John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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Alex123
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Alex123 » Sat Jun 02, 2012 11:54 pm

Hello Christine, all,
cooran wrote: The Suttas are not 'sound bites' recorded as the Buddha spoke. They are compacted summaries of what was said, rehearsed and agreed upon by the Arahants at the Great Councils and memorised and chanted together by large groups of monks called Bhanakas (Reciters).


Here is the problem. We believe that they didn't misunderstand the message, and said it like it was.

Unfortunately it is not always so simple. There is evidence that Mahāsāṃghika school had the earliest Vinaya and one of the major differences was that it portrayed Devadatta... as a saint... In Theravada suttas and especially the Jatakas, Devadatta is portrayed as super evil monk.

Why am I sad about this? If due to politics suttas could be altered... Who knows what other alterations took place...


One reason for the interest in the origins of the Mahāsāṃghika school is that their Vinaya recension appears in several ways to represent an older redaction overall.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahasamghika#cite_note-0" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The Mahāsāṃghikas therefore saw the Sthaviras as being a breakaway group which was attempting to modify the original Vinaya
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mah%C4%81s ... erated64-7" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya is also significant for its differing accounts from those of other schools. One such example of this is in the figure of Devadatta. The Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya mentions the figure of Devadatta, but the description and attributes of this figure are entirely different from those in the vinayas of sects from the Sthavira branch.[35] In fact, there is no overlap in the characterizations of Devadatta between the Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya and the other five extant vinayas which all come from the Sthavira branch. This has led some scholars to conclude that the story of Devadatta was a legend produced by the Sthaviras after they split from the Mahāsāṃghikas in the 4th century BCE.[35] André Bareau has discovered that the earliest vinaya material common to all sects simply depicts Devadatta as a Buddhist saint who wishes for the monks to live a rigorous lifestyle.[36]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mah%C4%81s ... ite_ref-35" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Jun 03, 2012 12:08 am

Alex123 wrote:There is evidence that Mahāsāṃghika school had the earliest Vinaya
Maybe, but then maybe not, and it is not a matter of Vinaya, but also a matter of Patimokka, and the Pali version is likely the oldest.
>> 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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Alex123
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Alex123 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 12:31 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Alex123 wrote:There is evidence that Mahāsāṃghika school had the earliest Vinaya
Maybe, but then maybe not, and it is not a matter of Vinaya, but also a matter of Patimokka, and the Pali version is likely the oldest.
I hope you are right.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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

Post by Nyana » Sun Jun 03, 2012 4:07 am

Alex123 wrote:Here is the problem. We believe that they didn't misunderstand the message, and said it like it was.

Unfortunately it is not always so simple. There is evidence that Mahāsāṃghika school had the earliest Vinaya and one of the major differences was that it portrayed Devadatta... as a saint... In Theravada suttas and especially the Jatakas, Devadatta is portrayed as super evil monk.

Why am I sad about this? If due to politics suttas could be altered... Who knows what other alterations took place...
These differences in narrative are rather insignificant and don't affect the soteriological teachings. I've read a fair bit of discourses from other schools which are still extant. And overall, they share a high degree of doctrinal consistency. The inconsistencies generally occur in the narrative story-lines that accompany sutta & vinaya, and this could be due to a number of factors, but this doesn't adversely affect the doctrinal content.

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

Post by manas » Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:09 am

Alex123 wrote: Why am I sad about this? If due to politics suttas could be altered... Who knows what other alterations took place...
Alex, I think you already know the following, so this is just a gentle reminder: don't let questions of authenticity get you down. Gosh, how I used to let this worry me, and I must admit I still get nervous about it. But the very best solution is to put what we read in the suttas to the test. If you are worried about 'observer bias' then don't even go in with the assumption that the suttas are necessarily going to be proven correct. Just investigate deeply and fearlessly. We will get to the heart of things one day.

:anjali:
Knowing this body is like a clay jar,
securing this mind like a fort,
attack Mara with the spear of discernment,
then guard what's won without settling there,
without laying claim.

