Proof: Dharma is Buddha's Teaching, not "mental qualities"

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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frank k
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Proof: Dharma is Buddha's Teaching, not "mental qualities"

Post by frank k » Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:34 pm

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: Proof: Dharma is Buddha's Teaching, not "mental qualities"

Post by JamesTheGiant » Sat Jul 20, 2019 8:45 pm

Hmm... Bhikkhu Bodhi and Venerable Thanissaro's translations make more sense.
I can follow the logic of your mathematical argument, but it simply makes more sense if I translate it as they do, qualities/etc.
Sorry, what you've presented is not "Proof", it's just a different translation.
But good effort.

Dinsdale
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Re: Proof: Dharma is Buddha's Teaching, not "mental qualities"

Post by Dinsdale » Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:47 am

Sorry but I don't get your argument with the factors of Right Effort. How can unskillful qualities (dhamma) be the same as dhamma teachings or dhammic principles (Dhamma)? Why not just accept that there are two different meanings of "dhamma"?
Personally I would prefer "unskillful states" to "unskillful qualities" here, but the meaning is the same.

As a general observation, the meaning of words and phrases can vary according to context, so when translating you always need to look at the context, ie the surrounding words/phrases/paragraphs/Sutta.
Otherwise you can end up trying to bang square pegs into round holes, trying to force in meanings that don't fit the context.
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frank k
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Re: Proof: Dharma is Buddha's Teaching, not "mental qualities"

Post by frank k » Sun Jul 21, 2019 10:10 am

Dinsdale wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:47 am
Sorry but I don't get your argument with the factors of Right Effort. How can unskillful qualities (dhamma) be the same as dhamma teachings or dhammic principles (Dhamma)? Why not just accept that there are two different meanings of "dhamma"?
There are two problems here that are separate but relevant. 'dhamma' needs to remain untranslated, or consistently translated with a single term consistently everywhere. In the Chinese Agamas, the Chinese translators had the foresight to do this (they translate it dhamma as 'fa', everywhere). I've dealt with that topic on other threads. In the pali world, B. Analayo does this, or has started doing it in his more recent work.

The second problem, which you're not seeing, is kusala dhamma 'qualities', under right effort (among other places), is coherent and makes sense on its own, but right effort is 'right' only if it leads to nirvana.

example:
metta development is a kusala dhamma, everyone can agree on this correct?
following the instructions of right effort, we should develop unarisen kusala dhammas like metta, and
continue to protect metta that has already arisen.

But if you only develop metta as a kusala dhamma (quality/state), and not understand that quality within Dhamma-[teachings] (that leads to viraga...nirvana),
then metta only takes you to a brahma realm or deva rebirth. It doesn't lead you to nirvana.

Therefore, right effort must work with kusala Dhamma, not kusala dhamma (qualities).

Otherwise you would have to show us where in the EBT it's filtering kusala dhammas into the Dhammas.
It's not in B. Thanissaro's adn B. Bodhi's Dhamma-vicaya-sambojjhanga, or Dhamma-anupassana (they also translate Dhamma there has dhamma 'qualities/states/phenomena').

metta straddles many senses of Dhamma, which is why 'dhamma' must remain untranslated.
metta = ☸Dhamma [buddha's teaching]
metta = Dhamma [a wholesome teaching taught by other religions]
metta = dhamma [a skillful quality]
metta = Dhamma [a natural law of karma that being nice to other people, will cause a chain reaction of positive cause/effect sequence that will have nice things happen to you, as a result of initiating a nice cause].
www.lucid24.org/sted : ☸Lucid24.org🐘 STED definitions
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Dinsdale
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Re: Proof: Dharma is Buddha's Teaching, not "mental qualities"

Post by Dinsdale » Sun Jul 21, 2019 10:29 am

frank k wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 10:10 am
Dinsdale wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:47 am
Sorry but I don't get your argument with the factors of Right Effort. How can unskillful qualities (dhamma) be the same as dhamma teachings or dhammic principles (Dhamma)? Why not just accept that there are two different meanings of "dhamma"?
There are two problems here that are separate but relevant. 'dhamma' needs to remain untranslated, or consistently translated with a single term consistently everywhere. In the Chinese Agamas, the Chinese translators had the foresight to do this (they translate it dhamma as 'fa', everywhere). I've dealt with that topic on other threads. In the pali world, B. Analayo does this, or has started doing it in his more recent work.

The second problem, which you're not seeing, is kusala dhamma 'qualities', under right effort (among other places), is coherent and makes sense on its own, but right effort is 'right' only if it leads to nirvana.

example:
metta development is a kusala dhamma, everyone can agree on this correct?
following the instructions of right effort, we should develop unarisen kusala dhammas like metta, and
continue to protect metta that has already arisen.

But if you only develop metta as a kusala dhamma (quality/state), and not understand that quality within Dhamma-[teachings] (that leads to viraga...nirvana),
then metta only takes you to a brahma realm or deva rebirth. It doesn't lead you to nirvana.

Therefore, right effort must work with kusala Dhamma, not kusala dhamma (qualities).

