Get the stuff out of the way, let the Dhamma shine

The New SuttaCentral

In recent weeks I’ve been working hard on the revamped SuttaCentral. Not quite ready for prime time yet, but it won’t be long. SuttaCentral has for several years been the only place on the web you can get reliable and comprehensive data on Sutta correspondences: how to find out whether there are any other versions of a Sutta, and where and what they are. It’s rapidly becoming much more than that, and in future posts I’ll talk about some of the great innovations we’ve put together.

One of the biggest changes is the inclusion of texts on our site itself. In the past we merely linked to texts hosted elsewhere. That means we have full control over the presentation and markup, and can integrate the texts in ways never before possible.

The Upāyikā

Suddenly, all sorts of new things are coming together. One exciting development is the appearance of brand new translations by Sāmaṇerī Dhammadinnā (ex Giuliana Martini) of the important Tibetan work, the Abhidharmakośopāyikānāmaṭīkā, which she refers to more succinctly as the Upāyikā. This is one of the few Tibetan texts that contains substantial translations of Suttas from the early Āgamas. Previously the only substantial work on this text has been in Japanese. Now Sāmaṇerī Dhammadinnā has undertaken a series of translations with detailed notes and commentary, and has graciously allowed SuttaCentral to host the text. In keeping with our focus on making accessible the actual texts, we will just present the translated Āgama Sutta portions, and will link to the full essays.

The Upāyikā contains the full text of the many (hundreds?) of passages referred to in Vasubandhu’s famous Abhidharmakośa. It has long been known among scholars of early Buddhism, but we have been ignorant of the detailed contents. Now, thanks to the patient, detailed, careful work of Sāmaṇerī Dhammadinnā, we can all read these precious teachings.

Cut by numbers

But when I was reading her essay, I have a little hiccup moment. Nothing to do with the translation or the essay: I stumbled over the reference system for the texts.

Each translation is given a number, such as Up 9001. When I saw this, I did a double take. What, there’s over 9000 quotations in this book? I knew it was extensive, but that’s a bit much! I was confused, and didn’t know how to interpret the numbers. I looked through the essay and notes, but couldn’t find any explanation. So I emailed Sāmaṇerī Dhammadinnā, and got the answer. It was explained deep within a nearly page-long footnote:

“… the quotation number as established in Honjō 1984 and successive supplementations in his publications (for example, “Up 9001”, which stands for quotation number 1 in chapter IX of the Abhidharmakośabhāṣya and Upāyikā)…”

Problem solved, no big deal. But somehow this little detail sparked a connection with many other details that I have encountered in my recent work on SuttaCentral. It made it clear for me all the countless ways we, as Buddhist scholars, obscure the work we should be illuminating.

At the time of reading the translations, I was inspired, excited. This is an amazing thing! That such teachings could have survived over thousands of years; transmitted in India in countless generations, then brought to remote, forbidding Tibet and rendered in the local tongue by Śamathadeva, an expert scholar, to be preserved, copied and passed down to us. And now, translated into English so we can all see, once more, the heart of the Dhamma beating in the Suttas.

And then a little reference number changed my emotions from excitement to confusion, from inspiration to doubt, without me even noticing. Suddenly, instead of focussing on the teaching, I was focussing on understanding the reference number. Sure, only a little thing. I got over it. The point is, I shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

What went wrong? Basically, the reference system ignores conventions. Chapter 9, section 1 should be referenced as “9.1”, not “9001”. This referencing method is simple, informative (because it clearly differentiates between chapter and section), and is used in millions of documents. It is so basic that it’s the default method for numbering “chapter/section” in every software for structured documents, like word processors or LaTeX.

Unconventions

So what’s the difference? Who cares? Once you know the method, you can find what you want, so big deal.

The big deal is that we shouldn’t have to relearn the method. There is already a method, time-honoured and worn smooth by custom and usage. It works fine. And when we use it, it vanishes. If I had seen “Up 9.1” I would not have even noticed it. It is there when I need it, and simply disappears when I don’t.

Think about the road signs, the warning notices, the nutrition information on food. All this structured data is presented in consistent, clear formats so that you can immediately recognise it and use it when you need it without having to think about it. If you have to think, “Is that a speed limit or a no-parking sign?”, it’s failed already.

