Talk:Pre-sectarian Buddhism

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Article title, scope, validity[edit]

This article seems to describe Buddhism on the basis of the description given in the Pali Canon and the agamas. However, all of these texts were associated with sects, and so the title "pre-sectarian Buddhism" doesn't seem warranted. I suggest merging with Nikaya Buddhism.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 00:28, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

Hello Nat, welcome back into the playfield. Are you suggesting theravada and the Other Early schools are exactly equivalent to original Buddhism as it was practiced under the guidance of Buddha? They're different, as you very well know.Greetings, Sacca 01:17, 11 May 2007 (UTC)
No, what I'm suggesting is that this article's depiction of the original Buddhism is equivalent to Theravada, etc.'s description of the original Buddhism.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 01:28, 11 May 2007 (UTC)
No it's not, and by the way, Theravada is not even mentioned in this article, that's how separate it is. Nikaya Buddhism, on the other hand, could be merged with Hinayana, as those two are exactly the same.
P.S. Are you feeling well Nat? I think you're a bit divisive, today. Maybe you should continue tomorrow. best wishes. Greetings, Sacca 01:36, 11 May 2007 (UTC)
It doesn't mention the word "Theravada", but it mentions the Pali Canon, which is the Theravadin collection of scriptures. In fact, the Pali Canon and related texts seem to be this article's only source.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 01:42, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

It mentions the Pali Canon and the Agamas, not only the Pali Canon. These srciptures are recognized as the only valid source for that period. period. That agamas are mentioned is proof that the article isn't about Theravada, since Agamas have no place in Theravadin Ortodoxy. Article about Theravada is about Theravada, not about pre-sectarian Buddhism. I would like to know why you think it's the same. Read it, it obviously a very different article to Theravada, and about a different subject. Firstly, history of the tradition is not there, buddhist orders are not there, no info on current situation, no current local practices in various Theravadin countries. Completely different. So, I am opposed to merger, and I think your attempt has some element of censure in it, you do try to eliminate historical accounts which might possibly give information on history of Buddhism before Mahayana came into being, even this very day on Buddhism you deleted the only info on that subject in the article.

By the way, Schopen didn't find any stones on this subject, he just found stones from many hundreds of years later, and only from the rich upperclass-monks. Even now there's these kinds of high-society-monks, but they don't live together with forest-monks who are keeping vinaya stictly. Naturally a monk without money wouldn't have opportunity to make inscriptions about donations that he made. I can see where you're coming from now, reading schopens book. He's a very controversial figure, who discounts texts though he writes texts. Thinks one can find truth in stones only. But still he's reading texts written in stones. Greetings, Sacca 04:06, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

I certainly never said that the article mentions only Theravadin sources. Still, the Pali Canon and the agamas have many obvious similarities. And, regardless of the lack of other sources, it remains the case that the only sources for this article are texts which are unattested before the sectarian era.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 04:23, 11 May 2007 (UTC)
So we can't say anything about pre-sectarian Buddhism, even if all remaining texts, from various conflicting traditions with conflicting theories about Buddhism, tell a very similar story? If that's true we can also say nothing about Jesus, nothing about Mohammad and nothing about Herod.Greetings, Sacca 04:30, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

This article doesn't seem to make any attempt to distinguish historical fact from legend, cite scholarly authorities etc. Even the title term is unattributed. Peter jackson 10:19, 16 May 2007 (UTC)

Well, Sacca, I certainly don't think that we have to say something about this subject if we don't have any sources for it. The fact that different Buddhist trends agree on a given idea could indicate that the idea is older than the division of the groups, or it could indicate later conflation. As far as I can tell, the only article about another religion that is at all comparable to "pre-secular Buddhism" is Early Christianity, and that is not really all that comparable. The article on Early Christianity is not just a summary of the Gospels and Acts; in fact, it summarizes this material only very briefly.
Having thought about it a bit more, I think we should deal with the material currently presented in this article roughly the same way that we deal with the biography of the Buddha: it's an important account, but it is a set of religious claims. FYI, this isn't the first time I've opposed the idea of having an article of this sort. Wikipedia used to have an article titled Earliest Buddhism, but I move it to the much more appropriate title of Atthakavagga and Parayanavagga.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 23:39, 19 May 2007 (UTC)

It might help if we distinguish 2 different questions here. Nearly all scholars (ie except Schopen) agree that just before Buddhism split up there was a teaching something roughly like the vinaya & nikayas/agamas. These scholars are subdivided according to their interpretation of this material.

The other question is the original teaching of the Buddha. As far as I know, the scholarly position is, as it has been for more than a century, divided into 3 schools of thought.

