Many thanks for your response to the question.Dmytro wrote:Hi Thomas,
A very simplified form is to reduce all the chronological intricacies to black-and-white statement: one part is authentic, and another isn't.thomaslaw wrote:What is 'a very simplified form'?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..
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.
Hopefully one day we can discover the Mahasanghika's Samyukta-agama, to compare with the Sarvastivada's SA and the Pali/Vibhajyavada's SN. Without the Mahasanghika's Samyukta-agama, for example, we only can reconstruct the SA/SN (of the Buddha's teachings) back to before the two schools (Sarvastivada and Vibhajyavada) divided (about 270 BCE).