So why use this unconventional method? Because it was established by the pioneer scholar in this text, Honjō Yoshifumi. This is standard in scholarly circles: keep consistency with previous work. Which is of course a good thing on the whole, but it does result in the perpetuation of outdated data (like the absurd practice of referring to Pali texts by reference to the volume and page of the century-old, often poorly edited editions of the Pali Text Society). Why did Honjō use this method? I have no idea. Maybe they do things differently in Japan.

People matter

Do we really need to keep this consistency? It will only ever be noticed by that subset of sentient beings who are a) human, b) scholars of early Buddhism, and c) fluent in Japanese and English. Not, I suspect, a double-digit audience. On the other hand, there are many people who would be interested to read these in Sāmaṇerī Dhammadinnā’s excellent, lucid translation. How many? Thousands, at least, probably much more. So why not think about those thousands instead of the tiny handful of professionals?

This is why the Buddha said he did not transgress the conventions of the world: by using conventions properly, they fade into the background so we can focus on what matters.

I know, I know! Why get worked up about something so small? Because, as I suggested earlier, this is just one of a million similar details. The more I work on this material, the more I realise just how abrasive the Buddhist scholarly method is. It’s death by a thousand papercuts. Arcane terminology; massive footnotes; obscure references; dead languages; paywalled journals; pedantic explanations of the obvious and unstated assumption of the unobvious; and the pervasive sense of a dialogue between scholars, not a dialogue with people actually interested in Dhamma.

All this, and much more, is just grit in the gears. Every Pali term is a cypher creating confusion in every single person who reads it (apart from Pali scholars). Every reference number is a meaningless string of symbols unless you are familiar with the field. As long as you place this stuff in the foreground, you are having a conversation between experts. Which, of course, needs to happen. It’s just that it shouldn’t be the only conversation. An outsider who listens to this conversation feels confused and excluded, and, unless they are unusually persistent, they will just give up.

Smooth like butter

We should get the stuff out of the way. Someone who wants to read the Buddha’s words should not have to learn referencing systems, Pali, and abbreviations. They should just get to what they want seamlessly and intuitively.

I was invited for a meal with a very kind and warm Vietnamese family the other day. The kids were playing with iPads. One was very young, I don’t know, maybe 4. I watched how they interacted with the screen, with each other. How intuitive it is! They just pick it up, doing complex tasks without even trying. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could bring that kind of experience to something profoundly meaningful, like, say, the words of the greatest spiritual teacher ever?

These things don’t happen by accident. They come because the engineers at Google, Apple, Facebook, the gaming companies, or wherever, do their work, and then get out of the way. They know it’s not about the code, it’s about the experience. So they sweat every tiny detail until the code disappears.

People use these things because they have a positive emotional response: they like it. And when you get that kind of engagement, you don’t have to make someone do it. If anything, you have to make them stop.

We should give at least as much time and care and attention to presenting the Buddha’s words as a coder gives to a game. A reader should just read. That’s hard enough, and it’s simply unreasonable to expect more.

Who reads?

A survey of Americans showed that 19% read the Bible daily. Daily. And this was seen by Christians as a worrisome sign of declining religiosity. They asked, “Why don’t all of us read the Bible every day?”

How many Buddhists read the Suttas every day? 1%? Frankly, I doubt if 1% of Buddhists have read any Suttas ever. Why is that? Because the Bible is inherently better, more compelling as scripture? I don’t think so. I think it’s because we haven’t tried. Because we get lazy and complacent and used to speaking to our little circle. Because we don’t have the vision to imagine things could be different.

There’s no great secret here, nothing mysterious. Just paying the same kind of careful attention to every detail in presenting the texts as the scholars have in preparing them.

A little faith

Dhamma is inherently compelling. We just need to get out of the way. The Buddha didn’t say, “MN39.4, note 17”. He said, “I teach for one who feels!” As his students, we should be letting people hear his words, not ours. SuttaCentral, even the new edition, is very far from realising this ideal. But one step at a time.

So, let’s get to work. You tell me: what can we do to make the experience of reading the Suttas better? What’s your papercut? What’s that moment when you tried, but stumbled over something you didn’t immediately understand, and then you gave up?

Looking back over this essay, I can see how I am not yet practising what I preach. My sentences are full of Pali or Sanskrit names and terms, and assumed ideas. I’m leaving them there as evidence for the prosecution. I’m guilty as charged. But, your honour, I really want to change! I promise I’ll be better next time. But I’m a hopeless addict. I just can’t let go of my Pali, not by myself anyway. I need your support.

