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Budhism - System of Pali Texts

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1 Budhism - System of Pali Texts on Thu Jul 26, 2012 7:54 pm

Phueng

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Buddhist teachings and stories have been conveyed through the strength of oral traditions and the care of (palm leaf) manuscripts. The name of the Buddhist canon, the Tipitaka or “Three Baskets,” presumably comes from an early filing system: Putting the three parts of the canon into separate baskets. One was reserved for the rules or discipline (vinaya), one for the reported teachings and sermons (sutta), and one for the psychological details of the teachings (abhidhamma). While ideally monks should be well versed in all three of these dimensions, Buddhist tradition and subsequent curricula for monks focused on certain parts of the canon over others. Observers are often left to wonder which basket holds the most weight.
===============================================
Vin DN MN SN AN KN
Khp Dhp Ud Iti Sn Vv Pv Thag Thig Nm Miln
===============================================
The Tipitaka (Pali ti, "three," + pitaka, "baskets"), or Pali canon, is the collection of primary Pali language texts which form the doctrinal foundation of Theravada Buddhism. The Tipitaka and the paracanonical Pali texts (commentaries, chronicles, etc.) together constitute the complete body of classical Theravada texts.

The Pali canon is a vast body of literature: in English translation the texts add up to thousands of printed pages. Most (but not all) of the Canon has already been published in English over the years. Although only a small fraction of these texts are available on this website, this collection can be a good place to start.

The three divisions of the Tipitaka are:
Vinaya Pitaka
The collection of texts concerning the rules of conduct governing the daily affairs within the Sangha — the community of bhikkhus (ordained monks) and bhikkhunis (ordained nuns). Far more than merely a list of rules, the Vinaya Pitaka also includes the stories behind the origin of each rule, providing a detailed account of the Buddha's solution to the question of how to maintain communal harmony within a large and diverse spiritual community.
Sutta Pitaka
The collection of suttas, or discourses, attributed to the Buddha and a few of his closest disciples, containing all the central teachings of Theravada Buddhism. (More than one thousand sutta translations are available on this website.) The suttas are divided among five nikayas (collections):
Digha Nikaya — the "long collection"
Majjhima Nikaya — the "middle-length collection"
Samyutta Nikaya — the "grouped collection"
Anguttara Nikaya — the "further-factored collection"
Khuddaka Nikaya — the "collection of little texts":
Khuddakapatha
Dhammapada
Udana
Itivuttaka
Sutta Nipata
Vimanavatthu
Petavatthu
Theragatha
Therigatha
Jataka
Niddesa
Patisambhidamagga
Apadana
Buddhavamsa
Cariyapitaka
Nettippakarana (included only in the Burmese edition of the Tipitaka)
Petakopadesa ( " " )
Milindapañha ( " " )
Abhidhamma Pitaka
The collection of texts in which the underlying doctrinal principles presented in the Sutta Pitaka are reworked and reorganized into a systematic framework that can be applied to an investigation into the nature of mind and matter.

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2 Vinaya Pitaka The Basket of the Discipline on Thu Jul 26, 2012 7:59 pm

Phueng

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he Vinaya Pitaka, the first division of the Tipitaka, is the textual framework upon which the monastic community (Sangha) is built. It includes not only the rules governing the life of every Theravada bhikkhu (monk) and bhikkhuni (nun), but also a host of procedures and conventions of etiquette that support harmonious relations, both among the monastics themselves, and between the monastics and their lay supporters, upon whom they depend for all their material needs.

When the Buddha first established the Sangha, the community initially lived in harmony without any codified rules of conduct. As the Sangha gradually grew in number and evolved into a more complex society, occasions inevitably arose when a member would act in an unskillful way. Whenever one of these cases was brought to the Buddha's attention, he would lay down a rule establishing a suitable punishment for the offense, as a deterrent to future misconduct. The Buddha's standard reprimand was itself a powerful corrective:

It is not fit, foolish man, it is not becoming, it is not proper, it is unworthy of a recluse, it is not lawful, it ought not to be done. How could you, foolish man, having gone forth under this Dhamma and Discipline which are well-taught, [commit such and such offense]?... It is not, foolish man, for the benefit of un-believers, nor for the increase in the number of believers, but, foolish man, it is to the detriment of both unbelievers and believers, and it causes wavering in some.