  • Some, like Gombrich, think the original teaching was substantially the above.
  • Others think it was substantially different. They are of course subdivided according to what they think it was. In recent decades they mainly find it in the Suttanipata. See eg material mentioned above.
  • A 3rd body, like Schopen, Lopez & Cousins, think it unknown or unknowable.

A proper article on thia subject should reflect this position. Peter jackson 10:36, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

Good, now you've cited some sources, which I'll have a look at in detail when I find time. I'll just mention now that you seem to have ondiscriminately used scholarly & propaganda souces. See discussion on the project talk page. Peter jackson 11:05, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

I don't consider Buddhist Monastic Code I nor II propaganda sources. Note also that Thanissaro bhikkhu actually co-wrote scholarly books for use in universities, and also helped making the Macmillan encyclopedia of Buddhism. BMC is not used for propaganada but for explaining Vinaya, which is a different thing. But then again, it's not written in a scholarly way. But which scholarly book goed into such detail? None. You have to go to the monks for this info. Do you consider the Pali Canon a propaganda source? Greetings, Sacca 14:48, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
The criterion is whether a particular book has been published by a respectable publisher, 1 that has other experts check its publications.

Of course the Pali Canon is a propaganda source. It should be cited only for its own teachings, & only with caution as you can "prove" all sorts of things by selection.

This article is not at all neutral as it stands. It carefully argues that all sorts of things are later additions while making no mention of the fact that many scholars think most of the Agamas/Nikayas is or may be later additions too.

Yes, but that is internal evidence, meaning: within the agamas/sutta pitaka some material is earlier. Seems unavoidable, if one person is teching for 45 years, and Ananda became Buddha's attendent only after 20 or 25 years. The teachings from before that would naturally be in a different style since it wasn't 'composed as a Sutta' by Ananda. Greetings, Sacca 12:03, 30 June 2007 (UTC)

Finally, you seem to have no citation for the title. Either give one or rename the article. Peter jackson 09:53, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

To resume. Perhaps the reason scholars don't give details is that there are none. Eg the article says the buddha authorized monasteries in the 1st year. I very much doubt any scholar regards this as fact. It's a tradition that may or may not be true. Peter jackson 17:34, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

You shouln't cite scriptures as sources for historical statements. Just think about Christians doing the same. Peter jackson 10:47, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

The title Pre-sectarian Buddhism implies that all subsequent, including all current, forms of Buddhism are sectarian, which is often considered derogatory. Peter jackson 15:39, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

this is a pov of course, and it's noted. So should we just delete any material on Wikipedia whenever this happens? We try not to, but in the end you always stand on somebodies toes.... What to do? Original Buddhism? Earliest Buddhism? Gautama Buddha's Buddhism? No, pre-sectarian seems best. It is a name given to Buddhism in its beginning period, when it was still unified. That's all there's to it.Greetings, Sacca 12:08, 30 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't have time at present to search out references, but I don't think that the "pre-sectarian" title is entirely inappropriate. Though not exactly the same turn of phrase, it is commonplace for Japanese scholars to refer to "genshi bukkyou" (primitive Buddhism" or "shoki bukkyou" (early period Buddhism, a form of Buddhism they posit prior to what they call "buha bukkyou" (sectarian Buddhism). In other words, their surveys of historical Buddhism have "genshi bukkyou" / "shoki bukkyou" -> "buha bukkyou".--Stephen Hodge 23:44, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
Agreed, the title of this article is not the main problem. However, it is not ideal, either, since, although similar phrases have been used and implied, the exact phrasing "pre-sectarian Buddhism" is primarily an artifact of Wikipedia (please correct me if I'm wrong on this, but it seems to be the case. For one thing, most of the top google hits for this phrase are Wikipedia or Wikipedia mirrors).—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 20:47, 30 June 2007 (UTC)
Well, we do need a title. Maybe we could start out like early christianity: The term Early Christianity here refers to Christianity of the period after the Death of Jesus in the early 30s and before the First Council of Nicaea in 325.
It's quite strange that scholars from western countries are not interested in this period, at least the japanese take some interest - maybe it's because these Japanese scholars are buddhist? Greetings, Sacca 04:06, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for you info, Stephen. Peter, You can add more info yourself can't you? Just as I will if I have the time to do it. Just don't make references from memory, give pagenumbers, and don't vandalise the article! ;-) Greetings, Sacca 11:55, 30 June 2007 (UTC)

