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Re: parami / paramita

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  • Ong Yong Peng
    Dear Robert and friends, thanks, would you kindly share with us your findings on the study of the Tipitaka relating to the Jataka. These are my personal
    Message 1 of 20 , May 2, 2003
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      Dear Robert and friends,

      thanks, would you kindly share with us your findings on the study of
      the Tipitaka relating to the Jataka. These are my personal thoughts:

      I feel that the Jataka is an integrated part of the Theravada
      tradition. It is very much a part of the Mahayana tradition too. It
      is possible that the Jataka tales can be traced back all the way to
      Buddha's time. The stories are interesting and encoded with morals
      for the living. Being ignorant of the entire Jataka, I think it stop
      short of encouraging the practice of the training of the mind.
      Nevertheless, it is a good way of imparting children with good
      values, and is good for light reading too. The Jataka is a unique
      form of literature different from the four Nikayas. I have read that
      these tales are actually Indian folk tales modified such that the
      Buddha become the hero of the story. However, I have yet to know of
      any Indian folk tales that are similar to a Jataka story. What do you
      think? There are several places in the Nikayas where the Buddha
      related his past lives. Do you think the Buddha did tell the Jataka
      stories? The Jataka stories carries profound Buddhist ideas such as
      Kamma and Rebirth. Each book in the Kuddakha Nikaya takes a unique
      literature format, and Jataka is no exception. How does this affect
      its position within the entire Pali canon? Would an increased
      emphasis of Jataka results in a paradigm shift from the Vipassana
      practice in the Theravada tradition? Does the Jataka play a part in
      the emergence of the Mahayana tradition?

      metta,
      Yong Peng.

      --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, rjkjp1 wrote:
      My studies of the Tipitaka confirm that the Jataka is part of it. The
      commentaries to the Jataka are also associated with it and are an
      ancient part of the Theravada tradition. I find the Jataka deep in
      meaning.
    • Frank Kuan
      My personal thoughts on Jataka: It may(?) impart some good values and have limited usefulness for teaching kids rudimentary principles of morality. But then
      Message 2 of 20 , May 2, 2003
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        My personal thoughts on Jataka:

        It may(?) impart some good values and have limited
        usefulness for teaching kids rudimentary principles of
        morality. But then you can say the same of the quoran
        or the bible. If it were my own children or if I was
        in charge of educating children, I would not let them
        read Jataka, the bible, or quoran, until they had
        developed enough wisdom to discern useful principles
        of truth from rubbish. For that matter, I even ban
        myself from reading the Jataka because it has so many
        ambiguous and unclear messages. I.e. people with
        insufficient wisdom can very easily misinterpret
        unclear messages from spiritual teachings and as a
        result cause great harm to themselves and others.

        -fk


        --- Ong Yong Peng <ypong001@...> wrote:
        > Dear Robert and friends,
        >
        > thanks, would you kindly share with us your findings
        > on the study of
        > the Tipitaka relating to the Jataka. These are my
        > personal thoughts:
        >
        > I feel that the Jataka is an integrated part of the
        > Theravada
        > tradition. It is very much a part of the Mahayana
        > tradition too. It
        > is possible that the Jataka tales can be traced back
        > all the way to
        > Buddha's time. The stories are interesting and
        > encoded with morals
        > for the living. Being ignorant of the entire Jataka,
        > I think it stop
        > short of encouraging the practice of the training of
        > the mind.
        > Nevertheless, it is a good way of imparting children
        > with good
        > values, and is good for light reading too. The
        > Jataka is a unique
        > form of literature different from the four Nikayas.
        > I have read that
        > these tales are actually Indian folk tales modified
        > such that the
        > Buddha become the hero of the story. However, I have
        > yet to know of
        > any Indian folk tales that are similar to a Jataka
        > story. What do you
        > think? There are several places in the Nikayas where
        > the Buddha
        > related his past lives. Do you think the Buddha did
        > tell the Jataka
        > stories? The Jataka stories carries profound
        > Buddhist ideas such as
        > Kamma and Rebirth. Each book in the Kuddakha Nikaya
        > takes a unique
        > literature format, and Jataka is no exception. How
        > does this affect
        > its position within the entire Pali canon? Would an
        > increased
        > emphasis of Jataka results in a paradigm shift from
        > the Vipassana
        > practice in the Theravada tradition? Does the Jataka
        > play a part in
        > the emergence of the Mahayana tradition?
        >
        > metta,
        > Yong Peng.
        >
        > --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, rjkjp1 wrote:
        > My studies of the Tipitaka confirm that the Jataka
        > is part of it. The
        > commentaries to the Jataka are also associated with
        > it and are an
        > ancient part of the Theravada tradition. I find the
        > Jataka deep in
        > meaning.
        >
        >