43 thoughts on “Get the stuff out of the way, let the Dhamma shine

  1. I think you already put your finger on one of the key obstacles– missing or inconsistent citations. A question came up elsewhere today concerning the quote “Just as a goldsmith assays gold by rubbing, cutting and burning, so should you examine my words,” which was uncited. A bit of digging around led to the Tibetan *sTug-po bkod-pa’i mdo*, but to get from there to the Taisho versions of the *Ghanavyuhasutra* took a fair number of hops.

    Although Sutta Central is wonderful for comparing the Pali canon to the Chinese and Tibetan, and Muller’s Tohuko index is wonderful for comparing the Tibetan and Korean/Chinese, there’s still no comprehensive resource we can turn to for cross-canon comparisons.

    But overall, the biggest obstacle by far is the lack of English translations. We’re in reasonably good shape in terms of the Pali canon (although a few parts are missing, and a fair bit is only found in antiquated translations), but only small chunks of the Chinese and Tibetan canons are available in English.

    • Thanks, Michael. I could not agree more, the main obstacle is lack of translations. Fortunately there are some great developments in that area, which we will announce on SuttaCentral soon.

      But still, we only aim to cover the early texts, so there is much left for others to do.

  2. Dear Sujato,

    You bring up some important points and I welcome the discussion.

    You seem to imply that one of the things that needs to ‘get out of the way’ is the Pali. On that point, I fully disagree. When I am reading different translations, comments, even your blog, I must cross reference on the Pali. I don’t mind reading English terminology but if I really want to understand deeply, compare against other material, look up the primary source, only the Pali is normative.

    I’m no scholar, but twenty English terms often overlapping for such individual concepts as consciousness, thinking, thing, teaching, creations, impermanence, action, all, existing, to be, memory, mindfulness, knowledge, view, self are simply confusing. The Christian bible does not suffer this problem simply because the Christian terminology does not matter. The bible is not a user manual, but the suttas are subtle, profound, and difficult for those of us with still some dust in our eyes. The four noble truths present the scientific method and as such much be accurately presented.

    A scholar or translator who for example claims there is no thinking in the first knowledge can only be falsified if he properly tags his arbitrary English terms with the Pali.

    It is a matter of degree and experience: elegant presentation and tools. For a beginner, the Pali and footnotes may be too much, for any serious practitioner only the Pali can be trusted. We do not need to decide between dumbing things down or by contrast overly annotate a translation. It is not difficult to provide both: Hide what is not necessary at task but make it available for those who need the extra annotation.

    I welcome high quality centralized resources, but I believe physical books have cornered that use case. On the web we really want collaboration and dissemination through semantic decentralized suttas. Let the centralized sources present the tools not monopolise content.

    Cheers,
    Alex

    • Hi Alex,

      Thanks so much, some great ideas there. Let me respond.

      I think it would be a fascinating exercise to take something like the current SuttaCentral and replace all the Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese words with, say, Klingon. Then show it to a bunch of Buddhist scholars and see what they make of it. That’s the experience that most people will have. Each foreign word is essentially a meaningless string of random signs, a creator of confusion not clarity. So: get it out of the way.

      But that is the great thing about the web, and about having a resource like SuttaCentral where the backbone of the site is the original texts themselves. We keep the Pali (or Sanskrit or Tibetan or whatever) there, ready to be evoked at a moment’s notice, but not intrusive when it is not. I am thinking (in spirit) of modern interface designs, such as my Android phone. How do we do that?

      My thought, and it is just a glimmer of an idea, not part of the imminent SuttaCentral redesign, is that we can have multiple user modes: Expert, English, Español, Français… The expert mode puts the texts in original languages foremost, with the translations secondary (much like the current site); while the various language modes put the translations in those languages foremost and the original texts and reference data secondary. Everybody wins!

    • Part of the issue – and I think is to a certain extent unavoidable in any ‘homogenizing’ attempt – is the decision on which choice of words among multiple translations is going to be put as the main one, and will it prevent the non-expert from further investigating how different translators have decided to approach. For example, consider words like saṇkhāra (fabrication? formation? preparation?) and papañca (objectification? conceptual proliferation?). May be you can have a feature where you move the cursor on to the word and it gives a list of possible other words, explanations, Pāli and Saṇskṛt equivanets, etc.

    • Yes, this is very important. A one-to-one glossary is merely a key that indicates a general range of meaning. Perhaps we could do something like this. When you hover over a word in Pali (or whatever), you get a box that displays

      1. Gloss
      2. Link to full dictionary definition
      3. Link to other passages with the term
      4. Link to passages with semantically related terms (eg. suffering>pain; suffering>pleasure; suffering>craving)
      5. Link to grammatical analysis
      5. Link to statistics for that word (frequency of occurrence, etc.)

