Making a Sutta Practice Life List

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BKh
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Making a Sutta Practice Life List

Post by BKh »

I just posted a page to readingfaithfully.org introducing the concept of a sutta practice life list. The idea comes from bird watchers who may work from a list of all the possible birds in their country and then mark off the dates they identify them. I explain the benefits I see to the practice of sutta reading in the page linked to below.

http://readingfaithfully.org/sutta-practice-life-list/

I'd be interested to hear if anyone has already done something like this for themselves.

As I write in the article, obviously just reading suttas is not enough. I see any conceit that may inadvertently arise with the practice of keeping track of what we have read to be in line with the concept of removing a thorn with a thorn.
ReadingFaithfully.org Daily Practice with the Suttas | BuddhaRupa Images of the Buddha across time and space
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Adrien
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Re: Making a Sutta Practice Life List

Post by Adrien »

I started to do my own anthology of sutta while reading them, choosing those which interested me the most. At first, I sorted them out in categories similarly to Bhikkhu Bodhi's chapters in his book "In the Buddha's words", but after a while, when I became a lot more inclined towards the usefull, and not "the interesting", I choose another system :
- Motivation : this category will help me to return to my practice, and to bring up energy and determination. For example, some suttas speaking of the amount of suffering we experienced in past lifes will be placed here.
- Inspiration : all the suttas I found very inspiring for the practice. Suttas with metaphors, examples that are speaking right to the heart. For example, this sutta does not tell me something I don't know, but I find the way it's presented as very inspiring for me (and that help me better than just bare instructions on this topic).
- Instructions : suttas that just give pure instructions about the practice (satipatthana, anapanasati, suttas about right speech, right action, etc.)
- Explanation : suttas that just help me to understand concepts of the dhamma (intellectually speaking).

Of course, I put subcategories if one category as too much suttas in it (and for these subcategories, I went back to the Bhikkhu Bodhi's chapters). Each sutta is presented by a short sentence that help me to remind what is in the sutta (wheter if it's the main subject, or the part that made me choose it for my own anthology), followed by the reference of the sutta (which is a link to the sutta if it is available on the internet).
Please don't hesitate to correct my english if you feel to
BKh
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Re: Making a Sutta Practice Life List

Post by BKh »

Just as a clarification, the type of list I am talking about on that page would just be a list of complete reads of whole books, like the DN, MN, Dhp, etc.

@Adrian-- Thanks for sharing your process. I'm actually also interested in how people take notes and keep track of what they find important. Perhaps I'll start another thread.
ReadingFaithfully.org Daily Practice with the Suttas | BuddhaRupa Images of the Buddha across time and space
chownah
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Re: Making a Sutta Practice Life List

Post by chownah »

If this helps some to understand the teachings then it seems like it would be beneficial to some. In the list of things to record after finishing a collection or book it might be good to also list who did the translation. Also, it would be good when finishing the book to write something about one's impression, points of agreement and disagreement, etc....consider that it is the thinking about what has been read that is the most important (in my view at least) and writing something like this would prompt one to do just that....or even keep a journal and every time one reads one summarizes their comments when finishing.
Why not let people who read part of a collection or book record which parts they read along with the other information? Then later they could see which parts they haven't read at a glance.

Are you a librarian?....if not you might consider it as a possible career....you seem to have the natural inclination.....encouraging reading....making lists...

chownah
BKh
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Re: Making a Sutta Practice Life List

Post by BKh »

With the advice I'm giving on the site, I try not to focus on the "understand it/don't understand it" dynamic. Instead it is geared more to having perpetual daily contact with the suttas. In this way the focus can be on trying to put into practice what one understands and trusting that as one continues to have daily contact with the suttas and put them into practice, understanding will deepen.

That's where I see the value of this tool. When you finish a book, it's good to to either read it again, read a sutta book you have already read again, or read a sutta book you have not yet read. It's the perpetual daily contact that I feel helps to understand what we don't understand and put into practice what we do. At least it is one thing that does.

Of course, if writing down what you understand and don't understand is helpful, then by all means one should do that. :smile:
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BKh
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Re: Making a Sutta Practice Life List

Post by BKh »

chownah wrote: Also, it would be good when finishing the book to write something about one's impression, points of agreement and disagreement, etc....consider that it is the thinking about what has been read that is the most important (in my view at least) and writing something like this would prompt one to do just that....or even keep a journal and every time one reads one summarizes their comments when finishing.
Do you do this? If so, I'm curious if you find that the benefit for understanding comes simply in the writing down, or do you regularly review your notes?

