Arguments against the Pali Canon being authentic?

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binocular
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Re: Arguments against the Pali Canon being authentic?

Post by binocular » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:05 pm

zan wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 4:06 am
]What are the arguments that suppose that the Pali Canon is not the literal word of The Buddha? Or that there is nothing at all in the Pali Canon that goes back to the Buddha?
We can't prove that any statement in the Pali Canon was made by the Buddha, because we don't have any document (for which we would be sure that it was spoken by the Buddha) to which we could compare it. The same problem applies to many historical texts (and even to some present situations).

This, however, is not an argument that supposes that the Pali Canon is not the literal word of the Buddha, or that there is nothing at all in the Pali Canon that goes back to the Buddha. Just that there is a measure of uncertainty about the source of those texts.

Except for Bahais, I'm not sure anyone ever claimed that the Pali Canon is not the literal word of the Buddha.
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rightviewftw
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Re: Arguments against the Pali Canon being authentic?

Post by rightviewftw » Mon Jul 16, 2018 2:35 pm

LuisR wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 6:28 am
Weren't there some early Mahayan texts found in Afghanistan that are older than the Pali Cannon?
afaik those were Gandhari fragments and they are parallels to a substantial portion of the early pali sutta.
He goes to Niraya, the one who asserts what didn't take place, as does the one who, having done, says, 'I didn't.' Both — low-acting people — there become equal: after death, in the world beyond.
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binocular
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Re: Arguments against the Pali Canon being authentic?

Post by binocular » Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:21 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:19 am
As long as the practices work, does it even matter? The whole thing could be a complete fiction, but if the practices delivered the end of suffering, it wouldn't matter at all.
The concept of "useful fiction" is highly problematic. Even a supposedly useful fiction is still fiction.
Relying on something that one considers to be "useful fiction" is like knowingly trying to bring about the placebo effect.
If something "works", then it's not fiction.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

cookiemonster
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Re: Arguments against the Pali Canon being authentic?

Post by cookiemonster » Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:25 pm

IMO if "Buddha" means the Awakened One, then any teachings which are conducive to awakening would indeed be from a Buddha, whomever he, she, or it may be historically.

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Pseudobabble
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Re: Arguments against the Pali Canon being authentic?

Post by Pseudobabble » Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:09 pm

binocular wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:21 pm
Pseudobabble wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:19 am
As long as the practices work, does it even matter? The whole thing could be a complete fiction, but if the practices delivered the end of suffering, it wouldn't matter at all.
The concept of "useful fiction" is highly problematic. Even a supposedly useful fiction is still fiction.
Relying on something that one considers to be "useful fiction" is like knowingly trying to bring about the placebo effect.
If something "works", then it's not fiction.
If you're saying the untrue is non-functional, I agree. Behind every 'useful fiction' is a true principle which governs the function. But you can think of a useful fiction as something like a proximate cause. If I believe that God punishes evildoers, and abstain from crime as a result - it makes sense to say that my belief in the fictional deity caused me to avoid crime. Same way, if my parents told me there is a magical principle in toothpaste which keeps your teeth healthy, and I brush my teeth because of it, it is a useful fiction.

You can also knowingly bring about the placebo effect: mix identical dud pills in with the effective ones.
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"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


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zan
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Re: Arguments against the Pali Canon being authentic?

Post by zan » Tue Jul 17, 2018 12:55 am

binocular wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:21 pm
Pseudobabble wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:19 am
As long as the practices work, does it even matter? The whole thing could be a complete fiction, but if the practices delivered the end of suffering, it wouldn't matter at all.
The concept of "useful fiction" is highly problematic. Even a supposedly useful fiction is still fiction.
Relying on something that one considers to be "useful fiction" is like knowingly trying to bring about the placebo effect.
If something "works", then it's not fiction.
Imagine if someone wanted to find a certain temple purported to be filled with treasure and this person found the journals of a great explorer that apparently contain the account of the finding of this temple. They followed his directions maps and paths contained in the journals to a tomb full of treasure, only to then find out that the explorer himself did not write the journals and that around sixty percent of the events written in them are complete fiction, it does not invalidate the maps, directions or treasure filled tomb. They find that no one knows who wrote the journals or how or why they contain legitimate instructions for finding real treasure wrapped up with fiction. They were able to accomplish their goal and so, does it matter?

If the instructions are functional, their authenticity and fiction vs non fiction status is irrelevant and prove that whomever wrote them got the true information to the reader in some form which validates the author and pertinent points of the texts, even if they may be other than is usually understood or assumed.
Never read anything I write as an accurate statement about anything whatsoever. Look to wiser ones than I. Look to wise texts. Look elsewhere. See my writings like word games, nothing more.

binocular
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Re: Arguments against the Pali Canon being authentic?

Post by binocular » Tue Jul 17, 2018 4:16 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:09 pm
If you're saying the untrue is non-functional, I agree. Behind every 'useful fiction' is a true principle which governs the function. But you can think of a useful fiction as something like a proximate cause. If I believe that God punishes evildoers, and abstain from crime as a result - it makes sense to say that my belief in the fictional deity caused me to avoid crime. Same way, if my parents told me there is a magical principle in toothpaste which keeps your teeth healthy, and I brush my teeth because of it, it is a useful fiction.
But in neither of those cases did you believe that the object/content of your belief was fictional. Objectively, or to other people, it may have been fictional, but for you, it wasn't.
You can also knowingly bring about the placebo effect: mix identical dud pills in with the effective ones.
Even if you mix the pills yourself?

