Agenda of the four Nikayas

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Agenda of the four Nikayas

Postby Brizzy » Sun May 09, 2010 1:32 pm

Hi

Having been accused in recent posts of having an "agenda" although I dont quite understand or accept this, I thought I might make this posting my " Agenda of the four Nikayas"

A thought about paramis.............

It is said in the commentaries that to become a great disciple, you must practice the ten paramis for an incalcuable age and 100000 aeons. Yet in the sutta

http://www.dhammaweb.net/Tipitaka/read.php?id=84

It is said that in this present aeon where the Buddha Kakusanda and our own buddha appeared the Venerable Mahaamoggallaana was Mara and descended to the great Hell. This does not seem to square with the commentaries.

A thought about Bodhisatta path...........

Nowhere in the four main Nikayas is a Bodhisatta path mentioned. The only time the Buddha refers to a Bodhisatta is in the context of a Buddhas last existence, his own or a former Buddhas. The Buddha mentions in sutta

http://www.mahindarama.com/e-tipitaka/Majjhima-Nikaya/mn-81.htm

where he encountered the dhamma of the previous Buddha and had to be dragged by the hair to actually see the Buddha Kassapa. This would intimate that this was our Buddha's first major encounter with the Dhamma, which was in the present aeon. There is no other mention of our Buddha meeting any other Buddha.

There is no mention in the four Nikayas of an aspiration to be a Buddha, this is the same for his disciples.

If our Buddha under Buddha Kassapa was practicing Dhamma to the fullest then he would have attained ariya. It cannot be, that you can practice fully and by a "wish" not achieve the results. See the following sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.101.than.html

If our Buddha was not pre-destined to be a Sammasambuddha then the suttas which declare that he hesitated to teach become clearer, it was still in the balance whether he would be a Sammasambuddha or a Pratyekabuddha. It was due to the efforts of a Great Brahma that tipped the balance.

The four Nikayas stand out as the words of the Buddha, all of the above is not very important but it highlights the huge disparity between what the Buddha actually SAID and what has become accepted as his teaching.

I have highlighted in previous postings my doubts about momentary concentration/path & fruit having to happen immediately and numerous other teachings that somehow do not make it into the four Nikayas, which brings me to my question..............................Why do people accept teachings that were not the Buddha's words/teachings and in many cases do not have the "flavour" of the suttadhamma?

:smile:
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Re: Agenda of the four Nikayas

Postby bodom » Sun May 09, 2010 1:56 pm

How does this "issue" affect YOUR practice? Why should it matter to you? I like pepsi, you like coke. I will not fret over why you like coke while drinking my pepsi. I will just drink my pepsi. If you prefer suttas to commentaries so be it. Suttanta based practitioners need to realise that the commentaries are now as much a part of early Buddhism as the Nikayas. Do the commentaries hold as much weight as the actual Nikayas? Obviously not. But this does not make them dispensible. It is 2000 years later and the commentaries and Abhidhamma are not going anywhere. If there are apparent differences and inconsistencies between the suttas, and the commentaries and Abhidhamma, then this is for each practitioner to look into for themselves. I could fret that 90% of the Buddhist population is practicing Mahayana, but at the end of the day its about MY practice not YOURS and YOUR practice not MINE. Different strokes for different folks.

: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: Agenda of the four Nikayas

Postby Brizzy » Sun May 09, 2010 8:55 pm

bodom wrote:How does this "issue" affect YOUR practice? Why should it matter to you? I like pepsi, you like coke. I will not fret over why you like coke while drinking my pepsi. I will just drink my pepsi. If you prefer suttas to commentaries so be it. Suttanta based practitioners need to realise that the commentaries are now as much a part of early Buddhism as the Nikayas. Do the commentaries hold as much weight as the actual Nikayas? Obviously not. But this does not make them dispensible. It is 2000 years later and the commentaries and Abhidhamma are not going anywhere. If there are apparent differences and inconsistencies between the suttas, and the commentaries and Abhidhamma, then this is for each practitioner to look into for themselves. I could fret that 90% of the Buddhist population is practicing Mahayana, but at the end of the day its about MY practice not YOURS and YOUR practice not MINE. Different strokes for different folks.