      …other?

    • I also think this is really important. The semantic ranges of Pali words and English words only partially overlap so you may get several English translations of a Pali word which all have merit (for example the many translations of “dukkha”) or vice versa – how many different Pali words get translated by the single English word “mind”? Exactly what kind of “feeling” is a vedana supposed to be? Something that’s painfully hot or a funny feeling about a person? Or both? These kinds of semantic investigations might sound like putting more “stuff” in the way, but I think they are actually a path, not a barrier, at least for one as linguistically inclined as I am.

      When you speak a different language you have to adopt a different culture with different assumptions, especially about the kinds of things that the dhamma touches on – feelings, perceptions, meditation experiences that English doesn’t have a very good vocabulary for at all. When I speak a different language and really get inside it, particularly with native speakers, I become a slightly different person. I think we need the Pali vocabulary because the meditative vocabulary of English is so poverty-stricken.

    • PS I’m assuming that there’s a decent level of experiential practice going on so that people actually know what they’re referring to, whether in Pali or English or any other language. Without that it could become a barren academic exercise referring to very little at all. The only purpose of the linguistic work is to make the practice better.

    • Well, I would hope so! Our purpose is to bring the texts closer, make them more transparent so we can get on to the important stuff. For the vast majority of practitioners, reading in one’s own language, with a little understanding of some crucial ideas, is enough. We don’t need to spend endless hours figuring out Pali grammar so we can meditate!

    • I have had the pleasure of viewing a teaser of the new suttacentral. So far it looks gorgeous. I don’t believe Sujato was clear in the post above that by ‘get out of the way’ he actually meant ‘hide until one presses the magic buttons’. I think we can expect to see not only elegant popup translations of the Pali and alternate terminology for the English, but also context references and synergistic integration across the web.

      We have taken the technical discussion side channel, but I am curious to know who in the dhamma-vicaya and geeky community are familiar with semantic web relationships, specifically RDF?

    • We hope the West as well as East do not do away with two essential components in Buddhism – 1. the Pali language (the dialect believed to be uttered by the Buddha & His Arahant disciples) 2. the Garudhammas (the unrefutable heavy rule for Maha Pajapati & her bhikkhunis.) The Pali Canon is faultless & flawless in Pali and it became ambiguous after translating into many other languages. Hope Pali will be kept intact. The Garudhammas is a Brahmavacana & it is a heavy rule, so do not try to make something unequal equal, it’s not the truth. The Garudhammas prescribed by the Buddha is out of compassion for the Bhikkhunis and for the harmony of the Bhikkhu Sangha. It is timeless – good yesterday, today & tomorrow. If not wrong, the Buddha only established one Bhikkhu Sangha with a four-fold assembly of bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, lay men & lay women, with each a set of rules or precepts. Those trying to do away with the Garudhammas are those who cannot accept the truth and wanted equality or demand to be on par with the Bhikkhus. In so doing, the Sangha by default would be split into two. For those bhikkhunis who argue as to why the senior Bhikkhunis had to bow to a junior Bhikkhu during formality occasions (a protocol), is concern with egotism and having a view & with sakkaya ditthi . The truth cannot be refuted too In Bahudhatuka Sutta. It is what it is & Buddhism is all about seeing things as they really are and not what we want them to be & become or what we want them to appear. Truth always hurts but truth remains as truth no matter how we try to change it & we should not try to undo the truth to give way to modernize Buddhism. It’s a kind of corruption of the truth. Hope Buddhism will remain in its clarity, purity and authenticity. It is the people that caused the dhamma to decline and it is now in the hands of the people to prevent it from declining and further ambiguity. When corruption of the dhamma peaks and humans become unrighteous, the deities, devas, divine beings will get upset and the stars, moon, sun & wind will change its course and the world will plunge into more darkness & disasters. In many suttas Buddha kept mentioning “with its samanas, devas, Maras, brahmanas & brahmas (the higher beings). Please do not underestimate the truth of the Garudhammas. It may look like inequality but it’s the truth. May truth prevails. Truth is timeless & indestructible. Be at peace with truth.

  3. Hi Bhante
    Has anyone ever expressed interest in having your tutorials ( in particular your talks at The Buddhist Library on Buddhist History) recorded and embedded to your Blog and/or Dhammanet?
    Can the library be petitioned to use their equipment to that end?

