original buddhism

A forum for those wishing to discuss Buddhist history and teachings in the Western academic manner, referencing appropriate sources.
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Coëmgenu
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Re: original buddhism

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:57 pm

tomamundsen wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:"Early Buddhist Schisms" are not on doctrinal grounds.
I think this is the crux of the two perspectives. This fact leaves nebulous the "doctrinal" oneness of Early Buddhism, to a certain extend.

Contributors at SuttaCentral would have such different opinions on this thread. It is interesting to see what different communities say on this issue, given how "political" it is.
Well it's interesting. I thought the Mahayana narrative wasn't really that these other sutras existed in the human realm during the early period. I was under the impression that most Mahayana teachings (definitely tantras, but also most sutras) were taught by Shakyamuni in other realms. Or the ones that were taught in Jambudvipa were not preserved by humans and had to later be recovered from the other realms. Then these teachings entered the human realm at a later time. This would imply that the Mahayana narrative is not contradictory to the Theravada narrative. Am I mistaken?
Well, such narratives may be true or false, but modern scientific methods and perspectives are not prepared to test that claim.

When dealing with "Buddhist history" in these frameworks, it is largely to do with trying to retrace the historical movement of form and matter on the surface of the earth. What document went where. Which documents survived. What got written down (and what didn't, which is also very important, but alas, untestable).

Anything outside of that and "we" (assuming a theoretical scientist "we") simply can't test it, or I can't imagine how one would go about doing it "scientifically".
並畢竟空。並如來藏。並實相。非三 而三三而不三。非合非散而合而散。非非合非非散。不可一異而一異。
All three truths are ultimately empty, all are tathāgatagarbha, all are true aspect. Not three, they are three; three, they are not three. Neither combined nor separated, neither uncombined nor unseparated. Neither same nor different, yet in a sense same, and in a sense different.

夫三諦者。 天然之性徳也。 中諦者。 統一切法。 眞諦者。 泯一切法。 俗諦者。 立一切法。
The three truths. Heaven-sent natural characteristics. The middle truth unifies all dharmas. The ultimate truth demolishes all dharmas. The conventional truth establishes all dharmas.

摩訶止観始終心要Móhēzhǐguān, Shǐzhōngxīnyào.

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Re: original buddhism

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Thu Jul 27, 2017 10:38 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:Well, such narratives may be true or false, but modern scientific methods and perspectives are not prepared to test that claim.

When dealing with "Buddhist history" in these frameworks, it is largely to do with trying to retrace the historical movement of form and matter on the surface of the earth. What document went where. Which documents survived. What got written down (and what didn't, which is also very important, but alas, untestable).

Anything outside of that and "we" (assuming a theoretical scientist "we") simply can't test it, or I can't imagine how one would go about doing it "scientifically".
Yes, definitely. What I was noting is that I don't think I understand the argument about schisms going back earlier than what the Theravada narrative indicates. I don't think the Mahayana narrative disagrees with that history, does it? It's not the case that people are advocating that Mahayana sutras were propagated by other "secret" or unknown sects not involved in the early councils, right? Mahayana would agree with the historicity of the Buddhist councils and the canon at that point, right? Or no?

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Re: original buddhism

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Jul 27, 2017 10:56 pm

tomamundsen wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:Well, such narratives may be true or false, but modern scientific methods and perspectives are not prepared to test that claim.

When dealing with "Buddhist history" in these frameworks, it is largely to do with trying to retrace the historical movement of form and matter on the surface of the earth. What document went where. Which documents survived. What got written down (and what didn't, which is also very important, but alas, untestable).

Anything outside of that and "we" (assuming a theoretical scientist "we") simply can't test it, or I can't imagine how one would go about doing it "scientifically".
Yes, definitely. What I was noting is that I don't think I understand the argument about schisms going back earlier than what the Theravada narrative indicates. I don't think the Mahayana narrative disagrees with that history, does it? It's not the case that people are advocating that Mahayana sutras were propagated by other "secret" or unknown sects not involved in the early councils, right? Mahayana would agree with the historicity of the Buddhist councils and the canon at that point, right? Or no?
Oh no, I think what people are arguing vis-a-vis a "schismed original Buddhism" is that Buddhism may well be (more) diverse (than traditional narratives assume) at the level of the ur-teaching without "schism" on a formal level like the later vinaya schisms.

The historicity of some of these Buddhist councils is actually hotly debated though, makes for interesting reading.
並畢竟空。並如來藏。並實相。非三 而三三而不三。非合非散而合而散。非非合非非散。不可一異而一異。
All three truths are ultimately empty, all are tathāgatagarbha, all are true aspect. Not three, they are three; three, they are not three. Neither combined nor separated, neither uncombined nor unseparated. Neither same nor different, yet in a sense same, and in a sense different.

