Brahm preceptor status revoked

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Re: Brahm preceptor status revoked

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Dec 05, 2009 9:33 pm

gam zeh yaavor
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Re: Brahm preceptor status revoked

Postby cooran » Sat Dec 05, 2009 9:44 pm

One day Solomon decided to humble Benaiah Ben Yehoyada, his most trusted minister. He said to him, "Benaiah, there is a certain ring that I want you to bring to me. I wish to wear it for Sukkot which gives you six months to find it." "If it exists anywhere on earth, your majesty," replied Benaiah, "I will find it and bring it to you, but what makes the ring so special?" "It has magic powers," answered the king. "If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy." Solomon knew that no such ring existed in the world, but he wished to give his minister a little taste of humility. Spring passed and then summer, and still Benaiah had no idea where he could find the ring. On the night before Sukkot, he decided to take a walk in one of the poorest quarters of Jerusalem. He passed by a merchant who had begun to set out the day's wares on a shabby carpet. "Have you by any chance heard of a magic ring that makes the happy wearer forget his joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget his sorrows?" asked Benaiah. He watched the grandfather take a plain gold ring from his carpet and engrave something on it. When Benaiah read the words on the ring, his face broke out in a wide smile. That night the entire city welcomed in the holiday of Sukkot with great festivity. "Well, my friend," said Solomon, "have you found what I sent you after?" All the ministers laughed and Solomon himself smiled. To everyone's surprise, Benaiah held up a small gold ring and declared, "Here it is, your majesty!" As soon as Solomon read the inscription, the smile vanished from his face. The jeweler had written three Hebrew letters on the gold band: gimel, zayin, yud, which began the words "Gam zeh ya'avor" -- "This too shall pass." At that moment Solomon realized that all his wisdom and fabulous wealth and tremendous power were but fleeting things, for one day he would be nothing but dust.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_too_shall_pass
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Re: Brahm preceptor status revoked

Postby Anders » Sat Dec 05, 2009 11:40 pm

Dmytro wrote:Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi revoked his support for Australian ordination:
http://www.dhammalight.com/corresponden ... _06_B.html

His links to Sri Lankan Sangha are now tenuous.


You should read that letter more carefully. Specifically:


I first want to make it absolutely clear that in principle I fully support bhikkhuni ordination. I regard the women who have taken this ordination, whether from lineages based in the so-called “Mahayana countries” or from the recently emergent Theravada bhikkhunis, as legitimately ordained bhikkhunis, fully entitled to participate in the Sangha acts prescribed for them in the Vinaya. I also believe that a full-scale revival of the Bhikkhuni Sangha and its unqualified acceptance by the Bhikkhu Sangha is an imperative for the Theravāda tradition in our time.

...

The opinion I express here is in full accord with the qualifications that I made in the full version of my Hamburg presentation, which I will cite as an appendix to this letter. Please be assured that, while I express these reservations about the way Ajahn Brahm proceeded in this affair, I still lend him my moral support just as much as I support the revival of bhikkhuni ordination in the Theravāda tradition.


He expressed his reservations about the circumstances of the ordination. Not the ordination itself.

Why do you think that "a significant part of the Sri Lankan Sangha" supports Ajahn Brahms interpretation?


Because Sri Lanka is the only Theravadin country that has so far actually reinstated the bhikkhuni sangha.

And who will decide what's correct?


That is of course the question. My point here is your portrayal of Ajahn Brahms as someone who goes simply his own way without regard for protocol or vinaya is inaccurate. He has acted in accord with what he believes the Vinaya to say and that is an interpretration supported by many reputable scholars.

I am quite aware that there are reputable scholars who will say otherwise as well, but I think the above is sufficient to establish that your claim that he 'wanted to split from Forest Sangha and establish his own rules' is not an accurate portrayal of what has happened. Your attribution of questionable motivations is something I likewise would consider, if not slanderous, then certainly lowering the tone of debate.
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Re: Brahm preceptor status revoked

Postby BlackBird » Sun Dec 06, 2009 12:07 am

Anders Honore wrote:
Dmytro wrote:
Why do you think that "a significant part of the Sri Lankan Sangha" supports Ajahn Brahms interpretation?


