PDA

View Full Version : Original texts



serenewolf
03-19-2021, 01:33 PM
I know Buddhism has a long and widespread history. If someone wanted to find the original texts where would they be? What languages would you need to learn, including dialects and subdialects if necessary? Who were the original authors other than Bhodidarma and Gautama? Where are the original locations worth studying from a genuine historical perspective? Where could we find lineage lists and other historical information? Thank you.
Gassho
David
Sat

Jundo
03-19-2021, 02:57 PM
Hi David,

Finding the old essence is sometimes compared to pealing an onion ... one peal and peals searching for the core, and soon there is no onion. Better said, one has missed the pungent onion all the way down.

Buddhism was originally an oral tradition, texts were written down centuries later (in languages other than the Buddha probably spoke), some South Asian texts were composed or highly edited long after the time of the historical Buddha. The Mahayana texts were all written long after the historical Buddha, by religiously inspired authors. Editors and rewriters greatly rewrote the content over the centuries to both South Asian and Mahayana texts.

Most of the texts attributed to Bodhidharma, although lovely, were written centuries after Bodhidharma.

One can find the original original text on the Zafu, sitting Zazen.

That said, I can point you to a couple of good compilations and history books if you wish.

Gassho, J

STLah

JimInBC
03-19-2021, 02:59 PM
I know Buddhism has a long and widespread history. If someone wanted to find the original texts where would they be? What languages would you need to learn, including dialects and subdialects if necessary? Who were the original authors other than Bhodidarma and Gautama? Where are the original locations worth studying from a genuine historical perspective? Where could we find lineage lists and other historical information? Thank you.
Gassho
David
Sat

Hi David,

Guatama Buddha lived in India c. 5th - 4th century BCE. His teachings were originally collected and maintained via an oral tradition. They were eventually written down in a number of languages. The most complete surviving copy of these texts were in Pali, and this Pali Canon became the text of the Theravada tradition. For a complete, free, very well done translation of the Pali Canon see SuttaCentral.net. There's also an option to view the original Pali texts side by side with the English translation.

To research, search Pali Canon and you'll find articles and links.

The Buddha's original teachings were also written down in Sanskrit. Many of these Sanskrit texts were translated into Chinese, and there is an extensive collection of the texts based on the original oral tradition in Chinese.

To research search Chinese Agamas.

Many of the core Mahayana texts were being written circa the same time the oral tradition was being written down. Those would be in Sanskrit.

To research you could search search Prajnaparamita and go from there.

Bodhidharma traveled from India to China and has been credited with founding Chan. Many Zen foundational texts are in Classical Chinese.

Zen spread to other countries, including Japan. Core to the Soto Zen school are the writings of Dogen, in Japanese. Jundo wrote a great book on Dogen's writings, which would be the best place to start there.

You can get a great deal of the flow of Buddhist history and key texts from Wikipedia. Just take notes, start with some of the search terms I suggested, and follow links to other articles.

Good luck and have fun!

Gassho, Jim
ST/LaH

EDIT: Fixed link.

Sent from my SM-T510 using Tapatalk

Jundo
03-19-2021, 03:20 PM
I would disagree with Jim on the Pali Canon or the Agamas being the original teachings of the Buddha, for a few simple reasons. One, they are often contradictory, containing varied versions of the same teaching, and much material obviously added and developed later. Also, the writing style of the Pali Canon is in an unnatural and non-conversational style filled with tropes, in other words, nobody actually speaks or acts in such way in natural conversation. It is always a very formalized setting, with the "sat down to one side" and the like. As well, they were supposedly memorized as they were spoken, but who could possibly memorize, preserve and recount centuries later a conversation and set of paragraphs that read like this?

(The " ... " represents repetitions that were removed from the text for simplicity by the English translators, but in the original the Buddha is quoted to completely repeat the entire paragraph, word for word, each time).


