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Regarding the Teachings

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  • christine_forsyth <cforsyth@vtown.com.au>
    Dear Group, I ve been thinking lately that much of the posting on Buddhist Lists seems to come down to arguing over points in the scriptures. I know that many
    Message 1 of 11 , Feb 1, 2003
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      Dear Group,

      I've been thinking lately that much of the posting on Buddhist Lists
      seems to come down to arguing over points in the scriptures. I know
      that many of the practitioners of the Theistic religions are People
      of the Book - are Buddhists any different, just People of a Different
      Book? Do we value 'experience' over 'sutta', or do we
      disregard 'experience' and re-interpret the world to fit the
      scripture?
      How are we supposed to regard The Pali Canon - as Holy Writ set in
      concrete? Is there an Order of Precedence? Is the Majjhima or Digha
      or Samyutta Nikaya more important than the others? or what about the
      Anguttara Nikaya? Many arguments use on second-hand quotes from the
      suttas not on Access To Insight, or commentaries that a handful of
      the people have actually read. What about these Commentaries?
      Often they seem to explain suttas to the point that one feels no
      sutta can be taken on face value. "The Real Meaning" often seems
      quite removed from that which a straight forward reading of the sutta
      gives. Why is this?
      Just how sure can we be that the scriptures are the Word of the
      Buddha? Four or five hundred years is a long time ... cultures
      change, the old beliefs can return and gain influence ... How can we
      be sure that the scriptures weren't altered in the telling even
      accidentally, that they weren't 'creatively improved' ("the Buddha
      couldn't really have meant that", "it's different now, so for the
      welfare of many we'll write this") in their being committed to
      writing?
      I know it is said, but can we really believe that the scriptures are
      unadulterated?

      metta,
      Christine
    • yu_zhonghao <yu_zhonghao@yahoo.com>
      Hi Christine, I find the article Befriending the Suttas Some Suggestions for Reading the Pali Discourses by John Bullitt
      Message 2 of 11 , Feb 1, 2003
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        Hi Christine,

        I find the article

        Befriending the Suttas
        Some Suggestions for Reading
        the Pali Discourses
        by
        John Bullitt
        http://www.accesstoinsight.org/sutta101.html

        reasonable and I think it has answers to some of your questions.

        Regards,
        Victor

        > Dear Group,
        >
        > I've been thinking lately that much of the posting on Buddhist
        Lists
        > seems to come down to arguing over points in the scriptures. I
        know
        > that many of the practitioners of the Theistic religions are
        People
        > of the Book - are Buddhists any different, just People of a
        Different
        > Book? Do we value 'experience' over 'sutta', or do we
        > disregard 'experience' and re-interpret the world to fit the
        > scripture?
        > How are we supposed to regard The Pali Canon - as Holy Writ set
        in
        > concrete?
        Is there an Order of Precedence? Is the Majjhima or Digha
        > or Samyutta Nikaya more important than the others? or what about
        the
        > Anguttara Nikaya? Many arguments use on second-hand quotes from
        the
        > suttas not on Access To Insight, or commentaries that a handful of
        > the people have actually read. What about these Commentaries?
        > Often they seem to explain suttas to the point that one feels no
        > sutta can be taken on face value. "The Real Meaning" often seems
        > quite removed from that which a straight forward reading of the
        sutta
        > gives. Why is this?
        > Just how sure can we be that the scriptures are the Word of the
        > Buddha? Four or five hundred years is a long time ... cultures
        > change, the old beliefs can return and gain influence ... How can
        we
        > be sure that the scriptures weren't altered in the telling even
        > accidentally, that they weren't 'creatively improved' ("the Buddha
        > couldn't really have meant that", "it's different now, so for the
        > welfare of many we'll write this") in their being committed to
        > writing?
        > I know it is said, but can we really believe that the scriptures
        are
        > unadulterated?
        >
        > metta,
        > Christine
      • christine_forsyth <cforsyth@vtown.com.au>
        Hi Victor, I understand John Bulitt to be saying don t worry about having to know whether the Buddha actually said everything in the Suttas, find out for
        Message 3 of 11 , Feb 1, 2003
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          Hi Victor,

          I understand John Bulitt to be saying 'don't worry about having to
          know whether the Buddha actually said everything in the Suttas, find
          out for yourself if it is true'. Sounds reasonable. His assumption
          seems to be that one will find that it all proves to be true. But
          what does one do when the Buddha expresses an opinion, an attitude,
          that one believes to be an opinion, an attitude, that an enlightened
          being could not hold? For me, it tends to undermine the rest of the
          scriptures.

