March22012

The why and how of sutta study

'Others will be cruel; we shall not be cruel here': effacement should be practiced thus

'Others will kill living beings; we shall abstain from killing living beings here': effacement shall be practiced thus.

'Others will take what is not given; we shall abstain from taking what is not given here': effacement should be practiced thus.

I have fallen in love with suttas — in particular, with the Pali canon. It’s not that easy to explain. After all, the Pali canon, especially compared to, for instance, the Bible, seems vast and trackless. It’s hard to figure out where to start with it. And once you do start reading, the first thing you notice is how repetitious it can be. The second thing you notice is that the formulas of deference are, by modern standards, kind of sickening. And the third thing you notice is that the canon is rather dry. There’s no underlying plot to pull you along, the way the dramatic story of Jesus’ death and resurrection helps pull you through the gospels.

But I find something uplifting and refreshing in the Pali canon which I think is not found anywhere else: contact with the mind of the Buddha. There’s no doubt he was an extraordinary teacher. The very fact that the suttas have come down to us demonstrates his ability to reach into the hearts of his followers and transform them as individuals, but also his talent for building a durable social structure to continue his teachings beyond his death.

Reading the suttas makes me feel as if I am a living witness to that first generation of Buddhist life, to the formation of the sangha, to the first weaving of the three-fold cord of Buddha-dhamma-sangha.

What I would like to do on this tumblr is to form a group of students/teachers to explore the suttas and help each other make sense of them. I imagine this book as being something like a book club where members would agree on a sutta to study, each read the sutta, and come together to discuss it.

I hope that others might have the same interest!

February292012
“The way you speak to others can offer them joy, happiness, self-confidence, hope, trust, and enlightenment. Mindful speaking is a deep practice.”

Thich Nhat Hanh 

(via elige)

(Source: lucifelle, via parkstepp)

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