Pristine Theravada

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Pristine Theravada

Postby Bankei » Sun Jan 10, 2010 1:11 am

Hi

Do you think the Theravada canon and commentaries are the pristine teachings of the Buddha handed down unaltered from the time of the Buddha?

Why or why not?

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Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun Jan 10, 2010 1:39 am

maybe, maybe not. but even if it does we are still caught up in our own views and ideas (mistaken or not) and that may keep us from full utilization of even the most pure and perfect of teachings.
Last edited by jcsuperstar on Sun Jan 10, 2010 9:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Jan 10, 2010 3:07 am

Bankei wrote:Do you think the Theravada canon and commentaries are the pristine teachings of the Buddha handed down unaltered from the time of the Buddha?
Why or why not?


It is hard to tell. Unless we are arahants, we cannot know for sure. So I like to read and study them all, the Canon and commentaries, but admittedly I have some of these concerns too, so focus mostly on that which is clearly Buddhavacana:

The first four Nikayas in their entirety plus the following books from the Khuddaka Nikaya: Khuddakapatha, Dhammapada, Udana, Itivuttaka, Sutta Nipata, Theragatha, and Therigatha; and the Patimokkha from the Vinaya.
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Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby BlackBird » Sun Jan 10, 2010 4:13 am

I think the commentators got it wrong in quite a number of places. My opinion is based on the bits I've read of the Nibbana sermons by Venerable Nyanananda, and essays by Ven. Bodhisako.

metta
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Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby bodom » Sun Jan 10, 2010 4:52 am

Buddhadasa said "Regardless of whether the Tipitaka is exactly the original or a newly composed one as perceived by some people nowadays, actual cessation of dukkha always exists uniquely in accordance with idappaccayata. This is why the Buddha suggested in the Kalama Sutta that we not take anything as true just because it is referred to in a pitaka."

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby Reductor » Sun Jan 10, 2010 5:14 am

Bankei wrote:Do you think the Theravada canon and commentaries are the pristine teachings of the Buddha handed down unaltered from the time of the Buddha?
Why or why not?


I think the cannon is close to the Buddha's teaching, but not unaltered. This is because people are faulty and the depths of time are deep and murky. Who knows for certain what occurred.

But you can study the cannon and conclude that it is remarkably consistent in its content. But I am far from scholar. The complexity of the teaching coupled with the consistency makes me confident that the doctrinal structure derived from a single source. I would place faith in it being the actual Buddha verses a group of persons or that it was structured over a long time by more than one person. Have you ever tried to corral a group of persons on even a trivial project? Consider doing that for tens of thousands of pages of complex doctrine.

But as David pointed out: we have to be arahants to know what is genuine Dhamma with complete certainty. In the mean time it is best to follow the advice found in the cannon: come and see.

Now, as the commentaries go: I take such things only as advice or as a second perspective to my own. Seems to me that there were no requirements for the composers to be accomplished in practice (or were there such requirements?).

David N. Snyder wrote:
It is hard to tell. Unless we are arahants, we cannot know for sure. So I like to read and study them all, the Canon and commentaries, but admittedly I have some of these concerns too, so focus mostly on that which is clearly Buddhavacana:

The first four Nikayas in their entirety plus the following books from the Khuddaka Nikaya: Khuddakapatha, Dhammapada, Udana, Itivuttaka, Sutta Nipata, Theragatha, and Therigatha; and the Patimokkha from the Vinaya.


I haven't read much more than a couple verses of the Theragatha and Therigatha. Are their values derived from theoretical content, practical content or inspirational content.

Michael.
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The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby Ben » Sun Jan 10, 2010 5:32 am

Hi Bodom
bodom wrote:This is why the Buddha suggested in the Kalama Sutta that we not take anything as true just because it is referred to in a pitaka." :anjali:


With respect, I don't think the Kalama Sutta actually says that.
metta

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Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jan 10, 2010 5:34 am

Greetings,

On this subject, I recommend...

What the Buddha Really Taught (The Pali Nikāyas and Chinese Āgamas) - Bhikkhu Sujato
http://santipada.googlepages.com/whatth ... allytaught

It starts a little something like this...

When I go into a Buddhist bookshop or library, I’m often struck by how many books there are. Shelves crammed full of people’s opinions about ‘what the Buddha taught’. But try to find something that actually contains the Buddha’s teaching and you’re in for a much harder time. It seems to be okay to be a Buddhist, attend talks, read books, meditate, chant, and go on retreat, without ever bothering to ask oneself the question: what did the Buddha really teach?

