13. Early Buddhism

Fri., Aug. 22nd, 09:00-17:30 | Sat., Aug. 23rd, 09:00-10:30


Not Differentiated, Nor ‘Yoked’: A New Light on the Relationship between the four jhānas and the Practice of satipaṭṭhāna

Arbel, Keren (Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, ISR)

Buddhist scholars and contemporary academics have long been intrigued by the relationship between samatha or concentration meditation, which traditionally includes the four jhānas and the four formless attainments (arūpa-samāpattis), and vipassanā or insight meditation, described as the practice of satipaṭṭhānas. The existence of what appear to be two different types of meditative techniques in the Pāli Nikāyas evoked a difficulty in understanding the relationship between two significant path factors: sammā samādhi (i.e., the four jhānas) and sammā-sati (i.e., the four satipaṭṭhānas). If the jhānas are a meditative procedure leading to one-pointed absorption which is disconnected from sense-experience how can it be combined and integrated with a meditative technique that aims at seeing (vipassanā) the true nature of phenomena? If the four jhānas are states of deep absorption that do not reveal anything about the nature of reality, a borrowed element from Indian contemplative traditions, how can we explain their central position in the Nikāyas' liberation scheme?

Up until now academic literature about the phenomenology of the four jhānas and their relationship with the practice of satipaṭṭhāna has been recapitulating, for the most part, traditional Theravāda interpretations. According to Theravāda texts and most Buddhologists the attainment of the four jhānas is not liberative or distinctively Buddhist. A common supposition is that the practice of satipaṭṭhāna is the only Buddhist innovation while the attainment of the jhānas is common to Indian contemplative traditions.

In contrast this paper will argue that the fourfold jhāna model is uniquely Buddhist, even though the term itself has been adopted from the Indian “pool” of contemplative terms. It will offer a new interpretation of the phenomenology of the four jhānas and their relation to the practice of satipaṭṭhāna by analyzing descriptions of the jhānas in the Nikāyas, independently from traditional Theravāda explications. By calling into question fundamental assumptions concerning the structure of the meditative path in the early Buddhist texts, this paper will suggest that there is a clear correlation in the Nikāyas between the attainment of the four jhānas and the gradual maturity of the practice of satipaṭṭhānas. It will show that the structure of the path as it is presented in the Nikāyas is more complex than the common hierarchal-polarized model in which the development of the jhānas is preliminary at best to the practice of vipassanā. First and foremost, this paper will challenge the traditional positioning of the four jhānas under the category of ‘concentration meditation’. Contrary to the traditional Theravada's view that one can ‘bypass’ the four jhānas, as they are not really ‘Buddhist’, this presentation will offer examples how the jhānas are the actualization and embodiment of insight practice (vipassanā). In conclusion, this paper sheds a new light on the fourfold jhāna model and its liberative role in the Pāli Nikāya.

 

Pseudo-saṃyuttas in the Pali Saṃyutta-nikāya

Bucknell, Roderick (University of Queensland, Brisbane, AUS)

Within the Pali Saṃyutta-nikāya the most common type of saṃyutta is that which has evidently resulted from grouping together a variable number of independent suttas that have a common topic or other shared feature. A typical example is the Nidāna-saṃyutta, “Connected with Causation”, whose eighty-four suttas deal with conditioned arising and related topics. My paper discusses a less familiar type, exemplified in the Okkanti-saṃyutta, “Connected with [Stream]-Entry”. The ten suttas of this saṃyutta share a common format and deal with a well-known set of topics in a well-known fixed sequence. After presenting further examples of this type and comparing their parallels in the (Mūla)-Sarvāstivādin Saṃyuktāgama (Taishō 99), I discuss their likely origin and thereby justify referring to them as “pseudo-saṃyuttas”.

 

Stylistic Analysis of Terms Expressed in Pairs and Triads in the Pāli Nikāyas and the Abhidhamma

Ditrich, Tamara (University of Sydney, NTI, AUS)

Several Pāli terms occur in pairs and triads, following stylized formulae established in the textual transmission of the early Pāli Canon. This paper will discuss the occurrences of two sets of terms, ajjhattaṃ “internally” and bahiddhā “externally” and samudaya- and vaya-, which are repeatedly attested in numerous places in the Nikāyas and the Abhidhamma. It will explore differences in the meaning and functions of these syntagms when they occur in pairs (e.g. ajjhattaṃ “internally” and bahiddhā “externally”) and in triads (ajjhattaṃ “internally”, bahiddhā “externally” and ajjhattabahiddhā “internally and externally”), and suggest alternative readings, based on investigation of the specific contexts (explicative/prescriptive) in which they occur. It will identify several typological and semantic patterns of these terms—depending whether they are attested as single words or in pairs or triads—and indicate how their different combinations and contexts contribute to their different semantic features and functions. Hence the paper will underline the importance of stylistic analysis of the textual transmission in early Buddhism which needs to be accounted for in interpretations and translation of the Pāli Canonical texts.

