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McMaster University
Religious Studies
Joe Larose

Oct.22.2012 RELIGION TEST #2 – REVIEW NOTES Corresponding readings: The Buddha Makes his Case for the Homeless Life The Buddha makes his Case for the Homeless life -I want to say just one more thing about the Buddha biography we read -we should consider that the vitriol that the text has for women as temptresses to be avoided may stem from the author’s own biases – maybe it’s the author who is a sexist, not the tradition he is speaking for? -I think that this is partly true -we will see, when we read more canonical material, that the tradition does have significant difficulties over female renunciation -three doctrinal texts from the same collection -what makes these texts doctrinal according to the tradition? – they are considered by the tradition to be the words of the Buddha – an enlightened, infallible being -let me contrast this with The Acts of the Buddha, which is not canonical – it is not considered to be the words of the Buddha – it is still an important Buddhist text, but it does not belong to the same category of texts -The Acts of the Buddha was written by Aśvaghoṣa, who was probably a court poet -the text was likely written as a way of promoting Buddhism to the court – this highly literate text was written as a way of demonstrating that Buddhism could compete with any other tradition at the highest level -note about Pāli/Sanskrit (dharma/dhamma, kṣatriya/khattiya, ārya/ariya) A. the first one is called Sāmaññaphala Sutta – the teaching on the fruits of the homeless life -I like it because the king asks a question that is basic to our course -what are the benefits of renouncing the world - what do you get -he’s asking for a particular reason – he’s looking for a particular benefit, I suppose -what is that? -read p93. paragraph 14 -now, don’t forget that this is a normative Buddhist text – it is written from within the Oct.22.2012 Buddhist tradition as a way of promoting the Buddhist tradition – as a way of demonstrating the superiority of the tradition -before the Buddha answers he asks the king if he has asked the same question to the teachers of the other śramana schools -and we get a description of some of the different philosophical positions of the various schools of śramanas-and the criticism of the other schools is placed in the mouth of the king -it’s a good rhetorical device – of course the Buddhist authors want to criticize the positions of the other schools, but the Buddha is a good guy – it doesn’t really look good for him to go around trash talking the other schools -you can’t really say they are descriptions of the schools themselves, their leaders, or their practices -what you get is really only an outline of their basic doctrinal viewpoint -that is why I say it’s difficult to know if these schools ever existed -what comes next is a articulation of the various benefits of renunciation, arranged as a progression -so, if we go through the text page by page, what are the benefits of the homeless life? -they are all very clearly laid out, with the phrase “this is a fruit of the homeless life” or some close variant of it -the phrase occurs 14 times in the text, so it’s not difficult to come up with a list of 14 “fruits of the homeless life” 1. respect (paragraphs 35-36) 2. respect (paragraphs 37-38) – the difference between 1 and 2 seems to be the class of the renouncer – in 1 he is a serf, and in 2 he seems to be from a higher class -in 1: “suppose there were a man, a slave, a labourer” and in 2: “suppose there were a man, a farmer, a householder, in your service, the steward of an estate” 3. 1st jhāna (paragraphs 39-76) –achieved after complete detachment from the sense objects 4. 2nd jhāna (paragraphs 77-78) – subsiding of thinking and pondering Oct.22.2012 5. 3rd jhāna (paragraphs 79-80) – achieving joy without delight – dwelling in equanimity and mindfulness 6. 4th jhāna (paragraphs 81-82) – disappearance of gladness and sadness, beyond pleasure and pain 7. a mind free of defilements (paragraphs 83-84) – mind free of defilements is able to understand reality as it is – understanding the impermanent materiality of the body and the contingent nature of consciousness 8. mind-made body (paragraphs 8
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