The question is in the ability to understand or not the Dhamma, If you understand it you can fill in any discussion quotes and also explain them. The “sin” of my first intervention was to explain the Buddha’s use of the rice and the curd that he had to break the fast. It is obvious that the Buddha did not know about nutrition and many other things (he did not know how to read or write, let’s not forget) and it is clear that he did not know what is the use of tryptophan and its use in meditation jhanas. It is also clear that if we put the limit on unillustrated knowledge, the suttas will serve no purpose. And it will be what I put in my post: black dhamma.
The fastest and stupidest way to lose a game is to play against the referee.
I do not mind putting the date. And, by the way, I can not suffer. Do you suffer?
The problem here is that the player is trying to be a referee.
While the tone has been a tad overly harsh here (the tendency on the internet for sila and right speech to go by the wayside), a point was made that has some validity, IMO, and which I’ve been searching for a skillful way to bring up here… somewhere…
Namely to question what balance is proper here between pariyatti (philology, if you will) and patipatti (or even pativedha)?
Several discussion have been hijacked into debates of philological minutiae, and even the opinion expressed that practice considerations (“personal” experience or anecdotal stuff) are irrelevant (dismissed out of hand). (I could cite instances, but rather keep it general.)
Does focus on EBT imply just textual-/context-critical, philological matters?
At times in such debates I’ve been tempted to bring up the issue of what the significance might be looking at word and grammatical interpretations in terms of the implication for meaning in practice. The tenor of discussion, however, suggests such would likely be not welcome.
Not to go down the slippery slope of proliferating personal experiences (there are dharma forums already for that), but to explore the balance of possible word interpretations against implications (and experienced realities) in the practice of the dhamma presumably intended to be communicated in the words.
I have once put up the question whether we should have a ‘Practice Corner’ category here. Back then, only 21 active users manifested their opinion and 71% of them said yes, they would like that.
It is important to note that 21 users is a very small sample of D&D’s 140-220 active users base (key stats can be found here).
There Bhante Sujato flagged that it was not something he would like to happen as that would definitely increase the reliance on active participation of moderators. This is for other online forums focused on practice end up turning into a very useless mess of views (see http://newbuddhist.com/)
I try as much as possible to guide my participation in this forum by the understanding this is above all be a place for people to discuss translations of EBTs and, to a limited extent, doctrinal implications or curiosities of the words being translated.
Hence, I usually browse D&D looking for another interesting essay by Bhante @Sujato on his translation project, or maybe a nice and polite conversation between him and Bhante @Brahmali on how to translate something. I also appreciate a lot the time and effort people like @Sylvester put up investigate peculiarities of Pali grammar and how things we usually take for granted in translations may not be so clearly stated in the original material.
If instead of these nice things I start seeing people here debating and fighting over seeing lights, light or strong jhanas, etc, I will just walk away and slowly forget this space… I already have my fair share of point of views-related stress in my professional life!
EBT’s are about practice- just correct practice. There are aspects of right view which easy to discuss on a forum, but the vast majority of the suttas are about practice (morality, concentration and insight). If we make this only about translation I would find it boring and a waste of my time. Its good to strike a happy medium. The scholarship does have a civilising influence, best tempered by some civil discussion about practice based on suttas.
The issue is not what the vast majority of what D&D does but the odd thread that could give the newcomers a wrong impression and the regulars find intermittently stressful.
Not true. This forum is above all a place to Discuss and Discover the suttas and the dhamma therein:
Hence, I usually browse Discuss & Discover looking for anything related to the suttas and the dhamma. Not just essays by the authorities or technical discussions on pali grammar.
On the Watercooler:
So this forum is clearly not just confined to discussion of translations. If the intention is to change it to that, then we should see what @sujato thinks. I personally disagree with such an intention.
Exactly Mat. I think this forum is brilliant. There may be some posts that I disagree with, but people should still be free to have their say, especially when they are quoting suttas!
I would like to suggest you don’t take my views on the matter as authoritative or a driver of change here.
Just like you I am just another user of this forum and I took the liberty to express how I approach it. Everyone is free to do as they wish when it comes to choosing how they make use of this space, or how they believe the space can be better used or not.
