Trustworthiness of Early Commentaries

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TRobinson465
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Re: Trustworthiness of Early Commentaries

Post by TRobinson465 »

Eko Care wrote: Sun Apr 04, 2021 9:18 pm
TRobinson465 wrote: Wed Mar 31, 2021 5:05 am Not that I dont agree with this assessment. But in the Kalama Sutta doesnt the Buddha say not to believe in something just cuz its probable?
  • Believing is done after studying and investigating the deep and ultimate Dhammas of a particular doctrine.
  • Before studying and investigating, we need to choose doctrines that are highly probable to be true.
  • We don't have time to study each an every doctrine/teaching available.
  • We can only study a few of them in this lifetime.
  • So we should start studying from the most probable one.
  • If someone can't be satisfied after learning and testing it for a considerable period of time, then he will move to the next most probable one.
  • And the theories of the most probable doctrine can hardly be defeated by other doctrines (without very strong evidence), if subconscious knows the probabilities.
  • This is where the probability comes in.
(* These probabilities are about authenticity. There may be some innate wise people who can distinguish the truth and fallacy just by intuition or mere investigation even without the aid of probabilities.)
Very good point. :thumbsup:
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.
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Eko Care
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Re: Trustworthiness of Early Commentaries

Post by Eko Care »

Russell Bowden: Writing down of the Pali Tripitaka at Aloka Vihara in Sri Lanka


Facts vs Theories
As so often in Buddhist Studies, and as the quotations above prove, facts are not always easy to come by. In their place theories thrive and speculations grow. These theories relates, in the main, to critical comments made in the last two centuries of European-based Buddhist Studies by a host of scholars ranging from Rhys Davids, Horner, Geiger through to Malalasekara and Law and more contemporary scholars such as Adikaram, Rahula and Gunawardana.
1. ...
2. ...
..11. ...
Almost all these theories require to be tested and can not be allowed to pass without comment.

... are not based on known facts. ...
... may be related to what they believed ....
Historical sources do not bear this interpretation out. ...
... seems to be far too radical a theory to accept.
Coëmgenu wrote: Mon Nov 07, 2016 2:41 am I hope I am not unwarranted in posting this, but the commentaries, or rather, the commentarial tradition of Buddhavacana interpretation, definitely reaches back further than Buddhaghoṣa. This is attested to in the fact that there is an Chinese text believed to be associated with and contemporaneous with the early Nikāya-āgama literary layer of Buddhavacana that is also represented by the Pāli Canon. This text is called Jiětuōdàolùn, 解脫道論, which contains many of the same, though also some different, interpretations and teachings as the Buddhaghoṣa-Visuddhimagga, despite being believed to predate it considerably by the likes of, for instance, Bhikkhu Anālayo. Whether or not Jiětuōdàolùn is authentically representative of the Dhamma or not, I would not be so bold to say, but the two texts clearly stem from a commentarial tradition of interpretation that predates Buddhaghoṣa for certain, and I do not say that with the intent to lessen the monumental contributions of Buddhaghoṣa to Buddhist discourse.
mikenz66 wrote: Sat Nov 05, 2016 3:30 am I've never seen anyone with any detailed knowledge of the history and texts claim that Buddhaghosa wrote the commentaries. All sources I am aware of say that he translated them. The Visuddhimagga is his creation, but it appears to be largely a collection of the commentarial and canonical material.
mikenz66 wrote: Sat Nov 05, 2016 5:05 am Since the Wikipedia article also states "The major commentaries were based on earlier ones, now lost, in Pakrit, which were written down at the same time as the Canon, in the last century BCE", ..
cjmacie wrote: Sun Nov 06, 2016 1:05 pm
mikenz66 wrote: ...overinterpreting some of these brief statements.
The modern mind, confronting ancient literary traditions, displays several idiosyncrasies that complicate the task.

One is the idea of "authorship", embodied in which is an assertion of identity, of self, so to speak. (Think of, for example, the whole issue of "intellectual property".) To illustrate this at another extreme, in ancient Chinese literature (philosophy, religion, medicine, etc), if a writer wanted something to be heard and respected, it would have to be phrased as "The Yellow Emperor said…", or, "According to the ancient masters…". One never touted "I have this great new idea!" That would be an affront to tradition, to the ancestors. As I have noted now and again around here, there's much in common between the ancient Indian-Buddhist mind and the contemporaneous Chinese practices – not least of which the enthusiasm which the Chinese embraced Buddhism itself.
mikenz66 wrote: ... The Visuddhimagga doesn't seem to be claiming to be presenting something new, it seems to me to be a summary of ancient commentary and experience.
Another modern aspect is the Western philosophical attraction to literal interpretation, seeing black or white – tracing perhaps back to Aristotelian logic of "non-contradiction": either A or not-A is true. This is compounded when the interpretation works through translations, using modern terms where it's an easy trap, using modern associations of those terms, to find something to quibble about when looking for "THE truth" of what is said/written long ago in the context of a different worldview.

