John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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Nyana
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Nyana » Thu Jun 07, 2012 8:47 am

Dmytro wrote:On the other hand, the aspects mentioned - "noble truths, dependent origination, three characteristics" are the pillars of rationalistic and doctrinal Western Buddhism, and the expression "Noble Truth" a Western invention. These aspects were selected to represent a "doctrine" of the Buddha's Teaching, while there's really no doctrine.
The noble truths, dependent origination, three characteristics, etc. are common and pervasive in all the doctrinal schools: Theravāda, Sarvāstivāda, etc. For example, the four noble truths are the objects of knowledge that are penetrated and understood when attaining the noble paths. The Sarvāstivāda developed a detailed framework on the sixteen aspects of the four noble truths which are to be sequentially understood in a cognitive series. (The Theravāda developed an alternate version of sixteen aspects, which they maintain are penetrated and understood at one time.)

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Dmytro » Thu Jun 07, 2012 9:01 am

tiltbillings wrote:And don't forget that the idea of a "canon" is also a Western "invention."
And somehow people find it diffucult to comprehend the semantic shifts that occured over the centuries.

It's relatively easy to understand that terms "Dhammavinaya"used during the Buddha's lifetime, "Tipitaka" as formed at the Third Buddhist Council, and "Canon" as a Western notion are altogether different things.

But when people see the same term, like "anicca", or "Buddha", used in the texts composed in different centuries, they often take it to mean the same thing, in some ephemeral unified "Buddhism".

Western Buddhism inevitably has its own semantic shifts, - as any transcultural transmission of Buddhism had, - and this is OK as long as these shifts are recognized and studied.

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Jun 07, 2012 9:03 am

Dmytro wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:And don't forget that the idea of a "canon" is also a Western "invention."
And somehow people find it diffucult to comprehend the semantic shifts that occured over the centuries.

It's relatively easy to understand that terms "Dhammavinaya"used during the Buddha's lifetime, "Tipitaka" as formed at the Third Buddhist Council, and "Canon" as a Western notion are altogether different things.

But when people see the same term, like "anicca", or "Buddha", used in the texts composed in different centuries, they often take it to mean the same thing, in some ephemeral unified "Buddhism".

Western Buddhism inevitably has its own semantic shifts, - as any transcultural transmission of Buddhism had, - and this is OK as long as these shifts are recognized and studied.
No disagreement with you on 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

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Jun 07, 2012 9:09 am

Greetings,
Dmytro wrote:Western Buddhism inevitably has its own semantic shifts, - as any transcultural transmission of Buddhism had, - and this is OK as long as these shifts are recognized and studied.
Well said.

Recognition allows a conscious decision to be made by the individual on whether "these shifts" are acceptable.

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)

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Dmytro » Thu Jun 07, 2012 9:36 am

Ñāṇa wrote:The noble truths, dependent origination, three characteristics, etc. are common and pervasive in all the doctrinal schools: Theravāda, Sarvāstivāda, etc. For example, the four noble truths are the objects of knowledge that are penetrated and understood when attaining the noble paths. The Sarvāstivāda developed a detailed framework on the sixteen aspects of the four noble truths which are to be sequentially understood in a cognitive series. (The Theravāda developed an alternate version of sixteen aspects, which they maintain are penetrated and understood at one time.)
Would you give an example of "noble truth" in Theravadin texts? There's no such term. "Ariya-sacca" means something quite different, "realities fo the Noble Ones". As you wrote, 'ariya-sacca' are to be comprehended in the course of developing wisdom. The Western 'noble truths' "provide a conceptual framework for Buddhist thought", and are something to be studied analytically ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noble_Truth" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ). The only Western teacher I know who calls for experiential exploration of four "ariya-sacca" as instructed, for example, in Nibbedhika sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... tml#part-6" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; , is Thanissaro Bhikkhu
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/study/truths.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Or would you give an example of "three characteristics" (ti-lakkhana) in the Buddha's teaching?

IMHO, in addition to the general terms like "Theravada", it would be useful to specify the context. Otherwise people like John Peacock can indeed wonder - why there's no "tilakkhana" in the Sutta-pitaka?

For example, Theravada (Third Buddhist Council). Or Theravada (Buddhism of South-East Asia). Or Theravada (reconstruction by Pali Text Society). Otherwise people may get an impression of some kind of unified Buddhism that never changed.

