Early text and not early text

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sentinel
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Early text and not early text

Post by sentinel » Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:19 pm

Dear forums ,

What are the early text and those that are not early text ?
What are the dividing line between both ?
Does vinaya pitaka categorized as early text ?
What then is the difference between early text and authentic text ? How to determine the authenticity ?

Thanks .
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SDC
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Re: Early text and not early text

Post by SDC » Tue Oct 01, 2019 4:56 pm

The first four collections of the Sutta Pitaka are all considered "early Buddhist texts" if I recall correctly. I think the line is somewhere in the Khuddaka Nikāya, parts of the Abhidhamma and Vinaya works. Nevertheless, the designation is a fancy shmancy thing for scholars to say. I see our fellow Mahayanin practitioners using the term to distinguish between what is and what isn't part of their canon. Not sure how justified that is, but whatevs...

Authenticity of any line in any text is whether or not it corresponds to some aspect in your experience. If you go the other route, you'll spend a bunch of time trying to figure out whether or not something qualifies as an EBT and whether or not it is trustworthy. And even if you found out the exact origin and it is acceptable, you still would have to do the work of trying to discern what it means in your experience; which means, the actual knowledge of whether or not it is useful will always be within that personal task of trying to understand how it applies to you. Whether or not it fits into some conceived historical framework is fundamentally meaningless in comparison.

I'm not saying the designation is completely useless. It is very important to agree on the appropriate structures and terminology so there can be some orientation and organization throughout the wide variety of material in Buddhism. But remember this: even if you were to become an expert in navigating texts, it doesn't mean you've gotten any better at navigating "You". That is an incredibly important distinction to bear in mind when venturing into academia.

form
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Re: Early text and not early text

Post by form » Tue Oct 01, 2019 6:53 pm

I have asked the same question before in this forum. Someone recommended me an old book by Panda on this subject and I managed to buy a copy from India. The author has some theories that certain words and concepts are later additions that should not appear in earlier text. For example tatagata.

Other than that, for my own view, if you were to look at earlier section of the suttanipata and compare with others, you may be able to tell how a very early text looks like compare to a relatively later text. To me, dhammapada is another example of the content of very early texts.

Some believe shorter text are earlier text. The longer mean higher chance of they have been edited.

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Early text and not early text

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:26 pm

Then the Blessed One proceeded with a great company of monks to Bhoganagara. There at Bhoganagara the Blessed One stayed at the Ānanda shrine. There the Blessed One addressed the monks, saying: “I will teach you, monks, the four great references. Listen, and pay heed, I will speak.”

“Yes, Venerable sir,” the monks replied in assent, and the Blessed One spoke as follows:

188. “In the first place, monks, a monk may say thus: ‘From the mouth of the Blessed One himself have I heard, from his own mouth have I learned it. This is the Dhamma, this the discipline, this the doctrine of the teacher." The words spoken, monks, by that monk should neither be received with praise nor treated with scorn. Without praise and without scorn every word and syllable should be carefully understood, and compared with the discourses and the rules of discipline. If when so compared they do not harmonise with the discourses, and do not fit in with the rules of discipline, then you may conclude, ‘Verily, this is not the word of the Blessed One, and has been wrongly grasped by that monk.’ Therefore, monks, you should reject it. However, if they harmonise with the discourses and fit in with the rules of discipline, then you may conclude, ‘Verily, this is the word of the Blessed One, and has been well grasped by that monk.’ This, monks, you should remember as the first great reference.

“Again, monks, a monk may say thus: ‘In such and such a dwelling-place there is a company of monks with elders and leaders of the Saṅgha. From the mouth of that company have I heard, from their own mouths have I learned it. This is the Dhamma, this the discipline, this the doctrine of the teacher.’ The words spoken, monks, by that monk should neither be received with praise nor treated with scorn. Without praise and without scorn every word and syllable should be carefully understood, and compared with the discourses and the rules of discipline. If when so compared they do not harmonise with the discourses, and do not fit in with the rules of discipline, then you may conclude, ‘Verily, this is not the word of the Blessed One, and has been wrongly grasped by that monk.’ Therefore, monks, you should reject it. However, if they harmonise with the discourses and fit in with the rules of discipline, then you may conclude, ‘Verily, this is the word of the Blessed One, and has been well grasped by that monk.’ This, monks, you should remember as the second great reference.

