Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Ten Things To Talk About

From the Udana in the Pali Cannon, here are 10 things that talking about them, lead to enlightenment:

There are these ten topics of [proper] conversation. Which ten? Talk on modesty, on contentment, on seclusion, on non-entanglement, on arousing persistence, on virtue, on concentration, on discernment, on release, and on the knowledge & vision of release. These are the ten topics of conversation. If you were to engage repeatedly in these ten topics of conversation, you would outshine even the sun & moon, so mighty, so powerful — to say nothing of the wanderers of other sects.

Now I'm not sure about slagging off other sects, that may be an add on later, but we've been going into depth at sangha night about each one of these topics. Well, we did one day on modesty and had a rather fruitful discussion. There's also a lot of people from England in our group and I've lived in England for more than a year, and we also had some interesting discussion about the various national character. Good stuff, I love unpacking and discussing the Pali Cannon, with the sangha.

1 comment:

Jayarava said...

Hi Stephen,

Could you post a reference for that verse? Thanks. There is also a parallel verse (somewhere) which relates the things not to talk about because they are simply distractions. I'll see if I can dig it out.

The not talking to wanderers of other sects is fairly unusual in being phrased so directly, almost like a vinaya rule. It is however common to see suttas which which lampoon other sects, and of course there is the Brahmajala Sutta (Digha Nikaya 1) which sets out to refute all views of other sects.

My take on this is that Buddhism was always a minority religion in India, and especially in the early days there was a need to make a clear distinction (sound familiar at all?). Plus the Indian approach to popular competing cults was to absorb them, often making their priests honorary Brahmins. So unlike the Roman church which always sought to bury their opponents. The Buddhists may have been quite wary of other groups at times for fear of their message being lost in the hubbub of the spiritual supermarket. It is a relatively commonplace thing in the Pali Canon for someone to approach the Buddha and express confusion about what to believe - there are so many competing theories and practices and they are all mutually contradictory. Of course the Buddha removes all confusions and doubts in most cases.

That said later Buddhists were not at all adverse to adopting and adapting the ideas of "other wanderers"

Best Wishes