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      • rjkjp1
        ... of ... +++++++++++++++++++++++ Dear Yong Peng, I reply in 2 parts: Some of my study of the Tipitaka focuses on the Abhidhamma - that section of the Dhamma
        Message 3 of 20 , May 2, 2003
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          ---,
          In Pali@yahoogroups.com, "Ong Yong Peng" <ypong001@y...> wrote:
          > Dear Robert and friends,
          >
          > thanks, would you kindly share with us your findings on the study
          of
          > the Tipitaka relating to the Jataka. These are my personal
          thoughts:
          >
          > I feel that the Jataka is an integrated part of the Theravada
          > tradition.
          +++++++++++++++++++++++
          Dear Yong Peng,
          I reply in 2 parts:
          Some of my study of the Tipitaka focuses on the
          Abhidhamma - that section of the Dhamma that is said
          to have one taste: "the taste of anatta". Thus when I
          read the Jataka I look at it in this
          way, which is also the way that life is here and now.
          We read of when the Buddha was an animal as a
          bodhisatta and some people laugh and say it couldn't
          have been so. We should realise, though, that in truth there was
          no Buddha in the sense of an existing being - in the
          deepest sense. The Abhidhamma and suttas shows us that
          what we thought were trees and people and animals and
          even ourself are only conditioned, concantanations of
          evanescent aggregates (khandas). When we look at a man
          or woman the Paticcasamuppada (which is also an
          important section of the Vibhanga, the second book of
          the Abhidhamma) helps us to see 'man' is simply an
          idea , a concept and that what is real are only
          fleeting moments of seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling
          etc. and then thinking which thinks about these sense
          contacts. I think knowing this we read the Jataka in a
          different way: That is that the stories in the jataka
          are illustrations of the workings of conditionality,
          especially that condition called kamma.

          If we are not yet ready to understand anatta the
          Jataka are still very useful. For example, there is
          the story of the powerful and deadly snake who decided
          not to kill. Once some boys came and pierced him with
          wooden spears and paraded him at the market. He could
          have killed them all but was so set on sila that he
          refrained. I am impatient by nature - even waiting at
          line in the bank puts me on edge at times. But
          whenever I remember that story I can't help but
          reflect how "if a snake can show patience and endure
          so much, then surely I, a human who has heard the
          Dhamma can do as much" It always makes me smile at my
          foolishness. Is the story of the snake literally
          true? I don't know. But I don't doubt it.
          ________
          Yong peng: ""There are several places in the Nikayas where the
          Buddha
          > related his past lives. ""
          __________
          That is right, I did a brief search and found one here:
          Anguttara Nikaya III.15
          Rathakara Sutta
          (Pacetana Sutta)
          The Chariot Maker

          On one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Varanasi in the Deer
          Park at Isipatana. There he addressed the monks: "Monks!"

          "Yes, lord," the monks responded.

          The Blessed One said: "Once, monks, there was a king named Pacetana .
          One day King Pacetana said to his chariot maker, 'My good chariot
          maker, in six months time from now a battle will take place. Can you
          make me a new pair of chariot wheels?'

          "'Yes, your majesty, I can,' the chariot maker replied to the king.

          "Then in six months minus six days the chariot maker finished one
          wheel. King Pacetana said to him, 'In six days time from now the
          battle will take place. Will the pair of chariot wheels be finished?'

          <snip>
          "'Now what is the reason, my good chariot maker, what is the cause,
          why the chariot wheel finished in six days, when set rolling, goes as
          far as its momentum carries it and then, twirling around and around,
          falls to the ground? And what is the reason, what is the cause, why
          the chariot wheel finished in six months minus six days, when set
          rolling, goes as far as its momentum carries it and then stands still
          as if fixed on an axle?'

          <snip>


          "Now, monks, the thought may occur to you that the chariot maker on
          that occasion was someone else, but it shouldn't be seen in that way.
          I myself was the chariot maker on that occasion. I was skilled in
          dealing with the crookedness, the faults, the flaws of wood. Now I am
          a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, skilled in dealing with the
          crookedness, faults, & flaws of bodily action; skilled in dealing
          with
          the crookedness, faults, & flaws of verbal action; skilled in dealing
          with the crookedness, faults, & flaws of mental action.""endquote
          ___________________--
          RobertK
        • rjkjp1
          Dear Group, While the Jatakas may look like simple stories they were taught because they edify and encourage the development of wholesome mental states -
          Message 4 of 20 , May 2, 2003
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            Dear Group,
            While the Jatakas may look like simple stories they were taught
            because they edify and encourage the development of wholesome mental
            states - especially the parami.
            I quote now from the Majhima Nikaya
            Sallekhasutta.m
            (8) Purity

            Cunda, it may happen, that a bhikkhu secluded from sensual desires,
            secluded from evil thoughts, with thoughts and thought processes,
            with joy and pleasantness born of seclusion, would abide in the
            first jhaana . Then it would occur to him, I abide in purity. Cunda,
            in the dispensation of the noble ones that is not purity, It is
            called a pleasant abiding here and now........
            Cunda, it may happen that a bhikkhu overcoming all the sphere of
            nothingness, would attain and abide in the sphere of neither
            perception nor non-perception. It might occur to him, I abide in
            purity. In the dispensation of the noble ones, that is not purity,
            it is a pleasant abiding here and now.

