How to approach Sutras

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How to approach Sutras

Postby LastLegend » Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:12 am

In consistency with teaching and practice (wholesome), the Sutras should be approached in a non-thinking and non-analytical manner. Buddha did not speak from thinking (illusion/6th consciousness, the seed of karma so cannot use illusion to truly understand Tagatatha) or analysis but what he spoke pouring from enlightened Mind or pure Emptiness. So in order to understand what Buddha spoke, we should employ reading as a form of meditation. In other words, reading Sutras as meditation so that our Mind can concentrate. When our Mind is concentrated at that moment, our Mind becomes one with Buddha Mind. There is no reason why we should not understand what Buddha spoke. This is how we cultivate Wisdom by reading Sutras. During reading, we should not stop and pick apart or write down or analyze as these are just distractions during meditation. What we need to do is read over and over and over and over and over again until the meanings possess us not the other way around.

Make sure that the translation is accurate. If you read with pure concentration many many many times, and have not got anything out of it, it is probably not an accurate translation.
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

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must not be afraid of losing your bodies and your lives―
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Re: How to approach Sutras

Postby Astus » Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:11 am

While what you say is a possible way to read texts I doubt that's the only one. Such concentrated and repetitive reading sounds good for memorising, one could as well recite the text to make it easier. However, understanding a text requires thinking and analysing too. If it is only concentration one is looking for practically anything can do. If it is understanding the sutras while concentration is beneficial there is a need for making effort in gaining insight through pondering and in depth study that can include beyond the text commentaries and even linguistics and cultural things.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: How to approach Sutras

Postby LastLegend » Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:18 am

Astus wrote:While what you say is a possible way to read texts I doubt that's the only one. Such concentrated and repetitive reading sounds good for memorising, one could as well recite the text to make it easier. However, understanding a text requires thinking and analysing too. If it is only concentration one is looking for practically anything can do. If it is understanding the sutras while concentration is beneficial there is a need for making effort in gaining insight through pondering and in depth study that can include beyond the text commentaries and even linguistics and cultural things.


Yes, but what you get is philosophy of Buddhism and not the wisdom understanding of Buddhism that is an experience beyond words. It is said that the Dharma has penetrated you after a long time of reading. You see Buddhism is not about empty talk; everything from teaching to practice has to be consistent.

Well if you read something for a long time, you will memorize it but that is not the point.
Last edited by LastLegend on Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

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Re: How to approach Sutras

Postby Astus » Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:22 am

"Experience beyond words" is a philosophy, an idea, a concept. So "beyond words" is not beyond words at all. Therefore it is through words one can go beyond words, through study one can go beyond all learnings. Although a map is not the place our path is guided by the map.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: How to approach Sutras

Postby LastLegend » Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:28 am

Astus wrote:"Experience beyond words" is a philosophy, an idea, a concept. So "beyond words" is not beyond words at all. Therefore it is through words one can go beyond words, through study one can go beyond all learnings. Although a map is not the place our path is guided by the map.


Philosophy to you because you are philosophizing, playing with words. This is why you need to practice to experience. And approaching the Sutras is a practice.
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

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must not be afraid of losing your bodies and your lives―
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Re: How to approach Sutras

Postby plwk » Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:50 am

Reading/Reciting Sutras as a Spiritual Practice
I still love this dialogue...
http://www.dharmaweb.org/index.php/Sutr ... cumstances
Bhikkhu Fa Da, a native of Hung Zhou, who joined the Order at the early age of seven, used to recite the Saddharma Pundarika Sutra (Lotus of the Good Law Sutra.) When he came to pay homage to the Patriarch, he failed to lower his head to the ground.
For his abbreviated courtesy the Patriarch reproved him, saying, "If you object to lower your head to the ground, would it not be better do away with salutation entirely? There must be something in your mind that makes you so puffed up. Tell me what you do in your daily exercise."

"Recite the Saddharma Pundarika Sutra," replied Fa Da. "I have read the whole text three thousand times."

"Had you grasped the meaning of the Sutra," remarked the Patriarch, "you would not have assumed such a lofty bearing, even if you had read it ten thousand times. Had you grasped it, you would be treading the same Path as mine. What you have accomplished has already made you conceited, and moreover, you do not seem to realize that this is wrong. Listen to my stanza:--
Since the object of ceremony is to curb arrogance
Why did you fail to lower your head to the ground?
'To believe in a self' is the source of sin,
But 'to treat all attainment as void' attains merit incomparable!

The Patriarch then asked for his name, and upon being told that his name was Fa Da (meaning Understanding the Law), he remarked,
"Your name is Fa Da, but you have not yet understood the Law." He concluded by uttering another stanza:--
Your name is Fa Da.
Diligently and steadily you recite the Sutra.
Lip-repetition of the text goes by the pronunciation only,
But he whose mind is enlightened by grasping the meaning is a Bodhisattva indeed!

On account of Pratyaya (conditions producing phenomena) which may be traced to our past lives
I will explain this to you.
If you only believe that Buddha speaks no words,
Then the Lotus will blossom in your mouth.

