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A new interpretation of the Pali Canon - Page 3 - Dhamma Wheel

A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Sanghamitta
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Sep 30, 2009 11:20 am

The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Hoja
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby Hoja » Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:12 pm


vinasp
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby vinasp » Wed Sep 30, 2009 7:25 pm

Hi Jechbi,

You are probably finding what I said to be confusing because you understand the form aggregate as body. This is the understanding that we all start with. There is another way to understand the aggregates. The five nikayas give other definitions.

Hi Sanghamitta,

I am not an idealist. There is no idealist philosophy in the five nikaya's. I am not denying that there are physical things. I am not denying the reality of the physical world. I am sorry if people have mis-understood what I was attempting to express.

Best wishes, Vincent.

Sanghamitta
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Sep 30, 2009 8:14 pm

Youre two answers above appear to contradict each other Vinasp.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

vinasp
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby vinasp » Wed Sep 30, 2009 8:49 pm

Hi Sanghamitta,

I see no contradiction. Please explain what you see as one.

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby vinasp » Thu Oct 01, 2009 1:18 am

Hi everyone,

" Bhikkhus, when you know the dhamma to be similar to a raft, you should abandon even the teachings, how much more so things contrary to the teachings". MN. 22.14

Does the Buddha mean that in order to cross over to the other shore, certain teachings must be abandoned ? Does an ariya savaka abandon certain parts of the teachings? If so which parts ? Have you abandoned some of the teachings ?

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby alan » Thu Oct 01, 2009 1:30 am

Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

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Jechbi
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby Jechbi » Thu Oct 01, 2009 1:47 am


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mikenz66
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Oct 01, 2009 2:02 am


vinasp
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby vinasp » Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:13 pm

Hi Jechbi,

I am sorry If my guess offended you, it was not meant to. The problem for me was that I did not understand your question. Also things were starting to get complicated. Manapa has said that he does not want this thread to discuss the aggregates or dependent origination. He may be right.
In the five nikaya's rupa is used for everything known through the five senses.

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Jechbi
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby Jechbi » Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:28 pm

Hi Vincent,

If I conveyed any sense that I was offended, that was a misfire, because I'm not offended at all. My question is merely this: When you use the term "physical," what do you mean by that exactly? I'm trying to understand what you, Vincent, mean when you say there's nothing physical. Since this is related to the first line in your section about aggregates, I thought it would be a good place to ask for clarification. As near as I can tell, when you use the term "physical," for you it is a label for a misconception, a label for something that is not "real," whatever that means. But I can't tell precisely what you regard as being the misconception.

No need to answer if you feel the discussion should go in a different direction. It's your thread.

:thanks:

edited to add: How would you describe Asaññasattaa according to your understanding?

vinasp
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby vinasp » Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:36 pm

Hi mike,

Thanks for the alternative translation, these are always interesting. I am not very impressed by what the commentary says. The Buddha is speaking to monks not arahants, he says "... you should let go even ( good ) teachings..". He does not say they should let go when they have crossed over. Why is good in brackets ? Does anyone have the Pali ?

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby vinasp » Thu Oct 01, 2009 4:16 pm

Hi Jechbi,

You are not the only person puzzled by what I said. It has caused much mis-understanding not only on this thread but on other forums also. I now wish that I had not said "There is nothing physical in the aggregates". Expressing ones ideas clearly in a way which others can understand is not always easy.
By "physical" I mean that which is actually physically real as opposed to "mentally constructed". There is also that which is actually mentally real as opposed to "mentally constructed".

Best wishes, Vincent.

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mikenz66
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Oct 01, 2009 6:37 pm


vinasp
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby vinasp » Thu Oct 01, 2009 6:45 pm

Hi everyone,

Several people have asked me to expand on point 1. Including Retrofuturist and Manapa.

1. Dependent Origination. The puthujjana understands this according to the three lives interpretation. For him it is an explanation of rebirth. The ariya savaka rejects any temporal interpretation, and understands it as a model of the unenlightened mind. For him the formula shows what must cease in order for one to be fully enlightened.

2. The five aggregates. The puthujjana understands rupa as body, and the other four as mind. So the five represent a human being. The ariya savaka understands all five as mental objects. These have been constructed so they are capable of ceasing. They are mis-understandings of things.

3. The five aggregates of clinging. The puthujjana understands these as just a clinging to the five aggregates. There are suttas which talk about the ceasing of the five aggregates of clinging. He sees no problem in this, if craving has ceased then clinging will have ceased. The ariya savaka understands the five aggregates of clinging as mental objects, which have been constructed and are capable of ceasing. They are mis-understandings of things. These are mental objects which are involved with clinging, they cease when clinging ceases. They are not the same as the mental objects which are the five aggregates.

4. The Noble Eightfold Path. The puthujjana understands the path to consist of eight separate things. He thinks that he can work on these individually. He thinks that he is on the path. He is not on the noble eightfold path. He is on what is called the wrong eightfold path. He is not a noble one. He does not have right view. The ariya savaka does have right view. When he acquires it the noble eightfold path arises, all eight factors together. But they are weak at first and must be developed. They are developed by further development of right view. Nothing else. The other seven path factors are just by-products of
right view.