I don't believe one can fool oneself like that. That would be like performing a magic trick on oneself.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

binocular
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Re: Arguments against the Pali Canon being authentic?

Post by binocular » Tue Jul 17, 2018 4:26 pm

zan wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 12:55 am
Imagine if someone wanted to find a certain temple purported to be filled with treasure and this person found the journals of a great explorer that apparently contain the account of the finding of this temple. They followed his directions maps and paths contained in the journals to a tomb full of treasure, only to then find out that the explorer himself did not write the journals and that around sixty percent of the events written in them are complete fiction, it does not invalidate the maps, directions or treasure filled tomb. They find that no one knows who wrote the journals or how or why they contain legitimate instructions for finding real treasure wrapped up with fiction. They were able to accomplish their goal and so, does it matter?

If the instructions are functional, their authenticity and fiction vs non fiction status is irrelevant and prove that whomever wrote them got the true information to the reader in some form which validates the author and pertinent points of the texts, even if they may be other than is usually understood or assumed.
It matters to oneself whether one believes about something to be just "useful fiction".

If one starts out doing something for which one believes to be just a trick, a "useful fiction", and then it "works", giving the desired and promised results, then one will either A) stop believing it is "useful fiction" and consider it true and real, or B) come to believe it is magic.

This is why deliberate epistemic agnosticism is problematic (even if it seems rational by secular standards), as it keeps the person in a state of lacking belief despite seeing some of the promised and desired results, and thus halting further progress.

On the other side, there's the danger of magical thinking, which undermines discernment and free will.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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manas
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Re: Arguments against the Pali Canon being authentic?

Post by manas » Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:06 pm

Kim OHara wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 4:38 am

You will find more detail in the Early Buddhism sub-forum. Wander over and :reading: for a while. :smile:

As for myself, I'm willing to go along with the consensus on the history of the texts but I don't think the details matter too much because I think the core messages are close enough to the original teaching to serve as the basis of practice.

:namaste:
Kim
:goodpost: Yep. The suttas were most probably arranged for the sake of easier memorization; I doubt that the Buddha would have literally spoken all those repetitive passages, for example; they are probably there to help monks memorize the suttas, and hand them down to future generations. What matters is the core message, which careful reading, contemplation and practice can reveal. :namaste:
Knowing this body is like a clay jar,
securing this mind like a fort,
attack Mara with the spear of discernment,
then guard what's won without settling there,
without laying claim.

- Dhp 40

pyluyten
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Re: Arguments against the Pali Canon being authentic?

Post by pyluyten » Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:10 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:19 am
As long as the practices work, does it even matter? The whole thing could be a complete fiction, but if the practices delivered the end of suffering, it wouldn't matter at all.
Another "who cares" version may be, as soon as wise people taught some useful stuff, does it matter it was actually one wiseman, two wisemen, or one hundred - does it matter their names, casts, skin color, height? This opinion weights more broadly than just "the author of Pali Canon", since there are questions like "were Jhanas taught before Buddha" ; "who did invent Nibbana concept" ; "what is the origin of PaticcaSamupadda theory" and so on.

However as a side note, i embrace two different views : 1. we do not have enough material to know and, it is not science to claim something we cannot check nor measure, so the question should be left as not answerable ; 2. it is more interesting to read at studies than try to guess which texts are older, which are more modern, which theories came first, which last, based on various assumptions. The interesting part in these studies is not so much the raw deductions like "well the rhinoceros sutta is really old" or "arupa jhana were not called jhana in the canon" ; while it is valuable, the interesting part of these studies is rather how they come to such conclusions, why.

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Zom
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Re: Arguments against the Pali Canon being authentic?

Post by Zom » Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:41 pm

What are the arguments that suppose that the Pali Canon is not the literal word of The Buddha? Or that there is nothing at all in the Pali Canon that goes back to the Buddha?
The very question should sound like: "What are the arguments that suppose that the Pali Canon is the literal word of The Buddha?" Because when someone declares something (and Buddhists do declare this), it is he who must defend his position and bring up arguments - not someone who doubts.

And so, I would recommend this: https://ocbs.org/wp-content/uploads/201 ... ticity.pdf

binocular
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Re: Arguments against the Pali Canon being authentic?

Post by binocular » Wed Jul 18, 2018 7:36 pm

Zom wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:41 pm
The very question should sound like: "What are the arguments that suppose that the Pali Canon is the literal word of The Buddha?" Because when someone declares something (and Buddhists do declare this), it is he who must defend his position and bring up arguments - not someone who doubts.
"The burden of proof is on the claimant" is a Western secular principle.
It's not clear why religious/spiritual people should feel obligated by it. Moreover, one can often enough see that they don't feel thus obligated, and
even feel offended is someone requests them to provide some proof or evidence for their claims.

If anything, religious/spiritual people seem to operate on the principle "The burden of proof is on the doubter".
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