To Question or Not To Question, That is the Question

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation
nowheat
Posts: 525
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:42 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6

To Question or Not To Question, That is the Question

Postby nowheat » Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:15 am

You've heard the arguments from both sides, heard them named: Traditional view vs. Modern view. Buddhism Lite vs. Buddhism Baroque. Rebirth vs. Viewless.

It's been (very vaguely, probably jokingly) implied that without 16 years of study as a monk, it is presumptuous of me to give my interpretation of a sutta (see "Sutta Readers: Shoot Me Down" thread). And that's true, it is. It presumes I have done some studying on my own, and that I have a brain capable of independent thought: big assumptions, there, especially if you don't know me at all. The implication is that one can only truly understand the dhamma if you've spent at least half a young lifetime studying it. But it seems to me that this is not what the Buddha taught: he did not say I should refrain from applying my brain to his teachings; he did not say that it could only be understood if you'd studied for a very long span of years. Quite the opposite. I have even heard (though I haven't come across it yet in my sutta readings) that he gave us a set of tests we could apply to what is offered as his teachings, so that we can determine which are authentic, which not. Which (it seems to me) implies that he had every expectation this would be needed -- the man did not come up with rules arbitrarily, "just in case" -- he was a man who responded to need -- and he must have seen in his own lifetime, that his teachings were already being corrupted, and knew such a test would be even more valuable as time went on.

To paraphrase Richard Gombrich in "What the Buddha Thought", it would be unparalleled in human history for such a huge volumes of a canon to be a precise record of what the originator said. Setting aside that our canon is not in the Buddha's original language -- it is extremely unlikely to be a 100% accurate transmission of what he *meant* never mind what he said. And yet the canon seems to me as though it is treated as gospel, and worse than that, that we must pretend to understand every single word, and be able to justify every turn of phrase, making every bit out to be totally consistent with whatever we understand is being taught; and if we can't do that -- if anyone dares admit that they don't know how a given bit got in there -- they are scoffed at.

I would ask those who see seamless coherence all throughout the suttas to do a little reality check about human perfection vs human fallibility and maybe be a little more open-minded about the possibility that what we have before us is text that just may have been modified somewhat along the way.

So to my mind, it's not just my right but my duty to question: because I don't believe the canon can possibly be perfect transmission; and I do believe that the Buddha, brilliant as he was, would have been able to see this trouble coming, and would prefer reasoned dialog and open-minded debate to keep his dhamma alive.

:namaste:

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 20081
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001

Re: To Question or Not To Question, That is the Question

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:31 am

nowheat wrote:I don't believe the canon can possibly be perfect transmission;

It very well may not be. It is a shame we do not have another complete set of texts in an Indic language; however, even if the canon is not a "perfect transmission" that in and of itself does not become a basis for then dismissing doctrines and ideas contained in the canon as being interpretation and the like, as one might do with the idea of rebirth - not without a significant and careful amount of justification.

We can certainly look at the canon and ask it questions, but we also need not push into the answers the texts can give us - sometimes with ease or sometimes begrudgingly - what we want or wish to hear in return.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

nowheat
Posts: 525
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:42 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6

Re: To Question or Not To Question, That is the Question

Postby nowheat » Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:51 am

tiltbillings wrote:
nowheat wrote:I don't believe the canon can possibly be perfect transmission;

It very well may not be. It is a shame we do not have another complete set of texts in an Indic language; however, even if the canon is not a "perfect transmission" that in and of itself does not become a basis for then dismissing doctrines and ideas contained in the canon as being interpretation and the like, as one might do with the idea of rebirth - not without a significant and careful amount of justification.

We can certainly look at the canon and ask it questions, but we also need not push into the answers the texts can give us - sometimes with ease or sometimes begrudgingly - what we want or wish to hear in return.

I agree that it is not a reason to dismiss -- and (I would add) certainly not to disrespect traditional understanding.

I came to Buddhism with an open mind, and struggled for many years to accept the traditional view as presented by many different authors. When I read a somewhat different take, I disbelieved the author and went to the suttas to see for myself, and found that they do speak to me of something different than the Traditional view. I'm not trying to force anything, though obviously, once I begin to see a pattern, I am going to look for it to repeat.

The funny thing, to me, is that when I began reading the suttas, the first thing I noticed that I hadn't picked up in all my book-reading was the Buddha's sense of humor. I disbelieved myself at first, that I was seeing wry humor, outright irony, and even spoofing in what I was reading. Admittedly there's a great deal of very dry stuff in between the funny bits, but they are certainly there. And quite revealing.