 

The Idea of the “Historical Buddha”

Drewes, David (University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, CAN)

This paper examines the nineteenth and early twentieth-century discussions that established the idea that Gautama Buddha was a historical figure. Though early nineteenth-century scholars tended to think of the Buddha as a mythical, supernatural being, scholars such as Eugene Burnouf, J. Barthélemy Saint-Hilaire, T.W. Rhys Davids and Hermann Oldenberg argued that he was originally a human philosopher. Other leading scholars, such as H.H. Wilson, Max Müller, Émile Senart, Hendrik Kern, and R. Otto Franke, doubted or argued against this idea. This paper draws attention to the fact that though the former group of scholars won out in the end, the most serious of the skeptics’ objections were never answered. It argues that even if we adopt a lax standard of evidence, it is not possible to consider the existence of “the historical Buddha” to be an established fact.

 

Re-visiting Religious Boundary-Making in Early Buddhism

Freiberger, Oliver (The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA)

As most current textbooks indicate, contemporary scholarship is fairly confident in determining the religious boundaries of early Buddhism. The Vinaya ordination defines Buddhist monks and nuns; the Middle Way delineates the boundaries to ascetics who lead a hedonistic or an extreme ascetic life; and Buddhist laypeople signal their religious affiliation through taking refuge in the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha. This paper challenges this seemingly unproblematic narrative. It tries to show that early Buddhist texts (here: the Pali canon) contain a variety of boundary-making activities that are partly irreconcilable. It argues that modern scholarship, rather than acknowledging the diversity of identity constructions, sides with particular positions in the texts - and thus particular or interest groups among the authors - while ignoring other views. One major example will be the concept of the Middle Way, which is widely accepted in scholarship as an uncontested instrument for distinguishing between Buddhists and non-Buddhists. This paper discusses the segregating features of the concept which were also directed against fellow Buddhists. The general argument is that historians of religion cannot distinguish between Buddhists and non-Buddhists without possibly excluding certain voices. If they do, they privilege certain viewpoints and speak for Buddhism rather than about it, whether or not they intend to do so.

 

Who or What was Alavi-Gotama? Names as Rhetorical Device in the Buddha's Discourse on saddha in the Sutta Nipata

Inoue, Takami (Otani University, Kyoto, JPN)

Toward the end of the final chapter of the Sutta Nipata, an old, feeble Brahman named Pingiya, who was in the midst of praising Gotama devotionally, suddenly hears the Buddha's voice speaking to him: “As Vakkali was liberated by faith (mutta-saddha), [as well as] Bhadravudha and Alavi-Gotama, You too should give forth faith (pamuncassu saddham), And you will go, Oh Pingiya, to the further shore of the realm of death.” (Sn 1146)

This verse is actually the Buddha's concluding remarks of the chapter entitled Parayana (“the way to the other shore”), as well as his final words in the entire volume of the Sutta Nipata. Among the three names mentioned here as representatives of those who had realized deliverance through the power of faith, the most problematic is the last, namely Alavi-Gotama, who does not appear anywhere else in the Nikaya under such a name.

Considering its context in the Sutta Nipata, Alavi-Gotama is a very significant designation in the Buddha's discourse on faith, but Pali commentarial tradition has not paid adequate attention to it. According to Buddhaghosa's Suttanipata-atthakatha, Alavi-Gotama was simply “a thera who attained arahantship through faith,” and the Dictionary of Pali Proper Names just adds the following context: “He is mentioned in the Sutta Nipata in a verse spoken by the Buddha to Pingiya when the Buddha appeared in a ray of light at Bavari's hermitage.” No consideration seems to have been given to the relevance of the place name “Alavi-” and its relationship to the family name “Gotama” in the exegeses by scholars of the Theravada tradition.