5.The enlightenment of the Buddha. For a lay puthujjana the Buddha's enlightenment must be very a mysterious thing. I will not attempt to guess how he understands it. For a puthujjana Buddhist monk things are a little more clear. He understands the Buddha's enlightenment by analogy with the concentration practices called jhana. The theory is that certain states of concentration when attained in this life, ensure that one will be reborn in certain planes of existence after one's death. He assumes that the Buddha reached an even higher concentration state, which ensures rebirth in a special place called nibbana, which is beyond the three realms, and outside the cycle of existence. Since these experiences of concentration are temporary, lasting at most a few hours, the Buddha's experience of nibbana must be temporary also, in this life. So, for the puthujjana monk the Buddha only really reaches nibbana after death. If this monk is good at concentration he can think that his attainments are nearly equal to those of the Buddha. There is a kind of liberation in concentration, from unpleasant states of mind. This is called temporary liberation in the teachings ( samaya vimokkha ).
The ariya savakas understanding is very different. He understands that there is another kind of liberation called non-temporary liberation ( asamaya vimokkha ). This is not just the temporary suppression of unpleasant states of mind, but their partial or total elimination, permanently. This is achieved by what the teachings call insight. So the ariya savaka understands that the Buddha's mind was radically transformed. And that the Buddha was already in nibbana in this life, continuously.

6. The Four Noble Truths. The puthujjana monk understands the truths according to his own experience. He understands cessation in the third truth to be the temporary cessation of suffering which he knows from his own practice of concentration. He thinks that he fully understands the truths, but he does not. The four noble truths must be penetrated - a higher understanding. The ariya savaka has this higher understanding. He understands cessation in the third truth to be permanent cessation.

7. The four jhanas. There is a standard formula which describes four degrees of concentration, which is frequently found in the teachings. The puthujjana monk identifies these with his own concentration experience, what one might call the practice of the jhanas. He therefore understands them as temporary states. One enters one of these states, and then after an hour or so, one leaves the state. For the ariya savaka , however, things are rather different. Progress on the noble eightfold path transforms ones mind, gradually eliminating many things which make the mind restless, disturbed and turbulent. The result is an increase in the natural concentration present when craving and other things are reduced or eliminated. Therefore, progress on the path has, as one by-product, the attainment of these four degrees of concentration, as permanent states, one after the other. Or, as the teachings say, right view comes first, and right view leads to right concentration.

8. The non-returner. This is one of the four noble persons found in the teachings. The puthujjana understands him as a stage on the noble eightfold path. He thinks that the five lower fetters have been broken, and that after death, he will : "... spontaneously arise in another world.." ( called the pure abodes ). The ariya savakas understanding is quite different. He has rejected the teaching on the four noble persons, and the four paths and four fruits. He has also rejected the explanation of these stages by means of the five lower, and five higher fetters. He does this because he sees for himself that these teachings are needed for puthujjana's, but are wrong. However, some of these noble persons really do exist, it is just that they are understood in a different way. There is a stream-winner, he is the one for whom the noble eightfold path has arisen. The path is the stream. The next stage is completion of the noble eightfold path. Those who have completed it are called non-returners. This is because completion of the path means that "this world" has ceased. One therefore arises in "another world". ( this stage is often called: arahant ). There is then a further path which leads to the cessation of the "other world" resulting in full enlightenment, which is tathagata. ( this stage is also called arahant ) Even those on the higher path are called arahants. So we see that arahant is not a very precise term. It is an ordinary, everyday word, which means "worthy one". It was used, before the rise of Buddhism, as a respectful way to address state officials. But then came to be used to address wandering ascetics. It later became a technical term in Buddhism, but probably never lost it's other meanings.

9. Nibbana and Parinibbana. For a puthujjana what is the difference between these two terms ? For him, nibbana is a place where arahants go when they die. For the ariya savaka there is also no difference between these terms, they mean the same thing. Both are attained in this life.

10. Rebirth. For the puthujjana rebirth is understood in a literal sense. After this life there is another one, and so on, for unimagineable lengths of time Does the ariya savaka understand rebirth in a different way ? It is possible. The term often used means re-becoming ( punabbhava ). Since the delusion of a self is sustained or perpetuated psychologically, we could be said to be always re-becoming, until we become enlightened of course.

11. Tathagata. Probably understood by the puthujjana to be a special term for the Buddha. But we have already seen that the ariya savaka understands the term to refer to full enlightenment. He is therefore aspiring to become a tathagata ( though I doubt that he would say this when puthujjana's are present ). Please note that there is no definite article in Pali, and that when the Nikaya's were first put into writing capital letters were not in use.

Note: Any of this could be wrong, please correct me if you see anything.

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Oct 01, 2009 7:34 pm


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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Oct 01, 2009 9:20 pm



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Oct 01, 2009 9:40 pm


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acinteyyo
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby acinteyyo » Thu Oct 01, 2009 10:14 pm

Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

vinasp
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Re: A new interpretation of the Pali Canon

Postby vinasp » Thu Oct 01, 2009 11:56 pm

Hi mike,

On the raft subject : What are these "wrong teachings" anyway ? Surely no Buddhist monk is following any other teachings. Does the Buddha mean that some of his own teachings could be "wrong" in some sense ?

Best wishes, Vincent.


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