Sivaka Sutta

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling near Rajagaha in the Bamboo Grove Monastery, the Squirrel's Feeding Place. There Moliyasivaka the wanderer went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One, "Master Gotama, there are some brahmans & contemplatives who are of this doctrine, this view: Whatever an individual feels — pleasure, pain, neither-pleasure-nor-pain — is entirely caused by what was done before. Now what does Master Gotama say to that?"

[The Buddha:] "There are cases where some feelings arise based on bile.[1] You yourself should know how some feelings arise based on bile. Even the world is agreed on how some feelings arise based on bile. So any brahmans & contemplatives who are of the doctrine & view that whatever an individual feels — pleasure, pain, neither-pleasure-nor-pain — is entirely caused by what was done before — slip past what they themselves know, slip past what is agreed on by the world. Therefore I say that those brahmans & contemplatives are wrong."

"There are cases where some feelings arise based on phlegm... based on internal winds... based on a combination of bodily humors... from the change of the seasons... from uneven[2] care of the body... from harsh treatment... from the result of kamma. You yourself should know how some feelings arise from the result of kamma. Even the world is agreed on how some feelings arise from the result of kamma. So any brahmans & contemplatives who are of the doctrine & view that whatever an individual feels — pleasure, pain, neither pleasure-nor-pain — is entirely caused by what was done before — slip past what they themselves know, slip past what is agreed on by the world. Therefore I say that those brahmans & contemplatives are wrong."

When this was said, Moliyasivaka the wanderer said to the Blessed One: "Magnificent, lord! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to point out the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has the Blessed One — through many lines of reasoning — made the Dhamma clear. I go to the Blessed One for refuge, to the Dhamma, & to the community of monks. May the Blessed One remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge from this day forward, for life."

This is not original material, and is something highly edited after the fact.

At best, it may be possible to take several of the varied version of some of these texts and "triangulate" what may have been some core and early teaching. Yet, that may also result when all the varied version derive from a root which, itself, is somebody's creation other than the Buddha. In any case, in no way can we confidently claim that the Buddha actually spoke the words above.

Gassho, J

STlah

JimInBC
03-19-2021, 03:54 PM
I would disagree with Jim on the Pali Canon or the Agamas being the original teachings of the Buddha, for a few simple reasons. One, they are often contradictory, containing varied versions of the same teaching, and much material obviously added and developed later. Also, the writing style of the Pali Canon is in an unnatural and non-conversational style filled with tropes, in other words, nobody actually speaks or acts in such way in natural conversation. It is always a very formalized setting, with the "sat down to one side" and the like. As well, they were supposedly memorized as they were spoken, but who could possibly memorize, preserve and recount centuries later a conversation and set of paragraphs that read like this?

(The " ... " represents repetitions that were removed from the text for simplicity by the English translators, but in the original the Buddha is quoted to completely repeat the entire paragraph, word for word, each time).



This is not original material, and is something highly edited after the fact.

At best, it may be possible to take several of the varied version of some of these texts and "triangulate" what may have been some core and early teaching. Yet, that may also result when all the varied version derive from a root which, itself, is somebody's creation other than the Buddha. In any case, in now way can we confidently claim that the Buddha actually spoke the words above.

Gassho, J

STlah
Hi Jundo,

Oh, yes, I agree with you. The Pali Canon has the style of an oral tradition - mnemonic devices like repetition, numbered lists, etc. - and there are many examples of later additions and editing in the text. They should not be taken as verbatim recording of what the Buddha said. I should have stated that much more clearly.

The only thing we might disagree on (and here only in degree, as you mentioned triangulation yourself) is that based on the work of translators/scholars like Bhante Sujato and Bhikkhu Analayo, I believe if one applies scholarly tools, like source criticism, one can uncover a great deal about the earliest strata of the Pali texts, and thereby draw some educated conclusions about the Buddha's teachings. But they will always be educated hypotheses.

