I am a bit surprised at some critique of EBT. I made it clear to them that EBT is not secular Buddhism, but there’s several replies that I am at my wit’s end to reply to. Can anyone help? Please don’t just dismiss them because of the Mahayana background of the people commenting. Although it could be an factor of understanding.
- By bodhiquest
But it requires a fundamental belief in
- That the words in question really are the “Buddha’s own words” that haven’t been “[overwritten] with later doctrines” and, more generally, with erroneous or problematic information.
- That EBTs are identified correctly and in foolproof manner.
- That “later doctrines”, by virtue of being later, cannot actually contain what the Buddha himself really did teach and which, for various reasons, might have been left out of extant canons (in other words, belief in the flawlessness of the editorial process).
These are all problematic beliefs.
- Objectively, we literally cannot tell whether and to what extent what is recorded in the early sources are the Buddha’s own exact words. The language of the “early” sutras is not natural and reflects a process of editing, and the tone and manner of speech in the Chinese and Pāli texts are often different. It’s also not possible to tell whether very early on in the standardization process, extraneous etc. information was added or not. To say that the EBTs reflect the Buddha’s very own speech is a declaration of faith, it’s not an objective fact.
- It goes without saying that this is essentially guesswork and relies on incomplete information (we haven’t discovered all the earliest extant written Buddhist texts).
- The first release of a video game, film, or even book is not necessarily the definitive and “as the creator intended” version. Just because something is “late” doesn’t automatically mean that it’s wrong or not reflective of original intent. In addition, because the process of retaining and transmitting the Buddha’s words are done by groups of human beings and ancient accounts reflect the idea that a consensus which not everyone agreed on took place, we can’t be certain that whatever was officialized early by a majority was flawless and left nothing out. We certainly can say for many ideas as they are expressed in the texts that they are late relative to other ideas, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the idea itself (its meaning) is also late.
The problem with EBTism is mainly that it pretends that there’s nothing problematic about it and that it’s a very natural, logical and skeptical approach, but that’s not the case. When we pry away the veil of prestige, it’s no different from any other approach to scripture in Buddhism: it’s about choosing to uphold a certain collection as the texts which represent the Buddha’s intention the most accurately and completely.
The reason people compare it to secular Buddhism is that it imports modern textual analysis as an essential tool for discerning what is and isn’t a valid teaching even though the Buddha never suggested such a thing. That’s why you get pushback from traditional Buddhists when you suggest that EBTs are the true form of Buddhism, as that Ajahn (Brahmali) did in the secular Buddhism is baloney podcast
You have an entire textual tradition that uses modern methods to discern between sutras based on one squinting interpretation of AN 4.180
Of course it is natural to draw parallels to the secular Buddhists who have their own interpretational style based on a squinting interpretation of the Kalama sutta
Neither are traditional, and neither are Buddhism
I already said, because it uses modern academic methods to determine what is and isn’t Dharma, which is not what the Buddha said to do. That’s why it isn’t Buddhism
Your comments clearly demonstrate that you don’t understand what I’m saying, but that’s not a surprise, since EBT followers lack the insight to identify this modern influence
At least now you personally can empathise directly with secular Buddhists, sharing in a very similar delusion, and inability to probe it
And of course I’m not saying you should accept the Mahayana, I’m saying that you are purposefully interpreting one sutra in a strange and specific way in order to justify an approach to Buddhist understanding that does not align with what the Buddha actually taught. That’s why it isn’t Buddhism
Feel free to reply to them in reddit directly if you wish to.