:namaste:

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 20081
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001

Re: To Question or Not To Question, That is the Question

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:59 am

nowheat wrote:
The funny thing, to me, is that when I began reading the suttas, the first thing I noticed that I hadn't picked up in all my book-reading was the Buddha's sense of humor. I disbelieved myself at first, that I was seeing wry humor, outright irony, and even spoofing in what I was reading. Admittedly there's a great deal of very dry stuff in between the funny bits, but they are certainly there. And quite revealing.

On the presently quite dead - and not yet reborn - E-Sangha there was an extensive thread on the humor found in the Pali suttas. The negative response to that was quite amazing.There has been some discussion of sutta humor here that has been far less controversial. Without question, the funny bits are there.

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=737&p=8999&hilit=+humor#p8999
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
Posts: 16351
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001
Location: Land of the sleeping gods
Contact:

Re: To Question or Not To Question, That is the Question

Postby Ben » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:05 am

Hi nowheat
You may wish to read the following: http://books.google.com.au/books?id=aIO ... q=&f=false
particularly the third chapter: Metaphor, Allegory, Satire

Love him or hate him, but RF Gombrich has some very interesting things to say.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia
e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com

User avatar
Dan74
Posts: 2713
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6

Re: To Question or Not To Question, That is the Question

Postby Dan74 » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:52 am

My understanding is that Theravada has often throughout its history identified itself as the tradition that preserves the Dhamma. So with that in mind it is easy to see how attitudes that you describe could develop. They are a bit of an overkill, a misplaced emphasis. But this is only human and of course only a fraction of Theravada practitioners would share these attitudes I imagine.

If you go to other traditions which are less text-dependent, like Zen, for instance, you sometimes find the other extreme - an embarrassing lack of awareness of basic Buddhist teachings or views that run counter to the scriptures.

:shrug:

_/|\_
_/|\_

User avatar
pink_trike
Posts: 1038
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:29 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1
Contact:

Re: To Question or Not To Question, That is the Question

Postby pink_trike » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:28 am

There's been lots of research done within Fortune 100 corporations regarding how critical information gets naturally corrupted just within the chain of command leading from CEO to middle and lower management, and these corporations control information flow with military precision - yet despite having the best information strategies that tons of money can buy and teams of information scientists and psychologists constantly refining information management systems over decades - information is corrupted "frequently" during short periods of time (one day to one month) and "significantly" in longer periods of time ranging from one year to 10 years. (I'm drawing this from memory - I don't have resources for these studies but I'm sure the Google God prolly does). Original meaning deteriorates over time even under the most rigidly controlled circumstances.

Now imagine a block of information making this journey to the present:

- a couple or more translations through some very difficult, effectively dead languages, at least one of which often had 5 distinct meanings or more for words just depending on a variety of throat sounds used when the word was spoken, each use depending on the varied context and circumstances in which the words were being used and who was being addressed.

- ...passing through and adapting to a couple of cultures that existed in a time and place anywhere between 2,500 to 3,500 years ago that viewed the world entirely and extremely different than we do in our modern culture today which can't even understand how people saw the world 50 years ago.

- preservation of this information was dependent entirely on memory and word of mouth for anywhere from a couple hundred to a thousands years before it was put into any written form. Consider that just within the language of English, only trained scholars can easily read written English from 500 years ago - and even being able to read it doesn't insure that it will be understood. Even English from a couple hundred years ago can be difficult.

- this information passed through any number of power struggles between sects which each likely had their own unique memory and meaning that they were attached to. The information was tweaked formally any number of times in politically-charged councils over centuries, and informally the count is way beyond our knowing.

- and along the way various philosophers and scientists are quietly tucking vitally important information for the human race to remember into allegorical discrete keyword/phrase folders for those trained to spot and unpack them far into the future.

- and then, 2,500 to 3,500 years later the information is filtered through a culture that for the first couple hundred years of exposure to this information viewed the entire world through the unconscious mental framework of "religion" and through the filters of one particularly peculiar so-called religion that scholars are still trying to peel away from entrenched views about Buddhism.

And this doesn't even begin to look at that other uncomfortable issue (at least for those who seek a literal interpretation or a canonical transmission) that the essential path that is buried in this soup is found in the so called "myths" of advanced ancient cultures all around the world that far predate even the oldest estimates for the beginning of Buddhism.

Even the idea of a canonical transmission runs contrary to some of the basic common sense found in Buddhism's explanations of The Dharma.

Its the practices.