:anjali:

As I said, a lot of what I wrote IS unimportant but does point to the unreliability of later works, which since a lot of practices have sprung up from should cause concern.

:smile:
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Re: Agenda of the four Nikayas

Postby cooran » Sun May 09, 2010 9:24 pm

Hello Brizzy, all,

This might be of interest:

Brizzy said: A thought about Bodhisatta path...........
Nowhere in the four main Nikayas is a Bodhisatta path mentioned


EXCERPT from Arahants, Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas by Bhikkhu Bodhi

V. The bodhisattva problem
I said above that each extreme attitude – "Nikāya purism" and "Mahāyāna elitism" – neglects facts that are discomforting to their respective points of view. "Mahāyāna elitism" neglects the fact that in his historical manifestation, so far as we can ascertain through the early records of his teachings, the Buddha did not teach the bodhisattva path, which emerges only in documents that start to appear at least a century after his passing. What the Buddha consistently taught, according to the early records, is the attainment of nirvāna by reaching arahantship. The problem besetting "Nikāya purism" is the figure of the Buddha himself; for in the Buddha we meet a person who, while an arahant, did not attain arahantship as the disciple of a Buddha but as a Buddha. In the Nikāyas themselves, he is depicted not merely as the first of the arahants, but as one member of a class of beings – the Tathāgatas – who possess unique characteristics that set them apart from all other beings including their arahant disciples. The Nikāyas, moreover, regard the Tathāgatas as supreme in the entire order of sentient beings: "To whatever extent, monks, there are beings, whether footless or with two feet, four feet, or many feet, whether having form or formless, whether percipient or nonpercipient, or neither percipient nor nonpercipient, the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One is declared the best among them" (AN 4:34).

Now since the Buddha is distinguished from his liberated disciples in the ways sketched above, it seems almost self-evident that in his past lives he must have followed a preparatory course sufficient to issue in such an exalted state, namely, the course of a bodhisattva. This conclusion is, in fact, a point of common agreement among the Buddhist schools, both those derived from Early Buddhism and those belonging to the Mahāyāna, and seems to me beyond dispute. According to all Buddhist traditions, to attain the supreme enlightenment of a Buddha requires the forming of a deliberate resolution and the fulfillment of the spiritual perfections, the pāramis or pāramitās; and it is a bodhisattva who consummates the practice of these perfections. However, the Nikāyas and Āgamas, the most ancient texts, are strangely silent about this very issue. [2] In the Nikāyas, the Buddha does refer to himself as a bodhisatta in the period prior to his enlightenment: in his immediately preceding life, when he dwelled in the Tusita heaven, and during the period of his final life, as Gotama of the Sakyan clan, before his enlightenment.[3] But he says nothing to suggest that he had been consciously following a deliberate course of conduct aimed at the attainment of Buddhahood. Moreover, soon after his enlightenment, when the Buddha considered whether or not to teach the Dhamma, he says that he first inclined to "dwell at ease" (appossukkatāya cittam namati MN 26/ I 168; Vin I 5), that is, not to teach, which suggests that even after his enlightenment he might not have fulfilled the function of a sammā sambuddha, but could have become a paccekabuddha.

