A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

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A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby vinasp » Sun Sep 27, 2009 9:01 pm

Hi everyone,

What do I really think ? Can I refer to some of my posts on other forums ?
Here is my introduction post on http://buddhaforum.org


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hello from Bristol, England.

Postby vinasp on Mon Sep 21, 2009
Hi everyone,

I have been studying the five nikaya's for about twenty years now. I have

made major discoveries which will shock many people. I have an alternative

interpretation of the teachings. This could be the most significant

breakthrough in the last hundred years. I am willing to share my findings with

open minded Buddhist friends. However, you will need a little patience

because my understanding is so different that it will, at first, seem completely

wrong. I look forward to some interesting discussions.

Best wishes, Vincent.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
And here is a link to the main thread that I started.
http://buddhaforum.org/New_Theravada_In ... ut653.html

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Sep 28, 2009 12:45 am

Greetings Vincent,

Whilst you're welcome to provide off-site references, perhaps you would like to consolidate and present your argument in full for the sake of the discussion here?

I notice in the off-site topic you link to that you belatedly remembered some major points which may have made your arguments more cohesive if presented earlier.

I suspect we might have some challenging discussions ahead, and in the open spirit of respectful enquiry encouraged within the Dhammic Free-For-All forum, I look forward to it.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby vinasp » Mon Sep 28, 2009 3:05 pm

Hi retrofuturist,

Yes. You are right. That was not a good presentation. I will rewrite it all and post it here.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby vinasp » Mon Sep 28, 2009 8:31 pm

Hi everyone,

This is a re-working of my posts on the other forum, with some additional remarks.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
As I said in my introduction post I have a completely new understanding of Theravada Buddhism. The result of twenty years of study of the five nikaya's. This new understanding is so different that it is hard to know where to start when trying to explain it. Some key points:

1. Perhaps the most important thing of all. The entire teachings are understood in a completely different way by puthujjana's and ariya savaka's. There are two completely different ways to make sense of the teachings.

2. There is another path beyond the noble eightfold path and the highest attainment is tathagata. This higher path is hidden in the teachings. It can be seen in the references to the asekha and ten path factors. The term arahant which is used for the two highest stages of enlightenment is one way of concealing the higher path. The term arahant is also used for those on the
higher path. Asekha is the correct term to use. If we call the highest stage full enlightenment then those who have attained it can be called tathagata. The stage below must be called non-returner, but is very different from the normal understanding of the non-returner. The teachings when properly understood show that such a higher path is required.
In outline, the N8P is to remove the view of self, and the higher path removes the view "I am". The N8P removes the five aggregates of clinging, and the higher path removes the remaining aggregates. The N8P ends "this world" while the higher path ends "another world".

3. The four paths and fruits, and the four (pairs of ) persons are wrong. So is the explanation of these stages by means of the five lower, and five higher fetters. All this seems to be a false description of the path intended for the puthujjana. The correct sequence is puthujjana, ariya savaka ( stream-winner ), non-returner, tathagata. The puthujjana thinks that the three realms really exist and that nibbana is a place beyond them, the place where arahants go when they die. He also misunderstands liberation since he only knows temporary liberation from his own experience ( if he is a monk and does concentration ). How can a true description of the path be given to someone with such a cosmology and world view ? But if lay people are to support the Sangha they must think that they understand, and approve, of what the monks are doing.

4. There is nothing physical in the aggregates. First we must realise that there are three expressions in use in the nikaya's. The aggregates, the five aggregates and the five aggregates of clinging. One of these, either the aggregates, or the five aggregates, is a generic term, in other words, a way to refer to either or both of the two sets of aggregates. Two sets ? Yes, I think so , but this is work in progress and I have not sorted out my confusion about the aggregates. However, there is nothing physical in either of the two sets of aggregates.
The teaching on the aggregates is confusing. I will attempt to explain things as I see them. First, the ariya savakas understanding : There are two sets of aggregates, both sets of aggregates are said to cease. They can cease because they are only mental constructions. They represent the mis-understanding of everything in terms of self or "I am".They are the "self and world" that we have mentally constructed.
Second, the puthujjanas understanding : he is meant to understand form ( rupa ) as actual physical things, probably ones own body. The other four aggregates can then be understood as ones own mind. The five aggregates are thus seen as representing a human being. He understands the five aggregates of clinging to be just clinging to the five aggregates. So for him there is only one set of aggregates, and any talk of aggregates ceasing must be talk about death.