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Nyana » Thu Jun 07, 2012 10:02 am

Dmytro wrote:Would you give an example of "noble truth" in Theravadin texts? There's no such term.
Given that these texts weren't composed in English, this is obvious.
Dmytro wrote:"Ariya-sacca" means something quite different, "realities fo the Noble Ones". As you wrote, 'ariya-sacca' are to be comprehended in the course of developing wisdom.
The cattāri ariyasaccāni don't exist as anything other than theoretical doctrinal statements apart from the minds that realize them. Thus, it seems accurate to emphasize that they are truths to be realized by cognitions rather than realities that exist independent of cognitions. (Also posted here.)
Dmytro wrote:Or would you give an example of "three characteristics" (ti-lakkhana) in the Buddha's teaching?
You know that tilakkhaṇa, sāmaññalakkhaṇa, etc., are commentarial terms not found in the suttas.
Dmytro wrote:IMHO, in addition to the general terms like "Theravada", it would be useful to specify the context. Otherwise people like John Peacock can indeed wonder - why there's no "tilakkhana" in the Sutta-pitaka?

For example, Theravada (Third Buddhist Council). Or Theravada (Buddhism of South-East Asia). Or Theravada (reconstruction by Pali Text Society).
I think it's quite reasonable to use the designation "Theravāda" without further qualification to meaningfully refer to and include the teachings preserved in the Pāli Tipiṭaka, the Aṭṭhakathā, the Tīkā, etc.
Dmytro wrote:Otherwise people may get an impression of some kind of unified Buddhism that never changed.
Yes, this would likely be an inaccurate impression. What I was attempting to highlight in my previous reply was that paṭiccasamuppāda, the cattāri ariyasaccāni, etc., were already singled out and further developed as distinctive and important doctrines by Indian Buddhists 2000+ years ago -- long before the advent of modern Western Buddhology.

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by kirk5a » Thu Jun 07, 2012 2:52 pm

Ñāṇa wrote: The cattāri ariyasaccāni don't exist as anything other than theoretical doctrinal statements apart from the minds that realize them. Thus, it seems accurate to emphasize that they are truths to be realized by cognitions rather than realities that exist independent of cognitions. (Also posted here.)
.
I'm not entirely clear on what the distinction you draw amounts to. Is the following describing "truths realized by cognitions" or "realities that exist independent of cognitions"?
He discerns, as it actually is present, that 'This is stress.' ... 'This is the origination of stress.' ... 'This is the cessation of stress.' ... 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by daverupa » Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:11 pm

kirk5a wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote: The cattāri ariyasaccāni don't exist as anything other than theoretical doctrinal statements apart from the minds that realize them. Thus, it seems accurate to emphasize that they are truths to be realized by cognitions rather than realities that exist independent of cognitions. (Also posted here.)
.
I'm not entirely clear on what the distinction you draw amounts to. Is the following describing "truths realized by cognitions" or "realities that exist independent of cognitions"?
He discerns, as it actually is present, that 'This is stress.' ... 'This is the origination of stress.' ... 'This is the cessation of stress.' ... 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
I'm used to a distinction between metaphysical 'truth' and epistemological 'fact', but this distinction is not as strong in South Asian philosophy as it is in the Western tradition.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Nyana » Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:59 pm

kirk5a wrote:I'm not entirely clear on what the distinction you draw amounts to. Is the following describing "truths realized by cognitions" or "realities that exist independent of cognitions"?
He discerns, as it actually is present, that 'This is stress.' ... 'This is the origination of stress.' ... 'This is the cessation of stress.' ... 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'
The former, as in, "he discerns...." Cf. Paṭisambhidāmagga Abhisamayakathā which explains that direct realization (abhisameti) requires the presence of mind (citta) and knowledge (ñāṇa).

This is similar to the issue pertaining to translating dhammā. I would suggest that "phenomena" is a better translation than "realities."

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Nyana » Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:31 pm