            Cunda, purifying should be done thus: Others will be hurters, we
            will be non-hurters. Others will be destroyers of life, we will not
            destroy life. Others will be taking what is not given , we will
            abstain from taking what is not given. Others will lead an unholy
            life, we will lead a life of celibacy. Others will tell lies, we
            will abstain from telling lies. Others will talk maliciously, we
            will abstain from malicious talk. Others will talk roughly, we will
            abstain from rough talk. Others will talk frivolously, we will
            abstain from frivolous talk. Others will be coveting, we will
            abstain from coveting. Others will be with an angry mind, we will
            not be angry. Others will be with wrong view, we will be with right
            view. Others will speak wrong words, we will speak right words.
            Others will be with wrong actions, we will be with right
            actions. .... Others will be released wrong, we will be rightfully
            released. . Others will be excited, we will not be excited. Others
            will be doubting, we will overcome doubts. Others will be angry, we
            will not be angry. Others will bear a grudge, we will have no
            grudge. Others will be hypocritical, we will be free from hypocrisy.
            Others will be merciless, we will be merciful. Others will be
            jealous, we will not be jealous. Others will be selfish, we will not
            be selfish. Others will be crafty, we will not be crafty. Others
            will be deceitful, we will not be deceitful. Others will be stuborn,
            we will not be stuborn. Others will be conceited, we will not be
            conceited. Others will be unruly, we will be gentle. Others will
            have evil friends, we will have good friends. Others will be
            negligent, we will be diligent. Others will be without faith, we
            will be with faith. Others will be shameless, we will be shameful.
            Others will be remorseless, we will be remorseful. Others will have
            little learrning, we will learn much. Others will be lazy, we will
            be with aroused effort..
            Cunda, I say, that even the arousing of thoughts for meritorious
            things is of much help, so what if they are followed up by words and
            actions. """ENDQUOTE

            All of these skillful actions are demonstrated in the over 500
            jatakas and accompaning commentaries. If one can take them to heart
            then much profound progress will be made.

            I wrote to a friend on dsg who had doubts about the dhammapada
            commentaries. Because these also talk about past lives his
            objections apply also to the jatakas:

            Kamma is a main conditioning factor and hence a core
            aspect of understanding anatta, no-self.
            In an earlier post I quoted the Dhammapada atthakatha:

            http://www.vipassana.info/f.htm#threegroupsof
            In this a farmer tied a straw rope round
            the neck of the ox and set fire to it, and the ox died. ""On account
            of
            this evil deed the, farmer had suffered for a long time in niraya,
            and in serving out the remaining part of his punishment, he had been
            burnt to death in the last seven existences."
            Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:
            Verse 127. Not in the sky, nor in the middle of the ocean, nor in
            the
            cave of a mountain, nor anywhere else, is there a place, where one
            may escape from the consequences of an evil deed.

            At the end of the discourse all the bhikkhus attained Sotapatti
            Fruition.
            _____
            Dharam you asked: ""Why should we be concerned with concepts such
            as 'punishment' for the old farmer for past misdeeds?""

            Often in the suttas the Buddha teaches the Dhamma in conventional
            terms (vohara vacana) and so refers to human beings and animals etc.
            Certainly, as you realise, these have no reality and are merely
            concepts used for convenience. In the case of such terms as
            punishment (unpleasant result) we know that in the true sense there
            is no one
            who receives results but that results arise by
            conditions: From the
            Visuddhimagga 172"Experiencer is a convention for mere
            arising of fruit (vipaka);"
            And Vis. XIX20 "There is no doer of a deed Or one who reaps the
            deeds
            result: Phenomena alone flow on- No other view than this is right."
            This is basic Dhamma and I am glad you bought it up as otherwise we
            might turn away from the stories in the Dhammapada of Jataka
            commentaries not realising their profundity.

            Indeed you write:
            "How is the the seeming attention paid to mythical issues consistent
            with the expectation that we should test any teaching against
            reality? [The stories of the farmer, Maha Mogallana etc. and
            references to devas etc.]"

            In part I think this is answered above but to clarify further. We
            may
            think of devas and such as mythical but the greatest myth is the
            idea
            that `we' exist now. Thus when I
            read the Dhammapada or the Jataka I look at it in this
            way, which is also the way that life is here and now.
            I think knowing this we read the
            story in a
            different way: That it is that the story
            is an illustration of the workings of conditionality,
            especially that condition called kamma.
            You further ask:
            "How is concern about kamma consistent with concentrating on what is
            just occuring in the moment?"

            Well when there is concentrating on the present this can be with
            right view or wrong view. Someone may know breath or subtle
            sensations in the body or heat or seeing but with no insight.

            So one who has some background in Dhamma knows – at least
            theoretically - that "The mental and material are really here, but
            here there is no human being to be found,for it is void and merely
            fashioned like a doll just suffering piled up like grass and
            sticks"(visuddimagga xvii31).

