I have made extensive use of bolding here, I don't want it to seem like I'm "yelling" at anyone. The bolding is just to stress certain words/concepts.
davidbrainerd wrote: cappuccino wrote:
davidbrainerd wrote:This is just odd linguistic taboos.
It is odd, a person gone, yet speaking. Yet everything said by Buddha, was said after he was gone.
I wish you'd speak in longer paragraphs rather than koans, but I guess you mean that you think he actually referred to himself in the 3rd person as Bhagava and more importantly Tathagata, rather than that this is a convention of the formal language the sutta compilers decided to impose on the finished product. And thus you think he's saying he's gone while still there.
Why couldn't he have called himself Bhagava? Tathāgata? Anyways, I am pretty sure cappuccino
is making reference, in that first sentence he wrote, to something like the "does the Tathāgata persist after death" discourses found in a number of the few Pali Canon suttas I've read. To quote one instance of this discourse emerging in a dialogue between the Buddha and Poṭṭhapāda:
26. "Well, Lord, is the soul the same as the body,... is the soul one thing and the body another?"
"I have not declared that the soul is one thing and the body another."
27. "Well, Lord, does the Tathāgata exist after death? [...]"
"I have not declared that the Tathāgata exists after death."
"Well, Lord, does the Tathāgata not exist after death,... both exist and not exist after death? ...neither exist nor not exist after death?"
"I have not declared [...]."
(DN Sutta 9, 26-27, truncated)
When you, davidbrainerd
, criticize cappuccino for voicing these questions aloud, you remind me of a bit later in the sutta:
31. Then the wanderers, as soon as the Lord had left, reproached, sneered and jeered at Poṭṭhapāda from all sides, saying: "Whatever the ascetic Gotama says, Poṭṭhapāda agrees with him: 'So it is, Lord, so it is, [...]' We don't understand a word of the ascetics Gotama's whole discourse: 'Is the world eternal or not? -Is it finite or infinite? -Is the soul the same as the body or different? -Does the Tathāgata exist after death or not [...]?'"
Poṭṭhapāda replied: "I don't understand [...] whether the Tathāgata exists after death or not [...]. But the ascetic Gotama teaches a true and real way of practice which is consonant with the Dhamma and grounded in Dhamma. [...]"
(from the same sutta, later, similarly truncated for brevity)
I'm not saying cappuccino is
Poṭṭhapāda, obviously, but the parallels still stand. You probably don't consider this to be an "authentic" sutta though, given your predilections for a sola scriptura
hermeneutic that seeks to harmonize and alter the texts so that they can stand alone as complete Buddhadharma: something the suttas were never intended to do
and don't do
, even when approached with the appropriate hermeneutic.
cappuccino wrote:Yet everything said by Buddha, was said after he was gone.
This second sentence is most likely reference is most like to fact every single word that was "said" by the Buddha we have only through the preserved Buddhadharma, not through transcriptions of exact words. If there is any "superauthentic" layer of Buddhavacana in the Pali Canon it would be impossible to distinguish from the general preserved teachings surrounding it, which are said to constitute authentic Buddhavacana for the reasons I just gave.
davidbrainerd wrote:I wish you'd speak in longer paragraphs rather than koans[...]
Cappuccino needs to speak in koans to balance out people like me who type giant walls of text.
*I am looking for a sufficiently humorously self-depreciating emoji and not finding one*.
davidbrainerd wrote:As to the Upanishads that teach a corporate self being later than Buddha, that's merely nonsense invented by Western materialist Buddhist scholars to help prop up their materialist misreading of the suttas.
Ummm.... OK. I guess if you want to write off years and years of well-established interdisciplinary research and fact compiled by Buddhists, non-Buddhists, Hindus and non-Hindus, all of whom have literally no stake in the issue of when the Brahman-Atman polarity emerges in Upanishadic philosophy with respect to Buddhist history and therefore no reason to lie.....
I...... guess? Thats ok? I mean, you are fine throwing out most of Buddhism as nonsense too it seems, so I guess I should have seen it coming that you would have a similar opinion of Western academic inquiry coupled with Vedanta self-narratives.
Perhaps most profoundly, the atman is described as the eternal self that is never born and never dies, lasting throughout eternity. Thus the notion of atman transformed into an abstract, cosmic principle equivalent to the ground of being itself. Atman is the true, radiant self, which "is not born, nor dies. / This one has not come from anywhere..." Furthermore, it is "unborn, constant, eternal, primeval, this one / Is not slain when the body is slain" (Katha Upanishad II).