Gassho, Jim
ST/LaH

Sent from my SM-T510 using Tapatalk

Nengei
03-20-2021, 12:08 AM
One can find the original original text on the Zafu, sitting Zazen.


gassho2

Gassho
Nengei
Sat today. LAH.

serenewolf
03-21-2021, 03:38 PM
Thank you for this. I am always interested in languages and history. I have been thinking of learning sanskrit because i have heard that a lot of historical texts are written in it and am currently working on mandarin and japanese. Any compilations and books would be welcome.
Gassho
David
Sat

Kokuu
03-21-2021, 03:54 PM
I have been thinking of learning sanskrit because i have heard that a lot of historical texts are written in it and am currently working on mandarin and japanese

Hi David

A lot of Mahayana texts were originally written in Sanskrit, including The Lotus Sutra and the Prajnaparamita Sutras (Heart Sutra, Diamond Sutra etc). Many were translated into Tibetan and Chinese and sometimes the original Sanskrit version was lost.

The Pali Canon is, oddly enough, written in Pali. Pali appears to be a combined form of many early Indian dialects and not disimilar to Sanskrit.

Many Mahayana texts, particularly those most valued in Zen, are found in Chinese. The Chinese translator and scholar Red Pine (Bill Porter) has translated many of these - the Lankavatara Sutra, Surangama Sutra, Platform Sutra, texts attributed to Bodhidharma.

Of greatest importance for Japanese texts is Dogen's Shobogenzo. However, as Jundo will tell you, this is not understood by many modern Japanese people and it has been translated into modern Japanese just as some people translate Chaucer into modern day English.

If you want to understand these texts in their original languages, it can be helpful to work with an expert. People who translate these works spend many many years learnng how to do so.

As far as practice goes, I am not sure how much is to be gained by reading the sutras and suttas in their original, or earlier, forms. Many excellent translations are now available which contain everything we need for practice and, as Jundo says, the true text is found on the cushion.

Gassho
Kokuu
-sattoday/lah-

Kevin M
03-21-2021, 11:03 PM
... For a complete, free, very well done translation of the Pali Canon see SuttaCentral.com

This link failed for me but http://suttacentral.net works.

Gassho,
Kevin
ST

JimInBC
03-21-2021, 11:11 PM
This link failed for me but http://suttacentral.net works.

Gassho,
Kevin
STAh, good catch, Kevin! Yes, .net

Gassho, Jim
ST/LaH

Sent from my SM-T510 using Tapatalk

StoBird
03-30-2021, 09:09 AM
From what I glean, the three most important texts in the Sōtō tradition are arguably the “Heart Sutra,” and Dōgen’s “Fukanzazengi” and an obscure text called ‘The Zen Master’s Dance:A Guide to Understanding Dogen and Who You Are in the Universe’ by a strange fellow named Jundo Cohen :D (I joke but it is the essence of Treeleaf teachings condensed into book form).

After you Chant the ‘Heart Sutra’, follow the precepts, and sit (Jundo and Kokkuu can correct me if I’m wrong) books are superfluous because they are all reflections of what is happening in zazen, not that it’s bad to read (it can be very good for practice, as long as you sit too) from what I glean, they just aren’t as necessary as in other traditions (again, correct me if I’m wrong). I think the revered Sōtō priest named Shōhaku Okumura sat for ten years without reading a single Dharma book.

Sometimes its best to start simple. When I started practice in 2017 I had to have every single zen book ever printed. I had a library of probably over a hundred books! I got so overwhelmed with reading and not sitting that I had to donate them all to the local sangha's library so I could check them out if I had to read.

Gassho,
Tom

Sat/Lah

Jundo
03-30-2021, 03:03 PM
From what I glean, the three most important texts in the Sōtō tradition are arguably the “Heart Sutra,” and Dōgen’s “Fukanzazengi” and an obscure text called ‘The Zen Master’s Dance:A Guide to Understanding Dogen and Who You Are in the Universe’ by a strange fellow named Jundo Cohen :D (I joke but it is the essence of Treeleaf teachings condensed into book form).