            And further than this one must know that nama(mentality) and rupa
            (matter) are conditioned to arise by conditions such as kamma.

            Now we cannot know what kamma done in what life produced this momnt
            of seeing consciousness. It could have been kamma done 100,000
            millions of aeons ago that was the dominant condition. But I believe
            developed insight can see how conditions work. "The succession of
            kamma and its result is only [fully]clear in its true nature to the
            Buddha's . But the succession of kamma and its result can be known
            in
            part by one practising insight" Vis. Xix17


            Back to the present moment: Didn't we, before we heard Dhamma, think
            that `our' body and mind, which we all know are here now, were
            something good? But in fact they are killers: "therefore the wise
            should see the aggregates (the five khandas, nama and rupa) as
            murderers." Visuddhimagga XiV230
            When we talk about such matter(ruap) as the eyebase, earbase etc
            which are produced by kamma (done in past lives) it is again the
            same
            as discussing anatta. "All formed bases should be regarded as having
            no provenance and no destination. For the do not come from anywhere
            prior to their arrival nor do they go anywhere after their fall. On
            the contrary, before their rise they had no individual essence and
            after their fall their individual essence is completely dissolved.
            And they occur without mastery been exercisable over them since they
            exist dependent on conditions and in between the past and future".

            No control and powerlessness is the sign of anatta. And again this
            relates to right insight into the present moment. Someone with wrong
            understanding will try to control or change the present moment
            rather
            than insighting it as it is now, rather than understanding the
            conditionality of each moment.

            Back to the story about the farmer: "At the end of the discourse all
            the bhikkhus attained Sotapatti Fruition."
            We might wonder how such an apparently simple story could lead
            directly to enlightenment. It is because this discourse teaches
            conditionality and anatta – and for those with accumulations
            (pubekata punnata, sp?) must
            lead to insight into the conditioned nature of this moment.
            RobertK
          • Ong Yong Peng
            Dear Robert, Frank and friends, thanks. Robert, it s quite a mouthful. metta, Yong Peng
            Message 5 of 20 , May 3, 2003
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              Dear Robert, Frank and friends,

              thanks. Robert, it's quite a mouthful.

              metta,
              Yong Peng
            • cheangoo
              -Dear friend on the list, In response to Yong Peng s request here are my thoughts on paramis. I view it as one of those words which have acquired its own
              Message 6 of 20 , May 3, 2003
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                -Dear friend on the list,

                In response to Yong Peng's request here are my thoughts on paramis.
                I view it as one of those words which have acquired its own loaded
                meaning, whether intended or not, but much elaborated from its
                original use. The word usually triggers off a perception full of
                such assumed meanings. In the context of the present discussion it
                often means "perfections" of mental qualities which a practitioner
                must attain on the road to full liberation. Without making too fine
                a distinction, when one practices the Noble Eightfold Path or the
                Middle Way, the development of such kusala mental states must
                necessarily come about, whether it is the primary aim or not. The
                negative aspect of blindingly assuming such meanings and their
                implications, is the often glib use of the word – such as "I don't
                have the paramis to meditate correctly or to achieve deep meditative
                states." "In these days, people do not have the paramis to achieve
                even stream-entry." As Ajahn Brahm teaches, there is no such notion
                in the suttas – what such remarks create is an excuse not to strive
                one's utmost, as frequently mentioned in the suttas, and worse, it
                creates doubt of one's ability and that doubt is exactly the
                hindrance which will block one's practice.

                Regarding the Jataka, this is again another word which has to be
                understood properly. The Jataka tales are inspiring and there must
                have been such stories in all cultures from the earliest times e.g.
                Aesop's fables. As a form of teaching moral values to the young, it
                is the exception, rather than the norm, not to fund such stories in
                any human society. But there are people who believe in the literal
                sense of the Jataka stories. Our sutta study group has finished the
                3 main Nikayas and part of the Anguttara. There are various suttas
                where the Buddha recounted a story from long ago and he ended up by
                saying "In that time, I was so-and-so". I have not come across an
                occasion when the Buddha identified himself with an animal in any of
                the stories. There are many such similes e.g. simile of the quail,
                of the leader of the deer herd, etc. In a Pali class I took a few
                years ago with Prof. Ven. Dhammavihari, he showed us passages from
                the suttas and from the Jatakas which carry identical passages of
                such animal similes except that the Jakata version always had the
                additional phrase of "In that time, I was this animal or that animal."