- Dhp 40

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mikenz66
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:31 am

Ñāṇa wrote: These differences in narrative are rather insignificant and don't affect the soteriological teachings. I've read a fair bit of discourses from other schools which are still extant. And overall, they share a high degree of doctrinal consistency. The inconsistencies generally occur in the narrative story-lines that accompany sutta & vinaya, and this could be due to a number of factors, but this doesn't adversely affect the doctrinal content.
There are two questions here:

1. Differences between schools. Most are, as Geoff says, narrative, so not particularly important. A few are doctrinal, such as the permanence of awakening:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=11630" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

2. Whether the lists we have in the Nikayas are how the Buddha actually taught, or the result of pre-sectarian rationalization.

If those Sutta Nipata texts are how the Buddha actually taught (or how he taught early in his ministry) then the style of the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html, and the other "early discourses", are highly likely to be a retro-fits.

:anjali:
Mike

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

Post by hanzze_ » Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:51 am

manas wrote:
Alex123 wrote: Why am I sad about this? If due to politics suttas could be altered... Who knows what other alterations took place...
Alex, I think you already know the following, so this is just a gentle reminder: don't let questions of authenticity get you down. Gosh, how I used to let this worry me, and I must admit I still get nervous about it. But the very best solution is to put what we read in the suttas to the test. If you are worried about 'observer bias' then don't even go in with the assumption that the suttas are necessarily going to be proven correct. Just investigate deeply and fearlessly. We will get to the heart of things one day.

:anjali:
:goodpost:
Once I read something similar like: "Even if we find out one day, that the Buddha (person) did not really exist (did not really exist...) the value of Dhamma would be the same and its practice would go on." We have quite enough skeptic to be able to put it into test.

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

Post by Kim OHara » Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:53 am

mikenz66 wrote:If those Sutta Nipata texts are how the Buddha actually taught (or how he taught early in his ministry) then the style of the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html, and the other "early discourses", are highly likely to be a retro-fits.

:anjali:
Mike
Apart from the rather trivial point that you need to be careful about your choice of words, Mike, to avoid retro having fits :tongue: , I will agree - and add that this passage ...
Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta wrote:On hearing the earth-gods' cry, all the gods in turn in the six paradises of the sensual sphere took up the cry till it reached beyond the Retinue of High Divinity in the sphere of pure form. And so indeed in that hour, at that moment, the cry soared up to the World of High Divinity, and this ten-thousandfold world-element shook and rocked and quaked, and a great measureless radiance surpassing the very nature of the gods was displayed in the world.
... is in what I think of as a 'later' style. My rule of thumb is that the more divinities and heavens are mentioned, the closer we are to the Mahayana teachings. :thinking:

:namaste:
Kim

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

Post by hanzze_ » Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:03 am

Or next to right view...?

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

Post by retrofuturist » Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:06 am

Greetings,
Kim O'Hara wrote:Apart from the rather trivial point that you need to be careful about your choice of words, Mike, to avoid retro having fits :tongue:
:lol:

Thankfully, as has been pointed out, it doesn't impact the doctrinal basis of the teaching... though the process of systematization that continued after the Buddha's death was probably also undertaken by the Buddha during his lifetime too.

The suttas show that his first foray into explaining the Dhamma to a passer-by wasn't particularly successful, so I assume he too had to grow as a teacher in order to improve his efficacy in that regard, and a more systematized curriculum may have facilitated that.

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

Post by Kim OHara » Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:14 am

retrofuturist wrote:The suttas show that his first foray into explaining the Dhamma to a passer-by wasn't particularly successful, so I assume he too had to grow as a teacher in order to improve his efficacy in that regard, and a more systematized curriculum may have facilitated that.