5. Dependent Origination is the insight path to enlightenment ( this is said by Vipassi in DN 14 ) and there is nothing physical in the dependent origination formula. Since everything in the D.O. formula depends on ignorance, and ignorance is psychological, then everything in the formula ( whatever it is called ) is psychological. ( ie. mentally constructed ). Anything that seems to be physical should be re-interpreted as a misunderstanding of the physical, usually in terms of self or the conceit "I am". To clarify this, we are rejecting the three life interpretation, which is intended for puthujjana monks and lay followers. In fact, we reject any temporal ( involving time ) interpretation. These are right for puthujjanas but wrong for ariya savakas. The alternative interpretation is this : The formula is a model of the unenlightened mind. It represents eleven layers of active mental constructions grounded in ignorance. It is these sankhara's which are eliminated in order to attain enlightenment.

6. The three realms do not exist. I will not say much about this. It is perhaps the most controversial idea. I am sure that it is fully understood by those who have completed the noble eightfold path ( ie. non-returners!). But I am not sure if stream-winners have understood it. Dukkha = World, Five Aggregates = Dukha, Therefore : Five Aggregates = World.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby clw_uk » Mon Sep 28, 2009 8:57 pm

This is going to be a long thread :lol:



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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:26 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,...Best wishes, Vincent.


New Theravada interpretation is really a misnamed thread. A new interpretation of the Pali Canon might be better. Do you read Pali and commentarial Pali? And we can assume that your "new" understandings are grounded in meditative understandings done with under the guidance of a recognized teacher?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby vinasp » Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:13 pm

Hi tiltbillings,

Yes you are quite correct. I did not know what to call the original thread on the other site. Feel free to change it if you think it needs to be altered. I have only studied the five nikayas, I do not know anything about the rest of the canon. Nor do I know anything about any other schools of Buddhism. I do not read pali, I am using English translations. I have pali dictionaries and can look up the pali text to see what words are used, if I have doubts about a translation. It helps a bit, but is obviously not the same as a full knowledge of the language. I have no teacher, I have been working alone since about 1990. I do not even have any Buddhist friends to discuss things with. I started posting on the net about a month ago. I do not meditate, I struggle to see the truth. This is what I have to say, let people make of it what they choose. I do not want to convince anyone of anything.
If you think any of it is wrong then please say so. I am the first to admit that I am still learning. If you can show me that anything is wrong I will be delighted, since it means that I am getting closer to the truth.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby Jechbi » Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:48 pm

Thanks, Vincent. fwiw, this thread might be somewhat related.

Quick question for you. When you state this:
vinasp wrote:But if lay people are to support the Sangha they must think that they understand, and approve, of what the monks are doing.
... it sounds like your lower path serves a mostly utilitarian purpose of cultivating support for the Sangha by offering a false sense of understanding among lay people. No?

Another question: In your view, what (if anything) needs to change with regard to how the Buddha's teachings are presented and practiced, based on your interpretation?

Peace
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But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:52 pm

Greetings Vincent,

In the spirit of...

If you think any of it is wrong then please say so. I am the first to admit that I am still learning. If you can show me that anything is wrong I will be delighted, since it means that I am getting closer to the truth.


1 - Hard to comment, without more detail. Unless the subsequent points are actually the additional detail.

2,3 - I disagree. To me this is inconsistent with my reading of the suttas.

4 - I agree that "aggregates of clinging" paves the way for more subtle and deeper meaning than "aggregates"

5 - Yes, I agree with you on this point, but this interpretation isn't as new as you might imagine. I would recommend reading Nanananda's book "Magic Of The Mind" (available through BPS) or his Nibbana Sermons, available online at: http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... rmon_8.htm

6 - Again, hard to comment with the lack of detail... but in the suttas the Buddha does define the world in terms of the six-sense bases, or the five-aggregates. Whether that means "the three realms do not exist" seems like an entirely different question.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby vinasp » Tue Sep 29, 2009 12:51 am

Hi Jechbi,

Thank you for the link to the other thread, very interesting. There is so much good stuff on this site, I have only read a fraction of it so far.
The puthujjanas understanding of the path would be wrong whatever was taught, because of his false idea of what liberation is, and his idea that nibbana is a place.
On what needs to change, I leave that to each individual person, according to his own understanding.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Sep 29, 2009 1:01 am

Hi Vincent,
1. Can you expand on this? if it were so important then you may wish to expand,

2. this to me seams like two + points, Arahant is one of many words used to describe a fully enlightened being, and the other path, I assume you are refering to the 10fold path and not some other one? you aren't to clear on this to me atleast.

3. how are they wrong?