Because Sri Lanka is the only Theravadin country that has so far actually reinstated the bhikkhuni sangha.


I think the word 'tollerated' would be more fitting than 'supported' or 'reinstated' in this instance. I would liken Bhikkhuni ordination in Sri Lanka to a sapling that is sending out it's root system, but it's a long way from becoming a tree.

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Re: Brahm preceptor status revoked

Postby Dmytro » Sun Dec 06, 2009 9:14 am

Hi Vardali,

Vardali wrote:Seems a valid - standard academic - approach to validate authenticity claims suggested there, so what is so shocking about this?


Have you seen a single academic article with statements like "Buddhism is suffering from schizophrenia"?

Or a list of controversial statements, with no refrences, with conclusion below: "These conclusions are now firmly established"?
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Re: Brahm preceptor status revoked

Postby Dmytro » Sun Dec 06, 2009 9:24 am

Hi Anders,

Anders Honore wrote:
Why do you think that "a significant part of the Sri Lankan Sangha" supports Ajahn Brahms interpretation?


Because Sri Lanka is the only Theravadin country that has so far actually reinstated the bhikkhuni sangha.


Well, the fact that there's Bhikkhuni Sangha in Sri Lanka (though not recognized by the heads of Nikayas and the government), doesn't mean in any way that "a significant part of the Sri Lankan Sangha" supports Ajahn Brahm's interpretation.

Ajahn Brahm has gone his own way. In my own opinion (and opinion of some monks), his actions have marginalized and discredited the long-standing efforts of women ordination.
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Re: Brahm preceptor status revoked

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Dec 06, 2009 10:01 am

:offtopic:

Vardali wrote:
Dmytro wrote:...
I have given the links to articles where Sujato attacks Theravada and puts forward the idea of 'pre-sectarian Buddhism', for example:

It's time
http://santipada.googlepages.com/it%27stime
....

Hm, I wanted to stay out of this, but after reading the article you linked, I fail to see where this is an attack on Theravada.
Frankly, I haven't read anything in there that wouldn't be perfectly consistent with an academic approach to any sort of validation and authentification, be they religious in nature or not.
And unlike many other religions, Buddhism seems to encourage a to explicitly use one's facilities (including the brain) rather than to do anything due to "blind faith".

Seems a valid - standard academic - approach to validate authenticity claims suggested there, so what is so shocking about this?
:shrug:
:coffee:


I don't think it quite measures up to "standard academic" approach. One major criteria for academic standard is citation of relevant information, and reference to other works in the area. This article only contains one or two. Another criteria is peer review, that's what journals are for, not internet pages, blogs, etc.

For this:

The basic conclusion is that the Chinese Agamas and the Pali Nikayas are identical in doctrine. They are two slightly varying recensions of the same set of texts. These texts – popularly referred to simply as ‘the suttas’ – were assembled by the first generations of the Buddha’s followers, before the period of sectarian divisions. They are pre-sectarian Buddhism.


I disagree, and so do many other scholars. (Ven Sujato cites AK Warder, but Warder can't even read Chinese, so he doesn't know either, and is working second and third hand; He also cites Lamotte, who can read this stuff, but he is not a Nikaya / Agama specialist either. Kalupahana is exaggerating, as usual.)

Large parts may be "pre-sectarian", but other parts are definitely not.

One of the big problems is the large majority of all the Nikaya and Agama literature that we have, is all from the Sthavira side (so called Theravada, Dharmagupta and Sarvastivada), and the Mahasamghika side is largely unrepresented (except one very late Agama). So, at best, we can try to work out some sort of Asokan period Sthavira positions. Then, for those points where they disagree, we sometimes cannot know either way, it's kind of a "split vote".

Some of the criteria he provides sounds reasonable, but is actually not necessarily in accord with standard textual criticism methods. eg. simplicity, vs "difficile lector". He also favors a "text that never was" over "best text" methodology, though both have their problems, too.