There are, however, other passages strewn across the Nikāyas that prevent us from drawing the definitive conclusion that the Buddha somehow stumbled upon Buddhahood merely by chance or that his hesitation implied a genuine possibility of choice. These passages suggest, to the contrary, that his attainment of Buddhahood was already prepared for in his previous births. Though they do not say that in his past lives he was deliberately following a bodhisattva path to attain Buddhahood, the Nikāyas do depict him as dwelling in the Tusita heaven in his immediately past existence (as I noted just above), destined to become a fully enlightened Buddha in his next life as Gotama of the Sakyan clan, and this implies that in his past lives he must have fulfilled the most demanding prerequisites to take on such an exalted role, to become the loftiest and most highly venerated being in all the world. When he descends into his mother’s womb, a great measureless light appears in the world surpassing the light of the devas; and such a light appears again at his birth. When he is born, he is first received by deities, and streams of water pour forth from the sky to wash him and his mother. Immediately upon his birth, he takes seven steps and declares himself the best in the world (MN 123/ III 120-23). The gods sing songs of delight, declaring that the bodhisattva has arisen for the welfare and happiness of the human world (Sn 686). Such passages, of course, could be seen as later additions to the Nikāyas, indicative of a stage when the "Buddha legend" was already making inroads upon the most ancient texts. Nevertheless, given the law of cause and result as operating in the spiritual dimensions of the human domain, it seems virtually impossible that anyone could have attained the extraordinary stature of a Buddha without having made a deliberate effort over many lives to reach such a supreme attainment.

Despite such considerations, in the Nikāyas the Buddha is never seen teaching others to enter a bodhisattva path. Whenever he urges his monastic disciples to strive for any goal, it is to strive for arahantship, for liberation, for nirvāna. Whenever monastic disciples come to the Buddha, they ask for guidance in following the path to arahantship. The monks that the Buddha praises in the midst of the Sangha are those who have attained arahantship. Lay disciples often attain the three lower stages of liberation, from streamentry to non-returning; those who lack the potential for world-transcending attainments aim at a heavenly rebirth or for a fortunate rebirth back into the human realm. No mention is ever made, however, of a lay disciple treading the bodhisattva path, much less of a dichotomy between monastic arahants and lay bodhisattvas.

We need not, however, simply take the Nikāyas at face value but can raise questions. Why is it that in the Nikāyas we never find any instance of a disciple coming to the Buddha to ask for guidance in following a bodhisattva path to Buddhahood? And why is the Buddha never seen exhorting his followers to take up the bodhisattva path? The questions themselves seem perfectly legitimate, and I’ve tried working out several explanations, though without complete success. One explanation is that there were instances when this happened, but they were filtered out by the compilers of the texts because such teachings were not consistent with the teachings aimed at arahantship. This hypothesis seems unlikely because, if discourses on the path to Buddhahood had the imprint of genuine teachings of the Buddha, it is improbable that the monks compiling the texts would have omitted them. Another explanation is that in the earliest phase of Buddhism, the pre-textual phase, the Buddha was simply the first arahant who taught the path to arahantship and he did not differ significantly from those among his arahant disciples who possessed the three higher types of knowledge and the iddhis, the supernormal powers. According to this account, the Nikāyas are the product of several generations of monastic elaboration and thus already show traces of the apotheosis of the Buddha, his elevation to an exalted (but not yet superhuman) status. On this hypothesis, if we could take a time-machine back to the Buddha’s own time, we would find that the Buddha differed from the other arahants mainly in the priority of his attainment and in certain skills he possessed as a teacher, but these differences would not be as great as even the old Nikāyas make them out to be. However, this position seems to strip away from the Buddha that which is most distinctive about him: his uncanny ability to reach deep into the hearts of those who came to him for guidance and teach them in the unique way suitable for their characters and situations. This ability betokens a depth of compassion, a spirit of selfless service, that harmonizes better with the later concept of the bodhisattva than with the canonical concept of the arahant as we see it portrayed, for example, in the verses of the Theragāthā or the muni poems of the Sutta-nipāta.