-

-
Last edited by pink_trike on Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:41 am, edited 3 times in total.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 20081
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001

Re: To Question or Not To Question, That is the Question

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:33 am

pink_trike wrote:
Its the practices.
Which have been transmitted via the bleak process you outlined, though it probably is far less bleak that outlined above.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

User avatar
pink_trike
Posts: 1038
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:29 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1
Contact:

Re: To Question or Not To Question, That is the Question

Postby pink_trike » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:35 am

tiltbillings wrote:
pink_trike wrote:
Its the practices.
Which have been transmitted via the bleak process you outlined, though it probably is far less bleak that outlined above.

"Bleak" is a state of mind that you're projecting onto this process.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

User avatar
cooran
Posts: 7801
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: To Question or Not To Question, That is the Question

Postby cooran » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:39 am

Hello NoWheat, all,

I wrote this in the Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada Buddhism thread - but it bears repeating here.

In the Buddha's day, writing was just for things like government and commerce. and there was widespread illiteracy. For really important things, where it was critical that no alteration occur ( as can happen so very easily, deliberately or accidentally when writing is used) - the Oral Tradition was used. The Buddha instituted in his lifetime the Chanting Together by large groups of specially designated Bhikkhus - the Bhanakas (Hearers). The Bhanakas had portions of the Teachings allocated to each group, and so there were The Digha Bhanakas, The Majjhima Bhanakas etc.

It was only hundreds of years later in Sri Lanka, in a time of famine and warfare, with many bhikkhus dying, and with Buddhism all but wiped out in India, that the MahaSangha decided the Buddhist Canon and its commentaries needed to be written down.
They were engraved on Ola Leaves. Many of us have been to Sri Lanka and have had the inestimable good fortune to have seen demonstrations of this being done at the ancient rock temple of Aluvihara Temple (where the Tipitaka was originally written down) in the Matale district 26 km from Kandy.

The Suttas are rather like the memory prompts - the dot points of the most important information to be transmitted - similar to those a public speaker carries on a little card in his hand. Anything that is repeated is to be seen as something important which was highlighted by the repetition.

As I understand it, the Pali Suttas are teaching vehicles whose meanings are densely packed layer on layer. They are not to be read as an ordinary page of print, but require 'unpacking' by someone learned in the Dhamma. This condensed form was necessary in order that the Teachings would not be lost in the years before they were finally put into writing. It allowed them to be memorised by the large groups of bhikkhus (bhanakas) assigned to each portion of the Tipitaka. They are not verbatim reports of chats and conversations. This memorisation is said to have commenced before the parinibbana of the Buddha.

"Thus you should train yourselves: 'We will listen when discourses that are words of the Tathagata -- deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness -- are being recited. We will lend ear, will set our hearts on knowing them, will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering.' That's how you should train yourselves." (Ari sutta).
Venerable Mahá Kassapa, the elected head of the First Council. Cúlavagga Xl,1,1 (ii,284) reiterated:
"Come, friends: let us recite the Teaching and the Discipline before what is not the Teaching shines forth and the Teaching is put aside, before what is not the Discipline shines forth and the Discipline is put aside, before those who speak what is not the Teaching become strong and those who speak what is the Teaching become weak, before those who speak what is not the Discipline become strong and those who speak what is the Discipline become weak."

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 20081
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001

Re: To Question or Not To Question, That is the Question

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:42 am

Chris wrote: .

As I understand it, the Pali Suttas are teaching vehicles whose meanings are densely packed layer on layer.

Some maybe, but certainly not all suttas.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

Sanghamitta
Posts: 1614
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:21 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6
Location: By the River Thames near London.

Re: To Question or Not To Question, That is the Question

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:50 am

pink_trike wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
pink_trike wrote:
Its the practices.
Which have been transmitted via the bleak process you outlined, though it probably is far less bleak that outlined above.

"Bleak" is a state of mind that you're projecting onto this process.

We must also consider the possibility that reductionist rationalism can also be projected onto the Canon or on to the process of its transmission. It is just possible that many people have contemplated the whole issue in depth and reached several different conclusions. They would include a proportion of sane people , adequate people, honest and well motivated people who were not driven by fear or the need for empty certainty, people who in fact do not feel the need to have their religion explained to them by those with a different set of beliefs..
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

Paññāsikhara
Posts: 980
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:27 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6
Contact:

Re: To Question or Not To Question, That is the Question

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:55 am

PT - you make some good points. However, since our material for this period is not just in one form, and we often have a range of material which comes from different transmitted traditions of it, in multiple languages, which often split apart and probably did not really meet again from a point not long after the Buddha's parinibbana, we can compare these various traditions. On comparison, we can often identify errors in one or other tradition, and thus identify something which is probably what was being transmitted at the point of the split. Moreover, there are still some cultures which largely follow these traditions, and have not really been influenced by various western religions or scientific ideas to the degree that those of us sitting here typing on PCs have most likely been.