“Again, monks, a monk may say thus: ‘In such and such a dwelling-place there are dwelling many elders of the Saṅgha deeply read, holding the faith as handed down by tradition, versed in the truths, versed in the regulations of the Saṅgha versed in the summaries of the doctrines and the law. From the mouth of those elders have I heard, from their own mouths have I learned it. This is the Dhamma, this the discipline, this the doctrine of the teacher.’ The words spoken, monks, by that monk should neither be received with praise nor treated with scorn. Without praise and without scorn every word and syllable should be carefully understood, and compared with the discourses and the rules of discipline. If when so compared they do not harmonise with the discourses, and do not fit in with the rules of discipline, then you may conclude, ‘Verily, this is not the word of the Blessed One, and has been wrongly grasped by that monk.’ Therefore, monks, you should reject it. However, if they harmonise with the discourses and fit in with the rules of discipline, then you may conclude, ‘Verily, this is the word of the Blessed One, and has been well grasped by that monk.’ This, monks, you should remember as the third great reference.

“Again, monks, a monk may say: “In such and such a dwelling-place there lives a monk, deeply read, holding the faith as handed down by tradition, versed in the truths, versed in the regulations of the Saṅgha versed in the summaries of the doctrines and the law. From the mouth of that elder have I heard, from his own mouth have I learned it. This is the Dhamma, this the discipline, this the doctrine of the teacher.’ The words spoken, monks, by that monk should neither be received with praise nor treated with scorn. Without praise and without scorn every word and syllable should be carefully understood, and compared with the discourses and the rules of discipline. If when so compared they do not harmonise with the discourses, and do not fit in with the rules of discipline, then you may conclude, ‘Verily, this is not the word of the Blessed One, and has been wrongly grasped by that monk.’ Therefore, monks, you should reject it. However, if they harmonise with the discourses and fit in with the rules of discipline, then you may conclude, ‘Verily, this is the word of the Blessed One, and has been well grasped by that monk.’ This, monks, you should remember as the fourth great reference.

“These, monks, are the four great references.” (Mahāparinibbāna Sutta)
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chownah
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Re: Early text and not early text

Post by chownah » Wed Oct 02, 2019 2:01 am

I have an unclear memory of there being a buddhist forum somewhere where some well known theravada monks were discussing which texts showed signs of being altered (mostly by linguistic analysis I think but don't know for sure) at some time presumably after the buddhas death. I think I must have seen a link to it somewhere here at dhammawheel but perhaps it was elsewhere. Does anyone know of this link?....it very well may have been in a thread about jhanas but I'm not sure.
chownah
p.s. by the way....good post SDC.
chownah

sentinel
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Re: Early text and not early text

Post by sentinel » Wed Oct 02, 2019 3:46 pm

SDC wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 4:56 pm
The first four collections of the Sutta Pitaka are all considered "early Buddhist texts" if I recall correctly. I think the line is somewhere in the Khuddaka Nikāya, parts of the Abhidhamma and Vinaya works. Nevertheless, the designation is a fancy shmancy thing for scholars to say. I see our fellow Mahayanin practitioners using the term to distinguish between what is and what isn't part of their canon. Not sure how justified that is, but whatevs...

Authenticity of any line in any text is whether or not it corresponds to some aspect in your experience. If you go the other route, you'll spend a bunch of time trying to figure out whether or not something qualifies as an EBT and whether or not it is trustworthy. And even if you found out the exact origin and it is acceptable, you still would have to do the work of trying to discern what it means in your experience; which means, the actual knowledge of whether or not it is useful will always be within that personal task of trying to understand how it applies to you. Whether or not it fits into some conceived historical framework is fundamentally meaningless in comparison.