(from the New World Encyclopedia http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Atman)
The Upanishads tell us that the core of our own self is not the body, or the mind, but atman or “Self”. Atman is the core of all creatures, their innermost essence. It can only be perceived by direct experience through meditation. It is when we are at the deepest level of our existence.
Brahman is the one underlying substance of the universe, the unchanging “Absolute Being”, the intangible essence of the entire existence. It is the undying and unchanging seed that creates and sustains everything. It is beyond all description and intellectual understanding.
One of the great insights of the Upanishads is that atman and Brahman are made of the same substance.
(from the Ancient History Encyclopedia entry on the Upanishads http://www.ancient.eu/Upanishads/)
The ascetics responsible for the production of the Upanishads sought the nature of the true Self. They rejected naturally that idea that the true Self was the body, but also rejected the idea that it was the mind, both that which perceives and that which understands, or the mind. Rather the true Self is hidden "inside" the body and the mind, imperceptible to all but the most ardent inquirerer. The true Self (atman) of all sentient beings— beings who have consciousness—in fact is Brahman. When, in meditation (yoga), one removes all the objects from one's consciousness, one has nothing left but pure consciousness, an awareness without content; this is the true Self, the atman. Furthermore, the Self (atman) is actually Brahman, so that human consciousness is really universal consciousness (purusha); there are not many consciousnesses but ultimately only one. One's true self (atman) is Brahman.
In contrast to vedic religion, concern for earthly benefits derivable from sacrifice is absent in the Upanishads; rather in these texts, the human problem is conceived differently: existence itself is the problem, so that the religious goal now is release (moksa) from the endless cycle of birth and rebirth that characterizes existence (samsara). The realization that one's true nature is Brahman is the means by which one passes into the infinite and escapes rebirth into the cycle of life. This is because to realize one's Self results in the cessation of desires and this leads to not being reborn.
(from Crandall University, lecture notes from Dr. Barry D. Smith's course on the Upanishads http://www.mycrandall.ca/courses/grphil ... .htm#U321B, bolding is mine)
And lastly, this lecture by an associate of "The Hindu Academy", Jay Lakhani, the relevant section being entitled "What Are Upanishads?" from approx 12:47-14:30:
How are all of these unrelated sources unified on the matter of this conspiracy by "Western materialist Buddhist scholars to help prop up their materialist misreading of the suttas"? These people have no stake or interest in advancing an innovative sect of "materialist Buddhism".
The earliest Upanishads were formed around 500BC (Encyclopedia Brittanica https://www.britannica.com/topic/Upanishad
), Buddha was born around 500BC, he started preaching shortly after Awakening, age 35, then he died at age 80. The Upanishads were just starting to be written when Buddha was born. They definitely weren't considered "Holy Texts" equal to the already-established Vedas were during his lifetime, there is no mention of Upanishadic discourse in the Pali Canon (aside from the Abhidhamma). I don't really see where you are coming from, pretending like this is an unreasonable belief when it is well-established by specialists and non-specialists alike from both East and West.
davidbrainerd wrote:...to help prop up their materialist misreading of the suttas.
Whose materialist reading of the suttas? Yours
The historical-materialist hermeneutic of Western textual criticism
This is an interesting word you've coined, this "historical-materialist," particularly the "materialist" part. Is the implication that rather than allowing for the possibility that some inauthentic material could be added to a canon we should believe some spiritual entity is preserving the canon? I don't see how that idea could work for orthodox Theravadins who beleive Buddha just ceased to exist when he died. Tibetans have their spiritual entities emanating themselves down as guardians of traditions (e.g. Dalai Lama), but Theravada doesn't (there's no atman), meaning a historical-materialist approach to the text is quite natural. If anyone were to make the argument that Buddha is floating around as a spirit somewhere preserving the canon, they'd be verbally crucified.
I don't know what causes you to bring up the idea that anyone here, myself included, is arguing in favour "Buddha [...] floating around as a spirit somewhere preserving the canon". I certainly haven't said anything to that effect.
What the term "historical-materialist hermeneutic of textual criticism" refers to is the tendency for the West, academically and non-academically, to approach texts, sacred and secular, with the misconceived notion
that they are to be treated only on their own material terms
, that they speak to primarily historical truths
, and that they seeks to communicate a "true reading" that is materially sound (i.e. "true" within the context of historical-materialism, "the doctrine that nothing can be said to be historically existent except matter, its movements, and modifications").
This is the hermeneutic you are applying to the suttas, and once you understand what I mean by that, you will understand why I call your approach a sola scriptura
approach to reading truth out of early Buddhist literature.