So, with the willingness to investigate these various traditions, I don't think that it is quite as obscure or "corrupted" as you seem to imply.
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.

User avatar
pink_trike
Posts: 1038
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:29 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1
Contact:

Re: To Question or Not To Question, That is the Question

Postby pink_trike » Wed Nov 25, 2009 9:00 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:PT - you make some good points. However, since our material for this period is not just in one form, and we often have a range of material which comes from different transmitted traditions of it, in multiple languages, which often split apart and probably did not really meet again from a point not long after the Buddha's parinibbana, we can compare these various traditions. On comparison, we can often identify errors in one or other tradition, and thus identify something which is probably what was being transmitted at the point of the split. Moreover, there are still some cultures which largely follow these traditions, and have not really been influenced by various western religions or scientific ideas to the degree that those of us sitting here typing on PCs have most likely been.

So, with the willingness to investigate these various traditions, I don't think that it is quite as obscure or "corrupted" as you seem to imply.

Agreed, at least to some degree. I was painting a view in contrast to the idea of the wide spread notion among Buddhists that goes "The Buddha said it, I believe it"...which now in the 21st century serves to obscure more than illuminate. Any body of information that extends back 2,500 - 3,500 years or more has to be deconstructed to some extent or it becomes simply fairy tales.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
Posts: 16351
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001
Location: Land of the sleeping gods
Contact:

Re: To Question or Not To Question, That is the Question

Postby Ben » Wed Nov 25, 2009 9:39 am

Dear Mr Pink,

pink_trike wrote:Any body of information that extends back 2,500 - 3,500 years or more has to be deconstructed to some extent or it becomes simply fairy tales.


I think we need to approach the Tipitaka (and I guess this what we're all talking about here) void of any view. And in my experience this seems to be only possible through the prism of practice.

Mr Pink wrote:"The Buddha said it, I believe it"...

My observation is that this seems to be an artefact of immature practitioners. When one begins to practice seriously, that coalescence of dhammas known as 'belief' is replaced by something quite different: bhavana-maya-panna:(wisdom derived from direct penetration of the nature of mind and matter). And as a result of developing wisdom, sadha: (confidence) in the Dhamma. To the degree of Dhamma witnessed from practice, that much of the teachings is confirmed. And as the teachings are confirmed by direct experiential wisdom, one's confidence in the Buddha and the Dhamma grows. So from the viewpoint of another, an experienced practitioner can certainly appear caught in the net of blind belief.
metta

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia
e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com

Sanghamitta
Posts: 1614
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:21 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6
Location: By the River Thames near London.

Re: To Question or Not To Question, That is the Question

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Nov 25, 2009 9:50 am

Dan74 wrote:My understanding is that Theravada has often throughout its history identified itself as the tradition that preserves the Dhamma. So with that in mind it is easy to see how attitudes that you describe could develop. They are a bit of an overkill, a misplaced emphasis. But this is only human and of course only a fraction of Theravada practitioners would share these attitudes I imagine.

If you go to other traditions which are less text-dependent, like Zen, for instance, you sometimes find the other extreme - an embarrassing lack of awareness of basic Buddhist teachings or views that run counter to the scriptures.

:shrug:

_/|\_

I think even not particularly ecumenically minded ( but friendly I hope ) Theravadin Buddhists like me would be hard pushed to assert with any confidence that the Theravada is somehow a repository of all Buddhist truth.I met some of the more conservative western proponents of the Dhamma when I was young, ( Like M C O ' Walshe ) at a time when when the polarity between western Mahayanists and Theravadins was greater than now, and even they would concede that some Mahayana Buddhists were true examplars of the Buddha's teaching, even if they then added that this was despite their espousal of the Mahayana :smile: . Youre second point is interesting, for reasons I wont bore you with I dropped into a Zen Forum recently and was astonished by it, new age ideas were liberally strewn through its threads unremarked on, and as you have said Dan74 the most basic of Buddhist ideas were either grossly misunderstood or dismissed by a series of well rehearsed one-liners. I do know a number of Zen students personally and I suspect that this website is an unfortunate misrepresentation of the majority of Zen Practitioners.
Last edited by Sanghamitta on Wed Nov 25, 2009 3:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

User avatar
Cittasanto
Posts: 5876
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1
Location: Ellan Vannin
Contact:

Re: To Question or Not To Question, That is the Question

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Nov 25, 2009 10:13 am

both the suttas about what is uthentic teaching I have posted in the last couple of days I will get link to the suttas andthreads and pase them here
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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."

