Understanding Dharma as it was understood during Buddha's time

Straight to the point,
What is pali?
Pali is a form of prakrit, which is nothing other than an unrefined version of Sanskrit. The word ‘Sanskrit’ itself means refined. Scholars would argue, but they are biased, the ammount of misinformation spread regarding ancient India is astounding. Therefore, if you feel like putting some trust in what I say read ahead, or you can stick with the scholarly explanations, whatever best suits you.
Dharma in Ancient India had an independent existence, meaning Dharma is Dharma whether it is Hindu Dharma or Buddha Dharma or Jain Dharma. Therefore, Buddha Dharma literally Buddha’s path to Dharma. Buddhism appealed to the people of ancient India when Buddha started teaching because he taught in simple language the Dharma leaving no person’s question unanswered.
What is Dharma?
Dharma is the laws which govern the samsara(संसार), the knowledge of which leads to liberation.
What is Nirvana?
It is the realization of the truth, it is also called Vivek(विवेक). One important thing is to not romanticize enlightenment, this has been stated again and again, reason being if you do the path to enlightenment will be staring you in the face but you will not recognize it because your mind will keep clinging to the idea of nirvana making you delusional about the reality of enlightenment. The right way of looking at it is you are already enlightened, but all the desires, clinging and defilements are stopping you from realizing it.
Where do you start?
Start by dhyana on your conciousness, dhyana is achieved by taking samadhi, samadhi in the simplest of words is sitting down to meditate and not getting up until you get your answers, for this you will have to take charge of your mind, for inspiration take the example of Buddha he took samadhi under the bodhi tree and did not get up no matter how much mara persuaded him.
Now Dhyana in the simplest of words is intense concentration, again this can be explained with the example of Buddha himself, he put all his dhyana to find the answers to his question. Dhyana is like concentration combined with single pointedness of mind to its maximum limits, where nothing in the world can even for a single fraction of a second make your concentration break.
Now, Jhana is in the simplest of words knowledge gained by experiencing it, that is why jhana is the road.
The technique is discrimination all the way till you realize self, the first question should be
Who am I?
The body, dhyana on that, it is not self
The mind, dhyana on that, it is not self
The consciousness!? This is the field of work, the starting point. By discrimination it is meant the discrimination of ‘what is’ from ‘what is not’, the body for example is clearly not self, therefore ‘what is not’ is found and discarded and ‘what is’ is searced by constantly finding out ‘what is not’ till you reach ‘what is’.

This is the concept of dharma, an understanding of this hopefully will help you in your journey.

this sounds like Mahayana and Vedanta which is not quite what the Canon postulates

i think the attainment amounts to realization that there’s no self rather than to its true nature, neither true self was the content of the Buddha’s awakening

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Friend,
Dharma is dharma, and enlightenment is enlightenment, whether it goes through the pali road or Mahayana or the vedanta road.
Like i cannot understand Quran without looking at the bible and the torah as well, similarly Dharma must be viewed from all the angles if one truly seeks enlightenment.

i don’t think one to good effect can concurrently tread different and not very compatible in their core tenets paths

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This is precisely why i wrote this, to explain Dharma is one the paths to which are many, it has its own independent existence and is not the monopoly of one specific path, whether it be thervada, mahayana or vedanta.
When Buddha went to the forest, he did not have the sutras to guide him, he found enlightenment. Now on analyzing another person Adi Shankaracharya of Vedanata who also gained enlightenment and Mahavira of Jain Dharma who also gained enlightenment, the core method for liberation is the same. This is proof of Dharma independent existence and a need to first understand dharma historically to get an idea of what Buddha had in mind when he was practicing.

And the measure, the correctness of the claim, and the similarity of the attainment is established how? By having enough disciples, books published, ‘a name’ in history?

It’s nice that you found such an easy path for your enlightenment (‘you simply sit down, intensely concentrate and figure it out until you are enlightened’), but for me at least concepts about the mind are not apples - you find agreement on apples with holding up the object and say ‘apple’, the other nods and refers to the same object. Mind objects are not things (or can you easily explain what ‘concentrating intensely’ means and how to do that? it sounds like I furrow my brows, tense my muscles, breathe hard and squeeze an image into my mind).

As soon as we deal with immaterial mind-concepts it follows other rules than concrete objects. To get to an understanding we have available the tools of critical text analysis, hermeneutics, history etc. This conceptual work isn’t of course meditation itself, but I at least base whatever progress I made in the practice on this critical understanding.

People are different and some people are incredibly intuitive, blessed with faith and resolution, discerning discussions are useless for them. I am not like that and challenge my understanding also with critical investigations - to sit in a cave until it’s done is not for me.

Shankara btw was not Ramana, his Bashyas and commentaries show how he was at least as much a skilled intellectual debater as a practitioner…

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There are several suttas where the Buddha describes problems with the teaching of the Jains and says that Mahavira aka Nigaṇṭha Nāṭaputta was not fully enlightened.

I agree that putting the teaching into practice is a must, but first we have to find out what the teaching really is. And the best way to do that, in my oppinion, is to study the EBT’s.

With metta.

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Only if sitting down to meditate was as easy, would “my path” be an easy one. There is a word not much in use nowadays but it might help you understand my point it is called ‘āntāramukhī’ made of 2 words āntāra(inside)+mukhī(face), which means one who has his face(with all the five senses) looking within. This word holds a great lesson for those seeking enlightenment, that all your senses and your mind should me looking within at all times, in the same way we look at the world outside all the time. Therefore, if one day you were to take a clock and measure the time spent reading and looking out and the time spent sitting in meditative posture eyes closed senses within, the difference would be clear.

Buddha would have surely disagreed, as it goes against the middle way, but, as to him mentioning that Mahavira wasn’t enlightened, i would like the exact quote and the sutra in which he mentioned it.

Ah, but the early Buddhist texts did not say this. That is one reason why it is important and useful to go back and read them. Even if you prefer a Mahāyāna or Vedānta approach, it’s good to know how those differ from early Buddhism.

Useful and profound teachings and ideas are indeed often found across traditions. Comparisons are best made with some care, though, paying attention to the sources. :slight_smile:

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A lot of people are too caught up with the self example, to understand there is no self one needs to first find self within to realize emptiness i.e there is no self.

well, it is difficult and would be irremissible to ignore since anatta is one of the core tenets of the Dhamma, which the Buddha used to make a point of emphasizing

is your point of view based on the Pali Canon?

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Will MN 101 Devadaha Sutta and DN 29 Pāsādika Sutta do?

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The technique is discrimination all the way till you realize self, the first question should be
Who am I?
The body, dhyana on that, it is not self
The mind, dhyana on that, it is not self
The consciousness!? This is the field of work, the starting point. By discrimination it is meant the discrimination of ‘what is’ from ‘what is not’, the body for example is clearly not self, therefore ‘what is not’ is found and discarded and ‘what is’ is searced by constantly finding out ‘what is not’ till you reach ‘what is’.

The consciousness is not self.

The “what is” is not self.

Keep Investigating.

Corelessness.

Edit:
And, you may well already know this, just discussing stuff, :smile: