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"Book of Eights" or Atthakavagga

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Comments

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I bloody hope so! Start stomping! :D

    karastiVastmindHozan
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran

    Note by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:

    Although the Atthaka poems advise against engaging in intellectual contests, they imitate the Vedic enigmas in the way they use language to challenge the reader. Individual words — sometimes whole lines and stanzas — in the poems can be interpreted in a variety of ways, and it's up to the reader to explore and consider all the various meanings to decide which ones are most helpful. Although our culture associates word-play with jokes, the Atthaka stands at the head of a long line of Buddhist texts — both Theravada and not — that use word-play with a serious purpose: to teach the reader to think independently, to see through the uncertainties of language and so to help loosen any clinging to the structures that language imposes on the mind.[6] This type of rhetoric also rewards anyone who takes the text seriously enough to re-read and re-think what it has to say.

    Thus, the obscurity of some of the Atthaka's language can be regarded as a function, not of the poems' age, but of the genre to which they belong. The proper reading of a text like this requires that you question your assumptions about its message and clarify the intention behind your efforts at reaching an understanding. In this way, the act of reading is meant not only to inform but to transform. The more you give to it, the more it opens up new possibilities in the mind.

    Two final notes on reading the Atthaka:

    1. Although these poems were originally composed for an audience of wandering, homeless monks, they offer valuable lessons for lay people as well. Even the passages referring directly to the homeless life can be read as symbolic of a state of mind...

    2. The poems center on descriptions of sages (muni) and enlightened people (dhira), but these words don't have fixed meanings from verse to verse. In some contexts, they denote arahants; in others, nothing more than intelligent run-of-the-mill people. So be alert to context when reading descriptions about sages and enlightened people, to see whether they're describing people following the path or those who have already reached the goal.

    lobsterkarastipersonBuddhadragon
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Oh, that's invaluable advice, particularly as I am awaiting the book's arrival with eager and impatient anticipation....

    karasti
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited July 2017

    Don't forget...I'm posting a version/translation of each poem on the chapter thread...for those who don't have the book. ( It's not needed, for the actual study of the Sutta). Those with the book will just be privy to his commentary and translation.

    Chapter 1 thread is rolling along...poem included!

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Love that @Vastmind, thanks for sharing it. I love books that are like that, where the more you give to it the more they have to offer. Not many of them out there like that, for me anyways.

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    GOT IT! Thank you all, you may stop stomping now. :D

    karastiVastmindHozan
  • Lee82Lee82 Veteran

    Too late to join the party?

    Can someone summarise the book for me before I go grab it off the Kindle store?

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Buddhist wisdom before all the Politics, shenanigans, divisions and "Thus have I heard" erupted.
    In the form of poetry. Simple, non-denominational, unifying brilliant logic.
    Let's all do this.

    The end.

    Hozankarasti
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    @Lee82 On the first page, the very first post, and then the...4th? post by @DhammaDragon do a good job explaining the book :chuffed:

  • Hello: I haven't posted here in several years...but I'm interested in the Atthakavagga and would like to join the discussion, if that's ok with folks. I was able to find "Buddha before Buddhism" at the local bookstore, so am all set there. Look forward to reading/studying this together with NB members!

    HozanVastmindlobster
  • Lee82Lee82 Veteran

    @karasti said:
    @Lee82 On the first page, the very first post, and then the...4th? post by @DhammaDragon do a good job explaining the book :chuffed:

    Thanks. I assume the commentary provides so much more insight than just the text that is available on access to insight?

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Yes, the book is mostly commentary. I generally read the actual teaching myself so not to be influenced immediately by the commentary. I find it adds a lot, though.

    Lee82
  • Lee82Lee82 Veteran

    I'm in, picked the book up on Kindle!

  • Lee82Lee82 Veteran

    Sorry if I'm being lazy and this is stated somewhere already, but what pace are we taking with the book? No discussion thread yet on chapter 2 and I don't want to get too far ahead. I've read through chapters 2 and 3 but am happy to reread them a few more times yet.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    We have been waiting for everyone to have their copies of the book. I was wondering as well when we might do the second chapter. @federica I think was the last person to get her copy just a couple of days ago. Since she started the other one, I figured she would start the second thread once she was caught up.

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Yes, and I have to admit, I have been remiss in my reading, but I've had an 85-year-old mum to cater to as she has just had a knee replacement operation. I brought her home yesterday. The trip to (and from) the hospital takes around 40 minutes by car, and in the last 4 days I've done that around 10 times...So I have been a little preoccupied elsewhere. I'm trying to catch up. Sorry to keep you all, for my part.

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited July 2017

    ^^^ Feel better, Mum! ?

    lobster
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    No apologies needed! Taking care of your mum is priority! I hope her healing is swift. No hurries, I just figured you'd get to it when you could.

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    I've been trying to digest the text by itself on ATI but I won't join the discussion threads until I've read the book as well.

    I'm trying not to even read the darned threads before the book so my cup is empty of anything but the original text.

    I don't even know why I'm posting this post. I must be itching for gratification.

    I may have to break down and actually order something off the interwebs.

    karastifederica
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