          Thanks for the link, Victor - I've only had a brief look so far, and
          it does seem very worthwhile.

          metta,
          Christine

          --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "yu_zhonghao
          <yu_zhonghao@y...>" <yu_zhonghao@y...> wrote:
          > Hi Christine,
          >
          > I find the article
          >
          > Befriending the Suttas
          > Some Suggestions for Reading
          > the Pali Discourses
          > by
          > John Bullitt
          > http://www.accesstoinsight.org/sutta101.html
          >
          > reasonable and I think it has answers to some of your questions.
          >
          > Regards,
          > Victor
        • Andrew <athel60@tpg.com.au>
          ... Hi Christine Perhaps you have stumbled upon the meaning of the old Japanese saying praying to the Buddha, we all go to hell ? Andrew
          Message 4 of 11 , Feb 1, 2003
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            --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "christine_forsyth
            <cforsyth@v...>" <cforsyth@v...> wrote:
            > But
            > what does one do when the Buddha expresses an opinion, an attitude,
            > that one believes to be an opinion, an attitude, that an enlightened
            > being could not hold? For me, it tends to undermine the rest of the
            > scriptures.
            >

            Hi Christine
            Perhaps you have stumbled upon the meaning of the old Japanese saying
            "praying to the Buddha, we all go to hell"?
            Andrew
          • christine_forsyth <cforsyth@vtown.com.au>
            Hi Andrew, A coincidence that you should reply Andrew :-) ... I was re-aranging the study today and came across a booklet by Natasha Jackson from the Buddhist
            Message 5 of 11 , Feb 1, 2003
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              Hi Andrew,

              A coincidence that you should reply Andrew :-) ... I was re-aranging
              the study today and came across a booklet by Natasha Jackson from the
              Buddhist Society of N.S.W., that you gave me at Cooran. Started
              looking through it again, as one does. It is this booklet and some
              scripture quotes it contains that's proving to be so disconcerting.
              I expect I'll get over it.

              metta,
              Christine

              --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "Andrew <athel60@t...>"
              <athel60@t...> wrote:
              > --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "christine_forsyth
              > <cforsyth@v...>" <cforsyth@v...> wrote:
              > > But
              > > what does one do when the Buddha expresses an opinion, an
              attitude,
              > > that one believes to be an opinion, an attitude, that an
              enlightened
              > > being could not hold? For me, it tends to undermine the rest of
              the
              > > scriptures.
              > >
              >
              > Hi Christine
              > Perhaps you have stumbled upon the meaning of the old Japanese
              saying
              > "praying to the Buddha, we all go to hell"?
              > Andrew
            • Egberdina <hhofman@tpg.com.au>
              Hi Christine, This is a gem I found on http://www.palikanon.com/english/pali_names/ma/magadha.htm The Magadhabhásá is regarded as the speech of the Áriyans
              Message 6 of 11 , Feb 1, 2003
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                Hi Christine,

                This is a gem I found on
                http://www.palikanon.com/english/pali_names/ma/magadha.htm

                "The Magadhabhásá is regarded as the speech of the Áriyans (e.g.,
                Sp.i.255). If children grow up without being taught any language,
                they will spontaneously use the Magadha language; it is spread all
                over Niraya, among lower animals, petas, humans and devas
                (VibhA.387f)."

                Now VibhA is apparently the Sammoha-Vinodaní, Vibhanga Commentary.

                The quote suggests to me that if you accept the texts or commentaries
                on face value (without relying on your own experience) than you are
                possibly a little bit silly.
                (no doubt someone will prove me wrong :-))

                Further re your post, to quote a single sutta or three in defense of
                an already held viewpoint is a dubious practice (I am certainly not
                speaking about you at all here, Christine :-))

                Unless one gets the "spirit" of what is being said, and the
                background against which it is said, which is only possible by a very
                broad reading, including non-canonical sources and sources critical
                of the material at hand, one is likely to misinterpret according to
                one's own intention.

