Early Buddhism resources

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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ancientbuddhism
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Re: Early Buddhism resources

Post by ancientbuddhism » Sat Jun 23, 2012 4:38 pm

The Oral Composition and Transmission of Early Buddhist Texts, by Mark Allon, St John’s College, Cambridge

Indian Insights: Buddhism, Brahmanism and Bhakti (© Luzac Oriental, 1997)
Papers from the Annual Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions (1989 – 1994)
  • “It is generally agreed that early Buddhist literature, of which the Pāli texts of the Theravāda canon are the most numerous and best preserved examples, was composed and transmitted orally.(1) This is considered to be the case for the following reasons:

    1. There is no reference to writing or writing materials in the principle Pāli nikāyas, (2) though there are many references to learning and reciting discourses (see below).(3)

    2. Although there are a few passages in the Pāli Vinayapiṭaka which indicate that the art of writing was known at the time when these Vinaya texts were put into their present form, these do not refer to texts and their preservation.(4)

    3. Despite detailed rules governing the use of all items used by the monks and nuns, the Vinaya has no ruling governing the use of writing materials. (5)

    4. There is no archaeological evidence for the use of writing in India during the early phase of Buddhism, that is, before the time of Aśoka (6) – although this view may have to be revised in the light of recent finds in Sri Lanka of Brāhmī characters on potsherds dating from this period. (7)

    5. Finally, many of the stylistic features of these texts indicate an oral origin. (8)”
  • 1. O. von Hinüber, 1990, chap. V (esp. p. 22), p. 30, chap. XIV; K.R. Norman, 1993a, p. 280; R. Gombrich, 1990a & 1990b; L.S. Cousins, 1989, esp. p. 1; S. Collins, 1992.
    2. R. Gombrich, 1992b, p. 27; O. von Hinüber, 1990, esp. p. 30.
    3. S. Collins, 1992, esp. pp. 124 – 25; R. Gombrich, 1990b, p. 26.
    4. T.W. Rhys Davids & H. Oldenberg, 1881, pp. xxxii – xxxv; cf. R. Gombrich, 1990b, pp. 27 – 8.
    5. T.W. Rhys Davids & H. Oldenberg, 1881, pp. xxxii – xxxiii; R. Gombrich, 1990b, p. 28.
    6. R. Gombrich, 1990b, p. 27. For the most recent views on writing in India, see O. von Hinüber, 1990, esp. pp. 54, 72 and K.R. Norman, 1993b, esp. pp. 243, 245 – 47.
    7. See R.A.E. Coningham, 1993. S.U. Deraniyagala dates these to 600 – 500 BC; R. Allchin/R.A.E. Coningham tentatively date them to 400 – 450 BC.
    8. O. von Hinüber, 1990, pp. 22 – 3; R. Gombrich, 1990a, pp. 7 – 8; 1990b, pp. 21 – 2; L.S. Cousins, 1983; G. von Simon, 1965; 1977, p. 479.
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mikenz66
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Re: Early Buddhism resources

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Jun 25, 2012 7:45 am

Discussion on the above split off here: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 23&start=0" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:anjali:
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piotr
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Re: Early Buddhism resources

Post by piotr » Wed Jun 27, 2012 2:12 pm

Hi,

Does anyone of you have access to Peter Masefield's essay “Mind/Cosmos Maps in the Pāli Nikāyas" from Buddhist and Western Psychology?
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...

vinasp
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Re: Early Buddhism resources

Post by vinasp » Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:00 pm

Hi everyone,

The Philosophy Of Desire In The Buddhist Pali Canon, by David Webster.

http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/T ... xI7YRUSegC" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Dodgy link edited - mikenz66

Regards, Vincent.

