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Translating by the views of Theravadin commentaries

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  • Kumara Bhikkhu
    Dear all, I m writing an article on samadhi, proposing some new English translations for some key Pali terms related to samadhi. I wanted to add something that
    Message 1 of 21 , Jan 4, 2012
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      Dear all,

      I'm writing an article on samadhi, proposing some new English translations for some key Pali terms related to samadhi. I wanted to add something that I remember Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi said. It's about his mentor, Ven Nyanaponika advising that in translating the Pali they should go by the views of Theravadin commentaries. I can't find where I've read that now. Anyone has any idea?

      Kumara
    • Nina van Gorkom
      Venerable Bhikkhu Kumara, ... N: It is a very sound advice, otherwise we get lost in speculations. Sometimes the suttas are brief and when reading the ancient
      Message 2 of 21 , Jan 8, 2012
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        Venerable Bhikkhu Kumara,
        Op 4-jan-2012, om 10:03 heeft Kumara Bhikkhu het volgende geschreven:

        > I'm writing an article on samadhi, proposing some new English
        > translations for some key Pali terms related to samadhi. I wanted
        > to add something that I remember Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi said. It's about
        > his mentor, Ven Nyanaponika advising that in translating the Pali
        > they should go by the views of Theravadin commentaries. I can't
        > find where I've read that now. Anyone has any idea?
        -------
        N: It is a very sound advice, otherwise we get lost in speculations.
        Sometimes the suttas are brief and when reading the ancient
        commentary I find that it clarifies the meaning. And when wondering
        about a term used in the commentary I find that the subcommentary,
        the Tiika, by Dhammapala is very helpful. The Tiika has many
        reminders too about vipassanaa. Just by reading I appreciated the
        commentaries more and more. I find Buddhaghosa's emphasis on
        vipassanaa pa~n~naa and on the cycle, vatta, and freedom from the
        cycle, vivatta, very beneficial.

        With respect,
        Nina.



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Kumara Bhikkhu
        ... I forgot that I could ask him directly when I sent this. Anyway he replied: I don t recall writing anything like that about Ven. Nyanaponika, and I think
        Message 3 of 21 , Jan 9, 2012
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          Nina van Gorkom wrote thus at 15:05 09/01/2012:
          >Venerable Bhikkhu Kumara,
          >Op 4-jan-2012, om 10:03 heeft Kumara Bhikkhu het volgende geschreven:
          >
          >> I'm writing an article on samadhi, proposing some new English
          >> translations for some key Pali terms related to samadhi. I wanted
          >> to add something that I remember Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi said. It's about
          >> his mentor, Ven Nyanaponika advising that in translating the Pali
          >> they should go by the views of Theravadin commentaries. I can't
          >> find where I've read that now. Anyone has any idea?
          >-------
          >N: It is a very sound advice, otherwise we get lost in speculations.
          >Sometimes the suttas are brief and when reading the ancient
          >commentary I find that it clarifies the meaning. And when wondering
          >about a term used in the commentary I find that the subcommentary,
          >the Tiika, by Dhammapala is very helpful. The Tiika has many
          >reminders too about vipassanaa. Just by reading I appreciated the
          >commentaries more and more. I find Buddhaghosa's emphasis on
          >vipassanaa pa~n~naa and on the cycle, vatta, and freedom from the
          >cycle, vivatta, very beneficial.

          I forgot that I could ask him directly when I sent this. Anyway he replied:

          I don't recall writing anything like that about
          Ven. Nyanaponika, and I think it unlikely that
          Ven. Nyanaponika would have given such advice.
          Perhaps you are thinking of the following, which I
          just took off the internet. It refers, however,
          not to Ven. Nyanaponika but to my first teacher,
          Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitreya:

          For two and a half years (1972-75) I lived
          with Ven. Ananda Maitreya at Sri Nandaramaya.
          During this happy period I received regular
          instruction from him in Pali, Suttanta, and
          Abhidhamma, fields in which his erudition was
          impeccable.... During this period the
          Mahanayaka Thera always reminded me of the
          importance of relying on the Theravada
          commentarial tradition in order to understand
          the Pali Dhamma correctly. He implanted in my
          mind a profound respect for the Atthakathas
          and Tikas, the Commentaries and
          Subcommentaries, an attitude which inspired
          and guided my study of the Suttas and the
          Abhidhamma. Although I subsequently came to
          see the need to distinguish among the various
          strata in the evolution of Theravada Buddhist
          thought, this early advice from my teacher
          helped to steer me away from fruitless
          interpretations often rooted in little more
          than the pride and cleverness of the
          expositor.


          Keen followers of Bhikkhu Bodhi�s translation works would notice that he, in his later works, has become clearly willing to deviate from commentarial interpretations. This change includes the choice of words, such as having 'vitakka' and 'vicaara' in the Suttas as 'thought' and 'examination', instead of the commentary-based 'applied thought' and 'sustained thought' (which are more popularly known in the Theravaadin world as 'initial application' and 'sustained application'. These clearly reflects "Visuddhimagga jhaana".) The newer translations restore the meanings of the words as used in the Suttas. This reflects his later view of �the need to distinguish among the various strata in the evolution of Theravada Buddhist thought�.

          kb
        • Nina van Gorkom
          Venerable Bhikkhu Kumara, ... N: Thank you for your interesting quote. I know that in different books different translations are given, and that is why it is
          Message 4 of 21 , Jan 10, 2012
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            Venerable Bhikkhu Kumara,
            Op 9-jan-2012, om 11:54 heeft Kumara Bhikkhu het volgende geschreven:

            > This change includes the choice of words, such as having 'vitakka'
            > and 'vicaara' in the Suttas as 'thought' and 'examination', instead
            > of the commentary-based 'applied thought' and 'sustained
            > thought' (which are more popularly known in the Theravaadin world
            > as 'initial application' and 'sustained application'. These clearly
            > reflects "Visuddhimagga jhaana".)
            -------
            N: Thank you for your interesting quote.
            I know that in different books different translations are given, and
            that is why it is good to always add the Pali term. It is difficult
            to give a good translation of vitakka and vicaara, and I do not mind
            so much what words are used. The main thing is understanding the
            characteristics of those realities. The commentaries use similes to
            explain their subtle differences and I think that these are helpful.
            ------
            with respect,
            Nina.



