Many ways to solve conflicting ebt suttas

If sutta A conflicts with sutta B first I will read whether both have agamas parallels

If sutta A don’t have agama parallel while sutta B have it then I personally will base my opinion only on sutta B because I think sutta A was created after buddhism spreaded to china that explains why the chinese don’t have the copy of it

If both have agamas parallels then I would try to see if both have tibetan sutras parallels or not, if sutta A doesn’t have tibetan sutra parallel while sutta B have it then I would base my opinion only on sutta B because I think sutta A was created after buddhism had spread to tibet while sutta B was created before it, it was created before buddhism spreaded to tibet which explains why tibetans have a copy of it

My real problem here is when both have agamas and tibetan parallels
The traditional way I use is to count the occurrences of both suttas, if sutta A have 2 occurrences while sutta B have 51 occurrences across nikayas I think it’s clear which is a genuine sutta here

what do you think ? Do you have other ways to choose the real sutta in case of multiple conflicting suttas ?

Of course I understand the fourth way in this case is to see whether the suttas fit the nikayas or not but to understand this we need to read all 7000 suttas to determine their relationships on case by case basis and this is really time consuming

If there is fast way to know whether a conflicting sutta is real or fabricated I would be interested to know that


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Sounds fair. These things comes to mind though -

  1. EBTs that all date back to pre-sectarian times may conflict with each other.
  2. There are different kinds of conflict.

Sometimes a good teacher may on two different occasions teach conflicting ideas or views. And yet both may be skilful. In this respect, I think context is critical to consider. Such as, who was his audience? And, what was the problem he was trying to remedy?

That process may still leave us with an unresolvable conflict, but at times, the conflict may be resolved. Like how a 2D slice of a 3D object may make no sense when examined out of its 3D context.


The most obvious thing is feeling, buddha said there are 2 feelings but on another occasion he said there are 3 feelings, fortunately on another occasion he said both definitions are true effectively reconciling them

The fundamental context is whether a sutta is delivered from the unconditioned (arahant) point of view or the conditioned (noble eightfold path) perspective. The latter is most relevant, and can be identified by who delivers the sutta, or who it is delivered to. Suttas delivered by the Buddha dealing with the pre-enlightenment period or to laypeople, or those by or to Ananda, Rahula or nuns are most appropriate for western practitioners.

There is a further aspect recommended by the Buddha where meaning constitutes the connection between different suttas, thereby building knowledge:

“Lending ear, he hears (reads) the Dhamma. Hearing the Dhamma, he remembers it. Remembering it, he penetrates the meaning of those dhammas. Penetrating the meaning, he comes to an agreement through pondering those dhammas.”—MN 95

“Comes to an agreement” means comparing new meaning with that already understood thereby building understanding from one sutta to another.

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How about seeing whether the sutta is considered earlier or later?

Eg. Jataka stories are generally considered later compared to the nikayas.

Anyway, I hardly see any conflict. Maybe because I haven’t read enough.

It’s also important to see context. Like Ajahn Chah says go left to a person too much to the right and vice versa for the other way. Sometimes one word can have many meanings as well. Like dukkha, sukha.

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Alright I have found the fifth way to resolve conflicting suttas and that is to use commentaries, we can use commentaries by knowing which sutta the commentaries side with

The earliest the commentaries the better
@Senryu @paul1 @ngxinZhao @vethoi