For the rare and brave seeker who dares to inquire beyond what their teachers tell them, it will not take long before they hear of the Pali Nikāyas. Here, we are told, is the original unadulterated Teaching. The Buddha’s words in their pristine purity. We are in the enviable position of having many excellent translations of these texts available in English, both in books and on the web. Anyone with sufficient time and interest can, with a little perseverance, gain a reasonable understanding of these teachings. The Pali Nikāyas have been one of my formative influences, right from my first days as a Buddhist. The Dhamma they embody is clear, rational, balanced, gentle, and profound – everything one could hope for.

But it is easy to fall into a kind of ‘Pali fundamentalism’. The texts and language are so pure and precise that many of us who fall in love with the Nikāyas end up believing that they constitute the be-all and end-all of Buddhism. We religiously adhere to the finest distinction, the most subtle interpretation, based on a single word or phrase. We take for granted that here we have the original teaching, without considering the process by which these teachings have passed down to us. In our fervour, we neglect to wonder whether there might be another perspective on these Dhammas.

Perhaps most important of all, we forget – if we ever knew – the reasons why we are justified in considering the Nikāyas authentic in the first place. While it is good enough for most faith-based Buddhists to believe that their own scriptures are the only real ones, this will not suffice for a disinterested seeker. Any religious tradition will try to validate itself by such claims, and they can’t all be right. These conflicting claims led the early researchers in the modern era to examine the evidence more objectively.


(click link above to read full article)

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)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby suanck » Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:34 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

On this subject, I recommend...

What the Buddha Really Taught (The Pali Nikāyas and Chinese Āgamas) - Bhikkhu Sujato
http://santipada.googlepages.com/whatth ... allytaught



Ideally, one should read both the Pali Nikayas & the Chinese Agamas. Most of the Pali Nikayas have been translated to English, but for the Agamas, well, one would need to master either Chinese, or Japanese, or Vietnamese language (as far as I know).

Suan.
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Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Jan 10, 2010 11:04 am

suanck wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

On this subject, I recommend...

What the Buddha Really Taught (The Pali Nikāyas and Chinese Āgamas) - Bhikkhu Sujato
http://santipada.googlepages.com/whatth ... allytaught



Ideally, one should read both the Pali Nikayas & the Chinese Agamas. Most of the Pali Nikayas have been translated to English, but for the Agamas, well, one would need to master either Chinese, or Japanese, or Vietnamese language (as far as I know).

Suan.


And Sanskrit, and Gandhari Prakrit, and Tokharin, and ...

(Hey, you said "ideally", not me! :tongue: )
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.
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Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby Sanghamitta » Sun Jan 10, 2010 11:08 am

Ben wrote:Hi Bodom
bodom wrote:This is why the Buddha suggested in the Kalama Sutta that we not take anything as true just because it is referred to in a pitaka." :anjali:


With respect, I don't think the Kalama Sutta actually says that.
metta

Ben

I dont think it does either. That is however one of the most widely disseminated inaccurate summations of what the Kalama Sutta says.

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

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Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby Sanghamitta » Sun Jan 10, 2010 11:10 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
suanck wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

On this subject, I recommend...

What the Buddha Really Taught (The Pali Nikāyas and Chinese Āgamas) - Bhikkhu Sujato
http://santipada.googlepages.com/whatth ... allytaught



Ideally, one should read both the Pali Nikayas & the Chinese Agamas. Most of the Pali Nikayas have been translated to English, but for the Agamas, well, one would need to master either Chinese, or Japanese, or Vietnamese language (as far as I know).

Suan.


And Sanskrit, and Gandhari Prakrit, and Tokharin, and ...

(Hey, you said "ideally", not me! :tongue: )

Another reason for my conclusion that the Nikayas are enough for me to be going on with.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby bodom » Sun Jan 10, 2010 2:38 pm

Ben wrote:Hi Bodom
bodom wrote:This is why the Buddha suggested in the Kalama Sutta that we not take anything as true just because it is referred to in a pitaka." :anjali:


With respect, I don't think the Kalama Sutta actually says that.
metta

Ben

Hi Ben. Could you explain further to me what it is exactly you dont agree about Buddhadasa's statement. My understanding is that Buddhadasa's statement is completely in line with all the translations i have checked. He is saying not to take anything on blind faith.

