Does the Pali Canon convey the authentic teachings of the Buddha?

Well, if they didn’t check, they wouldn’t know!

They say that someone has to cup the Pope’s genitals to ensure he is a man.

It’s a question you get asked. I’m sure no one lifts the robes to check for a swishy swirly tail.


There’s a huge difference between the “4 requisites” — clothing, food, shelter, medicine — and anything beyond that.


Of course, with the original post in mind, I easily understand, accept and respect the fact that not all are inclined to take the suttas as the most sturdy, or worthwhile reference point, but at least it can perhaps be admitted that for those who do, the following encouragement found again and again (in both the Pali Canon and the Chinese Agamas) is very much recognised as deeply meaningful:

The Saṅgha of the Realized One’s disciples is said to be the best of all communities and groups. It consists of the four pairs, the eight individuals. This Saṅgha of the Buddha’s disciples is worthy of offerings dedicated to the gods, worthy of hospitality, worthy of a teacher’s offering, and worthy of veneration with joined palms. It is a supreme field of merit for the world. (eg. AN 4.34, or see EA21.1 for a Chinese parallel)

Approached from such a point of view it is understood that maintaining a community of well-practising monastics brings immense benefit to those privileged enough to come into contact with it.


It just means someone very “gifted” joined the sangha at one point and thought that he found a loophole. It seems that loophole was closed.


that’s fine, if you believe that it’s great. What I was saying is that just like an ad hominem argument had been used to discredit Sensei because he benefits from people believing in the Lotus Sutra, it should be admitted that monks greatly benefit too from people believing in the passages such as the one you quote.
In the Western world we usually believe that fighting disease and poverty are worthwhile activities, and people from Bill Gates to Warren Buffett use their generosity to fight those evils. Sensei has helped many people in poor countries like those of Latin America to improve their lives. Is it more important to bring food to the Sangha and prostrate oneself in front of them? Who knows. Perhaps your quote corresponds to some deep truth, perhaps - like I think some scholars like Schopen would argue - it doesn’t

I don’t understand if you are joking or if you seriously believe that it’s something worth checking?
I mean do you believe there is a serious possibility that a dragon, pretending to be a human, might want to ordain?

In the story, I believe that it was the case that the nāga disguised himself with magic to appear human.

IMO the reason behind the story is to further strengthen the narrative of the “precious human birth”. But that is just IMO.


Having been to Amaravati Monastery for a visit, it seems to me that the majority of people in the UK certainly don’t get access to the same quality of those requisites (at least the last 3). The houses in that area are worth millions.

It’s also possible that a monk in the past was unjustly disrobed in a superstitious society because they decided there was something magical wrong with him.

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Someone should find the actual text’s reference, but as I recall his magic fails while sleeping and he is discovered in the form of a snake while sleeping.

If we take a skeptical approach, a large python could have been spotted in the sleeping quarters and escaped. In the morning, a monk up to no good sneaking out at night could have returned in the morning, thinking he wouldn’t be caught. When he was caught, he was too embarrassed to say what he was really up to, so it was decided he was the snake and he was sent on his way.

It’s possible.

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Hi Irene,

It’s in the Buddha’s first sermon. Here are two translations:

Bhikkhu @sujato:

Now this is the noble truth of the origin of suffering. It’s the craving that leads to future rebirth, mixed up with relishing and greed, taking pleasure in various different realms. That is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for continued existence, and craving to exterminate existence.

Bhikkhu Bodhi:

“Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the origin of suffering: it is this craving which leads to renewed existence, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there; that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence, craving for extermination.


I guess I’m obtuse. But I think “craving” just means craving. It is the thirst for new states of being such and such a way, and new states of not being such and such a way. It is present continuously in ordinary samsaric existence.

Honestly, I don’t know what you guys are doing during you meditation if the only craving you are attending to and endeavoring to let go of is the craving for a new life.


oh, but any desire is intrinsically interwoven with the desire for a new ‘life’. Not that I would start with it, but it just turns out to be this way, It’s an implicit fantasy the mind creates whether we like it intellectually or not. The moment-to-moment desire culminates in a new-being-desire and a new-life-desire. (or so is my understanding these days)


The Buddha didn’t teach to extinguish the self. This falls into false views. He taught to see the 5 Clinging Aggregates as not "I am, “mine” and “not myself”. When the aggregates are investigated, one finds there is no lasting entity which infers not self, but to say the self is extinguished would be to falsely believe there is a self to extinguish in the first place and not simply the continuance of conditioned concomitant phenomena acting in accordance with cause and effect.



I’ve heard this being described somewhere as being like a fire when its flames have gone out (its coal or firewood having burned out). You are still left with glowing embers and heat (at least for a while). Nibbana (with remainder) in this metaphor would correspond to the point when the flames have gone out, and parinibbana (the death of the arahant) to when the fire has become cold.


Yes, I don’t have any objection to that as long as all it means is that if I have a desire to eat the ice cream cone in front of me, for example, then I have a desire for a renewed existence as guy-eating-an-ice-cream-cone. All desires can be viewed that way.


If the Buddha passed away immediately after enlightenment, then, we would not be discussing the way we do now because there is no teaching to discuss.
With Metta

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There is a nice story by Tolstoj (here) where a man desires a little bit of more land and a devil torments him until he dies by giving him more and more land. Yet the man always keeps the fantasy “If I just had a little bit more, I would be at ease, at peace”, basically “I would be a different person who doesn’t suffer from desire any more”.


yes that is a great story, I remember it so vividly that when I saw you mention it, at first I thought I had seen a filmed version of it. But it was just the story I had read. It’s really well done because the man rally does have some problems at the beginning of the story and at first it seems possible that the solution might be to have more land, then you realize that it’s an illusion just giving him more and more trouble.
Anyway it’s interesting to see Tolstoy mentioned here (Sensei likes him too); he was a very vigorous man, very sexually active (not only with his wife…), which is at odds with the view of sex in EBT I remarked on above .

I am not saying it would have been desirable that the Buddha had passed away after his enlightenment. I was asking: how is the fact that he lived on for 50 years consistent with the fact that once you have abandoned all craving you are supposed to become extinguished, and have no more fuel for existence? Instead, he lived on for many years and in the Mahaparinibbana sutta he remarked to Ananda that he could have lived on I don’t know hw many more kalpas if Ananda had asked him to.
I mean, I find it odd that you see these very old monks, of which people say they are enlightened (sometimes the monks say it themselves), they are supposed to have abandoned all clinging to life (at least to future life), yet they live on and on in this one (some of them seemed nearly eternal, lived nearly 100 years. If they abandoned all clinging to this life of suffering it seems odd that they ended up living much longer than most of us)