                Mettaa,
                Cheang Oo




                -- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, "Ong Yong Peng" <ypong001@y...> wrote:
                > Dear Robert and friends,
                >
                > thanks, would you kindly share with us your findings on the study
                of
                > the Tipitaka relating to the Jataka. These are my personal thoughts:
                >
                > I feel that the Jataka is an integrated part of the Theravada
                > tradition. It is very much a part of the Mahayana tradition too. It
                > is possible that the Jataka tales can be traced back all the way to
                > Buddha's time. The stories are interesting and encoded with morals
                > for the living. Being ignorant of the entire Jataka, I think it
                stop
                > short of encouraging the practice of the training of the mind.
                > Nevertheless, it is a good way of imparting children with good
                > values, and is good for light reading too. The Jataka is a unique
                > form of literature different from the four Nikayas. I have read
                that
                > these tales are actually Indian folk tales modified such that the
                > Buddha become the hero of the story. However, I have yet to know of
                > any Indian folk tales that are similar to a Jataka story. What do
                you
                > think? There are several places in the Nikayas where the Buddha
                > related his past lives. Do you think the Buddha did tell the Jataka
                > stories? The Jataka stories carries profound Buddhist ideas such as
                > Kamma and Rebirth. Each book in the Kuddakha Nikaya takes a unique
                > literature format, and Jataka is no exception. How does this affect
                > its position within the entire Pali canon? Would an increased
                > emphasis of Jataka results in a paradigm shift from the Vipassana
                > practice in the Theravada tradition? Does the Jataka play a part in
                > the emergence of the Mahayana tradition?
                >
                > metta,
                > Yong Peng.
                >
                > --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, rjkjp1 wrote:
                > My studies of the Tipitaka confirm that the Jataka is part of it.
                The
                > commentaries to the Jataka are also associated with it and are an
                > ancient part of the Theravada tradition. I find the Jataka deep in
                > meaning.
              • rjkjp1
                ... __________ Dear Yong peng, Sorry to be so long winded. Still at the risk of boring everyone I add more. As Frank and Cheang OO have indicated these Jataka
                Message 7 of 20 , May 3, 2003
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                  --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, "Ong Yong Peng" <ypong001@y...> wrote:
                  > Dear Robert, Frank and friends,
                  >
                  > thanks. Robert, it's quite a mouthful.
                  >
                  > metta,
                  > Yong Peng
                  __________
                  Dear Yong peng,
                  Sorry to be so long winded.
                  Still at the risk of boring everyone I add more.
                  As Frank and Cheang OO have indicated these Jataka could all been
                  myths added by monks in later times into the Tipitaka, perhaps they
                  copied aesops fables. Or the Buddha could have just added them as
                  stories not meant to be believed - like fairy stories. I can't be
                  sure of any of it. Still I take the Tipitaka (belief only, no
                  proof) to be a faithful complilation of his words and the words of
                  the great monks. The Jatakas - as far as I believe- dated from the
                  time of the Buddha. The commentaries to them also were at the same
                  time (belief only).
                  From the Anguttara nikaya book of sevens
                  (Dhamma~n~nuu sutta.m)
                  Idha bhikkhave bhikkhu dhamma~n~nuu ca hoti attha~n~nuu ca
                  atta~n~nuu ca matta~n~nuu ca kaala~n~nuu ca parisa~n~nuu ca
                  puggalaparovara~n~nuu ca.
                  (1) Katha~nca bhikkhave bhikkhuu dhamma~n~nuu hoti. Idha bhikkhave,
                  bhikkhuu dhamma.m jaanaati sutta.m geyya.m veyyaakara.na.m gaatha.m
                  udaana.m itivuttaka.m ***JAATAKA.M*** abbhuutadhamma.m vedalla.m. No
                  ce bhikkhave, bhikkhuu dhamma.m jaaneyya sutta.m geyya.m
                  veyyaakara.na.m gaatha.m udaana.m itivuttaka.m jaataka.m
                  abbhuutadhamma.m vedalla.m nayidha dhamma~n~nuti vucceyya
                  4. Dhamma¤¤åsuttaü- Knowing the Teaching.
                  007.04. Bhikkhus, the bhikkhu endowed with seven things is
                  reverential, .re. the incomparable field of merit for the world.
                  What seven?
                  Here, bhikkhus, the bhikkhu knows the Teaching, the meanings, the
                  self, the measure, the right time, the gathering and the individual
                  here and beyond.
                  Bhikkhus, how does the bhikkhu know the Teaching?
                  Here, bhikkhus, the bhikkhu knows the Teaching in expositions, mixed
                  prose and verse, in explanations, four lined verses, thus said
                  sayings, birth stories (JATAKA), wonderful things and questions and
                  answer expositions. Bhikkhus, if the bhikkhu did not know the
                  Teaching in expositions, mixed verse and prose.re. and questions and
                  answer expositions, he does not know the Teaching in this
                  dispensation.

