SuttaCentral

Some inauthentic passages in the Early Buddhist Texts


#42

That sounds great! And I think adding modern scholarship would be a natiral step forward in that same direction.

Unfortunately, the software has no Mac version, so I am unable to use it.


#43

This is a very interesting thread, thank you @sujato for starting it! It is a topic I have wondered about.

One particular: what are we to do with suttas that seem to lack parallels e.g. in Chinese such as MN 60 and MN 76? I have been considering and treating them as authentic, but is this problematic?


#44

As per our method, making an assessment of authenticity requires multiple independent criteria. Lack of parallels is one of these criteria. In and of itself it proves nothing, as a parallel might simply be missing by chance. But if there are other indications of lateness, it is a supporting factor.


#45

DN 16

Frauwallner (The Earliest Vinaya …) has argued (persuasively, as far as I can recall) that the eight causes of earthquakes are themselves late, and that the earlier list only had three causes.

Also, the number of lists differs in the various versions of the sutta.

Moreover, this is the only time during the Buddha’s life that Pāṭaliputta is mentioned in the Nikāyas.

The miracle of the Buddha’s transfiguration is probably late.
The summary verse at the end of various sections are certainly late additions by the redactors: DN 16#428-429, DN 16#463, DN 16#466-468.

The story of Mahākassapa’s late arrival appears to have been inserted to provide mythic authority for him as the transmitter of the Dhamma.
The closing verses, which introduce the tooth relic, are certainly a late addition, as stated by the commentary.

When we speak of authenticity, I think we need to restrict ourselves to the words actually spoken by the Buddha or his disciples, as is really implied by your OP. With DN 16 we have a whole sutta that is really a narrative with embedded teachings, yet I think we should apply the same standard to this sutta. For this reason I would suggest not considering the narrative material when we give our reasons for its lateness.

DN 17

Hokay! I am not fully convinced that Trumpishess is an academically acceptable criterion. In any case, I think your point here is already implied by your first criterion of Style. You know, just being difficult!

DN 18

A further point is that this is really just a teaching by the yakkha Janavasabha, given respectability by the Buddha retelling it.

Although this sutta, too, is full of narrative, most of it is part of what the Buddha is supposed to have said, which means that narrative aspects can be included in the list of factors.

I think MN 123 is an obvious candidate, for a number of reasons, not least comparison to its parallels. MN 135 may well be late, too, but we need a list of criteria. Would you like to make such a list for each of these suttas?


#46

Most of your points are fine, and should be included. Have you tried editing the OP yet?

Regarding narrative, if the OP is too narrow, it should be broadened. Otherwise, I’m not sure I understand your point. Are you saying we shouldn’t include any narrative? Or that all narrative is inauthentic by default?

To me, I have no problem taking the bulk of DN 16 narrative as authentic, in the sense that it is what it purports to be, an account of the Buddha’s last days. But there are obviously many different sections, some less authentic than others.

I agree, MN 123 should be added. MN 135 I am not so sure; I would need to be persuaded.

Oh, and by the way, you will be pleased to learn that I have resisted the temptation to translate Janavasabha as Minotaur. So far, at least!


#47

[quote=“brahmali, post:45, topic:5795”]
When we speak of authenticity, I think we need to restrict ourselves to the words actually spoken by the Buddha or his disciples, as is really implied by your OP. With DN 16 we have a whole sutta that is really a narrative with embedded teachings, yet I think we should apply the same standard to this sutta. For this reason I would suggest not considering the narrative material when we give our reasons for its lateness.
[/quote]Forgive me for intruding on your dialogue with Ven Sujato, bhante, but this is a matter of charging “or any part of” for authenticity, yes?

Any inauthentic section = an inauthentic discourse (people can look at the footnotes/metadata for what is or might be authentic within? Am I reading your sentiments wrongly?)?


#48

I’m not exactly sure what you’re asking, but to be clear: many discourses contain a mix of authentic and inauthentic elements. In fact, few of the suttas in the EBTs would have been simply invented out of nothing.

Some suttas, though, like say DN 30, have such a preponderance of obviously late material, building on a foundation that is itself dubious, that the whole text may be considered inauthentic.

More commonly, like say DN 16, there is a body of authentic text that has been subject to later elaboration. The exact degree of what has been elaborated is, of course, difficult, probably impossible to determine, so we are merely mentioning a few relatively obvious instances.


#49

[quote=“sujato, post:48, topic:5795”]
I’m not exactly sure what you’re asking, but to be clear: many discourses contain a mix of authentic and inauthentic elements. In fact, few of the suttas in the EBTs would have been simply invented out of nothing.

Some suttas, though, like say DN 30, have such a preponderance of obviously late material, building on a foundation that is itself dubious, that the whole text may be considered inauthentic.
[/quote]I see, my apologies for misunderstanding. I thought Ven @brahmali was suggesting an “if any part of it is ‘inauthentic’ (by X criteria) it would be flagged as such”, or “X or any part thereof”.


#50

In the OP you say, “By ‘authentic’ we mean that texts that claim to be spoken by the Buddha or his direct disciples were in fact spoken by them”. I am not sure how the narratives fit into this. According to the account of the first council, the saṅgīti, some narrative aspects were added at this point, while others were added later. The texts never claim that the narratives were spoken by anyone in particular. I suppose it all depends on how purist we want to be.

I had to look it up, but, yeah, interesting. Unfortunately “interesting” is not a sufficient criterion. :disappointed:


#51

I’m fundamentaly interested in the teachings that have a clear practical meaning that could help me reach the end of suffering which for me is the achievement of eliminating one-by-one my sensual desires, my ill-wills and my delusions.

