The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.

The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby Jechbi » Sun Sep 20, 2009 2:31 am

I don't hold the view that the Satipatthana Sutta is a forgery. Near the end of this talk, however, it sounds like Ajahn Sujato calls it a forgery, and I'm sure he knows a lot more about these things than I do. In light of this, I'm wondering whether others here might have knowledge about discussions or debate regarding the authenticity of the Satipatthana Sutta.

In this book, Ajahn Sujato offers more details, although he does not come right out and say the sutta is a forgery the way he seems to in the talk referenced above. I imagine some here are familiar with his videos on You Tube in which he offers educated criticism about approaches to meditation based on the sutta (and, worth noting, also offers some praise for them).

Thoughts? Insights? Does it matter?

:thanks:
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby appicchato » Sun Sep 20, 2009 3:16 am

Jechbi wrote:Does it matter?

Bingo...
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby Jechbi » Sun Sep 20, 2009 3:29 am

Thank you, Bhante. I like the idea that it doesn't matter. Could you expand on that? :anjali:
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby BlackBird » Sun Sep 20, 2009 3:56 am

We each have to keep in mind what is best for our practise. Though others may hold to wrong view, the mind is quite prolific in creating problems and hindrances based on such information.

My immediate mental reaction to this knowledge, this sense input was: "Bullshit, what rubbish." and then the train of thought went in multiple directions all concerned with the implications of rather well known Monk calling (or in this case implying) the Satipatthana Sutta a forgery.

But then stop. What are the mental states arising out of contact with this knowledge? In my case they were entirely akusala. What good are these akusala mental states for the development of the mind? Much in the same way that the gambler folds his hand stating "I have no business in this hand" it might be for our long-term happiness to fold on this issue (so to speak).

:anjali:
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Last edited by BlackBird on Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby Jechbi » Sun Sep 20, 2009 4:05 am

Thank you, Jack. I find that after an uncomfortable investigation, I sometimes come away with a better understanding that actually strengthens practice. I hope that occurs here.
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Sep 20, 2009 4:27 am

I think you can approach the Tipitika in at least two ways. One as "religious" (for want of a better word) texts which are there for instruction, and one from an "academic" point of view. Ajahn Sujato's work is in the latter category, along with, say Richard Gombrich, who has a chapter "Retracing an ancient debate: how insight worsted concentration in the Pali Canon." in his book "How Buddhism Began",
http://books.google.com/books?id=aIOY5g ... q=&f=false
where he discusses the arising of the "dry insight" concept (without Jhana, which Gombrich unhelpfully translates as "without meditation"). And of course, it's that idea that Ajahn Sujato is concerned with arguing against (i.e. he rejects the validity of the Commentary-based "insight" schools).

Such work can be interesting, but as Blackbird says, if we are interested in practise, it's not so important. There is an entire Samyutta on the Foundations of Mindfulness: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .html#sn47 and the instructions are consistent.

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby appicchato » Sun Sep 20, 2009 4:59 am

Jechbi wrote:Could you expand on that?


Not really friend...much as I would like to...I do my best to just let things come and go, and don't spend too much time wondering about the why...whether this sutta is a forgery or not is unimportant to me, and where would the benefit be knowing (which doesn't seem possible, definitively, one way or another) if it is, or isn't?...it's helped me tackle my monkey mind...'nuff said...if you're going to question this particular sutta's validity where do you draw the line on questioning every sutta you come across?...in the final analysis (mine), we think too much...

Be well... :smile:
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:07 am

Dear Venerable,
appicchato wrote:...whether this sutta is a forgery or not is unimportant to me, and where would the benefit be knowing (which doesn't seem possible, definitively, one way or another) if it is, or isn't?...it's helped me tackle my monkey mind... [/i]

Thank you for that. It's what I was trying to say, much less eloquently...

Mike
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby Dmytro » Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:42 am

Dear Jechbi,

There are two main valid methods for establishing the relative dating of a sutta:
- comparison with Chinese counterparts;
- linguistic analysis of the words and grammatical forms used.

Anything else is at best a hypothesis, and at worst an empty speculation.

Since the Chinese versions of this sutta are pretty much similar to Pali sutta, all this pathologic anatomy doesn't matter.

Metta, Dmytro
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby BlackBird » Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:43 am

Jechbi wrote:I sometimes come away with a better understanding that actually strengthens practice. I hope that occurs here.


Indeed my friend.

Also thank you Bhante and Mike.

Letting go is one of the best things out there, or should that be in here?

:anjali:
Jack
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Sep 20, 2009 6:09 am

Greetings Jechbi,

Have you read this?

'A History of Mindfulness: How Insight Worsted Tranquillity in the Satipatthana Sutta' by Ajahn Sujato

Synopsis: The Satipatthana Sutta is the most influential Buddhist discourse in modern Theravada meditation. Yet rarely have modern expositions of satipatthana acknowledged the simple fact that there are several sectarian versions of the satipatthana Sutta. These share much in common, yet differ in key points. This is the first full-scale study encompassing all existing versions of the Satipatthana sutta, examining its place within the dynamic evolution of the Buddhist scriptures and the Indian meditative tradition as a whole.