                As as example, take formal meditation. I do not wish to discuss
                formal meditation at all, and wil not reply to questions about it. I
                am referring to formal meditation to illustrate my point in the
                previous paragraph only.

                For me, it is not possible to read the suttas or any other relevant
                material and not come away with the idea that the Buddha was a
                proponent of sitting meditation. But there are plenty among us who
                latch onto a word here and the lack of a word there to justify their
                own positions. This is fine with me. I am illustrating the phenomenon
                of selective reading only.

                I believe that it is not possible to map all of the basic ten moral
                acts (dasa kusala) to western urban culture. The Buddha taught in his
                life and time, we cannot contemplate the Tipitaka as a closed canon
                without rendering it useless.

                It is highly significant that the Buddha did not appoint a successor.
                There is no vicarious liberation, we must all achieve our own. And
                while doing so, we must be islands to our selves. Still, it is nice
                that our islands are nearby each other's and that we are within
                shouting distance :-)


                All the best


                Herman

                --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "christine_forsyth
                <cforsyth@v...>" <cforsyth@v...> wrote:
                > Dear Group,
                >
                > I've been thinking lately that much of the posting on Buddhist
                Lists
                > seems to come down to arguing over points in the scriptures. I
                know
                > that many of the practitioners of the Theistic religions are People
                > of the Book - are Buddhists any different, just People of a
                Different
                > Book? Do we value 'experience' over 'sutta', or do we
                > disregard 'experience' and re-interpret the world to fit the
                > scripture?
                > How are we supposed to regard The Pali Canon - as Holy Writ set in
                > concrete? Is there an Order of Precedence? Is the Majjhima or
                Digha
                > or Samyutta Nikaya more important than the others? or what about
                the
                > Anguttara Nikaya? Many arguments use on second-hand quotes from
                the
                > suttas not on Access To Insight, or commentaries that a handful of
                > the people have actually read. What about these Commentaries?
                > Often they seem to explain suttas to the point that one feels no
                > sutta can be taken on face value. "The Real Meaning" often seems
                > quite removed from that which a straight forward reading of the
                sutta
                > gives. Why is this?
                > Just how sure can we be that the scriptures are the Word of the
                > Buddha? Four or five hundred years is a long time ... cultures
                > change, the old beliefs can return and gain influence ... How can
                we
                > be sure that the scriptures weren't altered in the telling even
                > accidentally, that they weren't 'creatively improved' ("the Buddha
                > couldn't really have meant that", "it's different now, so for the
                > welfare of many we'll write this") in their being committed to
                > writing?
                > I know it is said, but can we really believe that the scriptures
                are
                > unadulterated?
                >
                > metta,
                > Christine
              • christine_forsyth <cforsyth@vtown.com.au>
                Hi Herman, I think my difficulty is that I have tended to treat the buddhist scriptures in the same way I was taught to regard the Holy Bible - as sacred
                Message 7 of 11 , Feb 1, 2003
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                  Hi Herman,

                  I think my difficulty is that I have tended to treat the buddhist
                  scriptures in the same way I was taught to regard the Holy Bible - as
                  sacred writings of divine origin and authority, which under no
                  circumstances was to be questioned.
                  And sometimes, it seems to me, that buddhists regard the Canon in the
                  same way. So when one comes across something that causes a "But
                  that I can't believe" reaction, it prompts a re-assessment of a
                  previous comfortable certainty regarding the infallibility of the
                  Teachings. The dilemma for me is that either the teachings are the
                  unadulterated word of the buddha, in which case I have some problems -
                  or - the teachings have changed over time with accretions and
                  alterations, are not exactly what the Buddha taught. In which case,
                  I have a different set of problems. I think my raft has some holes,
                  but I'm bailing fast. :-)