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piotr
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Re: Early Buddhism resources

Post by piotr » Mon Jul 09, 2012 6:48 am

Hi,

“Reexamining Jhāna: Towards a Critical Reconstruction of Early Buddhist Soteriology” — Grzegorz Polak, Wydawnictwo UMCS, 2011
  • Meditation occupied a very important place in early Buddhist soteriology. Until recently, the issue of early Buddhist meditation was not seen as particularly problematic or controversial. It was almost taken for granted, that the meditative tradition of Theravāda Buddhism was able to preserve the meditative teachings of early Buddhism in their pure form. This view can however no longer be maintained. It appears that there are several fundamental discrepancies between the early suttas and the later meditative scriptures of Theravāda Buddhism. Major internal discrepancies are also present in the Suttapiṭaka itself. Most controversies are connected with the status and the role of the meditative state known as ‘jhāna’. This book can be seen as a polemic with traditional, orthodox vision of early Buddhist meditation.
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...

Sylvester
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Re: Early Buddhism resources

Post by Sylvester » Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:35 am

Hi piotr

Do you think Dr Polak actually reads the Pali personally? He does have copious Pali quotations, but I get the feel that he's actually relying on English translations. One giveaway was this comment -
On the other hand, in the Pot.t.hapāda Sutta (DN 9), the last stage of the process of meditation is simply described as cessation. But the Pot.t.hapāda Sutta gets into trouble when it attempts to describe this stage of ‘cessation’. According to this sutta, in this stage one finally lays to rest the activity of vitakka and vicāra. It appears that the compiler of the sutta must have forgotten that vitakka and vicāra are gone already in the second jhāna.
I could not trace this anywhere in DN 9. The closest that comes to it is Ven Thanissaro's faulty translation -
(on reaching the attainment of Nothingness)-

Now, when the monk is percipient of himself here, then from there to there, step by step, he touches the peak of perception. As he remains at the peak of perception, the thought occurs to him, 'Thinking is bad for me. Not thinking is better for me. If I were to think and will, this perception of mine would cease, and a grosser perception would appear. What if I were neither to think nor to will?' [3] So he neither thinks nor wills, and as he is neither thinking nor willing, that perception ceases [4] and another, grosser perception does not appear. He touches cessation. This, Potthapada, is how there is the alert [5] step-by step attainment of the ultimate cessation of perception.
The PTS and Walshe translations both correctly translate "imā ca me saññā nirujjheyyuṃ" to mean that "these perceptions of mine would cease" (both imā and nirujjheyyuṃ being in the plural). It looks like Polak was using a faulty English translation of DN 9 to criticise the poor redactor of the Pali!

I don't even know where he found the nouns vitakka and vicāra in DN 9's discussion of ultimate cessation, since that passage discusses the verbs ceteti and abhisaṅkharoti instead.
Last edited by Sylvester on Fri Jul 13, 2012 1:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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piotr
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Re: Early Buddhism resources

Post by piotr » Wed Jul 11, 2012 10:08 am

Hi Sylvester,

I don't know the author personally, so I can't really tell. As for the quote it seems to me that in his discussion of Poṭṭhapāda-sutta Polak equals ‘cetayati’ with ‘vitakketi’. I'm in the middle of his book, and I haven't read his discussion of ‘vitakka’ and ‘vicāra’ yet, so I can't really tell why he presumably equals those terms.
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...

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Travis
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Re: Early Buddhism resources

Post by Travis » Wed Jul 11, 2012 10:41 pm

Hi Piotr,
Thanks for sharing this. I found It to be a very interesting and thought provoking book. He loses me a little in the "Aftermath" section, but I'll definitely keep an eye out for his forthcoming book that he outlines in the "Perspectives" section.
:anjali:
Travis
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Sylvester
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Re: Early Buddhism resources

Post by Sylvester » Thu Jul 12, 2012 4:09 am

Thanks piotr.

Pretty disappointing that in his discussion of vitakka and vicāra, he picks only those passages which are easy to identify as thoughts and ruminations. No attempt, as far as I could see, was made to tackle the vitakka and vicāra in SN 12 as intentions. This, despite him spotting MN 78; he did not manage to make the connection between vitakka and vicāra and kusalasaṅkappa.

