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About this subcategory
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5/13/14 3:36 AM
This new subcategory has been created to learn and discuss topics about what the Buddha said himself. The goal is to give anyone that considers themselves Buddhists,are interested in early buddhism or who are beginning practicioners who are unfamiliar with what Buddhism is exactly, a basic understanding of the underlying terminology, principles and skills. Even if they choose to view and / or apply them differently, for whatever reason, it might be helpful to have a foundation. The topics are meant as an aid to give information in relatively simple terms - so no scholarly discussions - with lots of reliable links (heavily emphasizing the suttas themselves), books, pod casts, etc. for people who are interested in pursuing a topic more in depth.
By no means are we suggesting that everything that isn't Early Buddhism is wrong, but it might clear up some confusion as to what the Buddha actually said and meant and what things were added on in later centuries (which can be very valuable but would not be considered 'early') or have been translated in a way that is not so helpful now.

Everyone is very welcome to join in and tackle a topic. To get this stuff started, the more people chime in, the better. And not only are you creating something for other people, but I guarantee that you will learn a lot about a topic yourselves.
It might be nice in creating a new thread to pick a good subject title. The first couple of posts could be where the bulk of the topic is created, after these posts it would be cool to freely discuss subjects more in detail. By putting the theoretical info first, it'll be easier to select what can be copied to Chuck's wiki section later, if Chuck so decides.
Also, if it is helpful for people to understand a topic better, please add whether you tend towards Theravada, Thai or something else.
Just for practical reasons it might be nice to announce in this thread(which can be stickied) you're planning on writing a particular topic. Not only would we prevent everyone writing about one subject, but – if you like – you could plan to work on something with more than one person to divide the workload and, you know, getting to know other interested people a bit better.
Feel free to supply links, with the emphasis on reliable sources and suttas themselves.

Try to keep in mind copyrights and let us know if someone has objections about it. Fortunately, buddhists in general are nice people and many have no objection to sharing their texts emoticon

Last but not least, a list - which is just of the top of my head and by no means complete - is provided below, just to give you some inspiration and a view of what might be posted here. As I (No Second Arrow Z) am not a native speaker, please ignore my crooked english:


- Who was the Buddha (life story, four heavenly messengers), asceticism, awakening)

- 4 noble truths (and why  the Buddha considered this as all important (" I teach suffering and the end of suffering and nothing more")

- noble eightfold path and division in virtue, concentration and wisdom (and why virtue is important). Explanations on all eight factors and clarification of what 'Right' means in this context. I'm sure topics like Right Speech are very interesting to talk about more deeply?

- What did he mean with 'dukkha', is 'suffering' an accurate translation?

- Are all kinds of desire bad?

- The three characteristics and why they are crucial
Annicca
Dukkha
Anatta not-self (which will not be an easy task, explaining this in simple terms.)

- What is the Pali Canon and what does the tipitaka mean.What are the Chinese agamas. Explanation about how the pali canon is divided in suttas, rules for the monks and nuns and the Abidhamma).and when they were created. And why Pali?

- What are the Visuddimagga and the Vimuttimaggha, are they from the Buddha too?

- Meditation:
Vipassana, concentration, jhanas, access concentration (explanation about not something the Buddha used, as are nimittas), satipatthana, anapanasati, kasinas, contemplation on death, walking and lying down meditation, etc.

- factors of enlightenment

- Dependent origination (dependent co-arising), causes and conditions

- What are defilements, taints, ...

- Explanation precepts (5, 8, 10, etc)

- What are mental formations, volitional formations, ...

- what did the Buddha meant with 'letting go' and renunciation?

- Monks, nuns and lay followers: different rules for different people (maybe a topic explaining sex forbidden for monastics, but sex in a wholesome way for the lay followers? And the link between sex and good versus bad desires?)

- differences schools buddhism

- difference between rebirth and reincarnation; samsara; kamma

- 4 stages of enlightenment (also explaining the ten fetters).

- 31 realms of existence

- the six senses

- the five aggregates

- paramis

- brahma viharas (loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity)

- bases of power

- elaborate discussions on anger and other topics, as Chuck said: "I think it would also be interesting to take a subject like 'anger' say and look broadly at how that is treated over say 20 or 30 suttas. I have done this with a number of topics and find it really brings out a much better sense of how that quality is worked with in the practice."

- Maybe a separate thread with all kinds of general, interesting links to texts and podcasts, so that one doesn't need to open each thread (where we'll put the links containing information on that particular subject).

- maybe a 'top 10' with an overview of very important suttas, well known suttas as well as suttas who don't get the attention they deserve?

