New book out in the last week.
An accessible introduction to the teachings of the Buddha told through the oral tradition of the Dīghanikāya –the preeminent text of the Pali canon.
The Dīghanikāya or Long Discourses of the Buddha is one of the four major collections of teachings from the early period of Buddhism. Its thirty-four suttas (in Sanskrit, sutras) demonstrate remarkable breadth in both content and style, forming a comprehensive collection. The Art of Listening gives an introduction to the Dīghanikāya and demonstrates the historical, cultural, and spiritual insights that emerge when we view the Buddhist suttas as oral literature.
Each sutta of the Dīghanikāya is a paced, rhythmic composition that evolved and passed intergenerationally through chanting. For hundreds of years, these timeless teachings were never written down. Examining twelve suttas of the Dīghanikāya, scholar Sarah Shaw combines a literary approach and a personal one, based on her experiences carefully studying, hearing, and chanting the texts. At once sophisticated and companionable, The Art of Listening will introduce you to the diversity and beauty of the early Buddhist suttas.
PART ONE: Orality and Practice in the Early Buddhist Suttas
- What Is an Oral Literature, and How Does It Work?
- Of Bards and Bhāvanā:
Oral Literature and Buddhist Practice
- Situating the Dīghanikāya amid the Four Nikāyas
- Literary Features of the Dīghanikāya
- Number Symbolism and the Dīghanikāya
- Myth and the Cardinal Points:
Creating a Space for “Beings in All Directions”
PART TWO: Exploring the Suttas of the Dīghanikāya
- Journeys and the Net of Views: Brahmajāla-sutta— The Discourse on Brahmā’s Net (Sutta 1)
- The Fruits of Meditation: Sāmaññaphala-sutta— The Discourse on the Fruits of the Contemplative Life (Sutta 2)
- Perception and Its Cessation: Poṭṭhapāda-sutta— The Discourse about Poṭṭhapāda (Sutta 9, Part One)
- Self: Poṭṭhapāda-sutta—The Discourse about Poṭṭhapāda (Sutta 9, Part Two)
- Repetition and Awakening: Mahāpadāna-sutta—The Great Discourse on the Harvest of Deeds (Sutta 14)
- The Buddha’s Last Journey: Mahāparinibbāna-sutta—The Discourse on the Entry into Nirvana (Sutta 16)
- How Things Prosper: Mahāsudassana-sutta—The Discourse on the Great King of Glory (Sutta 17)
- Establishing Mindfulness: Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna-sutta—The Great Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness (Sutta 22)
- Origins and How Things Get Worse: Cakkavattisīhanāda-sutta—The Lion’s Roar on the Turning of the Wheel (Sutta 26)
- The Great Person: Lakkhaṇa-sutta—The Discourse on the Marks (Sutta 30)
- The Lay Life and How to Behave: Sigālovāda-sutta—The Discourse with Advice to Sigāla (Sutta 31)
- Magic, Protection, and the Four Kings: Āṭānāṭiya-sutta—The Discourse of Āṭānāṭā (Sutta 32)
- Chanting Together: Saṅgīti-sutta—The Chanting Together Discourse (Sutta 33)
APPENDIX: The Thirty-two Marks of the Great Person
ABBREVIATIONS AND BIBLIOGRAPHY
“For many years I regarded the Dīgha Nikāya, the Buddha’s Long Discourses, as of little personal relevance, seeing it as primarily aimed at enhancing the status of Buddhism in the social and cultural milieu of ancient India. Sarah Shaw’s book has radically transformed my assessment of this collection. Beautifully written and rich in observations, her inspired work shows the Digha to be perhaps the boldest and most majestic of the four Nikāyas. In Shaw’s treatment of the text, the Digha merges two contrasting perspectives in a tense but happy harmony: a panoramic vision of the vast cosmic significance of the Buddha and his teaching, and an earthy view of the Buddha’s concrete physical presence in this world. This contrast, she argues, is seen most poignantly in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, the long narrative on the Buddha’s final journey and passage into nirvana, where he himself exemplifies his teaching of universal impermanence. I believe that for others, too, this book will have a lasting impact on their appreciation of the Digha, offering many new ways of looking at this fascinating collection of early Buddhist texts.”—Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, author of Reading the Buddha’s Discourses in Pāli
“In this quietly revolutionary book, Sarah Shaw shows us that Buddhist sutras are also Buddhist practices, and that listening can be a form of meditation. She shows that our modern habits of skim reading and skipping ahead in texts are very different from the way the sutras have been appreciated in the past, and that if we can better understand the way the dharma has been recited and listened to over so many generations, it will allow us to engage with it more fully. Cultivating a quiet and attentive practice of listening seems more necessary than ever and this is a book that shows us how it can be done.”—Sam van Schaik, author of Buddhist Magic and Tibetan Zen
DR. SARAH SHAW is a faculty member and lecturer at the University of Oxford. She has taught and published numerous works on the history and practices of Buddhism, including Mindfulness, An Introduction to Buddhist Meditation, and The Spirit of Meditation.
Sarah Shaw read Greek and English, at Manchester University, where she did a doctorate in English literature.
After studying Pali and Sanskrit at Oxford University, she started writing and researching on Pali literature, particularly jātakas, texts concerned with meditation, and modern practice.
She is a member of Wolfson College and the Faculty of Oriental Studies, Oxford. She is also a fellow of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies.
Her books include (2006) Jātaka Stories: Birth Stories of the Bodhisatta; co-authored, with Dr Naomi Appleton and Professor Toshiya Unebe, (2013) Illuminating the Life of the Buddha: An Eighteenth-Century Siamese Chanting Manual, in the Treasures of the Bodleian Library Series, Bodleian Publications, Oxford; and (2015), with Naomi Appleton, The Ten Great Birth Stories of the Buddha: the Mahānipāta of the Jātakatthavaṇṇanā (Silkworm Books, Thailand/University of Washington Press, Seattle).
A frequent visitor to South and Southeast Asia, she lectures and writes on Buddhist subjects.
[Gratitude to Ven @Dhammanando for pointing out this video
Also on D&D, another of Dr. Shaw’s books, The Ten Great Birth Stories of the Buddha