What would you advise...

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What would you advise...

Postby Beautiful Breath » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:25 pm

With the risk of sounding like an intellectual snob my bookshelf has nothing that will be of any use to someone coming from a different tradition wanting to embark on a Theravadin Journey. What would you recommend a newbie to read as a good intro. They're a smart cookie so ready re Abhidhamma etc...

Thanks in advance!
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Re: What would you advise...

Postby daverupa » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:52 pm

Smart, inquisitive people can probably benefit from reading suttas right away, and asking questions of others as they arise. In my case, I felt that the Nikayas, had I read them first, would have saved me quite a lot of time.

So, Anguttara or Samyutta Nikaya, is my suggestion. Majjhima if those seem too large for a first go at it. Digha really doesn't have a good pedagogical place these days, although there are some good bhavana pointers buried in there.

The introductions to the Wisdom editions should suffice for a general orientation.

:reading:
    "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: What would you advise...

Postby Coyote » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:57 pm

Bhikkhu Bodhi's "in the Buddha's words".
I guess it depends how knowledgeable they are and what they are interested in i.e how much their tradition differs from Theravada.
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Re: What would you advise...

Postby Beautiful Breath » Thu Mar 21, 2013 10:31 pm

...they're from a Tibetan background. Lots of previous reading Nargajuna etc... I should know, hours if debating :toast:
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Re: What would you advise...

Postby Bakmoon » Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:27 am

Beautiful Breath wrote:With the risk of sounding like an intellectual snob my bookshelf has nothing that will be of any use to someone coming from a different tradition wanting to embark on a Theravadin Journey. What would you recommend a newbie to read as a good intro. They're a smart cookie so ready re Abhidhamma etc...

Thanks in advance!


I'd advise them to stay away from Abhidhamma until they have a studies the suttas quite a bit, as starting off with Abhidhamma would risk having them understand the Abhidhamma in a largely intellectual framework, whereas if they study the suttas in detail first, then I think they would then be able to understand the practical applications of Abhidhamma instead.

You mention they are smart, so I think they would have no problem understanding the Suttas. The only real question is where they should start. The "In the Buddha's Words" anthology already mentioned is a very good place because it gives a good cross section of the Suttas, going over many different subjects without focusing on one in detail.

After that, I think where to go next is largely a matter of personal taste. The Majjhima Nikaya is very good, but the Sutta Nipata, the Itivuttaka, and the Udana also contain a lot of easily accessible Dhamma and also have a beautiful and very inspiring quality to them.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
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Re: What would you advise...

Postby plwk » Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:00 am

...they're from a Tibetan background. Lots of previous reading Nargajuna etc... I should know, hours if debating :toast:

Ah the other side of the fence famed for endless commentaries, sub commentaries and treatises... :mrgreen:

This should be a good start then... the Theravadin magnum opus and equivalent of the 'Lamrin'

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What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

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Re: What would you advise...

Postby alan... » Fri Mar 22, 2013 3:48 am

"in the buddhas words" by bhikkhu bodhi is a wonderful compilation of relevant suttas arranged in a logical framework. whereas the nikayas are arranged by length, not content, so they're all over the place. don't get me wrong, the nikayas are the most profound works in existence, but for day one i would go with the bodhi book. once you've got a handle though, get the nikayas! the majjhima is my favorite but they are all gold.

"satipatthana" by analayo covers mindfulness VERY well.

"who is my self?" by ayya khema covers meditation, this is the teacher of leigh brasington, who has lots of free teachings on line.

after reading these three books one should be fully ready to get down and practice seriously. the first book will teach you the sutta explanations of all the pertinent points on the path and the following two books will teach you the ins and outs of the intricate practices of mindfulness (factor 7) and meditation (factor 8) since they are the two most complicated factors on the path (assuming right view is covered by mindfulness and meditation since the goal is to understand it by practice).

as far as i can tell factors 3 (right speech), 4 (right action), and 5 (right livelihood) are super easy to understand, they're basically morality. step 1 (right view) as i said is covered in the books on and through practice of mindfulness and meditation since understanding it is the goal, this is a very deep and intricate step but as a step by itself it lends itself only to a discursive intellectual understanding and must be brought to fruition using other steps. steps 2 (right intention or right thought) and 6 ( right effort) are deep but there is only so much understanding one can have outside of literal day to day practice. understanding effort comes through practicing the very things one is making an effort to undertake, right intention or thought likewise comes to fruition through morality, mindfulness and meditation. so the first book covers all the path factors well enough by showing the suttas and the second two hash out how to actually practice the last two steps. it makes a circle in the end. to be clear every step it utterly crucial, i'm just explaining my book choices.

i have an entire book case filled with dhamma books, one and a half entire shelves are strictly theravada, so the above books are for me, right now, the cream of the crop.

EDIT: one more book that is great just to get a handle on the buddha is "the life of the buddha according to the pali canon" by bhikkhu nanamoli. as i said the nikayas are not chronological or anything, so what this book is is a bunch of suttas put in an order that tells the story of the buddha's life from birth to death. otherwise one would have to sift through the thousands of suttas and read only the ones that are biographical in nature to get a flowing story of his life. there is also a wonderful section on the practice of the dhamma. this is one of the best books around.
Last edited by alan... on Fri Mar 22, 2013 6:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What would you advise...

Postby Nyorai » Fri Mar 22, 2013 5:56 am

It should contain body and mind in details. The breakdowns of the four noble truth in details, and how to reform it accordingly into a wholesome four noble truth :stirthepot:
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