In the final analysis, I have to confess that I can’t provide a cogent explanation. In view of the fact that in later times, so many Buddhists, in Theravāda lands as well as in the Mahāyāna world, have been inspired by the bodhisattva ideal, it is perplexing that no teachings about a bodhisattva path or bodhisattva practices are included in the discourses regarded as coming down from the most archaic period of Buddhist literary history. For me, this remains an incomprehensible puzzle. In any case, the texts that we do inherit don’t show as steep a difference between the Buddha’s "other-regarding" functions and the so-called "self-enlightenment" of the arahants as later tradition makes them out to be. We find in the Nikāya suttas a fair amount of emphasis on altruistic activity aimed at sharing the Dhamma with others (though, admittedly, most of this emphasis comes from the Buddha himself in the form of injunctions to his disciples). Thus, several texts distinguish people into four types: those concerned only with self-good, those concerned only with others’ good, those concerned with the good of neither, and those concerned with the good of both; these texts praise as best those who are devoted to the good of both. And what is meant by being devoted to the good of both is practicing the noble eightfold path and teaching others to practice it; observing the five precepts and encouraging others to observe them; working to eliminate greed, aversion, and delusion and encouraging others to eliminate them (AN 4:96-99). In other suttas the Buddha urges all those who know the four foundations of mindfulness to teach their relatives and friends about them; and the same is said about the four factors of stream-entry and the four noble truths (SN 47:48, 55:16-17, 56:26). In the beginning of his ministry, he exhorts his disciples to go forth and preach the Dharma "out of compassion for the world, for the good, welfare, and happiness of devas and human beings" (Vin I 21). Among the important qualities of an outstanding monk are abundant learning and skill in expounding the Dharma, two qualities that are directly relevant to the benefit of others. Also, we must remember that the Buddha established a monastic order bound by rules and regulations designed to make it function as a harmonious community, and these rules often demand the renouncing of self-interest for the sake of the larger whole. Regarding the lay followers, the Buddha praises those who practice for their own good, for the good of others, and for the good of the whole world. Many prominent lay followers converted their colleagues and neighbors to the Dharma and guided them in right practice. Thus, we can see that while Early Buddhism emphasizes that each person is ultimately responsible for his or her own destiny, holding that no one can purify another or rescue another from the miseries of samsāra, it includes an altruistic dimension that distinguished it from most of the other religious systems that flourished alongside it in northern India. This altruistic dimension might be seen as the "seed" from which the bodhisattva doctrine developed and thus as one of the elements in ancient Buddhism that contributed to the emergence of the Mahāyāna.
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha335.htm

with metta
Chris
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Re: Agenda of the four Nikayas

Postby Tex » Sun May 09, 2010 10:41 pm

bodom wrote:How does this "issue" affect YOUR practice? Why should it matter to you? I like pepsi, you like coke. I will not fret over why you like coke while drinking my pepsi. I will just drink my pepsi. If you prefer suttas to commentaries so be it. Suttanta based practitioners need to realise that the commentaries are now as much a part of early Buddhism as the Nikayas. Do the commentaries hold as much weight as the actual Nikayas? Obviously not. But this does not make them dispensible. It is 2000 years later and the commentaries and Abhidhamma are not going anywhere. If there are apparent differences and inconsistencies between the suttas, and the commentaries and Abhidhamma, then this is for each practitioner to look into for themselves. I could fret that 90% of the Buddhist population is practicing Mahayana, but at the end of the day its about MY practice not YOURS and YOUR practice not MINE. Different strokes for different folks.


Excellent.
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Re: Agenda of the four Nikayas

Postby retrofuturist » Sun May 09, 2010 11:34 pm

Greetings Brizzy,

Brizzy wrote:The four Nikayas stand out as the words of the Buddha, all of the above is not very important but it highlights the huge disparity between what the Buddha actually SAID and what has become accepted as his teaching.

I have highlighted in previous postings my doubts about momentary concentration/path & fruit having to happen immediately and numerous other teachings that somehow do not make it into the four Nikayas, which brings me to my question..............................Why do people accept teachings that were not the Buddha's words/teachings and in many cases do not have the "flavour" of the suttadhamma?

I suspect the answer is deference to sectarian tradition (regardless of which tradition - Theravada or another). There is an inherent conflict within modern Theravada - you've got those who are Theravadin by default because Theravada is the only tradition that lays any emphasis on what the Buddha actually taught (the four nikayas plus the earlier aspects of the fifth + the Vinaya)... whereas others are Theravadin because they specifically choose the Theravada tradition and all that comes with that (which is evidently more than just the four nikayas plus the earlier aspects of the fifth + the Vinaya). When there is conflict between those additions and what the Buddha taught, there is inherent conflict. As it stands presently, that cannot be avoided.