User avatar
Cittasanto
Posts: 5876
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1
Location: Ellan Vannin
Contact:

Re: To Question or Not To Question, That is the Question

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Nov 25, 2009 10:20 am

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
AN 8.53 Gotami Sutta: To Gotami wrote:I have heard that at one time the Blessed One was staying at Vesali, in the Peaked Roof Hall in the Great Forest.

Then Mahapajapati Gotami went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, stood to one side. As she was standing there she said to him: "It would be good, lord, if the Blessed One would teach me the Dhamma in brief such that, having heard the Dhamma from the Blessed One, I might dwell alone, secluded, heedful, ardent, & resolute."

"Gotami, the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to passion, not to dispassion; to being fettered, not to being unfettered; to accumulating, not to shedding; to self-aggrandizement, not to modesty; to discontent, not to contentment; to entanglement, not to seclusion; to laziness, not to aroused persistence; to being burdensome, not to being unburdensome': You may categorically hold, 'This is not the Dhamma, this is not the Vinaya, this is not the Teacher's instruction.'

"As for the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to dispassion, not to passion; to being unfettered, not to being fettered; to shedding, not to accumulating; to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to entanglement; to aroused persistence, not to laziness; to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome': You may categorically hold, 'This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher's instruction.'"

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, Mahapajapati Gotami delighted at his words.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Mv 6.40.1 Vinaya-samukkamsa: The Innate Principles of the Vinaya wrote:Now at that time uncertainty arose in the monks with regard to this and that item: "Now what is allowed by the Blessed One? What is not allowed?" They told this matter to the Blessed One, (who said):

"Bhikkhus, whatever I have not objected to, saying, 'This is not allowable,' if it fits in with what is not allowable, if it goes against what is allowable, this is not allowable for you.

"Whatever I have not objected to, saying, 'This is not allowable,' if it fits in with what is allowable, if it goes against what is not allowable, this is allowable for you.

"And whatever I have not permitted, saying, 'This is allowable,' if it fits in with what is not allowable, if it goes against what is allowable, this is not allowable for you.

"And whatever I have not permitted, saying, 'This is allowable,' if it fits in with what is allowable, if it goes against what is not allowable, this is allowable for you."
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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."

chownah
Posts: 3021
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6

Re: To Question or Not To Question, That is the Question

Postby chownah » Wed Nov 25, 2009 2:27 pm

Nowheat,
It seems that your main concern is whether we should question the Canon because it might not be perfectly transmitted. I think that putting aside the transmission issue one should still question the Canon since the Buddha taught that one should not accept what the Buddha teaches just because the Buddha teaches it.....he taught that one should find out for oneself if his teachings work or not....and for some this process of finding out involves alot of questioning.

Also, it doesn't matter if the Canon is perfectly transmitted or not if it works....and in my experience it does work....even if you don't accept some of it but merely withold judgement on the parts which seem unlikely in your view.

chownah

enkidu
Posts: 34
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 11:55 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6

Re: To Question or Not To Question, That is the Question

Postby enkidu » Wed Nov 25, 2009 2:54 pm

Pardon my Gelug perspective, but am I correct to assume that the concept of teacher-to-student transmission lineage is de-emphasized or non-existent in the Theravada? Perhaps this accounts for individual boldness in seeking creative/non-canonical reinterpretations, without regard for the prior work of or advice from authority (those gone before who have attained realizations)?

I find it remarkable that any may possess such confidence as to reject the advice of realized masters. My reasoning is as follows: if the Buddha's teachings function as is claimed, then many realized masters have been produced during the time of the Buddha's discourses. These masters taught their students from their experience and so on, preserving the lineages. The lineages have preserved the teachings of the Buddha, along with commentaries for their students, bridging the gaps across generations of cultural changes. The lineages continue to produce masters, who teach and write commentaries, and so on.

So, to reject the collected commentaries of the lineages is to deny that the authors are realized masters, which is to deny that the Buddha's teachings produce realized masters, which is to reject the Buddhadhamma as a true path of realization, which is to make one's own practice meaningless.

It is a special kind of confidence that one must possess to trust oneself over the lineages to glean truer meaning in 2500-year old retranslated words intended for those living 2500 years ago.

In my opinion.


Return to “Open Dhamma”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Crazy cloud and 8 guests