This is seriously tricky stuff. !!

:focus:
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Re: Brahm preceptor status revoked

Postby Anders » Sun Dec 06, 2009 10:14 am

From an academic pov, there is much in Sujato's writings that strike me as a product of undisciplined and often unsound method. He's obviously smart and well educated in the material he uses, but I tend to take his lines of reasoning with a grain of salt. I also recommend something sweet on the side for his rather acerbic rethoric.

Still, he raises some very interesting points and does present some edifying material.
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Re: Brahm preceptor status revoked

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Dec 06, 2009 10:29 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
I don't think it quite measures up to "standard academic" approach. :

I do not think any of the stuff of his I have read measures up 'to "standard academic" approach.' It is not that it is not interesting or that good points are not made, but his work that I have read is more line with a talented amatuer scholar.
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Re: Brahm preceptor status revoked

Postby Vardali » Sun Dec 06, 2009 10:43 am

Vardali wrote:
Dmytro wrote:...
I have given the links to articles where Sujato attacks Theravada and puts forward the idea of 'pre-sectarian Buddhism', for example:

It's time
http://santipada.googlepages.com/it%27stime
....

Hm, I wanted to stay out of this, but after reading the article you linked, I fail to see where this is an attack on Theravada.
..

Seems a valid - standard academic - approach to validate authenticity claims suggested there, so what is so shocking about this?
...

I guess I haven't been precise enough in my question. And I fully agree that the paper in question is in no way an "academic paper" (I also agree on the need of proper referencing and peer review for the qualification of the "content claims" in this article). I don't think it aims to be, either. But I wasn't so much commenting on the form/style of the paper but on the approach it suggests.

The approach, he is using - and I cannot argue the content of his line of argument - is quite typical in the approach to validation/falsification.
Coming from a historian's perspective, not a philological one, you would normally pick your scripts and artefacts and cross-reference them to similarities/differences in form, structure, content etc.
This is pretty much the approach, he is proposing, so again: I simply fail to see where this approach is an "attack on Theravada" part.
The approach described applies in my opinion to any religious claim, and Ven. Sujato focuses on Buddhism as such.
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Re: Brahm preceptor status revoked

Postby Dmytro » Sun Dec 06, 2009 10:59 am

Hi Anders,

You should read that letter more carefully. : ) Specifically:

Anders Honore wrote:Please be assured that, while I express these reservations about the way Ajahn Brahm proceeded in this affair, I still lend him my moral support just as much as I support the revival of bhikkhuni ordination in the Theravāda tradition.


Bhikkhu Bodhi supports the Bhikkhuni ordination as such, not this particular ordination.

And who will decide what's correct?


That is of course the question.


That's the key question. Without a clear authority, except some undefined 'scholarly opinion', the whole thing will end up in small sects, and eventually perish, as it did in India.

So I'm glad the Thai Sangha undertakes decisive actions.

My point here is your portrayal of Ajahn Brahms as someone who goes simply his own way without regard for protocol or vinaya is inaccurate. He has acted in accord with what he believes the Vinaya to say and that is an interpretration supported by many reputable scholars.

I am quite aware that there are reputable scholars who will say otherwise as well, but I think the above is sufficient to establish that your claim that he 'wanted to split from Forest Sangha and establish his own rules' is not an accurate portrayal of what has happened. Your attribution of questionable motivations is something I likewise would consider, if not slanderous, then certainly lowering the tone of debate.


Well, let's discuss facts. Here's what Ajahn Brahm said:

"... One of the biggest myths is that bhikkhunis in the Mahayana tradition are somehow separated from the Theravada. But the truth of the matter is, there is no such thing as a Mahayana Vinaya. In all the Mahayana schools, they follow mostly a Dharmagupta Vinaya. Dharmagupta is one of the Theravada sects. They follow Theravada Vinaya. So the bhikkhunis we see even now in Taiwan and China is a lineage that is unbroken since the time of the Buddha. ..."

http://www.bangkokpost.com/leisure/leis ... i-question

I can't desist from a joke.