I'm not saying the designation is completely useless. It is very important to agree on the appropriate structures and terminology so there can be some orientation and organization throughout the wide variety of material in Buddhism. But remember this: even if you were to become an expert in navigating texts, it doesn't mean you've gotten any better at navigating "You". That is an incredibly important distinction to bear in mind when venturing into academia.
Hi sdc , I agree with most of the points . However , it is not academic I am after . I find it useful and not totally meaningless . It is after investigation and evaluation how I am able to map it and have better understanding of the dhamma whole picture . Probably others might have a different opinion .
Anyway thanks everyone .
:coffee:

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Zom
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Re: Early text and not early text

Post by Zom » Wed Oct 02, 2019 4:06 pm

I'm not saying the designation is completely useless. It is very important to agree on the appropriate structures and terminology so there can be some orientation and organization throughout the wide variety of material in Buddhism. But remember this: even if you were to become an expert in navigating texts, it doesn't mean you've gotten any better at navigating "You". That is an incredibly important distinction to bear in mind when venturing into academia.
Gaining the understanding of authenticity of texts is extremely important. If one doesn't do that one will get lost in all Enormous Buddhist Heritage (which is full of terrible heresies, or Adhamma, if you like, where Buddha looks no better than ordinary religious charlatan)
Nice book to start with - https://ocbs.org/wp-content/uploads/201 ... ticity.pdf :reading:

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SDC
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Re: Early text and not early text

Post by SDC » Wed Oct 02, 2019 4:43 pm

sentinel wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 3:46 pm
It is after investigation and evaluation how I am able to map it and have better understanding of the dhamma whole picture .
:thumbsup:

Just keep in mind that the texts aren't the whole picture and that expertise in textual analysis does not imply you've understood how any of it applies to one's own suffering.

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SDC
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Re: Early text and not early text

Post by SDC » Wed Oct 02, 2019 4:48 pm

Zom wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 4:06 pm
I'm not saying the designation is completely useless. It is very important to agree on the appropriate structures and terminology so there can be some orientation and organization throughout the wide variety of material in Buddhism. But remember this: even if you were to become an expert in navigating texts, it doesn't mean you've gotten any better at navigating "You". That is an incredibly important distinction to bear in mind when venturing into academia.
Gaining the understanding of authenticity of texts is extremely important. If one doesn't do that one will get lost in all Enormous Buddhist Heritage (which is full of terrible heresies, or Adhamma, if you like, where Buddha looks no better than ordinary religious charlatan)
Nice book to start with - https://ocbs.org/wp-content/uploads/201 ... ticity.pdf :reading:
Agree 100%. However, too many people get caught up in the idea that expertise in textual analysis equates to development in the Dhamma. Learn the field, I'm not denying that. Just don't assume it means you've done any of the work in discerning why you suffer.

Becoming an expert in map reading doesn't mean you can climb a mountain.

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Zom
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Re: Early text and not early text

Post by Zom » Wed Oct 02, 2019 9:42 pm

Ye, but without it you can't climb it either.

Srilankaputra
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Re: Early text and not early text

Post by Srilankaputra » Thu Oct 03, 2019 2:26 am

Zom wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 9:42 pm
Ye, but without it you can't climb it either.
I really do understand this approach, especially if one is exploring without a teacher. We are many generations removed from the Buddha and the tipitaka is vast. One must start somewhere. But as we practice and our own radar or GPS starts turning on and we become more independent, the territory we can explore without getting in trouble expands. It becomes clear Theras of the great councils have done a great thing for us by preserving the whole of tipitaka including commentary. :anjali:
O seeing one,we for refuge go to thee!
O mighty sage do thou our teacher be!

Paccuppannañca yo dhammaṃ,
Tattha tattha vipassati

“Yato yato mano nivāraye,
Na dukkhameti naṃ tato tato;
Sa sabbato mano nivāraye,
Sa sabbato dukkhā pamuccatī”ti.