Getting worked up about it though, only causes suffering... the suttas themselves make this clear. It is better to act in accord with the suttas than it is to speak them and act in defiance of them.

All that can be done in discussion with those who defer to tradition (again, whichever tradition that may be) is to present one's argument, without anger, without frustration, without snarkiness, and allow them to decide what is correct, in accordance with their own reasoning, understanding and experience. Explain your reasoning - how you got from point A to point B (as indeed you have done well in the original post of this topic), and raise the investigative questions that have gotten you to your position. If criticism of a particular doctrinal argument is necessarily entailed in that, then try to keep it as specifically targeted and articulated as possible... avoiding broad-brush statements that will simply get others' back up. Some may take up the challenge you're putting on the table - others won't... but that decision is essentially theirs to make.

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


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


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Re: Agenda of the four Nikayas

Postby Ben » Mon May 10, 2010 2:24 am

cooran wrote:EXCERPT from Arahants, Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas by Bhikkhu Bodhi

V. The bodhisattva problem
I said above that each extreme attitude – "Nikāya purism" and "Mahāyāna elitism" – neglects facts that are...


An excellent article, Chris!
kind regards

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Re: Agenda of the four Nikayas

Postby retrofuturist » Mon May 10, 2010 3:44 am

Greetings,

Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:Now since the Buddha is distinguished from his liberated disciples in the ways sketched above, it seems almost self-evident that in his past lives he must have followed a preparatory course sufficient to issue in such an exalted state, namely, the course of a bodhisattva. This conclusion is, in fact, a point of common agreement among the Buddhist schools, both those derived from Early Buddhism and those belonging to the Mahāyāna, and seems to me beyond dispute.

I find it interesting that Bhikkhu Bodhi considers it "beyond dispute" simply because to him it "seems almost self-evident". Is it just me, or does this seem a little circular?

Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:In the final analysis, I have to confess that I can’t provide a cogent explanation. In view of the fact that in later times, so many Buddhists, in Theravāda lands as well as in the Mahāyāna world, have been inspired by the bodhisattva ideal, it is perplexing that no teachings about a bodhisattva path or bodhisattva practices are included in the discourses regarded as coming down from the most archaic period of Buddhist literary history. For me, this remains an incomprehensible puzzle.

In light of the fact he finds it an "incomprehensible puzzle" and "can’t provide a cogent explanation", he might wish to go back and challenge some of his foundational statements that he considered "beyond dispute" and "self-evident".

He's written some good articles in his time, and done some excellent translations, but I find this particular piece a little underdone... perhaps he had a word limit to stick to? Perhaps he was wanting to promote inter-sectarian harmony?

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


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


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Re: Agenda of the four Nikayas

Postby cooran » Mon May 10, 2010 3:57 am

Hello Retrofuturist,

There is no dispute because, as Bhikkhu Bodhi says, all schools of buddhism agree on this point. Maybe read the rest of the article?

with metta
Chris
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Re: Agenda of the four Nikayas

Postby retrofuturist » Mon May 10, 2010 4:06 am

Greetings Cooran,

cooran wrote:There is no dispute because, as Bhikkhu Bodhi says, all schools of buddhism agree on this point. Maybe read the rest of the article?

That would be fine if all sects reflected the Dhammavinaya, but I don't accept as a default position that they do. It's also worth bearing in mind that Theravada survived perfectly well prior to importing the bodhisattva ideal into its schema, centuries after the Buddha's parinibbana. Speaking of which, here's the Buddha's advice, issued shortly before parinibbana (perhaps he foresaw such problems?)...