  4. I like the direction you’re going. It’s going to be a vast, tedious undertaking though– I’m imagining every translated word/sentence linked back to the original Pali, and every Pali word linked to a definition. Perhaps collectivist contributions would be required for such a tremendous site.

    It’d definitely the future of the suttas, though… I absolutely love how Theravadin [Buddhist] monks embrace technology… it’s really representative of how versatile and innovative the religion can be.

    • Hi Viscid,

      Let me start by saying how good you’re looking in that gravatar. Obviously the result of much peaceful meditation!

      As for data input, the important thing is to start. If we get a structure going, and some basics, we can look to various ways of crowdsourcing and so on to continually enrich the data. Also, there’s no reason why people can’t fork our project and develop their own applications. As long as we start with a clearly defined and standards-compliant basis, it can be extended indefinitely. So its more of an evolution than a final state to achieve.

    • I didn’t even know this existed, so thanks. Only one short translation so far! But the Wikipitaka is quite well advanced, so I’m not sure why this new one is needed. (Wikipitaka is kind of an orphan, but there are one or two contributors). Interesting, though, to see Oxford embracing a wiki project; normally academia doesn’t like these kind of things, not eneough control, and no academic kudos. But the Oxford Center is a very informal institution. I wonder who is behind this initiative? Anyway, we’ll look further…

    • Hi Victoria,

      Literally, it means “to watch over”: upa- = near, ikkha = watch. A simile is used of a gold smith who, when the smelting process is going just right, does not need to do anything, just keep an eye on it. Idiomatically, however, it takes on the meaning of “neutral”, as in “neutral feeling”.

  5. I know this is a difficult issue since there are so many ways to translate a Pali word or phrase to English, but one reason that people read the Bible is that they can search it with a consistent system, online or on their computer. Oh how I would love to have a piece of software where I could type “kamma” and have all the references to kamma show up. Even better would be to add a meta level understanding to some of the more important topics so that synonyms would show up. For example, searching for jhana would give MN 9.10 where the Buddha talks about “the peak of perception” (which I believe he is referring to the Sphere of Nothingness) and where the Buddha talks about letting go of volition at the highest stages of insight (something I believe Thanissaro Bhikkhu calls ‘non-fashioning’).

    Right now I am doing a project for school (I am studying to become a Buddhist Chaplain) on social activism and social responsibility and Buddhism and I would love to be able to search the Pali Canon in English in one place for terms that would lead me to the passages where the Buddha might be discussing our responsibilities as Buddhists to our larger society.

    Alan

    P.S. If this already exists, I’d love to know about it. I have not found anyplace to search the Canon that has met my needs.

  6. Hi Bhante, in the past, whenever I attended a church session or sermon, they always make reference to the bible and all the church that i went to seem to always have bible study group.

    i have been introduced to buddhism for almost 10 years. I would say the suttas are never really being emphasis or mentioned in the dharma talks that i attended. i only came to hear about suttas in the recent two years when BSWA announced that they have sutta classes every fortnightly and even so, i did not know what suttas are. i thought sutttas are something very difficult and not something tha the general public can understand.

    i would like to thank you for the early buddhism classes that you are conducting. it made things like suttas for example more accessible.

    • Hi Sze,

      My genuine pleasure! I hope we can bring the suttas into the life of practicing Buddhists in a meaningful way. There’s so much great stuff there, it’s a shame that it’s buried away in the most inaccessible of places: in locked cabinets on the shrines of Buddhist temples.

  7. Hi Bhante!
    Sometime ago I read in a forum about the practice of brahmaviharas and one of the thing that I find interesting was that there are a lot of material in regard to this in the mahayana tradition. One of them is the bhavana of other Brahma viharas that are in Vasubandhu’s Abhidharma work and much more…
    I don´t know if you came across a little work of Alexander Berzin on that topic:
    http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/study/comparison_buddhist_traditions/theravada_hinayana_mahayana/4_immeasurable_attitudes.html

    Would be amazing find the original material cited! In any way…
    May you be well, peaceful and happy,
    With metta, Alejandro.

    • Hi Alejandro,

      Thanks for the link.

      Do you mean the original material as in the Sutta passages? Berzin refers in brief to one sutta, but actually there’s a lot more more in the Suttas. When suttacentral is more mature, it will be easy to search for a topic like this!

    • Thanks bhante!

