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Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas - Dhamma Wheel

Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
PeterB
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Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas

Postby PeterB » Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:56 am

The Buddha bequeathed us Three Jewels.
We can safetly assume that he knew what he was doing.
That all three jewels are mutually dependant.

Many of those who come to attempt to base their lives around Dhamma ( note spelling ) are one or at most two generations away from some form of protestant Christianity. At the core of which is the dictum, " By faith alone. Through Christ alone. As seen in the Bible alone."


It seems to me that we see this heritage from time to time among Theravadin Buddhists..." By reason alone. Through Gautama alone, As seen in the Suttas alone."

If there is any degree of truth in that observation, then I think it may well bear closer examination.

In particular the idea that the unaided intellect, can by the perusal and parsing of translations of the Pali Canon arrive at an understanding of the Buddhas intention.

My own view is that it cannot and never will. That the Suttas only make any sense when read from the viewpoint of a fairly advanced degree of meditative absorption.
The Sutta are a confirmation, alone they are not a means.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:21 am


PeterB
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Re: Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas

Postby PeterB » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:29 am

True ...and they point to states which need no translation..but take a lot of effort and instruction to reach.

Sylvester
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Re: Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas

Postby Sylvester » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:31 am


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mikenz66
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Re: Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:41 am


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mikenz66
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Re: Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 10:02 am


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legolas
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Re: Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas

Postby legolas » Wed Feb 23, 2011 10:39 am


PeterB
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Re: Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas

Postby PeterB » Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:00 am

We need I think to define our terms. Jnanas I would suggest are not a means to deepen our intellectual understanding.

The Jhanas begin when our cognitions end.

The Suttas are the maps. Accurate and indispensible maps...but not the destination.

We need to develop as a whole...Sutta study and states of aborption are mutually supportive...
But until we experience the integration of cognition and states of absorption we will stay at the level of the discursive mind in a holding pattern...That is a matter easily verified and evident.

plwk
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Re: Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas

Postby plwk » Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:05 am


PeterB
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Re: Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas

Postby PeterB » Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:23 am

I would say that my remarks are true of Sutta, Abhidhamma, and commentary.
Maps..maps of maps...and maps to show where the maps are.

Used aright we are left " silent, upon a peak in Darien".

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BlackBird
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Re: Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas

Postby BlackBird » Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:32 am

Edit: Re-reading the OP, it seems that what I've said is completely tangential to the purpose of this thread, the only relation that stands it seems is in my contradiction of what you guys have been saying. To cut a long story short - I disagree with you.

Part of the reason I was induced to abandon the commentarial tradition was because I felt it was a scholastic attempt by puthujjanas to explain something they didn't understand. From my perspective I actually believe almost all meditation teachers in the world are puthujjanas teaching something they don't really understand. A file of blind men, to borrow a simile from the Buddha. As soon as you feel you understand something you stop trying to understand it, and thus if you don't really understand something but you think you do, you won't make any attempt to try and understand it.

As a putthujjana I have to ask myself who's advice should I follow, if indeed I want to find a way to the deathless? I'll follow the Buddha's and I'll accept his omniscience as a matter of faith. It cannot be otherwise, for it is upon the Buddha in which this whole idea of being a putthujana, or the capability of enlightenment is built. Where can I find the Buddha's message? The suttas seem to be the most likely candidate, without them Buddhism simply would not be here today. I feel they deserve more authority than they are in fact given. Having read a good deal of them, I feel confident that the message contained within is of the utmost importance.

I feel that the path to nibbana is a matter of contemplation of what is said in the suttas in relation to ones own direct experience of being. The more existentialism I read, the more I come to see the Buddha as an existentialist.

The traditional method with it's stages of insight knowledge and all that stuff (none of which the Buddha in the suttas speaks of) is a functional system laid out in a distinct and organized manner as a way to make sense and understand something that nobody understood.

That's what I believe anyway. Bound to be super-controversial and I would not be the least bit surprised if a few feelings are hurt, nor am I sure that my ramble is even relevant to the discussion here. But I'm going to say it anyway. Feels good to get it off my chest.
Last edited by BlackBird on Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:13 pm, edited 5 times in total.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." -

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Hanzze
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Re: Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas

Postby Hanzze » Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:39 am

Just that! *smile*


BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Nate sante baram sokham _()_

PeterB
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Re: Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas

Postby PeterB » Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:11 pm

If anyones feelings are hurt Blackbird..then they aint doing it right.
Those are your views and all views are provisional...even mine :o

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Hanzze
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Re: Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas

Postby Hanzze » Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:34 pm

Just that! *smile*


BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Nate sante baram sokham _()_

Justsit
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Re: Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas

Postby Justsit » Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:34 pm


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kirk5a
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Re: Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas

Postby kirk5a » Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:49 pm

If we read the Kalama sutta as saying simply "don't go by scripture" then we wouldn't be able to go by it.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

Justsit
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Re: Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas

Postby Justsit » Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:00 pm

So then why is "scripture" included in the "don't go by..." list? :shrug: Not sure I'm getting this.

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daverupa
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Re: Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas

Postby daverupa » Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:10 pm

It isn't a matter of saying "if it's scripture, toss it aside", nor is it a matter of "if it's scripture, it's the Truth". The Kalama Sutta is remarking on the various places people either outsource their critical faculties or give up their energetic investigations by resting on spurious foundations. "Kalamas, when you yourselves know..."

It's a charter for a species of epistemological investigation using one's own sensory apparatus ("doing it yourself"), to be baroque about it.

Nyana
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Re: Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas

Postby Nyana » Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:20 pm


PeterB
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Re: Over confidence in our understanding of Suttas

Postby PeterB » Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:21 pm

When the Buddha said " dont go by scriptures " he was of course referring to those writings available to his time..
His own teachings were being memorised and would eventually be recorded in writing and translated and made into box sets etc...

His words as recorded in the Canon are i believe the nearest we have to accessing his own teachings.
However they are dead until brought to life by our own practice. Practises that were described and eventually recorded.
The Canon is a book of maps. We must walk the journey that they outline. The maps have what we need for the journey.
However endlessly describing and reflecting on the maps will not enable us to start the journey.
That begins with our first hands on instruction. Instruction that itself is in line with the maps when authentic.

When we have been around Buddhists long enough we find two types who are stuck.

The ones who simply sit and swap maps and discuss maps, and the ones who attempt to go it without maps.


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