It is just like a real world Buddhist centre / monastery. There are those who like to come to such places just to sit, relax, hear the Dhamma from someone qualified or truly invested in it, and head back home. Others like to do that and as well hang out for a tea or chitchat…
Your activity betrays your statement. You are one of the most active posters on this forum with regular posts in the watercooler and other non-sutta type posts, and such posts made by you are often very informative and intriguing.
Me neither. Who are the foreigners ? The Buddha and his disciples (foreigners to most of the western world) who instructed people with beautiful words and verses ? Or the current group of westerners who are translating old scripts ?
But I wander around mostly feeling like an alien life-form from outer space, so all groups and clans are equally foreign to me…
@tommit is referring to this:
They will not lend ear, will not set their hearts on knowing them, will not regard these teachings [the suttas] as worth grasping or mastering. But they will listen when discourses that are literary works—the works of poets, elegant in sound, elegant in rhetoric, the work of outsiders, words of disciples—are recited. They will lend ear and set their hearts on knowing them. They will regard these teachings as worth grasping and mastering. https://suttacentral.net/en/an5.79/8.250-8.595
And then he says
So, @tommit is accusing us of not sincerely wanting to understand and practice the teachings of the buddha, and that we are merely focusing on the literary form and beauty of the suttas.
The point that tommit misses is that we are focusing on the content of suttas and not just on their literary form. Also, we are not focusing on literary works by other authors, which is in fact what the sutta advises against. In fact, this website is actually following the Buddha’s instruction by avoiding commentarial literature and focusing, pretty much, only on the suttas and discussing the translation, meaning, interpretation and dhamma expressed in the suttas.
Therefore, I completely disagree with tommit and I believe that everyone here is actually making a sincere and real effort to understand the very difficult and at times perplexing teachings of the Buddha as expressed in the suttas.
We will argue, disagree, things get heated. But I think we are all sincere in wanting to understand the real dhamma. No?
Thanks for the background and perspective on this issue. I can readily defer to V. Sujato’s informed experience, and agree from my own browsing experience that entertaining “personal” experiences in such a broad audience on the internet opens Pandora’s box. Not to deny, however, that I have engaged in and witnessed insightful and rewarding exchanges along these lines. It does require, though, a degree of equanimous perspective on the nature of one’s own and others’ views that is rare in these venues.
What I had in mind in bringing this up here, however, is of another nature (at the risk of going ‘off-topic’, but hopefully getting an important point across – moderators pls advise if it should be forked to its own thread).
Example: In the popular topic of “hearing sound in jhana?” (debated on several forums) a crucial issue is rarely touched on, namely the gradations of meaning in the notion of ‘hearing’ – a spectrum between the extremes of, for instance:
a:) the mind senses the presence of auditory stimulus; and
b:) Gee. that’s the opening of the third movement in that historic 1962 performance with Leonard Bernstein and Glenn Gould of Brahm’s 1st Piano Concerto. Or, perhaps, oh, that’s Jimmy Hendrix rendition of “All along the Watch Tower…”.
Put another way, a distinction in ‘hearing’, a spectrum between knowing (‘noting’, gnosis) raw auditory stimulus and fully elaborated ‘listening to’.
That is to say, in some stages of (verifiable) appana-jhana, short of 4th and upwards, arguably (and from experience) the raw contact of auditory stimulus can jiggle the mind, so to speak, (technically, a wavering of the bhavanga citta by external stimulus), WITHOUT the mind being further moved, without ‘adverting’, ‘investigating’, ‘perceiving’ (categorizing, naming), javana (impulsions) kammic processing or final ‘registering’ of a full-blown cognitive process. That is, a facet of the mind recognizes the ‘touch’ of the stimulus, but with such a slight and transitory effect on absorption that its overall strength is not impacted. (It’s arguable that ‘absorption’ involves a definitive physiological neurological state that has a sense of momentum, or inertia, such that it can endure transitory impingement from other levels of sensory processing.)
Admittedly citing here perspectives from abhidhamma and even phenomenology, to the degree that, while not literally EBT, they can significantly contribute to sound insight (no pun intended). But not to overly push in this direction, as it tends to arouse ill-will (troll-like attacks) in some circles.
Put yet another way, there’s a trace of irony to the elaborate discussions of details of Pali declensions, conjugations, word roots, stems, etc., while hinging on rather naively unexamined (often framed in terms of ‘common sense’) usages of the English terms of translation – e.g. ‘hearing’. (Another notable example would be vitakka-vicara as ‘thought’.)