Extract from DN 16: Mahaparinibbana Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .vaji.html

8-11. Then the Blessed One said: "In this fashion, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu might speak: 'Face to face with the Blessed One, brethren, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation'; or: 'In an abode of such and such a name lives a community with elders and a chief. Face to face with that community, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation'; or: 'In an abode of such and such a name live several bhikkhus who are elders, who are learned, who have accomplished their course, who are preservers of the Dhamma, the Discipline, and the Summaries. Face to face with those elders, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation'; or: 'In an abode of such and such a name lives a single bhikkhu who is an elder, who is learned, who has accomplished his course, who is a preserver of the Dhamma, the Discipline, and the Summaries. Face to face with that elder, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation.'

"In such a case, bhikkhus, the declaration of such a bhikkhu is neither to be received with approval nor with scorn. Without approval and without scorn, but carefully studying the sentences word by word, one should trace them in the Discourses and verify them by the Discipline. If they are neither traceable in the Discourses nor verifiable by the Discipline, one must conclude thus: 'Certainly, this is not the Blessed One's utterance; this has been misunderstood by that bhikkhu — or by that community, or by those elders, or by that elder.' In that way, bhikkhus, you should reject it. But if the sentences concerned are traceable in the Discourses and verifiable by the Discipline, then one must conclude thus: 'Certainly, this is the Blessed One's utterance; this has been well understood by that bhikkhu — or by that community, or by those elders, or by that elder.' And in that way, bhikkhus, you may accept it on the first, second, third, or fourth reference. These, bhikkhus, are the four great references for you to preserve."

Now, Bhikkhu Bodhi might (perjoratively?) accuse me of holding an "extreme attitude" or being a "Nikāya purist", but I take refuge in the Buddha, not in a sect or school, and I feel my approach accurately reflects what the Buddha instructed his disciples above. If we follow the Buddha's instructions it won't seem like an "incomprehensible puzzle" and it is not difficult to "provide a cogent explanation".

Interestingly, elsewhere, Bhikkhu Bodhi says...

Bhikkhu Bodhi, in 'A Critical Examination of Nanavira Theras A Note On Paticcasamuppada' wrote:I take as the sole ultimate authority for interpretation of the Dhamma the Buddha's discourses as found in the four main Nikaayas and in the older strata of the Khuddaka Nikaaya

I respect yours or anyone else's prerogative to believe otherwise.

:buddha2:

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


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


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Re: Agenda of the four Nikayas

Postby tiltbillings » Mon May 10, 2010 4:22 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:Now since the Buddha is distinguished from his liberated disciples in the ways sketched above, it seems almost self-evident that in his past lives he must have followed a preparatory course sufficient to issue in such an exalted state, namely, the course of a bodhisattva. This conclusion is, in fact, a point of common agreement among the Buddhist schools, both those derived from Early Buddhism and those belonging to the Mahāyāna, and seems to me beyond dispute.

I find it interesting that Bhikkhu Bodhi considers it "beyond dispute" simply because to him it "seems almost self-evident". Is it just me, or does this seem a little circular?
There is nothing self evident about this, and given the wide disparity between the earlier Theravadin bodhisatta ideal and that of the later Mahayana, there is no reason at all to take the later Mahayana notion of the bodhisattva as being normative, given that is was derived as a doctrine developed in opposition to the the Mainstream Schools of India. Also, much of the Theravadin notion of the idea of the bodhistta came from the "Buddha-ology" the arose after the death of the Buddha - a "Buddha-ology" that attempted to answer questions about the Buddha that the Buddha obviously found unimportant. And along with this "Buddha-ology" goes a valorization of the Buddha, distinguishing him from the arahants in ways not found in the suttas. Of course the Mahayana has pushed that to the extreme.

Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:In the final analysis, I have to confess that I can’t provide a cogent explanation. In view of the fact that in later times, so many Buddhists, in Theravāda lands as well as in the Mahāyāna world, have been inspired by the bodhisattva ideal, it is perplexing that no teachings about a bodhisattva path or bodhisattva practices are included in the discourses regarded as coming down from the most archaic period of Buddhist literary history. For me, this remains an incomprehensible puzzle.

