I will make a v2 taking the other english translations into consideration.
I will start with the first sermons as you instructed. but, for future translations, after i finish the first ones, is there any previous tries by buddhist scholars to rearrange the canon according to chronological arrangement? ex: first, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 100th sermon taught by Shakyamuni Buddha…etc.
i think it will be a good thing to know the timeline of sermons, because Shakyamuni Buddha was a logical man, he surely started with his followers a step by step way to teach them the Dhamma. I think there is some textual internal evidence, but it will be really a hard-work when it comes to the full canon of dixcourses.
Yes, so far as it is possible (and he discusses the limitations of this approach, too).
Basically, the bulk of suttas have no indication of their time period, and of those that do indicate a time period, it is not exact. Ven Nyanamoli has reconstructed the sequence as best he can, but there is much that will never be known.
Perhaps using the information from the Agamas would help.
Thank you very much for this good information. I will take his book into consideration and make a read on it.
This is a very good thing, but why it is a modern approach? I mean to arrive late is better than you don’t arrive from the first place. but, why buddhist scholars and bhikkhus hadn’t done this approach over the last 2500 years? The first sangha on the first council, if they made an appendix index of list of discourses arranged based on timeline to be introduced with the official arrangment (of Ven. Ananda), this approach will be more wholesome and flawless.
The commentaries include various information about how to arrange the teachings chronologically; this information was used in Nyanamoli’s book.
As the Buddha’s biographies evolved, filling our and expanding these origins, they began to include much later material: Jatakas, more legends of the Buddha’s life, and so on. Over time, the legendary material overwhelmed the historical, and it became difficult to discern which was which.
There are indications of a critical attitude taken towards this material at some points, but on the whole, it seems that the traditions mostly accepted the legends as fact.
This lasted until the modern era, when text-critical methods, originally developed from Bible studies, were applied to Buddhist texts. One of the key innovations was archeology. At last we were able to see that Vesali and Savathi and the Deer Park are not just places mentioned in scripture, but are real geographical locations. Together with a range of critical methods, including comparative study, this gave us a much clearer picture of the historical relationship between different Buddhist texts.
I’m not sure what would be gained by knowing a chronological order of the sermons. According to the records we have in the Suttas and Vinaya, his first students seemed to be very advanced to begin with, based on their quick understanding of the Dhamma. So we can’t really conclude that ordinary people will get the same benefit by starting with them. What’s more important is that the Buddha taught in different ways to different people, often based on the circumstances. And in many suttas we do get that background info as well as the gradual way he taught them if that in fact was what they needed.
Why didn’t they do it? I would say because it didn’t really matter. If we respect the wisdom of the early sangha, then we might conclude they had a good reason. We get a good idea of what happened in the early days of the Buddha’s enlightenment, but after that it’s not so important. In terms of knowing the Buddha, his personal development reached it’s conclusion at the moment of enlightenment. After that, the purpose of the Dhamma is to help people also achieve enlightenment, and that happened on a per-person basis with different teachings needed for different people.
BTW, thank you so much for your translation work. It’s a huge good karma!!
i see, and maybe others also, that his teachings are a building block, to build a complete and flawless house in one’s mind based on logic and reasoning. this is a step by step building, starting from base and finishing with the last block of building, which is usually called the finishing block that connects all other blocks with each other. this is how i see the building of Dhamma is made.
of course his first students were very advanced. but, in Vedas and previous ways of Dhamma, which were not pure and flawless in his time. he, from scratch, cleansed their minds of previous logical flaws and wrong ways of thinking, then started to build a flawless formula. they of course, because of knowing both the wrong before, and the right now, are faster than others in learning and adapting into the Right middle way. (those who know both wrong and right thing to follow, are more eager to adapt and absorb the right, from those who don’t know the wrong from first place. because the importance of following the right thing is caused, among other causes, from loving to avoid the wrong thing which when was followed before, gave a bad feeling or state of mind).
plus, his teachings were not only for his first students “who were more advanced in other ways of thinking before the enlightened awake”, his teachings are also meant for new ordained students, young ones, lay followers, ordinary people also, ignorant people who didn’t know a thing or two before, “in first public discourses, if were spoken. if concepts are not taught from zero, what will the ignorant first listener of the Dhamma will benefit from? how can he say that his teachings are meant for all, if not all are understanding all of his teachings?” because of that, timeline and chronology are ‘in my view’ a very important matters.
Maybe, they did it, maybe they don’t. we don’t know for sure. traditions of the first sangha are lost in history and time. all of what we have is already available after the split.
Sir, If really the wisdom of the first sangha is already respected among the first sangha it self, we would not have seen a schism among the first sangha.