As for his beef with those suttas typically interpreted as vipassanā within jhānas-
According to the other concept of insight formulated in some suttas, the meditator can suddenly stop his practice of samatha meditation in one of the jhānas (including the higher ones) and while being in this very state start the practice of insight which makes this state of jhāna and its imperfection the object of insight. This view is of course nonsensical. When one is absorbed in jhāna, his intentions are gone. MN 78 states that the evil intentions are gone in the first jhāna and the good ones are gone in the second jhāna. It is not even possible to think about starting a different practice, while being in jhāna.
While I can agree with his reliance on MN 78 on excluding the possibility of intention in jhāna, the apparent paradox in these suttas can be very easily resolved if one simply notes that those present tense verbs of paṭisañcikkhati, pajānāti, vipassati etc used in these suttas do not connote contemporaneity with jhāna. Instead, he decides to discount all of these suttas (presumably suttas like MN 52) as spurious.

I just get the feel that his thesis is largely built on his understanding of "English-translation jhānas", instead of "Pali jhānas". :tongue:

If I want more solid and "sexy" scholarship, I'd turn to Alexander Wynne's "The Origin of Buddhist Meditation" (Routledge 2007). That has even more heretical conclusions about the jhāna suttas/pericopes (ie all inconsistent with the "original" jhānas portrayed in 3 suttas of the Sutta Nipata). I wonder if Gombrich did not wince in pain when co-publishing that book under OCBS, given Wynne's previous affiliation with Oxford and disdain for Schopen.

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daverupa
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Re: Early Buddhism resources

Post by daverupa » Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:09 pm

Sylvester wrote:he decides to discount all of these suttas (presumably suttas like MN 52) as spurious.
Well, the inclusion of the arupas in that Sutta and his subsequent rejection of certain of its aspects dovetails his premise that such arupa content is late. Given that the whole of that Sutta is Ananda teaching the jhana and arupa pericopes, it looks like a very late Sutta indeed.
  • "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: Early Buddhism resources

Post by Sylvester » Fri Jul 13, 2012 1:30 am

Hi dave.

That is an tenable argument. We could however adopt another textual criticism device to explain the presence of the arupa pericopes. They were simply inserted inadvertently during the course of "redaction". Ven Analayo identifies (in his Comparative Study of the MN) quite a number of doctrinally ill-fitting pericopes, but shows how easily a reciter could have mistakenly inserted into a sutta, due to the preceding sequence of words.

I think more needs to be done to study this popular conception of "lateness" of a sutta. It's far too vague a concept right now to be of genuine utility. Eg, the insertion of the arupa pericopes only demonstrates that a text suffered an incorrect addition sometime "late", but it says nothing about the original text. Excise the arupa pericope, and we're still left with the issue - is the root-text "late"?

Another example is the oft-cited observation that texts with long compounds are "late". I would not disagree that compounding is a feature of late Pali, but it simply shows that single words were strung together at a late point in the text's history. It does not say anything about when these single words first came to be recorded, and it certainly is not proof that the concepts/connotations of a text were first set down in compounds instead of single words.

Yet another example is the fact that the Pali Canon shows heavy Sanskritisation, and this is taken as proof of lateness. Norman argues that the fact that the Commentaries can actually preserve the Prakrit roots and meanings of the Sanskritised Pali indicates that the textual tradition goes much further back in time than the Sanskrit period. Sanskritisation, is at best, evidence that the morphology of Pali closed late, but it says nothing about the age of the concepts.

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daverupa
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Re: Early Buddhism resources

Post by daverupa » Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:49 am

"un"tenable, I'm sure you meant. Thank you for the depth of coverage, here.

:heart:
  • "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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Travis
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Re: Early Buddhism resources

Post by Travis » Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:12 pm

Sylvester wrote:I just get the feel that his thesis is largely built on his understanding of "English-translation jhānas", instead of "Pali jhānas".
Polak pg. 8 wrote:In quotations, I have decided to use popular and widely available translations of the Suttapitaka which are now in circulation. I wanted to avoid the possible impression that by translation I am somewhat twisting the meaning of the texts to fit them to my claims. I also believe that these modern translations are very good, and they are based on the experiences of the previous generations of translators.
Seems to imply that the author can translate Pali, but chose to quote existing translations.

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Re: Early Buddhism resources

Post by ancientbuddhism » Sat Jul 14, 2012 4:43 am

I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

A Handful of Leaves


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