                  metta,
                  Christine

                  --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "Egberdina <hhofman@t...>"
                  <hhofman@t...> wrote:
                  > I believe that it is not possible to map all of the basic ten moral
                  > acts (dasa kusala) to western urban culture. The Buddha taught in
                  his
                  > life and time, we cannot contemplate the Tipitaka as a closed canon
                  > without rendering it useless.
                  >
                  > It is highly significant that the Buddha did not appoint a
                  successor.
                  > There is no vicarious liberation, we must all achieve our own. And
                  > while doing so, we must be islands to our selves. Still, it is
                  nice
                  > that our islands are nearby each other's and that we are within
                  > shouting distance :-)
                  >
                  >
                  > All the best
                  >
                  >
                  > Herman
                  >
                  > --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "christine_forsyth
                  > <cforsyth@v...>" <cforsyth@v...> wrote:
                  > > Dear Group,
                  > >
                  > > I've been thinking lately that much of the posting on Buddhist
                  > Lists
                  > > seems to come down to arguing over points in the scriptures. I
                  > know
                  > > that many of the practitioners of the Theistic religions are
                  People
                  > > of the Book - are Buddhists any different, just People of a
                  > Different
                  > > Book? Do we value 'experience' over 'sutta', or do we
                  > > disregard 'experience' and re-interpret the world to fit the
                  > > scripture?
                  > > How are we supposed to regard The Pali Canon - as Holy Writ set
                  in
                  > > concrete? Is there an Order of Precedence? Is the Majjhima or
                  > Digha
                  > > or Samyutta Nikaya more important than the others? or what about
                  > the
                  > > Anguttara Nikaya? Many arguments use on second-hand quotes from
                  > the
                  > > suttas not on Access To Insight, or commentaries that a handful
                  of
                  > > the people have actually read. What about these Commentaries?
                  > > Often they seem to explain suttas to the point that one feels no
                  > > sutta can be taken on face value. "The Real Meaning" often seems
                  > > quite removed from that which a straight forward reading of the
                  > sutta
                  > > gives. Why is this?
                  > > Just how sure can we be that the scriptures are the Word of the
                  > > Buddha? Four or five hundred years is a long time ... cultures
                  > > change, the old beliefs can return and gain influence ... How can
                  > we
                  > > be sure that the scriptures weren't altered in the telling even
                  > > accidentally, that they weren't 'creatively improved' ("the
                  Buddha
                  > > couldn't really have meant that", "it's different now, so for the
                  > > welfare of many we'll write this") in their being committed to
                  > > writing?
                  > > I know it is said, but can we really believe that the scriptures
                  > are
                  > > unadulterated?
                  > >
                  > > metta,
                  > > Christine
                • yu_zhonghao <yu_zhonghao@yahoo.com>
                  Hi Christine, I would be interested to know an opinions and/or an attitude that the Buddha expressed yet could not be hold by an enlightend being. Regards,
                  Message 8 of 11 , Feb 2, 2003
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                    Hi Christine,

                    I would be interested to know an opinions and/or an attitude that
                    the Buddha expressed yet could not be hold by an enlightend being.

                    Regards,
                    Victor

                    --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "christine_forsyth
                    <cforsyth@v...>" <cforsyth@v...> wrote:
                    > Hi Victor,
                    >
                    > I understand John Bulitt to be saying 'don't worry about having to
                    > know whether the Buddha actually said everything in the Suttas,
                    find
                    > out for yourself if it is true'. Sounds reasonable. His
                    assumption
                    > seems to be that one will find that it all proves to be true.
                    But
                    > what does one do when the Buddha expresses an opinion, an
                    attitude,
                    > that one believes to be an opinion, an attitude, that an
                    enlightened
                    > being could not hold? For me, it tends to undermine the rest of
                    the
                    > scriptures.
                    >
                    > Thanks for the link, Victor - I've only had a brief look so far,
                    and
                    > it does seem very worthwhile.
                    >
                    > metta,
                    > Christine
                  • christine_forsyth <cforsyth@vtown.com.au>
                    Hi Victor, I m sincerely happy for your confidence Victor, may it grow and strengthen - For the moment, I ll just stick with having awareness of the presence
                    Message 9 of 11 , Feb 2, 2003
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                      Hi Victor,

                      I'm sincerely happy for your confidence Victor, may it grow and
                      strengthen - For the moment, I'll just stick with having awareness
                      of the presence of doubt as Swee Boon suggests. It is within myself
                      that the matter will be resolved (or not). Making the finer details
                      a subject for discussion won't help at all, at least that has been my
                      past experience of such things. Those who will engage at all in the
                      discussion will merely take such positions as their own needs
                      dictate.

