What would one call the vada that prioritizes EBTs?

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I think that’s over-determining the suggestion a little. It’s not about creating a school as such, but about having a word to refer to the thing that already exists, whatever that is.

Another way of thinking about it: people will inevitably end up classifying you, whether you like it or not. (I am thinking of the awful sutta jhana vs Visuddhimagga jhana idea.) So maybe it’s best to get out in front and have some say about where you see yourself?

I think we shouldn’t see difference and distinction as toxic; it is essential for clear conversation. But it does become problematic when someone has no word for themselves, and just gets elided. This happens to me all the time! People assume I’m “Theravadin” and have no idea of the many, many ways I don’t fit into that idea.


Thanks Bhante, :smiley:

How about Bedrock of Buddhism :smile::wink:


This is definitely a more pertinent question than “what name to give it” sure. I guess to answer it we need to look at what the possibilities are. The way I see it, there’s a spectrum of ways this “movement” (if you even want to call it that) could go.

On one end of the spectrum you have no organization at all, no structure, anarchism (no gods, no masters!). This would mean that it would basically be a descriptive term for a cluster of tendencies, for a loose group of people that have similar ideas about the Buddhist tradition (mainly, they prioritize the EBTs).

On the other end of the spectrum, you have something like what is called a “Nikaya” in Asia, a religious organization devoted to this, with monasteries and so on and some kind of leadership (all hail Sangharaja Sujato!).

Probably what people are looking for is something in between?

So Bhante, besides what SuttaCentral is right now, what do you think is missing? More translations? More content?


I have a lot of reservations towards what is being discussed in this thread.

I am completely in favour of every one l having as much access as possible to the closest accounts available of the actual teachings of the Buddha. I hope that this trend continues and I extend many sadhus to all those involved in making the texts widely accessible.

However: the moment a trend starts to morph into a movement concern starts to arise.

Searching for a title is part of this morph. Identifying a ‘movement’ around a set of texts feels ‘unBuddhist’ and makes me think of major religions in the West and sects that offshoot from them identified with Books. Surely this isn’t needed?

I have heard it said by monastics that Buddhists of different traditions are more united by their practices than by their beliefs/texts. This is a strength.

Also, what about the Agamas? They are also EBTS, but exist outside the Theravada.


I apologize if this seems a bit daft from my end, but, how exactly you see having a movement and organization as un-Buddhist is completely beyond me.

The Buddha spent a lot of time and effort founding a monastic order.

Can you unpack your thought process here?


One thrust is to do with cultural approaches to giving status to actual texts. It can only be expanded by possibly speaking ill of the tradition in which I grew up, and of the traditions most closely associated with it. … I refer to things such as the divisiveness that exists around the ‘Religions of the Book’, the issues through the ages within Christianity of which texts are “God’s words” and which not.

The other is a much more general concern with how social/cultural movements that coalesce strongly around almost anything tend to become overzealous and insensitive to those outside it.

Names have power. Power is easily misused.

I am completely in favour of every one l having as much access as possible to the closest accounts available of the actual teachings of the Buddha. I hope that this trend continues and I extend many sadhus to all those involved in making the texts as widely accessible as possible.

Edit: I should have stated that I don’t doubt your sincerity and good intentions in raising this issue. It is good to discuss matters that are important to us. :pray:


Well, yes, translations and content are important. It’s a basic, we should have good translations of our sacred texts. And that’s an area where I think SC is poised to make a real difference over the next decade or so.

But apart from that, what I would look for is something more like a community of culture. I feel that there are many people operating in similar areas across different countries, but it is all very thin. A few eccentrics and oddballs working away in Hat Yai or Jakarta or Harris Park or Saarbrucken.

However, with a few luminaries as exception, much of what people read and write and practice based on Suttas stems from a very limited perspective on how to read with attention, nuance, and sympathy. I see common fallacies all the time:

  • absolutist and fundamentalist readings (despite the suttas condemning this, like, all the time!)
  • the opposite, take everything as a metaphor if it is inconvenient. (“I don’t believe in rebirth, therefore the Buddha was just using it as a metaphor.”)
  • lack of understanding of Indic context. (“The Buddha taught kamma because he was a Hindu/couldn’t say anything to contradict Hinduism.” I’m not sure exactly what the argument is here. But it’s something like, “Because Hinduism, we can throw out what we don’t like”.)
  • lack of understanding of parallels (again, Pali fundamentalism.)
  • take one passage out of context and overturn the whole of the Dhamma. (“So and so got enlightened listening to a Dhamma talk, so you don’t need jhanas!”)
  • more generally, “self-excusing” readings; looking at the texts to see what you can get out of, rather than what you can aspire to. (“You don’t need to stop thinking to get into jhana!”)
  • over-determining text critical findings (“Atthakavagga is early, therefore everything else is fake!”)
  • lack of awareness of basic findings of the field (insisting Abhidhamma was taught by the Buddha, for example.)