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Kumara Bhikkhu
            ... What if the commentaries got it wrong? kb
            Message 5 of 21 , Jan 10, 2012
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              Nina van Gorkom wrote thus at 18:37 10/01/2012:
              >The main thing is understanding the
              >characteristics of those realities. The commentaries use similes to
              >explain their subtle differences and I think that these are helpful.

              What if the commentaries got it wrong?

              kb
            • Peter Tomlinson
              Well, that s the crux of the issue for some of us and for Nanavira Thera, see Notes on Dhamma if you wish a full exegesis on that score Pete Tomlinson
              Message 6 of 21 , Jan 13, 2012
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                Well, that's the crux of the issue for some of us and for Nanavira Thera, see Notes on Dhamma if you wish a full exegesis on that score
                Pete Tomlinson



                ________________________________
                From: Kumara Bhikkhu <kumara.bhikkhu@...>
                To: Pali@yahoogroups.com
                Cc: Pali@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 9:50 PM
                Subject: Re: [Pali] Translating by the views of Theravadin commentaries


                 
                Nina van Gorkom wrote thus at 18:37 10/01/2012:
                >The main thing is understanding the
                >characteristics of those realities. The commentaries use similes to
                >explain their subtle differences and I think that these are helpful.

                What if the commentaries got it wrong?

                kb




                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Noah Yuttadhammo
                What if Nyanavira got it wrong? we re all commentators, after all... whatever works, I say. ... [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                Message 7 of 21 , Jan 14, 2012
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                  What if Nyanavira got it wrong? we're all commentators, after all...
                  whatever works, I say.
                  On Jan 14, 2012 3:29 PM, "Peter Tomlinson" <gnanayasa@...> wrote:

                  > Well, that's the crux of the issue for some of us and for Nanavira Thera,
                  > see Notes on Dhamma if you wish a full exegesis on that score
                  > Pete Tomlinson
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > ________________________________
                  > From: Kumara Bhikkhu <kumara.bhikkhu@...>
                  > To: Pali@yahoogroups.com
                  > Cc: Pali@yahoogroups.com
                  > Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 9:50 PM
                  > Subject: Re: [Pali] Translating by the views of Theravadin commentaries
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > Nina van Gorkom wrote thus at 18:37 10/01/2012:
                  > >The main thing is understanding the
                  > >characteristics of those realities. The commentaries use similes to
                  > >explain their subtle differences and I think that these are helpful.
                  >
                  > What if the commentaries got it wrong?
                  >
                  > kb
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > ------------------------------------
                  >
                  > - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                  > Paa.li-Parisaa - The Pali Collective
                  > [Homepage] http://www.tipitaka.net
                  > [Pali Document Framework] http://www.tipitaka.net/forge/pdf/
                  > [Files] http://www.geocities.com/paligroup/
                  > [Send Message] pali@yahoogroups.com
                  > Yahoo! Groups members can set their delivery options to daily digest or
                  > web only.Yahoo! Groups Links
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Lennart Lopin
                  Ven. Katukurunde Nyanananda s (Concept and Reality, Magic of the mind, Nibbana sermons) approach in this regard is also quite interesting. With a deep respect
                  Message 8 of 21 , Jan 14, 2012
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                    Ven. Katukurunde Nyanananda's (Concept and Reality, Magic of the mind, Nibbana sermons) approach in this regard is also quite interesting. With a deep respect towards the commentarial tradition he still has no problem of pointing out when it is in conflict with the Dhamma & Vinaya and would explain by quoting the relevant passages.

                    Karl Eugen Neumann translated ignoring the commentaries and felt that they did not help in understanding the suttas, especially when it came to the deeper implications of the suttas. A very interesting read on this topic is his introduction to his "Buddhistische Anthologie" and "Majjhimanikayo".

                    Metta,
                    Lennart

                    On Jan 14, 2012, at 8:40 AM, Noah Yuttadhammo <yuttadhammo@...> wrote:

                    > What if Nyanavira got it wrong? we're all commentators, after all...
                    > whatever works, I say.
                    > On Jan 14, 2012 3:29 PM, "Peter Tomlinson" <gnanayasa@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > > Well, that's the crux of the issue for some of us and for Nanavira Thera,
                    > > see Notes on Dhamma if you wish a full exegesis on that score
                    > > Pete Tomlinson
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > ________________________________
                    > > From: Kumara Bhikkhu <kumara.bhikkhu@...>
                    > > To: Pali@yahoogroups.com
                    > > Cc: Pali@yahoogroups.com
                    > > Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 9:50 PM
                    > > Subject: Re: [Pali] Translating by the views of Theravadin commentaries
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > Nina van Gorkom wrote thus at 18:37 10/01/2012:
                    > > >The main thing is understanding the
                    > > >characteristics of those realities. The commentaries use similes to
                    > > >explain their subtle differences and I think that these are helpful.
                    > >
                    > > What if the commentaries got it wrong?
                    > >
                    > > kb
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > ------------------------------------
                    > >
                    > > - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                    > > Paa.li-Parisaa - The Pali Collective
                    > > [Homepage] http://www.tipitaka.net
                    > > [Pali Document Framework] http://www.tipitaka.net/forge/pdf/
                    > > [Files] http://www.geocities.com/paligroup/
                    > > [Send Message] pali@yahoogroups.com
                    > > Yahoo! Groups members can set their delivery options to daily digest or
                    > > web only.Yahoo! Groups Links
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    >
                    > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    >
                    >


