Commentary vs Suttas

Hello everyone,

I would be grateful if you can indicate me contradictions between the Suttas’ Commentary and the Suttas themselves.

Thank you.

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Hi Sikkhakamo, glad to see that you’re desirous of training!

Perhaps something like this?


Namo Buddhaya!

Āyasmā Sujato has put a lot of time drawing out the differences in that essay.

In general the commentary tradition developed different methodology and designations of the terminology describing the training.

Commentary is a very complicated body of text because unlike the sutta where the general exposition is presented as a coherent doctrine, the commentaries are essentially interpretative comments & opinions of many people.

Periodically efforts were made to compile treatises into systematic popularizations of what came to be the commentary tradition.

I think there is about as much commentary as there are pali suttas, probably a measure less or more, i am not sure.

As i see it, whether one wants it or not, the commentaries end up doing more than offering opinion in effectively replacing the suttas.

For example if one more or less masters the sutta one will not get along with the commentary traditionalists because they will think you are completely out if your mind. Lest, you learn how they explain things and explain it to them in their terms.

Furthermore, as i see it, there are propositions which are wrong & harmful, this can not be reconciled, things like the mind-momentsfor example. One probably won’t get along with these peoole lest one accepts it, even if one accepts everything else of comy other than this.

I think most people who teach now do so mixing the commentary & sutta methods. But most people don’t know enough of either to be able to cross reference. The sheer volume & complexity are overwhelming.

If you ask the learned people around there will be many crucial sutta texts which they can’t explain, but one should be able to explain all these coherently.

It is very difficult to learn enough sutta to be confident in cross referencing the commentary properly.

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Ideally one wants to simply memorize the sutta method first and ponder the expression. In pondering the expression one can entertain the interpretations of other people and what yourself has figured out.

The commentary is useful at this point but much of it can’t be substantiated and disproving it requires mastering both the meaning & the expression of suttas.

If you do master the suttas, even if you explain it to people, they not having mastered the suttas themselves, won’t be able to easily comprehend what you are explaining.