Link: http://www.dhammaweb.net/dhammabook/view.php?id=95

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Sep 20, 2009 6:28 am

Even if it could be conclusively shown that the Satipatthana Sutta shows a marked editing to reflect a particular point of view, to call it a forgery is far too simplistic and misleading. The (Maha)Satipatthana Sutta, as we have it in the Pali tradition and as a meditation text, works.

For those interested in looking at a couple of the differeing versions Thich Nhat Hanh's Transformation and Healing: Sutra on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness contains a translation of the Pali version and a version from the Chinese.
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Sep 20, 2009 9:49 am

I don't think it is a forgery but Ajahn Sujato does apear to call the originality of the sutta into question, have a read of his history of mindfulness for a fuller view of the Ajahns thoughts on the matter!

it is very similare to the sarvasivadan version although at times there are differences, and some points which do suggest it isn't as a full teaching, one the Buddha gave as it is in the larger versions.

my personal theory is that the satipatthana suttas of MN & DN may of been a combination of smaller suttas as a training aid for new monks who may not of been able to remember the whole collection so langer discourses were made using short discourses and verses from other longer texts to enable the students to practice properly without needing to carry around or memorise vast amounts of teachings.

If you want a copy of Ajahns book I have a PDF & a copy of the sarvasivadan version if you would like I can send them to you, drop me a PM
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby christopher::: » Sun Sep 20, 2009 10:05 am

Manapa wrote:
my personal theory is that the satipatthana suttas of MN & DN may of been a combination of smaller suttas as a training aid for new monks who may not of been able to remember the whole collection so langer discourses were made using short discourses and verses from other longer texts to enable the students to practice properly without needing to carry around or memorise vast amounts of teachings.



That makes good sense, Manapa. I would think the only really important question is does the sutta contradict the great body of the Buddha's teaching? If the answer is no, there's nothing to worry about, imho.

:smile:
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~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Sep 20, 2009 10:32 am

Personally I don't think it does, it has to many parelells although it isn't always exactly the same, as in it doesn't go as far, namely in the body section, in the Anapanasati and elements sections as corresponding suttas and sometimes the sarvasivadan version does go further (in the elements and clear comprehension sections at least, mindfulness while sleaping is not really found in the pali version for instance but mentioned in the sarvasivadan), I think these versions were just different attempts at the same thing, get the student to a certain point then once proficient at this level they can be taught the missing parts to take them further if needed, that is to say the training didn't take them all the way to nibbana, and the missing parts were needed.
but it is a theory, and as with any theory it may be wrong.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Sep 20, 2009 12:59 pm

Dmytro wrote:There are two main valid methods for establishing the relative dating of a sutta:
- comparison with Chinese counterparts;
- linguistic analysis of the words and grammatical forms used.
Anything else is at best a hypothesis, and at worst an empty speculation.
Since the Chinese versions of this sutta are pretty much similar to Pali sutta, all this pathologic anatomy doesn't matter.


Also, to add to the above points, Thomas Rhys Davids (founder of Pali Text Society) considers the oldest texts to be those in the first four Nikayas, DN, MN, AN, SN and the Satipatthana Sutta is in DN & MN. He also considers those sayings and teachings which are repeated as evidence for an older text. The Satipatthana Sutta is in the DN, MN, and mentioned in the SN.

Thus, nothing to worry about, clearly Buddhavacana and also one of the most important texts of Buddhism.
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby Jechbi » Sun Sep 20, 2009 2:14 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Have you read this?

'A History of Mindfulness: How Insight Worsted Tranquillity in the Satipatthana Sutta' by Ajahn Sujato
This is identical to the second link in the OP, thanks. I'm only skimmed it, though.
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby Jechbi » Mon Sep 21, 2009 8:42 pm

Having re-read the responses to this thread, I wanted to say thanks for all the insightful comments here. I think the term "forgery" probably is too harsh, simply because in common usage it implies "completely fake." But even Ajahn Sujato appears to agree that the contents of the sutta reflect important elements of Dhamma teaching as they were passed down in this particular tradition. I believe he's using the term "forgery" in a narrower sense and with regards to precise origin.

Best wishes for your practice ...
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Sep 21, 2009 11:32 pm

Jechbi wrote:Having re-read the responses to this thread, I wanted to say thanks for all the insightful comments here. I think the term "forgery" probably is too harsh, simply because in common usage it implies "completely fake." But even Ajahn Sujato appears to agree that the contents of the sutta reflect important elements of Dhamma teaching as they were passed down in this particular tradition. I believe he's using the term "forgery" in a narrower sense and with regards to precise origin.

Best wishes for your practice ...


Hi Jechbi,
maybe the word fabricated may of been a better choice, as not all things that are fabricated are fake. but he did use forgery so maybe it has a slightly different meaning in Australia which is closer to fabrication in some respect?
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Sep 21, 2009 11:40 pm

Greetings,

"Forgery" is a pretty strong word here in Australia too.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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