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Nina van Gorkom
                    Venerable Bhikkhu Kumara, ... N: The oldest commentaries, the Mahaa-Atthakathaa, the Mahaa-paccari and the Kuru.n.di are now lost. Buddhaghosa translated into
                    Message 9 of 21 , Jan 14, 2012
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                      Venerable Bhikkhu Kumara,
                      Op 11-jan-2012, om 4:50 heeft Kumara Bhikkhu het volgende geschreven:

                      > What if the commentaries got it wrong?
                      ------
                      N: The oldest commentaries, the Mahaa-Atthakathaa, the Mahaa-paccari
                      and the Kuru.n.di are now lost. Buddhaghosa translated into Pali,
                      compiled and arranged material from the ancient commentaries which
                      were written in Singhalese.
                      More convincing than historical arguments is reading the ancient
                      commentaries themselves as we have them today. The Visuddhimamagga
                      and the Atthasaalini constantly refer to texts of the Tipi.taka. I
                      just read to my husband about stinginess, as defined in the
                      Dhammasanga.ni (first book of the Abhidhamma) and elaborated on in
                      the commentary. Just an example to show that one can see for oneself
                      whether this is helpful or not in daily life:

                      {Atthasālinī} (II, Book II, Part II, Chapter II, 376), in its
                      explanation of the words of the Dhammasangaṇi, states that the
                      mean person also hinders someone else from giving. Stinginess can
                      motivate one to try to persuade someone else, for example one's
                      husband or wife, to give less or not to give at all. We read in the
                      Atthasālinii :

                      ...and this also has been said,
                      Malicious, miserly, ignoble, wrong...
                      Such men hinder the feeding of the poor...

                      A ``niggardly'' person seeing mendicants causes his mind to shrink as
                      by sourness. His state is ``niggardliness''. Another way (of
                      definition):- ``niggardliness is a ``spoon-feeding''. For when the pot
                      is full to the brim, one takes food from it by a spoon with the edge
                      bent on all sides; it is not possible to get a spoonful; so is the
                      mind of a mean person bent in. When it is bent in, the body also is
                      bent in, recedes, is not diffused---thus stinginess is said to be
                      niggardliness.

                      ``Lack of generosity of heart'' is the state of a mind which is shut
                      and gripped, so that it is not stretched out in the mode of making
                      gifts, etc., in doing service to others. But because the mean person
                      wishes not to give to others what belongs to himself, and wishes to
                      take what belongs to others, therefore this meanness should be
                      understood to have the characteristic of hiding or seizing one's own
                      property, occurring thus: ``May it be for me and not for
                      another''
                      (end quote).

                      --------
                      Nina.



                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Peter Tomlinson
                      yes, except Ven. Nanavira claimed to be Sotapanna, which means the arising of the Dhamma eye, not a matter of commentary, see what I mean?  He saw Dhamma,
                      Message 10 of 21 , Jan 14, 2012
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                        yes, except Ven. Nanavira claimed to be Sotapanna, which means the arising of the Dhamma eye, not a matter of commentary, see what I mean?  He "saw" Dhamma, see what Ajahn Chah says on the score of the commentaries being chicken shit instead of the eggs!
                        Pete Tomlinson



                        ________________________________
                        From: Noah Yuttadhammo <yuttadhammo@...>
                        To: Pali@yahoogroups.com
                        Sent: Saturday, January 14, 2012 7:40 AM
                        Subject: Re: [Pali] Translating by the views of Theravadin commentaries


                         
                        What if Nyanavira got it wrong? we're all commentators, after all...
                        whatever works, I say.
                        On Jan 14, 2012 3:29 PM, "Peter Tomlinson" <gnanayasa@...> wrote:

                        > Well, that's the crux of the issue for some of us and for Nanavira Thera,
                        > see Notes on Dhamma if you wish a full exegesis on that score
                        > Pete Tomlinson
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > ________________________________
                        > From: Kumara Bhikkhu <kumara.bhikkhu@...>
                        > To: Pali@yahoogroups.com
                        > Cc: Pali@yahoogroups.com
                        > Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 9:50 PM
                        > Subject: Re: [Pali] Translating by the views of Theravadin commentaries
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > Nina van Gorkom wrote thus at 18:37 10/01/2012:
                        > >The main thing is understanding the
                        > >characteristics of those realities. The commentaries use similes to
                        > >explain their subtle differences and I think that these are helpful.
                        >
                        > What if the commentaries got it wrong?
                        >
                        > kb
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > ------------------------------------
                        >
                        > - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                        > Paa.li-Parisaa - The Pali Collective
                        > [Homepage] http://www.tipitaka.net
                        > [Pali Document Framework] http://www.tipitaka.net/forge/pdf/
                        > [Files] http://www.geocities.com/paligroup/
                        > [Send Message] pali@yahoogroups.com
                        > Yahoo! Groups members can set their delivery options to daily digest or
                        > web only.Yahoo! Groups Links
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >

                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Ong Yong Peng
                        Dear Pete, please provide reference to your quotes. Thank you. metta, Yong Peng.
                        Message 11 of 21 , Jan 15, 2012
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                          Dear Pete,

                          please provide reference to your quotes. Thank you.

                          metta,
                          Yong Peng.


                          --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, Peter Tomlinson wrote:
                          >
                          > yes, except Ven. Nanavira claimed to be Sotapanna, which means the arising of the Dhamma eye, not a matter of commentary, see what I mean?  He "saw" Dhamma, see what Ajahn Chah says on the score of the commentaries being chicken shit instead of the eggs!
                          > Pete Tomlinson
                        • Yuttadhammo
                          ... A true follower of the Buddha should have few desires. He should be content with what he has and he should try to lessen his defilements. He should have
                          Message 12 of 21 , Jan 15, 2012
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                            On 01/15/2012 01:00 PM, Peter Tomlinson wrote:
                            > yes, except Ven. Nanavira claimed to be Sotapanna, which means the arising of the Dhamma eye, not a matter of commentary, see what I mean? He "saw" Dhamma,

                            A true follower of the Buddha should have few desires. He should be
                            content with what he has and he should try to lessen his
                            defilements. He should have little desire for material possessions
                            or attendants. He should not want to speak of his accomplishments in
                            the study of scriptures or in the practice of meditation. He should
                            keep the depth of his learning or his spiritual attainments to
                            himself. A true noble one does not reveal his spiritual insight
                            although he wants to share it with other people. It is only the
                            religious impostor who calls himself a noble one or an Arahant.