The exact location of Alavi has not been identified archaeologically, but according to Cunningham's Ancient Geography of India and the latest studies by Iwai Shogo et al., Alavi was a prosperous village near the northern bank of the Ganges, about 70 km north-west of Pataligama (later Pataliputra, and present-day Patna), and the Buddha stayed at the Aggalava cetiya, a sanctuary around the largest Nigrodha tree in Alavi, many times during his 45 years of wandering after attaining Enlightenment. There are two dramatic sutras in the Sutta Nipata whose locale was set in Alavi; i.e., Alavaka Sutta (Sn 181-192) and Vangisa Sutta (a.k.a. Nigrodha Kappa Sutta, Sn 343-358), and both indicate the significance of faith.

Applying a new approach to the Buddha's words in early Pali literature, which follows the method advocated by Richard Gombrich in his introduction to What the Buddha Thought (Equinox, 2009), this paper proposes a hypothesis that “Alavi-Gotama” is a rhetorical device adopted by the Buddha or the compilers of the Sutta Nipata for the purpose of stressing and reconfirming the critical role of saddha on the Buddhist path to awakening. In order to decipher the pariyaya (lit. “way round” or “indirect route”), an allusion that defies literal interpretation, this paper examines Alavi-Gotama's geographical, historical, and inter-textual contexts, which reveal the importance of a faith-oriented path in the earliest stage of Buddhism

 

Early Indian Buddhist ‘Company Men’ and How They Cornered the Religious Marketplace

Milligan, Matthew (University of Texas, Austin, USA)

In the Early Historic Period (300 BCE – 300 CE) of Indian Buddhist history, a particular group of elite, non-royal financiers may have been heavily involved in the unprecedented rise of religious material culture after the fall of the Mauryan Empire. Epigraphic sources reveal that the early Indian Buddhist community relied heavily on the patronage, leadership, and charisma of a select few individuals from known gotra-s, or lineages traced through maternal ancestors. Men identified by their metronyms strongly influenced the future trajectory of Buddhism in South Asia and took the “business” of Buddhism especially seriously as the newly institutionalized religion expanded outside the Buddhist heartland. Members of the family, known as “Gotīputa-s,” or “the sons of Gauptī,” not only bankrolled Buddhist monumental construction projects but routinely had their relics enshrined for worship alongside monuments erected for worship of the Buddha’s own relics.

In this paper, I reinvestigate these “sons of Gauptī” and study their impact on the world of ancient ritual finance in India. What was their relationship to the Mainstream monastic Buddhist institution? How did the monks and nuns, who had taken strict vows that often led them to avoid economics altogether, get along with the “sons of Gauptī”? What business strategies may we discern from the available evidence and did these strategies have lasting effects on the survival of Buddhism in South Asia? Lastly, did the “sons of Gauptī” quest for social and political power and financial aggrandizement, or were their incentives driven by belief and soteriological concerns? To begin to address these complex questions in the ancient world I deploy the concepts of symbolic and economic capital. I hope to re-conceptualize ways in which elite financiers in the ancient world, like the “sons of Gauptī,” may have used religious ideals such as reciprocity and compassion as catalysts for accumulating greater amounts of capital.

 

Was Insight an Intrinsic Quality of the Meditative State of jhāna in Early Buddhism?

Polak, Grzegorz (Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin, Konskowola, POL)

The precise nature and status of jhāna meditation in early Buddhist soteriology remains to be one of the most controversial subjects of early Buddhist studies. Amongst the most unclear issues connected with jhāna meditation is its relation to meditative insight. There appear to be fundamental discrepancies related to this issue in the Suttapiṭaka itself and in the later Buddhist meditative texts. These discrepancies appear to be sometimes difficult or even impossible to reconcile. In this paper I will attempt to present a model of meditative insight as an intrinsic quality of the jhāna state through an interdisciplinary approach relying on textual studies as well as on the new developments in the field of rapidly developing cognitive sciences. I would like to point out and analyze several fundamental difficulties connected with the traditional Buddhist model of insight understood as a meditative method on its own, distinct from jhāna meditative state. I will attempt to propose an explanation of how and why the original concept of insight as an intrinsic quality of jhāna state underwent a radical evolution, which has unfortunately lead to both textual discrepancies and serious problems on a practical and psychological level. In order to provide a plausible model of insight as an intrinsic aspect of jhāna state, I will also refer to some important new developments from the field of cognitive sciences, which provide a new way of explaining how human cognition works. In order to show that my model is possible on a practical level, I will also like to point out some meditative developments from the later history of Buddhism, where insight was seen in a somewhat similar way.

