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Aloka
14 Feb 10, 21:16
I thought this essay by Bhikkhu Sujato of Santi Forest Monastery might be of interest to other members:


What the Buddha Really Taught


The Pali Nikāyas and Chinese Āgamas

"When I go into a Buddhist bookshop or library, I'm often struck by how many books there are. Shelves crammed full of people's opinions about 'what the Buddha taught'. But try to find something that actually contains the Buddha's teaching and you're in for a much harder time. It seems to be okay to be a Buddhist, attend talks, read books, meditate, chant, and go on retreat, without ever bothering to ask oneself the question: what did the Buddha really teach?

For the rare and brave seeker who dares to inquire beyond what their teachers tell them, it will not take long before they hear of the Pali Nikāyas. Here, we are told, is the original unadulterated Teaching. The Buddha's words in their pristine purity. We are in the enviable position of having many excellent translations of these texts available in English, both in books and on the web.

Anyone with sufficient time and interest can, with a little perseverance, gain a reasonable understanding of these teachings. The Pali Nikāyas have been one of my formative influences, right from my first days as a Buddhist. The Dhamma they embody is clear, rational, balanced, gentle, and profound – everything one could hope for.

But it is easy to fall into a kind of 'Pali fundamentalism'. The texts and language are so pure and precise that many of us who fall in love with the Nikāyas end up believing that they constitute the be-all and end-all of Buddhism.

We religiously adhere to the finest distinction, the most subtle interpretation, based on a single word or phrase. We take for granted that here we have the original teaching, without considering the process by which these teachings have passed down to us. In our fervour, we neglect to wonder whether there might be another perspective on these Dhammas."

Continued here :URL (http://santipada.googlepages.com/whatthebuddhareallytaught)

jack
02 Mar 10, 00:56
Good read, specially regarding the Theravada vs Mahayana issue I'm having right now. Thanks. http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/images/smilies/grin.gif

Esho
02 Mar 10, 01:53
A very interesting article, thanks Dazz.

I want to quote this:

The Theravāda says that one who sees any one of the four noble truths also sees the others (SN 56.30). This sutta, which has no counterpart in the Sarvāstivāda, implies that the four truths are realized all at once. In contrast, a number of Sarvāstivāda suttas, which have no Theravāda counterparts, say that one will come to know each of the four noble truths in sequence, one after the other (SA 435-437). This relates to the disputed question of sudden (ekabhisamaya) versus gradual (anupubbabhisamaya) attainment.

Maybe this is why I feel so familiar or so near to Theravadin tradition being a Zen practitioner any time that Zen understands the "ekabhisamaya" attainment.

Also this is not just an intelectual obesrvation by myself... I can tell that my personal practice is much more near the sudden attainment than the gradual one.

If I practice the first noble truth I feel I can practice the others...

Still reading...

http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/images/smilies/read.gif

Slartibartfast
02 Mar 10, 07:47
Just shows that Buddhism is as open to interpretation and misinterpretation as any other religion.

Do all Buddhist schools agree on

"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."

Sobeh
02 Mar 10, 08:09
Do all Buddhist schools agree on

"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."

Well, they all agree on the canonicity of the Kalama Sutta (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.065.than.html), but the paraphrase you offer fails to really capture the full import; have a look at the entire thing.

frank
02 Mar 10, 11:20
"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."

I certainly do not set myself up as representing the Theravadan tradition,but on a personal level l would support this point.

Esho
02 Mar 10, 14:12
"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."

Frank #6: I certainly do not set myself up as representing the Theravadan tradition,but on a personal level l would support this point.

Me too dear Frank,

Also I feel that the quote given by Slartibartfast needs a great amount of courage... it's easy to be attached to the path folowed by others and relieve yourself from the responsablilty of your own lonely process of liberation.

http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/images/smilies/hands.gif

Esho
02 Mar 10, 15:26
I also want to quote this other secction:

Although there are occasional instructive variations, the main fruit of this study is not in the content of the teaching, but in the method.

I have ever felt that the disagreements between traditions, which particularly I do not take on them to seriously, are just about method and it is important that differences are about methods and not about the content. In this way, a Zen methaphor I like tells us that all rivers at the begining seem different and while aproaching to the Great Ocean, they are all similar.

http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/images/smilies/wink.gif

Esho
02 Mar 10, 15:37
Also I like this quote too,

At the very end it is told:

"I started out this essay by criticizing 'Pali fundamentalism'; but we must also beware of becoming 'pre-sectarian' fundamentalists! The teachings of the various schools are not just a sheer mass of error and meaningless corruption, any more than they are iron-clad formulations of 'ultimate truth'.