In light of the fact he finds it an "incomprehensible puzzle" and "can’t provide a cogent explanation", he might wish to go back and challenge some of his foundational statements that he considered "beyond dispute" and "self-evident".
The bodhisattva doctrine - far less for the Theravada, but primarily so for the Mahayana - is an example of a capitulation to wanting some personal power outside ourselves to save us and for the Mahayana the bodhisattva teaching served as a form of triumphalism over those who rejected their points of view.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Agenda of the four Nikayas

Postby retrofuturist » Mon May 10, 2010 4:25 am

Greetings Tilt,

I concur with your assessment.

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: Agenda of the four Nikayas

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon May 10, 2010 4:29 am

I think Bhikkhu Bodhi is saying that the Theravada has the bodhisatta concept, but for the samma-sam-buddhas and it is the Mahayana who took that "seed" and transformed it to apply to all practitioners, monastic and lay. He is not saying that the bodhisatta concept applies to all of us. And the Buddha himself did attain Nibbana and parinibbana, not some cosmic eternal state.
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Re: Agenda of the four Nikayas

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon May 10, 2010 4:39 am

In regard to the Nikayas, I can see how one could hold either a 'classical' or 'modern - back to the Suttas' view:

Classical - In the Vinaya, the Cullavagga, it clearly states: "Thus did the venerable Mahâ Kassapa question the venerable Ânanda as to the occasion of the Sâmañña-phala, and as to the individual concerned. And in like manner did he question him through the five Nikâyas, and as he was successively asked, so did Ânanda make reply."

It mentions five Nikayas and the later commentaries mention the Abhidhamma. From this perspective, why not practice according to all of the Canon as Buddhavacana and come and see for ourselves if any of it is out of place.

Modern, Suttanta - The account of the First Council mentions only five Nikayas and the Patimokkha, no mention of the Abhidhamma. Why waste time with material that is probably not Buddhavacana and are most likely later additions.

So it probably comes down to whether you have time to examine all of the Canon, including the Abhidhamma and Commentaries or if you should focus efforts on the material that is clearly the earliest and Buddhavacana. Or from the other point of view, if it is better to examine all of the Canon and Commentaries rather than spending the time on scholarly studies of the texts to determine if they are later additions or not when that time could have been spent on the Canon and Commentaries and the practice.
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Re: Agenda of the four Nikayas

Postby Dan74 » Mon May 10, 2010 4:40 am

hiya folks! :hello:

some thoughts that came to mind while reading the above... FWIW

Whether taking refuge in the Buddha or chanting the name of Avalokiteshvara, devotion is a powerful way to break the hold of the entrenched egotistic habits.

Whether it takes incalculable aeons or one lifetime, complete dedication is a prerequisite, and this surely depends on requisite factors, that may indeed take aeons to master. Indeed for us they have taken a few already, haven't they? And we may still be dabbling compared to the Arahats. It is simply about kamma and isn't viriya (a word I learned from retro :namaste: ) a conditioned attribute? Dependent on causes and conditions? In other words cultivation. For instance when the allure of samsara is strong, viriya for practice isn't going to be strong.

And lastly, whether all sects reflect the Dhammavinaya or not is hard to tell for those of us "lost in the weeds", and give or take, that's probably all of us here. Going and meeting some outstanding teachers of different sects tends to disabuse oneself of a penchant for sectarianism - they are shining examples of Dhammavinaya in practice. So when David (and others) say "Why waste time with material that is probably not Buddhavacana and are most likely later additions" there seems to be an assumption being made that only what is recorded in the Pali suttas is conducive to awakening. Well, if the Buddha was really the Buddha, then many have awakened and many have had the capacity to help others awaken. Rejecting their words as not Buddhavacana is simply wrong.

Of course if the guidance contained in the Pali Nikayas sustains and nourishes your practice, I don't see why you need to look elsewhere. Particularly if other material doesn't resonate and even jars with the suttas. On the other hand, some practitioners thrive on contradictions as it compels them to investigate themselves instead of relying on the written word.
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Re: Agenda of the four Nikayas

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon May 10, 2010 5:02 am

Dan74 wrote: So when David (and others) say "Why waste time with material that is probably not Buddhavacana and are most likely later additions" there is a huge assumption being made that only what is recorded in the Pali suttas is conducive to awakening.