                            -- Mahasi Sayadaw, "On the Sallekha Sutta"

                            But, if we're keeping score, Buddhaghosa is understood to have been an
                            arahant, contrary to what Nyanavira et al have claimed:

                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhaghosa#Critics
                            http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=2774&start=20#p39669

                            > see what Ajahn Chah says on the score of the commentaries being chicken shit instead of the eggs!
                            > Pete Tomlinson
                            I believe you are thinking of the story regarding a woman who studied
                            the abhidhamma, and when asked whether she practised accordingly, she
                            said no. Ajaan Chah replied, quite aptly, “Madam, you are like a woman
                            who keeps chickens in her yard and goes around picking up the chicken
                            shit instead of the eggs.”

                            source:
                            http://books.google.lk/books?id=cAJDRQkkTdIC&pg=PT231&lpg=PT231&dq=ajahn+chah+chicken+shit&source=bl&ots=p-IpQkM1yW&sig=e7DesppozJ6GfqtCPtbfN-_cRx8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=H7oST8GWAdDOrQeD5ZmBAg&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=ajahn%20chah%20chicken%20shit&f=false

                            I can't believe such a reverend monk would call the commentaries chicken
                            shit, but if you have a quote, I'd be happy to change my mind (about his
                            reverence, of course :P )

                            Also, the Thai word is kii kai, which just means chicken droppings and
                            has none of the bad connotations of the word "shit" in the English
                            language; it seems that his students have been using the word for shock
                            value, none of which is obtained in the original Thai.

                            Blessings,

                            Yuttadhammo

                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > ________________________________
                            > From: Noah Yuttadhammo<yuttadhammo@...>
                            > To: Pali@yahoogroups.com
                            > Sent: Saturday, January 14, 2012 7:40 AM
                            > Subject: Re: [Pali] Translating by the views of Theravadin commentaries
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > What if Nyanavira got it wrong? we're all commentators, after all...
                            > whatever works, I say.
                            > On Jan 14, 2012 3:29 PM, "Peter Tomlinson"<gnanayasa@...> wrote:
                            >
                            >> Well, that's the crux of the issue for some of us and for Nanavira Thera,
                            >> see Notes on Dhamma if you wish a full exegesis on that score
                            >> Pete Tomlinson
                            >>
                            >>
                            >>
                            >> ________________________________
                            >> From: Kumara Bhikkhu<kumara.bhikkhu@...>
                            >> To: Pali@yahoogroups.com
                            >> Cc: Pali@yahoogroups.com
                            >> Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 9:50 PM
                            >> Subject: Re: [Pali] Translating by the views of Theravadin commentaries
                            >>
                            >>
                            >>
                            >> Nina van Gorkom wrote thus at 18:37 10/01/2012:
                            >>> The main thing is understanding the
                            >>> characteristics of those realities. The commentaries use similes to
                            >>> explain their subtle differences and I think that these are helpful.
                            >> What if the commentaries got it wrong?
                            >>
                            >> kb
                            >>
                            >>
                            >>
                            >>
                            >> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            >>
                            >>
                            >>
                            >> ------------------------------------
                            >>
                            >> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                            >> Paa.li-Parisaa - The Pali Collective
                            >> [Homepage] http://www.tipitaka.net
                            >> [Pali Document Framework] http://www.tipitaka.net/forge/pdf/
                            >> [Files] http://www.geocities.com/paligroup/
                            >> [Send Message] pali@yahoogroups.com
                            >> Yahoo! Groups members can set their delivery options to daily digest or
                            >> web only.Yahoo! Groups Links
                            >>
                            >>
                            >>
                            >>
                            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > ------------------------------------
                            >
                            > - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                            > Paa.li-Parisaa - The Pali Collective
                            > [Homepage] http://www.tipitaka.net
                            > [Pali Document Framework] http://www.tipitaka.net/forge/pdf/
                            > [Files] http://www.geocities.com/paligroup/
                            > [Send Message] pali@yahoogroups.com
                            > Yahoo! Groups members can set their delivery options to daily digest or web only.Yahoo! Groups Links
                            >
                            >
                            >


                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • Kumara Bhikkhu
                            Dear Lennart and others, To me, both approaches has its value. Even going purely by Theravadin commentaries has its value. It depends on what we re seeking. If
                            Message 13 of 21 , Jan 15, 2012
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                              Dear Lennart and others,

                              To me, both approaches has its value. Even going purely by Theravadin commentaries has its value. It depends on what we're seeking. If we want to understand Theravada, then it makes perfect sense to go by the Pali commentaries, which defines Theravada. If we want to understand early Buddhist teachings, and is concerned that our view might be distorted by sectarian views, than it makes perfect sense to avoid the commentaries of any tradition.

                              I know of someone who was new to Buddhism and wanted to study Buddhism in a university. His professor insisted that he study the Suttas ONLY. No commentaries, no modern treaties, no general books on Buddhism. Just the Nikayas in Pali. (I'm not sure if that included the later books of Khuddaka.) He told he was very grateful for that, and I can see why.

                              Having been through years of learning traditional Theravada, I sometimes get confused what's actually from the Suttas and what not. It has taken years to slowly sift the "Buddhism" in my memory. The need to be alert to check what is from actually where seems to have faded off as I've gotten to a clearer picture that gels well my practice in the Dhamma. But no regrets. I had to start somewhere. Besides, it's been a pretty fun process with my teacher, Ven Aggacitta. Having earlier spent 7 years living alone to study the Tipitaka and the Commentaries, he seemed to have a harder time than me sometimes, but his truth-seeking attitude won eventually.

