Is There Clear Delineation Of What Is/Not "Early Buddhism"?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
ieee23
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Is There Clear Delineation Of What Is/Not "Early Buddhism"?

Post by ieee23 » Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:04 pm

Is there clear and agreed upon delineation of what Theravada teachings are and are not "Early Buddhist"?

Whole collections of texts or do the scholars draw borders around Early Buddhism on a sutta by sutta basis?

Is it possible to get a reading list of things that are Early Buddhist?
Whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. - MN 19

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Re: Is There Clear Delineation Of What Is/Not "Early Buddhism"?

Post by DNS » Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:54 pm

See: https://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=29823

From a suttacentral thread, here is the tldr conclusion of The Authenticity of Early Buddhist Texts
Bhante Sujato wrote:As per our book, The Authenticity of the Early Buddhist Texts, we believe that most of the texts included in what we call the early Buddhist Texts (EBTs) can be regarded as authentic. These texts are:

1. The 4 main nikayas in Pali
2. The six early books of the Khuddaka (Dhammapada, Udāna, Itivuttaka, Thera- and Therīgāthā, and Sutta Nipāta)
3. The Vinaya (especially the patimokkha and portions of the Khandhakas; but excluding the Parivāra, a later addition)
4. Such parallels to these texts as are found in Chinese, Sanskrit, Tibetan, etc.

All other Buddhist texts are later, and where they contain genuine words of the Buddha, these are quotes from the EBTs. In saying that these later texts are inauthentic, we are merely acknowledging the historical facts of their provenance. Whether such texts are true or beneficial expressions of the Dhamma is an entirely different matter.
https://dhammawiki.com/index.php?title= ... Pali_Canon

ieee23
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Re: Is There Clear Delineation Of What Is/Not "Early Buddhism"?

Post by ieee23 » Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:27 pm

So everything in the Pali Canon but the Abhidhamma, and anything that came after the Pali Canon. Thank you.
Whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. - MN 19

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Re: Is There Clear Delineation Of What Is/Not "Early Buddhism"?

Post by thomaslaw » Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:28 am

ieee23 wrote:So everything in the Pali Canon but the Abhidhamma, and anything that came after the Pali Canon. Thank you.
Incorrect.

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Re: Is There Clear Delineation Of What Is/Not "Early Buddhism"?

Post by Javi » Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:43 am

There is no single agreed upon delineation of what constitutes early buddhism and there is no single scholarly definition of early buddhism but many.

And come to think of it, there is probably not one early buddhism either, but several "early buddhisms"
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Self-taught poverty is a help toward philosophy, for the things which philosophy attempts to teach by reasoning, poverty forces us to practice. — Diogenes of Sinope

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

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Re: Is There Clear Delineation Of What Is/Not "Early Buddhism"?

Post by Coëmgenu » Wed Jul 19, 2017 1:42 pm

Javi wrote:but several "early buddhisms"
:jawdrop: Heresy surely! Don't let some people hear you talking like that! :spy:
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.

吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

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Re: Is There Clear Delineation Of What Is/Not "Early Buddhism"?

Post by dylanj » Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:51 pm

ieee23 wrote:So everything in the Pali Canon but the Abhidhamma, and anything that came after the Pali Canon. Thank you.
No. Lots of the Khuddaka Nikāya (other than those 6 books) is inauthentic & part of the Sutta Piṭaka
susukhaṁ vata nibbānaṁ,
sammā­sambud­dha­desitaṁ;
asokaṁ virajaṁ khemaṁ,
yattha dukkhaṁ nirujjhatī


Oh! extinction is so very blissful,
As taught by the One Rightly Self-Awakened:
Sorrowless, stainless, secure;
Where suffering all ceases


etaṁ santaṁ etaṁ paṇītaṁ yadidaṁ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṭi nissaggo taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbānaṁ

This is peaceful, this is excellent, that is: the stilling of all preparations, the relinquishment of all attachments, the destruction of craving, detachment, cessation, extinction.

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Re: Is There Clear Delineation Of What Is/Not "Early Buddhism"?

Post by Dmytro » Thu Jul 20, 2017 5:36 am

ieee23 wrote:Is there clear and agreed upon delineation of what Theravada teachings are and are not "Early Buddhist"?
No.
Whole collections of texts or do the scholars draw borders around Early Buddhism on a sutta by sutta basis?
It's not a scholastic term, but rather a brand name used by a group of new religious movements.

These movements use the chronology of Pali Canon developed by scholars:

https://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=12694

but then simplify it as much as possible, leaving just one dividing line between "early" and "inathentic", to make it easily comprehensible and attractive for wide audience. This dividing line also serves as a useful divide between "privileged followers", who use just "EBT" (Early Buddhist Texts) in right simplified translations and "outsiders", who ignorantly study the whole corpus of Pāli texts.