Doctrines and viewpoints that presume sola scriptura
approach texts with the assumption that they communicate truth primarily through a historical-materialist hermeneutic (for the benefit of people on this forum who might be newer to the English language, not to be patronizing, I'll say "hermeneutic" means "method of analysis to find authored 'truth' in a given text")
. A Protestant Christian applying sola scriptura
, reading the Bible, assumes that it speaks to a historical-materialist truth (i.e. the events materially happened exactly as they are written). This is a misapplied hermeneutic because the Bible (as well as the Pali Canon) quite obviously was not designed to primarily communicate a historical-material truth (i.e. Noah's Flood, the Exodus, contradictions in the Bible, etc), and prior to late 1600s had never been read that way.
My good friend iohannes
can point you to a wealth of secular and sacred historical scholarship which supports the existence of an Enlightenment revolution in Biblical hermeneutics should you also decide this to be another conspiracy, barring that though, you can check here on wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_literalism
The historical-materialist hermeneutic is well-applied in manners concerning histories authored by the recent West (post 1700), and in instances when we "read truth" out of physical objects, such as Arctic Ice-Core samples or geological formations, but it is ill-applied to ancient history and ancient sources because it retrojects scientific Western thinking onto cultures and text-products of cultures that are, by definition, foreign to the modern Western modes of scientific and historical inquiry as well as modern Western metaphysical materialism.
This is the process that occurs when a text that is *not* speaking to a historical-materialist paradigm of truth is (mis)read with a historical-materialist hermeneutic.
1. Person reads text presuming a complete standalone historical-materialist truth is to be found within said text.
2. Person encounters contradictions either a)
inside the text itself and/or b)
between the material-historical truth that appears to be indicated in the text and the physical reality directly around him (which he views from a historical-materialist perspective, regardless of if he also believes in God, or devas, or whatever).
3. In order to maintain the supremacy of his hermeneutic, he must a)
decide which sections of text must have become corrupted, and produce a convincing or unconvincing reason as to why, or b)
decide whether the sections of text are false or the apparent reality around him is false.
Conservative Christian creationists in America, the UK, and Australia, due to their hermeneutic of the Bible, decided that the apparent reality around them was false, rather than the text or their hermeneutic of text being at fault. Scientists, according to this view, as well as the greater part of the entirety of modern society, are part of a grand conspiracy to undermine Biblical truth with scientifically fabricated falsehoods about the nature of the world. That was how they dealt with contradictions generated by their hermeneutic.
The solution of classical Protestantism, as reasoned out by Martin Luther, was to alter the text in question (the Bible) by "harmonizing it", which meant throwing out select texts he found objectionable:
The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture, and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.
("The Confession of Faith of the Westminster Assembly of Divines", Article III, https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Conf ... estminster)
You share your solutions to the contradictions you appear to find with Luther and his classical Protestants.
1.You read the Sutta Nikaya presuming that it is a standalone historical-materialist work in which there is intended to be found a historical-materialist truth.
2. You encounter apparent contradictions inside the text itself (particularly between Dhp 153-4 and MN 22, for instance, using examples from what you have said here).
3. Instead of exercising epistemological humility, and questioning your hermeneutic that produced a flawed reading of the text, you decide that MN 22 is inauthentic and invent, based on no evidence, a narrative that a "king [was] trying to quell noisy dissent when trying to force convert his realm to one religion and dissension in this religion [was] making it hard for him to do". I can only assuming you are accusing Ashoka of Dharma-contamination?
davidbrainerd wrote:I feel no compulsion to harmonize the passages that obviously require a self or soul (like Dhammapada 153-154) with the suttas that seem clearly inauthentic
Declaring certain suttas inauthentic is
a harmonization effort, just as much as it was when Luther declared the apocrypha inauthentic.
"Oh I see your village Buddhism from, Thailand, or Sri Lanka, or whatever... Let me teach you what Buddha REALLY said with my superior textual criticism that can sort out the mess that you put your suttas into."
Surely you don't think the average village Buddhist is an academically orthodox Theravadin pushing anatta to the extreme of denying there is a soul to be reborn, get enlightened and go to nibbana. The average village Buddhist would be making the same arguments I am making against academic orthodoxy, just as your average Christian follows a much looser definition of the Trinity than what academic theology says is technically orthodox.
Theravadin orthodoxy is neither "academic" nor has it ever had a special "academic orthodoxy" for scholarly-minded monks or laypeople. It is well-established in all circles of anything you could call "mainstream Buddhist orthodoxy" that the anatta-teaching and the Sutta Nikaya do not point to a true self or permanent soul. Only in the wildest fringe groups is this complicated by dissent of any sort because it is a foundation belief to the faith. Even in Mahayana, there is no doctrine of a true self (not even the Tathāgatagarbha
doctrine advocates for this, although people often claim so).
