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  • Tonight I'm going to do little bit of

  • PR Job on the Buddhist Suttas

  • I'm gonna talk about the Discourses that the Buddha taught

  • about two and a half thousand years ago, and these are, the interesting thing

  • about this, wonderful kind of historical

  • reality, is that those discourses that we have today that we

  • call the Buddhist Suttas, they are essentially just that

  • the Buddhist Suttas, they are the word of the Buddha and

  • I'll talk a little bit later about exactly how we can know that

  • how we can be so sure of that? it is an amazing

  • historical thing, when you think about it. two and half thousand years later

  • we still have pretty much what the Buddha talked about at that time

  • and I wanna talk about why these are important

  • and why as a Buddhist or people who are even

  • interested in Buddhism, why we need to study

  • these things and what they can actually do for us and what's kind of is there

  • place in the Buddhist practice, these are the things I want to discuss

  • and hopefully my idea is to hopefully to

  • encourage some of you to actually start looking at those Suttas some

  • strart reading them and get some inspiration from the word of the Buddha

  • himself. Because as far as I'm concerned this is actually

  • very important part of the Buddhist path and one of the things

  • that I have always noticed when I have been travelling

  • I travel occasionally, not that much. Compared to Ajahn Brahm, I travel hardly at all

  • [Laugh] I still occasionally go in different places

  • overseas even, and from then I've been a monk now

  • for about 16 years, it's quite a while and I've seen quite a lot of the Buddhist

  • world. and one thing that you realize when you travel around is that

  • the sort of things the sort of talks that people listen

  • to, the sort of teachings that people read, is almost

  • always this teacher, that monk, this

  • nun, this lay teacher, it's

  • perhaps mahasi sayadaw tradition, or the Goenka tradition

  • or it's the Pa-Auk-Sayadaw tradtion, or it's the Vissudhi Magga Tradition

  • or the Abhidhamma tradition, or it's the Ajahn Brahm tradition

  • or it's the, where all the traditions are

  • all these traditions out there, everybody is practicing these kinds of systems

  • of thought, following a particular teacher

  • but how often do you hear anybody say simply I practice the Buddhist

  • or the Buddha's tradition and that's all there's to it

  • nobody says that, everybody has some kind of other tradition that

  • their practicing, this you see again and again

  • as your travel around the world, everybody is following a

  • certain teacher, somebody, somebody else and when

  • they read something they read the books of that teacher, when they listen to talks

  • they listen to the talks of that particular teacher

  • sometimes it's the tibetan tradition, sometimes it's the mahayana tradition

  • sometimes some kind of sub-tradition within theravada

  • but very very rarely is it actually the word of the Buddha himself

  • and this is, in my opinion, it's a

  • unfortunate, because these traditions may have a lot of good things

  • I'm not saying these traditions are bad or evil or anything like that

  • certainly not, but the point is that you can never really know

  • absolute certainty how accurately they reflect the word of the Buddha

  • unless you read it for yourself and you find it was actually

  • going on in those suttas

  • i think there is a good reason, why people tend to

  • reflect, rather why people tend to go to all

  • these different traditions rather than going to the word of the Buddha

  • the reason for that is a historical one, the historical reason is that

  • the suttas have only existed in the pali language or

  • even sanskrit languages up until very very recently

  • for the last maybe two thousand years before they were

  • translated into modern languages, they only existed basically

  • in pali and sanskrit and nobody could actually read them

  • except for a very small group of specialist

  • monks and also perhaps nuns, that's a long time ago now

  • they were actually able to read these suttas and these were

  • only accessible only to this tiny little group of elitist monks

  • and nuns, around monasteries in asia and

  • apart from that nobody had direct access to these suttas

  • and if you were lay person or if you were a monastic who didn't understand

  • pali, you had to rely on these other experts

  • to actually be able to understand the word of the Buddha

  • you has this filter if you like, you had it filtered through other people

  • and because of that what happened

  • overtime we got this traditions that certain teachers

  • were the ones that would transmit the word of the Buddha to you

  • and that's why people started to go to the teachers and to use these teachers of various

  • traditions as their guidance for how to practice the Buddhist path

  • and they weren't able and they didn't have access to the Suttas

  • to the word of the Buddha himself and this is

  • a problem and this is quite an important and significant problem, if you think about it

  • for those of you who have read some of the suttas, you will probably know that the Buddha himself said