夫三諦者。 天然之性徳也。 中諦者。 統一切法。 眞諦者。 泯一切法。 俗諦者。 立一切法。
The three truths. Heaven-sent natural characteristics. The middle truth unifies all dharmas. The ultimate truth demolishes all dharmas. The conventional truth establishes all dharmas.

摩訶止観始終心要Móhēzhǐguān, Shǐzhōngxīnyào.

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Re: original buddhism

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:01 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
tomamundsen wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:Well, such narratives may be true or false, but modern scientific methods and perspectives are not prepared to test that claim.

When dealing with "Buddhist history" in these frameworks, it is largely to do with trying to retrace the historical movement of form and matter on the surface of the earth. What document went where. Which documents survived. What got written down (and what didn't, which is also very important, but alas, untestable).

Anything outside of that and "we" (assuming a theoretical scientist "we") simply can't test it, or I can't imagine how one would go about doing it "scientifically".
Yes, definitely. What I was noting is that I don't think I understand the argument about schisms going back earlier than what the Theravada narrative indicates. I don't think the Mahayana narrative disagrees with that history, does it? It's not the case that people are advocating that Mahayana sutras were propagated by other "secret" or unknown sects not involved in the early councils, right? Mahayana would agree with the historicity of the Buddhist councils and the canon at that point, right? Or no?
Oh no, I think what people are arguing vis-a-vis a "schismed original Buddhism" is that Buddhism may well be (more) diverse (than traditional narratives assume) at the level of the ur-teaching without "schism" on a formal level like the later vinaya schisms.

The historicity of some of these Buddhist councils is actually hotly debated though, makes for interesting reading.
I see. :thanks:

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Re: original buddhism

Post by Invokingvajras » Fri Jul 28, 2017 12:06 am

Indeed, the assumption that Theravada is the closest thing we have to "original Buddhism" is highly problematic. I would have to assume that the Sthavira nikāya and Mahāsāṃghika schools alone were significantly different enough from from their successive branches (what are now Theravada and the many forms of Mahayana), that they would be virtually unrecognizable to your run-of-the-mill Buddhist.
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Re: original buddhism

Post by Anonymous X » Fri Jul 28, 2017 5:12 am

Invokingvajras wrote:Indeed, the assumption that Theravada is the closest thing we have to "original Buddhism" is highly problematic. I would have to assume that the Sthavira nikāya and Mahāsāṃghika schools alone were significantly different enough from from their successive branches (what are now Theravada and the many forms of Mahayana), that they would be virtually unrecognizable to your run-of-the-mill Buddhist.
Also, I've read that the monastic form didn't come into being for a few hundreds of years after Sakyamuni's lifetime.

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Re: original buddhism

Post by Invokingvajras » Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:42 am

Anonymous X wrote: Also, I've read that the monastic form didn't come into being for a few hundreds of years after Sakyamuni's lifetime.
That's right. Permanent monastic dwellings weren't part of the lifestyle of the Buddha and disciples. To go forth meant to be literally homeless, wandering through forests and caves, away from society and immersed in the natural world as part of the practice. The vihara tended to be a temporary communal shelter during the rainy season, often on land donated by a wealthy patron. Over time, the nomadic lifestyle was largely abandoned. In China and Japan, the tradition of the pilgrimage would seem to hearken back to the time of the wandering mendicant.
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Re: original buddhism

Post by Anonymous X » Fri Jul 28, 2017 9:58 am

Invokingvajras wrote:
Anonymous X wrote: Also, I've read that the monastic form didn't come into being for a few hundreds of years after Sakyamuni's lifetime.
That's right. Permanent monastic dwellings weren't part of the lifestyle of the Buddha and disciples. To go forth meant to be literally homeless, wandering through forests and caves, away from society and immersed in the natural world as part of the practice. The vihara tended to be a temporary communal shelter during the rainy season, often on land donated by a wealthy patron. Over time, the nomadic lifestyle was largely abandoned. In China and Japan, the tradition of the pilgrimage would seem to hearken back to the time of the wandering mendicant.
In the book 'Greek Buddha', the author adresses the 'wandering' element of the ascetic:
"“It is at any rate certain that Buddha has been identified as Śākamuni ~ Śākyamuni “Sage of the Scythians” in all varieties of Buddhism from the beginning of the recorded Buddhist tradition to the present, and that much of what is thought to be known about him can be identified specifically with things Scythian.
Moreover, it must not be overlooked that we have no concrete datable evidence that any other wandering ascetics preceded the Buddha. The Scythians were nomads (from Greek νομάδες ‘wanderers in search of pasture, pastoralists’) who lived in the wilderness, and it is thus quite likely that Gautama himself introduced wandering asceticism to India, just as the Scythians had earlier invented mounted steppe nomadism.