If I may just toss out an idea that I hope might help lead to a greater convergence of views regarding this article: Might it be helpful if the term "pre-sectarian Buddhism" were avoided in this article so as not to give the term the appearance of being an actual term of contemporary scholarship? More specifically, the term is currently used in six places in this article. I've listed these in the table below (with the term, "pre-sectarian Buddhism," in boldface) beside a column with possible alternative phrasing (with the suggested changes in red).
Current sentence Suggested rephrasing
The term pre-sectarian Buddhism is used to refer to the Buddhism that existed before the various subsects of Buddhism came into being. This article describes a Buddhism that is hypothesized to have existed before the various subsects of Buddhism came into being.
The period of pre-sectarian Buddhism thus spans the life of Buddha as a teacher, until more than 100 years after his death. The period described by this article thus spans the life of Buddha as a teacher, until more than 100 years after his death.
Pre-sectarian Buddhism was a changing form of Buddhism, with Gautama Buddha defining and refining the proper behaviour for monks (Vinaya), with the help of monks like Upali. During the Buddha's lifetime, Buddhism was a changing form [...], with Gautama Buddha defining and refining the proper behaviour for monks (Vinaya), with the help of monks like Upali.
Heading: Non-existant concepts and scriptures at the time of pre-sectarian Buddhism Heading: Non-existant concepts and scriptures at this time
During the time of Pre-sectarian Buddhism (before any lasting splits occurred in the Sangha), these later elaborations on the teachings (whether correct according to Dhamma-vinaya or not) were not part of the established teaching and practice of Buddhism. During this time (before any lasting splits occurred in the Sangha), these later elaborations on the teachings (whether correct according to Dhamma-vinaya or not) were not part of the established teaching and practice of Buddhism.
Some Buddhist concepts that were not existant in the time of pre-sectarian Buddhism are: Some Buddhist concepts that were not existant during this time are:
Perhaps the suggested alternative phrases are overly simplistic, but might other, more sophisticated rephrasings help bring cohesion to our group? With metta, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 22:12, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
P.S. I realize WP standards state that the article's title should be in the first sentence, but my understanding is that this is a "recommendation," not a "requirement"....
After a bag of potato chips and an inning of Mets baseball, I realized (pard my usual Johnny-come-lately dimness) that another issue can be framed as: Should this article put forth a single theory about what "pre-sectarian Buddhism" resembled (e.g., a la Gombrich) or should it attempt to address the most widely posited scholarly views on pre-sectarian Buddhism (e.g., Gomez, Cousins, etc.)?
Assuming the latter, then what would the introduction to this article look like? I think Peter creates an excellent prototype above (which, Sacca, I think you appear to accept). For instance, after this article's current first paragraph (which identifies the timeframe as being from the when the Buddha first started teaching until the "first enduring split in the Sangha") might the following statement be beneficial:
Current scholarship has maintained three distinct views regarding this period based on:
  1. An analysis of the content of the Pali Canon and Agamas
  2. An analysis of the language used in the early canon
  3. Agnosticism about what is known or knowable
The current material could then be place under a header representing the first aforementioned viewpoint, and then under a header representing the second aforementioned viewpoint a summary of the Atthakavagga and Parayanavagga article (preceded by {{main | Atthakavagga and Parayanavagga}}) could be added. If we were to go this route, what might be appropriate labels for the first two above views, e.g., "Nikaya view" and "Suttanipata view," or "Content analysis" and "Linguistic analysis"????
Thanks for any insights and feedback, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 01:04, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
I think that's an excellent way forward, Larry. It avoids the temptation towards original research and gives the article a much clearer focus to have it focus on presenting scholarly positions on what Buddhism was like at the time of the Buddha, rather than trying to present a "true" picture of what it was.. --Clay Collier 06:44, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
Hello Larry and Clay, thanks for your contributions Larry, I am in favour of trying to really incorporate these views of the scholars, but mind that I am not convinced that there are three theories yet. It seems to me the first 2 are really one theory since they do not negate each other: they are complementary. Remember the Buddha did teach 45 years, so there definitely was an earlier teaching and a later teaching. There are also suttas dealing with how the Sangha had changed even during the life of the Buddha - the number of Vinaya rules became larger, Buddhism was more popular, a receiver of many gifts, the monks had a higher standing, etcetera.
Also we do need a name for an article, and then to actually remove this name from the article itself seems not very helpful, all in order to avoid ... what exactly are we trying to avoid doing this? Only one person has complained until now, Peter Jackson, and he was claiming other people complain. I think it is a very uncontroversial name, it doesn't carry any negative weight and is objective (other than some other names various Buddhist have made up, I might say...). We could use one of the names the Japanese scholars used.
Following Stephen Hodges translations, we can use 'early period Buddhism' (a form of Buddhism Japanese scholars commonly use and posit prior to what they call "buha bukkyou" (sectarian Buddhism) - adapted quote from Stephen). The problem is that Western scholars use Early Buddhism already to refer to the early Buddhist Schools... (It seems to me the western scholars have not yet moved into this direction, as opposed to the Japanse scholars.) Sinc the meaning of this early period Buddhism is precisely the same as pre-sectarian Buddhism, why not use that term for the sake of clarity for English users? We can make a note of this in the article, off course. Greetings, Sacca 06:33, 7 July 2007 (UTC)


