Should I buy a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya?

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Re: Should I buy a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya?

Postby Ben » Tue Oct 19, 2010 5:44 am

tiltbillings wrote:
josephzizys wrote: Ok, so I just finished watching the entire series 1 2 and 3 of Avatar in a single week and may be a little....
Now you need to, in one sitting, watch the extended versions of the Lord of the Ring Triology.

Does the angry elf make an appearance?
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Re: Should I buy a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya?

Postby mettafuture » Wed Oct 20, 2010 1:02 am

Sylvester wrote:I heard from Ajahn Brahm that Bhikkhu Bodhi and Wisdom may have some good news to dispense, when BB's AN is ready. Keep your ears to the ground...

Now THAT'S the nikaya I've been waiting for! From what I understand, it has more suttas for the laity than any other nikaya.

Right now I have my buy finger hovering over the Kindle version of the Majjhima Nikaya. I'm not sure if I should get this version, the iBooks version, or the hardcover. Oh, decisions, decisions...
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Re: Should I buy a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya?

Postby IanAnd » Wed Oct 20, 2010 1:58 am

mettafuture wrote:
Sylvester wrote:I heard from Ajahn Brahm that Bhikkhu Bodhi and Wisdom may have some good news to dispense, when BB's AN is ready. Keep your ears to the ground...

Now THAT'S the nikaya I've been waiting for! From what I understand, it has more suttas for the laity than any other nikaya.

Thanks for the update about Ven. Bodhi's translation of the Anguttara. It's also possibly the oldest Nikaya according to some scholars.

Currently, I've got Ven. Nyanaponika's anthology of the Anguttara, and that alone was a revelation to read and take notes about. I think you'll be pleasantly pleased with Bhk. Bodhi's new work. The Anguttara has many important discourses (not unlike the Samyutta) that help illuminate the Dhamma and better explain questions that arise about it.

mettafuture wrote:Right now I have my buy finger hovering over the Kindle version of the Majjhima Nikaya. I'm not sure if I should get this version, the iBooks version, or the hardcover. Oh, decisions, decisions...

That all depends on whether or not you like to keep notes and write in the book's margins to highlight important sections. Personally, I do both and prefer the hardcover. I'm generally not into electronic books. Give me the old fashioned hard bound book, something I don't need electrical power to open up and look inside. Just can't beat some low tech resources.
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Re: Should I buy a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya?

Postby mettafuture » Wed Oct 20, 2010 3:34 am

IanAnd wrote:Currently, I've got Ven. Nyanaponika's anthology of the Anguttara, and that alone was a revelation to read and take notes about. I think you'll be pleasantly pleased with Bhk. Bodhi's new work. The Anguttara has many important discourses (not unlike the Samyutta) that help illuminate the Dhamma and better explain questions that arise about it.

I know this is a bit off topic, but what's one of the insights you came across in the Anguttara Nikaya?

IanAnd wrote:
mettafuture wrote:Right now I have my buy finger hovering over the Kindle version of the Majjhima Nikaya. I'm not sure if I should get this version, the iBooks version, or the hardcover. Oh, decisions, decisions...

That all depends on whether or not you like to keep notes and write in the book's margins to highlight important sections.

You can do all of that with iBooks and Kindle now. :D E-readers have come along way, and the battery life is nothing short of amazing (3 weeks on average). As a person who has to travel a lot, I think I might get the iBooks version. I say "might" in italics because I still see some advantages to having a hardcover. But the thought of having to lug around a huge book really bums me out.
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Re: Should I buy a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya?

Postby Sylvester » Wed Oct 20, 2010 3:47 am

I best not say any more about the good news, lest I jinx the whole happy prospect.

Suffice it to say, it pertains not to BB's AN.

Signing out for the next 2 weeks to Jhana Grove.
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Re: Should I buy a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya?

Postby IanAnd » Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:15 am

mettafuture wrote:I know this is a bit off topic, but what's one of the insights you came across in the Anguttara Nikaya?

Well, since it's your thread and your choice of topic, I see no harm.

One of the first suttas I came across that made a giant impression on me was outside of having read the Anguttara. It was a quotation from the Anguttara in another book about Buddhism. And as many here might be able to attest, having already experienced the cynical world of religious politics in real life, it came as a breath of fresh air during a very crucial time in my life. As with many things in life context was everything, and the context of that moment was very poignant. I was a monk and priest in a contemplative western religion order at the time, and was reconsidering my options regarding the road to realization. This was before I even knew there was an Anguttara Nikaya. I, however, had always been impressed with what I had read about Buddhism while studying in college, and this was just another — and as it turned out very important — instance of that. It actually was one of two key factors in helping me to arrive at a very critical personal decision. The other key factor had been a quotation by Jiddhu Krishnamurti that I came upon just before having read the passage from the Anguttara and at about this same time.