      Yeah! we are waiting with a lot of enthusiasm the new suttacentral!

      Bhante, I would like to ask you if you know which are the top universities for obtain a degree in buddhist studies. I’ve heard that taiwan is the best place to learn classic chinese and agamas, but I think is better to have a “very good basis” in pali and indian buddhism first, so I would like to study this…is better to study this in countries like sri lanka (kelaniya university, peradeniya university,etc..) or in india itself (University of Delhi,University of Calcutta,etc..) or in europe or america?

      With metta, Alejandro.

  8. I think the only way is to provide lots footnotes and examples so that the reader gets insight into the meaning of Pali words. I really don’t think there’s any way besides forcing people to learn -some- Pali.

    Going back to basics, there’s no quick and easy way of defining the “samma” part of samma-ditthi, samma-sankappa, and so on. The meaning of “right” can get very specific at times and there’s no short and easy way of defining, for example, samma-samadhi.

    If you don’t give specific and detailed explanations of such terms, people get used to relying on common sense which fails miserably at comprehending Dhamma. For example, “Craving gives rise to mental formations.” How in the world is that sentence supposed to make any sense without an understanding of tanha and sankhara, both of which require at least a couple of paragraphs to explain adequately? One might then continue to deduce that arahants don’t have “mental formations” therefore they have no thoughts at all.

    So maybe letting go of the Pali, as you said, is not the answer. Not if one truly wishes to understand the Dhamma in a scriptural sense and teach it to others in words. The western approach to learning is very structured and reliant on terminology and I think a great deal of insight is needed before we can let go of that.

    • Hi Subha Yaza,

      Thanks for the comments!

      It is very true, the suttas are subtle, and take much time to understand properly, which is why we need all the help we can get.

      There are many issues with getting the technical terms right. The secular Buddhist movement, for example, can only interpret the suttas by systematically divorcing words such as bhava, saṅkhāra, viññāṇā, paṭicca samuppāda, and so on from their original context of rebirth and giving them often wholly arbitrary new meanings. Similarly the vipassanā movement systematically interprets various meditation terms in its own way for its own ends.

      Not all the difficulties can be laid at the door of translations, though. In many cases the translations are more than adequate, and someone even speaking the same language as the Buddha still finds it hard to understand, as evidenced many times in the Suttas themselves.

      The problem with footnotes and introductions is that they frame an ancient text within the voice of a particular modern writer. This is very much the character of printed books, where the author/editor/translator assumes an authority over their material. In the internet age, this is no longer how things work. Everyone has their say, and there is no longer a single authoritative commentary to tell us what the text means.

      So for SuttaCentral at least, we do not have any footnotes. This is partly a pragmatic choice: we will be processing and uploading tens of thousands of texts, and editing and formatting footnotes is just a nightmare. More importantly, what we will see emerging is a more interconnected way of relating to suttas, where the basic text can be taken and used in multiple blogs, discussion groups, teaching courses, analytical engines, and so on.

  9. Dear venerable Sujato,

    We got to forward a donation for the Sangha, and I thought you might not only be able to receive it for the Sangha, but also need it for you current work:

    I have no email adress to deliver it in a better way, but maybe you could provide me your (johann.brucker@sangham.net), so I could deliver it in a proper way.

    > Notepad++ is under GPL License and it’s allowed to be use in any
    > environment, with no charge.
    > So I would like to offer to Sangha the usage of Notepad++:
    >
    > Regards,
    > Don

    Dear Venerable Sujato, It would be good if you accept this gift for the Sangha.

    Please follow this link, to get more information about the gift:

    http://sangham.net/index.php?topic=483.0

    _()_
    metta & mudita
    Johann

    • Is it not interpretable that anything under the GPL License would be something ‘given’? Something that is being offered to everyone is being also offered to the Sangha, no?

    • No, not in the ethiks of the Bhikkhu or Bhikkhuni. You can compare it with fruits in the Forest. Its usual that people have an unspoken agreement to take what ever they can take, but as it leads to toubles sooner or later, and causes harm, when it is not given, a Bhikkhu or Bhikkhuni trains to abstain from taking what is not given.

      There is a story in the vinaya, which makes the meaning good understand able (here in regard of food). Once there have been some monks who started to “take” food form the place where poor people have been feed and given food.
      It did not last long and the first people claimed: “How can this Sakya brothers take the food what was given to everyone?” Out of this followed a rule, that Bhikkhus are not allowed to take such and if it is really necessary than not more then two time. (if I remember right)
      Also picking up fruits would be not allowed. Of course they could take fruits, which are on the ground in special cases.

