noob & hardcore: advice on audio and written material

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Phantom of the Opera, modified 14 Years ago at 4/2/08 3:34 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/2/08 3:34 AM

noob & hardcore: advice on audio and written material

Posts: 24 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

Hi there,

My cultural and devotionnal background is in christianism. In recent years, I've been straying further away from it and I might be ready for real buddhist practice. I've done some zazen and read a few books in the past, but I'm neither practiced nor educated in buddhism. I ran into buddhistgeeks which led me to Daniel's Interactive Buddha and to Dharma Overground. I'm currently reading his book, which is my first approach of Vipassana. After that I'll probably read Practical Insight Meditation, surf web ressources a bit more and reread my books, and finally get on with practice once I've decided which method should work best for me.

- Talks

I like to listen to podcasts in the evening or during the night, so I want to listen to "dharma" talks series. Among the many ressources available online, I've noticed that
* http://www.audiodharma.org/ (aka IMC) has several series (Buddhist Meditation, Satipatthana Sutta, Anapanasati Practice etc. (most of them by Gil Fronsdal))
* http://www.bodhimonastery.net/main.html hosts series from Bikkhu Bodhi on Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta Nipata etc.

Has any of you listened to any of these? Were they educational and inspirational? Would you recommend/criticize any of them specifically? Do you have better recommendations?

(my post was too long so i split it in 2)
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Phantom of the Opera, modified 14 Years ago at 4/2/08 3:38 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/2/08 3:38 AM

RE: noob & hardcore: advice on audio and written material

Posts: 24 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
- Books

I plan to read some traditional scriptures. So I'm not asking advice about the 3 zillions introductory/rehash books available. For a relative newcomer, rather academically-oriented reader when it comes to knowledge, which of the following would you particularly recommend as a first in-depth approach to buddhist / theravada meditation material:


* The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya by Maurice Walshe

* The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya by Bhikkhu Nanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi

* The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya by Bhikkhu Bodhi

* The Dhammapada: A New Translation of the Buddhist Classic by Gil Fronsdal

* Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization by Analayo (I am aware that this one is a study)

* The Sutta Nipata translated by H. Saddhatissa

* A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma: Buddhist Publication Society, Sri Lanka, 11993 (Vipassana Meditation and the Buddha's Teachings)


Or would you discard all of them as being to hardcore, and instead point to anthologies such as:

* The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha: An Anthology of Suttas from the Anguttara Nikaya translated and edited by Nyanaponika Thera and Bhikkhu Bodhi

* In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon by Bikkhu Bodhi



Obviously i won't read all them. I'll pick one up and plunge into it, whether it'll be pali discourses or meditation manuals. I'm from France so I can't browse them physically for an hour to make a choice; I've already looked at Amazon's reviews, Daniel's bibliography and such.

Reviews, suggestions and thoughts most welcome!

Thanks,
isshoni


PS: if D.O. is not the place for such posts, please let me know.
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Phantom of the Opera, modified 14 Years ago at 4/2/08 3:47 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/2/08 3:47 AM

RE: noob & hardcore: advice on audio and written material

Posts: 24 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
I forgot to list hat book (and I don't know how to edit messages in the forum):

* The Path of Purification (Visuddhimagga) by Bhadantacariya Buddhaghosa, translated by Bhikkhu Nanamoli (or The Path of Freedom (Vimuttimagga) by The Arahant Upatissa but it seems a bit harder to find).
Hokai Sobol, modified 14 Years ago at 4/2/08 5:59 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/2/08 5:59 AM

RE: noob & hardcore: advice on audio and written material

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Hi, isshoni. Thanks for your posts.

If you're not into reading the whole list, I would recommend "In the Buddha's Words" anthology by Bhikkhu Bodhi, and the Dhammapada. These two are quite sufficient to get a grasp of the early teachings. Manual of Abhidhamma, Visuddhimagga and Vimuttimagga plus similar material, are not necessary at this point in your study, and are less indisputable in their usefulness for a contemporary practitioner, though an expert in Theravada will surely draw comparisons from these sources.

On the other hand, I would recommend reading two or three titles as an overview of other significant Buddhist streams od Dharma. I recommend "The Essence of Buddhism" by Traleg Kyabgon and "Contemplating Reality" by Andy Karr for a balanced and updated perspective in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. Of course, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese traditions are there as well, but the two titles I propose would provide enough context to bring the early teachings into relief. It's an awesome possibility that we can develop a non-sectarian view from the very start, and DhO is unabashedly rooted in such a view.
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Florian, modified 14 Years ago at 4/2/08 10:18 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/2/08 10:18 AM

RE: noob & hardcore: advice on audio and written material

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Isshoni

Good realing list!

Regarding the Pali Canon, I'd recommend reading the Majjhima Nikaya first (Middle Length Discourses). In a bout of enthusiasm, I actually collected most of the Sutta Pitaka (in German translation), and out of sheer stubbornness I'm plowing through it, though at a leisurly pace (currently 2/3 through Samyutta Nikaya, with the Anguttara Nikaya next on the pile). The Dhammapada I have found to be useful only after having read the more verbose suttas, as it is an extremely compact rendering of most key doctrines. Sutta Nipata has some wonderfully inspiring passages in the "further shore" chapter (the only one I've studied so far) - Saddhatissa's translation of that chapter is very lyrical and touching.

Regarding podcasts: I like to listen to them, too. I pick and choose from sudiodharma.org, and there's good material on http://www.dhammatalks.org.uk/ though the podcast link is broken at the moment, you have to download stuff manually. I particularly like Ajahn Sumedho's talks - he doesn't talk about meditation practice, but his talks have a quality I really appreciate. YMMV.

If you know German, there's excellent material on http://www.wat-lao.com/index-2.html - particularly the series by Tan Martin is simply awesome. He visited Germany last year, and was invited to several centers and monasteries around Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. His talks - let's say, he made quite a stir, and shocked not a few people. He's a commited meditator, going on about much the same things as Daniel.

I notice I have a strong Theravada bias in my reading habits. emoticon

Cheers,
Florian
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Phantom of the Opera, modified 14 Years ago at 4/5/08 2:21 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/5/08 2:21 AM

RE: noob & hardcore: advice on audio and written material

Posts: 24 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Thank you both for your answers. I'll start with Bikkhu Bodhi's anthology, and see from there.

@Hosai: if I commit to practice and become a buddhist, I'll eventually read the whole list, but I have to start somewhere, and it'll be the Pali cannon.
For now, I don't have an inclination towards Vajrayana and "devotional" buddhisms, and I know more about Zen than I should (I mean, comparatively to other schools!), so i'll leave printed exploration of the current buddhist schools for later and restrain myself to online content for that. I'll keep the 2 suggested titles in mind, though: balanced and up-to-date is rare.

@monkeymind: thanks for your suggestions; regarding podcasts, I don't read German. "Ich spreche nur ein zehr weinig Deutsche" is the longest sentence I know!

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