The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
Nyana
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby Nyana » Tue Mar 06, 2012 11:07 pm

Generally speaking, the different collections of suttas that were compiled and redacted by the various early Buddhist sects are similar enough in content that in practical terms they are teaching the same dhamma, regardless of the differences in how the pericopes are arranged.

Here's Tse-fu Kuan's English translations of the Chinese versions of the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta and the Kāyagatāsati Sutta, and his endnotes for both suttas:

Sutta_1.pdf
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Sutta_2.pdf
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby ancientbuddhism » Wed Mar 07, 2012 12:43 am

Ñāṇa wrote:Generally speaking, the different collections of suttas that were compiled and redacted by the various early Buddhist sects are similar enough in content that in practical terms they are teaching the same dhamma, regardless of the differences in how the pericopes are arranged.

Here's Tse-fu Kuan's English translations of the Chinese versions of the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta and the Kāyagatāsati Sutta, and his endnotes for both suttas...


:goodpost:
Anuvicca papañca nāmarūpaṃ
ajjhattaṃ bahiddhā ca rogamūlaṃ,
sabbarogamūlabandhanā pamutto
anuvidito tādi pavuccate tathattā
.

“Having known the naming of objects,
With its proliferation, its root in illness – within and without;
One is released from bondage to the root of all illness.
And thus is called the Knowing One – the Such.

– Sn. 3.6 (Sabhiyasuttaṃ)

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby piotr » Wed Mar 07, 2012 6:55 pm

Hi Kare,

Kare wrote:I am not drawing any conclusions. I am just puzzled by what has been written in this thread, since much of it seems to be based on ignorance of a basic aspect of the Suttas. I leave it to others to conclude.


I'd rather say that some things which were written in this thread are based on ignorance of Sujāto work. It's obvious for me that he was/is aware of the structure of the suttas. And it's obvious too that he's not suggesting that the bits which constitute Satipatthāna Sutta are inauthentic. What Sujāto was trying to do was to show presumably how and why this fragments were organized in this specific manner; how they then are interpreted; and lastly how it influences the idea of Buddhist meditation.
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby danieLion » Sun Jul 08, 2012 2:59 am

piotr wrote:What Sujāto was trying to do was to show presumably how and why these fragments were organized in this specific manner; how they then are interpreted; and lastly how it influences the idea of Buddhist meditation.

Hi piotr,
How do we know it wasn't the other way around: Buddhist meditation influencing the specific manner of organization and interpretation(s) of the fragments?
Best,
Daniel

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Jul 08, 2012 12:42 pm

I don't think the Satipatthana Sutta is a forgery, but it does seem to contain quite an assortment of different practices some of which may have been added later.
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby daverupa » Sun Jul 08, 2012 2:53 pm

danieLion wrote:
piotr wrote:What Sujāto was trying to do was to show presumably how and why these fragments were organized in this specific manner; how they then are interpreted; and lastly how it influences the idea of Buddhist meditation.

Hi piotr,
How do we know it wasn't the other way around: Buddhist meditation influencing the specific manner of organization and interpretation(s) of the fragments?
Best,
Daniel


This is probably the case with kasina, formless attainments, body foulness, etc. Possibly even anapanasati. The renunciate culture was rife with methodology, a process which hasn't got clear stages so much as long, transitioning histories.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby Sylvester » Sat Jul 14, 2012 6:33 am

piotr wrote:Hi Kare,

Kare wrote:I am not drawing any conclusions. I am just puzzled by what has been written in this thread, since much of it seems to be based on ignorance of a basic aspect of the Suttas. I leave it to others to conclude.


I'd rather say that some things which were written in this thread are based on ignorance of Sujāto work. It's obvious for me that he was/is aware of the structure of the suttas. And it's obvious too that he's not suggesting that the bits which constitute Satipatthāna Sutta are inauthentic. What Sujāto was trying to do was to show presumably how and why this fragments were organized in this specific manner; how they then are interpreted; and lastly how it influences the idea of Buddhist meditation.


Hi piotr

I have to agree.

Ajahn Sujato's work is not easy to digest, and it is not easy for the non-specialist to actually appreciate the finer points of Textual Criticism that he makes.

To this end, an investment in Ven Analayo's Comparative Study of the MN may help clarify. His book explains the critical methodologies used (shared with Ajahn Sujato) in far greater clarity, even if the casual reader may be bored to tears by the details of the differences between the 2 camps of critical studies.

If there are those who find Ajahn Sujato's thoughts on the said suttas heretical, I think they will be even more shocked to see Ven Analayo's conclusions about these texts, given his PhD thesis earlier.

Regardless of the "academic" outcomes of his research, he still has great, great regard for the texts' utility.

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby wtp » Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:41 am

The reason Ajahn Sujato concentrated on this sutta for this type of analysis is because it is particularly venerated, in Sri Lanka and Burma especially, and described by a range of authors as the main teaching of the Buddha. Therefore it carries considerable authority and influence. He also suggests that the construction of this sutta with its repeated vipassana refrain and added material, rather than being an inoccuous aide memoir, in fact ends up being misleading and misrepresents what mindfulness is all about. Agree or disagree it is a well reasoned argument.