In that order? Hmmm. :p

I would say that some study is necessary and traditional in Zen, just not too much. Don't be too much in your head, but some book learning is necessary to give the practice direction (basically, this forum is just a form of written study too, is it not?) Dogen was himself a man well studied in Buddhism, and so were most Zen priests. They "burned the books" AFTER they had read them, then sat Zazen, then reconstituted the ashes and studied a bit more. Without any study, this practice can be too nebulous and without clear direction. Just sitting can become just sitting on one's ass, or wander off into strange directions.

I think that Okumura may have gone through such a period, but he was a bit of a fanatic in his youth, and later reformed to become one of our great practitioner-scholars with several books that EVERY Soto practitioner should read. Almost as good as the "Big 3" up there. [morehappy]

Gassho, J

STLah

Guish
03-30-2021, 04:07 PM
The one central teaching all Buddhists can agree on is the 4 noble truths, I assume. It is perhaps the most wonderful among all wonderful teachings out there.

Gassho,
Sat today,
Lah,
Guish.

Sent from my PAR-LX1M using Tapatalk

Jundo
03-30-2021, 05:33 PM
The one central teaching all Buddhists can agree on is the 4 noble truths, I assume. It is perhaps the most wonderful among all wonderful teachings out there.

Gassho,
Sat today,
Lah,
Guish.



Yes, although again, the fine points of meaning vary as well. Thus, as the Heart Sutra declares, "There is no suffering, no cause of suffering, no end to suffering, no path."

But there is more than that which pretty much all Buddhists agree on, such as non-self and impermanence too, but meaning may vary. Other teachings as well.

Gassho, J

STLah

Guish
03-30-2021, 05:45 PM
Yes, although again, the fine points of meaning vary as well. Thus, as the Heart Sutra declares, "There is no suffering, no cause of suffering, no end to suffering, no path."

But there is more than that which pretty much all Buddhists agree on, such as non-self and impermanence too, but meaning may vary. Other teachings as well.

Gassho, J

STLahHi Jundo,

Does this part of the lotus sutra refer to the idea that suffering is created by the mind? Therefore, no suffering and no cause of suffering.

Gassho,
Guish.

Sent from my PAR-LX1M using Tapatalk

Jundo
03-30-2021, 06:12 PM
Hi Jundo,

Does this part of the lotus sutra refer to the idea that suffering is created by the mind? Therefore, no suffering and no cause of suffering.

Gassho,
Guish.

Sent from my PAR-LX1M using Tapatalk

It is the Heart Sutra. not the Lotus, and the basic point is the Emptiness of all Dharmas.

Gassho, J
STLah

StoBird
03-30-2021, 10:35 PM
Oh yes and thank you for reminding me, I have to read those again, starting with “Genjokoan” and this time read the along with the book club thread.

https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showthread.php?17078-Realizing-Genjokoan-Translation-and-Chapter-1

Does anyone want to join me?

Gassho,
Tom
Sat/Lah

Kenku
04-01-2021, 11:27 AM
In the Sivaka Sutta text quoted by Jundo above, though maybe not the actual words of the Buddha, is an often repeated theme of Buddhism i.e. why would you place the theories and ideas of others (or yourself) above your own experience of your life?

The Pali word is “Ehipassiko” = “Come and see for yourself ism”. I think it’s an important principle to keep in mind when studying Buddhist texts especially because most of us will be conditioned by our Western, Platonic culture in which an idea can be a truth.

Gassho,
Kenkū.

Sat today & lah.

Ryumon
04-01-2021, 11:49 AM
Oh yes and thank you for reminding me, I have to read those again, starting with “Genjokoan” and this time read the along with the book club thread.

https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showthread.php?17078-Realizing-Genjokoan-Translation-and-Chapter-1



I'm very tempted. I didn't read along when it was in the book club, but I have read the book, and it's one I'd like to read again. I think if we could get several people to do this simultaneously, it could be interesting. Anyone else?

Gassho,

Ryūmon

sat

Seikan
04-01-2021, 12:14 PM
I'm very tempted. I didn't read along when it was in the book club, but I have read the book, and it's one I'd like to read again. I think if we could get several people to do this simultaneously, it could be interesting. Anyone else?

