John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

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

Post by daverupa » Mon Dec 29, 2014 1:44 am

Perhaps more along the lines of this?
Rupert Gethin wrote:I do not wish, however, to suggest that a psychological interpretation of such figures as Mara is the whole story. I am not claiming that all ancient readers or hearers of these "texts" would have conceived of Mara's daughters and armies simply as mystic symbols of particular mental states. No doubt for many, Mara, his daughters, and his armies would have had a reality as autonomous beings apart from their own mental states.

I do want to claim, however, that a psychological interpretation would have made sense to the authors and readers of these texts. Yet in making such a claim I do not wish to imply that a psychological reading somehow reveals the "true" and "real" significance of the various cosmological beings--the significance intended by the Buddha but which the Buddhist tradition had to compromise in the face of popular belief, and which we in the late twentieth century are at last privileged to access. The Buddhism of the Nikayas embraces the notion of rebirth, and the account of different realms of existence occupied by a variety of beings is integral to that.

The categories of "mythic symbol" and "literally true" are modern and are bound up with a complex ontology that has been shaped by a particular intellectual and cultural tradition. Thus to approach what, for the want of a better term, we call the mythic portions of the Nikayas with the attitude that such categories as "mythic symbol" and "literally true" are absolutely opposed is to adopt an attitude that is out of time and place. It seems to me that in some measure we must allow both a literal and a psychological interpretation. Both are there in the texts.
Later,
In the light of an extremely suggestive article by Peter Masefield, it seems that instead of being misled into searching for meaning in terms of the categories of literal truth and mythic symbol, we should understand the Nikayas' reference both to a cosmic hierarchy of beings (humans, devas and brahmas) and to a psychological hierarchy of mental states (levels of jhana) as paralleling the Upanisadic categories of "with reference to the gods" (adhidaivatam) and "with reference to the self" (adhyatmam): that is, "reality" may be viewed either from the perspective of an exterior world (brahman) or from the perspective of an interior world (atman) that are in some sense--though, in the case of Buddhist thought, not an absolutist metaphysical one--the same.

Thus Masefield suggests that to talk or conceive of Mara as a cosmic entity on the one hand and as psychological forces on the other is essentially to shift from the adhidaivatam to the adhyatmam perspective. I am persuaded that Masefield has indeed identified here a way of thinking that runs very deep in the Indian philosophical tradition, and while the importance of this way of thinking may be acknowledged in the context of the Vedas and Hindu and Buddhist tantra, it is insufficiently understood in the context of early Buddhism.
This was back in 1997; I don't think much has been done since then in this direction...
  • "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]

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

Post by Sylvester » Mon Dec 29, 2014 2:24 am

Hee hee. Thanks Dave, but I would not demand a professional Buddhologist to go beyond his realm into the specialisation of Myth experts. Gethin's account for the link between the psychological and the cosmological is workable, but the methodology is not easily extensible to the more uncomfortable elements such as lute-playing devas or sea monsters.

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

Post by daverupa » Mon Dec 29, 2014 2:44 am

In tackling it from the more general side, there is chapter four - but really the whole - of Literacy and Orality, edited by David R. Olson & Nancy Torrance.
  • "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]

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

Post by Sylvester » Mon Dec 29, 2014 2:49 am

I like.

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

Post by sphairos » Mon Dec 29, 2014 12:09 pm

Good quotes, Dave.

In my view, this "adhidaivatam"-realm, no matter how ancient and respected, would have been completely reinterpreted/reconsidered by the beginning of Buddhism (by the Buddha and his companions). Not the least because the Buddha's and his companions' ideas were sceptical (in the sense of Ancient Scepticism) to a considerable degree.

I would like to point out a few valuable works all focused on the Aggañña-suttantaṃ and the theme of symbolism/mythology:

Richard Gombrich
'The Buddha's Book of Genesis?', Indo-Iranian Journal vol. 35
http://www.ocbs.org/richard-gombrich-li ... of-genesis" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Steven Collins
The discourse on what is primary (Aggañña-Sutta), 1993
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF01089255" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Gethin's own translation and commentary to the Aggañña-suttantaṃ in "the Sayings of the Buddha". Oxford, Oxford Univ Press, 2008.

And also
Steven Collins
Pali Buddhist ideas of the Future. 2008. Manusya.
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Mkoll
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Mkoll » Mon Dec 29, 2014 12:32 pm

sphairos wrote:Not the least because the Buddha and his companions' ideas were sceptical (in the sense of Ancient Scepticism) to a considerable degree.
Could you elaborate on that, please? And tell us why you think that is so?
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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

Post by sphairos » Mon Dec 29, 2014 1:00 pm

Mkoll wrote:
sphairos wrote:Not the least because the Buddha and his companions' ideas were sceptical (in the sense of Ancient Scepticism) to a considerable degree.
Could you elaborate on that, please? And tell us why you think that is so?
Dear Mkoll,

I really don't have time to write even these lines, but there is a great work by A. Kuzminski
Pyrrhonism. How the Ancient Greeks reinvented Buddhism. 2010.
http://www.amazon.com/Pyrrhonism-Reinve ... ap_title_0" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

There is a really well-grounded and insightful section in the McEvilley's magisterial "The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies" (2002) on the intersection and unity of stoics', sceptics', epicureans' and early Buddhists's ideas (called "The Ethics of Imperturbability", 595-642; see also "Skepticism, Empiricism, and Naturalism". 325-349).

See also recent J. Bronkhorst's works on Buddhism and especially his remarks on the Buddha's "views" in "Brahmajala-suttantaṃ" and other instances of "the silence of the Buddha" and his attitude towards the "views" ("na upeti" etc).