For me, I found note taking was a drag on my connection to the text, so It's something I have a hard time recommending. Hearing how others find it beneficial would be great.
Why not let people who read part of a collection or book record which parts they read along with the other information? Then later they could see which parts they haven't read at a glance.
My general recommendation, for simplicity sake, is to read a text beginning to end and not jump around. In any case, I'm not sure how a simple list like I propose with this tool could accommodate noting bits and pieces.
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chownah
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Re: Making a Sutta Practice Life List

Post by chownah »

BKh wrote:
chownah wrote: Also, it would be good when finishing the book to write something about one's impression, points of agreement and disagreement, etc....consider that it is the thinking about what has been read that is the most important (in my view at least) and writing something like this would prompt one to do just that....or even keep a journal and every time one reads one summarizes their comments when finishing.
Do you do this? If so, I'm curious if you find that the benefit for understanding comes simply in the writing down, or do you regularly review your notes?

For me, I found note taking was a drag on my connection to the text, so It's something I have a hard time recommending. Hearing how others find it beneficial would be great.
BKh,
I do not take notes. When reading I go slowly, often line by line re-reading as necessary until I feel I know the meaning of the words...then when the words are clear I try to make sense of them relative to my experience. For me, I "review my notes" in my daily self observations where I can see how what I've read is either applicable or not to my circumstance....so my approach is not really the same as what you are advising...which is not to say that I think my approach is better....everyone benefits from developing their own approach I think.
When I was attending university (not related to Buddhism) I took fairly detailed notes for every lecture I attended....after a few years I noticed that in reviewing for a text I rarely referred to my notes at all...I would typically skim the textbook and re-read things I thought were important....but ignored my notes....I eventually came to the conclusion that for me the act of writing things down was a learning technique in and of itself....it might be that the writing kept me actively on topic or it might be that the writing helped my brain to more easily store information....or maybe it was something else...
chownah
BKh
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Re: Making a Sutta Practice Life List

Post by BKh »

chownah wrote:I do not take notes. When reading I go slowly, often line by line re-reading as necessary until I feel I know the meaning of the words...then when the words are clear I try to make sense of them relative to my experience. For me, I "review my notes" in my daily self observations where I can see how what I've read is either applicable or not to my circumstance....
Hmm. What you are doing is exactly what I would propose people do. Sadhu, sadhu, anumodami!
chownah wrote:so my approach is not really the same as what you are advising...which is not to say that I think my approach is better....everyone benefits from developing their own approach I think.
I must have explained things very poorly. Sorry about that. I need to review what I have written. Perhaps the sutta practice life list was not a good thing to ask about feedback on.

I guess one of the reasons I think the life list is valuable is for people who do not take notes to have some minimal record of what material has been covered and when. It is, of course, only a very, very small part of the whole process. And again, it is only to note complete books, not individual suttas.

As with your experience in Uni, I find that I rarely refer to the notes I take on the suttas, although sometimes making an outline of the structure helps me to grasp the big picture.
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dhammapal
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Re: Making a Sutta Practice Life List

Post by dhammapal »

Dear Bhante,

Thanks for the readingfaithfully link.
I have started reading the Sutta Nipata. I read one new sutta each night. First of all I re-read the sutta I started the previous night, then skim all the previous suttas up to tonight's sutta. I re-read the new sutta the next morning to wake me up when I would otherwise find it hard to concentrate. I got the idea from Memorizing the Tipitaka by Andrew Davis.

Another link I recommend is Befriending the Suttas by John Bullitt @ accesstoinsight. Then of course there is SuttaReadings.net which only has 48 suttas but are read with very meaningful voice inflection.

With metta / Antony.

PS Bhante Dhammavuddho has read the entire Majjhima Nikaya on youtube.
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icyteru
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Re: Making a Sutta Practice Life List

Post by icyteru »

read abhidhamma in daily life by nina van gorkom
abhidhamma.org
The most complete english tipitaka on the internet world. http://realtruthlife.blogspot.com .
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