Excerpts from "The Complete Book of Buddha's Lists"

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.
Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 151
Joined: Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:38 pm

Excerpts from "The Complete Book of Buddha's Lists"

Post by LauraJ » Wed Nov 25, 2009 1:08 pm

For those of us who are discovering Theravada(The Teaching of the Elders), these excerpts contain useful information. Though I do have the complete book, these passages contain some definitions, models used within the tradition, explanations of levels of attainment, and so forth.

I hope that you find this useful too.


The following contains excerpts from the bestselling book The Complete Book of Buddha's Lists -- Explained by David N. Snyder, Ph.D. with a Foreword by the Venerable Madewela Punnaji. The hard copy print books sold out in June of 2009 and then went online as a PDF download completely for free, no shipping and printing costs for Vipassana Foundation or purchasers as it can be read online as a free e-book. Go to this link for more information and to see the complete book online as a PDF download:

http://www.TheDhamma.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

See also: The Dhamma Encyclopedia: DhammaWiki.com

Theravada (Pāli: थेरवाद theravāda (cf Sanskrit: स्थविरवाद sthaviravāda); literally, "the Teaching of the Elders", or "the Ancient Teaching") is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It is relatively conservative, and generally closest to early Buddhism, and for many centuries has been the predominant religion of Sri Lanka (about 70% of the population) and most of continental Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand). It is also practised by minorities in parts of southwest China (by the Shan and Tai ethnic groups), Vietnam (by the Khmer Krom), Bangladesh (by the ethnic groups of Baruas, Chakma, and Magh), Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia, whilst recently gaining popularity in Singapore and Australia. Today Theravada Buddhists number about 200 million worldwide, and in recent decades Theravada has begun to take root in the West and in the Buddhist revival in India.

The Theravāda school is ultimately derived from the Vibhajjavada (or 'doctrine of analysis') grouping which was a continuation of the older Sthavira (or 'teaching of the Elders') group at the time of the Third Buddhist Council around 250 BCE, during the reign of Emperor Asoka in India. Vibhajjavadins saw themselves as the continuation of orthodox Sthaviras and after the Third Council continued to refer to their school as the Sthaviras/Theras ('The Elders'), their doctrines were probably similar to the older Sthaviras but were not completely identical. After the Third Council geographical distance led to the Vibhajjavādins gradually evolving into four groups: the Mahīśāsaka, Kāśyapīya, Dharmaguptaka and the Tāmraparnīya. The Theravada is descended from the Tāmraparnīya, which means 'the Sri Lankan lineage'. Some sources claim that only the Theravada actually evolved directly from the Vibhajjavādins.
Main Doctrines

The main doctrines of Theravada are from the teachings found in the Pali Canon of early Buddhism. These include the Four Noble Truths, The Noble Eightfold Middle Path, and the Hindrances to Enlightenment. There is little to no use of worship in Theravada and emphasis is on mental development through meditation.

Levels of Attainment

A Buddha is someone who is fully enlightened. A person who is fully enlightened, but not the Buddha of our time, is called an Arahant in Pali. Such a person has eradicated all ten hindrances to enlightenment:
The belief in a permanent personality, ego
Doubt, extreme skepticism
Attachment to rites, rituals, and ceremonies
Attachment to sense desires
Ill-will, anger
Craving for existence in the Form world (heavenly realms)
Craving for existence in the Formless world (heavenly realms)

An anagami (non-returner) has completely eradicated the first five hindrances and never returns to earth or any other world system (planet, solar system). Such a person is re-born to a heavenly realm and attains enlightenment from there.

A sakadagami (once returner) has eradicated the first three hindrances and greatly weakened the fourth and fifth; attachment to sense desires and ill-will. Such a person will be re-born to either the human or heavenly realm and will attain enlightenment there.

A sottapanna (stream entrant) has eradicated the first three hindrances and will be re-born no more than seven more times and re-birth will either be as a human or a deva in a heavenly realm.
Different forms Theravada takes

Theravada Buddhism has taken four distinctive forms in the West and around the world, in modern times:

A. The Secular Buddhist Society Model. This is concerned with the intense study of the Dhamma in its original formulation as given in the Pali Canon, the development of norms of living in substantial conformity of the requirements of the Dhamma, and the encouragement of the observance of the Dhamma generally.

B. The Original London Vihara Model. This model encompasses the objectives of the secular societies, but places greater emphasis on the necessity to accommodate ordained monks to expound the Dhamma. In its interpretation of the Canon it tends to place greater emphasis on Buddhaghosa's exegesis whereas the secular societies tend to go the original Canon itself.

C. The Lankarama Model. This is the ethnic Buddhist Model par excellence. Its main objective appears to be to cater to the spiritual needs of expatriate groups using the particular national models of Buddhism as practiced in their home countries without any consideration of its relevance to the universality of the Buddha's teaching or the external conditions in the host country.

D. The Meditation Centre Model. Here the Buddhist Institution is transformed into a centre for "meditation" under the guidance of a self-proclaimed "teacher". The meditation practiced is a simplified form of the first foundation of satipatthana ignoring all the preconditions which the Buddha was careful to lay down for the correct practice of this technique of mindfulness.

Dr. Gunasekara argues that models A and B are appropriate modes in following the teachings of Buddha whereas models C and D are departures from the teachings.

Variations A and sometimes B and D tends to be a Modern Theravada which focuses on the Pali Canon and acknowledges that some of the suttas are not meant to be taken too literally. Variation B and sometimes C are a Classical Theravada which tends to use the literal word of the writings in the Pali Canon and the Commentaries.
Last edited by LauraJ on Wed Nov 25, 2009 1:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Dharma Wheel
Buddha Blog

Conquer the angry man by love. Conquer the ill-natured man by goodness. Conquer the miser with generosity. Conquer the liar with truth. -The Dhammapada

Posts: 1614
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:21 am
Location: By the River Thames near London.

Re: Excerpts from "The Complete Book of Buddha's Lists"

Post by Sanghamitta » Wed Nov 25, 2009 1:21 pm

Thank you Laura..David H.Snyder...now where have I heard that name before..... :D
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

User avatar
Posts: 15196
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Excerpts from "The Complete Book of Buddha's Lists"

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Nov 26, 2009 12:47 am

Unfortunately, the article by Dr. Gunasekara is rather old, so it is rather outdated as far as developments in the West are concerned. To mention just one, there are the Ajahn Chah monasteries staffed primarily by Western monastics. Charitably, that's related to the "London Vihara model" (since that's what got them to the UK in the first place, I believe) but things have really come a long way since then...


Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: TreeSleeper and 12 guests