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Volo
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Re: Early text and not early text

Post by Volo » Thu Oct 03, 2019 6:38 am

Indeed it's useful to have some idea on which text is earlier one, and which one is later. But appeals to follow only the early texts, rejecting the commentaries is nothing else as to say "Let's follow my commentaries", since some commentaries for the Nikayas are unavoidable. Thus, we see, that people who claim they follow only "EBT" cannot agree with each other even on such fundamental and basic things as jhānas, or how ānāpānasati should be practiced, etc. Some trivialize jhānas to the extent that it seems difficult NOT to attain them.

For me it's obvious that early commentators (on whose works Buddhaghosa based his writings) had access to a living tradition of practice which came down to the Buddha, in contrast to modern "EBT followers" who usually don't even speak pali properly, whose "attainments" are questionable, but who readily become aggressive and insulting towards those who disagree with them.

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Zom
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Re: Early text and not early text

Post by Zom » Thu Oct 03, 2019 1:02 pm

It becomes clear Theras of the great councils have done a great thing for us by preserving the whole of tipitaka including commentary.
Without a doubt, but one should also remember that there were many Great Theras of different early schools and their commentaries were very different. In this situation we can't rely on any council authorities.
For me it's obvious that early commentators (on whose works Buddhaghosa based his writings) had access to a living tradition of practice which came down to the Buddha
This "living tradition" was 1000 years away from living Buddha. During these 10 centuries Buddhism saw all spectrum of different buddhist practices, including tantra.

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Re: Early text and not early text

Post by Srilankaputra » Thu Oct 03, 2019 2:31 pm

Zom wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 1:02 pm
Without a doubt, but one should also remember that there were many Great Theras of different early schools
True indeed. There is a saying 'hear the truth from whoever says it'. This a very complex issue I am definitely not wise enough to settle it. But i am pretty sure if I proceed with faith in Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha things will open up that is needful for me to know.
O seeing one,we for refuge go to thee!
O mighty sage do thou our teacher be!

Paccuppannañca yo dhammaṃ,
Tattha tattha vipassati

“Yato yato mano nivāraye,
Na dukkhameti naṃ tato tato;
Sa sabbato mano nivāraye,
Sa sabbato dukkhā pamuccatī”ti.

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SDC
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Re: Early text and not early text

Post by SDC » Thu Oct 03, 2019 3:04 pm

Volo wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 6:38 am
But appeals to follow only the early texts, rejecting the commentaries is nothing else as to say "Let's follow my commentaries", since some commentaries for the Nikayas are unavoidable.
Five years ago I would've disagreed with you, but you make an incredibly important point. Interpretation is part of the work and it must come from outside. The Buddha said it himself: the utterance of another (along with proper attention) is a requirement for right view. That is precisely the intent of any commentary: to provide that interpretive framework. Not every commentary is equally helpful, but even if one were to reject every interpretation, that is nothing but settling for the default framework of a contemporary world. Additionally, a dash or hermeneutics and exegesis is not entirely unjustified either, but again you run the risk of obsessing over scriptural structure for the sake of consistency rather than developing a deeply personal embrace of what is being described.

It is a delicate balance between critical thinking and deliberate self-sabotage, and that means being prepared to postpone a personal need for that objective, scriptural consistency based solely on the fact of whether or not one is a sotāpanna. They could be the top scholar at Oxford - if they aren't an ariya, they're still in the trenches. What one does at that fork in the road is everything. Do I keep drilling for that consistency in an impersonal academic manner or do I take what makes the most sense so far and start to apply it to Me? I think the satta bojjhaṅgā (7 factors) and the pañc' indriyāni (5 faculties) sorts the matter out brilliantly, regarding just how important and useful the faculty of faith can be once a certain degree of it has been developed.

So again, consistency and accuracy is important and distinctions between what is more or less authentic is helpful, but a pure arrangement of the literature at the outset of practice is not only unnecessary, it is not possible. The complete picture, it seems, is reserved for the sekha.

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