Nikaya Puritanism

Continuing a discussion from the haiku thread that has stepped aside from poetry …


What exactly is the drawback of the different kinds of Nikaya Puritanism (be it 3 or 5 Nikayas)?

One drawback I see is that the Buddha referred to his teachings as the Dhamma-Vinaya - which does not use the word “Nikaya” at all - and Nikaya puritans seem to overlook the Vinaya altogether…

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Religious fundamentalism, to be frank, is the drawback of it, and the pushing of simplified narratives (e.g. “The entire Dīgha is fake” and nonsense like that) instead of what I would call “real EBT studies.”

Three-nikāya purism verges on the EBT equivalents of pseudoscience and conspiracy theory, really, IMO. The only people I have never known to be three-nikāya purists all claimed to be arhats or stream-entrants on the internet, so we (and by “we,” I mean “I,”) know it can be a gateway drug to prelest as well.

For instance, five-nikāya purists don’t believe in the monastic vinaya or in EBTs like the Dharmapada, because it’s not in the five nikāyas. In my experience similarly, oftentimes three and five-nikāya purists are the most vocal and angry opponents of rebirth and karma, generally claiming the beleifs to be Mahāyāna or Hindu in origin. I hope that contextualized somewhat what I meant.



I don’t think I have come across any 3- or 5- Nikaya purists then.

Leaving aside the validity of those two concepts, in my mind, it begs the question, have they even actually read the 3 or 5 Nikayas? Karma and rebirth seem to be such fundamental concepts in the any and all of the Nikayas.


Me neither.

But being in the Dhammayuttika Nikaya I have met plenty of one Nikaya purists :joy:


It wouldn’t be proper to name specific posters and users, but we’ve actually had a few, three that I can think of offhand, on this forum here. But it’s hardly a problem specific to SuttaCentral, and it seems they always eventually get themselves banned from whatever forums they are on.

Truly extreme contrarian views, in my experience, and I’m sure other people will agree, are generally only really found on the internet. Sometimes one will meet one of these people in real life, but it seems it usually takes the internet to really bring them out in force and allow them to network and communicate.


Isn’t the Dharmapada a part of the fifth Nikaya though?


Yes, it is. I was mixing up my threes and fives.

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Thank you for introducing what’s a new and useful word for me, prelest. (And “a gateway drug” to it - good phrasing!)

Looking up prelest to learn it’s meaning (spiritual self-delusion), I came across this. Could it be any more perfect?


:rofl: The Cat’s Meow, a shadow of the Lion’s Roar?


:slight_smile: nice, I like “cat’s meow” vs “Lion’s roar” even more than the delightful cat lion shadow image. Cuz there’s no cat, there’s composite image making, shadow casting, meowing, roaring - and all this is occurs in the mind.
Thank you Ayya @Charlotteannun and Karl @karl_lew . Khandhas are on my mind lately.


Sorry, I’m missing something: what is 3 nikaya Puritanism.

Also, FWIW I’d prefer “fundamentalism” rather than Puritanism.


Hi Bhante, @Coemgenu wrote this in the thread "Haiku: your pet peeve and other musings about Buddhism:

Not all of us understood the haiku so questions and discussion ensued (starting with this one, Haiku: your pet peeve and other musings about Buddhism until we got to this rather satisfactory conclusion:

A few days later @SeriousFun136 wanted to question the concept further, and the discussion veered right away from anything to do with the specific haiku or haiku in general. . So I split it off into a new topic, just in case it had theoretical value.

FWIW, my personal view on the matter is here Haiku: your pet peeve and other musings about Buddhism :wink:

Too many syllables. :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

(PS Your comment reinforces my feeling that sometimes a haiku gets done to death.)
(PPS I wouldn’t have spent so long explaining all this for anyone other than the site owner, and I feel it would be rather cool if, by way of thanks, you would find a moment to contribute a haiku of your own. Not here. Over there. :smiley: )
(PPPS At this point I realise the current thread doesn’t have theoretical legs and I’m moving it to the watercooler. … maybe the whole thread is a prelest.)


It’s just my term for a ragtag unaffiliated collection of views I have encountered on web forums, bhante.

The chief rationale for discounting the dīgha I’ve encountered takes out of context some words from Venerable Bodhi that it may have been compiled for the purposes of converting Brahmins, or something like that, I’d have to look up the precise entry. The rationale for throwing out the Khuddaka seems less clear, but reminds me of when Martin Luther created the Protestant “apocrypha” out of previously-accepted texts he thought were questionable because they complicated his novel doctrine of “salvation through faith alone.” To be quite frank, this is only really 3-5 people I’ve met only online that I am describing, and through my eyes only, not theirs (though through three of their eyes, they are stream-entrants or arhants, so take from what what you will, bhante, I’m sure-nigh-positive you’ve encountered similar online characters). Maybe I shouldn’t have wrote the haiku, because it only makes sense to me :sweat_smile:. I thought it was funny, though, and that was its purpose. Forgive the frivolity.


I think it generated some interesting discussion, so I’m pleased you did.

My observation is that the sort of people you’re talking about over-interpret the text-critical approach, without the balance that the likes of Ven Sujato and Analayo bring to the enterprise (such as Ven Sujato’s interesting talks and essays about the role of mythology, and their care in pointing out that “later” is not the same as “wrong” or “useless”).


I’m also glad you wrote it. Isn’t the purpose of the haiku thread to generate fun and friviolity. :smiley: Please carry on writing.

There’s probably a few haikus to derive from this. :slight_smile:


Will a clerihew do?

A pox on the bobbery
Of chronological snobbery!
And a plague on intriguers
Who beleaguer the Dīgha!


This nonsensical verse,
dare I disperse?
Or abide with mute wit,
and still a twit.

–Puritanically anon.

MN96:8.3: …They refrain from using speech that’s false, divisive, harsh, or nonsensical…


I don’t speak nonsense,
cause I make no sense speaking.
It’s nonsensical!


How did you do this?