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Thread: Anguttara Nikaya by Bhikkhu Bodhi

  1. #1

    Anguttara Nikaya by Bhikkhu Bodhi

    Hello all.
    I have a copy of this book and I know it's Theravadan and not Mahayana but would there be much in it that clashes with Zen teachings? I'm asking because I'm very new to Zen and don't want to confuse myself by reading it if that's the case.
    I'd imagine the words of the Buddha would still be of value but I'd like to hear the opinions of those who are more knowledgeable than myself.
    Thankyou in advance.

    Gassho.
    Rob.

    ST

  2. #2
    Hi Rob

    I am currently reading the Majjhima Nikāya in the same series, translated by Bhikkhu Nanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi.

    There is definitely a different emphasis to the teachings and anything involving meditation instruction will almost certainly be different to our shikantaza approach.

    I really enjoy the Pali Canon and the stories and teachings from there and consider it part of my overall training in Zen and Buddhism in general. However, I do assign it a much lesser priority than writings by masters such as Dogen and contemporary teachers of Zen whose words provide far more of an underpinning to how I actually practice.

    On the forum, we refer to teachers such as Dogen on a daily basis. The Pali Canon comes up much less frequently, although all of the basic ideas such as the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path are woven through our tradition.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    Last edited by Kokuu; 07-13-2019 at 01:53 PM.
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  3. #3
    Hi Rob

    My advice would be that if you are here at the Treeleaf Sangha (emphasis on Sangha this isn’t just some internet forum) then why not set aside all the other books, preconceptions and baggage you carry and focus on the teachings here? Jundo and the other priests are fantastic teachers/guides. There is a regular book club of books selected by Jundo for discussion here. There is a very large list of recommended books https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...REELEAF-SANGHA. There is plenty of other activities. Of course there is the weekly Zazenkai as well. Try embracing what is in front of you here.

    I may sound harsh but this advice reflects my own journey. I browsed and grazed through many books and readings never settling on anything. It really took dropping the intellectualizing, sitting with a teacher, and embracing practice for me to finally understand that I was chasing. By the way that teacher a local teacher prior to finding Treeleaf. You may be hoping to find some magic book but I’ll tell you the magic is right here in daily practice.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Tairin View Post
    Hi Rob

    My advice would be that if you are here at the Treeleaf Sangha (emphasis on Sangha this isn’t just some internet forum) then why not set aside all the other books, preconceptions and baggage you carry and focus on the teachings here? Jundo and the other priests are fantastic teachers/guides. There is a regular book club of books selected by Jundo for discussion here. There is a very large list of recommended books https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...REELEAF-SANGHA. There is plenty of other activities. Of course there is the weekly Zazenkai as well. Try embracing what is in front of you here.

    I may sound harsh but this advice reflects my own journey. I browsed and grazed through many books and readings never settling on anything. It really took dropping the intellectualizing, sitting with a teacher, and embracing practice for me to finally understand that I was chasing. By the way that teacher a local teacher prior to finding Treeleaf. You may be hoping to find some magic book but I’ll tell you the magic is right here in daily practice.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    Hi Tairin.
    Please don't worry about sounding harsh. It leaves no misconceptions. I can be the same but as I feel I'm at a turning point in my life, I'm trying to change how harsh I can be. Your suggestion of dropping my baggage, preconceptions etc is exactly what I'm trying to do but a lifetime of habits is not going to change overnight - however, I'm more aware of thinking them now and am trying to be more mindful.
    I will take your advice about sticking solely with this Sangha and will start reading Jundo's book recommendations.

    Gassho.
    Rob.

    ST.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Tairin View Post
    Hi Rob

    My advice would be that if you are here at the Treeleaf Sangha (emphasis on Sangha this isn’t just some internet forum) then why not set aside all the other books, preconceptions and baggage you carry and focus on the teachings here? Jundo and the other priests are fantastic teachers/guides. There is a regular book club of books selected by Jundo for discussion here. There is a very large list of recommended books https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...REELEAF-SANGHA. There is plenty of other activities. Of course there is the weekly Zazenkai as well. Try embracing what is in front of you here.

    I may sound harsh but this advice reflects my own journey. I browsed and grazed through many books and readings never settling on anything. It really took dropping the intellectualizing, sitting with a teacher, and embracing practice for me to finally understand that I was chasing. By the way that teacher a local teacher prior to finding Treeleaf. You may be hoping to find some magic book but I’ll tell you the magic is right here in daily practice.
    I disagree, and I agree with Kokuu. These are fundamental texts, and what they contain influenced Zen. I think there is much to be learned from them, but as zen practitioners, they certainly shouldn't be texts that are more important than Dogen or other zen masters.

    Gassho,

    Kirk
    I know nothing.

  6. #6
    Hi Rob and everyone,

    Well, I think that everyone above has a point!