                  The confounding of Saddhamma
                  Anguttara Nikaya book of fives 155
                  Abridged translation.
                  Monks these five things lead to the confounding, the disappearance
                  of Saddhamma. What five?
                  Herein monks, the monks master not Dhamma:. The sayings,
                  psalms...JATAKAS …..
                  This monks is the first thing...
                  The teach not others in detail as heard, as learned....
                  They make not others speak it in detail....
                  .They make no repetition of it in detail...
                  Again monks, the monks do not in their hearts turn over and ponder
                  upon Dhamma, they review it not in their minds.
                  This monks is the fifth thing that leads to the confounding, the
                  disappearance of Saddhamma

                  Dutiya saddhammasammosa sutta.m)
                  (Saavatthinidaana.m)
                  5. Pa~ncime bhikkhave dhammaa saddhammassa sammosaaya
                  antaradhaanaaya sa.mvattanti. Katame pa~nca:
                  Idha bhikkhave bhikkhu dhamma.m na pariyaapu.nanti sutta.m geyya.m
                  veyyaakara.na.m gaatha.m udaana.m itivuttaka.m **JAATAKA.M
                  **abbhutadhamma.m vedalla.m. Aya.m bhikkhave, pa.thamo dhammo
                  saddhammassa sammosaaya antaradhaanaaya sa.mvattati.
                  Puna ca para.m bhikkhave, bhikkhu yathaasuta.m yathaapariyatta.m
                  dhamma.m na vitthaarena paresa.m2desenti. Aya.m bhikkhave, dutiyo
                  dhammo saddhammassa sammosaaya antaradhaanaaya sa.mvattati.
                  Puna ca para.m bhikkhave, bhikkhu yathaasuta.m yathaapariyatta.m
                  dhamma.m na vitthaarena paresa.m vaacenti. Aya.m bhikkhave, tatiyo
                  dhammo saddhammassa sammosaaya antaradhaanaaya sa.mvattati.
                  Puna ca paraü bhikkhave, bhikkhu yathàsutaü yathàpariyattaü dhammaü
                  na vitthàrena sajjhàyaü karonti. Ayaü bhikkhave, catuttho dhammo
                  saddhammassa sammosàya antaradhànàya saüvattati.
                  RobertK
                • Ong Yong Peng
                  Dear Robert, Cheang Oo and friends, thanks again. I am no expert, but, as a Buddhist, would like to share my humble personal opinion, actually wild guesses, on
                  Message 8 of 20 , May 4, 2003
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                    Dear Robert, Cheang Oo and friends,

                    thanks again. I am no expert, but, as a Buddhist, would like to share
                    my humble personal opinion, actually wild guesses, on this issue. In
                    all aspects, I consider myself more readily open to new suggestions.

                    I have read that it is possible that the literature body that now
                    known as the Tipitaka was not formed at the First Council. I think it
                    is possible that certain suttas were put to writings earlier than
                    others. For example, the Sutta Nipata is currently considered to be
                    one of the earliest written Buddhist scriptures, earlier than the
                    Nikayas. There are also books which are not directly from the Buddha,
                    for example, the Dhammapada is just a compilation of important
                    Buddha's sayings in verses. There are also suttas scattered
                    throughout the Nikayas which are not expounded by the Buddha but his
                    disciples, chiefly Sariputta. Such suttas are however orthodox and so
                    became part of the canon. Most of these findings we can accept, the
                    tricky part is that of Jataka. Orthodox it may be, but many may find
                    certain things hard to accept on face values. In countless of
                    lifetimes past, there is no doubt that the Buddha had been born as
                    animals. However, for animals that exhibit qualities that are so
                    human-like, or qualities surpassing that of an average person makes
                    it hard to believe at times. What actually makes Jataka appealing to
                    me is the intelligence behind the story to bring out the message on
                    moral values, not whether the animal-hero was Buddha in one of His
                    past life. This is probably something useful for Buddhist/dhamma
                    teachers who need a constant source of inspiration to make their
                    classes interesting. This I think is another way we can appreciate
                    the Jataka.

                    metta,
                    Yong Peng
                  • nina van gorkom
                    Dear Cheangoo, I read your post with interest. I would like to give an example of another commentary, apart from the Co to the Caryiapi.taka, which gives all
                    Message 9 of 20 , May 4, 2003
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                      Dear Cheangoo,
                      I read your post with interest.
                      I would like to give an example of another commentary, apart from the Co to
                      the Caryiapi.taka, which gives all the perfections. I translated this in the
                      context of A. Sujin's book about the subject:
                      <The Paramatthadípaní, the Commentary to the Khuddaka Nikåya, Commentary to
                      the ³Theragåthå², Nidåna Kathå, states:

                      The perfection of paññå which supports and fulfils all the perfections, the
                      perfection of generosity and the others, of all Bodhisattas,
                      brings gradually to maturity and complete fulfilment the awakening wisdom of
                      the Buddha by which he attained Buddhahood. Also respectively, in the case
                      of the Silent Buddhas and the disciples: it brings gradually to maturity and
                      complete fulfillment the awakening wisdom of the Silent Buddhas and the
                      disciples...
                      The highest patience in the development of kusala, dåna etc., for the
                      awakening wisdom of the Silent Buddhas and of the disciples is considered as
                      effort or energy (viriya).
                      The endurance when refraining from anger is considered as patience.
                      The performing of generosity (dåna), the undertaking of síla etc., and the
                      abstaining from speech which deviates from the truth is considered as
                      truthfulness (sacca).
                      Decisiveness which is unshakable, firm, and which accomplishes what is
                      beneficial in all respects is considered as determination (adi.t.thåna).
                      Intentness on the benefit of other beings which is the foundation for
                      performing dåna, síla etc., is considered as loving-kindness (mettå).
                      Evenmindedness towards improper deeds done by other beings is considered as
                      equanimity (upekkhå).
                      Therefore, when dåna, síla and bhåvanå (mental development), or síla,
                      samådhi and paññå are present, the perfections, viriya etc., can be regarded
                      as completed.>