You say one thing, you do the opposite … wrong word
You say that the only author who suttacentral deals with is the Buddha and that is not true. There are thousands of spurious authors who have written authentic barbarities and all they have had to do is introduce it into the canon pali.
Not even the four canonical nikayas are exempt from false suttas …
The AN is known by the amount of medieval literature that contains, but not even the MN is free of suspicion. Read the MN 91 and MN 92 and you can get an idea of the Buddha welcoming you by running your tongue through the holes of the ears and showing you his micropen …
so what should we turn to to find the true teaching?
Thanks, I do appreciate your points on the possible gradations of meaning in the notion of hearing. Taking that in consideration would make a difference in how strongly one grasps or not to an assumption on how the fact we have a pair of ears is to be experienced as we cultivate stillness. I strongly recommend we start a topic on that subject.
Even if not much can be found in EBTs to support it we could investigate how modern science understands or not the many ways hearing takes place.
Beside all that, I tend to think we end up missing the point when start debating whether or not one hears, feels, thinks in jhana.
While the suttas definitely do provide us some hint on what one is to expect as his practice of stillness strengthens, they not necessarily are fully consistent on the minor details of how the experience of this development is going to take place at the subjective level.
But that should not matter as the suttas are rather clear on the checklist of things that one should see weakening or disappearing as the eight path factors converge in his mind and heart. I am here alluding to the five lower and five higher fetters.
If one does not see any of the lower fetters fade away as he cultivate the path factors he is probably doing something wrong. In most of cases, people (like me) fail miserably in the very first and basic elements of the path, like cultivating the threefold right intention.
Personally, I’d like to see active editing and oversight by the moderators and those of us ( the vast majority) that try to practice Right Speech, and are mindful of common courtesies and the feelings of others.
There are and will be Buddhist sites that have trolls and unpleasant interactions, and ad hom attacks. I just never wanted to see D&D get close to even the edge of that kind of vibe. I have always wanted this place to be like a Wat, an internet temple that visitors can feel welcome at, and where they are greeted by others who have a common purpose of development of practice. Kalyana mitta. I’ve mentioned that I analogize this forum as if it were Bhante Sujato’s vihara, and we as guests need to be mindful of the vibe and tenor of discussion that he has established as an example to us.
If I were at one of my favorite wats in Thailand, let’s say Wat Umong, and was hoping to take a peaceful walk, or have a nice chat with one of the resident monks, and there was some drunk wanker shouting at the monks, or abusing the visitors, I’d want his a** tossed out. I might even do it myself, albeit compassionately . My point in all of this is that we have a great thing going here, and we will have good and kind guests that visit, and I don’t want to see such a vibrant and diverse community spoiled by a rotten few that happen upon the place. As the saying goes, a few bad apples can spoil the whole barrel.
I’d like this place to be different. Safe for newcomers. A reservoir of kindness and knowledge. An open place, like a friendly forest wat, but with some security in place to keep the peace.
MIchael, I\m so sorry, but the electronic wat you described is a forum I would never ever visit again as a user
I like the idea of more moderation to make the place friendlier but warnings, suspensions and bans are a better approach than editing, hiding and deleting posts. I think there’s a fear among some to bring down the hammer, even when it’s clear needed.
Okay folks, I’m done. Sorry Mkoll, this comment is not directed against you or anyone specifically, you just happened to be the last one.
About a week or two ago there was a pretty big scandal in the small Russian Theravada community. I don’t want to go into detail here, suffice it to say, it was about moderation issues on one of the Russian Theravada forums. In the last couple of weeks I read so many comments on D&D that look as if they came directly from Orwell’s books, mod team on that forum that is probaby even more Orwellian than Orwell, or Soviet newspapers (for those of you who don’t know it, the Soviet Union was ‘the most peaceful country on the planet’ and ‘did everything to guarantee peace and prosperity for the entire world’). My impression is that this community will drift into the territories I am personally very uncomfortable with, so yeah, I think I will stop commenting here. I will check the forums for fresh exciting essays, and I think I am going to finally have more time to finally look into this Tocharian stuff, but otherwise I am done, I am just far too tired and want to remember these forums as a nice place to visit. There are no bad feelings, no anger or hatred in me towards anyone here (at least not that I notice them), so please don’t take that way. If this comment is way offtopic, you can move it into a separate thread
May you all attain Nibbana!