      How ever, the secure way and over all suggested way is, to use and eat just what is given, even to request would be not allowed

      That is the reason, why layman have to care on many things if they wish, for example, that a Bhikkhu or Bhikkhuni would get involved in such worldly stuff.

      As Vinaya has not only the purpose to be a guide for Monks and Nuns, but also the purpose to have a general impact on layman as well, it is good to give a sample with his own ways. And we all know (or know not) how much we take even without asking or to place a repayment of any kind.

      Intentions are not different in the cyber world and its all about alobha, adosa and amoha.

      So if you are able to make something allowable for monks and nuns or if you even can share software or this or that license, do it. It does not need to be a new one and it does not need to be organized for a new. Its a giving away, a letting go.

  10. Oxford University is on the way to make the Dhamma to a legal article of trade!

    WiPitaka project makes the Tipitaka legal to a consume product and sell able:

    The undertaking of the “wipitaka” project from the “Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies”, (A Recognised Independent Centre of Oxford University) needs urged be made represented and protest. Please forward this information and help to preserve the Tipitaka!

    wipitaka.org

    For the case it might disappear: A copy of the discussion you might find here

    • Hello Johann, I may have failed to parse the discussion on WiPitaka, but as I understand in summary you are making a supralegal argument that the dhamma must not be sold. I would assert that only a monk is forbidden from selling the dhamma and in fact he must put no further restrictions on the teachings. A gift is a gift. One may encourage and teach proper behaviour and respect, but the Buddha gives no indication that monks should enforce his teachings upon the lay community. In fact such attachment would contradict the central teaching (and I believe entirely incompatible with ultimate release). There is however an argument to be said about adding additional restrictions or removing restrictions from a copyrighted and licensed work, but in this case I believe the law, intent, and morality generally attempt to be compatible. Your friend, Alex

    • I don’t think that you have any idea of neither law, nor Dhamma and I don’t think that you know what is the different for given and taken.
      People today a so used to steal, that they are not a little aware of what they are doing constantly. They have NO gratitude and NO devotion and this fools think that they even can give rights and have inherent right.
      And there is no different between those who wear the robe or not.

      Nobody can hinder you to act foolish and it would be somehow miraculous if people would start to change in our dark world.

      So don’t worry you can eat all a way, I have long time already decided to leave the Dhamma books for the termite for food as they just like to survive and not as like the fools make their time a pleasure and enjoyment for the sake of others lose and pain.

      While I am for sure intended to support, I don’t use to keep a relation with people with wrong view and even no basic understanding, devotion and respect. So don’t know me as your friend at this time and that is friendly meant and as clear supportive hint.

      Ask me further for the case that you like to understand, behind that there is no use to speak further.

      metta

      Johann

    • No further comment after reading some comments on your page:

      Creators are granted immediate moral rights the moment their works are fixed in physical or digital form. Creators have the right to be attributed as the creator of the work and they have the right to object to offensive representation of their work.

      It’s actually really not necessary to investigate deeper if somebody lakes of basic integrity and is a slave of Brahma with a consciousnesses fare away from earth. The creatures of course.

      Thanks that the Dhamma does not base on “Alexander Edward Genaud – Moral Rights since 1886” and other imperialistic and bondage lordliness. You are so devoted to the Dhamma – Vinaya and respect it so much that you think you can handle it by your founded created moral concepts of corrupted man.

      I only can hope that some people start to realize which people they nourish and what they integrity and intentions are about. So just for the case you like to know the basics of even get Dhamma taught:

      He has right view and is not warped in the way he sees things: ‘There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are brahmans & contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.’

      — AN 10.176

      And for the case you like to know what owning the Dhamma means:

      “By & large, Kaccayana, this world is in bondage to attachments, clingings (sustenances), & biases. But one such as this does not get involved with or cling to these attachments, clingings, fixations of awareness, biases, or obsessions; nor is he resolved on ‘my self.’ He has no uncertainty or doubt that, when there is arising, only stress is arising; and that when there is passing away, only stress is passing away. In this, one’s knowledge is independent of others. It is to this extent, Kaccayana, that there is right view.”

      — SN 12.15

      and I will live you alone by playing around in your sandboxes and livingroom.

      ‘May these beings be free from animosity, free from oppression, free from trouble, and may they look after themselves with ease!’