                      I would like to ask the readers whether this is the same as what is stated
                      in the suttas, or different?
                      Prescriptive, descriptive, I would say, I myself like a practical approach.
                      The Buddha showed cause and effect. If you develop vipassana, but you
                      neglect the daily practice of the perfections, you will always be a selfish
                      person. How can you then let go of the idea of self or become detached?
                      When you lack patience, how can you develop understanding of all phenomena
                      of life?
                      Just a few thoughts,
                      Nina.

                      op 02-05-2003 01:51 schreef cheangoo op cheangoo@...:
                      > In the
                      > local Malaysian context, this view of paramis as qualities to be
                      > perfected is accepted by many Buddhists unquestioningly, together
                      > with Jataka tales, which often is not very conducive to a deeper
                      > understanding and further practice of the Theravadan path.
                    • nina van gorkom
                      Dear Yong Peng and all, ... N: I have the Translation of the PTS, of different hands. In order to obtain the message, we have to read the verses, whereas the
                      Message 10 of 20 , May 4, 2003
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                        Dear Yong Peng and all,
                        op 02-05-2003 12:40 schreef Ong Yong Peng op ypong001@...:
                        >
                        > I feel that the Jataka is an integrated part of the Theravada
                        > tradition. It is very much a part of the Mahayana tradition too. It
                        > is possible that the Jataka tales can be traced back all the way to
                        > Buddha's time. The stories are interesting and encoded with morals
                        > for the living. Being ignorant of the entire Jataka, I think it stop
                        > short of encouraging the practice of the training of the mind.
                        > Nevertheless, it is a good way of imparting children with good
                        > values, and is good for light reading too. The Jataka is a unique
                        > form of literature different from the four Nikayas.
                        N: I have the Translation of the PTS, of different hands. In order to obtain
                        the message, we have to read the verses, whereas the prose is Commentary.
                        However, of the Co not all has not been translated. Comparing some parts
                        with the Thai, I found the English transl. of the Co. not always so clear or
                        defective. However, the verses contain the essence. Is this just light
                        reading, just for children? I like to give one example: the
                        "Silavimamsa-Jãtaka" (no. 330). I wrote about this before and I will quote:
                        <It is said that a hawk seized a piece of meat and was pecked at by other
                        birds who also wanted it, until he let go of it. Then another bird seized it
                        who was harassed in his turn until he let go of it, and then the same
                        happened to other birds who seized that piece of meat. Whoever let go of it
                        was left in peace. The Bodhisatta said:

                        These desires of ours are like pieces of meat. To those that grasp at them
                        is sorrow, and to those that let go is peace.

                        In the same Jãtaka we read about another example of the sorrow caused by
                        clinging. A female slave Pingala had made an appointment with her lover and
                        was waiting for him, but he did not turn up. So long as she was waiting and
                        hoping (asa) for his arrival she was restless and could not sleep
                        peacefully. Hope brings sorrow and the absence of hope (nirasa) brings peace
                        is the lesson taught by this example. >
                        I would like to invite the reader to consider for himself whether this
                        message is the same as what he can find in the Suttas: clinging brings
                        sorrow, dukkha (second noble Truth) and the cessation of clinging brings
                        peace (third noble Truth). Or: dependent origination in order (anuloma) and
                        the reverse of it (patiloma), the factors leading to the end of the cycle.
                        Do we profit to the full of the sutta texts (such as Jon regularly hands us)
                        and the other messages in other parts of the Tipi.taka, such as in the
                        Jatakas? Do we relate them to our own life, verify our own citta: kusala or
                        akusala? Then we shall penetrate the deep meaning.
                        Y: I have read that these tales are actually Indian folk tales modified such
                        that the
                        > Buddha become the hero of the story. However, I have yet to know of
                        > any Indian folk tales that are similar to a Jataka story. What do you
                        > think?
                        N: It does not matter to me whether old folk tales are used, the Buddha gave
                        an unique meaning to them. We also find this in the Diigha Nikaaya. For
                        example the three Vedas. The Buddha used notions people had at that time,
                        but made these into something new, quite unique.
                        Y: Would an increased
                        > emphasis of Jataka results in a paradigm shift from the Vipassana
                        > practice in the Theravada tradition?
                        N: As Rob K indicated, after the Buddha related a Jataka, we read at times
                        that people attained enlightenment. We read about backsliding monks who
                        returned to the right practice. We read about a monk who was so afraid of
                        death, even the sound of a dry leaf caused panick, but this could be
                        overcome by right understanidng. This could not have happened without
                        developing vipassana, right understanding of all phenomena of life. To get
                        the message, to profit from it, leads to being encourage to develop
                        understanding. It leads to vipassana, the way leading to the end of dukkha.
                        Nina.
                      • Ong Yong Peng
                        Dear Nina and friends, thanks for the post, Nina. I would say that most of us would agree to leave the verification of the originality of Jataka to the
                        Message 11 of 20 , May 4, 2003
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                          Dear Nina and friends,