This reference seems to me to refer to the Atthakavagga:

See Nakamura, Indian Buddhism, originally published in Japan, 1980, reprinted by Motilal Vanarsidass, Delhi, for one such theory: it has been made clear that some poem (Gāthā) portions and some phrases represent earlier layers ... Based upon these portions of the scriptures we can construe aspects of original Buddhism ... Buddhism as appears in earlier portions of the scriptures is fairly different from what is explained by many scholars as earlier Buddhism or primitive Buddhism, page 57

This quote can be consistent with the quote by Gombrich: I have the greatest difficulty in accepting that the main edifice is not the work of a single genius. By 'the main edifice' I mean the collections of the main body of sermons, the four Nikāyas, and of the main body of monastic rules, Gombrich, loc. cit.

The problem is that what many scholars consider earlier or primitive Buddhism is actually one of the schismatic Buddhisms. Namakura's quote is probably consistent with Gombrich's, I think. Namakura is talking about sections within the 'four nikayas' and the main body of monastic rules. So my question: What exactly do these quotes refer to? Greetings, Sacca 04:17, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

No, they're not consistent at all. I can't give you all the relevant quotes right now, but Nakamura's position is that little or none of the Pali Canon goes back to the Buddha's lifetime, & that the original teaching was fairly different from the agama teaching. Peter jackson 10:43, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

OK, here are some quotes from Nakamura.

pp26f: "The earlier portions of the Pali scriptures have been classified in several groups according to their chronological order:...(citation from Ui)

  1. Parayana (of the Suttanipata)
    1. The first four vaggas of the Suttanipata,and the first Sagathavaggaof the Samyutta-nikaya
    2. Itivuttaka, udana
    3. The first eight vaggas of Nidana-samyuttaof the Samyutta-nikaya II and Vedalla...

p45: "...the Atthaka-vagga and the Parayana-vagga are very old; it is likely that they existed even in the lifetime of Gotama Buddha."

p46: "The Suttanipāta is quite unique in describing the earliest stage of Buddhism when monks spent their lives as hermits prior to the days of monasteries, and philosophical speculations were barred..."

p57: "It is generally admitted that early Buddhist philosophy is set forth in the Pāli Nikāyas and their corresponding Chinese texts. But the Pāli Nikāyas temselves consist of various earlier and later layers which are derived from different periods... in the Buddhist texts there is no word that can be traced with unquestionable authority to Gotama Śākyamuni as a historical personage, although there must be some sayings or phrases derived from him. So, selecting older parts among the voluminous scriptures of Early Buddhism, scholars of critical approach try to elucidate the true purport of the teachings of the Buddha, or what is closest to his virtual teachings.

In this sense we shall distinguish between I) Original Buddhism and II) Early Buddhism. The former can be known only from older portions of the Pali scriptures, whereas the latter can be known chiefly from the most portions of the Pali scriptures that are in common with Sanskrit and Chinese Āgamas."

Then comes the quote at the head of this section. Insert in the second ellipsis

"The picture which we can get therefrom is fairly different from that as we get from the Pali scriptures in general."

After this quote comes detail which I've summarized in Buddhism, the list of main differences.(pp57-60)

I may add more later.

I hope it's absolutely clear that this is quite different from Gombrich. Peter jackson 17:44, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

To summarize, Nakamura, Ui et al give the following periods:

  1. early Buddhism
    1. original Buddhism
      1. Buddha's lifetime: Atthaka, Parayana & little or nothing else
      2. somewhat later: some other material, mostly verse
    2. early Buddhism: main body of vinaya (including Patimokkha) & nikayas/agamas
  2. conservative (nikaya) Buddhism

I should mention that (if it's not obvious) I didn't always bother with diacritics & typography in the above quotations, to save time. Peter jackson 10:25, 5 October 2007 (UTC)


It seems to me there are only 3 names which can be used for this article: Original Buddhism, Earliest Buddhism and Pre-sectarian Buddhism (these three have all been used in books). Peter seems to have big problems with the current name, although I don't quite see why. Are the other names a better alternative? Greetings, Sacca 09:30, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

