On Buddhanusmrti - What Was Paul Williams Talking About?

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On Buddhanusmrti - What Was Paul Williams Talking About?

Postby Mr. G » Sun Dec 25, 2011 3:54 am

In the book "Mahayana Buddhism: Doctrinal Foundations" by Paul Williams, he writes this:

"The Sutta Nipata of the Pali Canon is generally held by scholars to be one of the oldest extant Buddhist texts. At the very end of the Sutta Nipata, in a section also held to be among the oldest strata of that text, is a wonderfully moving and, I think, potentially significant discussion. A Brahmin named Pingiya 'the wise' praises Buddha in heartfelt terms:

They call him Buddha, Enlightened, Awake, dissolving darkness, with total vision, and knowing the world to its ends...This man...is the man I follow...This prince, this beam of light, Gotama, was the only one who dissolved the darkness. This man Gotama is a universe of wisdom and a world of understanding.

Why is it, Pingiya is asked that you do not spend all your time with the Buddha, that wonderful teacher? Pingiya replies that he himself is old, he cannot follow the Buddha physically, for 'my body is decaying'. But:

there is no moment for me, however small, that is spent away from Gotama, from this universe of wisdom, this world of understanding...with constant and careful vigilance it is possible for me to see him with my mind as clearly with my eyes, in night as well as day. And since I spend my nights revering him, there is not, to my mind, a single moment spent away from him.

In this ancient and extraordinary discussion Pingiya indicates that it was possible through his awareness, through his meditation, for him to be constantly in the presence of the Buddha and constantly revere him. Towards the end, the Buddha himself testifies that Pingiya too will go to 'the further shore' of enlightenment.

Pingiya's praise of the Buddha and his reference to seeing him with the mind appear to connect with the practice of buddhanusmrti, recollection of the Buddha, a practice known from other contexts in the Pali Canon and practiced by, as far as we can tell, all schools of Buddhism."


I looked up this sutta with Pingiya, and all I found is this:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .irel.html

This doesn't look like it has anything to do with buddhanusmrti as Paul Williams describes in his book. So what's Williams talking about then? Where is he getting this information?
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: On Buddhanusmrti - What Was Paul Williams Talking About?

Postby Jnana » Sun Dec 25, 2011 6:26 pm

Mr. G wrote:I looked up this sutta with Pingiya, and all I found is this:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .irel.html

This doesn't look like it has anything to do with buddhanusmrti as Paul Williams describes in his book. So what's Williams talking about then? Where is he getting this information?

There is a concluding section of the Suttanipāta Pārāyanavagga which isn't translated on ATI. See Pārāyanānugītigāthā.
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Re: On Buddhanusmrti - What Was Paul Williams Talking About?

Postby Mr. G » Sun Dec 25, 2011 7:31 pm

Jnana wrote:
Mr. G wrote:I looked up this sutta with Pingiya, and all I found is this:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .irel.html

This doesn't look like it has anything to do with buddhanusmrti as Paul Williams describes in his book. So what's Williams talking about then? Where is he getting this information?

There is a concluding section of the Suttanipāta Pārāyanavagga which isn't translated on ATI. See Pārāyanānugītigāthā.


Awesome! Thank you so much Jnana! :smile:
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: On Buddhanusmrti - What Was Paul Williams Talking About?

Postby Huifeng » Mon Dec 26, 2011 2:31 am

Mr. G wrote:In the book "Mahayana Buddhism: Doctrinal Foundations" by Paul Williams, he writes this:

"The Sutta Nipata of the Pali Canon is generally held by scholars to be one of the oldest extant Buddhist texts. At the very end of the Sutta Nipata, in a section also held to be among the oldest strata of that text, is a wonderfully moving and, I think, potentially significant discussion. A Brahmin named Pingiya 'the wise' praises Buddha in heartfelt terms:

They call him Buddha, Enlightened, Awake, dissolving darkness, with total vision, and knowing the world to its ends...This man...is the man I follow...This prince, this beam of light, Gotama, was the only one who dissolved the darkness. This man Gotama is a universe of wisdom and a world of understanding.

Why is it, Pingiya is asked that you do not spend all your time with the Buddha, that wonderful teacher? Pingiya replies that he himself is old, he cannot follow the Buddha physically, for 'my body is decaying'. But:

there is no moment for me, however small, that is spent away from Gotama, from this universe of wisdom, this world of understanding...with constant and careful vigilance it is possible for me to see him with my mind as clearly with my eyes, in night as well as day. And since I spend my nights revering him, there is not, to my mind, a single moment spent away from him.

In this ancient and extraordinary discussion Pingiya indicates that it was possible through his awareness, through his meditation, for him to be constantly in the presence of the Buddha and constantly revere him. Towards the end, the Buddha himself testifies that Pingiya too will go to 'the further shore' of enlightenment.

Pingiya's praise of the Buddha and his reference to seeing him with the mind appear to connect with the practice of buddhanusmrti, recollection of the Buddha, a practice known from other contexts in the Pali Canon and practiced by, as far as we can tell, all schools of Buddhism."


I looked up this sutta with Pingiya, and all I found is this:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .irel.html

This doesn't look like it has anything to do with buddhanusmrti as Paul Williams describes in his book. So what's Williams talking about then? Where is he getting this information?


Try Sn V 18, not V 16. Not everything is available at AtI.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: On Buddhanusmrti - What Was Paul Williams Talking About?

Postby Mr. G » Mon Dec 26, 2011 12:22 pm

Huifeng wrote:Try Sn V 18, not V 16. Not everything is available at AtI.

~~ Huifeng


Thanks Venerable....I didn't even know there was a V 18. I'm not familiar at all with finding my way around the Pali Canon.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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