      _()_

    • Here the words to a former “devoted” layman, a “creator” who thought that it might be useful to use the Dhamma for wired propose:

      One should not make an effort everywhere,
      should not be another’s hireling,
      should not live dependent on another,
      should not go about as a trader in the Dhamma.

      Paṭisalla Sutta: Seclusion

      I am not sure if Buddha ever meet the Robin Hood bafflement as I guess this has not a little base to get healed.

      And to use the words of one of the last respectable people in this gone tradition, after he had seen what his “devoted” fellows found raised made out of what they have learned, Ajahn Bua: “If I would would have enough s**t, I would s**t till it is full.”

      It’s really easy to get caught in papanca and it’s sometimes better to investigate only the smell and move on rather then to endless poke around in this dung piles all over this degenerated heritage with there wired “heroes” and “slaves”.
      What do you this was the reason why Buddha neither accepted slaves nor give them the possibility to leave the home righteous.

      You are even free to make the Dhamma into your gospels and self-congratulatory poetry of non-investigation, moaning, and arrogate… and you can sing “it may life” and “I did it my way” ever and ever again.

      _()_

  11. Valued Community here,

    I don’t like to miss it, to direct such basics also in direction of “SuttaCentral”. You should not make the Dhamma and Vinaya to a product of consume and you should not make it to a possession of people with no basic confidence into Buddhas moral. It is not possible to give a common right as you have not been given such your self.
    Use the project to teach people the very basic of right view, generosity, gratitude, respect and value of gifts out of good will. The tradition is NOT in line with the modern “occupy” idiotic and no where is such as a common inherent right even assumable.
    This “all should belong to everybody” phenomena is nothing else as to seek for similar unrighteous people to justify a live of taking what is not given. It’s like a gang a robbers or a horde of plunderer who call for unity, to capture the target of desire and share it (maybe) after on.
    To steal (take what is not given) something and share it with those whom one is attached to is the Robin Hood livelihood but far away from the ethic of the Buddha.
    And for the case that you might think you follow another Tradtion and you are on the Boddhisattva Path, I like to remind you on your vow also in this later developed system:

    (5) Taking offerings intended for the Triple Gem

    This downfall is to steal or embezzle, either personally or through deputing someone else, anything offered or belonging to the Buddhas, Dharma, or Sangha, and then to consider it as ours. The Sangha, in this context, refers to any group of four or more monastics. Examples include embezzling funds donated for building a Buddhist monument, for printing Dharma books, or for feeding a group of monks or nuns.

    (7) Disrobing monastics or committing such acts as stealing their robes

    This downfall refers specifically to doing something damaging to one, two, or three Buddhist monks or nuns, regardless of their moral status or level of study or practice. Such actions need to be motivated by ill will or malice, and include beating or verbally abusing them, confiscating their goods, or expelling them from their monasteries. Expelling monastics, however, is not a downfall if they have broken one of their four major vows: not to kill, especially another human being; not to steal, particularly something belonging to the monastic community; not to lie, specifically about spiritual attainments; and to maintain complete celibacy.

    With building up a para cultur you would steal the foundation and destroy. You should think about this, even if you have no faith in the old teachings of the Buddha, but into newer developments.

    _()_

  12. One of the most interesting questions is where did the Zen perspective of no dhamma , no buddha come from ?? Some things i would like to draw attention to – when you have anicca and thus anatta – it seems impermanence is what really happens – and thus there is nothing else – no rules – no other conditions….there is either sankhata – or – asankhata – the conditioned aggregation or simply the unconditioned…..anicca – impermanence leads to the latter – thus no buddha, no dharma, no sangha….

    • Trevor,

      “where did the Zen perspective of no dhamma , no buddha come from ??” from condotions: incapacity (for the individual) and missing (primarily) outward conditions, in this case: “paccantaro – living on a place where Buddha Sasana does not flourish”, “micchaditthi – born/associate among people with wrong view” and the miserable thing is that it mostly leads to the others miserable states:
      ii) arupino–the four Brahma planes of
      the formless-sphere;
      iii) vitalingo–persons with congenital
      defects such as idiocy, etc.
      iv) asannasatta–a brahma plane of the
      form-sphere of non-consciousness.’
      vi) peta–the peta world;
      vii) tiracchana-the animal world, and
      viii) niraya-hell.

      Now you kown why the most beloves Zen sign is a circle😉 From heaven to heal and back again. And even no need to think in live times.

      So one would be really “blessed” to meet a way out, but who would like such… let’s turn on!

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