For the sake of simplification, "Early Buddhists" also tend to ignore the fact that modern understanding of Pali terms is based on variety of sources, ancient, medieval and modern. For example, Pali-English Dictionary is thoroughly based on Commentaries, medieval works and modern interpretations. Therefore any modern translations of Pali texts, early or not, incorporate comparatively late developments.

The meanings of Pāli terms shifted semantically with time, they meant one thing in the Suttanta, and another in the medieval texts. So any serious attempt to return to Buddha's words requires a thorough work of exploring this semantic shift, and figuring out the early meanings of terms. Modern Pali-English dictionaries give overall meanings, not quite differentiated by temporal layers of texts.

A serious attempt to return to Buddha's words would also require a reconstruction of the system of practice, thoroughly based on the suttas. So far the meditative practices of the "Early Buddhism" are purely modern inventions, very loosely based on early sources.

Discarding the hermeneutical Pali literature, "Early Buddhists" tend to invent their own interpretations of terms, very loosely based on early sources, - but inconspiciously incorporating later sources via the scholastic works they use.

And since there are so many purely modern inventions in the "Early Buddhism", one may wonder whether these modern additions are better or not than the traditional ones.

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Re: Is There Clear Delineation Of What Is/Not "Early Buddhism"?

Post by thomaslaw » Thu Jul 20, 2017 7:03 am

Dmytro wrote:
ieee23 wrote:Is there clear and agreed upon delineation of what Theravada teachings are and are not "Early Buddhist"?
No.
Whole collections of texts or do the scholars draw borders around Early Buddhism on a sutta by sutta basis?
It's not a scholastic term, but rather a brand name used by a group of new religious movements.

These movements use the chronology of Pali Canon developed by scholars:

https://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=12694

... reconstruction of the system of practice, thoroughly based on the suttas. So far the meditative practices of the "Early Buddhism" are purely modern inventions, very loosely based on early sources...
Choong Mun-keat states: "If one considers only Pali sources and does not compare them with the Chinese versions, then one is studying Pali Buddhism, not early Buddhism. Both the Pali and the Chinese versions of the Nikayas/Agamas are sectarian texts. For the study of early Buddhism it is essential to pay attention to both these versions." "Any attempt to identify the doctrines of early Buddhism ought to be based not only on the Pali texts, but also on their Chinese counterparts. ... Any attempt to identify the teachings of "original Buddhism" must entail comparison of all available sectarian texts." (The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism, pp. 1-2, 241-2).

Thomas
Last edited by thomaslaw on Fri Jul 21, 2017 1:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is There Clear Delineation Of What Is/Not "Early Buddhism"?

Post by Dmytro » Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:28 am

Hi Thomas,
thomaslaw wrote:"If one considers only Pali sources and does not compare them with the Chines versions, then one is studying Pali Buddhism, not early Buddhism."
Similar sentiments were expressed for more than a century by lots of scholars, for example, in search of the "Uhr Buddhism".

What I find somewhat new is an attempt to use such kind of statements, in a very simplified form, to justify religious movements and religious practices.

There was, of course, an attempt of George Grimm to revive Pudgalavada, but it had much smaller scope and ambitions.

Otherwise Nagarjuna, Dogen, etc. etc. - lots of religious leaders thought to have restored the original teachings of the Buddha.

I would expect from modern religious leaders somewhat more reflection of their cultural milieu, which inevitably influences any such attempts.

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Re: Is There Clear Delineation Of What Is/Not "Early Buddhism"?

Post by aflatun » Thu Jul 20, 2017 1:32 pm

Dmytro wrote:
ieee23 wrote:Is there clear and agreed upon delineation of what Theravada teachings are and are not "Early Buddhist"?
No.
Whole collections of texts or do the scholars draw borders around Early Buddhism on a sutta by sutta basis?
It's not a scholastic term, but rather a brand name used by a group of new religious movements.

These movements use the chronology of Pali Canon developed by scholars:

https://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=12694

but then simplify it as much as possible, leaving just one dividing line between "early" and "inathentic", to make it easily comprehensible and attractive for wide audience. This dividing line also serves as a useful divide between "privileged followers", who use just "EBT" (Early Buddhist Texts) in right simplified translations and "outsiders", who ignorantly study the whole corpus of Pāli texts.

For the sake of simplification, "Early Buddhists" also tend to ignore the fact that modern understanding of Pali terms is based on variety of sources, ancient, medieval and modern. For example, Pali-English Dictionary is thoroughly based on Commentaries, medieval works and modern interpretations. Therefore any modern translations of Pali texts, early or not, incorporate comparatively late developments.