— The Book of the Discipline, Part I, by I.B. Horner (London: Pali Text Society, 1982), pp. 36-37.

The monastic tradition and the rules upon which it is built are sometimes naïvely criticized — particularly here in the West — as irrelevant to the "modern" practice of Buddhism. Some see the Vinaya as a throwback to an archaic patriarchy, based on a hodge-podge of ancient rules and customs — quaint cultural relics that only obscure the essence of "true" Buddhist practice. This misguided view overlooks one crucial fact: it is thanks to the unbroken lineage of monastics who have consistently upheld and protected the rules of the Vinaya for almost 2,600 years that we find ourselves today with the luxury of receiving the priceless teachings of Dhamma. Were it not for the Vinaya, and for those who continue to keep it alive to this day, there would be no Buddhism.

It helps to keep in mind that the name the Buddha gave to the spiritual path he taught was "Dhamma-vinaya" — the Doctrine (Dhamma) and Discipline (Vinaya) — suggesting an integrated body of wisdom and ethical training. The Vinaya is thus an indispensable facet and foundation of all the Buddha's teachings, inseparable from the Dhamma, and worthy of study by all followers — lay and ordained, alike. Lay practitioners will find in the Vinaya Pitaka many valuable lessons concerning human nature, guidance on how to establish and maintain a harmonious community or organization, and many profound teachings of the Dhamma itself. But its greatest value, perhaps, lies in its power to inspire the layperson to consider the extraordinary possibilities presented by a life of true renunciation, a life lived fully in tune with the Dhamma.

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3 Sutta Pitaka The Basket of Suttas on Thu Jul 26, 2012 8:02 pm

Phueng

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The Sutta Pitaka, the second division of the Tipitaka, consists of more than 10,000 suttas (discourses) delivered by the Buddha and his close disciples during and shortly after the Buddha's forty-five year teaching career, as well as many additional verses by other members of the Sangha.

The suttas are grouped into five nikayas, or collections:

Digha Nikaya
The "Long" Discourses (Pali digha = "long") consists of 34 suttas, including the longest ones in the Canon. The subject matter of these suttas ranges widely, from colorful folkloric accounts of the beings inhabiting the deva worlds (DN 20) to down-to-earth practical meditation instructions (DN 22), and everything in between. Recent scholarship suggests that a distinguishing trait of the Digha Nikaya may be that it was "intended for the purpose of propaganda, to attract converts to the new religion." [1]
Majjhima Nikaya
The "Middle-length" Discourses (Pali majjhima = "middle") consists of 152 suttas of varying length. These range from some of the most profound and difficult suttas in the Canon (e.g., MN 1) to engaging stories full of human pathos and drama that illustrate important principles of the law of kamma (e.g., MN 57, MN 86).
Samyutta Nikaya
The "Grouped" Discourses (Pali samyutta = "group" or "collection") consists of 2,889 relatively short suttas grouped together by theme into 56 samyuttas.
Anguttara Nikaya
The "Further-factored" Discourses (Pali anga = "factor" + uttara = "beyond," "further") consists of several thousand short suttas, grouped together into eleven nipatas according to the number of items of Dhamma covered in each sutta. For example, the Eka-nipata ("Book of the Ones") contains suttas about a single item of Dhamma; the Duka-nipata ("Book of the Twos") contains suttas dealing with two items of Dhamma, and so on.
Khuddaka Nikaya
The "Division of Short Books" (Pali khudda = "smaller," "lesser"), consisting of fifteen books (eighteen in the Burmese edition):

Khuddakapatha — The Short Passages
Dhammapada — The Path of Dhamma
Udana — Exclamations
Itivuttaka — The Thus-saids
Sutta Nipata — The Sutta Collection
Vimanavatthu — Stories of the Celestial Mansions
Petavatthu — Stories of the Hungry Ghosts
Theragatha — Verses of the Elder Monks
Therigatha — Verses of the Elder Nuns
Jataka — Birth Stories
Niddesa — Exposition
Patisambhidamagga — Path of Discrimination
Apadana — Stories
Buddhavamsa — History of the Buddhas
Cariyapitaka — Basket of Conduct
Nettippakarana (Burmese Tipitaka only)
Petakopadesa (Burmese Tipitaka only)
Milindapañha — Questions of Milinda (Burmese Tipitaka only)

