Most effective method of study?

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ihrjordan
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Most effective method of study?

Post by ihrjordan »

Hi, I'm interested in furthering my knowledge of the Dhamma but I'm not sure how I should go about making an effective study regime. Some of the questions I have are this, How many suttas a day should I study a day to get a firm grasp on the teachings but not be burnt out from to much? What is the most effective way of taking notes on suttas? Whats the best way to retain most if not all of the information I read?

I checked on Access to Insights website and found an article on befriending the suttas and questions I should ask myself while reading them, it helped but only so much. If someone could give me detailed information on sutta study it would be greatly appreciated
santa100
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by santa100 »

I'd strongly recommend Ven. Bodhi's "In the Buddha's Words" which is the definitive introduction to the Buddha's teachings. The systematic presentation in 10 chapters pretty much covers all the central themes of the Dhamma.
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ihrjordan
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by ihrjordan »

Yeh I've actually already read through that, I'm mainly looking for tips on taking notes so that I can further my own understanding of the suttas rather then read what other people have to say about them. Thank you for the post though
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Mkoll
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by Mkoll »

IM: What are some ways one might incorporate reading/study of the suttas into one’s practice?

BB: First one has to know where to begin. For a newcomer to the suttas, I suggest starting with a little gem, Ven. Nyanatiloka’s anthology, The Word of the Buddha (published by the Buddhist Publication Society, available from www.pariyatti.com). An alternative is the schematic selection of texts on the Access to Insight website; I also recommend the webmaster’s essay “Befriending the Suttas.” As the next step—or perhaps even for beginners—I would throw modesty to the winds and recommend In the Buddha’s Words (after all, they’re mostly his words, not mine). Then, for one who wants to go on to a full collection, I suggest the Majjhima Nikaya. Our Bodhi Monastery website contains almost three years’ worth of my lectures on the Majjhima suttas (www.bodhimonastery.net/mntalks_audio.html). These can help serious students obtain a detailed understanding of these texts.

Then how to study: I suggest the first time one simply read each sutta through to gain an initial acquaintance with it. Then read it a second time and make notes. After one becomes familiar with a range of texts, list a number of topics that seem to be dominant and repeated themes, and use these as the rubrics for future readings. As one proceeds, make notes from the texts and sort them under these topics, adding new topics whenever necessary; always include the textual references. Over time—after a year or a couple of years—one will gradually acquire a “global view” of the Dhamma, so that one can see how virtually all the teachings fit together into a consistent whole, like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

I also want to emphasize that the suttas stem from the earliest period of Buddhist literary history and thus constitute the common heritage of the entire Buddhist tradition. So to study them is not a task solely for followers of Theravada Buddhism or of Theravada-based vipassana; it is a task, indeed a responsibility, of Buddhists belonging to all schools who want to understand the taproot of Buddhism.
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by Spiny Norman »

ihrjordan wrote:Yeh I've actually already read through that, I'm mainly looking for tips on taking notes so that I can further my own understanding of the suttas rather then read what other people have to say about them. Thank you for the post though
What might help is to keep a list of the ones you have read, with a brief note of the content and any queries you have. I found it was helpful to read widely at first to get an overview, then settle on a few suttas to study in more detail. Some of the discussions here are useful for developing familiarity with important suttas.
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SarathW
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by SarathW »

Practice is the best study method.
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ihrjordan
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by ihrjordan »

What might help is to keep a list of the ones you have read, with a brief note of the content and any queries you have. I found it was helpful to read widely at first to get an overview, then settle on a few suttas to study in more detail. Some of the discussions here are useful for developing familiarity with important suttas
This is a good idea, I'm gonna do this thank you. Helps me to be familiar with the Sutta but without getting to involved if I don't want to.
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ihrjordan
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by ihrjordan »

I suggest the first time one simply read each sutta through to gain an initial acquaintance with it. Then read it a second time and make notes. After one becomes familiar with a range of texts, list a number of topics that seem to be dominant and repeated themes, and use these as the rubrics for future readings.
I've read this before posting my question, it helped but my only problem was "Ok how do I take the notes?"
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Mkoll
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by Mkoll »

ihrjordan wrote:
I suggest the first time one simply read each sutta through to gain an initial acquaintance with it. Then read it a second time and make notes. After one becomes familiar with a range of texts, list a number of topics that seem to be dominant and repeated themes, and use these as the rubrics for future readings.
I've read this before posting my question, it helped but my only problem was "Ok how do I take the notes?"
Personally, I only take notes on things that are unique and/or that I don't have down pat. There are a lot of suttas that essentially repeat the same information I already know very well or the same information from a previous sutta that I've already taken notes on, especially in SN. I don't bother to take notes on those.