Gassho,

Ryūmon

satI came late to the book club on Genjokoan, so I wasn't able to catch up last year. I would definitely be interested in a simultaneous read with others.

Gassho,
Seikan

-stlah-


Sent from my Pixel 4a (5G) using Tapatalk

Tairin
04-01-2021, 12:49 PM
Oh yes and thank you for reminding me, I have to read those again, starting with “Genjokoan” and this time read the along with the book club thread.

https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showthread.php?17078-Realizing-Genjokoan-Translation-and-Chapter-1

Does anyone want to join me?

Gassho,
Tom
Sat/Lah

I read it about two years ago but I would so again.

gassho2
Tairin
Sat today and lah

Nengei
04-01-2021, 01:14 PM
I came late to the book club on Genjokoan, so I wasn't able to catch up last year. I would definitely be interested in a simultaneous read with others.

Yes, please. Perhaps we could begin just as we complete the 108 Gates.

Gassho,
Nengei
Sat today. LAH.

StoBird
04-01-2021, 11:44 PM
Wonderful! Okay, it's a plan.[claps] If anyone knows where we can discuss the book let me know... I am open to joining forces each person with a "buddy" to discuss passages or my profile wall is open for it. Either way let me know when everyone is ready gassho1

Gassho,
Tom
SatLah

Nengei
04-02-2021, 02:34 AM
Wonderful! Okay, it's a plan.[claps] If anyone knows where we can discuss the book let me know...

We can start a new forum thread when we are ready.

Gassho,
Nengei
Sat today. LAH.

Onkai
04-02-2021, 12:37 PM
I would like to join the discussion of Realizing Genjokoan, too, if that is what this is about. Where will the new thread be? Will it be announced in this thread?

Gassho,
Onkai
Sat/lah

Inshin
04-02-2021, 04:31 PM
We can start a new forum thread when we are ready.

Gassho,
Nengei
Sat today. LAH.

Yes please. I was going through the old Genjokoan thread, but it's such a read that it is always worth going over.

Gassho
Sat

StoBird
04-02-2021, 08:01 PM
I would like to join the discussion of Realizing Genjokoan, too, if that is what this is about. Where will the new thread be? Will it be announced in this thread?

Gassho,
Onkai
Sat/lah

Yes to both questions.:)gassho1

Gassho,
Tom
SatLah

Jundo
04-03-2021, 03:31 AM
We can start a new forum thread when we are ready.

Gassho,
Nengei
Sat today. LAH.


Yes, I was just going to write that. Please do. gassho2 Lovely spontaneous group.

Gassho, Jundo

SATLah

Risho
04-03-2021, 05:17 PM
this would def be interesting; great idea! gassho1 My practice was going through a dry spell when we did it last time; Id love to participate

gassho

risho
-stlah

Nengei
04-03-2021, 07:37 PM
A thread has been started for our Realizing Genjokoan informal reading group. We will start the week of 11 April for anyone who wishes to join in. I will try to get the discussion going each week, but the group will otherwise be leaderless--no whip-cracking--and will depend on your participation. (https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showthread.php?18745-Informal-Reading-Group-REALIZING-GENJOKOAN-2021-Edition-Begins-Week-of-11-April-2021)

Gassho,
Nengei
Sat today. LAH.

Jundo
04-03-2021, 08:00 PM
A thread has been started for our Realizing Genjokoan informal reading group. We will start the week of 11 April for anyone who wishes to join in. I will try to get the discussion going each week, but the group will otherwise be leaderless--no whip-cracking--and will depend on your participation. (https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showthread.php?18745-Informal-Reading-Group-REALIZING-GENJOKOAN-2021-Edition-Begins-Week-of-11-April-2021)

Gassho,
Nengei
Sat today. LAH.

Here is the link for your group:

https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showthread.php?18745-Informal-Reading-Group-REALIZING-GENJOKOAN-2021-Edition-Begins-Week-of-11-April-2021

Gassho, J

STLah