Guess what's that thing -
- uses Dharmagupta Vinaya transmission;
- follows Sarvastivada Agama texts;
- calls itself Theravada?

Answer:
It's Australian pre-sectarian Buddhism :^)
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Re: Brahm preceptor status revoked

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Dec 06, 2009 11:14 am

hi Dmytro,
I think it is a myth that each of the vinayas are the same, they aren't.

and I know I am agreeing with you! :woohoo: I'm agreeing with someone.
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Re: Brahm preceptor status revoked

Postby Dmytro » Sun Dec 06, 2009 11:18 am

Hi Vardali,

Vardali wrote:This is pretty much the approach, he is proposing, so again: I simply fail to see where this approach is an "attack on Theravada" part.


If accusation of schizophrenia and mythological idiosyncrasy of the doctrine isn't enough, here's a juicy passage from "A History of Mindfulness" by Sujato, page 199:

"the Theravada Abhidhamma scholars, for all their insistence on radical momentariness, still betray a nervousness, amounting almost to neurosis, in their obsessively repetitive texts, a massive attempt to freeze the Dhamma in a matrix of abstract, contextless, and bloodless dhammas"

And given that Abhidhamma is in high regard in the Theravadin countries, no wonder that Sujato went his own way.
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Re: Brahm preceptor status revoked

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Dec 06, 2009 11:19 am

Dmytro wrote:
I can't desist from a joke.

Guess what's that thing -
- uses Dharmagupta Vinaya transmission;
- follows Sarvastivada Agama texts;
- calls itself Theravada?

Answer:
It's Australian pre-sectarian Buddhism :^)


:jumping:

You forgot that the "dharmagupta vinaya" is also via a quite distinctive Sinicized form, too. And that part of this Sinicized Dharmagupta vinaya form involves elements of synthesis of Mahasamghika and Sarvastivada vinayas (may stand corrected on which two schools here, but I think it was these two), which were quite popular in China before they went "all dharmagupta".

I have a problem with this statement:

In all the Mahayana schools, they follow mostly a Dharmagupta Vinaya. Dharmagupta is one of the Theravada sects. They follow Theravada Vinaya.

Because the first use of "Theravada" is in the sense of vis-a-vis Mahasamghika, at the first split; whereas the second usage of the the word "Theravada" seems to imply that it is just the same as that of what we nowadays call the "Theravada" (ie. the Sthavira / Thera tradition preserved by the Mahavihara,) and so there is no conflict with the Theravada school.

Reminds me of a good friend of mine, Bhante "A", a Thai bhikkhu (since age 10, or so, now about 30), who has been studying in Taiwan for maybe about 6 years now. We were talking about the Nikayas and Agamas, this whole "early / original Buddhism" idea. He said that actually, much of "original Buddhism" in Taiwanese academia has already become "Samyuktagama studies".
Last edited by Paññāsikhara on Sun Dec 06, 2009 11:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Brahm preceptor status revoked

Postby Dmytro » Sun Dec 06, 2009 11:23 am

Manapa wrote:and I know I am agreeing with you! :woohoo: I'm agreeing with someone.


Have a good day, Manapa :rofl:
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Re: Brahm preceptor status revoked

Postby Vardali » Sun Dec 06, 2009 12:54 pm

Dmytro wrote:Hi Vardali,

Vardali wrote:This is pretty much the approach, he is proposing, so again: I simply fail to see where this approach is an "attack on Theravada" part.


If accusation of schizophrenia and mythological idiosyncrasy of the doctrine isn't enough, here's a juicy passage from "A History of Mindfulness" by Sujato, page 199:

"the Theravada Abhidhamma scholars, for all their insistence on radical momentariness, still betray a nervousness, amounting almost to neurosis, in their obsessively repetitive texts, a massive attempt to freeze the Dhamma in a matrix of abstract, contextless, and bloodless dhammas"

And given that Abhidhamma is in high regard in the Theravadin countries, no wonder that Sujato went his own way.