And: “The earliest identifiable group living centers, even if they were saṃghārāmas (unlikely, since the stories about them are clearly ahistorical), are primitive affairs that can hardly be called “monasteries”, as pointed out by Schopen (2004: 219; 2007: 61; cf. Bronkhorst 2011), partly on the basis of the early donative inscriptions at Sāñcī, which—unlike later donative inscriptions—do not mention vihāras, indicating that the monks lived in villages. It is now clear that fully developed organized monasticism must have come first, and preceded any saṃghārāmas, but it developed in Central Asia, whence it was introduced to India and China in the Kushan period.”

This would place the beginnings of monasticism in the 1-2nd CE, 4-500 years after the Buddha's parinirvana. Early Buddhism must have looked quite different than the present forms it has taken.
Excerpt From: Beckwith, Christopher I. “Greek Buddha.”

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Re: original buddhism

Post by Invokingvajras » Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:06 pm

Anonymous X wrote:“Greek Buddha.”
One point of contention I see here is that the Indo-Scythians didn't migrate into the Indian subcontinent until the 2nd century BCE. This would place the Scythian Sakas several generations after the lifetime of the Buddha. There is also the fact (?) that the Shakyas and Koliyas existed interdependently, existing in a mixed albeit largely isolated system of families through intermarriage.

Peripatetic seekers also existed long before the time of Shakyamuni. Both Jains and Vedic traditions recognize the Parivrājaka lifestyle, that is the homeless wanderer. Hindu tradition seems to date the similar sannyasa practice to the sage Yājñavalkya (interestingly hailing from what is now northern Bihar) who lived around the 8th-7th centuries.
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Re: original buddhism

Post by Nyedrag Yeshe » Fri Jul 28, 2017 10:10 pm

Invokingvajras wrote:
Anonymous X wrote:“Greek Buddha.”
One point of contention I see here is that the Indo-Scythians didn't migrate into the Indian subcontinent until the 2nd century BCE. This would place the Scythian Sakas several generations after the lifetime of the Buddha. There is also the fact (?) that the Shakyas and Koliyas existed interdependently, existing in a mixed albeit largely isolated system of families through intermarriage.

Peripatetic seekers also existed long before the time of Shakyamuni. Both Jains and Vedic traditions recognize the Parivrājaka lifestyle, that is the homeless wanderer. Hindu tradition seems to date the similar sannyasa practice to the sage Yājñavalkya (interestingly hailing from what is now northern Bihar) who lived around the 8th-7th centuries.
Yes, and accord to Jainism their wanderer/medicant ascetic tradition is much older than the Buddhist one. Going as back as Rishabhanath, who lived in the beginning of the current era. While the Tirthankara Parshvanath lived 300~200 Years before Buddha's time and considered by some historians to be a historical figure!
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ओं पद्मोष्णीष विमले हूँ फट । ओं हनुफशभरहृदय स्वाहा॥
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Re: original buddhism

Post by Anonymous X » Sat Jul 29, 2017 5:49 am

Invokingvajras wrote: One point of contention I see here is that the Indo-Scythians didn't migrate into the Indian subcontinent until the 2nd century BCE. This would place the Scythian Sakas several generations after the lifetime of the Buddha. There is also the fact (?) that the Shakyas and Koliyas existed interdependently, existing in a mixed albeit largely isolated system of families through intermarriage.
One interesting question comes up is the reference to the Buddha as 'Sakyamuni', identifying him as a foreigner and of the Saka clan of Scythians. Since there is no factual, datable source of the Buddha's birth, the dates used are by inference. The book argues that no Indian would be called a 'foreigner'. Even though the historical records say the Scythians migrated into India in 2nd C. BCE, there must have been contact, trading, nomadic migrations on a smaller level, etc. taking place much earlier.
Invokingvajras wrote:Peripatetic seekers also existed long before the time of Shakyamuni. Both Jains and Vedic traditions recognize the Parivrājaka lifestyle, that is the homeless wanderer. Hindu tradition seems to date the similar sannyasa practice to the sage Yājñavalkya (interestingly hailing from what is now northern Bihar) who lived around the 8th-7th centuries.
It seems the Scythian/Persians probably popularized this lifestyle of peripatetic wanderers, but I would think that wanderers have probably been around even in prehistory. But, one of the more interesting points of this book show how the Scythian philosophers used logic and reason very similarly to the way the Buddha taught. In other words, the influence on the Buddha by Central Asian philosphers, was very different than the indigenous Indian philosophy, and the subsequent influence going back to Greece and Persia from the contact of Pyrrho, who traveled with Alexander, with the Buddhist sages in the 3rd century BCE. In any case, very interesting reading.

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Re: original buddhism

Post by Anonymous X » Sat Jul 29, 2017 6:01 am

Found this snippet after my previous post. "Trevaskis put the date of Scythian migrations into India approximately from 600 BC to 600 AD. Trevaskis wrote, "Their (Scythians') successive onslaughts proved the ruin of Assyria, and soon after the fall of Nineveh, BC 606, a vast horde of them burst into Punjab."