Now I found Peter prefers the following (as obvious from his recent edit in Nikaya Buddhism): The term (Nikaya Buddhism) is used exclusively to refer to the separate schools or nikayas, not the early Buddhism from which they derived.
So, he deleted the mention of Pre-sectarian Buddhism and replaced it with the early Buddhism from which they derived. This just makes things complicated and mixes things up; I believe Peter just doesn't want to use any name. I still don't know why, though it definitely is Peters' strong POV. Greetings, Sacca 10:07, 28 September 2007 (UTC)
I object to the term PSB for 2 reasons:
  • it violates what I understand to be WP policy of using standard terminology
  • it is offensive, implying Buddhists are sectarian, a word whose dictionary meanings include bigoted

Peter jackson 10:40, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

No peter, it's not offensive. Pre-sectarian is used in various religions, also for muslims and christians. If I would say that there are many different groups of christians and muslims and hindus and buddhists, am I right or wrong? Is this offensive to any of those religious groups? of course not, it's the reality. No common sense person would be offended if I said that Roman Catholicism is one of various christian groups. Just don't confuse pre-sectarian with calling a religion a sect. Maybe that's your problem, that you confuse the term pre-sectarian with this. Pre-sectarian means 'before the religion split into various groups' - that's it. Then later we use the term early buddhist schools to refer to those groups. Greetings, Sacca 07:23, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

This is simply a matter of logic. The term pre-sectarian Buddhism logically implies that later Buddhism is sectarian. Peter jackson 10:20, 5 October 2007 (UTC)


Don't delete important information and continue falsifying the situation just because the citation doesn't give as much information as you want. It's vitally important to make clear that some scholars regard the earlier and later phases of PSB as different. This fact must not be censored. If you really want a verbatim quotation of Nakamura's table of contents, let me know and I'll supply it. Don't censor. Peter jackson 11:16, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

Your addition is not clear, what is meant is very 'up in the air'. I can't make any sense of it, try to make things clearer, explain a bit, Maybe supply the information. I won't agree to additions which are badly explained and confuse things. 07:30, 5 October 2007 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Sacca (talkcontribs)

You mustn't falsify the article. There are at least 3 things false or misleading in your version:

  • It may be true that some writers use the term original Buddhism in the sense of PSB; it is certainly not the case that all do so. Specifically, Nakamura uses it in a different sense (see above). The wording in your version blurs the distinction between possible different meanings, & thus blurs the possible distinction between the Buddha's original teaching & later periods of PSB.
  • The statement that the 1st schism occurred between the 2nd & 3rd councils is false in the sense that it is not a fact in the WP sense but a theory held by most scholars, as I've stated in my version, but not all. I cite scholars who disagree or question.
  • The concept of PSB itself (not the term, which is a separate discussion) is questionable. Schopen questions the idea that there was ever a period of unified Buddhism before it split into schools. He suggests (I don't think he's positively asserting) that Buddhism started out very diverse, & then gradually coalesced into a limited number of schools. I agree he's not entirely clear, but that's no justification for censoring his views.

Of course my additions confuse things. That's the whole point. It's falsification to present the situation as clear when in fact it really is confused.

You have no right to keep returning to a false text when citations have been given proving it false. Peter jackson 10:18, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

PS How can you possibly claim that the statement that Hirakawa places the 1st schism after the death of Asoka is unclear? How can you possibly claim that Nakamura's division into 2 periods is unclear? You can't possibly be that stupid. Peter jackson 10:30, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Facts & legends[edit]

After carefully stating that scholars disagree on the original teachings of the Buddha & whether they can be known, the article then goes on to ignore all this & report all sorts of traditions as if they were hard facts. This just won't do. Peter jackson 10:34, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Peter, relax. drink some water. it's all right. things are just fine. then come back here, and we can continue, ok? (Stop vandalising my talk page, is what I really want to say.) Greetings, Sacca 11:07, 5 October 2007 (UTC)


Can I have some help here please. Sacca persists in censoring out properly sourced statements & restoring false & misleading ones, without giving any sensible reasons. Peter jackson 11:15, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Peter is bviosuly on a vandalising trip. This is what I put in his talkpage, asking for clarification.

Peter, think a bit: what does you addition say? What is it's content?
The late Professor Nakamura[3] uses the term early Buddhism in this sense, and subdivides it into two periods:
1. original Buddhism
2. this period Nakamura also calls early Buddhism
Is this logical content? what are the 2 periods? Are they really subdivisions? What is subdevision number 1? What is subdevision number two? How are they different?
No good answer means you're a vandal, by the way!
Greetings, Sacca 11:17, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Peter, I won't bother with you any more now. For other people:

  1. Peter has not succeeded in deleting this page. Nobody agreed with Peter's standpoint.
  2. Peter is a historical vandal at this page (please have a look at Peter's talk page where the vandalism is properly documented).
  3. Please have a look at the addition Peter has been making: it's obviously nonsensical. who can understand it? there's no meaning to it. Peter is bitter and angry, that's it. I don't know what he's doing in the pre-sectarian buddhism article other than trying to make trouble. Greetings, Sacca 11:31, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

What vandalsim? I haven't deleted anything from the aricle. I've simply added citations of scholars who disagree with some of the statements in the article. Censoring their opinions is contrary to WP policy as I understand it. In fact there's very little in the article that some scholars wouldn't disagree with.

The impression I get from various things I've heard, and observed for myself, is that most people suffer from a high degree of very selective stupidity: they are incapable of understanding even the simplest statements that don't conform to their prejudices. You seem to be quite normal. Peter jackson 10:05, 6 October 2007 (UTC)


Dear Friends and Combatants! From the talk page it's obvious that you've put a lot of work and energy into arguing for this page and it's content. I haven't read it in detail yet, but I'm so pleased that it's here at all.

I gave up on participating in Wikipedia totally because I was so fed up with the Theravadin partisans/ fundamentalists trying to censor information about the differences between presectarian, early and theravadin stages of Buddhist tradition. Generally it is those who shout the loudest not those who know the most whose ideas end up staying on controversial wikipedia pages.

But I am delighted that you have succeeded in getting these pages listed on the main side column of 'Buddhism' related topics at last! Of course it will be a bitter battle to the end to get the content accurate and not just a partisan Theravadin diatribe, but please be persistent and realise there are probably many who sympathise and support and value what you're doing even if we don't get involved directly.

Perhaps one day, probably centuries after I'm dead, we will have a community that genuinely represents the early teachings and is willing to be held accountable to them again! Satyameva vijayati! (talk) 06:29, 18 July 2008 (UTC)

Redirecting "Primitive Buddhism"?[edit]

I was reading Fausboll's 1881 intro to the Sutta Nipata[1] today and came across (once again ;-) ) the term "Primitive Buddhism." While a WP search of "Primitive Buddhism"[2] (as well as Stephen Hodge's comments above?) suggests that this term has currency – at least between 1880 and 1930? – there's no WP article or redirect for this term. Should/could we redirect it here with a sentence stating something like:

"Primitive Buddhism" is a term used to denote "the teachings of the founder and his near contemporaries."footnote

with the footnote identifying, e.g., Brough (1962), p. xiv (thanks to PeterJ for including this quote on his user subpage :-) )? - Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 17:48, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

Well, it's been three weeks and no reply so I've simply redirected "Primitive Buddhism" to this article. With metta, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 04:34, 6 December 2008 (UTC)

We / I[edit]

From the quote and reading the book it is very clear that he means just his own opinion. You wouldn't say scholars first and then refer to the same scholars as 'we'. This we means I, the royal I. But I grant we can continue to argue about it. So I think its best to remove this quote, which is better than getting into an edit war. Greetings, Sacca 15:27, 13 April 2009 (UTC)

If you go to [3] and in the search within the book for "we" it is clear that he is using this in the standard scholarly sense, in which it refers to the author and readers who are going along with him. Mitsube (talk) 16:15, 13 April 2009 (UTC)

OK, so then we can take it in the sense of 'I'. Greetings, Sacca 16:58, 13 April 2009 (UTC)

I will write him and ask him to clarify. Sylvain1972 (talk) 18:35, 13 April 2009 (UTC)

Prof. Davidson clarified: you are correct, he was employing the editorial we. The full text of his remarks was interesting, and he gave me permission to share them here:

In the statement, I employ the editorial we, although many scholars would agree with me.

The problem is one of textual and linguistic differentiation. The earliest materials were inscribed no earlier than two centuries after the historical Buddha passed away, and even that is somewhat speculative. The general consensus is that the Alu-vihāra writing (ca. 32-20 BCE) of some canonical materials is the first real notice of scriptural writing, but whether texts had been written down before that or not remains unknown. Some have argued that there must have been writing before then, but it is difficult to determine, and the Alu-vihāra episode in Sri Lanka happened almost four centuries after the current thinking on the death of the Buddha (ca. 400 BCE).

Asoka mentions some texts in his Bhabru Rock Edict, and generally it is understood that these designate parts of the early collection of the Suttanipāta, but it is uncertain which verses were to be included, since the relationship of these floating bodies of verse (Dhammapada, Udānavarga, etc.) have yet to be straightened out satisfactorily, in part because the new Gāndhāri mss. being worked on by Salomon, Strauss and Braarvig have thrown the early period into much uncertainty.

Not only are any reliable scribal traditions missing for early Indian Buddhism, we do not even know the exact nature of the speech the Buddha used. We have no reliable linguistic mapping of the speech of the Gangetic valley at the time the Buddha preached. Most specialists in early Middle Indic (I am not one) would argue, for example, that the Pali canon is written in a mixed language found around Ujjain, in the west. It is, moreover, a literary language, as its name “pali” indicates, for this word in the language means simply “text.” (One commonly encounters in Pali commentaries the phrase, “the pali says” meaning the text says; the name of the language was extrapolated from this use) The colloquial language in which the Buddha must have taught would have been located much distance to the east, and my travels in India have confirmed to me at least that Indian language changes quite swiftly from one locale to another—verbs, pronouns, sentence organization, syntax, etc.

Furthermore, the claims to great antiquity often articulated by Theravada monks for the received Pali canon cannot be confirmed. Simple comparisons to the Chinese translations of the earliest canonical materials show that the texts often do not agree either in form or in substance. In many instances, as the work of Waldschmidt has shown with the Mahāparinirvāṇa sūtra, the Pali canon, the surviving Sanskrit text, the Chinese translations (in this instance several) and the Tibetan translation have overlapping areas of agreement, but they leave us little confidence as to what the original text would have said. André Bareau wrote a three volume work on the relatively short Mahāparinirvāṇa sūtra simply to try to take all the variations into account. He succeeded, but what is the original text in there? Is there one?

In the past few years, I’ve been tracing down odd bits of verse that found in the various canons, and sometimes it is attributed to the founder of the Jain tradition, sometimes to the Buddha, and sometimes to one or another Arhat. Whose words are they? At this point, there is little way to know.

Part of the reason for this awkward state of affairs is that the Arhats or other figures were said to be able to speak the Dharma in the Buddha’s presence and have it confirmed as the “teaching of the Buddha,” (śāstuḥ śāsanam), which was the original classification of the Buddha’s message, so far as I’ve been able to determine. We don’t find the category of the “word of the Buddha” (buddhavacanam) until somewhat late in the polemical field. If we recall that Buddhist monks believed that the Buddha’s message was to pass away soon anyway, we may understand their lack of concern for the strict writing down of each phoneme.

Consequently, I’m something of an agnostic as to the nature of the Buddha’s actual speech, his precise message and related issues. We have a much better understanding of what the early communities (plural) received than what the Buddha may or may not have said.

For a further discussion of these and related issues, you may want to consult my article “An Introduction the Standards of Scriptural Authenticity in Indian Buddhism” in Robert Buswell, ed. Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha, pp. 291-325. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1990.

I hope this helps your discussion.

That was nice of him. The agamas and nikayas agree much more often than they disagree. That should be kept in mind. Mitsube (talk) 15:12, 17 April 2009 (UTC)

Not studied before western scholarship[edit]

"The idea of a "pre-sectarian Buddhism" was not studied before Western scholarship on Buddhism began in the 1890s. Both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhists accepted the reliability of their respective canons."

You've got to be kidding, right? As if they all just blindly strolled along without any single one of them researching their history? Can't see why that should stay there. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rob Tze (talkcontribs) 23:31, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

Precanonical Buddhism[edit]

Can I suggest that this be moved to a new page, interlinked with this one? (talk) 08:22, 19 November 2015 (UTC)

The Concept of Presectarian Buddhism.[edit]

As far as I can tell there is absolutely no evidence for a presectarian Buddhism. All the evidence we have is sectarian. The idea of a pre-sectarian Buddhism accepts the premise of the Buddhist tradition uncritically on it's own terms, and then interprets sectarian evidence from this point of view. So this is not an historical or scientific term, it is a religious term. Unfortunately it's not clear which scholars that are mentioned accept this premise, but some of them clearly do. Jayarava (talk) 13:38, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

'Pre-sectarian Buddhism' and Theravada Buddhism is the same[edit]

First Buddhist council was held three months after Gautama Lord Buddha's Parinirvana(passed away) with the leadership of Great Arahant Mahakassapa Thero and King Ajātasattu was sponsored to it. All of the 500 members was great Arahant Theros(monks) who don't have any wrong views(frames). It took the monks seven months to recite the whole of the Vinaya and the Dhamma and formulate it to the Tripitaka(Pali Canon). Also the great Theros made the unanimous decision to keep all the rules of the Vinaya, even the lesser and minor rules. But the Lord Buddha has said minor rules of Vinaya can be change. Dhamma is the ultimate reality showed by the Lord Buddha. Vinaya are rules which quickly guide to the eternal happiness with fulfilling requirements(Paramita). All second and third also held by great Arahant Theros.