 

From Similes to Allegory: The Deconstruction of Chariot Imagery in Early Buddhist Texts, Analyzed with Cognitive Metaphor Theory

Schlieter, Jens (Universität Bern, Bern, CHE)

The presentation will start by unfolding the various layers of chariot imagery in early Indian sources, namely, chariots as vehicles of gods such as the sun (sūrya), i.e. as symbol of cosmic stability; chariots as symbols of royal power and social prestige e.g. of Brahmins; and, finally, chariots as metaphors for the “person”, the “mind” and the “way to liberation” (e.g., Kaṭ.-Up. III.3; Maitr.-Up. II. 6). In Buddhist and non-Buddhist sources, chariots are in certain aspects used as a metaphor for the (old) human body (e.g., Caraka-S., Vi.3.37-38; D II.100; D II.107); apart from that, there is, of course, mention of the “real” use of chariots in sports, cults, journey, and combat. The most prominent example of the Buddhist use of chariot imagery is its application as a model for the person (S I.134 f.; Milindapañha, ed. Trenckner, 26), i.e., for highlighting the “non-substantial self”. There are, however, other significant examples of the usage of chariot imagery in early Buddhist texts. Of special interest are those cases in which chariot metaphors were applied in order to explain how the ‘self’ may proceed on the way to salvation – with ‘mindfulness’ or the ‘self’ as charioteer, with ‘wisdom’ and ‘confidence’ as horses etc. (e.g. S I. 33; S V.7; Dhp 94; or the Nārada-Jātaka, No. 545, verses 181-190). One might be tempted to say that these instances reaffirm the traditional soteriology of a substantial “progressing soul”. Taking conceptual metaphor analysis as a tool, I will, in contrast, argue that there is a special Buddhist use of this metaphor. Indeed, at first sight, it seems to presuppose a non-Buddhist understanding (the “self” as charioteer; the chariot as vehicle to liberation, etc.). Yet, it will be argued that in these cases the chariot imagery is no longer fully “functional”. The Buddhist usage may, therefore, best be described as a final allegorical phase of the chariot-imagery, which results in a thorough deconstruction of the “chariot” itself.

 

Early Buddhist Verses in the Śarīrārthagāthā of the Yogācārabhūmi

Shi, Fazhao (The University of Sydney, Sydney, AUS)

The Śarīrārthagāthā (Chinese, Tǐyì qiétā 體義伽他; Tibetan, ’dus pa’i don gyi tshigs su bcad pa), i.e., Verses of Corpus Meaning, is a collection of canonical verses with accompanying commentary in the Yogācārabhūmi (Chinese, Yúqié shī dì lùn 瑜伽師地論; Tibetan, rnal 'byor spyod pa'i sa), an encyclopedic text of the Yogācāra-Vijñānavāda tradition. According to Enomoto (1989), the verses of the Śarīrārthagāthā are quoted from the Saṃyuktāgama, Udānavarga, Pārāyaṇa, Arthavargīya and Madhyamāgama. Obviously, these various verses are collected from the texts of early Buddhism. This paper discusses the relationship between Śarīrārthagāthā verses and the aṅga classification system, which is tied to the formation of early Buddhist literature. The Śarīrārthagāthā verses can be divided into two groups that are related to geya- and vyākaraṇa-aṅgas respectively, which generally rank second and third in the classification system. This indicates how these early Buddhist verses in the Śarīrārthagāthā might have been regarded and collected by the author(s) of the Yogācārabhūmi. It also hints at the importance placed on the first three aṅgas (sūtra, geya and veyākaraṇa) which are the foundation of the Saṃyuktāgama. According to the works of Yìnshùn (1983) and Mukai (1985), the Vastusaṃgrahaṇī (the last chapter of Yogācārabhūmi) is the mātr̥kā of some sections of the Saṃyuktāgama and belongs to the sūtra-aṅga. This paper also shows that the Śarīrārthagāthā verses are related to the geya-aṅga and veyākaraṇa-aṅga. Evidently, the first three aṅgas are adopted in the Yogācārabhūmi. This outcome thus also supports the claims that the early Buddhist āgama texts were actually organized according to the threefold aṅga classification. This also means that one of the Mahāyāna texts, the Yogācārabhūmi, still values the early Buddhist concepts and texts.