                              Btw, wouldn't it be a good idea that we all be conscious of our state of mind as we write our emails? As my meditation teacher Sayadaw U Tejaniya once advised me, "Kumara, when the mind has anger, it's better not to speak. Otherwise, what we say will be unwise."

                              kb

                              Lennart Lopin wrote thus at 21:58 14/01/2012:

                              >Ven. Katukurunde Nyanananda's (Concept and Reality, Magic of the mind, Nibbana sermons) approach in this regard is also quite interesting. With a deep respect towards the commentarial tradition he still has no problem of pointing out when it is in conflict with the Dhamma & Vinaya and would explain by quoting the relevant passages.
                              >
                              >Karl Eugen Neumann translated ignoring the commentaries and felt that they did not help in understanding the suttas, especially when it came to the deeper implications of the suttas. A very interesting read on this topic is his introduction to his "Buddhistische Anthologie" and "Majjhimanikayo".
                              >
                              >Metta,
                              >Lennart
                              >
                              >On Jan 14, 2012, at 8:40 AM, Noah Yuttadhammo <yuttadhammo@...> wrote:
                              >
                              >> What if Nyanavira got it wrong? we're all commentators, after all...
                              >> whatever works, I say.
                              >> On Jan 14, 2012 3:29 PM, "Peter Tomlinson" <gnanayasa@...> wrote:
                              >>
                              >> > Well, that's the crux of the issue for some of us and for Nanavira Thera,
                              >> > see Notes on Dhamma if you wish a full exegesis on that score
                              >> > Pete Tomlinson
                              >> >
                              >> >
                              >> >
                              >> > ________________________________
                              >> > From: Kumara Bhikkhu <kumara.bhikkhu@...>
                              >> > To: Pali@yahoogroups.com
                              >> > Cc: Pali@yahoogroups.com
                              >> > Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 9:50 PM
                              >> > Subject: Re: [Pali] Translating by the views of Theravadin commentaries
                              >> >
                              >> >
                              >> >
                              >> > Nina van Gorkom wrote thus at 18:37 10/01/2012:
                              >> > >The main thing is understanding the
                              >> > >characteristics of those realities. The commentaries use similes to
                              >> > >explain their subtle differences and I think that these are helpful.
                              >> >
                              >> > What if the commentaries got it wrong?
                              >> >
                              >> > kb
                              >> >
                              >> >
                              >> >
                              >> >
                              >> > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              >> >
                              >> >
                              >> >
                              >> > ------------------------------------
                              >> >
                              >> > - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                              >> > Paa.li-Parisaa - The Pali Collective
                              >> > [Homepage] http://www.tipitaka.net
                              >> > [Pali Document Framework] http://www.tipitaka.net/forge/pdf/
                              >> > [Files] http://www.geocities.com/paligroup/
                              >> > [Send Message] pali@yahoogroups.com
                              >> > Yahoo! Groups members can set their delivery options to daily digest or
                              >> > web only.Yahoo! Groups Links
                              >> >
                              >> >
                              >> >
                              >> >
                              >>
                              >> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              >>
                              >>
                              >
                              >
                              >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >------------------------------------
                              >
                              >- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                              >Paa.li-Parisaa - The Pali Collective
                              >[Homepage] http://www.tipitaka.net
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                            • Kumara Bhikkhu
                              Thanks. Yes, I m aware of his stand when producing MLDB. He seems to have change a great deal when producing CBD. I wouldn t be surprised if we see him even
                              Message 14 of 21 , Jan 15, 2012
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                                Thanks. Yes, I'm aware of his stand when producing MLDB. He seems to have change a great deal when producing CBD. I wouldn't be surprised if we see him even more open in this translation of AN. FYI, I was told by a close devotee of his that he is now very keen in comparative studies of the Pali Nikayas and Chinese Agamas. That's something that's actively been done by Ven Analayo. It's good to see that such brilliant scholars are doing this work of going closer to what the Buddha taught.


                                Someone wrote thus at 09:34 16/01/2012:
                                >There is some information in the Bhikhu Bodhi's Preface to his MN translation.
                                >Pages 16-17.
                              • Kumara Bhikkhu
                                I don t doubt that there s some good stuff in there. I too refer to them sometimes, but not before I read the early text closely first. I try not to view the
                                Message 15 of 21 , Jan 16, 2012
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                                  I don't doubt that there's some good stuff in there. I too refer to them sometimes, but not before I read the early text closely first. I try not to view the Suttas through the lens of any commentary, Theravadin or otherwise, lest the view is coloured by them.

                                  The reason why the older commentaries are now "lost", is that (as I've learnt from my teacher) they were burnt after the Atthakathas (as we now know) have been composed. Texts of other sects in Ceylon (Jetavana and Abhayagiri) met with the same fate.

                                  kb

                                  Nina van Gorkom wrote thus at 22:45 14/01/2012:

