Hi again

Long time no see. My apologies to all readers if they feel like they have been stranded. Or really, not “feel like”, actually been stranded.

There is no very good reason for my absence, except that I have been focussing on other things. Specifically, I have been finishing a major project for SuttaCentral: a digital edition of I.B. Horner’s translation of the Pali Vinaya. As work on that continued, I really, really, wanted to get it done, and done well, and for that I have let other aspects of my digital life slip (unread emails: 325 and counting…)

Anyway, that is done now. Yesterday I finally got it together and sent it around to our team. So I am turning attention to a variety of other things that I have put on the backburner, including this blog. I will be playing around with new themes, in both form and content.

There is, of course, more to it than that. Part of the issue has been that I have been struggling with expression: I am not sure how to say what I think is most meaningful to say. I haven’t solved this, but I am willing to start trying.

For all those who have left comments, thanks, I will try to get around to answering them in the next little while, your patience is appreciated!

16 thoughts on “Hi again

  1. The Pali Vinaya on SuttaCentral — sounds great! I have always lamented the lack of a comprehensive and centralised Vinaya on the Internet.

    SuttaCentral is a truly innovative phenomenon and the definitive online resource for Pali suttas. I always refer others to suttas on SuttaCentral when discussing Buddhism. My favourite features are the definitions that pop up when you mouse over a Pali word, and the Bhikkhu Bodhi translations. We could always use more Bhikkhu Bodhi translations. I find that several suttas are lacking translations written by Bhikkhu Bodhi, but I guess that’s a matter of copyright. If you could get more of those, that would be awesome!

    • Oops, I’m not a monk — sorry if the Pali name lead you to believe so. Just someone who likes early Pali texts and the Vinaya. I just it because I like what it means and I’ve commented several times on your site before.

    • Oh no, I was looking forward to choosing that name when I ordained in Australia :(
      Oh well, Nibbido maybe? :D

  2. Dear Bhante,

    So glad to see you online again. :)

    Two questions to you today, ka.

    1. I’ve heard that laypeople are not supposed to ‘read’ monastic vinayas. Only monks or nuns can. Is this true? If not, why is this belief widespread? What could be a possible cause of this misunderstanding?

    2. I’m wondering if you would create a forum where we could ask you questions about suttas to give us some clarifications or point us to the relevant sutta(s)?

    Thank you so much for all the dhamma you’ve tried to teach us.

    With deepest gratitude and respect,

    Dheerayupa

    • Hi Dheerayupa,

      Good to be back!

      1. This is a widespread belief in Chinese and Tibetan circles; sometimes in Theravada too, although it does not seem to be so universal; but I may be wrong on that. There are certain specific restrictions about sharing Vinaya with laypeople that we find in the Vinaya itself; or example, lay people should not take part in the uposatha ceremony. This seems to have been the basis of the belief, although even a passing familiarity with any of the Vinaya texts shows that lay people were, in fact, well versed in what monastics should be doing. Evene Mahakassapa, in the First Council, says that the lay people are familiar with our training precepts. The real source of the belief is, like any religious restrictions on knowledge, to monopolize power and prevent criticism of the orthodoxy.

      2. As sutta forum: well, a good idea, but I don’t have time for it at the moment. Of course occasional questions are welcome here, but I mainly use this blog for the things I don’t talk about elsewhere, such as sutta classes.

    • Thank you, Bhante, for the answer for Question 1. Next time some Thai monks say that to me, I can tell them to go read the vinaya! hehe! :D

      As for the sutta forum, I was testing the water. :D I know you are busy. I believe that many serious sutta learners would like to have a place for discussion and beginners (like me) would like to ask advice on which sutta we are searching for, and thus it will be cool to have such a forum and perhaps you can suggest a way to get it going. :)

      With greatest respect,

      Dheerayupa

  3. Really like the new format–clear, simple & easy to read. Looking forward to your new posts.
    Many thanks for all your work on Sutta Central–can’t begin to express how grateful I am for it. I’ve referred several people to it, and everyone has greatly appreciated it.

  4. Hey Sujato
    When I study in the library at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Cambridge I often come across books from Miss Horner’s library. And even a couple of books inscribed from Dr conze to her. She was a remarkable woman. The decline of Pali and Buddhist Studies at Cambridge is sad given the lineage there. It will be very useful to have her Vinaya translation available electronically, thanks. The Vinaya is a whole other dimension of early Buddhism that has it’s own merits and points of interest. BTW I’ve just bought your books on sects and I’m finding it quite helpful in understanding the process of our early divisions.
    Regards, Jayarava

    • Thanks, and an interesting snippet of history. Do you know, she was Ajahn Amaro’s aunt? Apparently she was the eccentric one who no-one really spoke about! he didn’t find out till years later that she was a renowned scholar.

      It is curious that for a substantial period in the mid-20th century Buddhist studies were dominated by two women: I.B. Horner and C.A.F. Rhys Davids. These days Buddhist academia tends to be mainly male, especially Early Buddhist studies for some reason.

  5. “I am not sure how to say what I think is most meaningful to say. I haven’t solved this, but I am willing to start trying.”
    I am glad we didnt have to wait until you are sure Bhante, I mean, how long are we actually sure for in most instances anyway? I am not sure?

    • Thinking about what you said, I guess the uncertainty is deeper than I am uncomfortable with. I might give a sutta class and say I don’t know what this passage exactly means; but I’m pretty confident I’m not saying anything seriously harmful. But in this case, I think many good people would think its very harmful to talk about how lost we are. And I see their point, absolutely. And i think this is what has caused me a lot of hesitation.

    • Thanks for the response Bhante. You may have to excuse my ignorance or confusion :-) I am not fully understanding what you are meaning but the little that I do, seems to be an interesting topic for a blog or discussion in itself? As always, we all have different views and opinions and also a differing willingness to investigate and learn.
      Personally I find it very helpful to talk about with others how lost I am and to share these experiences and also share the experiences that helps us find our way. Sharing our humanity.
      As we know, we are all in this together (quote – Ben Lee!)

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