 

On the Sequences of Cognitive Processes in Early Buddhism

Shi, Juetao (The University of Hong Kong, HKG)

The study of cognition is a subject commanding increasing attention in modern psychology. By relying upon cutting edge technology, scholars have made dramatic and unprecedented progress, especially in the field of cognitive neuroscience. In fact, the Buddha and his disciples had already given prominence to the understanding of the cognitive processes thousands of years ago. This paper therefore aims to identify the sequences of cognitive processes by drawing evidence from early Buddhist literature, including the Pāli Nikāyas, Aṭṭhakathā, and Chinese Āgamas. Furthermore, this study will highlight the decisive factors in the formation of different types of cognition.

The most well-known and elementary model of cognition can be found in one fundamental doctrine of Buddha’s teaching: Dependent Origination. In particular, starting from the sense faculties and ending with clinging (upādāna), these links describe how we perceive, recognize, and react to external objects. This basic process is a model of cognition that people repeat again and again in everyday life. In addition to this simple description, there also exist a number of other models either in brief or sophisticated form in Suttapiṭaka. The study, then, results in bringing about several issues and questions.

From the outset, these models can be distinguished into two groups: those associated with mundaneness and those with renunciation. Within all the models analyzed, some factors are common to all, while others are peculiar to one or another model. This shows that, to some extent, even enlightened arahants share the part of the same cognitive processes with ordinary people.

This leads to the second topic of this study: which factors of the cognitive processes distinguish arahants from ordinary people. In terms of arahants, the key factor is mental examination (manopavicāra). As for ordinary people, it seems that both underlying tendency (anusaya) and mental proliferation (papañca) are responsible for the mind deviating from the truth. These terms, anusaya and papañca, are considered two of the most obscure terms in Buddhist hermeneutics and psychology. Moreover, they are literally the basis of the more refined unwholesome mental activities, such as desire, conceit, and views. This study hopes to help clarify the way they function, by which they become the most subtle and tenacious of the defilements (āsavas).

Lastly, the recognized and accepted sequences of cognition found in these textual sources can be used as the standard models to examine irregular or problematic cognitive processes. This effort is of particular importance for identifying the interpolation of Suttapiṭaka’scompilation, as well as for evaluating later commentarial explanations and Abhidhamma theories related to the cognitive processes.

 

The Relationship between Buddhism and Indigenous Beliefs and People as Reflected in the Names of Lokapālas in Early Buddhist Literature

Sirisawad, Natchapol (Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, THA)

“Lokapāla” (the guardians of the world) or “Mahārāja” (the great kings) are four in number: Dhataraṭṭha (Skt. Dhṛtarāṣṭra), Virūḷha or Virūḷhaka (Skt. Virūḍhaka), Virūpakkha (Skt. Virūpākṣa), and Kuvera or Vessavaṇa (Skt. Kubera or Vaiśravaṇa) who are depicted as the ruling deities of the four horizontal directions of the world. There is a division of opinion among scholars concerning the possible concept of Lokapālas in early Buddhist literature. According to T.W. Rhys David and William Stede (1972: 568-569), the Four Great Kings are classified as chieftain, prince or ruler in a small, autocratic state, usually (collectively) as a group. In addition, G.P. Malalsekera (2007: 958) states that the assembly between the Four Regent Devas with their followers and Sakka in the Sudhammā-sabhā is similar to the assembly of a tribal community, especially the Kosala-clan. J.P. Vogel (1972: 9) surmised that the idea of four or six dragons guarding the corners of the world is more primitive than that of the anthropomorphic Lokapālas. According to various scholars, the names of the Four Great Kings may reflect indigenous beliefs and people in early Buddhism since these names of the gods except Kuvera are not found in Sanskrit literature, but are found particularly in early Pali literature and Buddhist Sanskrit scriptures as well. The purpose of this article is to analyze aspects of the relationship between Buddhism and indigenous beliefs and people through the names of Lokapālas in early Buddhist literature. The study revealed that the name of the Four Great Kings, Dhataraṭṭha, Virūḷha or Virūḷhaka, Virūpakkha, and Kuvera or Vessavaṇa, may reflect the trace of precedent or contemporary indigenous beliefs and people who had cultural encounters with Buddhism. The indigenous beliefs consist of the yakkha and nāga cult, the belief in spirits, early practice of urn-burials and the belief in the soul or spirit of the dead rising out of its grave, the primitive belief of Aryan people and yakkha and nāga as tribal people. Buddhism shows an attempt to incorporate these beliefs and people into Buddhist cosmology by elevating some local gods, indigenous beliefs and tribal people to divine status like the Lokapālas which become chieftains of the gandhabbas, the nāgas, the kumbhaṇḍas, and the yakkhas, in order to show their acceptance of the precedent or contemporary indigenous beliefs and people. This finding may help to understand more about the sociology of early Buddhism.