  • that the Dhamma should be taught in the local language

  • of people, so that when the Dhamma comes to the west

  • when it comes to australia, it should be taught in english

  • when it goes to thailand, it should be taught in thai, when it goes to china

  • in chinese, when it goes to norway which happens to be my home country

  • it should be taught in norwegian, when it goes to anywhere else, it should be taught

  • in that language which is there, so that people can understand

  • what the Buddha actually taught and this is

  • kind of one of the foundational things in the Buddhist practice

  • is that, this is how this Dhamma should be taught and yet

  • we have gone so far away from that foundational thing

  • today, or not today anymore, or up until very recently people have

  • no direct access to these suttas at all and I understand even today

  • if I go to places like Sri Lanka for example and you try to read

  • the suttas in sinhalese which is the language spoken in Sri Lanka

  • it's actually quite difficult, because the language is like a very lofty and

  • elevated sinhalese language

  • and it's a language which is very formal

  • and very full of pali words and pali phrases and it's hard to understand

  • if you go to Thailand it's the same problem, in Thailand as well the language used

  • to actually translate the suttas

  • into Thai, is again a very formal one and it's very difficult

  • for ordinary people to understand and grasp that language and even in

  • English, if you look at some of the first translations that were done into English about a 100 years ago

  • they had this kind of victorian feeling

  • to them, there were all of these 'thes', actually pre-victorain I think, all of 'thes'

  • and 'thous' and that sort of stuff and when you read it, you felt like

  • transported into alternative reality, it wasn't really english it was

  • some kind of Shakesperian thing some times, and that is

  • unfortunate because that's not how the Buddha taught, he taught

  • in the contemporary language of the day in India

  • and fortunately now we are beginning to see very good

  • and very reliable translations and very easy to read translations

  • in the modern Engligh which are very pleasant and very easy to read

  • and that is a great thing and that is exactly how the Buddha

  • said it should be and for that reason we should take the opportunity

  • now that these suttas are available, we should take the opportunity

  • for ourselves to try to access those suttas

  • and see why it was, what it was that

  • he taught and get a clear understanding for what these things were all about

  • because it can be very dangerous to rely on a teacher

  • I have seen myself during my lifetime as a monk

  • you see teachers doing all kind of crazy things, they may seem

  • often very inspiring in the beginning often they can be very charismatic

  • and they have a lot of metta perhaps and people are like you know magnet

  • it's almost like a magnet to people, people get drawn into these people

  • and then it turns out that even though they have these external

  • charismatic appearance, when it comes to the internal qualities

  • they are not as solid as people think they are

  • and then they start doing crazy things like, you know they

  • start having, if they are monastics they start having relationships with other people

  • or if it isn't that bad atleast they start geting sliding into all kind of

  • luxury and all kinds which are unseemly for a monastic

  • and ofcourse what happens when this happens is that the people

  • who think they have faith in something which is Buddhism

  • they get very very disappointed and sometimes they lose their

  • faith, they lose their willingness to practice and they throw out the

  • whole baby with the bath water, because they think Buddhism is some kind of corrupt

  • religion which is no good for anybody and ofcourse that is very very

  • unfortunate and that is what happens when you rely

  • or as what can happen when you rely

  • on like a teacher to teach you rather than the Buddha himself

  • and sometimes it isn't that bad and sometimes it's not as if the teacher

  • goes completely berserk and does wild things

  • sometimes it's simply that the teacher teaching which isn't quite in accordance

  • with the way the Buddha taught, sometimes the teachers thinks

  • which is slightly different, slightly maybe

  • not leading exactly in the same way, it doesn't actually take you

  • on exactly the same path that the Buddha taught, it doesn't take you to the same states

  • of deep peace and bliss that the Buddha said are

  • available for people, they're not actually

  • go to the same goal that the Buddha talked about

  • and because of that again this is a much more subtle difficulty

  • and is very very difficult sometimes to know whether the teacher have

  • is teaching the right path and the only way you can know that

  • is by going back to the word of the Buddha and using

  • that as your foundation stone. that should be

  • where you find your ultimate, kind of reference point

  • as to whether anybody is teaching the right path and this is

  • very important and ofcourse that also goes for Ajahn Brahm's teachings

  • I mean, what I say as well ofcourse

  • anybody's teachings, it's not as if