why is authenticity under-valued

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
binocular
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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by binocular » Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:35 am

Dhammarakkhito wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:19 am
from facebook: 'We find that the closest reflection of the Saddhamma /.../
Who is this "we"?
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Dhammarakkhito
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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:52 am

i quoted from the facebook group, 'orthodox buddhism (discussion)'
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

https://www.facebook.com/noblebuddhadha ... 34/?type=3

http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://sites.google.com/site/santipada ... allytaught

binocular
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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by binocular » Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:58 am

Dhammarakkhito wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:52 am
i quoted from the facebook group, 'orthodox buddhism (discussion)'
And who are they? The authority on all things Buddhism?
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Coëmgenu
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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:03 pm

Dhammarakkhito wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:52 am
i quoted from the facebook group, 'orthodox buddhism (discussion)'
AFAIK, at least in the instance of one of the quotes, that facebook group is quoting Ven Sujato, who founded SuttaCentral. Very astute scholar, IMO.
如無為,如是難見、不動、不屈、不死、無漏、覆蔭、洲渚、濟渡、依止、擁護、不流轉、離熾焰、離燒然、流通、清涼、微妙、安隱、無病、無所有、涅槃。
Like this is the uncreated, like this is that which is difficult to realize, with no moving, no bending, no dying. Utterly lacking secretions and smothered in the dark, it is the island shore. Where there is ferrying, it is the crossing. It is dependency's ceasing, it is the end of circulating transmissions. It is the exhaustion of the flame, it is the ending of the burning. Flowing openly, pure and cool, with secret subtlety, and calm occultation, lacking ailment, lacking owning, nirvāṇa.
Asaṁskṛtadharmasūtra, Sermon on the Uncreated Phenomenon, T99.224b7, Saṁyuktāgama 890

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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by DCM » Sun Jan 14, 2018 1:55 pm

Okay thanks. Is there a list of all the Suttas that are considered EBT? Or a book perhaps. I’ve seen that the 4 Nikāyas and some of the Khuddaka are considered EBT’s and their counterpart Agamas, but I’ve yet to see a comprehensive list of suttas.

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Coëmgenu
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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Jan 14, 2018 3:23 pm

DCM wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 1:55 pm
Okay thanks. Is there a list of all the Suttas that are considered EBT? Or a book perhaps. I’ve seen that the 4 Nikāyas and some of the Khuddaka are considered EBT’s and their counterpart Agamas, but I’ve yet to see a comprehensive list of suttas.
Depends. It is actually afaik on a sutta-by-sutta basis. For the most part the 4 nikākā are comprised of EBTs. For the most part the 4 āgamāḥ are comprised of EBTs. Even the 5th nikāya, the Khuddakanikāya, has some material believed to be a quite early, like the Dhammapada afaik, which is substantiated in Sanskrit, Pāli, Chinese, & Gāndhārī as an EBT, despite being in the Khuddakanikāya, which has a lot of late material.

I would consult some works by respected scholars in the fields of EBT studies. You can find a number of recommendations in this forum here, but I would personally suggest starting with Ven Sujato's The Authenticity of Early Buddhist Texts if others have not already suggested it and you have not already consulted it.

After that, you can ask Ven Sujato & Ven Brahmali yourself, or at least start a thread, on SuttaCentral. There is no guarantee that either venerable will answer your question or post on your thread, they are very very busy, but that particular forum specializes in EBT studies (well, its intended to), and has some regular posters in it who are very educated in the field, many of whom used to post regularly here at DhammaWheel. The forum is like all forums, a mix of wonderful and horrible human behaviour, and is very very different in tone and moderation style than this forum.

In my experience though, if one avoids subject matters that are in any way at all "controversial", the forum is a fine place and is a good place to cross-reference, in addition to checking past posts here, as there is a wealth of information on DhammaWheel that surpasses SuttaCentral, it being a newer forum. That being said, SuttaCentral is a specialized forum, and might be a better place to go looking for some kind of "verified list" of EBTs. To my knowledge, no such exhaustive and encyclopedic list exists as to list every single sutta/sūtra/āgama considered an EBT vs those-in-suspicion.
如無為,如是難見、不動、不屈、不死、無漏、覆蔭、洲渚、濟渡、依止、擁護、不流轉、離熾焰、離燒然、流通、清涼、微妙、安隱、無病、無所有、涅槃。
Like this is the uncreated, like this is that which is difficult to realize, with no moving, no bending, no dying. Utterly lacking secretions and smothered in the dark, it is the island shore. Where there is ferrying, it is the crossing. It is dependency's ceasing, it is the end of circulating transmissions. It is the exhaustion of the flame, it is the ending of the burning. Flowing openly, pure and cool, with secret subtlety, and calm occultation, lacking ailment, lacking owning, nirvāṇa.
Asaṁskṛtadharmasūtra, Sermon on the Uncreated Phenomenon, T99.224b7, Saṁyuktāgama 890

