going through the MN will be a useful follow-on.

There are also many talks on MN suttas here: http://www.dhammaloka.org.au/component/ ... study.html and on several other sites.

:anjali:
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Re: Recommendations for my study?

Postby daverupa » Tue Oct 01, 2013 2:05 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi PsychedelicSunSet

If you find "In the Buddha's Words" useful, I would recommend reading through it again with the help of Bhikkhu Bodhi's lectures: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2392

Bhikhku Bodhi also has an older series of lectures on the Majjhima Nikaya (MN) which I would recommend as the next step:
http://bodhimonastery.org/a-systematic- ... ikaya.html
This uses the same general classifications as In the Buddha's Words, and, in fact, he says in the introduction to In The Buddha's Words that he wrote that book after giving the MN talks.

Note that In the Buddha's Words uses a lot of Samyutta Nikaya (SN) material, so going through the MN will be a useful follow-on.

There are also many talks on MN suttas here: http://www.dhammaloka.org.au/component/ ... study.html and on several other sites.

:anjali:
Mike


+1

This is a good set of guidelines, I think.

The one thing I will add is that you don't necessarily need Buddhist friends so much as inquisitive friends, in order to discuss the important topic of suffering and its cessation, so remember to have a loose idea of the sort of package a good friend can come in, and you'll be suited up for adventuring.

:anjali:
    "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: Recommendations for my study?

Postby PsychedelicSunSet » Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:40 pm

Mikenz66,

Thank you very much for the recommendations and links. How exactly do the MP3's accompany the book? I see they're listed by Chapter. Do you read the chapter and then immediately listen to all of the talks? Should I slowly work through the MP3's while reading through the book? And as for the MN talks, should I acquire a copy of Bhikku Bodhi's translation of The Middle Length Discourses to accompany the talks, or are the talks fine on their own? Thank you again for the advice.


Daverupa,

Thank you for responding. And I have friends with heads on their shoulders, but I feel like most of them are unwilling to talk about things of that sort. I don't know how to address those sort of topics without sounding too "religious" so to speak, as I find most people instantly close their ears when confronted with things of the spiritual sort.


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Re: Recommendations for my study?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:57 pm

PsychedelicSunSet wrote:Thank you very much for the recommendations and links. How exactly do the MP3's accompany the book? I see they're listed by Chapter. Do you read the chapter and then immediately listen to all of the talks? Should I slowly work through the MP3's while reading through the book?

What I did was read the chapter, then listen to the talks with the book open.
PsychedelicSunSet wrote:And as for the MN talks, should I acquire a copy of Bhikku Bodhi's translation of The Middle Length Discourses to accompany the talks, or are the talks fine on their own? Thank you again for the advice.

I found that it was useful to have the Nanamoli/Bodhi translation. Initially I thought I could get by with just "In the Buddha's Words" and translations from Access to Insight. However, the terminology on ATI is often quite different, and Bhikkhu Bodhi does not read out the suttas, so it can be confusing if you don't have the text in front of you. In any case, it's a big time investment to work through those talks, so I would suggest making the most of it by having the text.

I really encourage listening to the talks. In his books Bhikkhu Bodhi is very careful to not be speculative, and back up his statements with careful analysis of suttas and commentaries. This may give the impression that he is not as interesting as some other commentators. But in his talks, and particularly in the questioning, he can be very lively and engaging.

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Re: Recommendations for my study?

Postby daverupa » Tue Oct 01, 2013 8:03 pm

PsychedelicSunSet wrote:And I have friends with heads on their shoulders, but I feel like most of them are unwilling to talk about things of that sort. I don't know how to address those sort of topics without sounding too "religious" so to speak, as I find most people instantly close their ears when confronted with things of the spiritual sort.


1. Sounding religious

changes over time as the religious jargon which introduces us to the Dhamma becomes understood and experienced for oneself, at which time speaking in colloquial ways about these things becomes easier. Similes are one example of how this can work.

The best way to ensure you can communicate effectively about these issues, of course, is to do the practice yourself so that over time you can develop nuanced approaches to the various people of the world. But remember that many have dust in their eyes, which is to say they won't recognize the problem as such and therefore won't be interested in solutions to problems they don't see. This is related to

2. Unwilling Interlocutors

who are otherwise disinclined to have conversation about, say, suffering or meditation but who are otherwise ones friends. In my case, friends have come and gone but there were times when things could have gone either way, and it was on the strength of substantive conversation that our relationships continued, not on the strength of frivolous chatting and shared favorites e.g. movies and restaurants.

This is primarily why I attend these online forae, in fact, though every now and then people show up in life who are keen, inquisitive and interested. Those sorts of people also attend retreats fairly regularly, which may be something to think about. Social media makes this sort of thing a lot easier than once upon a time!
    "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: Recommendations for my study?

Postby PsychedelicSunSet » Wed Oct 02, 2013 2:28 am

Mikenz,

Thank you again. I look forward to trying to combine the talks with the book when I have more free time for a longer study session. Perhaps this upcoming Uposatha!


Daverupa,

1.

This makes sense. I try and avoid talking about Buddhist topics which I don't understand to well. It makes me feel uncomfortable to know that I could be poisoning someone's view of the Dhamma with my misinterpretations, but occasionally I come into situations where I can't skillfully avoid it (not that it can't be skillfully avoided!)

2.

I've been noticing a lot of my relationships with old friends changing as I focus more on my Dhamma practice. Mostly for the worst. I love them all dearly, but I think a lot of them are starting to like me a lot less now that I don't do drugs, and spend more time by myself. I hope I can remain friends with all of them, but it is what it is. I look forward to meeting friends in the Dhamma, but I think it may not happen till I'm out of college in a few years. I just don't have time for things like retreats while trying to do two degrees and a minor. I appreciate your responses!


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Re: Recommendations for my study?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Oct 02, 2013 7:21 am

PsychedelicSunSet wrote:Thank you again. I look forward to trying to combine the talks with the book when I have more free time for a longer study session. Perhaps this upcoming Uposatha!

Yes it's quite a time commitment. At one or two talks a week In the Buddha's Words and the MN will keep you going for several years...

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Re: Recommendations for my study?

Postby Ananda26 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 3:44 pm

PsychedelicSunSet wrote:I've recently started trying to study Sutta. My practice consists of reading a chapter of the Dhammapada a day, and rereading and reflecting upon it through out the day, occasionally taking down verses that speak to me personally. As well as that, I read for about half an hour (or simply one chapter, depending) from In the Buddha's Words by Bhikku Bodhi before my nightly meditation. As I get closer to the end of In the Buddha's Words, I'm wondering what my next step should be. Should I reread the book? Or perhaps acquire a copy of one of Bhikku Bodhi's translations of the discourses of the Buddha? In the Buddha's Words seems to be a spoon feeding of the texts, which has been very nice, but I'm wondering if jumping into the deep end would be wise yet?

Any opinions on how I should proceed, or simply my study in general are welcome.


:namaste:


Long Discourses of the Buddha, Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, Connected Discourses of the Buddha. These 3 have been published by Wisdom Publication.

Numerical Discourses of the Buddha published Pali Text Society and distributed in America by Pavaratti Bookstore in Washington State.

Sutta Nipata, Udana, Ittukvitaka, Theragathas, Therigathas.
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