alan... wrote:if you had two groups and two islands and gave one just the dhammapada (an edition with no commentary, just the bare text) and the other just the majjhima nikaya (the edition with bhikkhu bodhi's notes) and then visited each group fifty years later i would imagine the majjhima group would be practicing a version of the dhamma that is much closer to what we all think of the dhamma as than the dhammapada only group.
Without knowledgeable teachers and monastics capable of transmitting the complete dhammavinaya lineage I wouldn't give either of your groups much of a chance of sustaining a living dhamma practice community over a period of 50 years. I think your hypothetical scenario is quite unrealistic.
alan... wrote:not that anyone was suggesting giving them just the dhammapada anyway. i'm using this as an extreme example to make clear what i'm saying and why i don't understand it as a choice at all. if you are only giving a small number of books, why would one be the dhammapada?
I don't understand why you started this thread. But when someone asks me what books I would recommend to people who "know almost nothing about the dhamma," I often recommend the Dhammapada.
they wouldn't have much chance to have what we might consider good dhamma but it could be something akin to it. i see no reason why this hypothetical group of people couldn't develop some kind of understanding of the dhamma, even if it's not perfect they surely could come up with some good practices and moral foundations that could last much longer than fifty years with a good selection of books. i'm sure somewhere in history and lore we could find a story where someone reaches nibbana or close to it just by reading some texts or hearing them recited so it's not such a stretch really. actually this kind of thing is seen frequently in the history of the dhamma, across all traditions.
why did i start this thread? see the earlier post
where this same question was asked. i don't know why people keep asking this.
it's just for fun. no big deal.
if it bothers you just remember it's a silly hypothetical situation.
the situation is actually fairly irrelevant, the only important things are the conditions. i was just using the situation to get a straight answer out of people without a bunch of confusion over what i was asking or too much thought or analysis into what books i was looking for. it was more fun to make a game out of it than to just write: what books do you like for under $60, no internet articles, no free books, no audio files, etc., etc. stuff i can find on amazon. and i got just that! lot's of posts with amazing book selections!
not only that, it's more fun to make it a scenario! it makes people think more creatively and take their answers more seriously but since it's just hypothetical they don't over think them either.
the dhammapada is a wonderful thing. all i was saying is if that was all someone had, with no commentary, it wouldn't be as useful as a whole nikaya or more. as an introductory item with many more volumes and teachings potentially behind it it is absolutely a perfect choice. but inside this thread for our hypothetical group, it alone, with no commentary, would not serve much use. again, if this bothers you, please remember this is just silliness, i'm not saying anything bad about the dhammapada.