The time was this same time of year, the Fall of 1989. I was thirty-seven, and becoming disillusioned with the organization I was with as well as the man who was leading it, my religious superior and the person directly in charge of my training. The passage I read was a famous one from the Kalamas Sutta. The person it described (the Buddha) was an ideal that I had until then not been able to come across in my life. When I read that passage, I knew instantly that I had to make some changes in the course of my life, and that they were not going to be easy changes given the circumstances I was in at the time. The man I read about in that passage was nothing like the real life person I was tied to in the religious order. Talk about confronting cetana (volition) and sankharas (mental volitions) and having to transform them.

Anyway, I'm sure many other people have been impressed by that same sutta from the Anguttara. As such, it is something that many of us can relate to, and therefore is not all that obscure. So, I will locate another to talk about that isn't perhaps so widely known.

There is a sutta toward the end of the book (in the Chapter of the Tens) that was particularly helpful in my understanding and defining of kamma. I don't know the traditional Pali name of the sutta because the edition I have doesn't give that designation. The English name given is "The Extinction of Kamma," and it is at AN X.206. It was the opening paragraph of this translated sutta and the footnote to it that particularly struck me.
I declare, monks, that actions willed, performed and accumulated will not become extinct as long as their results have not been experienced, be it in this life, in the next life or in subsequent future lives. And as long as these results of actions willed, performed and accumulated have not been experienced, there will be no making an end to suffering, I declare.[70]

Footnote:
70. On the threefold ripening of kamma, see Text 24 and Ch. III, n. 13. The Buddha's statement — that there is no making an end to suffering without experiencing the results of all actions performed — must be understood with the reservation (which AA makes explicit in connection with "kamma ripening in future lives") that reference is to "kamma that is actually capable of yielding a kammic result" (vipakarahakamma). But under certain circumstances kamma can be annulled by a counteractive or destructive kamma, and the arahant, by terminating the conditions for rebirth, extinguishes the potential for ripening of all his past kamma. The statement in our text must also be understood in the light of the following sutta passage: "If one says that in whatever way a person performs a kammic action, in that very same way he will experience the result — in that case there will be no (possibility for) the holy life, and no opportunity would appear for making a complete end to suffering. But if one says that a person who performs a kammic action (with a result) that is variably experienceable, will reap its result accordingly — in that case there will be (a possibility for) the holy life, and an opportunity would appear for making a complete end to suffering" (AN III, 110).

That last sentence highlighted above was a great relief and burden off my shoulders at the time. It also told me that the possibility for the result of kamma is dependent on one's present-time frame of reference (i.e. in this very moment) and not on some ontological (metaphysical) inevitability. Thus, with wisdom (the ending of ignorance about what kamma is) and with mindfulness on this established, one never need be overly concerned about the results of past kamma. This last has to do with the development of Right View, which is ever so important in the process of the ending of suffering.
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Re: Should I buy a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya?

Postby mettafuture » Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:55 pm

Beautifully explained, IanAnd. Thank you for sharing a part of your journey with us. And thank you for inspiring me to give the Anguttara Nikaya a closer look. :)

Regarding my purchase of the Majjhima Nikaya, I think I'm going to wait. I've already studied a lot of dhamma, and I think it's about time I focus more on practice. I'll likely order Practicing the Jhanas by Stephen Snyder first, order the Anguttara Nikaya when ever it's released, and then order the Majjhima Nikaya shortly thereafter.

Thank you all again for your replies.
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Re: Should I buy a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya?

Postby BlackBird » Thu Oct 21, 2010 11:25 pm

I haven't read the thread, mettafuture. But I think you'll get much more bang for your buck if you order the Majjhima instead of Jhana advice from Mr. Snyder. In truth there's no magic bullet to Samadhi. You watch the breath, you lose focus, you bring attention back to the breath, rinse and repeat until it sticks for a while and voila. These kind of books like to talk about the immense pleasure of Jhana and what not, but in actual fact when you start reading that kind of thing you're most likely going to be motivated by sensual desire, which is of course one of the things preventing you from 'getting it' in the first place.