They are the answers given by teachers of old to the question: 'What does Buddhism mean for us?' Each succeeding generation must undertake the delicate task of hermeneutics, the re-acculturation of the Dhamma in time and place. And in our times, so different from those of any Buddhist era or culture of the past, we must find our own answers."

Dhamma is about human existence with all its implications; Ignorance, suffering, practice and the inicial erratic development of mindfulness through our life... in this way it is unavoidable to have diverse processes of re-aculturation; although the core teachings can never change in its aim, the context in wich they are pacticed those change and in this way I want to stress that: "we mus find our own answers".

This last statement has a Zen flavour... anD I like it.

http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/images/smilies/grin.gif

Esho
02 Mar 10, 15:40
I realy liked what has been told generaly in the article about the similarities between Agamas and Pali suttas. The Agamas should have had influenced Cha'an tradition wich is at the core of Zen.

http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/images/smilies/grin.gif

Daozen
04 Mar 10, 06:33
Buddha's words are in the Pali Canon.

Buddha's meaning is everywhere around you.

Esho
04 Mar 10, 19:26
Buddha's words are in the Pali Canon.

Buddha's meaning is everywhere around you.

Very true, makes a lot of sense...

Thanks Daozen...

http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/images/smilies/hands.gif

plwk
09 Mar 10, 11:59
I would look at these..
"Monks, these two slander the Tathagata. Which two?
He who explains what was not said or spoken by the Tathagata as said or spoken by the Tathagata.
And he who explains what was said or spoken by the Tathagata as not said or spoken by the Tathagata. These are two who slander the Tathagata."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an02/an02.023.than.html

"In whatsoever Dhamma and Discipline, Subhadda, there is not found the Noble Eightfold Path, neither is there found a true ascetic of the first, second, third, or fourth degree of saintliness.
But in whatsoever Dhamma and Discipline there is found the Noble Eightfold Path, there is found a true ascetic of the first, second, third, and fourth degrees of saintliness.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.16.1-6.vaji.html

'Those who teach a Dhamma for the abandoning of passion, for the abandoning of aversion, for the abandoning of delusion — their Dhamma is well-taught.
"How amazing, sir. How astounding, that there is neither extolling of one's own Dhamma nor deprecation of another's, but just the teaching of the Dhamma in its proper sphere, speaking to the point without mentioning oneself.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.072.than.html

sukitlek
09 Mar 10, 13:14
from post #10

Hi.. Kaarine, I think Zen is close to Theravada because Zen came to china after Mahayana.

In Thailand, everybody know Sao-Lin Temple and Some know Bodhidharma or Tak mor as the Master of ZEN.
Bodhidharma (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhidharma)

Thai Buddhist know Zen from this sutra
The Sutra of Hui Neng (http://www.dharmaweb.org/index.php/The_Sutra_of_Hui_Neng)
And Hui Neng Picture.
Hui Neng wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huineng)

http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/images/smilies/hands.gif

Sobeh
09 Mar 10, 13:34
I'm not sure Zen 'came to' China so much as 'arose within' China; I would be curious to know which might be the earliest sutra which reflects a distinctively Ch'an/Zen message?

Esho
09 Mar 10, 14:58
Hi.. Kaarine, I think Zen is close to Theravada because Zen came to china after Mahayana.

Thanks sukitlek dear http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/images/smilies/grin.gif

I still have a question wondering if you can help in it:

Development thorough time and also from geographical setting, Zen is very far, I think, from Theravadin tradition but I am very surprised to read Theravadin teachers that share many understandings with Zen teachers.

Why is that the very fact that zen came or arouse (as told by Sobeh) in china make it closer to Theravadin tradition?

http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/images/smilies/grin.gif

Esho
09 Mar 10, 15:03
Thai Buddhist know Zen from this sutra
The Sutra of Hui Neng
And Hui Neng Picture.
Hui Neng wikipedia

Thanks again sukiltek dear,

At the place, the dojo we call, where I practice we have as one of our main Zen suttas the one given by the Third Ancestor Seng Tsan known as The Mind of Absolut Trust (http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/index.php?action=vthread&forum=3&topic=2245) at least as was downloaded here.

http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/images/smilies/hands.gif

Esho
09 Mar 10, 15:07
I'm not sure Zen 'came to' China so much as 'arose within' China;

Yes, it is much more understandable that Zen arose within China and I am not shure but think that was what sukiltek tried to say. English isn't our original lenguage (sukiltek and me) so we do are not to exact about some important subtleties.

http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/images/smilies/hands.gif

Esho
09 Mar 10, 15:08
I would be curious to know which might be the earliest sutra which reflects a distinctively Ch'an/Zen message?

