LIBERATION RELEVANCE OF SUTTA-VINAYA

LIBERATION
RELEVANCE OF SUTTA-VINAYA

This article first appeared in THERAVADA (March 1999)
The Journal of Theravada Society of Australia
It has been tralslated into German and published in Switzerland in the year 2000

Ven. Dhammavuddho Thero
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa

INTRODUCTION

Nowadays, there is a proliferation of books on Buddhism. Studying these books would
inevitably result in imbibing some of the views and interpretations of the various writers on
what the Buddha actually taught, which could result in some wrong views. On the other
hand, there are some meditation teachers who advise their students not to study at all but to
only meditate. In effect, what they are suggesting is for their students to listen to them only.
Avoiding the two extremes, we should practise the middle way taught by the Buddha —
investigate his discourses
1
and practise as best we can the Noble Eightfold Path, as he
advised. The importance of the Buddha’s discourses for the practice of the Dhamma,
whether by lay people or by monks, can hardly be exaggerated.

The Buddha warned of the future when people would refuse to listen to his discourses
(Suttas). Samyutta Nikaya Sutta 20.7 reads: “… in the future, those Suttas uttered by the
Tathagata, deep, profound in meaning, transcending the world, concerning emptiness: to
these when uttered they will not listen, will not give a ready ear, will not want to understand,
to recite, to master them. But those discourses made by poets, mere poetry, a conglomeration
of words and phrases, alien (outside the Buddha’s teachings), the utterances of disciples: to
these when uttered they will listen, will give a ready ear, will want to understand, to recite, to
master them. Thus it is, monks, that the Suttas uttered by the Tathagata, deep, profound in
meaning, transcending the world, concerning emptiness, will disappear. Therefore, monks,
train yourselves thus: To these very Suttas will we listen, give a ready ear, understand, recite
and master them.”

Instead of the Suttas themselves, many prefer to study other books or listen to others’
teachings, which may be inconsistent with the Suttas. The resulting damage is two-fold:

(i) The Suttas will disappear, and
(ii) People will gain wrong understanding of the Dhamma.

 

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