With this in mind I for example see a clear role for the four Jhanas as (there is much more to them) a set of tools for lessening attraction to sensual desires (realising they are much more pleasurable than traditional sensual objects of desire); see DN29.

Instead when I read pure mental activities such as the “four attainments” later on called arupa-jhanas I do not see any interest pursuing them as they are not part of the Buddha method for himself to become awakened.
Here is the list of Suttas a quick search on SC produce:
AN 8.120, 9.32, 9.31, 9.33, 9.34, 9.35, 9.36, 9.38, 9.39, 9.40, 9.41, 9.42, 9.44, 9.45, 10.6, 10.7, 10.29, 11.9
Ud 8.1
MN 1, 8, 25, 26, 30, 31, 41, 42, 77, 120, 140
DN 15, 16, 33, 34 (strange nine cessations)
Interestingly (as far as the search went) they are not found in the SN.
The funny thing is that these attainments are put above the four Jhanas as if they are superior to them and that we must go thru them in order to reach the end of suffering; all this without any explanation how they will help us achieve that!
For me they are not EBTs but a late corruption (not that late as they appear in a very strange way in DN16 obviously not an information provided by the Budhha as he was in the last phase of dying but supposedly from someone with psychic powers).
One wonder why these attainments are not found in the Suttas that talk about Jhanas such as (not an exhaustive list of course) in the DN collection: DN 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 17, 26, 29, 34.

By the way if we agree that so-called-Jhanas 5 to 8 are not EBT then the next “achievement” (cessation of perception and feeling) is also not EBT (e.g. MN44).


#52

Could we point to verses inserted into suttas as inauthentic, selectively? I recall Ajhan Sujato picking up the Brahmanical ‘luminous consciousness’ verse from its surrounding DN sutta.

with metta


#53

“Jana-vasabha” translated as “Mino-taur”?

Would you say that the old Indian cultural context would be less relevant to understanding the Buddha Dhamma, than the Greek cultural context?
How much relevance do they have to the social conditioning of the modern reader? When many of these readers use English as a second language?


#54

It was a joke …


#55

bright mind, tough joke, a little over the heads of the readers? Be happy, bhante. -()-


#56

Have you considered “Red Letter Buddhavacana” in the tradition of red letter Bibles?

A red letter Bible is a Bible in which all spoken by Jesus is in red print (or identified some other way). Something similar with “provenly authentic” Buddhavacana could be done.


#57

… printed on Bible paper, to reduce the size of the books (though I don’t think a pocket version will ever be possible!)


#58

Well, again, it’s easy enough to identify the speech of Jesus, as claimed by the text. It’s much harder to do so for the historically reconstructed text. Again, if someone wants to spend the rest of their life doing this, they are most welcome to fork our data.


#59

[quote=“brahmali, post:45, topic:5795”]
MN 135 may well be late, too, but we need a list of criteria. Would you like to make such a list for each of these suttas?[/quote]
Thank you Brahmali

It is difficult for me to list criteria because I am not greatly fluent in the EBT teachings of kamma however I will offer some views.

  1. In the stock verses I have read about kamma, such as in the Triple Knowledge, bad kamma leads to a bad or painful result, including merely a painful feeling & also hell. Good kamma leads to happy & heavenly results.

  2. In MN 136, which provides more flexibility, it appears bad kamma will eventually lead to some bad or hellish result when they ripen even though good results may come beforehand.

  3. Unlike MN 136, which refers merely to ‘killing living beings’, MN 135 refers to killing living beings with violence, without mercy; thus very serious forms of killing.

  4. AN 3.99 (Salt Crystal) should not factor into the criteria because AN 3.99 is about ‘trifling’ acts of bad kamma.

  5. Many suttas, such as SN 56.47, AN 6.39 & SN 56.102 -113, seem to equate the term ‘human state’ with good & even noble deeds. Yet MN 135 seems to state violence can result in direct yet short-lived rebirth in the human state.

  6. While AN 4.197 has some similarities with MN 135, AN 4.197 does not contain the same language (such as ‘kāyassa bhedā paraṃ maraṇā’) and appears only offering a temporal interpretation thus is different to MN 135.

  7. For me, it is unlikely the Buddha would reply to a brahmin student 's words using the same meaning of ‘wealth’, ‘beauty’, etc, that have a spiritual rather than physical meaning (in the manner of some suttas that use these words in an unambiguous spiritual way, such as AN 5.47).

  8. For some, MN 135 contains a very disconcerting determinism, which contradicts some suttas, which, for example, state wealth is often acquired via bad kamma (such as by greed, wars, lying, cheating, etc).

OK. These are some of my issues with MN 135 & it is the determinism in it which is most disconcerting because I personally cannot not believe a Buddha would state material, physical & worldly wealth, beauty, long-life, influence, etc, would be the result of good wholesome kamma because it is quite obvious the very opposite is often true in the world.

Regards :seedling:


#60

In accordance to above statement ,
may I ask how does one justify
the death of 99 persons being
killed by Angulimala ?


#61

Thank you James

I personally have no issues with Angulimala, who would have had to experience the inner pain & torment of reliving his past actions prior to his enlightenment. Even if the story of Angulimala is untrue, I believe it is possible.

I personally do not believe that every sutta is true, such as SN 35.28, were 1,000 fire worshippers gained arahantship. However, I believe the dhamma principles in SN 35.28 are true (that is greed, hatred & ignorance can be overcome).

With MN 135, it is the principles & logic I doubt.

Regards :seedling: