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The Complete Picture

JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matterNetherlands Veteran

Dear friends,

How useful is it, according to you, to build up a complete intellectual understanding of the Buddhist path while you walk it? I know some Buddhists who are very involved with learning the sutras, reading copies of the complete translated Pali Canon, reading and understanding commentaries and so on.

I can understand wanting to read say a meditation manual before you go on a retreat, so that you have some idea of what to expect. But I think the whole body of Buddhist teaching is so large that trying to build up a complete picture of the path is an unending task. And yet I know some people who find it essential.

With warm regards,



  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    No use.
    Intellect not required.

    Nyingma is a Tantra that stresses intellectual understanding

    Smart arse created the (4th Way beyond Tantra)

    Another of the Mahasiddhas was known as the Enlightened Moron (Nirgunapa)

    Hooray! o:)

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    Personally I’m inclined to agree with the guy who I read about who said “five sutras is enough”, although I have enjoyed reading some anthologies of sutras such as the one by Edward Conze and the other by Bhikkhu Bodhi. I don’t need encyclopaedic knowledge or all-around understanding.

    But I feel a certain sympathy for the people at who are involved in an effort to make sense of the teachings of the Buddha in a modern way. It’s very much based on understanding and categorising the knowledge that’s in the sutras, might be worth a look for some.

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    I see the intellect as a tool that is useful once one realizes how often it only reflects those states of mentality that support its leadership potential even when other forms of guidance may be presenting more appropriate options.

    Of course if you replace that word "intellect" with the "heart", the same is also true.

    What would equanimity look like if either the intellect or the heart outstripped the other?

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @how said:
    What would equanimity look like if either the intellect or the heart outstripped the other?

    m m m ... let me thunk.

    I luvs my belly ...

    Iz the answer belly up?

  • History, life is such that we do not have the complete picture. There will always be some which is unknown. Bits of history missed..Knowledge unknown...Ideas incomplete...much beyond our horizon.
    We can not get the complete picture. But we can gain the knowledge, wisdom and understanding which competes our picture.

    Peace to all

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    @Shoshin said:
    I'm under the impression that after a while, one reaches a point where the mind can become over saturated with Buddhist sutras, becoming waterlogged so to speak, a mind weighed down with thoughts...Saturation points vary from practitioner to practitioner....

    I think that’s very true, there is a point where one has had enough of sutras. I find that reading one anthology is enough to take me there. For me absorbing one reasonably complex sutra is enough for a day or a few days even.

    As a western practitioner you have that luxury, to say I’d like a sutra today, or to say I feel like digesting the wisdom I already have. It takes a certain kind of passion to accumulate a lot of sutras in the brain, or to learn Pali for it.

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited June 2020

    It's an interesting question but I'm not so sure there is a complete intellectual understanding of the dharma that isn't somehow missing the action.

    In the Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta Buddha says taking on any view does not lead to direct knowledge, awakening or cessation. He also says that any description of the Tathagata mIsses the Tathagata because the Tatjagata is beyond these descriptions. Just like the Dona Sutta where he denies being human. Because he does not identify as anything, he says simply that he may be called awakened.

    To let go of identifying is to let go of positions and to let go of positions is to let go of views.

    Also it comes to mind and it may be a crude analogy but once we have it all wrapped up, we can no longer see it unfolding.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @how that is my experience to. Adherence, perseverance, practice. Form not so important ... Why should dedication and absorption be so necessary? Clearly it is ...

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