All I want to tell you that current Tripitaka(Pali Canon) is the same Dharma and Vinaya(except some commentaries) as formulated at the First Buddhist council which held three months after Gautama Lord Buddha's Parinirvana(passed away). So, 'Pre-sectarian Buddhism' and the Theravada Buddhism is the same thing. It is true that currently only few follow pure teachings as in Tripitaka. --Mudithachampika (talk) 02:58, 11 February 2016 (UTC)

Pre-sectarian Buddhism and Theravada are not the same. Read some scholarly studies on the history of the Buddhism, instead of sectarian publications. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 06:04, 11 February 2016 (UTC)

Pre-sectarian Buddhism as a title[edit]

I am new to this article, but you know me :-D. I am a bit concerned about what it's attempting to cover; apart from considerable sleuthing from the editors, it appears that those scholars that have said anything about the topic completely disagree with each other on every point. Also I am not convinced about the name of the article. Pre-sectarian Buddhism would, in my mind, represent Buddhism before the first schism - which according to vinaya occured during Buddha's own life, and was largely based upon a group led by his cousin Devadatta. Yet the article seems to be primarily concerned with Pre-canonical Buddhism.

As for Conze's question of 'real issue', I am pretty sure that we get a good flavour of how Lord Buddha was a veritable 'tourist attraction', with many people falling over themselves to sponsor him and his community. He was also approached by many commoners also, and spoke the vernacular. There are also lay vows and sutras for householders, such as the Dighajanu Sutta.

Regardless, I don't want to come across merely as a critic, especially as a lot of careful work has done to construct the page, and much that I would dispute many of the authors cited. This particular phrase insight, which is a cognitive activity, cannot be possible in a state wherein all cognitive activity has ceased. particularly rankles. I really think that if Schmithausen and Bronkhorst spent more time practicing and less time feathering their academic beds they would easily understand that which appears to be a conflict just is not. One of the features of Buddhism that appears to be missing from any of these scholar's thoughts is that there is a living transmission of mind - a continuum of realisation that reaches back to Buddha, and this is not found in just one tradition or another. (20040302 (talk) 10:21, 23 May 2016 (UTC))

@20040302: "Pre-caninical Buddhism" sounds like a good title, but I think that you really shpuld read those authors. Wikipedia is not based on personal practice and experience, but on reliable sources - blablabla et cetera; you know the lecture ;). Wgat they say is that that "living transmission" saw some fundamental changes, at least regarding the position of "insight." And that's a long-standing notion, not just those two. See Four Noble Truths#Substituting "liberating insight", especially note 22. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 10:47, 23 May 2016 (UTC)
@Joshua Jonathan:, thanks for your gentle and humorous reminder. The transmission that I mention is not a textual or intellectual one, but like water poured into water. Academics like to make a mark and find new things to say - especially provocative things, but different traditions are using different words merely because they reflect the need of the community they are in, and likewise have the dance of their own past as an echo in their actions. The end-game of all this, I believe (supported by overwhelming quantities of literature), is prajna developed by recognising the three marks of samsara. If that recognition is a cognitive 'super-imposition' then it isn't a recognition at all. Once the recognition has taken place, then one has entered into the path. Now I concede there are many methods to recognition, including academic and meditative, using inward looking (such as zen, etc) or other means. Even the manner of recognition varies - eg the Cittamatra depend upon alayavijana - but the fundamental recognition of the three marks is unchanged. Even tantra is exactly the same on this, but the 'twist' in tantra is that one recognises the truth of the three marks. If there is any "fundamental changes" of what is being recognised as the nature of the universe, then the universe itself has changed, which I find pretty hard to accept. Western science has only recently discovered the universality of impermanence. Up until recently it was assumed that some particles did not decay; it's been quite some time that science has accepted the universality of momentary change. So, one must make a decision. Is Buddhism a religion that requires blind faith in the three marks, or is it not? Buddha repeatedly says "Find out for yourself". Both Napper and Huntington have some pretty scathing remarks directed towards academic Buddhologists. Also cf. Alan Wallace's paper (20040302 (talk) 08:06, 24 May 2016 (UTC)) addendum: So, I read some of Tilman Vetter (1988) as you suggested, and I am disappointed. His dependency upon Gomez for much of his insight into eg. the Madhyamaka is really poor and very misunderstood. The rest of it is mysterious. I want to know where the source is for being able to achieve liberation through reaching the formless (aka the peak). All the materials and teaching I am familiar with states that one does not need to develop formless concentrations, and that formless meditation leads to rebirth in the formless realms, but it is not liberation. (20040302 (talk))