                                  >Venerable Bhikkhu Kumara,
                                  >Op 11-jan-2012, om 4:50 heeft Kumara Bhikkhu het volgende geschreven:
                                  >
                                  >> What if the commentaries got it wrong?
                                  >------
                                  >N: The oldest commentaries, the Mahaa-Atthakathaa, the Mahaa-paccari
                                  >and the Kuru.n.di are now lost.
                                  >
                                  >Buddhaghosa translated into Pali,
                                  >compiled and arranged material from the ancient commentaries which
                                  >were written in Singhalese.
                                  >More convincing than historical arguments is reading the ancient
                                  >commentaries themselves as we have them today. The Visuddhimamagga
                                  >and the Atthasaalini constantly refer to texts of the Tipi.taka. I
                                  >just read to my husband about stinginess, as defined in the
                                  >Dhammasanga.ni (first book of the Abhidhamma) and elaborated on in
                                  >the commentary. Just an example to show that one can see for oneself
                                  >whether this is helpful or not in daily life:
                                  >
                                  >{Atthasālinī} (II, Book II, Part II, Chapter II, 376), in its
                                  >explanation of the words of the Dhammasangaṇi, states that the
                                  >mean person also hinders someone else from giving. Stinginess can
                                  >motivate one to try to persuade someone else, for example one's
                                  >husband or wife, to give less or not to give at all. We read in the
                                  >Atthasālinii :
                                  >
                                  >...and this also has been said,
                                  >Malicious, miserly, ignoble, wrong...
                                  >Such men hinder the feeding of the poor...
                                  >
                                  >A ``niggardly'' person seeing mendicants causes his mind to shrink as
                                  >by sourness. His state is ``niggardliness''. Another way (of
                                  >definition):- ``niggardliness is a ``spoon-feeding''. For when the pot
                                  >is full to the brim, one takes food from it by a spoon with the edge
                                  >bent on all sides; it is not possible to get a spoonful; so is the
                                  >mind of a mean person bent in. When it is bent in, the body also is
                                  >bent in, recedes, is not diffused---thus stinginess is said to be
                                  >niggardliness.
                                  >
                                  >``Lack of generosity of heart'' is the state of a mind which is shut
                                  >and gripped, so that it is not stretched out in the mode of making
                                  >gifts, etc., in doing service to others. But because the mean person
                                  >wishes not to give to others what belongs to himself, and wishes to
                                  >take what belongs to others, therefore this meanness should be
                                  >understood to have the characteristic of hiding or seizing one's own
                                  >property, occurring thus: ``May it be for me and not for
                                  >another''
                                  >(end quote).
                                  >
                                  >--------
                                  >Nina.
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >------------------------------------
                                  >
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                                  >[Homepage] http://www.tipitaka.net
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                                • Mahinda Palihawadana
                                  It s very encouraging to hear this about Bhiikhu Bodhi. I was always a bit disappointed with the excessive reliance on commentaries that we can see in the work
                                  Message 16 of 21 , Jan 19, 2012
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                                    It's very encouraging to hear this about Bhiikhu Bodhi. I was always a bit
                                    disappointed with the excessive reliance on commentaries that we can see in
                                    the work of Bhikkhus Nyanatiloka, Nanaponika and Bodhi.

                                    Mahinda


                                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                  • Kumara Bhikkhu
                                    I can really empathize with that. :-) To be fair, even in MLDB, he mentioned in the introduction that including a comment from the commentaries doesn t mean he
                                    Message 17 of 21 , Jan 20, 2012
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                                      I can really empathize with that. :-)

                                      To be fair, even in MLDB, he mentioned in the introduction that including a comment from the commentaries doesn't mean he agrees with it. It's nonetheless more heartening to see in CDB that he is willing to voice his disagreement, sometimes citing concrete evidence from the Suttas.

                                      Kumara, a disciple of the Buddha

                                      Mahinda Palihawadana wrote thus at 14:02 20/01/2012:
                                      >It's very encouraging to hear this about Bhiikhu Bodhi. I was always a bit
                                      >disappointed with the excessive reliance on commentaries that we can see in
                                      >the work of Bhikkhus Nyanatiloka, Nanaponika and Bodhi.
                                      >
                                      >Mahinda
                                      >
                                      >
                                      >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                      >
                                      >
                                      >
                                      >------------------------------------
                                      >
                                      >- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                                      >Paa.li-Parisaa - The Pali Collective
                                      >[Homepage] http://www.tipitaka.net
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                                    • Nina van Gorkom
                                      Venerable Bhikkhu Kumara and dear Mahinda, Op 20-jan-2012, om 7:02 heeft Mahinda Palihawadana het volgende ... N: Let us say it depends on the reader what
                                      Message 18 of 21 , Jan 20, 2012
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                                        Venerable Bhikkhu Kumara and dear Mahinda,
                                        Op 20-jan-2012, om 7:02 heeft Mahinda Palihawadana het volgende
                                        geschreven:

                                        > It's very encouraging to hear this about Bhiikhu Bodhi. I was
                                        > always a bit
                                        > disappointed with the excessive reliance on commentaries that we
                                        > can see in
                                        > the work of Bhikkhus Nyanatiloka, Nanaponika and Bodhi.
                                        >
                                        ---------
                                        N: Let us say it depends on the reader what benefit he finds in the
                                        commentaries. Any teaching that can help me to understand the true
                                        characteristics of realities I find beneficial. Certainly, the
                                        commentaries are most helpful for me and they are in complete
                                        accordance with the Tipi.taka. What do they emphasize: develop
                                        understanding of the present reality so that there will be detachment
                                        from the idea of self.
                                        Quoting something I wrote before:

                                        At the very beginning of the Visuddhimagga (Ch I, 1) we read:
                                        �When a wise man, established well in Virtue,
                                        Develops Consciousness and Understanding,
                                        Then as a bhikkhu ardent and sagacious
                                        He succeeds in disentangling this tangle (S I, 13)�
                                        It is said that tangle is a term for the network of craving.

                                        The final verse of this section of the Vis. is an exhortation to the
                                        development of sati sampaja~n~na: : 'Let a wise man (pa.n.dito) with
                                        mindfulness, so practise...' . The text states: 'always mindful,
                                        sadaa sato'.
                                        Without awareness and understanding of the dhamma appearing now one
                                        will not understand the Dependent Origination and not disentangle the
                                        triple round, the tangle of ignorance and craving.

                                        The Sammohavinodanii, Dispeller of Delusion, also deals with the
                                        Dependent Origination in a similar wording and it gives at the end of
                                        the Abhidhamma Division (p. 262) an exhortation to develop the way
                                        leading out of the cycle:
                                        <[Therefore] in accordance with the Order
                                        Consisting of Competency-Learning-Reflection-Practice
                                        The wise act always in regard thereto
                                        for there is nothing other than that which more needs to be done.>
                                        As we read in the subco. to the mahaanidaanasutta as to the first two
                                        stages of tender insight, these <do not come about by the mere first
                                        interpretation of phenomena, but by the recurrent arising of
                                        knowledge about them called � repeated understanding�.>
                                        This reminds us to persevere with the development of understanding of
                                        all dhammas appearing in our daily life. There is nothing other than
                                        that which more needs to be done.
                                        ---------
                                        Nina.