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Re: original buddhism

Post by LastLegend » Sat Jul 29, 2017 6:04 am

Buddha only resides in Tibet. Bite that!
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

Bodhidharma [my translation]
―I come to the East to transmit this clear knowing mind without constructing any dharma―

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Re: original buddhism

Post by tingdzin » Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:30 am

Don't take Prof. Beckwith's take on this as gospel. There are a lot of dubious assumptions in "Greek Buddha", and he himself says he wanted to start a dialogue rather than provide a last word. Still, it's useful to have someone casting doubt on the received tradition.

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Re: original buddhism

Post by Anonymous X » Sat Jul 29, 2017 1:40 pm

tingdzin wrote:Don't take Prof. Beckwith's take on this as gospel. There are a lot of dubious assumptions in "Greek Buddha", and he himself says he wanted to start a dialogue rather than provide a last word. Still, it's useful to have someone casting doubt on the received tradition.
Of course. We shouldn't be taking anything as 'gospel'.

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Re: original buddhism

Post by Invokingvajras » Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:49 pm

Anonymous X wrote:We shouldn't be taking anything as 'gospel'.
Hmm. The term "gospel" is derived from the Old English "gōdspel" (gōd "good" + spel "news"), directly translated from the Koine Greek εὐαγγέλιον "euangélion" (εὖ eû "good" + ἄγγελος ángelos "messenger" + -ιον -ion diminutive suffix).

It's been argued by scholars such as K. R. Norman that the Buddhist use of the term "sutra" is an incorrect Sanskritization of the word "sutta." Rather, it's possible that the term was meant to be translated as "sūkta" which means "well said" or "good speech."

Just pointing that out. Anyhow, a dialogue that draws attention to Greco-Buddhism certainly shouldn't be dismissed. There's a lot going on in that field.
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Re: original buddhism

Post by Strive » Sat Jul 29, 2017 8:51 pm

wichever buddhism works for u is the original buddhism :smile:

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Re: original buddhism

Post by Grigoris » Sun Jul 30, 2017 8:02 am

Invokingvajras wrote:Hmm. The term "gospel" is derived from the Old English "gōdspel" (gōd "good" + spel "news"), directly translated from the Koine Greek εὐαγγέλιον "euangélion" (εὖ eû "good" + ἄγγελος ángelos "messenger" + -ιον -ion diminutive suffix)
In modern Greek the term "αγγελεία" just means announcement. The word "άγγελος" is from Ancient Greek (ie predates Christianity) and means "message bearer" (as you correctly describe).

So the term "ευαγγέλιον" can be translated as good, pleasant or positive news/message.
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Re: original buddhism

Post by Stefos » Sat Aug 19, 2017 10:09 pm

Greetings loved ones!

To get back to the topic on hand............Original Buddhism.

Positing a question like this in the Tibetan Buddhist forums will get you the response you got re. "Many Buddhas, Many Teachings" per se.
If you posted this elsewhere, you might have gotten an easier answer. :)

The sentiment "Many Buddhas, Many Teachings" is wrong..........1 Buddhadharma only with various skillful means of teaching it, not 18 or 24.

When one examines the Pali Nikayas and the Chinese writings, they are very similar.
The Chinese versions not adding extra things in but being very sharp to the point of practice or the discussions
Lord Buddha had.

So, to answer the question posited here "What is Original Buddhism?" requires one to ask perhaps What was Shakyamuni's earliest
recorded teaching regarding the Dharma?
The Pali texts and Chinese texts reflect that together however they are culled from later sources.

The Original Buddhism of Lord Buddha can't be found in written manuscripts or palm leaves simply because those things disintegrated.

An interesting thing to note regarding Emptiness........The Mahayana schools extrapolated upon Emptiness. Nagarjuna is not "B.C." Buddhism.
The Lord Buddha did NOT give an extensive meaning over what he meant as Emptiness if one looks at the Pali & Chinese sources actually.

This is the reason one should study what one is being taught, particularly given the general Buddhist chaos existing in the world.

Stefos............The Lone Dzogchenpa and now Mahamudra practitioner too

P.S. Don't hate on me for telling it like is
Last edited by Stefos on Sat Aug 19, 2017 10:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: original buddhism

Post by Stefos » Sat Aug 19, 2017 10:11 pm

Strive wrote:wichever buddhism works for u is the original buddhism :smile:
Hi sir, miss, ma'am,

No, this is not true.

Although the sentiment you have and wish behind the statement you made is good.

What you say is tantamount to saying "Any old Buddhist school or teaching is what Shakyamuni Buddha taught."

Stefos.................TLD and now Mahamudra practitioner too

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