Having heard this stanza, Fa Da became remorseful and apologized to the Patriarch. He added, "Hereafter, I will be humble and polite on all occasions.
As I do not quite understand the meaning of the Sutra I recite, I am doubtful as to its proper interpretation.
With your profound knowledge and high wisdom, will you kindly give me a short explanation?"
The Patriarch replied, "Fa Da, the Law is quite clear; it is only your mind that is not clear. The Sutra is free from doubtful passages; it is only your mind that makes them doubtful. In reciting the Sutra, do you know its principal object?"
"How can I know, Sir," replied Fa Da, "since I am so dull and stupid? All I know is how to recite it word by word."

Fa Da then said, "If that is so, we have only to know the meaning of the Sutra and there would be no necessity for us to recite it. Is that right, Sir?"
"There is nothing wrong in the Sutra," replied the Patriarch, "so that you should refrain from reciting it. Whether sutra-reciting will enlighten you or not, or benefit you or not, all depends on yourself. He who recites the Sutra with the tongue and puts its teaching into actual practice with his mind 'turns round' the Sutra. He who recites it without putting it into practice is 'turned round' by the Sutra. Listen to my stanza:--
When our mind is under delusion, the Saddharma Pundarika Sutra 'turns us round'.
With an enlightened mind we 'turn round' the Sutra instead.
To recite the Sutra for a considerable time without knowing its principal object
Indicates that you are a stranger to its meaning.

The correct way to recite the Sutra is without holding any arbitrary belief;
Otherwise, it is wrong.
He who is above 'Affirmative' and 'Negative'
Rides permanently in the White Bullock Cart (the Vehicle of Buddha)."
Having heard this stanza, Fa Da was enlightened and moved to tears. "It is quite true," he exclaimed, "that heretofore I was unable to 'turn round' the Sutra. It was rather the Sutra that 'turned' me round."
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Re: How to approach Sutras

Postby Astus » Wed Apr 06, 2011 9:00 am

LastLegend wrote:Philosophy to you because you are philosophizing, playing with words. This is why you need to practice to experience. And approaching the Sutras is a practice.


It is a practice to recite the sutras, yes, a very old one indeed. What I'm saying is that there is more to it than concentrated reading without thinking about it. Thus when one has a clear and focused mind it is good to study the sutra on a verbal, analytical level too. This is integrating both concentration and insight into practising with sutras.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: How to approach Sutras

Postby Dexing » Wed Apr 06, 2011 9:33 am

Traditionally there are three types of wisdom to develop on the path; wisdom acquired through studying (śrutamayīprajñā), wisdom acquired through reflecting (cintāmayīprajñā), and wisdom acquired through cultivation (bhāvanāmayīprajñā).

If one does not study properly, and reflect upon what has been learned employing rational thought, there is no basis for proper cultivation.

:namaste:
nopalabhyate...
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Re: How to approach Sutras

Postby LastLegend » Wed Apr 06, 2011 9:40 am

Dexing wrote:Traditionally there are three types of wisdom to develop on the path; wisdom acquired through studying (śrutamayīprajñā), wisdom acquired through reflecting (cintāmayīprajñā), and wisdom acquired through cultivation (bhāvanāmayīprajñā).

If one does not study properly, and reflect upon what has been learned employing rational thought, there is no basis for proper cultivation.

:namaste:


Yes I will say that reflecting means observing the environment, people, and everything to see how they are related to the teachings.
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

Linjii
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must not be afraid of losing your bodies and your lives―
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Re: How to approach Sutras

Postby Dexing » Wed Apr 06, 2011 10:01 am

These three wisdoms consist of progressively more subtle insights. In the second, cintā actually means thoughts, and refers to acquisition of wisdom by means of rational investigation of the doctrines one has been studying. It requires thought.

1) Wisdom acquired through study has as its object the word of doctrine, that is the name (nāma) of a thing (artha) as a symbol.

2) Wisdom acquired through reflection has as its object the name (nāma) and the thing (artha) indicated by the name.

3) Wisdom acquired through cultivation has as only the thing (artha) as its object, as this wisdom transcends the level of thought by means of linguistic aid.

:namaste:
nopalabhyate...
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Re: How to approach Sutras

Postby LastLegend » Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:10 pm

Dexing wrote:These three wisdoms consist of progressively more subtle insights. In the second, cintā actually means thoughts, and refers to acquisition of wisdom by means of rational investigation of the doctrines one has been studying. It requires thought.

1) Wisdom acquired through study has as its object the word of doctrine, that is the name (nāma) of a thing (artha) as a symbol.

2) Wisdom acquired through reflection has as its object the name (nāma) and the thing (artha) indicated by the name.

3) Wisdom acquired through cultivation has as only the thing (artha) as its object, as this wisdom transcends the level of thought by means of linguistic aid.

:namaste:


:jawdrop:
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

Linjii
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must not be afraid of losing your bodies and your lives―
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