The meanings of Pāli terms shifted semantically with time, they meant one thing in the Suttanta, and another in the medieval texts. So any serious attempt to return to Buddha's words requires a thorough work of exploring this semantic shift, and figuring out the early meanings of terms. Modern Pali-English dictionaries give overall meanings, not quite differentiated by temporal layers of texts.

A serious attempt to return to Buddha's words would also require a reconstruction of the system of practice, thoroughly based on the suttas. So far the meditative practices of the "Early Buddhism" are purely modern inventions, very loosely based on early sources.

Discarding the hermeneutical Pali literature, "Early Buddhists" tend to invent their own interpretations of terms, very loosely based on early sources, - but inconspiciously incorporating later sources via the scholastic works they use.

And since there are so many purely modern inventions in the "Early Buddhism", one may wonder whether these modern additions are better or not than the traditional ones.
:goodpost:
"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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Re: Is There Clear Delineation Of What Is/Not "Early Buddhism"?

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Jul 20, 2017 1:51 pm

ieee23 wrote:Is there clear and agreed upon delineation of what Theravada teachings are and are not "Early Buddhist"?

[...]

Whole collections of texts or do the scholars draw borders around Early Buddhism on a sutta by sutta basis?
What you are looking for is EBT studies, which concerns itself with "Early Buddhist Texts" (EBTs). I would recommend SuttaCentral, as a forum, if you want to inquire further about the field. However, you will encounter a lot being labelled "inauthentic", in my experience, on somewhat shakey grounds occasionally.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.

吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

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Re: Is There Clear Delineation Of What Is/Not "Early Buddhism"?

Post by ToVincent » Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:46 am

aflatun wrote:
Dmytro wrote:
ieee23 wrote:Is there clear and agreed upon delineation of what Theravada teachings are and are not "Early Buddhist"?
No.
Whole collections of texts or do the scholars draw borders around Early Buddhism on a sutta by sutta basis?
It's not a scholastic term, but rather a brand name used by a group of new religious movements.

These movements use the chronology of Pali Canon developed by scholars:

https://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=12694

but then simplify it as much as possible, leaving just one dividing line between "early" and "inathentic", to make it easily comprehensible and attractive for wide audience. This dividing line also serves as a useful divide between "privileged followers", who use just "EBT" (Early Buddhist Texts) in right simplified translations and "outsiders", who ignorantly study the whole corpus of Pāli texts.

For the sake of simplification, "Early Buddhists" also tend to ignore the fact that modern understanding of Pali terms is based on variety of sources, ancient, medieval and modern. For example, Pali-English Dictionary is thoroughly based on Commentaries, medieval works and modern interpretations. Therefore any modern translations of Pali texts, early or not, incorporate comparatively late developments.

The meanings of Pāli terms shifted semantically with time, they meant one thing in the Suttanta, and another in the medieval texts. So any serious attempt to return to Buddha's words requires a thorough work of exploring this semantic shift, and figuring out the early meanings of terms. Modern Pali-English dictionaries give overall meanings, not quite differentiated by temporal layers of texts.

A serious attempt to return to Buddha's words would also require a reconstruction of the system of practice, thoroughly based on the suttas. So far the meditative practices of the "Early Buddhism" are purely modern inventions, very loosely based on early sources.

Discarding the hermeneutical Pali literature, "Early Buddhists" tend to invent their own interpretations of terms, very loosely based on early sources, - but inconspiciously incorporating later sources via the scholastic works they use.

And since there are so many purely modern inventions in the "Early Buddhism", one may wonder whether these modern additions are better or not than the traditional ones.
:goodpost:
I agree.

Look at this for instance: https://justpaste.it/194u1
It's about two extracts in the quite significant sutta AN 6.64 (SA 254, EA 23.3, Zh Dg Kd 5, Zh Mi Kd 6, MA 123, SF 274, SF 278).

Although Bodhi remains the best translator around, there is, in him, a quite a crucial lexicographic deficiency; along with the other translators.
They just did not have the time for particulars. Period. They did a great foundation job - that's for sure.

For instance, Bodhi translates ānañca by "evenness". But that is far from being the right signification of this word. Evenness means invariability or parity or regularity; or even equality. But sama, as we can see in Sanskrit , all across from the early AV. and ŚBr., to the late MBh., takes the meaning of "level ground". That is not the same meaning at all.