We work with an earlier sutta, the one of our Third Ancestor from Boddhidharma, wich I have ]http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/img/smilies/wink.gif[/img]

Sobeh
09 Mar 10, 15:13
Why is that the very fact that zen came or arouse (as told by Sobeh) in china make it closer to Theravadin tradition?

After the Parinibbana it's pretty likely that some purely Brahmanical meditation techniques crept into the Suttas (likely the source of the disc meditations among others), a process largely facilitated by the Buddha's unique use of common Brahmanical terms. In other words, certain habitual interpretations of terms might easily have crept into, for example, the Commentaries.

Well, I have a growing suspicion that something similar took place in translating the Dhamma into Chinese; the Mahayana Sutras took on some Taoist terminology in order to manipulate it to serve the larger Buddhist pedagogical intention, and thus some habitual Taoist ideas crept into that particular mix.

I further suspect that reading the early Mahayana texts with this rubric in mind will offer some very interesting perspectives, and so with this in mind I wondered what an early Ch'an Sutra might be - for example, is the Lotus Sutra held in any esteem by the Ch'an/Zen school?

Esho
09 Mar 10, 15:51
Well, I have a growing suspicion that something similar took place in translating the Dhamma into Chinese; the Mahayana Sutras took on some Taoist terminology in order to manipulate it to serve the larger Buddhist pedagogical intention, and thus some habitual Taoist ideas crept into that particular mix.

Thanks Sobeh dear, very interesting... its a fortune to have such an expert in this topics here with us... http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/images/smilies/wink.gif

In some way I like Taoism and for some time I were into Taoism before reaching and understanding Buddhism. My very first tradition was indeed Tao.

http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/images/smilies/hands.gif

Esho
09 Mar 10, 15:54
is the Lotus Sutra held in any esteem by the Ch'an/Zen school?

Yes, but not for all the schools of Zen. In my particular school we have in higher steem the Sutta given by the Thirth Ancestor as the Sandokai writen by Sekito Kisen, and much of Dogen's aproach to zazen.

http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/images/smilies/hands.gif

Esho
09 Mar 10, 16:04
Taoist terminology in order to manipulate it to serve the larger Buddhist pedagogical intention,

Out from the topic,

When I was younger I was devoted to social activism and in some way I found in Taoism some kind of political branch rationality. But holding this Taoist perspective I started to understood may subtle things about myself and my dedication to that.

And now I am here in the buddhist realm... http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/images/smilies/wink.gif

http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/images/smilies/hands.gif

http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/images/smilies/topic.gif

sukitlek
10 Mar 10, 01:20
from post #16

From Bodhidharma (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhidharma)

Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk from southern India who lived during the early 5th century and is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Zen (Chinese: Chán) to China.

Very little contemporary biographical information on Bodhidharma is extant, and subsequent accounts became layered with legend, but most accounts agree that he was from the southern region of India, born as a prince to a royal family. Bodhidharma left his kingdom after becoming a Buddhist monk and travelled through Southeast Asia into Southern China and subsequently relocated northwards.
------------------------------------------------------
Theravada came from Southern India to Sri lanka to Thailand (Southeast Asia) before Zen.

Seem Theravada and Zen went some same path, Southern India and Southeast Asia.

Esho
10 Mar 10, 01:34
from post #24

Thanks sukitlek dear,

Zen means "just meditation" as za-zen means "just sitting meditation". So I can understand that Boddhidharma brought, in some way, an understanding that was called Zen later. Then, can we tell, that Boddhidharma brought a Theravadin understaning at the time he leave the southern region of India and went to the southern region of China?

If that is so, then, and whith what is told by Sobeh, Zen is a melting pot of Tao tradition because Chinese mood about life, Theravada tradition because the way Boddhidharma understood buddhism and the meditation aproach which is very particular for Cha'an (China) and Soto Zen (Japan) beacuse the particular development of Boddhidharma teaching once he reached Suthern China...

This is wonderfull to know...

Thanks very much...

http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/images/smilies/hands.gif

plwk
10 Mar 10, 02:37
is the Lotus Sutra held in any esteem by the Ch'an/Zen school?
From my long years with Ch'an temples/centres, yes, this Sutra is esteemed but also perhaps it must be mentioned on one particular chapter of It, here, (http://cttbusa.org/lotus/lotus25.asp) recited every New/Full Moon Days as part of the Morning Liturgy and on the tri-annual special days dedicated to Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva in the Chinese Mahayana Liturgical calendar.

It's also one of my favs...especially on the 'One Buddha Vehicle'...

Sobeh
10 Mar 10, 03:38
Remarkable - I had forgotten the unique feel of Mahayana Sutras. Sort of nostalgiac, really.

andyrobyn
10 Mar 10, 04:33
Thank you for the link plwk http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/images/smilies/hands.gif