Yes, average Christians lack the technical Hellenistic vocabulary of Greek metaphysics that would be necessary to expound the trinity exactly as academics do, or as the bishops at the Council of Nicaea did, but every orthodox Christian (small 'o') can say: "God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit". No Greek metaphysical vocabulary required. Similarly, all orthodox Buddhists can say "all things are not the self" or "the self is absent in all things", in their respective languages, without needing a greatly expanded Indic vocabulary to get into the nitty-gritty of an exhaustive list of all specific manners and ways that X or Y isn't self.
We are assuming orthodox Buddhists and Christians here, not just anyone born whose parents happened to follow X or Y religion, and who half-learned random facts about the tradition. Orthodoxy and orthopraxy require that the practitioner actually take some interest in their religion and want to follow it.
What you are doing is taking an interest in the religion, but not on its own terms. You are trying to stretch Buddhism over the canvas of the Western historical-materialist mindset because you aren't questioning your own hermeneutic.
Earlier in this post, I mentioned that when you came to step 3 of the process of altering a text based on historical-materialist hermeneutical assumptions, you should have exercised "epistemological humility". If you have done that instead, you would have perhaps stumbled upon the correct Theravada hermeneutic that is
appropriate for reading the texts because it is the same hermeneutic that produced the texts
, therefore appropriate by default.
Here it is:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
davidbrainerd wrote:I hope you're not talking about the silly monk in The Questions of King Milinda who says a chariot is none of the parts of the chariot by itself nor the combination of the parts, but then turns around and says it is the combination of the parts. He can't even see that he contradicted himself. He's clearly no Buddha.
Whether the monk Nāgasena really existed is a moot point. I think it more likely that the Milindapañha used a fictitious character to illustrate what might otherwise have been a dry doctrinal treatise.
This is an example of the appropriate hermeneutic to be applied to the suttas. Like I said earlier, the suttas were never intended to
constitute a standalone "do-it-yourself" complete Buddhadharma, even when approached with the appropriate hermeneutic.
Your historical-materialist hermeneutic causes you to read "The Questions of King Milinda" as a historical-materialist text, when that isn't what it is, or what any of the suttas are, for that matter. Whether the suttas contain historical-materialist "truth", or not, is secondary to their purpose, which is the communicating of the perspective of the "truth" that they were written to communicate: Buddhadharma. The monk in question, whom you have hastily deemed "silly", need not have ever materially existed, as pointed out by Bhante Bhikkhu Pesala, because a historical-materialist hermeneutic should not been presumptively applied to these texts.
The fact that you determine that the monk "can't even see that he contradicted himself" illustrates that somewhere, either consciously or unconsciously, you are placing yourself as superior in discernment and attainment than the very compilers of the Pali Canon itself. You are presuming that they compiled this document, preserved it, disseminated it, without noticing these apparent discrepancies. These things are already well-noticed and well-accounted-for in the teaching. The West aren't the first people to look critically at the Theravada scriptures, the Theravadins have been doing it far longer.
davidbrainerd wrote: mikenz66 wrote:
These are not modern, revisionist, ideas. The issues are discussed ancient commentaries, such as the Visuddhimagga:
Yep, the atheist/materialist infiltration had already started by the 5th century AD/CE. And? Its not ancient if it ain't BCE.
If you are seriously and legitimately trying to argue that Buddhaghoṣa is an atheist, or a materialist, "infiltrating" the Dhamma, why are you interesting in being a Buddhist? You obviously consider your own Western cultural viewpoint and ideologies superior to anything that Theravada hermeneutics and teaching can provide you.
What you seem to do be doing is creating your own sect of pseudo-Buddhism rather than humbling the notions of cultural superiority embedded in your hermeneutic application and just meeting Buddhism, in its fullness and entirety, on its own grounds, to learn about it on neutral terms, without preconceptions that certain things are "wrong" because they don't make sense on your first-glance.
Like I said before, you can't think that Western moderns are the first people to realize that some things in the Pali Canon, when viewed on purely materialistic ground, do legitimately appear to contradict each other on the surface. We didn't compile it, we didn't preserve it for years. All of the "apparent" contradictions in the Pali Canon, in the Dhamma in general, as it has been preserved in the School of the Elders, are accounted for and explained if you are willing to embrace the fullness of the tradition and the proper pedagogical hermeneutic implied in the phrase "fullness of the tradition".