 

Notes on the Problematics of the Futur Forms in Pali, Regarding Their Preterit and Modal Functions.

Yamanaka, Yukio (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, GER)

In the course of my research project ‘verb forms in the Pāli canon’ at Göttingen University, Germany, problematics of Pali verb forms are becoming apparent, or rather coming to the surface again. I already gave a presentation on the analysis of verb forms, concerning the contamination of the imperative and the optative moods, at the `Deutscher Orientalistentag’ at Münster, Germany. This time I will report on the peculiarities regarding the forms of the future tense. As for the future form, the Middle Indic including Pāli shows morphological, phonological as well as semantic difficulties. In the presentation I will focus on semantic issues, in which the future forms are used in the past context and most likely express modality.

Although this phenomenon drew sporadically attention, I will revisit it in order to report on the distinctive feature of Pali. The ideal approach remains the philology-oriented linguistic analysis. Consequently the characteristics of the future forms in Pāli will be observed in a new light.

 

The Formulation and Explanation of the Eleven Categories of Five Clinging-Aggregates

Yit, Kin-tung (National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung City, TWN)

In a number of suttas, five clinging-aggregates are formulated to have eleven categories: past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near (atītānāgatapaccuppannaṃ ajjhattaṃ vā bahiddhā vā oḷārikaṃ vā sukhumaṃ vā hīnaṃ vā paṇītaṃ vā yaṃ dūre santike vā 若過去、若未來、若現在,若內,若外,若麤、若細,若好、若醜,若遠、若近). It is stated that if one really sees and knows these categories of aggregates as anicca, dukkha and anatta, one will achieve the liberation. However, some items are not easy to be understood; for instance: what is the exact meaning of past, future, gross or subtle, inferior or superior of the aggregates? As suttas do not seem to provide further satisfactory answer, this paper attempts to work out relevant explanations in the abhidhamma/abhidharma and commentarial literature. In some cases, mahāyānic commentaries offer valuable clarification too. Moreover, it is interesting to find that contemporary Theravāda Buddhist practitioners apply this formulation into meditation. The paper will examine one particular tradition, look at their interpretation and application, and study if they offer helpful and innovative discussion.

 

Rhetorical Tools in the Pali Canon

Szuksztul, Robert (Jagiellonian University, Krakow, POL)

My objective will be to present a comprehensive framework for categorizing rhetorical strategies used in the Pali Canon, together with examples of each. The source material can be divided into two groups:

  1. Direct recommendations concerning the engagement in a debate or a teaching (e.g. urging by the Buddha to use vernaculars instead of Sanskrit, or enumerating the methods of answering the question)
  2. Rhetoric in use (practical examples of strategies employed)

At present and only preliminarily, I have divided the repertoire of rhetorical tools into four groups: intellectual, emotive, esthetic and linguistic. By singling out these categories I do not mean to imply they are mutually exclusive. Often, the particular event of rhetorical argumentation will fall into several of them. I rather want to stress by them the most prominent features or aspects in discursive strategies as they present themselves in the Pali Canon. Some examples are:

Intellectual tools

  • Appeal to logical reasoning
  • Redefinition of terms (here showing the true sense or context of a term)
  • Redefinition of the context
  • Gradation in the teaching (sensitivity to the initial context of a problem; response within the context but often deepened with time, or as discussion progresses)

Emotive tools

  • Threats by the Buddha
  • Invectives
  • Intimidation or awe (not necessarily conscious) by the charismatic figure of the Buddha; possibly employment of the “lion roar” would fall here. Also miracles, physical marks, appeal to personal experience (unverifiable by the disputant) as an argument (like recounting conversations with gods, past lives, etc.)
  • Examples, exemplary lives of monastics and laymen

Esthetic tools

  • Poetry
  • Metaphor
  • Imagery

Linguistic tools (the category concerns a self-conscious engagement in language-games, not just any employment of the medium)

  • Redefinition of terms or etymology games (showing the true etymology of a term)
  • Word-plays
  • Paraphrases

My second objective will be an experiment to read the discourses of the Pali Canon through the lens of Schopenhauer’s “Eristic Dialectic”, to see if we can find there examples of eristic argumentation.


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