I think you would need to read his thoughtful analysis before blithely dismissing it. There is, I think, a condensed version of the analysis - Sylvester do you know the link?

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby wtp » Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:46 am

I also think it is a very interesting question as to whether literary and historical analysis can get us closer to the original teachings of the Buddha or not. And whether this is even important.

Personally I think it is very important. While I do not think we can ever overcome all doubts about any particular passage or sutta, we do need some basis for embarking on the Buddhist path.

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby Thitadhammo » Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:39 pm

Isn't the whole world a forgery crafted by the unawakened mind? If the Satipatthana Sutta can help you look through this, then it surely should not be classified as fraud.
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby suttametta » Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:59 pm

I don't think it's a question of whether it was a forgery, but whether it was a compilation used as a mnemonic device. But also whether some parts of the compilation lift non-buddhist elements.

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby daverupa » Wed Jul 18, 2012 5:47 pm

suttametta wrote:lift non-buddhist elements.


This is really the crux of the issue; I presume that non-Buddhist meditational elements are less- or non-effective with respect to nibbana, which makes parsing them out a crucial concern. That many aspects of satipatthana seem to be Upanisadic methods is fairly clear; that jhana is solely unique to the Dhamma also seems apparent. It doesn't surprise me that at this late date we understand yoga more than jhana, given that jhana was a unique discovery of the Buddha, but it oughtn't to be acceptable to have the Buddha's last advice ("practice jhana") remain as hopelessly obscure as it is, nor should we be content to let yoga abide in the place where sammasamadhi once stood.

:soap:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby suttametta » Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:33 pm

daverupa wrote: that jhana is solely unique to the Dhamma also seems apparent.


It is? I thought Buddha got the top two formless attainments (features of the fourth jhana) from Alara Kalama and Udaka Ramaputta. My understanding of what was exclusive to buddha was view of the person as khandhas, dependent origination and a way of entering jhana that was just by relaxing.

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby daverupa » Wed Jul 18, 2012 7:58 pm

suttametta wrote:
daverupa wrote: that jhana is solely unique to the Dhamma also seems apparent.


It is? I thought Buddha got the top two formless attainments (features of the fourth jhana) from Alara Kalama and Udaka Ramaputta. My understanding of what was exclusive to buddha was view of the person as khandhas, dependent origination and a way of entering jhana that was just by relaxing.


The Buddha rejected those two attainments; then, at a later time, he recollected a childhood memory of first jhana.

Now, if the rupajhanas are necessary to develop prior to attaining the arupajhanas, as tradition would have it, then Alara and Udaka had rupajhana too. But then the Buddha would have recollected those teachings, and not had to recollect the unique childhood case. So those two attainments cannot be related to the fourth jhana, which was developed on the heels of the childhood case and not extrapolated from the formless attainments learned under those two teachers.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby suttametta » Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:20 pm

daverupa wrote:The Buddha rejected those two attainments; then, at a later time, he recollected a childhood memory of first jhana.

Now, if the rupajhanas are necessary to develop prior to attaining the arupajhanas, as tradition would have it, then Alara and Udaka had rupajhana too. But then the Buddha would have recollected those teachings, and not had to recollect the unique childhood case. So those two attainments cannot be related to the fourth jhana, which was developed on the heels of the childhood case and not extrapolated from the formless attainments learned under those two teachers.


This makes sense. Your previous comments on yoga are apropos, concentrating on mantras, visualizing, etc., fixating on physical postures, etc., as these have invaded Mahayana and Vajrayana do appear to all have pronounced Vedic/Tantric (non-buddhist) origins. Similarly, haunting graveyards, fixating on death, seems to be non-buddhist as well. The particular way of slipping into jhana in a relaxed way does indeed seem to be an authentic meditation invention of Buddha, one that seems to have been easily overlooked and dismissed by some. Also the way of attaining insight in a relaxed way by observing khandhas and DO seems to be authentically Buddhist. But lets no also forget so many of the simple methods of "release," i.e., kindness. The ethical behaviors leading to nibbana are very very buddhist.

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby Mr Man » Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:41 pm

daverupa wrote:
Now, if the rupajhanas are necessary to develop prior to attaining the arupajhanas, as tradition would have it, then Alara and Udaka had rupajhana too. But then the Buddha would have recollected those teachings, and not had to recollect the unique childhood case.


I think that you may be interpreting this in a too literal manner. I don't think conclusions can or should be inferred in this way. :)

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 9:51 pm

Hi Dave,
daverupa wrote:That many aspects of satipatthana seem to be Upanisadic methods is fairly clear;

Which aspects are those? I don't recall anything in the Satipatthana Sutta (and Samyutta) that isn't mentioned in numerous suttas all over the canon (mindfulness and clear comprehension in all activities, body, repulsiveness, breath, elements, feelings, mind states, mind objects, hindrances, aggregates, sense bases, enlightenment factors, noble truths...).