I guess this just proves that perceptions vary.

The references to psychological illnesses (be they schizophrenia or neurosis etc.) to me is just a case of contemporary verbal dhiarrea found pretty commonly these days. Neither do I know if it is used in a medical correct form, nor do I know if this attributable beyond individual diagnosis. So, frankly, I can see that you find this offensive; personally, I find it irrelevant.

The part about mythological elements within religions in general, including Buddhism, I would agree with, though, it mirrors my experience so far. But then, that's just personal empiricism and as such "opinion".

Ven Sujato obviously doesn't think uch of the Abhidamma, but then he is not alone in questioning it, if I just go by the popluar thread here
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=2169

But anyway, I guess you answered my question, so thanks very much, even though I disagree with your assessment; I am out of here now :)

:anjali:
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Re: Brahm preceptor status revoked

Postby appicchato » Sun Dec 06, 2009 3:13 pm

Anders Honore wrote:From an academic pov, there is much in Sujato's writings that strike me as a product of undisciplined and often unsound method. He's obviously smart and well educated in the material he uses, but I tend to take his lines of reasoning with a grain of salt. I also recommend something sweet on the side for his rather acerbic rethoric.

Still, he raises some very interesting points and does present some edifying material.


Great review Anders... :thumbsup:
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Re: Brahm preceptor status revoked

Postby Anders » Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:01 pm

Dmytro wrote:Hi Anders,

Bhikkhu Bodhi supports the Bhikkhuni ordination as such, not this particular ordination.


I don't think that can be supported by the letter, seeing as he explicitly says:

I regard the women who have taken this ordination, whether from lineages based in the so-called “Mahayana countries” or from the recently emergent Theravada bhikkhunis, as legitimately ordained bhikkhunis, fully entitled to participate in the Sangha acts prescribed for them in the Vinaya. I also believe that a full-scale revival of the Bhikkhuni Sangha and its unqualified acceptance by the Bhikkhu Sangha is an imperative for the Theravāda tradition in our time.

That's the key question. Without a clear authority, except some undefined 'scholarly opinion', the whole thing will end up in small sects, and eventually perish, as it did in India.


I think that's a false argument. Buddhism in India did not die out because it had a multitude of sects. The primary cause for this is easily traced to the moslem invasions in the 12th century.

The problem with the notion of a central authority is, to whom do we grant such an central authority? The Thai Sangha, an organ with secular affiliations peculiar to Thailand? That might suffice in the modern age for Thailand itself, but it is not a construct the Buddha envisioned (though tbf, the Vinaya was created in an environment of much more geographically limited communication and interaction) and it is questionable whether it will be capable of handling the issues of international Theravada Buddhism. The current issue is a case in point.

Well, let's discuss facts. Here's what Ajahn Brahm said:

"... One of the biggest myths is that bhikkhunis in the Mahayana tradition are somehow separated from the Theravada. But the truth of the matter is, there is no such thing as a Mahayana Vinaya. In all the Mahayana schools, they follow mostly a Dharmagupta Vinaya. Dharmagupta is one of the Theravada sects. They follow Theravada Vinaya. So the bhikkhunis we see even now in Taiwan and China is a lineage that is unbroken since the time of the Buddha. ..."

http://www.bangkokpost.com/leisure/leis ... i-question

I can't desist from a joke.

Guess what's that thing -
- uses Dharmagupta Vinaya transmission;
- follows Sarvastivada Agama texts;
- calls itself Theravada?

Answer:
It's Australian pre-sectarian Buddhism :^)


I am not much of a believer in the quest for a pre-sectarian 'pure' Buddhism myself. However, as an admirer of Indian Buddhism, I consider it coherent and sensible to accept multiple schools of authentic Buddhism, especially when it concerns Vinaya.