Otherwise you would have to show us where in the EBT it's filtering kusala dhammas into the Dhammas.
It's not in B. Thanissaro's adn B. Bodhi's Dhamma-vicaya-sambojjhanga, or Dhamma-anupassana (they also translate Dhamma there has dhamma 'qualities/states/phenomena').

metta straddles many senses of Dhamma, which is why 'dhamma' must remain untranslated.
metta = ☸Dhamma [buddha's teaching]
metta = Dhamma [a wholesome teaching taught by other religions]
metta = dhamma [a skillful quality]
metta = Dhamma [a natural law of karma that being nice to other people, will cause a chain reaction of positive cause/effect sequence that will have nice things happen to you, as a result of initiating a nice cause].
There might be an argument for leaving "dhamma" untranslated, but I still don't see a convincing argument for it having the same meaning throughout the suttas.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

frank k
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Re: Proof: Dharma is Buddha's Teaching, not "mental qualities"

Post by frank k » Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:46 pm

Dinsdale wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 10:29 am
There might be an argument for leaving "dhamma" untranslated, but I still don't see a convincing argument for it having the same meaning throughout the suttas.
What did I write that gave you the impression that "dhamma = buddha's teaching" everywhere it occurs in the suttas?
http://lucid24.org/tped/d/dhamma/index.html

Of course it has several meanings. But when English translators commit to just one of the several meanings on case by case basis, it often causes problems. And in other cases, like in right effort and Dhamma-vicaya, it causes serious problems.

I don't 'know how I can explain it any more clearly. Maybe it's just too subtle. 'Dhamma' and 'sati' are both very overloaded words that aren't easy to define in a quick sentence. If we were to give a test asking people, even long time Buddhists, what those two words mean, the vast majority of people would fail.
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Dinsdale
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Re: Proof: Dharma is Buddha's Teaching, not "mental qualities"

Post by Dinsdale » Mon Jul 22, 2019 6:47 am

frank k wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:46 pm
Dinsdale wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 10:29 am
There might be an argument for leaving "dhamma" untranslated, but I still don't see a convincing argument for it having the same meaning throughout the suttas.
What did I write that gave you the impression that "dhamma = buddha's teaching" everywhere it occurs in the suttas?
http://lucid24.org/tped/d/dhamma/index.html

Of course it has several meanings. But when English translators commit to just one of the several meanings on case by case basis, it often causes problems. And in other cases, like in right effort and Dhamma-vicaya, it causes serious problems.

I don't 'know how I can explain it any more clearly. Maybe it's just too subtle. 'Dhamma' and 'sati' are both very overloaded words that aren't easy to define in a quick sentence. If we were to give a test asking people, even long time Buddhists, what those two words mean, the vast majority of people would fail.
So what's your interpretation of "dhamma" in dhamma-vicaya?
And what about in the 4th frame of satipatthana?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

frank k
Posts: 509
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2011 4:55 pm

Re: Proof: Dharma is Buddha's Teaching, not "mental qualities"

Post by frank k » Mon Jul 22, 2019 4:46 pm

Dinsdale wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 6:47 am

So what's your interpretation of "dhamma" in dhamma-vicaya?
And what about in the 4th frame of satipatthana?
http://notesonthedhamma.blogspot.com/20 ... a-in.html

You'll want to read the whole article to get my full set of reasons, but here's a taste.

excerpt:
Exhibit #4: Dhamma is your island, refuge

Take a look at these suttas:
SN 47.9, SN 47.13, SN 47.14 on being your own Dhamma island, refuge, with no other refuge. How to do that? The Buddha then gives the STED 4sp satipatthana instructions. Think about that carefully. That terse formula, with the cryptic "body as body, ..., Dhamma as Dhamma...", is serving as the official representative of the entire essence of Dhamma, of the 4 noble truths, a concise set of instructions to follow, that will lead you to the end of suffering, to nirvana.

I'm not aware of any of the other factors, in the 37bp awakening wings, ever being given such an exalted status serving as "an Island, your only Dhamma refuge".

So if 4sp is to carry out that function of summarizing the entire path, each word in that terse formula is likely to be packed with meaning and reference the other critical factors of 7sb, 8aam, 4nt, and 37bp.

So by interpreting Dhamma-anupassana as I do in exhibit #2 and the first 3 categories of 4sp consonant with Bahiya sutta, as explained in exhibit #1, then the 4sp indeed is a complete summary of the entire path.

Because when we say:
.... continuously seeing body as body...
... continuously seeing experienced-sensations as experienced-sensations...
... continuously seeing mind as mind....
...continuously seeing Dhamma as Dhamma...

We are simply restating the 4 noble truths in a slightly different form:
.... continuously seeing body as it actually is, as Dukkha...
... continuously seeing experienced-sensations as it actually is, as Dukkha...
... continuously seeing mind as as it actually is, as Dukkha...
...continuously seeing Dhamma as it actually is, not a distorted non-Dhamma that gets fooled by Dukkha.

The prevailing understanding of 4sp formula by the vast majority of the community, by comparison, their 4sp understanding is not a self sufficient Dhamma Island refuge. It's missing some critical directions and a compass to point you to Nirvana. This incomplete interpretation of 4sp, if taken as one's sole set of instructions on a Dhamma island refuge, would only lead to a kind of dry insight, but not to full liberation, and perhaps not even to stream entry.

The Dhamma is always about the 4NT, seeing Dukkha. If you don't see dukkha clearly, you can't transcend it.

Exhibit #5: The clincher, SN 47.4
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