It may well be that the Satipatthana Sutta has had a lot of material collected from other suttas, but that sort of thing seems common in all Nikayas.

:anjali:
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby daverupa » Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:08 pm

Unfortunately, a detailed response seems to require a thoroughgoing review of current Early Buddhism literature (Wynne, Hamilton, Vetter, Bronkhorst, and others as well), and a forum post is inadequate to the task. Additionally, mileage may vary with respect to perceived evidential strength.

:broke:

I simply want to indicate, in this subforum in particular, that the Nikayas are not homogenous; they reflect a long period of routinization, and this long before Theravada even existed. Therefore, the Theravada tradition is best seen as one attempt at understanding Early Buddhism; there were possibly as many as 15 other scholastic attempts, perhaps more, and the historical accidents which saw the survival of Theravada are not enough to recommend their particular exegesis in toto, especially when modern approaches have seen some success in correcting hitherto unrecognized mistakes.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jul 19, 2012 5:58 am

Hi Dave,

Well, could you (or someone else) just give us a clue or a specific reference? I'm genuinely perplexed, since I don't recall ever seeing an argument that the Satipatthana Sutta contained Upanishadic influence.

:anjali:
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby Sylvester » Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:36 am

daverupa wrote:
suttametta wrote:
daverupa wrote: that jhana is solely unique to the Dhamma also seems apparent.


It is? I thought Buddha got the top two formless attainments (features of the fourth jhana) from Alara Kalama and Udaka Ramaputta. My understanding of what was exclusive to buddha was view of the person as khandhas, dependent origination and a way of entering jhana that was just by relaxing.


The Buddha rejected those two attainments; then, at a later time, he recollected a childhood memory of first jhana.

Now, if the rupajhanas are necessary to develop prior to attaining the arupajhanas, as tradition would have it, then Alara and Udaka had rupajhana too. But then the Buddha would have recollected those teachings, and not had to recollect the unique childhood case. So those two attainments cannot be related to the fourth jhana, which was developed on the heels of the childhood case and not extrapolated from the formless attainments learned under those two teachers.



Ah ha! Looks like you've been dipping into the Wynne honeypot. Or perhaps the Brahm honeypot? :tongue:

Something that is often overlooked in MN 26 is its unusual way of reporting the declarations of Alara and Udaka. The verb declared(s)/pavedesi(eti) occurs 8 times in the sutta, all of which report actual declarations. Taking the report on the encounter with Alara, they are (using the ATI translation) -

Tassa mayhaṃ, bhikkhave, etadahosi— ‘na kho āḷāro kālāmo imaṃ dhammaṃ kevalaṃ saddhāmattakena sayaṃ abhiññā sacchikatvā upasampajja viharāmīti pavedeti; addhā āḷāro kālāmo imaṃ dhammaṃ jānaṃ passaṃ viharatī’ti.

I thought: 'It isn't through mere conviction alone that Alara Kalama declares, "I have entered & dwell in this Dhamma, having realized it for myself through direct knowledge." Certainly he dwells knowing & seeing this Dhamma.


Atha khvāhaṃ, bhikkhave, yena āḷāro kālāmo tenupasaṅkamiṃ; upasaṅkamitvā āḷāraṃ kālāmaṃ etadavocaṃ— ‘kittāvatā no, āvuso kālāma, imaṃ dhammaṃ sayaṃ abhiññā sacchikatvā upasampajja viharāmīti pavedesī’ti? Evaṃ vutte, bhikkhave, āḷāro kālāmo ākiñcaññāyatanaṃ pavedesi.

So I went to him and said, 'To what extent do you declare that you have entered & dwell in this Dhamma?' When this was said, he declared the dimension of nothingness.


Notice how the Buddha/redactors did not privilege Alara's declaration of Nothingness as "Nothingness", unlike the earlier declaration (marked with the iti clitic). It's almost as if the sutta goes out of its way to deny the truth value of Alara's declaration. Likewise for the Udaka narrative. Was this omission of the clitic accidental or deliberate? It looks quite deliberate that in 6 of the 8 declarations, they are privileged with the iti clitic. The excluded 2 do not look like accidental omissions to me.

What's odd also is the Buddha's recollection of whatever he attained under these 2 teachers as "tassa dhammassa" (that dhamma (that was declared in the preceding relative clause - yaṃ dhammaṃ rāmo sayaṃ abhiññā sacchikatvā upasampajja viharāmīti pavedesi). He did not identify these attainments by their names at all.

I'm offering these as an alternative to Wynne's arguments that the formless attainments were not a legitimate pursuit and that the redactors were wrong from a very early period of Buddhism to have included them. If I'm correct, these clues in MN 26 would suggest that whatever it was that Alara or Udaka declared to be, they were not the arupa attainments that gain prominence in the suttas.


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