I am not even going to speak about the rest of the translation that makes no sense:
"achieve evenness of the spiritual faculties, and take up the object there".
Which indeed should have the meaning of: "achieve to put the infinite nature of the powers (faculties - https://justpaste.it/194od), to their level ground, and take up the attribute from there.”

Also, "renunciation" feels like the guy has to give up something. This is not the meaning of "nekkhamma".
You have to delve up to the Sanskrit root of the pre-Buddhist texts to find the real meaning of that word - and not even the Monier-Williams will give you to the right meronymy of the Sk. नैष्कर्म्य naiṣkarmya, way down to its root. M-W gives you "naiṣ-karmya?", when it is indeed the vr. of niṣkarman-ya. (Check the right semantic relation in the link above).
In that case, nekkhamma becomes "inaction", as in: no more further saṅkhāra (synergy) - instead of "~giving up something~.
Read the rest of the sutta; and it will make a lot more sense.

This is why the newcomers in "Echt-Buddhism", should study the Nikayas suttas with parallels in SA (~Sutra-Aṅga) [most of the doctrine there] - and go for every important word - and find their Sanskrit roots.
It will then make perfect sense.
Instead of listening to these pseudo-gurus still relying, with much much much to say about them, on words that make absolutely no sense at all in context. Just because a translator did not have the time to dig more profoundly in the lexicons. These pseud-gurus will pretty soon have their books sold in flea markets - and they will be behind the table.
Absolute frauds.

As far as what is "authentic" - that is another issue.


For Buddha's sake, the latter was Indian, and a kshatrya.
In this world with its ..., Māras, ... in this population with its ascetics.... (AN 5.30).
------
We are all possessed - more or less.
------
And what, bhikkhu, is inward rottenness? Here someone is immoral, one of evil character, of impure and suspect behaviour, secretive in his acts, no ascetic though claiming to be one, not a celibate though claiming to be one, inwardly rotten, corrupt, depraved. This is called inward rottenness.”
SN 35.241
------
https://justpaste.it/j5o4

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Re: Is There Clear Delineation Of What Is/Not "Early Buddhism"?

Post by thomaslaw » Fri Jul 21, 2017 1:18 am

Hi Dmytro,
Dmytro wrote:Hi Thomas,
thomaslaw wrote:"If one considers only Pali sources and does not compare them with the Chines versions, then one is studying Pali Buddhism, not early Buddhism."
Similar sentiments were expressed for more than a century by lots of scholars, for example, in search of the "Uhr Buddhism".

What I find somewhat new is an attempt to use such kind of statements, in a very simplified form, to justify religious movements and religious practices..
What is 'a very simplified form'?
Dmytro wrote:There was, of course, an attempt of George Grimm to revive Pudgalavada, but it had much smaller scope and ambitions.
I do not see 'to revive Pudgalavada' is studying Early Buddhism.
Dmytro wrote: Otherwise Nagarjuna, Dogen, etc. etc. - lots of religious leaders thought to have restored the original teachings of the Buddha.

I would expect from modern religious leaders somewhat more reflection of their cultural milieu, which inevitably influences any such attempts.
I also do not see these are studying Early Buddhism at all!

Thomas

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Re: Is There Clear Delineation Of What Is/Not "Early Buddhism"?

Post by Dmytro » Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:51 am

Hi Thomas,
thomaslaw wrote:
Dmytro wrote: What I find somewhat new is an attempt to use such kind of statements, in a very simplified form, to justify religious movements and religious practices..
What is 'a very simplified form'?
A very simplified form is to reduce all the chronological intricacies to black-and-white statement: one part is authentic, and another isn't.

Instead, one can employ the full scope of chronological research, exploring the full corpus of Pali texts. For example, I use "the earliest possible" approach. That is, I look for earliest definitions of Pāli words. Sometimes the earliest definitions can be found in the Suttanta, sometimes in Vibhanga (from Abhidhamma Pitaka), and sometimes in Atthakatha (Commentary).

If the earliest definition is found only in Atthakatha, - as is the case with "ekaggatā", - this is invaluable information. Without it I would may have fallen on the modern established interpretation of this term as "one-pointedness", which doesn't have a foundation in any Pāli sources. Or even worse, some people in such situation may just invent their own plausible interpretation, without any solid ground for it.

I also use Sanskrit and Chinese sources, - but it's important to preserve a chronological prespective, knowing the relative age of texts. Sometimes a Sanskrit text of 5th century CE can be quite useful, especially if it gives the earliest found Sanskrit definition.

We can move only as early as our preserved sources allow, - and this has to be acknowledged. Buddha's teaching can't now be reconstructed in precisely the same form it was in 5th century BCE. Even if we have lots of texts, meanings of the terms are partly lost. However, we can make best use of all the sources we have available.

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