- maybe lesser known subjects, like samvega?

- maybe a topic about death, such as using it as a meditation subject, little explanation about 'charnel grounds' . And maybe a little something about dying as a buddhist. What the buddha said about the moment of death.

- maybe a little list of ' modern' people who were likely enlightened to a high degree, like Dipa Ma?

- a little topic about the important days for buddhists, like Wesak (Vesak), importance of the moon? I'm not sure if the Buddha himself talked about that, I seem to remember he said that certain things like visiting the place of enlightenment were important for your kamma, or something.

- 'fun' facts like the bodhi tree?


RE: About this subcategory
Answer
5/13/14 3:48 AM as a reply to No-Second-Arrow Z.
To get the ball rolling, I think I'm gonna take a crack at compiling a post about who the Buddha actually was.

Any comments, suggestions, want to participate, feel free to let me know!

RE: About this subcategory
Answer
5/16/14 3:51 AM as a reply to No-Second-Arrow Z.
Not sure how much time I'll have available the coming days, but I was thinking to write something, by lumping together two topics, since they kind of go together:

- 4 noble truths (and why  the Buddha considered this as all important (" I teach suffering and the end of suffering and nothing more")

- What did he mean with 'dukkha', is 'suffering' an accurate translation?

RE: About this subcategory
Answer
5/16/14 11:47 AM as a reply to No-Second-Arrow Z.
No-Second-Arrow Z:

- What did he mean with 'dukkha', is 'suffering' an accurate translation?

This is one of the first words I sought to understand correctly, because it plays into just about everything that Gotama taught or endeavored to teach people about in terms of being able to turn around their perceptions of dissatifactoriness into satisfaction (or at least a neutral equanimity toward mental formations – sankharas).

Anyone who checks into this, even superficially on the Internet, will learn that dukkha refers to "unsatisfactoriness" or "dissatisfactions" of all kinds, ranging from the physical to the psychological. Although the word "suffering" is an acceptable translation of dukkha, it doesn't even begin to touch the range of unsatisfactoriness that Gotama had in mind when he used the word.

I recommend to those who really want to begin digging into these things that they pick up Walpola Rahula's book What The Buddha Taught and begin reading very carefully. All of this ground has already been sufficiently covered there and elsewhere.

If you want to learn more about the man Siddhattha Gotama, pick up Vishvapani Blomfield's book Gautama Buddha, The Life and Teachings of the Awakened One. This along with the classic groundbreaking book by Hans Wolfgang Schumann titled The Historical Buddha will go a long way in painting the picture of what was very likely the actual human being who was given the title of Buddha by religious communities.

And if you read the translation of the Mahaparinibbana Sutta (DN 16) from the Digha Nikaya published by Wisdom Books and tranlsated by Maurice Walshe along with several other key suttas, you may find reason to accept the idea (as I have) that Gotama had no intention of starting a new religion called "Buddhism." He never even used the word "Buddhism" during his eighty years on this planet. Or at least it is not recorded in any of the discourses I've read. What he did do, at the inevitability of his own demise, was to encourage his followers to hold close to and take the Dhamma that he taught as their guide and refuge, and to gather together with like-minded individuals into sanghas in order to support one another in this study. He even turned down requests that he name a successor to himself saying that what he had to teach was far more important than any single personality in the sangha. This shows, to me at least, that he was a man of great integrity right up to the end. 

What was important to him to communicate to his followers even in his last days is very revealing about the man himself. When Ananda asked, close to the end of Gotama's life: "Lord, what shall we do with the Tathagata's remains?" And Gotama replied: "Do not worry yourselves about the funeral arrangements, Ananda. You should strive for the highest goal, devote yourselves to the highest goal, and dwell with your minds tirelessly, zealously devoted to the highest goal. There are wise Khattiyas, Brahmins, and householders who are devoted to the Tathagata: they will take care of the funeral."

Ultimately, it will come down to a subjective impression in each individual how he wishes to view Gotama the man and the teacher of his Dhamma or Doctrine of Truth. Not everyone will agree to view things in the same way, even if there are occasional parallels and overlaps of agreement. If you've been alive on this planet for a while (say 40 or 50 or 60 years) you will have learned much about the nature of human kind that you can apply to your reading of the discourses in an effort to see the truth about what likely occurred and the dynamics behind how things turned out. Using that life-knowledge of how things actually happen in the real world is how one will benefit the most when reading, studying, and contemplating the discourses. If you think about these discourses under those terms, you will be amazed at the insights that present themselves to you. Be mindful and stive ever onward to realize the processes of the mind and what they mean, how they affect your perception of reality.