Grouping by Disciple and Other Ways to Navigate the Buddhist Texts

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mettafuture
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Grouping by Disciple and Other Ways to Navigate the Buddhist Texts

Post by mettafuture » Thu Oct 11, 2018 2:40 am

Traditionally, the Buddha's teachings were transmitted orally. Today, thanks to the preservation efforts of the early Buddhist Councils, and the tireless work of translators, the majority of the teachings are available in modern languages for us to freely read and reflect on. With so much knowledge just a click or book purchase away, it begs the question—how do we navigate it? Should we even try?

Each text, typically, reflects an interaction in which a teacher gives a student a lesson that's personalized for their temperament and situation. Considering this, perhaps it would be helpful to find the disciple or attendee(s) who comes closest to matching our temperament and situation (e.g. Mahānāma the Sakyan), and focus primarily on the texts featuring them—without totally excluding the other texts. Maybe such an approach could bring more continuity to study, and mitigate the need to parse the overlap between lessons.

A nice feature—that I only recently discovered—in the three nikāya translations that I own from Wisdom is an index of proper names.

What are your thoughts?

What approach do you take to navigating the texts?
Last edited by mettafuture on Thu Oct 11, 2018 12:23 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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salayatananirodha
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Re: Navigating Buddhist Texts by Disciple

Post by salayatananirodha » Thu Oct 11, 2018 2:45 am

http://obo.genaud.net/dhamma-vinaya/pts/mn/mn.036.horn.pts.htm wrote:Now I, Aggivessana, am aware
that when I am teaching dhamma
to companies consisting of many hundreds,
each person thinks thus about me:

'The recluse Gotama is teaching dhamma especially for me.'

But this, Aggivessana, should not be understood thus.

For when a Tathāgata is teaching dhamma to others
it is for the sake of general instruction.
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

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mettafuture
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Re: Navigating Buddhist Texts by Disciple

Post by mettafuture » Thu Oct 11, 2018 10:22 am

For when a Tathāgata is teaching dhamma to others it is for the sake of general instruction.
Usually. But sometimes there are instances where the teaching addresses a particular need or lifestyle, such as SN 55.53 where the Buddha explains four-factors of stream-entry to a large group of lay followers who, due to their worldly duties, are unable to undertake the more advanced teachings.

dharmacorps
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Re: Grouping by Disciple and Other Ways to Navigate the Buddhist Texts

Post by dharmacorps » Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:49 pm

That's a good subject to discuss. The way the suttas were assembled by the early Buddhists I think perhaps made more sense from a memorization, chanting, and recitation perspective than a modern information technology or reader-centered perspective. One thing I have always liked about accesstoinsight.com is the references to suttas by subject. If I am dealing with a difficult issue, I will often have trouble finding a sutta which references something specific-- e.g., dealing with illness, difficult people, etc. I would like to see more organization of the suttas along those lines at least as a reference.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Grouping by Disciple and Other Ways to Navigate the Buddhist Texts

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Oct 11, 2018 6:20 pm

mettafuture wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 2:40 am
Traditionally, the Buddha's teachings were transmitted orally. Today, thanks to the preservation efforts of the early Buddhist Councils, and the tireless work of translators, the majority of the teachings are available in modern languages for us to freely read and reflect on. With so much knowledge just a click or book purchase away, it begs the question—how do we navigate it? Should we even try?

Each text, typically, reflects an interaction in which a teacher gives a student a lesson that's personalized for their temperament and situation. Considering this, perhaps it would be helpful to find the disciple or attendee(s) who comes closest to matching our temperament and situation (e.g. Mahānāma the Sakyan), and focus primarily on the texts featuring them—without totally excluding the other texts. Maybe such an approach could bring more continuity to study, and mitigate the need to parse the overlap between lessons.

A nice feature—that I only recently discovered—in the three nikāya translations that I own from Wisdom is an index of proper names.

What are your thoughts?

What approach do you take to navigating the texts?
Many thanks for this suggestion, which, as often with your posts, is both rational and inspiring. My own approach is far less systematic and original. I read the MN and SN straight through from start to finish, and am currently looking at the AN using Bhikkhu Bodhi's list of topics. I have found that eventually, my determination falters, and I start to question the approach; it's only will-power that got me through some dull patches of the SN! My most consistent approach, if I can call it that, has been to look at what immediately inspires me (often here on DW) and then follow my nose.

A small group of us has also just started a sutta-reading group. This is good discipline, as it encourages me to pay attention to aspects of the teachings that I would not have chosen for myself, and to listen intently to the views of others.

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mikenz66
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Re: Grouping by Disciple and Other Ways to Navigate the Buddhist Texts

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:16 pm

dharmacorps wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:49 pm
One thing I have always liked about accesstoinsight.com is the references to suttas by subject. If I am dealing with a difficult issue, I will often have trouble finding a sutta which references something specific-- e.g., dealing with illness, difficult people, etc. I would like to see more organization of the suttas along those lines at least as a reference.
Note that this index has been adapted by SuttaCentral:
https://suttacentral.net/subjects

:heart:
Mike

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mettafuture
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Re: Grouping by Disciple and Other Ways to Navigate the Buddhist Texts

Post by mettafuture » Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:55 am

dharmacorps wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:49 pm
I would like to see more organization of the suttas along those lines at least as a reference.
Same. Indexes are one of my favorite things. And anthologies are often good for organization, too. It would be great if there were more biographical anthologies in this spirit of Great Disciples of the Buddha.
Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 6:20 pm
Many thanks for this suggestion, which, as often with your posts, is both rational and inspiring.
Thank you.

:namaste:
I read the MN and SN straight through from start to finish (...)
I've attempted this many times. By now I think I've read most of MN, and about half of the other three major nikayas. I've only recently completed the Sutta Nipāta and Udāna, both translated by Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu. The former has become one of my favorite nighttime reads.
A small group of us has also just started a sutta-reading group.
This is a great idea. In groups, there's more friendly pressure to make progress.
mikenz66 wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:16 pm
Note that this index has been adapted by SuttaCentral:
Speaking of indexes, nice! Thanks for sharing this.

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mettafuture
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Re: Grouping by Disciple and Other Ways to Navigate the Buddhist Texts

Post by mettafuture » Fri Oct 12, 2018 2:59 pm

Wow, after all these years, how am I just now noticing the index of proper names on ATI?! Sutta Central has an index of names as well. I'm going to be combing through these for awhile.

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mikenz66
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Re: Grouping by Disciple and Other Ways to Navigate the Buddhist Texts

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Oct 12, 2018 7:39 pm

mettafuture wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 2:59 pm
Wow, after all these years, how am I just now noticing the index of proper names on ATI?! Sutta Central has an index of names as well. I'm going to be combing through these for awhile.
And don't forget the full Dictionary of Pāli Proper Names
http://aimwell.org/DPPN/index.html

:heart:
Mike

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mettafuture
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Re: Grouping by Disciple and Other Ways to Navigate the Buddhist Texts

Post by mettafuture » Sat Oct 13, 2018 2:28 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 7:39 pm
And don't forget the full Dictionary of Pāli Proper Names
http://aimwell.org/DPPN/index.html

:heart:
Mike
Awesome!

Many thanks.

:namaste:

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