• Created by: jenny
  • Created on: 19-04-22 11:52

the Pali Canon/ Tipitaka

  • Large collection of Scriptures, oldest collection of survining buddha teachings.
  • Hold Authority in Therevada Buddhism and other schools such as Tibetan.
  • Teachings originally handed down orally but this does not mean transmission was unreliable  as oral literature in indian religions was accurately retained.
  • Tipitaka translates as three baskets, these baskets are the Vinaya Pitaka, the Sutta Pitaka and the Abidhama Pitak. 
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Vinaya Pitaka

  • Basket of dicipline, contains the Patimokka which are the rules and regulations of the monastic sangha. Carries most force here as this was its orginal purpose. directs behav. with others and own spiritual pathand development.
  • 227 rules for bhikkus and 311 for bhikkunis. 
  • It's association with the Buddha and diciples (upali who recited rules while arhats were present) gives it great authority and importance in Therevada buddhism and within some mahayana traditions. 
  • Contains guidance on how to settle disputes so the ultimate goal of nibanna is not effected.
  • 'emphasis that the rules are all grounded on the realities of life' Clarke and Thompson.

The Vinaya contains

  • Suttavibhanga- containing patimokka. Dasa Sila most important. these 10 rules eventually expanded into 227 and 311. Lists 8 categories of wrongdoings including 4 parajikas (sex, stealing, murder, supernatural powers). Breaking these would require immediate expelling. Other rules require a meeting of the sangha and either penance, forfeiture, confession or public admission. Monks cannot plead ignornace.
  • Khandhaka- Account of Buddhas life after enlightenment and prominent disciples. First 2 buddhist councils and and gudance on monastic etiquette and manners. Organistation for sangha and rituals and format of Uposatha days. Pserves dharma and dicipline.
  • Parivara-Summary of both sections. mostly used in monastic training to instruct and examine
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Sutta Pitaka

  • Collection of discourses attributed to the buddha and early disciples. Recited at first councile by Ananda, most deicated disciple. 
  • Richard Gombrich suggests that corresponding sanskrit term 'sukta'means 'something that is well said'.
  • Throughout the criptures the term 'thus i have heard' is used repetitively to add authority to the text emphasisng that they have been passed down from those witnessing the buddha's techings.
  • sutta meaning thread indictaes that there is a connection running through the different teachings. Pratityasamutpada. 
  • They are seen as Buddha vacana, This phrase gives authority to texts even if they are not the direct word of the buddha, indirect affirmation. 
  • Teachings found here include Four Noble truths, and the eightfold path. Two most popular scriptures are the jataka tales (greatest storyteller, selflessness, cultivates perefections, rebuirth, never woman) and the dhammapada (prac guide, recited in dukkha , gathered 423 verses by  closest disciples. many have a copy in their home, elucidates p of dharma JF.
  • sutta is accessable and extends to all buddhists and widely used as source of wisdom and guidance for buddhist living.  Earliest example of how buddha used Upaya. 
  • All discourses are collected into 5 sections, The Digha Nikaya, The Majjjima Nikaya, The sumyutta Nikaya, the Anguttara Nikaya and the Khuddaka Nikaya. 
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Abidhamma Pitaka

  • Philosophical teachings on world and reality. Tradition has it the the buddha taught the Abidhamma to his mother in a heaven realm thus giving it authority. 
  • Divided into 7 sections it is referred to as 'the higher dharma' and is thought to be more appropriate for use by more learned monks of the sangha. 
  • These teachings are not of the historical buddha abd thought to be added to the pali canon around the 3rd council.
  • vinaya and suttas are commentaries on situations whereas the abidhama states the teachings without reference to any particular situation. 
  • 'unravelling the dynamic nature of things' - Paul Williams 
  • 'scholastic elaboration' Richard Gombrich.
  • insight into absolute reality. 
  • recited at Therevadan funerals and festivals which encapsulates this section as important as it is used at times when the community come together and the essence of the sangha is very important. 

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Importance of sections

the Pali canon is very important in Buddhism, especially the Vinaya as it is important in maintaining relationships of the sangha. Having said that, this section could be said to hold less value to Mahayana Buddhists because they are more likely to study Mahayanan scriptures such as the lotus sutra (Saddharma Punkdarika) and the heart sutra (prajnaparamita). 

Not only this but particularly zen practitioners have little time for any scriptures at all. They seem to prefer meditations as the means to seek ultimate truth

Shakyamuni buddha himself was not the only enlightened being therefore his path teachings and words do not technically hold a higher importance than that of any other enlightened being. 

Vinaya section is the most important for Buddhists because this section is more interested in religious practice rather than religious doctrine. Not only this but these rules are expected to be learned, memorised and recited by newly joining monks and nuns to the monasteries therefore the Vinaya could be seen as being heavily prioritised for this reason. 

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1.2- prajnaparamita Literature

  •  The hydaya sutra or heart sutra is part of a group of ancient mahayana texts known as the prajnaparamita. it contains over 40 texts containing the oldest mahayana sutras. 
  • some refer to it as 'the wisdom that has gone beyond' or 'perfection of wisdom'
  • they are regarded as buddha vacana and so are divine utterances of the still existing buddha in his heavenly body (sambhogakaya). 
  • The sutras are reflected in and supported by Nagarjuna who founded the madhyamakaka school of buddhism (the root of mahayana buddhism) 
  • The mutual identity of emptiness and form that is the key focus of the heart sutra is also that of madhyamaka. 
  • Nagarjuna's specific understanding on the sutras are the foundation for Tibetan, chinese, pure land and zen buddhism. his verses on the fundamentals of the middle way (Mulamadhyamikakarikas) explores the topic of emptiness and what it is and is not. 
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