                                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                      • Nina van Gorkom
                                        Dear venerable Bhikkhu Kumara and all, Thank you for your well thought out post. I shall add a few remarks. ... N: I have heard people say that commentaries
                                        Message 19 of 21 , Jan 21, 2012
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                                          Dear venerable Bhikkhu Kumara and all,
                                          Thank you for your well thought out post. I shall add a few remarks.
                                          Op 16-jan-2012, om 4:32 heeft Kumara Bhikkhu het volgende geschreven:
                                          >
                                          > To me, both approaches has its value. Even going purely by
                                          > Theravadin commentaries has its value. It depends on what we're
                                          > seeking.
                                          >
                                          -------
                                          N: I have heard people say that commentaries confuse the teachings as
                                          it is taught in the Tipi.taka. I understand this, because sometimes
                                          they are heavy reading. This may be partly because of the translation
                                          into English, it can be heavy reading. Also the similes used at that
                                          time may not appeal to us today. The Dhamma is deep and hard to
                                          understand and the sutta may seem so clear at first sight, but we are
                                          bound to miss the deep teaching contained in it and then the
                                          commentary brings out points we had not noticed before. Sometimes it
                                          helps to return to a text that did not seem clear at first and
                                          suddenly we may get it. We need patience.
                                          >
                                          > ---------
                                          > Bhikkhu K: Btw, wouldn't it be a good idea that we all be conscious
                                          > of our state of mind as we write our emails? As my meditation
                                          > teacher Sayadaw U Tejaniya once advised me, "Kumara, when the mind
                                          > has anger, it's better not to speak. Otherwise, what we say will be
                                          > unwise."
                                          >
                                          --------
                                          N: How very true. What are the cittas like at this moment, can there
                                          be awareness of naama and ruupa just as the Buddha taught?
                                          Satipa.t.thaana can be developed during whatever activity, writing,
                                          studying, speaking.
                                          I am very grateful to the commentaries for clarifying the development
                                          of insight and the understanding of the present moment.

                                          Visuddhimagga Ch VIII 39: Life, person, pleasure pain--just these
                                          alone join in one
                                          consciousness moment that flicks by. Ceased aggregates of those dead or
                                          alive are all alike, gone never to return. No [world is] born if
                                          [consciousness is] not produced; when that is present, then it lives;
                                          when consciousness dissolves, the world is dead: the highest sense this
                                          concept will allow. (Nd1 42)

                                          ---------
                                          Commentary:
                                          The words "just these alone" mean that
                                          it is unmixed with self (atta) or permanence.
                                          "When consciousness dissolves, the world is dead": just as in the case
                                          of the death-consciousness, this world is also called "dead" in the
                                          highest (ultimate) sense with the arrival of any consciousness whatever
                                          at its dissolution, since its cessation has no rebirth-linking (is
                                          "cessation never to return"). Nevertheless though this is so, "the
                                          highest sense this concept will allow (pa~n~natti paramatthiyaa) --the
                                          ultimate sense will allow this concept of continuity, which is what the
                                          expression of common usage "Tissa lives, Phussa lives" refers to, and
                                          which is based on consciousness [momentarily] existing along with a
                                          physical support; this belongs to the ultimate sense here, since, as
                                          they say "It is not the name and surname that lives."...

                                          -------

                                          N: When we suffer from a loss of dear people it is good to remember
                                          this. Life is only one moment of experiencing an object. Life,
                                          pleasure, pain, all in one moment. It is very temporary but we make
                                          it into long stories we are thinking about. The shortness of the
                                          moment, we find it all in the suttas, but we are bound to overlook
                                          such passages, or we do not realize that they all pertain to life at
                                          this moment. The Buddha spoke about seeing time and again and then
                                          about being infatuated with the outer appearance and the details of
                                          things. We do not know seeing as only the experience of what is
                                          visible, and we immediately are engaged with thinking about what is
                                          seen, usually with akusala cittas. It is all because of conditions
                                          but it is good to know. The Abhidhamma and the commentaries are of
                                          great help to disentangle our life.

                                          --------

                                          with respect,

                                          Nina.






                                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                        • Noah Yuttadhammo
                                          The only problem is that one s own view will always colour the text; that s what the commentaries are designed to dispel - whether you agree with their
                                          Message 20 of 21 , Jan 21, 2012
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                                            The only problem is that one's own view will always colour the text; that's
                                            what the commentaries are designed to dispel - whether you agree with their
                                            interpetation or not, it is a valid interpretation, and one that has lead
                                            to a more or less harmonious understanding of the texts among Theravada
                                            Buddhists.

                                            I read an article recently about a monastic dating service in Japan, and it
                                            made me wonder if the relative cohesion found in Theravada Buddhism can be
                                            attributed at least in part to the homogenous interpretation of the
                                            Buddha's teaching.

                                            Another story is of Ajaan Mun, who is claimed to remember the time of the
                                            Buddha and talked to the Buddha to find out the right interpretation. My
                                            understanding is that to this day his followers adhere to his
                                            interpretation as the Buddha's way even when it is not supported by the
                                            texts.