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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by DCM » Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:15 pm

Hi Coëmgenu, I have read Ven. Sugato's book on EBT's, but thankyou for the pointer to SC. I do look there occasionally, but have looked a bit deeper and found a useful thread on the Study Guide section regarding suspected inauthentic texts.

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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by aflatun » Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:36 pm

Dhammarakkhito wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:59 am
let's talk about it
It's not undervalued. It's just that some people don't accept "scientific history" or materialist textual criticism as the only criterion of authenticity. For example the buddhists writing the commentaries did not. They accepted their oral traditions, including the "supernatural" accounts of where the abhidhamma came from, etc. Similarly the early Mahayanists did not. They accepted their oral traditions, supernatural accounts, etc. And above all these folks accepted the fruits of their renunciation and practice as the "proof in the pudding."

A moderner might think they know "what the Buddha actually said" because effectively someone told them "what the Buddha actually said." And that someone was probably working with a scientific-materialist conception of history and textual criticism. And on this basis that someone and the moderner that follows them might reject everything that isn't the four nikayas. Any word that doesn't appear in the nikayas is to be rejected, regardless of what the meaning of that word is and whether that meaning was perhaps encompassed by different words in those same nikayas. And then they'll take it further and start rejecting parts of those four nikayas that don't seem to fit, all on the basis of highly questionable criteria. In the end it all becomes a massive petitio principii : The textual critic has merely found what they assumed was there to begin with, and rejected anything that didn't support that.

If one needed "scientific history" or materialist textual criticism to establish authenticity then the only Buddhists worthy of the name showed up in the 20th century. Venerables Buddhaghosa, Upatissa, Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu, Dogen, Garab Dorje, Gorampa, Bankei etc didn't even have the means to engage in this exercise, even if they would have been so inclined. What they did have, is a rich oral tradition that in one way or another went back to the source, full of "historical mistakes" but also full of a great many things which by definition outstrip and exceed what can be known by us now, things which possibly put them far "closer" to the source than we can ever get. But that can't be read, measured, quantified, etc, and therefore it never existed right? This is what I was obliquely getting at here

I find EBT studies fascinating. I also find them full of wild speculation, gratuitous assumptions and arguments so flimsy that at times I can't believe my eyes. I'm sorry if anyone finds this offensive. Despite being drawn to many monks who are neo-sautrantikas ("sutta only" types) I have always had a profound distaste for protestantism, fundamentalism, reductionism, etc. I prefer a more balanced approach, and my nature is to give those that sacrifice everything for the sake of the path the benefit of the doubt, even if they formulate things in ways that strike me as off.
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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mikenz66
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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:09 pm

aflatun wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:36 pm
It's not undervalued. It's just that some people don't accept "scientific history" or materialist textual criticism as the only criterion of authenticity. ...
Well said. It would seem somewhat ironic to over-emphasise a scientific/materialistic approach to verifying the authenticity of a religious path whose texts reject that approach...

:heart:
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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by retrofuturist » Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:48 pm

Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:09 pm
Well said. It would seem somewhat ironic to over-emphasise a scientific/materialistic approach to verifying the authenticity of a religious path whose texts reject that approach
I guess the Mahayanists whose sutras were found underneath a rock by a naga would likely agree with you.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"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: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by Kim OHara » Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:35 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:48 pm
Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:09 pm
Well said. It would seem somewhat ironic to over-emphasise a scientific/materialistic approach to verifying the authenticity of a religious path whose texts reject that approach
I guess the Mahayanists whose sutras were found underneath a rock by a naga would likely agree with you.