In terms of making the notes themselves, I make them similarly to how I make notes for classes.
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Pondera
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by Pondera »

There are more than http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sutta.html 10,000 suttas.

Formulate your own view on spirituality. In general, practice virtue, meditation, and wisdom. Once you have a personal grasp on those three things, cross check it with particular suttas. You'll find that certain suttas will cohere with what you personally believe, but a vast majority are very long, and there's a learning curve that you're better off adjusting to without the help of suttas.

Because if you have your own working spiritual approach you will resonate with the teachings. If you don't, they will appear as things to be penetrated and interpreted. When you read a sutta that resonates with you, book mark it. When you read one that doesn't resonate, don't try to interpret it. If you need to interpret a higher teaching it means you have yet to grasp a lower one. So don't try to master it all at once.

I would largely ignore the Digha Nikaya at first. Read all the middle length discourses. And then watch the forum for the jewels that well read people often post here. Sometimes it's more about reading the right sutta at the right time.

For example. Is it a full moon night, or is it not? It is! So practice attention to your breath. Go do some innocuous type of activity. Observe the basis of nothingness in the world. Observe how completely alone you are in the world. Do you believe you rely on your self or others? Is it another person's job to make your life better or is your own? This is wisdom.

Walk. Watch your breath, listen to it. Do not forget the darkness and solitude of life. Then pull back your shoulder blades and walk about like a tall and proud man. Relax the muscles around your heart. This is meditation.

Whatever peace you find in doing so, yearn to keep it with you. Or what is more, endeavor to keep that state of peace to the point where you haven't forgotten it. Walk around like a docile, peaceful man. This is virtue.

Namaste - Patanjali - ohm. :namaste:
“Monk, the property of light, the property of beauty, the property of the dimension of the infinitude of space, the property of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, the property of the dimension of nothingness: These properties are to be reached as perception attainments.[2] The property of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception is to be reached as a remnant-of-fabrications attainment. The property of the cessation of feeling & perception is to be reached as a cessation attainment."[3]

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
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andyebarnes67
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by andyebarnes67 »

Certainly, an academic study of the Suttas can be beneficial and is not to be smirked at, but for me, I prefer to use them as a resource for the answering of questions that arise through my practice and in daily life.
Unless one is looking to become a teacher (either academically or as a dhamma teacher/monk) having too many concepts, notions, questions and facts floating around our heads could be detrimental to our meditation and living the Buddhist path.
Our periods of meditation can become led by the latest thing/s we have read, rather than by the actual experience we are having at the time. This then makes simply observing much more difficult. Instead of truly observing whatever is happening, we start looking for validation of a concept, missing what is actually there.
The same applies to our daily life. Rather than finding a place of equanimity from which to dispassionately observe, rather than being truly present in the moment, emerged within whatever we are doing, we can be always looking for illustration of a point from a Sutta.
I prefer to allow questions to arise from my practice and life, mine and that of those around me, the news, etc and then refer to the Suttas for explanation and expansion.
This is so much easier today with the many resources we have online.
Where, in the past, one would have to take such questions to a teacher, or indeed, to have read and studied fully, the Suttas ourselves, we now have more freedom to find the answers once we have the questions, rather than the otherway around.
I have always understood the Buddha to have taught the importqance of experience above all else, and I wonder that if perhaps having too much prior knowledge might prevent some true experience. If even sub-consciously, we can so easily perceive experiences through the lens of what we expect them to be, rather than as they really are.
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VinceField
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by VinceField »

