Re: (2)Jataka /dhammapada/parami
- --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, "Ong Yong Peng" <ypong001@y...> wrote:
> Dear Robert, Frank and friends,__________
> thanks. Robert, it's quite a mouthful.
> 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
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
(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.
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
The confounding of Saddhamma
Anguttara Nikaya book of fives 155
Monks these five things lead to the confounding, the disappearance
of Saddhamma. What five?
Herein monks, the monks master not Dhamma:. The sayings,
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)
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.
- 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
- 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
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
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
Therefore, when dåna, síla and bhåvanå (mental development), or síla,
samådhi and paññå are present, the perfections, viriya etc., can be regarded
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
Just a few thoughts,
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.
- Dear Yong Peng and all,
op 02-05-2003 12:40 schreef Ong Yong Peng op ypong001@...:
>N: I have the Translation of the PTS, of different hands. In order to obtain
> 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.
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
> Buddha become the hero of the story. However, I have yet to know ofN: It does not matter to me whether old folk tales are used, the Buddha gave
> any Indian folk tales that are similar to a Jataka story. What do you
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 VipassanaN: As Rob K indicated, after the Buddha related a Jataka, we read at times
> practice in the Theravada tradition?
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.
- 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
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
- 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
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.
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.