Metta,
Paul. :)
In a pre-scientific age, which is where almost all religions come from, important people, things and events were given origin-stories and attributes which reflected and emphasised their importance.
Virgin birth (not exclusive to JC).
Laws on stone tablets.
Enormous lifespans.
Unusual beauty - or physical marks https://dhammawiki.com/index.php?title= ... _great_man.
Annunciation by angels/devas/etc.
Ladies in lakes offering swords.
Divine parentage (handy for legitimising heroes born outside the nobility).
...

In a scientific age, e.g. now, most people clinging to the view that these things are literally true and essential to the belief system are considered a bit loony by most other people - outside or inside the belief system.The workarounds which avoid the conflict between science and religion include the "poetic truth" and "mythic truth" interpretations and "that's not really as important as the core teachings".

:namaste:
Kim

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Coëmgenu
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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:09 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:48 pm
Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:09 pm
Well said. It would seem somewhat ironic to over-emphasise a scientific/materialistic approach to verifying the authenticity of a religious path whose texts reject that approach
I guess the Mahayanists whose sutras were found underneath a rock by a naga would likely agree with you.

Metta,
Paul. :)
Actually, for your information, the Prajñāpāramitāsūtrāṇi were found by a scuba-diving Nāgārjuna visiting an undersea civilization of transdimensional magical giant snakes who preserved the higher discourses of the Buddha concerning emptiness. Get your facts right.
如無為,如是難見、不動、不屈、不死、無漏、覆蔭、洲渚、濟渡、依止、擁護、不流轉、離熾焰、離燒然、流通、清涼、微妙、安隱、無病、無所有、涅槃。
Like this is the uncreated, like this is that which is difficult to realize, with no moving, no bending, no dying. Utterly lacking secretions and smothered in the dark, it is the island shore. Where there is ferrying, it is the crossing. It is dependency's ceasing, it is the end of circulating transmissions. It is the exhaustion of the flame, it is the ending of the burning. Flowing openly, pure and cool, with secret subtlety, and calm occultation, lacking ailment, lacking owning, nirvāṇa.
Asaṁskṛtadharmasūtra, Sermon on the Uncreated Phenomenon, T99.224b7, Saṁyuktāgama 890

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Subharo
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Evolutionarily Stable States become "stronger" automatically

Post by Subharo » Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:09 pm

Before I begin, I'm not out to debate! These are just my personal 2 cents. Take it or leave it.

I remembered a very good book I read about half a year ago, which was Richard Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene." It was quite mind-blowing, and worth reading. Note: I feel it had much to contribute in the way of anatta, as it makes many statements implicitly agreeing with the Buddha when the Buddha explained the origin of the world as we know it by saying that "this all comes to be, simply due to the existence of the four elements" (heavily paraphrasing there, sorry, can't remember the reference in the Suttas).

BTW: Others have cautioned me that Richard Dawkins is a serious atheist, but his atheism has nothing to do with what I'm about to say. No doubt his atheism will get dragged out as somehow relevant, but I assure you, it isn't relevant to what I'm saying here. I respect him as a Biologist who spoke authoritatively on Biology in that book, and his religious views don't interest me whatsoever here.

Dawkins explains an important and profound concept (relevant to the OP) in Biology, called the "Evolutionarily Stable State", or ESS for short. It's very well worth reading about and contemplating (especially vis-a-vis anatta). The concept and phenomenon of the ESS is what I'm going to point at here, not Dawkins or the other beliefs that Dawkins has.

No doubt I'm not explaining an ESS all that perfectly here, but here's an attempt at a summary: when a given population (of beings) all implicitly agree to operate by a set of (usually unvoiced) "rules" and behaviours such that the population becomes optimally stable over the longer term, then that set of rules can be called an ESS. An ESS necessarily has the curious property that it resists changes to the rules. In other words, an ESS, by definition, has a "self-defendingness" built into it. If an even more stable ESS comes along later, and manages, with great difficulty, to overcome this built-in resistance to rule-changing, then it is an even-more-stable-Evolutionarily-Stable-State.

Over vast stretches of time, the most clever and resilient and "dirty" (from a moral point of view) ESS's will tend to win out. They optimize on success for the whole population, and no other thing. ESS's have no sense of morality, they just work because they work, and anything goes when it comes to Mother Nature, which is red in tooth and claw. ESS's (when taken in the pure sense of Biology's view on them) are certainty not spiritual whatsoever. They are not like the constitution of a government, where things are formally written down, or reasoned out. This is purely about propagating genes (or "memes", a term which Dawkins DEFINED in that book). There is no orchestrating God, or supreme patriarch or something, when an ESS is at play. Success itself determines who wins and loses, and which ESS's win the day. Winner stays, loser pays.