On the absence of "views" (main sceptic's "doctrine"/practice) in early Buddhism see P. Fuller's "The notion of Diṭṭhi in Theravāda Buddhism". Routledge. 2005.

See also
Luis O. Gomez
Proto-Mādhyamika in the Pāli canon
PEW, 1976
http://buddhism.lib.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT ... /gomez.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
How good and wonderful are your days,
How true are your ways?

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

Post by Mkoll » Mon Dec 29, 2014 6:32 pm

sphairos wrote:
Mkoll wrote:
sphairos wrote:Not the least because the Buddha and his companions' ideas were sceptical (in the sense of Ancient Scepticism) to a considerable degree.
Could you elaborate on that, please? And tell us why you think that is so?
Dear Mkoll,

I really don't have time to write even these lines, but there is a great work by A. Kuzminski
Pyrrhonism. How the Ancient Greeks reinvented Buddhism. 2010.
http://www.amazon.com/Pyrrhonism-Reinve ... ap_title_0" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

There is a really well-grounded and insightful section in the McEvilley's magisterial "The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies" (2002) on the intersection and unity of stoics', sceptics', epicureans' and early Buddhists's ideas (called "The Ethics of Imperturbability", 595-642; see also "Skepticism, Empiricism, and Naturalism". 325-349).

See also recent J. Bronkhorst's works on Buddhism and especially his remarks on the Buddha's "views" in "Brahmajala-suttantaṃ" and other instances of "the silence of the Buddha" and his attitude towards the "views" ("na upeti" etc).

On the absence of "views" (main sceptic's "doctrine"/practice) in early Buddhism see P. Fuller's "The notion of Diṭṭhi in Theravāda Buddhism". Routledge. 2005.

See also
Luis O. Gomez
Proto-Mādhyamika in the Pāli canon
PEW, 1976
http://buddhism.lib.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT ... /gomez.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Thanks for the references, but you really can't sum up your view in a paragraph or two?
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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

Post by sphairos » Mon Dec 29, 2014 6:58 pm

sphairos wrote:
Mkoll wrote:
sphairos wrote:Not the least because the Buddha and his companions' ideas were sceptical (in the sense of Ancient Scepticism) to a considerable degree.
Could you elaborate on that, please? And tell us why you think that is so?
Dear Mkoll,

I really don't have time to write even these lines, but there is a great work by A. Kuzminski
Pyrrhonism. How the Ancient Greeks...
But especially the "Conclusion" and relevant parts of the Fuller's work.
How good and wonderful are your days,
How true are your ways?

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

Post by sphairos » Mon Dec 29, 2014 7:01 pm

Dear Mkoll, yes, I can. See
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 84#p323084" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

the grounds on which I maintain this view are basically these ones
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=22314" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
How good and wonderful are your days,
How true are your ways?

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

Post by Mkoll » Mon Dec 29, 2014 7:09 pm

sphairos wrote:Dear Mkoll, yes, I can. See
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 84#p323084" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

the grounds on which I maintain this view are basically these ones
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=22314" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
OK, from that first link, you say:
sphairos wrote:As far as I know, the early Buddhist teaching didn't have any "views".
How then do you explain "right view" (sammā-diṭṭhi) and its elucidation in various suttas?
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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

Post by sphairos » Mon Dec 29, 2014 7:26 pm

Dear Mkoll,

What sammādiṭṭhi is is thoroughly textually demonstrated in the mentioned works - especially Fuller's one - which is devoted to the clarification of this very term. We may correctly render this term (or, rather, its wider notion in the "tenets") into English as "transcendence of (all) views", "practice of no-view(s)" etc. I recommend that you start from the Gomez's(?) paper - its lighter, catchy and paradoxical. Being that, It's a golden classics of the Buddhist studies.
How good and wonderful are your days,
How true are your ways?

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

Post by Mkoll » Mon Dec 29, 2014 7:59 pm

sphairos wrote:Dear Mkoll,

What sammādiṭṭhi is is thoroughly textually demonstrated in the mentioned works - especially Fuller's one - which is devoted to the clarification of this very term. We may correctly render this term (or, rather, its wider notion in the "tenets") into English as "transcendence of (all) views", "practice of no-view(s)" etc. I recommend that you start from the Gomez's(?) paper - its lighter, catchy and paradoxical. Being that, It's a golden classics of the Buddhist studies.
I would still call "transcendence of all views" or "practice of no-views" a view. Or if you don't like that word, one could call it an "informing perspective."
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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

Post by sphairos » Mon Dec 29, 2014 8:34 pm

"I would still call "transcendence of all views" or "practice of no-views" a view."

You can't. You have to practise no-views. It's a non-verbal, non-discursive thing , it cannot be described, verbally thought upon, talked about etc. - just experienced, known... You can say "informing perspective" but that moment you won't be practicing no-views, transcending...
How good and wonderful are your days,
How true are your ways?

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

Post by culaavuso » Mon Dec 29, 2014 9:45 pm

Mkoll wrote: I would still call "transcendence of all views" or "practice of no-views" a view. Or if you don't like that word, one could call it an "informing perspective."
It appears to be called a view (diṭṭhi) in this way in AN 10.93:
AN 10.93: Kiṃ­diṭṭhi­ka­sutta Sutta wrote: Whatever has been brought into being, is fabricated, willed, dependently originated, that is inconstant. Whatever is inconstant is stress. Whatever is stress is not me, is not what I am, is not my self. This is the sort of view I have.

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