I had a book by Shaila Catherine a while back, and while it was an encouraging read, as far as getting motivated for meditation practice, it didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know.

The Majjhima on the other hand, if read thoroughly, will give you a lot of knowledge about what is and is not the Buddha's message. You start applying the message to your day to day life and it's a real joy when a verse from a sutta pops into your head and you suddenly understand it on deeper level. That's priceless stuff.

Just my take
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Should I buy a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:22 am

Greetings Mettafuture,

mettafuture wrote:I've already studied a lot of dhamma, and I think it's about time I focus more on practice.

What makes you assume that Stephen Snyder would give better practical advice on the Dhamma than the suttas do?

On what basis do you differentiate between "Dhamma" and "practice"? Is one somehow disconnected from the other? Perhaps you mean the differentiation between "study" and "cultivation"? Again, if that's what you meant, why Stephen Snyder over the Majjhima Nikaya? Is Stephen Snyder more adept at mental cultivation than the Buddha?

I'm interested in your thoughts/logic.

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: Should I buy a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya?

Postby Vepacitta » Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:59 am

Sometimes 'extra curricular' writings are helpful when learning about jhanas - then they should be compared to the suttas. They are an aid (to me).

I can't speak to Stephen Snyder. I do know that Nana posted some excellent on-line resources about jhana meditation - look in the suttanta meditation thread - helpful articles by Aj. Thanissaro and others.

For sutta study, as I already mentioned - something about the Samyutta Nikaya 'clicks' for me.

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Re: Should I buy a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya?

Postby mettafuture » Fri Oct 22, 2010 4:17 am

BlackBird wrote:I haven't read the thread, mettafuture. But I think you'll get much more bang for your buck if you order the Majjhima instead of Jhana advice from Mr. Snyder.

You're probably right, but, from what I've read, I think Mr. Snyder's book may be able to help me improve on my 4 elements and brahma-vihara contemplations until I'm able to (or choose to) meet up with a teacher again.

In truth there's no magic bullet to Samadhi. You watch the breath, you lose focus, you bring attention back to the breath, rinse and repeat until it sticks for a while and voila.

Don't get me started on breath meditation... :D

The Majjhima on the other hand, if read thoroughly, will give you a lot of knowledge about what is and is not the Buddha's message. You start applying the message to your day to day life and it's a real joy when a verse from a sutta pops into your head and you suddenly understand it on deeper level. That's priceless stuff.

I completely agree, but I'm currently at a point in practice where I need less advice on right livelihood, and more advice on right concentration. I've made a lot of progress with metta meditation, and I'd like to look deeper into some of the other practices.

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Mettafuture,

mettafuture wrote:I've already studied a lot of dhamma, and I think it's about time I focus more on practice.

What makes you assume that Stephen Snyder would give better practical advice on the Dhamma than the suttas do?

I don't. :)

I know the suttas would be better at giving practical advice. Problem is, I'm not sure which Nikaya has the suttas I need to improve my 4 elements and brahma-vihara contemplations.

On what basis do you differentiate between "Dhamma" and "practice"?

By "Dhamma" I was referring to the teachings, and by "practice" I was referring to meditation. Minor misstep in wording.

Perhaps you mean the differentiation between "study" and "cultivation"?

Yes.

Again, if that's what you meant, why Stephen Snyder over the Majjhima Nikaya?

Because Stephen Snyder has a nice little 147 page book that highlights the exact topics I need to improve my meditation practice. However, if someone can tell me which Nikaya has the most advice or instruction on how to contemplate the 4 elements and the brahma-viharas, I'd gladly consider getting that Nikaya.

Is Stephen Snyder more adept at mental cultivation than the Buddha?

Of course not.

Vepacitta wrote:Sometimes 'extra curricular' writings are helpful when learning about jhanas - then they should be compared to the suttas. They are an aid (to me).

Agreed. Commentaries can also help decipher the sometimes dense and complex language of the suttas.

I can't speak to Stephen Snyder. I do know that Nana posted some excellent on-line resources about jhana meditation - look in the suttanta meditation thread - helpful articles by Aj. Thanissaro and others.

Thank you. I'll give it a peek.

For sutta study, as I already mentioned - something about the Samyutta Nikaya 'clicks' for me.

I love the wording of the Samyutta Nikaya. But I just can't afford a $60 book set right now. :(
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Re: Should I buy a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya?