ESS's apply to groups of animals (and other life forms), but it can also apply to groups of humans as well. And it's not just about genes propagating. Memes can also propagate according to their own ESS's. And organized religions, such as Buddhism, can be similarly described as being a "meme".


The OP asked "why is authenticity under-valued".

After thinking over the whole ESS thing for a long time, I answer the OP by saying "because an even-more-successful ESS came along which was less-than-authentic". Less spiritual? Less conducive to enlightenment? Sure. But ESS's are not out to be spiritual, nor help you to attain enlightenment (as they are not themselves living beings who could possibly think rationally). ESS's are simply patterns which have the curious quality of automatically forming, over time, in an increasingly-stable population of like beings. ESS's are about a population surviving and thriving using any means possible, no holds barred (admittedly, a "meme" like Buddhism must still have good morality in many ways to remain appealing). There doesn't need to be any evil mastermind behind this whole loss of authenticity of Buddhism. Increasingly-successful ESS's form all by themselves. That's my big point here.

For example, when Hindu views intermingled with Buddhism in countries like Sri Lanka, the resulting "meme" of Buddhism you find there was an even-more-stable variant of Buddhism than the one the Buddha invented. It's an even more stable and successful ESS. You see the monks acting like Brahmins in many ways, engaging in silabataparamasa (being masters of "priest-lore", with all the intensely important and pious rites and rituals, and pujas, such as Buddha Pujas), and the laypeople really, really get behind it and support it (quite possibly because it provides an even-easier path to Heaven than improving one's sila, thereby increasing the attractiveness of these Hindu views to the wider Buddhist population). Puja is a Hindu-originating word, BTW.

In Thailand, we see Confucianism intermingling with Buddhism to again create an even-more-stable variant of Buddhism than the one the Buddha invented (and Hindu views have snuck in as well). The iron-clad loyalties that Confucius taught make for an aggressive, empirical-style spread of monasteries, within a lineage controlled by the lineage-holder, not necessarily the teachings of Buddha.

Here's a relevant Confucius quotation (from "Sayings of Confucius", translated by James R. Ware):
If those at the top are fond of rites, the people are easy to direct.
(pg. 96)
Basically, whenever some views (outside of Buddhism) come along, like the ceremoniousness-as-livlihood of Hinduism, or the iron-clad loyalty thing of Confucianism, which have an institutionalism-strengthening quality, then when they intermingle with Buddhism, they will make for an even stronger ESS than the one the Buddha invented, and they will unfortunately prevail automatically over time, because of the even-stronger stability (for the population of all Buddhists as a whole, never mind arahantship) that they bring to the table.

The ESS that the Buddha originally built is more delicate, but optimized for enlightenment. The ESS's you often see in modern Buddhism are optimized for long-term survival of the religion of Buddhism itself, not enlightenment.

sayings_of_confucius_smaller.jpg
Sayings of Confucius cover
sayings_of_confucius_smaller.jpg (269.82 KiB) Viewed 766 times
Last edited by Subharo on Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:08 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Subharo Bhikkhu
"There is but one taste on this path, the taste of freedom" -The Buddha :buddha1:

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mikenz66
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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:29 pm

Thanks for that, Bhante.

I think Dawkins is brilliant when he's explaining what he knows well. When he strays into other areas he just makes me cringe...

I recall reading basically a description of anatta in The God Delusion. Unfortunately he knows little about religion and zero about Buddhism, so didn't make the connection. If only he had had dinner with Richard Gombrich occasionally...

Mike

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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by Subharo » Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:02 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:29 pm
Thanks for that, Bhante.

I think Dawkins is brilliant when he's explaining what he knows well. When he strays into other areas he just makes me cringe...

I recall reading basically a description of anatta in The God Delusion. Unfortunately he knows little about religion and zero about Buddhism, so didn't make the connection. If only he had had dinner with Richard Gombrich occasionally...

Mike
:lol:
Agreed.
Subharo Bhikkhu
"There is but one taste on this path, the taste of freedom" -The Buddha :buddha1:

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