Thread: Is Early Buddhism in Danger?

  1. #1

    Is Early Buddhism in Danger?

    Doug Smith of the Secular Buddhist Association expresses his thoughts about early Buddhism. (Approx. 9 minutes).





    Do you agree or disagree with him ?



  2. #2
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
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    "Early Buddhism" studies is "a danger" rather than "in danger". Gombrich, Analayo, Sujato, Brahmali & this amateur Smith do not accurately represent the teachings and are sabotaging the Buddha-Dhamma by presenting themselves as experts but misinterpreting the teachings. There are no "Pali experts". The PTS dictionary, which most scholars are sheepishly following, shows there are no Pali experts because the PTS dictionary translates numerous words with one meaning. In other words, the meaning of words have been lost in centuries of transmission. The way Smith has only mentioned a handful of related recent internet mass-market scholars shows his understanding & experience are very limited. My impression of Smith is he is interested in fame & livelihood rather than the truth.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Element
    Gombrich, Analayo, Sujato, Brahmali & this amateur Smith do not accurately represent the teachings and are sabotaging the Buddha-Dhamma by presenting themselves as experts but misinterpreting the teachings.
    Can you provide any examples (with links) to support your opinions, please Element?


    Quote Originally Posted by Element
    My impression of Smith is he is interested in fame & livelihood rather than the truth.
    I don't get that impression myself. I think he just seems to be a pleasant guy who's one of many different people giving their views about Buddhism on the internet.


  4. #4
    Forums Member ancientbuddhism's Avatar
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    The gist of this rant is more to ‘The lack of Pāḷi Buddhism in Academia’, a problem that K.R. Norman (Gombrich’s mentor not referred to in the video) had mentioned in A Philological Approach to Buddhism (The Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai Lectures 1994). Gombrich has impressed me far less than his teacher, but their contributions are looked for and helpful. And with the deaths of the likes of David J. Kalupahana and Lance Cousins we could well be seeing the end of an era of Western Buddhist academia.

    There is, however, the non-academic specialists mentioned; Anālayo, Bodhi, Sujato. And there is us, the even less expert, although endeared enthusiasts, who work with these ancient texts to find succinct meaning and interpretation in tandem to our practice.

    Some criticism has been given with reference to PTS. I think it would be rather broad-sweeping to claim that the PTS has been entirely derelict in their duty. Although to be fair, Norman, who is a past president of PTS, had given us some rather humorous stories of PTS missteps (in the same series mentioned above possibly?). I don’t think the PED is attempting to give a pāḷi word-for-word comparison, as such would be the attempt of a glossary. And translating pāḷi is not entirely dependent on dictionaries, but also an understanding of the language and the context of its use.

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    Forums Member Genecanuck's Avatar
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    Hello Aloka and Element,

    The first point that comes to mind for me in this video is that it is important to understand who his target audience is for his message. He is not a monastic but rather speaking from the perspective of an academic and is appealing to other academics with the message that Pali needs to be studied and understudied from an academic perspective and should be incorporated in University Departments. His other related point is that it is important to have this kind of academic focus in Universities because an academic approach like this would have “no ideological adherence to a particular school” which would encourage “smart people to investigate material as they see fit” and find innovative ways of looking at the material. Speaking directly to the world of Academia, he further explains that “academics need academics in their world” to approach Pali studies with an “academic distance to investigate in an objective fashion”. This perspective however, does have its own adherence to the biases inherent in the scientific method. He is, after all, an academic speaking to an academic audience.

    His second target audience is a popular global audience. He talks about the importance of monastic understanding of Pali and states that “what matters is how it is experienced in the world.” As well, he goes on to say that he believes that we need good academics and good monastics to hear material and bounce it off of each other. My understanding of his key message is that this is helpful to promote a broader understanding and experience of the texts and teachings by bringing together monastics and academia to promote wisdom in the contemporary world. In my view, this does not sound like a man who is concerned with egoistic self promotion.

    Regards
    Gene

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    Forums Member justusryans's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    I don't get that impression myself. I think he just seems to be a pleasant guy who's one of many different people giving their views about Buddhism on the internet.

    I agree, just seems to want to genuinely help people get interested in doing research on early Buddhism.

  7. #7
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Genecanuck View Post
    The first point that comes to mind for me in this video is that it is important to understand who his target audience is for his message. He is not a monastic but rather speaking from the perspective of an academic and is appealing to other academics with the message that Pali needs to be studied and understudied from an academic perspective and should be incorporated in University Departments.
    His target audience is naive people on the internet who will believe he & the people he mentioned are the core world expert scholars. Where as those who have studied for a long time know the people mentioned are not good scholars at all. Trust me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    Can you provide any examples (with links) to support your opinions, please Element?
    I think we have done lots of this for you before, extensively.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Element
    His target audience is naive people on the internet who will believe he & the people he mentioned are the core world expert scholars.
    With respect, asserting what you think his intentions are towards others, or what they'll believe, appears to be just speculation on your part.

    Quote Originally Posted by Element
    I think we have done lots of this for you before, extensively.

    I'm sorry but I don't recall who or what you're refering to.... so moving on carefully .......

  9. #9
    Technical Administrator woodscooter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Element View Post
    His target audience is naive people on the internet who will believe he & the people he mentioned are the core world expert scholars. Where as those who have studied for a long time know the people mentioned are not good scholars at all. Trust me.
    "Trust me" implies you are giving an opinion. No impartial evidence can be offered.

    That's OK, because we exchange opinions here. Some opinions are based on personal feelings, others are based on evidence. Sometimes, the validity of the evidence is disputed. That's also fine. Everything is up for examination. But opinions presented as facts can be challenged.

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