                      metta,
                      Christine

                      --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "yu_zhonghao
                      <yu_zhonghao@y...>" <yu_zhonghao@y...> wrote:
                      > Hi Christine,
                      >
                      > I would be interested to know an opinions and/or an attitude that
                      > the Buddha expressed yet could not be hold by an enlightend being.
                      >
                      > Regards,
                      > Victor
                      >
                      > --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "christine_forsyth
                      > <cforsyth@v...>" <cforsyth@v...> wrote:
                      > > Hi Victor,
                      > >
                      > > I understand John Bulitt to be saying 'don't worry about having
                      to
                      > > know whether the Buddha actually said everything in the Suttas,
                      > find
                      > > out for yourself if it is true'. Sounds reasonable. His
                      > assumption
                      > > seems to be that one will find that it all proves to be true.
                      > But
                      > > what does one do when the Buddha expresses an opinion, an
                      > attitude,
                      > > that one believes to be an opinion, an attitude, that an
                      > enlightened
                      > > being could not hold? For me, it tends to undermine the rest of
                      > the
                      > > scriptures.
                      > >
                      > > Thanks for the link, Victor - I've only had a brief look so far,
                      > and
                      > > it does seem very worthwhile.
                      > >
                      > > metta,
                      > > Christine
                    • Egberdina <hhofman@tpg.com.au>
                      Hi Christine, ... Those who will engage at all in the ... What you say is of course true, but which aspects of a person s life are *not* governed by the same
                      Message 10 of 11 , Feb 2, 2003
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                        Hi Christine,

                        --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "christine_forsyth
                        <cforsyth@v...>" <cforsyth@v...> wrote:
                        > Hi Victor,
                        >

                        Those who will engage at all in the
                        > discussion will merely take such positions as their own needs
                        > dictate.
                        >
                        > metta,
                        > Christine
                        >

                        What you say is of course true, but which aspects of a person's life
                        are *not* governed by the same personal dictates?
                        Is not each and every post a mirroring of a thousand known and
                        unknown intentions? Likewise each and every act?
                        Having censored a post to a point where you feel it conforms to
                        certain requirements you feel should apply to it does not make it any
                        less a product of your own needs.

                        Be well

                        Herman
                      • phamdluan2000 <phamdluan@aol.com>
                        Dear Christine, ... wrote: Hi Herman, I think my difficulty is that I have tended to treat the buddhist scriptures in the same
                        Message 11 of 11 , Feb 3, 2003
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                          Dear Christine,


                          --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "christine_forsyth
                          <cforsyth@v...>" <cforsyth@v...> wrote:


                          Hi Herman,

                          I think my difficulty is that I have tended to treat the buddhist
                          scriptures in the same way I was taught to regard the Holy Bible -
                          as sacred writings of divine origin and authority, which under no
                          circumstances was to be questioned.

                          And sometimes, it seems to me, that buddhists regard the Canon in
                          the same way. So when one comes across something that causes a
                          "But that I can't believe" reaction, it prompts a re-assessment of
                          a previous comfortable certainty regarding the infallibility of the
                          Teachings. The dilemma for me is that either the teachings are the
                          unadulterated word of the buddha, in which case I have some problems
                          - or - the teachings have changed over time with accretions and
                          alterations, are not exactly what the Buddha taught. In which case,
                          I have a different set of problems. I think my raft has some holes,
                          but I'm bailing fast. :-)

                          metta,
                          Christine




                          KKT: So the problem with you is:
                          You want << certainty >>, dont' you? :-))

                          You left the Church because
                          it fails to give you this << certainty >>

                          So you will leave Buddhism
                          if it fails to give you
                          this same << certainty >>,
                          will you not? (just joking :-))


                          But this << certainty >> could
                          only come from within, Christine :-))

                          If you look for this certainty
                          from words (Tipitaka or whatever)
                          then you could not avoid
                          such << crisis >> of doubt :-))


                          But do not fear doubt
                          because doubt is << healthy >> :-))


                          I like the Christian expression
                          << THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL >>


                          Best wishes,


                          KKT
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