I recommend including audio dhamma talks as a part of your study regimen. There are a ton of sites you can download the audio files from. Just pop them into your ipod/iphone or mp3 player and you can take your dhamma studies with you everywhere you go. :)

Here are some links:

http://www.dhammatalks.org/

http://www.audiodharma.org/

http://www.dharmaseed.org/talks/

I particularly recommend the talks of Thanissaro Bhikkhu (see the first link). They are very concise and get right to the heart of the teachings without much filler, long stories, and asides that you may find in the talks of other teachers.
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by obo »

Hello

You have received a number of good suggestions for approaching your Dhamma Study. I have another for you to consider based on the idea that most, if not all suttas are much deeper than will be perceived upon an initial reading. It is a common experience to find that beginners reading in the suttas for only a short time believe themselves to be Arahant. This is because the Dhamma is constructed so as to cut across levels of consciousness and so is, in fact, comprehensible at one level even to the beginner. In a similar way one will notice that taking the approach of reading all the suttas through either randomly or in sequence one will end up with a completely different perspective than one had where one began. Reading the suttas again will seem like they are being read anew. This can happen several times. Approaching Dhamma study in this way is what I would call using the Dhamma as one's concentration device. But this is not the only way. Remember that because there were no books, computers, etc., that most people in the Buddha's Time will have had to rely for their study on one or two suttas. The Buddha delivered the greater part of his suttas with this in mind. Not every sutta is fully self-contained, but one will find that there are many groups of suttas that form a complete system. And some individuals will have been given 'Dhamma in brief' and with just one or two words or sentences will have been given sufficient information to attain the goal. (For example, one teaching in brief goes: 'Whatsoever has anything to do with thirst (tanha) know that that has nothing to do with Dhamma"; Sariputta 'got it' with just the idea: 'The Buddha has taught the driving forces of whatsoever has come to be as a consequence of a driving force; another used the full understanding of 'appamada' as being sufficient to attain the goal.)

The essential message of the Dhamma is Deep, but simple to state: That which has come into existence goes out of existence. Identification with that which has come into existence always results in pain as a consequence of that transition from existence to non-existence. To escape that pain one must escape coming into existence. To escape coming into existence one must let go of anything even remotely resembling desire. And the way to bring those desires into consciousness and let them go is the Way.

It was to provide approaches to this task fitted to the various natures of man (and perhaps to avoid becoming bored with the teaching) that Gotama taught what some have calculated to be 84,000 different suttas.

So!

Looking at your interests, you might consider:

MN 1, The MulaPariYaya Suttanta, for your interest in the Pali.
http://obo.genaud.net/backmatter/indexe ... a_1.htm#p1

Study that using the techniques found in MN 10
http://obo.genaud.net/backmatter/indexe ... _1.htm#p10

or DN 22: The Satipatthana Suttanta,
http://obo.genaud.net/backmatter/indexe ... ya.htm#p22

or SN 54: The Anapana series which has another take on the Satipatthana breathing exercise.
http://obo.genaud.net/backmatter/indexe ... myutta.htm

(or all three of those)

And for the fundamentals of the Paticca Samuppada, DN 15: The MahaNidana Suttanta.
http://obo.genaud.net/backmatter/indexe ... ya.htm#p15

Focus down on these until you can 'see' their profound nature. See how by just this selection the entire system is encompassed.

This is just a suggested selection based on the limited information gained from your profile and picture. Study of the Dhamma is, in one sense, putting your life on the line, and for that reason it is not a wise idea to be trusting 'individuls'. For that reason you should not give up altogether the idea of reading all the suttas and even learning at least the basic terms in Pali. But what you could do profitably with this approach is to make these or another small group of suttas a focus that you return to again and again while your reading of the rest is relieved of any pressure to comprehend the whole.
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ihrjordan
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by ihrjordan »

It is a common experience to find that beginners reading in the suttas for only a short time believe themselves to be Arahant.
I probably should have stated this before hand, but I'm not new to Buddhism by any means. I've just never been big into studying except on occasion, so I've decided to go into studying the Dhamma wholeheartedly rather than just reading the superficial wording and saying "There studying's done"
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Re: Most effective method of study?

Post by SarathW »

:goodpost: Obo.
:D
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