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4 Abhidhamma Pitaka The Basket of Abhidhamma on Thu Jul 26, 2012 8:06 pm

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The seven books of the Abhidhamma Pitaka, the third division of the Tipitaka, offer an extraordinarily detailed analysis of the basic natural principles that govern mental and physical processes. Whereas the Sutta and Vinaya Pitakas lay out the practical aspects of the Buddhist path to Awakening, the Abhidhamma Pitaka provides a theoretical framework to explain the causal underpinnings of that very path. In Abhidhamma philosophy the familiar psycho-physical universe (our world of "trees" and "rocks," "I" and "you") is distilled to its essence: an intricate web of impersonal phenomena and processes unfolding at an inconceivably rapid pace from moment to moment, according to precisely defined natural laws.

According to tradition, the essence of the Abhidhamma was formulated by the Buddha during the fourth week after his Enlightenment.[1] Seven years later he is said to have spent three consecutive months preaching it in its entirety in one of the deva realms, before an audience of thousands of devas (including his late mother, the former Queen Maya), each day briefly commuting back to the human realm to convey to Ven. Sariputta the essence of what he had just taught.[2] Sariputta mastered the Abhidhamma and codified it into roughly its present form. Although parts of the Abhidhamma were recited at the earlier Buddhist Councils, it wasn't until the Third Council (ca. 250 BCE) that it became fixed into its present form as the third and final Pitaka of the canon.[3]

Despite its relatively late entrance into the Canon, the Abhidhamma stands as an essential pillar of classical Theravada Buddhist thought. Its significance does, however, vary considerably across regional and cultural boundaries. In Thai Buddhism, for example, the Abhidhamma (and, for that matter, many of the Commentaries as well) play a relatively minor role in Buddhist doctrine and practice. In Sri Lanka and Myanmar (Burma), however, they hold the same venerated status as the Vinaya and Sutta Pitakas themselves. The modern Burmese approach to the teaching and practice of Satipatthana meditation, in particular, relies heavily on an Abhidhammic interpretation of meditative experience. Regardless of the Abhidhamma's position on the shelf of Buddhist canonical texts, the astonishing detail with which it methodically constructs a quasi-scientific model of mind (enough, by far, to make a modern systems theorist or cognitive scientist gasp in awe), insures its place in history as a monumental feat of intellectual genius.

The seven books

The Abhidhamma Pitaka is divided into seven books, although it is the first (Dhammasangani) and last (Patthana) that together lay out the essence of Abhidhamma philosophy. The seven books are:

I. Dhammasangani ("Enumeration of Phenomena").
This book enumerates all the paramattha dhamma (ultimate realities) to be found in the world. According to one such enumeration these amount to:
52 cetasikas (mental factors), which, arising together in various combination, give rise to any one of...
...89 different possible cittas (states of consciousness)
4 primary physical elements, and 23 physical phenomena derived from them
Nibbana
II. Vibhanga ("The Book of Treatises").
This book continues the analysis of the Dhammasangani, here in the form of a catechism.
III. Dhatukatha ("Discussion with Reference to the Elements").
A reiteration of the foregoing, in the form of questions and answers.
IV. Puggalapaññatti ("Description of Individuals").
Somewhat out of place in the Abhidhamma Pitaka, this book contains descriptions of a number of personality-types.
V. Kathavatthu ("Points of Controversy").
Another odd inclusion in the Abhidhamma, this book contains questions and answers that were compiled by Moggaliputta Tissa in the 3rd century BCE, in order to help clarify points of controversy that existed between the various "Hinayana" schools of Buddhism at the time.
VI. Yamaka ("The Book of Pairs").
This book is a logical analysis of many concepts presented in the earlier books. In the words of Mrs. Rhys Davids, an eminent 20th century Pali scholar, the ten chapters of the Yamaka amount to little more than "ten valleys of dry bones."
VII. Patthana ("The Book of Relations").
This book, by far the longest single volume in the Tipitaka (over 6,000 pages in the Siamese edition), describes the 24 paccayas, or laws of conditionality, through which the dhammas interact. These laws, when applied in every possible permutation with the dhammas described in the Dhammasangani, give rise to all knowable experience.

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