Metta,
Retro. :)
I'm glad we agree: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 63#p191490. ;)

:namaste:
Kim

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

Post by Nyana » Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:58 am

mikenz66 wrote:1. Differences between schools. Most are, as Geoff says, narrative, so not particularly important. A few are doctrinal, such as the permanence of awakening:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=11630" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Yes, this sort of thing did occur. But it's not very common in the Nikāyas & Āgamas. The main doctrines and meditation practices found repeated in the vast majority of suttas are common to the discourse collections of all early schools. It's also rather easy to spot these sectarian additions by comparing different redactions of the same sutta.
mikenz66 wrote:2. Whether the lists we have in the Nikayas are how the Buddha actually taught, or the result of pre-sectarian rationalization.

If those Sutta Nipata texts are how the Buddha actually taught (or how he taught early in his ministry) then the style of the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html, and the other "early discourses", are highly likely to be a retro-fits.
And this is entirely plausible, but always speculative. Having read a number of different modern theories proposing criteria for establishing the earliest discourses, as well as the criticisms of these theories, I'm quite happy to set this line of investigation aside as unnecessary and inconsequential. The methodology of textual criticism is not able and will never be able to demonstrate what the historical Buddha actually taught with any degree of certainty. This is why a useful distinction can be made between Original Buddhism and Early Buddhism. Original Buddhism refers to the actual oral teachings of the historical Gotama and his immediate disciples. Early Buddhism refers to the early formative pre-sectarian period of Indian Buddhism and the extant textual documents which claim to be records of the Buddha's teachings as remembered by his immediate disciples after his death.

And while we can infer some significant information about the early pre-sectarian period of Indian Buddhism with the help of text-critical analysis of the extant discourses, we will never be able to prove with any degree of certainty which of these doctrines and training rules actually originated with the Buddha himself and which are the product of the first few generations of his disciples.

What is clearly evident, however, is that the vast majority of discourses which survive share common doctrines and practices which are original and unique in the history of ancient Indian thought, and are therefore likely rooted in the ideas and practices developed and taught by one remarkable historical person, namely the samaṇa Gotama.

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

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:09 am

Thanks Geoff, for clarifying that distinction between Original Buddhism and Early Buddhism.

:anjali:
Mike

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Alex123
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Alex123 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:03 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Here is the problem. We believe that they didn't misunderstand the message, and said it like it was.

Unfortunately it is not always so simple. There is evidence that Mahāsāṃghika school had the earliest Vinaya and one of the major differences was that it portrayed Devadatta... as a saint... In Theravada suttas and especially the Jatakas, Devadatta is portrayed as super evil monk.

Why am I sad about this? If due to politics suttas could be altered... Who knows what other alterations took place...
These differences in narrative are rather insignificant and don't affect the soteriological teachings. I've read a fair bit of discourses from other schools which are still extant. And overall, they share a high degree of doctrinal consistency. The inconsistencies generally occur in the narrative story-lines that accompany sutta & vinaya, and this could be due to a number of factors, but this doesn't adversely affect the doctrinal content.
Hello Geoff, my concern and sadness is not due to specific difference (Was Devadatta a saint or a villain) but the fact that politics could alter the message in the suttas. Who knows what other, agreed upon, alterations could have taken place. Also unintentional literalism, mistakes, etc, could have been made at the first Council and then the later schools would un-intentionally copy those misunderstandings.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Alex123
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Alex123 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:11 pm

manas wrote:
Alex123 wrote: Why am I sad about this? If due to politics suttas could be altered... Who knows what other alterations took place...
Alex, I think you already know the following, so this is just a gentle reminder: don't let questions of authenticity get you down. Gosh, how I used to let this worry me, and I must admit I still get nervous about it. But the very best solution is to put what we read in the suttas to the test. If you are worried about 'observer bias' then don't even go in with the assumption that the suttas are necessarily going to be proven correct. Just investigate deeply and fearlessly. We will get to the heart of things one day.

:anjali:

Yes, this is what I am left is + interpretation of various teachers and me. I guess we cannot be totally sure about hair-splitting analysis of some vague pali terms from advanced philosophical teachings that Buddha may not have even said in Pali.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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