daverupa wrote:I'm used to a distinction between metaphysical 'truth' and epistemological 'fact', but this distinction is not as strong in South Asian philosophy as it is in the Western tradition.
SN 56.20 Tatha Sutta:
  • Cattārimāni, bhikkhave, tathāni avitathāni anaññathāni. Katamāni cattāri? ‘Idaṃ dukkha’nti, bhikkhave, tathametaṃ avitathametaṃ anaññathametaṃ ; ‘ayaṃ dukkhasamudayo’ti tathametaṃ avitathametaṃ anaññathametaṃ; ‘ayaṃ dukkhanirodho’ti tathametaṃ avitathametaṃ anaññathametaṃ; ‘ayaṃ dukkhanirodhagāminī paṭipadā’ti tathametaṃ avitathametaṃ anaññathametaṃ – imāni kho, bhikkhave, cattāri tathāni avitathāni anaññathāni.
Ven. Bodhi's translation:
  • Bhikkhus, these four things are actual, unerring, not otherwise. What four? 'This is suffering': this, bhikkhus, is actual, unerring, not otherwise. 'This is the origin of suffering': this is actual, unerring, not otherwise. 'This is the cessation of suffering': this is actual, unerring, not otherwise. 'This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering': this is actual, unerring, not otherwise. These four things, bhikkhus, are actual, unerring, not otherwise.
Thus, the cattāri ariyasaccāni are unerring and the knowledge that directly realizes the cattāri ariyasaccāni is unmistaken. IMO the only correspondence required is that between a liberating cognition (i.e. citta + ñāṇa) and a soteriologically useful mental object (i.e. ariyasaccā). This way, the problems of strong correspondence theories of truth entailing ontological realism are avoided as well as the undesirable consequences of coherence theories.

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Dmytro » Fri Jun 08, 2012 5:16 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Dmytro wrote:Or would you give an example of "three characteristics" (ti-lakkhana) in the Buddha's teaching?
You know that tilakkhaṇa, sāmaññalakkhaṇa, etc., are commentarial terms not found in the suttas.
Yes, in the suttas there's anicca-sanna, and in commentaries - anicca-lakkhana. This change from experiential 'selective recognition', (when the mind is tuned to certain mode of perception), to the descriptive characteristic of reality, shifts the whole perspective.
What I was attempting to highlight in my previous reply was that paṭiccasamuppāda, the cattāri ariyasaccāni, etc., were already singled out and further developed as distinctive and important doctrines by Indian Buddhists 2000+ years ago -- long before the advent of modern Western Buddhology.
Yes, this was a gradual process.
What I was attempting to highlight is that the "three characteristics", "Noble Truths", etc. were made in Western Buddhism to represent the teaching of the Buddha as a set of descriptive doctrines.

As far as I have understood John Peacock's lectures, he considers that Buddha taught that all phenomena are impermanent, etc.
I found no trace of experiential investigation of rise and fall, leading to dispassion, as in Chachakka sutta.

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Nyana » Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:53 am

Dmytro wrote:Yes, in the suttas there's anicca-sanna, and in commentaries - anicca-lakkhana. This change from experiential 'selective recognition', (when the mind is tuned to certain mode of perception), to the descriptive characteristic of reality, shifts the whole perspective.
Yes, and my concern with translating saccāni as "realities" is that it can easily lead to a similar entanglement in thickets of philosophical realism.
Dmytro wrote:What I was attempting to highlight is that the "three characteristics", "Noble Truths", etc. were made in Western Buddhism to represent the teaching of the Buddha as a set of descriptive doctrines.
FWIW, the siddhānta genre outlining descriptive doctrines of philosophical systems does have Indian precedents. For example, the Tattvaratnāvalī by Maitrīpāda, the Saṃskṛtāsaṃskṛtaviniścaya by Daśabalaśrīmitra, or the Sarvadarśanasaṃgraha by Vidyāraṇya. Similar developments occurred in China with the various pan jiao doctrinal classification schemes. It seems that these kinds of expositions are a byproduct of societies endowed with the cultural richness of religious and philosophical pluralism. These same conditions give rise to the modern genre of Introductory books on Buddhism.

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jun 08, 2012 8:31 pm

The second instalment of the interview is here: http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2012/06/bg ... -the-past/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

This part focuses more on how Peacock interprets the early suttas as instructions for practice. Those who have read or listened to other presentations by him will know that he interprets the Buddha-Dhamma as an encouragement to engage with life, rather than an escape from life (or death).

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by danieLion » Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:39 pm

mikenz66 wrote:...This part focuses more on how Peacock interprets the early suttas as instructions for practice. Those who have read or listened to other presentations by him will know that he interprets the Buddha-Dhamma as an encouragement to engage with life, rather than an escape from life (or death).

:anjali:
Mike
(I'm very familiar with Mr. Peacock's theories.)

The part of your quote I've bolded smacks of Nietzche (a positive IMO) who said Western Philosophy and it main religious expression, X-ianity, encourages disengaging with life/escaping from life.

metta

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Dmytro » Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:54 am

Hi danieLion,

This also reminds the critique of Sarvastivada in early Mahayana sutras.
Seems like wide social engagement is the typical step after the critique of excessive scholastism.
Certain developments in Zen and Nichiren Buddhism also come to mind.

:namaste:
Dmytro

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