In every sangha, even the first one “after the enlightened departure”, there is non-agreements. the only difference is that, when the enlightened was here, any non-agreement and various views about various matters will be solved after his answer, because he speaks only what is right. and no one can go against his words. because to be in a sangha, is to had faith that the enlightened one words are all true and right.
but, after his departure, if any arhat or bhikkhu said no to Ven. Ananda. that is not right, you are wrong. Ven. Ananda and his successors at leading the sangha can’t kick him out for going against his words. from here stemmed a lot of various views of various things. even if Ven. Ananda quoted the enlightened one’s words to make a refute of the other opinions, saying “i’ve heared the enlightened one saying:…”, some another arhat or bhikkhu may say also: “i’ve heared the enlightened one saying: …, which contradicts your hearing”. of course the enlightened one words cannot be contradicted, one is false and one is true, but continuing in such a debate among the first sangha, may lead to some lay followers or some followers of other ways of thinking to say: “shakyamuni buddha’s first followers and students are fighting with each other because shakyamuni buddha said something to one, and said another contradicting something to the other. shakyamuni buddha was false, liar, a man of trickery, with contradicting teachings.”, that will lead, because the faith is still low in number, and fresh to people, into implications that may affect the sangha’s development and weaken or maybe unfortunately will lead to the end of Dhamma and Sangha.
to prevent that, out of wisdom, the good leader of the sangha, will not kick anyone of the sangha for going against his words, and will not continue in debates -for the purpose of not making it grow to reach the outer audience or the enemies of Buddhadharma".
how can “people” achieve enlightment from a thing that is characterized with “per-person basis” and “differenct teachings for different people”.
the “people” will say: (because of that different teachings are for different people, on a per-person basis. these teachings will not benefit me, will not lead to my enlightment. because i am different and another from “those different people who got enlightened from different teachings”, because i am different also, i want a different teaching, a teaching that is “per-person” that is made specially for me. but buddha is not here, he can’t give me these teachings, i can’t be enlightened by buddha’s way, i will search for another)/
because of this understanding, I go with that "while some of buddha’s teachings are per-person based and differ by the difference of people. there is also teachings that are based on common logic and reasoning, for all to follow, for the enlightment of all, public, tailored for all, not for one or individual student or personal, built step-by-step -needs to be arranged chronologically and in a timeline to be fully understood)
Thank you, Dear Sir Snowbird, you’re welcome. it’s both a huge karma for me and for all of those who are encouraging me by sweet words to translate more “like you, sir”.
I just don’t see how this is true. The Buddha did teach in a step by step way. But these steps were not given chronologically over the course of his 45 year teaching career. I don’t know of any support for the notion from within the texts themselves that the Buddha’s teachings were different from beginning to end. (People certainly have opinons though, e.g. Sutta Nipata) And I’m sure there is nothing in the Suttas that have the Buddha saying that the chronological order is important. So why should we?
More critically, knowing the chronological order of the suttas is (other than what has been mentioned) impossible. So for me this is a clear issue that falls under the pitfalls of wanting to know unknowable things. Not that you are saying that you won’t learn Dhamma till you know the chronological order… Just that there can be a danger of placing an importance on unknowables.
we agree these steps are not provided to us chronologically -or at least, this knowledge hadn’t been preserved over time ‘if some presumed that it were known by the inner and first disciples’"
the teachings were the same, hadn’t been different, hadn’t changed a bit. from the very first beginning until the latest of the end.
this step by step way, when known, will give opportunity for us to know some of the additional content that had been added later to the canon, which will not go in accord with the timeline and chronology, this will help us in identifying and avoiding this content. also, this will help us emulate how the minds of the first students received the sangha, working like a time-machine for us to help us putting ourselves at their times.
maybe in some days, months, years after. some extra internal evidence from some texts will help us more. the development of the analysis of suttas doesn’t have a limit. as Ven. Sujato mentioned above, there were times when “critical study” of the texts were not a concept known among buddhists, then after more than 2 thousand years, it had been known and used, and we got fruits from it the ancient ones didn’t taste.
what is not known now is not “unknowable” for sure and eternally. because there are things considered now “knowable”, but were considered before “unknowable”. what was before “unknowable” became now “knowable” because there was someone who tried to “know” and succeeded. taking in mind: “i will try more and more to know, not taking into consideration the sayings of those who say i will not know”. like the try mentioned above, Ven. Nyanamoli’s Book, there maybe another tries that will help more.
the Dhamma which relates to Shakyamuni Buddha’s Path is wisdom. Knowing and learning Wisdom is always good, at all times, places, states. it will bring our state of mind to higher realms, it will make us live our life at a better rate, getting more benefit from it, squeezing it into the last bit. the process of analyzing it to get more information will help us understand it more. understanding more will help us benefit more from the Dhamma, which means benefiting more from the benefits of Dhamma. this extra benefit, even if it is small among other Dhammic-matters, will remain a jewel that cannot be ignored.
Thank you very much for your lovely suggestions. Your insights are very useful.
Sorry, I didn’t notice this comment of yours until today. I was bypassing it without notice, thinking that it’s the same first comment “when you asked me”. but today, I was re-reading the comments to make sure that every advice is appreciated, then i found yours.
I’m very pleased and thankful that there are Arab readers or Arabic-Speaking readers here on Suttacentral besides me and the Bhikkhu who made the Egyptian translation.
I’m very grateful, Sir. Please, re-check and give suggestions to all of the translations you see. This is a good Help.
Thanks goes for you, Bundokji.
Please, if you are free, do not hesitate to give your bright insights regarding the Arabic translation of the first Discourse by Shakyamuni Buddha to his first 5 followers (According to theravadins).