                                            Even an Arahant can make mistakes about the dhamma, at least that which is
                                            outside the realm of their own practice. Hearing modern teachers decry the
                                            commentarial interpretation based solely on the fact that it doesn't accord
                                            with their own limited (relative to to the vastness of the Buddha's)
                                            experience is a bit disappointing, especially in cases where the commentary
                                            offers multiple interpretations, only some of which are found acceptable.
                                            I'm thinking of the great Jhana debate, for example.
                                            On Jan 22, 2012 6:53 AM, "Kumara Bhikkhu" <kumara.bhikkhu@...> wrote:

                                            > I don't doubt that there's some good stuff in there. I too refer to them
                                            > sometimes, but not before I read the early text closely first. I try not to
                                            > view the Suttas through the lens of any commentary, Theravadin or
                                            > otherwise, lest the view is coloured by them.
                                            >
                                            > The reason why the older commentaries are now "lost", is that (as I've
                                            > learnt from my teacher) they were burnt after the Atthakathas (as we now
                                            > know) have been composed. Texts of other sects in Ceylon (Jetavana and
                                            > Abhayagiri) met with the same fate.
                                            >
                                            > kb
                                            >
                                            > Nina van Gorkom wrote thus at 22:45 14/01/2012:
                                            >
                                            > >Venerable Bhikkhu Kumara,
                                            > >Op 11-jan-2012, om 4:50 heeft Kumara Bhikkhu het volgende geschreven:
                                            > >
                                            > >> What if the commentaries got it wrong?
                                            > >------
                                            > >N: The oldest commentaries, the Mahaa-Atthakathaa, the Mahaa-paccari
                                            > >and the Kuru.n.di are now lost.
                                            > >
                                            > >Buddhaghosa translated into Pali,
                                            > >compiled and arranged material from the ancient commentaries which
                                            > >were written in Singhalese.
                                            > >More convincing than historical arguments is reading the ancient
                                            > >commentaries themselves as we have them today. The Visuddhimamagga
                                            > >and the Atthasaalini constantly refer to texts of the Tipi.taka. I
                                            > >just read to my husband about stinginess, as defined in the
                                            > >Dhammasanga.ni (first book of the Abhidhamma) and elaborated on in
                                            > >the commentary. Just an example to show that one can see for oneself
                                            > >whether this is helpful or not in daily life:
                                            > >
                                            > >{AtthasÄ linÄ«} (II, Book II, Part II, Chapter II, 376), in its
                                            > >explanation of the words of the Dhammasangaṇi, states that the
                                            > >mean person also hinders someone else from giving. Stinginess can
                                            > >motivate one to try to persuade someone else, for example one's
                                            > >husband or wife, to give less or not to give at all. We read in the
                                            > >AtthasÄ linii :
                                            > >
                                            > >...and this also has been said,
                                            > >Malicious, miserly, ignoble, wrong...
                                            > >Such men hinder the feeding of the poor...
                                            > >
                                            > >A ``niggardly'' person seeing mendicants causes his mind to shrink as
                                            > >by sourness. His state is ``niggardliness''. Another way (of
                                            > >definition):- ``niggardliness is a ``spoon-feeding''. For when the pot
                                            > >is full to the brim, one takes food from it by a spoon with the edge
                                            > >bent on all sides; it is not possible to get a spoonful; so is the
                                            > >mind of a mean person bent in. When it is bent in, the body also is
                                            > >bent in, recedes, is not diffused---thus stinginess is said to be
                                            > >niggardliness.
                                            > >
                                            > >``Lack of generosity of heart'' is the state of a mind which is shut
                                            > >and gripped, so that it is not stretched out in the mode of making
                                            > >gifts, etc., in doing service to others. But because the mean person
                                            > >wishes not to give to others what belongs to himself, and wishes to
                                            > >take what belongs to others, therefore this meanness should be
                                            > >understood to have the characteristic of hiding or seizing one's own
                                            > >property, occurring thus: ``May it be for me and not for
                                            > >another''
                                            > >(end quote).
                                            > >
                                            > >--------
                                            > >Nina.
                                            > >
                                            > >
                                            > >
                                            > >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                            > >
                                            > >
                                            > >
                                            > >------------------------------------
                                            > >
                                            > >- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                                            > >Paa.li-Parisaa - The Pali Collective
                                            > >[Homepage] http://www.tipitaka.net
                                            > >[Pali Document Framework] http://www.tipitaka.net/forge/pdf/
                                            > >[Files] http://www.geocities.com/paligroup/
                                            > >[Send Message] pali@yahoogroups.com
                                            > >Yahoo! Groups members can set their delivery options to daily digest or
                                            > web only.Yahoo! Groups Links
                                            > >
                                            > >
                                            > >
                                            >
                                            >
                                            > ------------------------------------
                                            >
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                                            > [Homepage] http://www.tipitaka.net
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                                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                          • Ong Yong Peng
                                            Dear Vens Kumara, Yuttadhammo and friends, thank you for the interesting discussion. Allow me to add my approach in regards to the translation of Pali suttas:
                                            Message 21 of 21 , Jan 31, 2012
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                                              Dear Vens Kumara, Yuttadhammo and friends,

                                              thank you for the interesting discussion.

                                              Allow me to add my approach in regards to the translation of Pali suttas:

                                              1. promote the Buddhist ideals of the middle way, wisdom and compassion
                                              2. spread the message of loving-kindness, goodwill, equity and peace
                                              3. accept that the commentaries and subcommentaries were compiled at a different age, under very different social settings, and learn to distinguish its essence
                                              4. deviations from traditional interpretation has to be based on progressive scientific knowledge, not individual claims of enlightenment or doctrinal authority
                                              5. understand the impermanence and imperfections of life, and share the values of care, harmony, tolerance and mutual respect
                                              6. at a deeper philosophical level, there has to be connections with the Buddha's teachings of the four noble truths and dependent origination

                                              + dismiss and discourage superstitious beliefs in the society
                                              + establish, not dilute, the distinction between ordained Sangha members (monks and nuns) and ordinary Buddhist followers


                                              metta,
                                              Yong Peng.



                                              --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, Kumara Bhikkhu wrote:

                                              I'm writing an article on samadhi, proposing some new English translations for some key Pali terms related to samadhi. I wanted to add something that I remember Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi said. It's about his mentor, Ven Nyanaponika advising that in translating the Pali they should go by the views of Theravadin commentaries. I can't find where I've read that now. Anyone has any idea?
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