4&5. I don't think these are 'new'

6. Can you expand on this?

I see you don't read pali but go on others translations, who's do you use? but I am unsure have you consulted with anyone on these points before these threads?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby vinasp » Tue Sep 29, 2009 1:24 am

Hi retrofuturist,

We agree on point 5. You are quite right it is not really new. Nanananda's books are excellent they have been a great help to me. Nanaviras writings on paticcasamuppada said this many years ago.
Is anything I am saying really new ? Probably not.
On the other points, pick one for discussion - my choice would be the aggregates.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby vinasp » Tue Sep 29, 2009 2:43 am

Hi Manapa,

On point 1. It is the most important thing. But I could only expand on it by describing each part of the teachings which are understood in two different ways. For example dependent origination ( everybody knows already ) and the aggregates. The only full account would be a book which describes the puthujjanas understanding of the teachings, and then goes on to describe the ariya savakas understanding.

On point 2. What I mean is that arahant is used to refer to those who have completed the noble eightfold path, it is also used for those who are fully enlightened ( tathagata ). It is also used for those on the higher tenfold path which leads to full enlightenment. So this conceals the two highest stages of enlightenment by making them look like only one.

On point 3. How are they wrong ? The idea that there is some person ( stream-winner ) who has eliminated sakkaya ditthi and yet still has craving and clinging which is yet to be eliminated, is not credible to anyone who understands that sakkaya ditthi is the origin of craving and clinging. However, there is of course a real stream-winner as well. A full explanation of point 3 will take some time.

On point 4. Yes, others have said that the aggregates are just classificatory groupings, Nyanatiloka for example to name just one. One meaning of the word khandha is "division", as in category.

On point 6. Sometimes the word "world" is used in place of dukkha, sometimes "the five aggregates of clinging" are used in place of dukkha. If a=b, and b=c, then a=c. The five aggregates are the world. ( more explanation needed ).

I have not discussed these things with anyone until now. I use Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations, and some PTS volumes. I sometimes refer to online translations, but I am not always happy with them.
We will need to choose one topic for more detailed discussion soon.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby Jechbi » Tue Sep 29, 2009 5:21 am

vinasp wrote: On the other points, pick one for discussion - my choice would be the aggregates.

vinasp wrote: We will need to choose one topic for more detailed discussion soon.

Ok, a question:
vinasp wrote:4. There is nothing physical in the aggregates.

When you use the word "physical," what do you mean? What would constitute "physical"?
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But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Sep 29, 2009 7:39 am

vinasp wrote:2. The term arahant is also used for those on the
higher path.


Let us see your textual evidence for this.
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.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Sep 29, 2009 7:58 am

Hi vinasp
On point 1. Summarise.
On point 2. When is it used for those who are not enlightened? it ddoesn't refer to those who aren't enlightened, and doesn't refer to both the path leading upto and the fruit of that path it means the fruit of the path.
On point 3. summarise the difference. btw a ariya savaka is any of the four pairs or eight individuals not only a stream winner, they are noble because they have taken up & are on the path not because they have attained a particular level, there are also Dhamma followers, and Faith followers who are disciples and will atain at least the first stage of enlightenment in this life who can still be called Worldlings.
it would be interesting to see how you explain this outside of the four pairs...
On point 4&5. your interpretation of these points aren't new, no more need to be said, there are threads on the aggregates & DO which I am sure could accompdate and be better tailored to discuss these views.
On point 6. References? would you say a tourguide to a City and the City are the same thing?

We will need to choose one topic for more detailed discussion soon.

if this is how you think it would be best to procede I am fine with that, but lets be catagorical, there are threads dedicated to 4&5 already where these interpretations can be examined by those interested in discussing these topics, but these are hardly controversial in any significant way and more likely to find agreement.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby BlackBird » Tue Sep 29, 2009 9:30 am

vinasp wrote:I do not meditate

vinasp wrote:I struggle to see the truth.


That might have something to do with it ;)

Metta
Jack
"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

Nanavira Thera's teachings - An existential approach to the Dhamma | Ven. Bodhesako's essay on anicca
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby appicchato » Tue Sep 29, 2009 9:51 am

I struggle to see the truth.


Don't we all?...
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby vinasp » Tue Sep 29, 2009 5:52 pm

Hi Jechbi,

There is nothing physical in the aggregates. What I mean is that the aggregates should not be understood as any real physical or material thing. That rupa is material things. But rupa as an aggregate is only a category of mental object.
These mental objects are mis-understandings of physical or material things. The other four aggregates are mental so would not be physical. But these also are only categories of mental object , in other words, mis-understandings of mental things.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby vinasp » Tue Sep 29, 2009 6:03 pm

Hi tiltbillings,

On the use of the term arahant for those on the higher path. I had in mind those references to " the arahants path", which are found in the nikayas. The best known example is MN 117 section 34. They are, of course, talking about the asekha.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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