I was just mentioning the points of the two main type of views in Theravada today and I can understand how one could take either view, not really taking sides in that post.

But now that you mention that, in retro's post, the quote from the Buddha states to look to the Nikayas and Vinaya "only" in pretty specific terms:

"In such a case, bhikkhus, the declaration of such a bhikkhu is neither to be received with approval nor with scorn. Without approval and without scorn, but carefully studying the sentences word by word, one should trace them in the Discourses and verify them by the Discipline. If they are neither traceable in the Discourses nor verifiable by the Discipline, one must conclude thus: 'Certainly, this is not the Blessed One's utterance; this has been misunderstood by that bhikkhu — or by that community, or by those elders, or by that elder.' In that way, bhikkhus, you should reject it.
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Re: Agenda of the four Nikayas

Postby Dan74 » Mon May 10, 2010 5:16 am

Yes, David, when I reread it I saw you were listing approaches. Sorry for misrepresenting!

And of course I know the quote and have no issue with it. At the time of saying this, both Discourses and Discipline must've been well-remembered by the monks, otherwise this may also be a later addition to solidify the Suttanta position and close the Dhamma, so to speak. :shrug:
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Re: Agenda of the four Nikayas

Postby Brizzy » Mon May 10, 2010 9:17 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Brizzy,

Brizzy wrote:The four Nikayas stand out as the words of the Buddha, all of the above is not very important but it highlights the huge disparity between what the Buddha actually SAID and what has become accepted as his teaching.

I have highlighted in previous postings my doubts about momentary concentration/path & fruit having to happen immediately and numerous other teachings that somehow do not make it into the four Nikayas, which brings me to my question..............................Why do people accept teachings that were not the Buddha's words/teachings and in many cases do not have the "flavour" of the suttadhamma?

I suspect the answer is deference to sectarian tradition (regardless of which tradition - Theravada or another). There is an inherent conflict within modern Theravada - you've got those who are Theravadin by default because Theravada is the only tradition that lays any emphasis on what the Buddha actually taught (the four nikayas plus the earlier aspects of the fifth + the Vinaya)... whereas others are Theravadin because they specifically choose the Theravada tradition and all that comes with that (which is evidently more than just the four nikayas plus the earlier aspects of the fifth + the Vinaya). When there is conflict between those additions and what the Buddha taught, there is inherent conflict. As it stands presently, that cannot be avoided.

Getting worked up about it though, only causes suffering... the suttas themselves make this clear. It is better to act in accord with the suttas than it is to speak them and act in defiance of them.

All that can be done in discussion with those who defer to tradition (again, whichever tradition that may be) is to present one's argument, without anger, without frustration, without snarkiness, and allow them to decide what is correct, in accordance with their own reasoning, understanding and experience. Explain your reasoning - how you got from point A to point B (as indeed you have done well in the original post of this topic), and raise the investigative questions that have gotten you to your position. If criticism of a particular doctrinal argument is necessarily entailed in that, then try to keep it as specifically targeted and articulated as possible... avoiding broad-brush statements that will simply get others' back up. Some may take up the challenge you're putting on the table - others won't... but that decision is essentially theirs to make.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Hi Retro

I appreciate your kind posting. I dont actually get worked up about disparities, I find I can divorce my personal practice from my online "alter ego" :rolleye: . I think because my "style & humour" are not very smooth - I can come across as "antagonistic".

At the same time I am passionate about the validity of the Buddha's sutta/vinaya and feel that disparities should be investigated and not ignored. The above sutta about the Venerable Mahamoggallaana was an eye-opener to me. I had read it previously without giving thought to its implications and this I feel is the fundamental point. The Buddha advised us that no teachings should be accepted without referring them to the sutta/vinaya and to do this we must not give up our right/obligation to question later/modern teachings. I hope like you said that people will take up the challenge on the table - this is a great way to investigate.

:smile:
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