                          thanks for the post, Nina. I would say that most of us would agree to
                          leave the verification of the originality of Jataka to the experts.
                          Thanks for pointing out that the Jataka actually only contain the
                          verses, while the stories are from the commentaries. However, Jataka
                          actually mean Birth Stories, so I would say that stories have a
                          stronger link to the verses than that in Dhammapada.

                          In another mail, you mention "prescriptive, descriptive", allow me to
                          suggest 'reflective'. That is to say to treat the story as a mirror
                          reflecting our own personality. To see the human world through the
                          eyes of animals, I think. Then the stories are products of great
                          brilliance. However, besides reflective, I would say the stories are
                          hypothetical, a possible situation in our lives, therefore I would
                          also like to boldly suggest the solutions are hypothetical in nature
                          as well. That is there is no one right way of handling a situation,
                          we just have to use our intuition and what we have learnt from the
                          dhamma and apply to the situation. For example, the story of the
                          bird. True enough, it is good to "pass around and share", but there
                          are things that we probably wouldn't like to share, say perhaps your
                          husband or wife. I may just have stated an extreme case, but
                          hopefully I bring my point across. So, I would say, yes, attachment
                          brings to suffering. But it is very hard to be completely without
                          attachment, and share everything with others, not for laypeople, I
                          would say.

                          Therefore, it would be bad, as Frank had mentioned, to use the Jataka
                          as a checklist to live our lives, or worse to judge others. That
                          would reduce Buddhism to a set of rules just like the books of law in
                          the Old Testament. We should leave Buddhism in its original
                          undogmatic and unauthoritarian form.

                          When it comes to applying the dhamma, my experience tells me it is
                          very hard to strike a balance. But here, it is not balancing between
                          serving your self-interests and God, rather it is balancing between
                          our present actions and future destiny (outcomes). For myself, as
                          long as I have minimised possbile negative future karma, I am quite
                          happy.

                          metta,
                          Yong Peng
                        • nina van gorkom
                          Dear Yong Peng, Cheango and all, people may have doubts about the stories of the Jatakas. I think it is helpful to know the difference between the teaching of
                          Message 12 of 20 , May 5, 2003
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                            Dear Yong Peng, Cheango and all,
                            people may have doubts about the stories of the Jatakas. I think it is
                            helpful to know the difference between the teaching of ultimate truth,
                            paramattha desanaa and the teaching of conventional truth, vohaara desanaa.
                            The Buddha used these two kinds of teaching. If we remember this we can
                            profit from the lessons in the Jatakas, they are, as Yong Peng says, like a
                            mirror for us personally. We can then understand the essence of the story
                            taught by way of ultimate truth.
                            Ultimate truth: kamma, and its result, vipaaka, the Dependant Origination,
                            kusala, akusala. All those qualities of the Bodhisatta which are valuable at
                            all times, for all people, such as his unlimited mettaa, his patience, his
                            determination to attain Buddhahood.
                            As to the teaching of conventional truth: those are the stories, the
                            circumstances, the people, the animals.
                            I am not sure whether experts always understand the difference between these
                            two kinds of teaching and hence reject important parts of the teachings, or
                            make issues out of what is not an issue.
                            In olden times people had already doubt about the Vessantara Jataka. We find
                            this discussed in the Questions of King Milinda: Dilemmas VIII, 1: Do all
                            Bodhisattas give away their wife and children? It is explained that he knew
                            that his grandfather could not keep his children as slaves. We also read
                            that Sakka wanted to test the Bodhisatta. We have to understand all this in
                            the right way, not as a dogma you have to believe. It depends on the
                            individual to believe it or not believe it. What is the essence: his
                            unlimited compassion to become the sammasambuddha and help all beings to
                            find the way out of the cycle. It is not said in this Jataka that we have to
                            do likewise.
                            Was the Buddha also a wise animal in some lives? This is not an issue. You
                            may believe it or not. I am inclined to think, why not, we also were animals
                            in past lives, since we have had countless lives. Animals which talk, why
                            not? But I like to believe this, since I have a lot of affinity with
                            animals. That is personal. These are not real issues, they are not dogmas.
                            Nina.
                            op 05-05-2003 02:17 schreef Ong Yong Peng op ypong001@...:
                            >
                            > In another mail, you mention "prescriptive, descriptive", allow me to
                            > suggest 'reflective'. That is to say to treat the story as a mirror
                            > reflecting our own personality.
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