Counter example being that extensive passage quoted above cataloging the various ways in which that key phrase in the Satipatthana-Sutta -- "ekayano ayam magga" may be viewed, and especially without any emphasis on having to eliminate all but the "correct" meaning. (C.f. Ven. Analayo's two Satipatthana books for multiple examples of both where he does honor multiple meanings, but also some where he s/t goes a bit overboard trying to assert a single "true" meaning.)

Related is the notion of "polysemous" dimensions of interpretation: "poly" = many, "semous" = meaning, as in "semantics". Illustration, again, in ancient Chinese core texts – which were, btw, largely intended, very much as ancient Buddhists texts, as mnemonic aids to an essentially oral tradition, rather than as irrefutable text-book definitions. Chinese characters ("words") being "pictographic" images, originally depicting concrete objects, were, over time extended to represent, in addition, more abstract ideas, and diverse in different areas of application. So one witnesses modern interpreters, including modern Chinese eager to out-science the Westerners, trying to prove the one true meaning of some rather obtuse ancient text. But then there are, thankfully, also interpreters – both Western and Eastern -- more attuned to the original contexts and willing to admit that the original intention might well have been polysemous expression of simultaneous multiple perspectives.

Indo-european scripts (from Sanskrit/Pali all the way down to English) are more "literal" (composed of abstract "letters") than "graphic" (as Chinese or Egyptian hieroglyphics). Non-the-less, the "meanings" in ancient Indic languages (i.e. Sanskrit, Pali,…) are often heavily imbued with symbolic or metaphorical dimensions, which readily admit of polysemous interpretation. Modern scholarship has been digging out how the Buddha appears to have used terms and images well-know in his time from their usage in Vedic, Brahmanic, and other traditions, and then overlaid, twisted their traditional meanings to communicate his radical insights into the same problem areas they were earlier used to illuminate.

The significance of such scholarly findings shows us that seeing the meaning of terms from simultaneous multiple dimensions can be critical to understanding how they were being used. E.g. to appreciate the play on words the Buddha often used get his listeners attention and guide them to new realizations.

Recognizing that dimension at work in the Buddha's texts, and seeing how it's been re-enforced over time in the core abhidhamma and commentarial practice of constantly turning words over, around, and inside-out to see their multiple semantic dimensions -- reading, e.g., the Vissudhimagga, one can't help but notice the extensive amount of the text devoted to dissecting quotations (most often from sutta-s) into the meanings of each word – we may well notice with greater insight how we, today, in fact are overlaying (commenting, if you will) the ancient texts with linguistic associations that originate in our modern mental lifestyle. If we're not acutely aware of this dimension, we're then in danger of becoming trapped by our more modern biases, and miss what treasures may be dug-up in ancient texts that, in fact, can help liberate us from our conditioned limitations.
...
sphairos
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Re: Trustworthiness of Early Commentaries

Post by sphairos »

The commentaries are indispensable, but they are not early in toto. They represent the North Indian Buddhism of the 3-4-5 centuries CE.

viewtopic.php?p=613934#p613934

Although some material and passages in them are much older.
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How true are your ways?
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Eko Care
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Re: Trustworthiness of Early Commentaries

Post by Eko Care »

sphairos wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 5:13 pm They represent the North Indian Buddhism of the 3-4-5 centuries CE.
Are you sure?
(In case of they are not directly from the Blessed One:- Does it mean they are unacceptable?)

By the way,
When we read some suttas, we have to choose between
1. Our own interpretation
2. Commentary interpretation
3. Other people's interpretations.

So what will be more wise to chose?
sphairos
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Re: Trustworthiness of Early Commentaries

Post by sphairos »

Eko Care wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 5:42 pm
sphairos wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 5:13 pm They represent the North Indian Buddhism of the 3-4-5 centuries CE.
Are you sure?
Yes.
(In case of they are not directly from the Blessed One:- Does it mean they are unacceptable?)

By the way,
When we read some suttas, we have to choose between
1. Our own interpretation
2. Commentary interpretation
3. Other people's interpretations.