So the basic flaw here is a lack of education. In particular, a lack of intelligent and humanistic reading ability. For many years I have given sutta classes to try to overcome this, but it is much bigger than me.

I can’t help but see this in a context of a wider historical context. I visited a University library in Chieng Mai nearly 20 years ago with my father. We were just spending some time together, and happened past the bookshop, and he said, 'Maybe you want a book?" Great, so let’s check it out. But it was really kind of shocking to me. The whole place was fall of books on engineering and medicine, and mostly, finance and business. We couldn’t find anything that was actually in the humanities. I mean, I know this is not a meaningful survey, but I just feel like people are not really taught how to read deeply and reflectively. If the skills don’t exist in the culture, how are we to find teachers? How can we teach accountants and engineers to read with creativity and compassion?

Now, the manner of reading texts is just that much. It’s not enlightenment, and it’s not even wisdom. But it does involve a range of emotive and cognitive skills, and I have to wonder, if someone is really so unskilled in the art of reading, how much deeper can their wisdom go?


This is what is important, in a general and across-the-board manner. :slight_smile:


Ummm… how about “Dhammavada”?

Because if you look at the whole point of the EBT approach, it is after all to understand the Dhamma as clearly as possible… and in this, knowledge of how the Dhamma was elucidated by the Buddha is the most, or I daresay, the only perfect description in this Buddhasasana.


Welcome to the forum @faujidoc1 :slight_smile:


Thank you!!:blush:


I don’t read that as saying that Abhidharma is early, only that “there are kernels of early pre-sectarian material in the earliest layer of the Abhidharma literature” i.e. that they incorporate some EBT.

Is there a word which means “wisely or skilfully reducing” – i.e. “minimizing” or taking away, making smaller, removing excess/elaboration?

If Kusala implied “cutting off” then that would sound nice – kusala-vada.

There is, I don’t know, nippapañca – except that, it would be preferable to choose a term that wasn’t implicitly derogatory about other schools.


Yes this is what I meant when I said “EBT material…can be found in Abhidharma”


But historically hasn’t every Buddhist school, each in its own way and with its own polemical strategy, laid claim to being the mūlasāsanā? If so, then ‘Mūlasāsanavāda’ would fail to specify what is most distinctive about the group under consideration (in a way that names like ‘Puggalavāda’, ‘Sabbatthivāda’, ‘Vibhajjavāda’, etc. do).

Now surely what’s most distinctive in the present case is not merely a preference for what came earlier over what came later, but also the manner whereby it is determined which is which.

With that in mind, may I propose (though it’s a wee bit longwinded):

navaṃ + kālaṃ + vīmaṃsāya + vidhīhi + porāṇesu + sammatesu + potthakesu + āgati + -ika + -ānaṃ +vāda.

= Navakālavīmaṃsavidhisammataporāṇapotthakāgatikavāda

“The school of those with a bias towards texts determined to be ancient by modern critical methods.”



Now, if you could abbreviate that just a tad…


But this is the abbreviated name. The full-length form would be:

“The school of those with a bias towards texts determined to be ancient by modern critical methods that 19th century British missionaries and colonial servants borrowed and adapted from 18th century German Bible scholars.”

Still, I suppose if a further shortening were needed, vīmaṃsavidhi might be reduced to vidhi, and porāṇapotthaka to porāṇa.


How about “Navakalavada” for ironic effect?


I have the same difficulty with politics in this regard. It’s actually very difficult to get people to balance different points of view in a collaborative fashion. Instead, they want to debtate, which means picking certain slogans or facts and ignoring others. Personally, I don’t care which sides wins these debates, only that they end and people start solving or mitigating societal problems. But this is not what everyone else thinks politics is about.

Sectarian religion is very similar to this. It’s not about a spiritual journey; it’s about defeating some other groups with rhetoric. In fact, I’ve begun to think that religion has not atrophied in the West. It’s simply morphed into political ideologies.


You’re not the first to think so! Political (secular) religion, and especially American Civil Religion, have received critical attention for decades :slightly_smiling_face:


Let me first apologize for trotting out my ignorance here, but I’m not sure I understand the root of the discussion. Is there a new trend toward prioritizing the suttas in modern terms; that is, deciding which are most important for us, second most important, and so on? If so, I would think it hardly needs a name, this prioritized sutta list.

Parenthetically, at our yesterday’s dhamma talk and discussion on the saṃyutta nikāya, 12, Sasīma (The Wanderer), several young people with strong Christian grounding dropped in. They asked questions regarding creation, the ultimate creator God, all from their point of view. A sutta centered in the five aggregates and dependent origination (such as we had before us) would not, I think, be best for such folk as an introduction to Buddhism. So, in this sense, an ordering of the suttas to meet the needs of persons grounded in the “desert” religions might be helpful. The Buddha was surrounded by people grounded in the forest religions where rebirth, a form of polytheism, and some concept of karma were givens.

Just thoughts. Sorry to ramble.