Ajahn Brams is somewhat confused in his terminology here, I suspect what he is trying to say is that they follow a vinaya with similar claims to lineage back to the Buddha as the Theravadin and not a Vinaya, as some might presume, based on Mahayana works.

tbh, I find the current developments in the forest tradition altogether as curiously mirroring the Sautrantikan branching from the Sarvastivadins in many ways.

I am not sure it is fitting to lumb Ajahn Brahms and Sujato together in this matter. Sujato is obviously a vocal advocate of Brahmavamso on this matter, but I don't know if the opposite holds true. And doctrinally, Sujato has previously already seperated himself from the teachings of most of the forest tradition teachers anyway (not to mention the abidhammikas as well), something Ajahn brahmavamso has not quite done.
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Re: Brahm preceptor status revoked

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:23 pm

Paññāsikhara wrote::offtopic:

Vardali wrote:
Dmytro wrote:...
I have given the links to articles where Sujato attacks Theravada and puts forward the idea of 'pre-sectarian Buddhism', for example:

It's time
http://santipada.googlepages.com/it%27stime
....

Hm, I wanted to stay out of this, but after reading the article you linked, I fail to see where this is an attack on Theravada.
Frankly, I haven't read anything in there that wouldn't be perfectly consistent with an academic approach to any sort of validation and authentification, be they religious in nature or not.
And unlike many other religions, Buddhism seems to encourage a to explicitly use one's facilities (including the brain) rather than to do anything due to "blind faith".

Seems a valid - standard academic - approach to validate authenticity claims suggested there, so what is so shocking about this?
:shrug:
:coffee:


I don't think it quite measures up to "standard academic" approach. One major criteria for academic standard is citation of relevant information, and reference to other works in the area. This article only contains one or two. Another criteria is peer review, that's what journals are for, not internet pages, blogs, etc.

For this:

The basic conclusion is that the Chinese Agamas and the Pali Nikayas are identical in doctrine. They are two slightly varying recensions of the same set of texts. These texts – popularly referred to simply as ‘the suttas’ – were assembled by the first generations of the Buddha’s followers, before the period of sectarian divisions. They are pre-sectarian Buddhism.


I disagree, and so do many other scholars. (Ven Sujato cites AK Warder, but Warder can't even read Chinese, so he doesn't know either, and is working second and third hand; He also cites Lamotte, who can read this stuff, but he is not a Nikaya / Agama specialist either. Kalupahana is exaggerating, as usual.)

Large parts may be "pre-sectarian", but other parts are definitely not.

One of the big problems is the large majority of all the Nikaya and Agama literature that we have, is all from the Sthavira side (so called Theravada, Dharmagupta and Sarvastivada), and the Mahasamghika side is largely unrepresented (except one very late Agama). So, at best, we can try to work out some sort of Asokan period Sthavira positions. Then, for those points where they disagree, we sometimes cannot know either way, it's kind of a "split vote".

Some of the criteria he provides sounds reasonable, but is actually not necessarily in accord with standard textual criticism methods. eg. simplicity, vs "difficile lector". He also favors a "text that never was" over "best text" methodology, though both have their problems, too.

This is seriously tricky stuff. !!

:focus:

have you read his sects and sectarianism? it would help to understand his position more. according to his thesis the schism had to happen after asoka (if the edicts are right and the sangha was made unified, this means one sangha right? ) therefore any text from this era or before would be from a unified buddhism. he also doesnt paint the texts with the broad brush you ascribe to him. you are correct that he isnt writing from a standard academic approach, though that is not what he ever claims to be doing.
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Re: Brahm preceptor status revoked

Postby Dmytro » Sun Dec 06, 2009 7:46 pm

Hi Anders,

Anders Honore wrote:The problem with the notion of a central authority is, to whom do we grant such an central authority?


To the Dhamma, the words of the Buddha, as they have been preserved in the Pali Canon.

IMHO, when the multiple Buddhist Canons are taken as authoritative, there's no clear basis of mutual agreement, and hence no clear basis for cooperation.

Ok, I am not a fan of such topics, and it seems that I have said a lot of unnecessary and inexact things.
Thanks for the patience.
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