    The Mahayana and Zen Buddhism (and Soto Zen Buddhism) are each certainly later evolutions in the blossoming of Buddhism. So, frankly, it is not unlike asking if you will learn about Jesus and being Baptist by reading the Torah, or about modern genetics by reading "The Origin of Species." Well, yes, but primarily for historical reasons. That does not mean not to read it, but to do so with historical context. Mahayana Buddhism developed in India when Buddhism took on a more "Buddha is everywhere and beyond time" rather "cosmic" interpretation of the Buddha's message, and Zen happened when Indian Buddhism came to China and encountered Chinese sensibilities such as Taoism and Confucianism.

    The Mahayanists, for about 2000 years, have said that those early "Suttas" contain a limited message meant by the Buddha only for those people who could not handle the full message contained in the rather wilder Mahayana "Sutras." The Zen folks added that we should not be intellectual prisoners of either the Suttas and Sutras, but should sit Zazen "beyond words" in order to bring both to life (although not ignoring them either).

    Really. both the Suttas and Sutras and Zen Teachings are just different fine expressions of the core messages of Buddhism expressed in varied ways in different times and cultures. Different paths for different walkers, and I would not say that one is better than another if best for that path walker.

    However, it would be a mistake to think that what is contained in that book which you are reading is "original" Buddhism and that the Mahayana or Zen came "later." That is really not the case either, and I wrote about that elsewhere ...

    One thing I would say about Indian and South Asian Buddhism: What is taught today as Theravada is --NOT-- "what the Buddha taught," nor is it particularly much older that the Mahayana and Northern Asian traditions. It is not simply a matter that the old Suttas were not written down for hundreds of years after the Buddha, because we can still extrapolate some of the most likely original teachings from the oldest sources. Instead, it is that the Theravada and other traditions no longer follow just those older sources, but rather, have added their own interpretations, traditions, Abhidhamma and other commentaries and later written Suttas into the mix (plus the changes of 19th century reformers like Ledi Sayadaw). There are a variety of local traditions mixed in, Suttas written even later than the earliest Mahayana Sutras and (most especially) Hindu and other influences that make the Theravada miles away from "what the Buddha likely taught." So, do not make the mistake of thinking that, by reading a Sutta or, especially, a Theravadan interpretation of a Sutta, that one is getting closer to Buddha's actual teachings. That is something that Theravadans like to say about their tradition, but it has no basis. They are neither "original" nor "reliable" (or, better said, no more or less reliable that any Buddhist teachings that help sentient beings find liberation). In fact, some of the oldest layer of Buddhist teachings may have a "Zenny" flavor in some ways (just by chance or common wisdom):

    https://tomdas.com/2015/06/01/early-buddhist-writings/
    One will also find that the old Suttas (like the newer Sutras) are quite varied, and often directly contradictory, in their Teachings, likely because they were put down on paper by different people with different views at different times.

    However, all that said, I so cherish those collections in English of the old Suttas published by Buddhist Text Society and others. One I really recommend to folks wishing to dive in historically (with all of the above in mind ) is "In the Buddha's Words (The Teachings of the Buddha)" (https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=...gbs_navlinks_s) by Bhikkhu Bodhi, an anthology of the "best of" the old Suttas by that fine translator. (What you are reading, the "Numerical Discourses," is just on small corner of the Suttas, which also include the Long, Short and Middle Length Discourses, the Vinaya and more).

    And one surprising thing I find is this: Many many of the oldest Suttas are perfectly in harmony with the later Zen message (especially when approached with that open mind through meditation). However, the footnotes by Bhikku Bodhi and the other Theravada translators sometimes "explaining" what those Suttas "mean" is sometimes quite different to me, with many of their own additions and viewpoints on what the Sutta is "actually saying" that I just don't find in the simplicity and purity of the original Sutta itself! In other words, read the Sutta, but go easy on those Theravadan footnotes!

    Finally, yes, to find out about Zen Practice, and specifically the Soto approach to Zen practice, we have our reading list of fine books and other materials centered on that:

    SUGGESTED BOOK & MEDIA LIST for TREELEAF SANGHA
    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...REELEAF-SANGHA

    As I often say: Tennis is a fine sport, and football is a fine sport, and both are played with a ball on the same ground (and groundless) ... but don't bring a tennis racket to a football game, or play tennis with cleats.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-14-2019 at 01:43 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    but a lifetime of habits is not going to change overnight
    I cannot disagree more. By carefully examining your thoughts you can notice how you keep reinforcing your beliefs. If you say you can or you say you can't; you're right. I strongly recommend Uchiyama Roshi's "Opening the Hand of Thought." I found one can truly amaze themselves by letting go. Remember: With your mind you make your world.

    Gssho, Shokai
    stlah
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    May we all grow together in our knowledge of the Dharma

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