David N. Snyder wrote: BlackBird wrote:
Hi Zavk, thank you for your informative post. Incidentally perhaps, I tend to build my conception of the Buddha based on what appears in the Nikayas and I tend to treat anything written by a scholar be they Occidental or Oriental, with the same level of critical thought an analysis. You make an important point and it's worth bearing in mind
I agree with Jack. While I appreciate the scholarship and information by zavk, I also get my information about the life of the Buddha primarily from the Nikayas, not any scholar, Western or Eastern. In the Pali Canon there are numerous references to a man who became a Buddha, a mortal man who was born, got sick (dysentery), got old and died.
for some Tipitaka references.
I don't want to derail this thread. But I wish to a quick point as it pertains to the general practice of engaging in Dhamma discussion online and offline.
The distinction made here between non-Buddhist scholarship and Buddhist knowledge is an entirely false one
. As if knowledge about the Pali language, as if the criteria for translation and transplantation, as if the general sense of historicity of where the human estate and the different cultures of the world are today and how we have come to be so - as if all these are not part of a broader network of understanding and habits (including academic knowledge production) within which the Dhamma circulates; as if these can be cleanly separated from how we engage with the Dhamma, regardless of whether one favours the Nikayas or Mahayana corpus.
To pretend that one's engagement with the Dhamma can be 'untainted' by such broader cultural, social, political and intellectual forces is totally disingenuous and totally anachronistic. Imagine a turtle meeting a fish in the ocean, and because the turtle has been on land, it claims, 'Oh, I really only rely on the sun and air. The water and salt has no influence on me, I do not pay them attention.' What if the reason they appear to be of no influence is precisely because one does not pay attention?
This is of course merely an analogy and would not fit the present circumstances perfectly. Nevertheless, the main point is:
The distinction between 'mere scholarship' and 'proper Dhamma knowledge' is always and already false to begin with
. Such a distinction would allow one to raise the charge of 'mere study' or 'over-intellectualisation' at others, especially when confronted with ideas that do not immediately conform with one's own opinions. But this not only turns a blind eye to how academic scholars could be committed Buddhist practitioners (and of course they are those who are, if one cares to pay attention), it also perpetuates an unhelpful, discriminatory and hypocritical
attitude, a way of disguising in sheepskin what one is in fact performing, even as one claims otherwise.
If we simply takes a casual look around at what is taking place here on DW: how often to we find participants quoting passages, demanding that others back up their views by citing sources, checking and referring to those sources, evaluating them against one another for accuracy or inconsistency? Are these activities structurally different to the activities performed by professional scholars? Are the ideas articulated not inter-involved on some level or another? Who here hasn't engaged in these activities? Let's not pretend otherwise and accuse others, even if implicitly, of engaging in practices that are supposedly of less relevance.
Please excuse my rant, moderators. It does not relate to the thread directly, but I believe the issue pertains to how we engage Dhamma discussion in general, including the question of how we ought to evaluate the historicity of the Dhamma. But if you think this is inappropriate, then please exercise your responsibility as a moderator.