"Of course you are uncertain, Kalamas. Of course you are in doubt...So in this case, Kalamas, don't go by...scripture. - Thanissaro translation

"It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain; Do not go upon what...is in a scripture. - Soma translation

" It is fitting for you to be perplexed , O Kalamas , it is fitting for you to be in doubt...Do not go by...a collection of texts. - Bodhi translation.
Last edited by bodom on Sun Jan 10, 2010 3:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Jan 10, 2010 3:29 pm

I think the Pāli canon is close enough to what the Buddha said to make discerning what is and what is not Dhamma due to the editing process within the canon possible.

the commentaries are a different matter as they are not necessarily in accordance with the canon all the time, plus there are rumours that some parts of the commentaries are not translated correctly.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Jan 10, 2010 4:38 pm

thereductor wrote:I haven't read much more than a couple verses of the Theragatha and Therigatha. Are their values derived from theoretical content, practical content or inspirational content.


All of the above. :tongue:

The poetic verses are practical, inspiring, and have good Dhamma lessons in them too. All were arahants, the bhikkhus and bhikkhunis, who wrote them.
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Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby meindzai » Sun Jan 10, 2010 10:42 pm

bodom wrote:
Ben wrote:Hi Bodom
bodom wrote:This is why the Buddha suggested in the Kalama Sutta that we not take anything as true just because it is referred to in a pitaka." :anjali:


With respect, I don't think the Kalama Sutta actually says that.
metta

Ben

Hi Ben. Could you explain further to me what it is exactly you dont agree about Buddhadasa's statement. My understanding is that Buddhadasa's statement is completely in line with all the translations i have checked. He is saying not to take anything on blind faith.

"Of course you are uncertain, Kalamas. Of course you are in doubt...So in this case, Kalamas, don't go by...scripture. - Thanissaro translation

"It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain; Do not go upon what...is in a scripture. - Soma translation

" It is fitting for you to be perplexed , O Kalamas , it is fitting for you to be in doubt...Do not go by...a collection of texts. - Bodhi translation.


I think the Kalama Sutta (delivered to non-buddhists) is good advice for those who have not yet taken refuge, an a good general principal by which to guide your practice. But really, once you have taken refuge, you've asserted your confidence in the Buddha's teachings.

-M
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Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby suanck » Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:44 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
suanck wrote:
Ideally, one should read both the Pali Nikayas & the Chinese Agamas. Most of the Pali Nikayas have been translated to English, but for the Agamas, well, one would need to master either Chinese, or Japanese, or Vietnamese language (as far as I know).
Suan.


And Sanskrit, and Gandhari Prakrit, and Tokharin, and ...
(Hey, you said "ideally", not me! :tongue: )


Quite true, Bhante! :-)

Actually, what I meant was that there might be some English readers here in this forum who originally came from Chinese/Japanese/Vietnamese background and might not be aware of the Agama Collection which is available in their native language.

In fact, I have met a number of Chinese/Vietnamese Buddhists who are very familiar with popular Mahayana sutras -- and some English translation of the Pali Nikaya -- but never read the Agamas!

Suan.
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Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:48 am

Greetings,

Looks like a collection of English translations of the Agamas might be popular... if such a thing existed.

I'm sure someone will do it at some point.

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


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby cooran » Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:18 am

Hello bodom,

bodom wrote: This is why the Buddha suggested in the Kalama Sutta that we not take anything as true just because it is referred to in a pitaka."


No he didn't.

You may like to read:

A Look at the Kalama Sutta by Bhikkhu Bodhi
In this issue of the newsletter we have combined the feature essay with the "Sutta Study" column as we take a fresh look at an often quoted discourse of the Buddha, the Kalama Sutta. The discourse — found in translation in Wheel No. 8 — has been described as "the Buddha's Charter of Free Inquiry," and though the discourse certainly does counter the decrees of dogmatism and blind faith with a vigorous call for free investigation, it is problematic whether the sutta can support all the positions that have been ascribed to it. On the basis of a single passage, quoted out of context, the Buddha has been made out to be a pragmatic empiricist who dismisses all doctrine and faith, and whose Dhamma is simply a freethinker's kit to truth which invites each one to accept and reject whatever he likes.
But does the Kalama Sutta really justify such views? Or do we meet in these claims just another set of variations on that egregious old tendency to interpret the Dhamma according to whatever notions are congenial to oneself — or to those to whom one is preaching? ........
continued here:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_09.html

metta
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Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby Ben » Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:57 am

Hi Bodom
bodom wrote:Hi Ben. Could you explain further to me what it is exactly you dont agree about Buddhadasa's statement.

My apologies in the delay in responding. The article by Bhikkhu Bodhi that Cooran has graciously provided an extract from and a link, is what I had in mind. With regards to the suttas, and this one in particular, context is everything.
metta

Ben
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