So what will be more wise to chose?
You should choose neither, let the interpretations dissolve and and by such doing reveal the Truth.
How good and wonderful are your days,
How true are your ways?
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DooDoot
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Re: Trustworthiness of Early Commentaries

Post by DooDoot »

Eko Care wrote: Sun Mar 28, 2021 7:38 pm Do you have any other points or corrections ?
Sure. It is a safe space thing this topic is on the "Classical Theravāda" subforum because the rules of this forum appear to say a poster cannot disagree with the views of Classical Theravāda. In other words, one cannot post here the Commentaries are untrustworthy.
Within these forums the Pali Tipitaka and its commentaries are for discussion purposes treated as authoritative. These forums are for the benefit of those members who wish to develop a deeper understanding of these texts and are not for the challenging of the Abhidhamma and/or Theravada commentarial literature.

Guidelines for the Classical Theravada forum
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Re: Trustworthiness of Early Commentaries

Post by DooDoot »

Eko Care wrote: Sun Mar 28, 2021 7:38 pm Do you have any other points or corrections ?
I am aware one of the earliest commentaries (Dīgha Porāṇa Ṭīkā 2) on AN 10.58 is trustworthy and contrary to every current (solipsist; Yogacara) translation I have read. I recall when i was a newbie to sutta, if found AN 10.58 inspiring & intriguing and wrote Bhikkhu Bodhi's early translation on a white board when i was staying at Suan Mokkh in Thailand. The Abbot of Suan Mokkh wryly said to me Ajahn Buddhadasa had translated AN 10.58 in response to a question I had about it; but i never asked about it. I imagine Ajahn Buddhadasa would have translated AN 10.58 correctly, as I would translate it, as the early commentary explained. On this SC topic: All things are rooted in desire can be read two posters expertly 8-) use a contextual sutta approach to affirm the correctness of the commentary and to debunk the current Theravada club of Yogacara solipsists.
Piotr wrote:Because it is made with a bit of a stretch when it comes to interpreting the actual text. Take for an example Dhammapada quote:
manopubbaṅgamā dhammā
It doesn’t mean “mind is the forerunner of all things” as venerable Ñāṇananda says. What it says is that actions are preceeded by the mind. It’s rather obvious if one reads whole Dhp 1. & Dhp 2. stanzas. Compare it to AN 6.63 where the Buddha says:
Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, and intellect.
It’s the same message but put in different words.

The modern interpretations rely on this kind of twists which makes me cringe, especially because there are suttas which make explicit what is meant by this rather criptict statement: ‘chandamūlakā sabbe dhammā’.
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

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Eko Care
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Re: Trustworthiness of Early Commentaries

Post by Eko Care »

Oh! I hear a noise from the bedroom.
Re: limit the influence of secular buddhism
Eko Care wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 11:35 pm
DNS wrote: Sun Mar 21, 2021 5:09 am 3.j. Excessive posting against core Theravada principles, including kamma, rebirth, the awakening of the Buddha will not be allowed except in great rebirth thread and other topics where it may be on-topic, but not in other areas of the forum.
Appreciated.
Now the man doesn't come to my home to meet my wife. Nevertheless, he'll meet her at the toilet.
Anyway, Appreciated.
TRobinson465 wrote: Sun Mar 21, 2021 5:26 am I think this was a well thought out rule. including "excessive" in there was a nice touch because it gives leniency to people who just post one offs and aren't in your face hounding people about it, which i think was the main thing that got people annoyed.
GnosticMind
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Re: Trustworthiness of Early Commentaries

Post by GnosticMind »

''Oh! I hear a noise from the bedroom.''

''Appreciated. Now the man doesn't come to my home to meet my wife. Nevertheless, he'll meet her at the toilet. Anyway, Appreciated.''

Yesterday there was a post asking for advice on how not to ejaculate during sleep -- now the above?

What is going on? Or am I missing something?
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DooDoot
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Re: Trustworthiness of Early Commentaries

Post by DooDoot »

GnosticMind wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 11:59 pm What is going on? Or am I missing something?
It appears a certain poster is being dismantled in scholarly debate, shown to be a total amateur, and they are attempting to resort to 'Cancel Culture'. They are struggling to comprehend how my good self, Ajahn Buddhadasa and a Commentary could hold the same view on AN 10.58; yet Bodhi, Nanananda, Sujato, Thanissaro, Piya Tan, etc, adhere to a non-Commentary solipsism view of AN 10.58. In other words, this certain poster is attempting to create an Identitarian Sectarianism that simply does not exist. For example, it appears even Buddhaghosa compiled a diversity of views on the same topics in his Visuddhimagga. :alien:
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

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