Postby alan » Fri Oct 22, 2010 4:39 am

Thanissaro's books are free, and delightful.
Why wade through thousands of pages when you can get his edit?
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Re: Should I buy a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Oct 22, 2010 4:46 am

Greetings Alan,

alan wrote:Thanissaro's books are free, and delightful.
Why wade through thousands of pages when you can get his edit?

No one person (unless they are an arahant) is completely impartial and correct regarding their interpretation of the Dhamma. Even different arahants may have been liberated by different aspects of the teaching. Therefore, it is good to consult various sources if possible, even to the point of seeking alternative translations on key suttas. All the moreso if we're not dealing with arahants...

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: Should I buy a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya?

Postby alan » Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:10 am

How alternative can they possibly be?
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Re: Should I buy a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya?

Postby alan » Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:16 am

It's not like we are dealing with completely different takes on a big idea--I'm all for getting differing opinions. But translations need not vary in such a way.
So I'll ask again--why wade through thousands of pages, when you can get a good version, free?

I'm completely satisfied that Thanissaro is far more aware than me, or anyone else I've ever encountered.
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Re: Should I buy a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya?

Postby alan » Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:27 am

So I'll continue to cherish my well worn books. Which were free.
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Re: Should I buy a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:35 am

Greetings Alan,

alan wrote:I'm completely satisfied that Thanissaro is far more aware than me, or anyone else I've ever encountered.

Well if you're only going to try one translator/author, you could certainly do worse! Wings To Awakening is a very good compendium.

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: Should I buy a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya?

Postby Vepacitta » Fri Oct 22, 2010 4:55 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Alan,

alan wrote:Thanissaro's books are free, and delightful.
Why wade through thousands of pages when you can get his edit?

No one person (unless they are an arahant) is completely impartial and correct regarding their interpretation of the Dhamma. Even different arahants may have been liberated by different aspects of the teaching. Therefore, it is good to consult various sources if possible, even to the point of seeking alternative translations on key suttas. All the moreso if we're not dealing with arahants...

Metta,
Retro. :)


I agree Retro - I tend to be a "Ven Bodhi-ist" - however, I like comparing Aj. Thanissaro's translations with his - I also find that Ven. Thanissaro has some very interesting 'takes' on various concepts that have helped me to look at things in a new, fresh way.

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Re: Should I buy a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya?

Postby mettafuture » Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:16 pm

I recently discovered an entire section in the Samyutta Nikaya dedicated to the elements (I think). It's listed as XIV Dhatu Samyutta. Would anyone happen to know anything about this section?
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Re: Should I buy a copy of the Majjhima Nikaya?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:47 pm

mettafuture wrote:I know the suttas would be better at giving practical advice. Problem is, I'm not sure which Nikaya has the suttas I need to improve my 4 elements and brahma-vihara contemplations.

I'm going to disagree with our friends here and suggest that you won't find detailed instructions in the Suttas. The stock expositions of Brahmaviharas generally go like this:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ml#brahma1
"That disciple of the noble ones, headman — thus devoid of covetousness, devoid of ill will, unbewildered, alert, mindful — keeps pervading the first direction [the east] with an awareness imbued with good will, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth. Thus above, below, & all around, everywhere, in its entirety, he keeps pervading the all-encompassing cosmos with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, without hostility, without ill will. Just as a strong conch-trumpet blower can notify the four directions without any difficulty, in the same way, when the awareness-release through good will is thus developed, thus pursued, any deed done to a limited extent no longer remains there, no longer stays there.
[Similarly for compassion... appreciation... equanimity... ]

What you will get from the Suttas, in my experience, is huge amount of material that helps keep one on the path, once one has some basic practise going, and to check whether things are working. I'm sometimes surprised to find myself thinking "this experience is really what the Buddha was on about in such-and-such Sutta..."

As this Sutta advises:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"As for the individual who has attained neither internal tranquillity of awareness nor insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, he should approach an individual who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment... and ask him, 'How should the mind be steadied? How should it be made to settle down? How should it be unified? How should it be concentrated? How should fabrications be regarded? How should they be investigated? How should they be seen with insight?' The other will answer in line with what he has seen & experienced: ...


As far as the Brahmaviharas are concerned, most modern instructions have digested the advice in the Visuddhimagga and put it into a more succinct form, which may be found in many books or on-line resources, e.g. here: http://buddhanet.net/metta.htm
Such advice may help to appreciate and put into practise the words of the Blessed One:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .amar.html
Even as a mother protects with her life Her child,
her only child,
So with a boundless heart Should one cherish all living beings;
Radiating kindness over the entire world:
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded


:anjali:
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