Approaching traditional Theravada Commentaries with caution

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
User avatar
clw_uk
Posts: 4718
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am

Approaching traditional Theravada Commentaries with caution

Post by clw_uk » Fri Mar 20, 2009 7:34 pm

[SPLIT TOPIC - decoupled from "in the commentaries"... where? ( http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=978" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ) in the Classical Theravada forum - Retro.]

My advice would be to read them with caution, although they do correctly elaborate on certain points, other times they can be wrong


:anjali:
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: "in the commentaries"... where?

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Mar 20, 2009 7:40 pm

clw_uk wrote:My advice would be to read them with caution, although they do correctly elaborate on certain points, other times they can be wrong
While might have reason to disagree with the commentaries, it should not be done lightly. In other words there needs to be good, reasoned and exampled cause for doing so.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

User avatar
clw_uk
Posts: 4718
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am

Re: "in the commentaries"... where?

Post by clw_uk » Fri Mar 20, 2009 7:55 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
clw_uk wrote:My advice would be to read them with caution, although they do correctly elaborate on certain points, other times they can be wrong
While might have reason to disagree with the commentaries, it should not be done lightly. In other words there needs to be good, reasoned and exampled cause for doing so.


I agree, i was merely suggesting that one have caution when reading them, they might not be accurate
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16281
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: "in the commentaries"... where?

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:09 pm

clw_uk wrote: I agree, i was merely suggesting that one have caution when reading them, they might not be accurate
This may be true but I would advise being even more careful with arguments made in ignorance of the Commentaries.

Metta
Mike

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: "in the commentaries"... where?

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:10 pm

they might not be accurate
And upon what basis do you determine that?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

User avatar
clw_uk
Posts: 4718
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am

Re: "in the commentaries"... where?

Post by clw_uk » Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:58 pm

they might not be accurate

And upon what basis do you determine that?

Each commentary needs to be approached with caution because they are not the words of the Buddha but of later disciples that may still have had unknowing in them


Its not to say they are worthless, i have found that some have very good explanations as well as some that were not so good, each commentary should be investigated and compared with ones own experience and with what the suttas say etc


:anjali:
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: "in the commentaries"... where?

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:10 pm

clw_uk wrote:
they might not be accurate

And upon what basis do you determine that?

Each commentary needs to be approached with caution because they are not the words of the Buddha but of later disciples that may still have had unknowing in them
Unknowing in them. That maybe, particularly in terms of modern history, but I would take the commentaries far more seriously in terms of doctrinal matters than I would most of the rebirth deniers I have seen who seem to have a great deal of "unknowing in them."
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

User avatar
clw_uk
Posts: 4718
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am

Re: "in the commentaries"... where?

Post by clw_uk » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:13 pm

Unknowing in them. That maybe, particularly in terms of modern history, but I would take the commentaries far more seriously in terms of doctrinal matters than I would most of the rebirth deniers I have seen who seem to have a great deal of "unknowing in them."


Why does rebirth denial come into this :?
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: "in the commentaries"... where?

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:17 pm

Why does rebirth denial come into this
It is a good example of the problem discussed.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

User avatar
clw_uk
Posts: 4718
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am

Re: "in the commentaries"... where?

Post by clw_uk » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:20 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Why does rebirth denial come into this
It is a good example of the problem discussed.

Do you mean that the unknowing in the person could cause them to miss what the commentary is saying?
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

User avatar
Ben
Posts: 18442
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: kanamaluka

Re: "in the commentaries"... where?

Post by Ben » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:24 pm

Hi Craig

I'm interested to know what qualifies you to criticise the commentaries?
Are you intimately familiar with them? Are you so highly realised yourself that you can discern error of view in the commentarial authors?

B
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

User avatar
clw_uk
Posts: 4718
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am

Re: "in the commentaries"... where?

Post by clw_uk » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:26 pm

Ben wrote:Hi Craig

I'm interested to know what qualifies you to criticise the commentaries?
Are you intimately familiar with them? Are you so highly realised yourself that you can discern error of view in the commentarial authors?

B


I havent, all i did was offer some friendly advice, whats wrong in advising someone to have some caution or healty skepticism when reading them?
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16281
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: "in the commentaries"... where?

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:34 pm

clw_uk wrote: Why does rebirth denial come into this :?
Perhaps because the Commentaries are quite clear about it, but a common argument that one hears is that the "serious Suttas" don't talk about literal rebirth.

Another example would be Anatta, where the Commentaries (as quoted in the Visuddhimagga) seem quite clear that you won't find a self anywhere. For example:
"For there is suffering, but none who suffers;
Doing exists although there is no doer;
Extinction is but no extinguished person;
Although there is a path, there is no goer."

Visuddhimagga, XVI, 90.
However, the Suttas never quite seem to deny a "self outside the khandas", something Thanissaro Bhikkhu, for example, makes a lot of with his "not-self strategy" idea that permeates his writing and translations:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tself.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I do, of course, have a lot of respect for Ven Thanissaro. He's perhaps a good example of someone who has looked carefully and sincerely and rejected certain parts of the standard Theravada in favour of his readings and experience. However, whether or not one agrees with him, I think that it is important to realise that his translation on Access to Insight have his particular opinions embedded. And unlike Bhikkhu Bodhi he is not always clear where he differs from the Commentaries. Bhikkhu Bodhi is always at great pains to state: "The commentary says X, I disagree because of Y".

Metta
Mike

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 19961
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: "in the commentaries"... where?

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:38 pm

Greetings,

Once back at E-Sangha, venerable Dhammanando provided a "priority list" sourced from the commentaries themselves which showed the respective priority that certain sources of information (e.g. Suttas, Vinaya, Abhidhamma, Commentaries, other opinion) should be afforded. The list is of course self-referential with respect the commentaries (which may not make it entirely objective, or at worst, an attempt to establish an intellectual monopoly) but it would be good if venerable Dhammanando would be able to repost that list here, so we can understand how to, from a Classical Theravada perspective, prioritise different sources of Buddhist information.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

User avatar
clw_uk
Posts: 4718
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am

Re: "in the commentaries"... where?

Post by clw_uk » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:44 pm

Well the main points i disagree with the commentaries on comes from meditation, the instructions in the Visuddhimagga to mindfulness of breathing held me back, it was only when i looked just at the sutta (and some teachings from Ven. U Vimalaramsi) did i make progress and now when looking back at the Visuddhimagga instructions it doesnt correspond much with my meditation exp.



However the instructions on loving-kindness did help


Now of course this is in reguards to meditation so it is probably down to one technique not working while another one does but it does show how they must be approached with caution, which is all i ever said


In reguards to doctrine they hit the mark except on some points that i personally disagree with
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: chownah and 96 guests