Sources of widom and authority: The Pali Canon

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  • The Pali Canon
    • Nature
      • Passed down orally
      • First Buddhist council ordered the Buddha's discourses and rules and recited them
      • Originally written of palm leaves and kept in 3 baskets
        • Tipitaka
          • 1st: Vinaya Pitaka (discipline basket)
            • Rules for Sangha
          • 2nd: Sutta Pitaka (Discourse basket)
            • Conversations between Buddha and monks
            • Buddha's sermons
            • Buddha's verbal discourses and teachings
          • 3rd: Abhidhamma Pitaka (Philosophy basket)
            • Further/ special teachings
            • Philosophical/ scientific description of nature of the mind, matter and time
        • 1st and 2nd are work of the Buddha
        • 3rd composed by Third Buddhist council
          • 3rd basket is concerned with purity of the doctrine and exclusion of heresy
    • How far it is an accurate record of the Buddha's teachings (relevance of debate for Buddhists)
    • Use in worship and daily life
      • Monks expected to explain and teach different uses
      • 227 rules of the Vinaya have to be known by monks
        • Also use some sections for morning and evening chanting
      • Sutta is popular for stories and parables of the Buddha
        • Told by monks and school teachers for younger people
      • Advice on meditation
      • Jataka stories good for teaching children about morality
      • Theravada pirit ceremonies
        • Parts recited for protection
          • Metta sutta (universal love) to protect welfare
          • Augulimala sutta for protection in childbirth
      • Still considered meritorious in Theravada to learn some by heart
    • Authority
      • Whenever Buddha gave a discourse his learned monks would commit it to memory word for word
        • Often Arhats (pure and free from delusion passion and ill will)
      • His words were preserved accurately and passed down
      • 3rd basket is concerned with purity of the doctrine and exclusion of heresy


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