User:Robertinventor/4NT

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Draft of possible talk page post, now that my topic ban has expired


Three things wrong with this article[edit | hide all | hide | edit source]

I hope that this comment will be of interest and value to other editors, whether you agree with what I say here or not. I have no wish to post here if other editors find my comments unwelcome - no need to take me to WP:ANI for it - just say you don't want this comment and I'll remove it. I will only say what I see as wrong with this article, and not present a way forward to solve it, nor will I attempt an RfC at this stage. I think that was one of the things I got wrong before in the long collapsed discussions above. The starting point is to decide if they are issues first.

The ideas in the article are presented in some detail and to explain what I see as wrong with them requires a similarly detailed reply. These points are not easy to follow if split over a thread consisting of many comments, and I see that as one of the other main things that I got wrong in the previous discussions. So, to avoid breaking up and confusing this exposition, please add any comments in the #4. Discussion section below. Your co-operation in this is much appreciated. Thanks! Robert Walker (talk) 02:15, 12 December 2016 (UTC)

What's wrong - short summary[edit | hide | edit source]

The Four Noble Truths of the old lede have been replaced by four statements which describe an aim to end rebirth back into the "mundane world" of Samsara.

  1. According to the Pali Canon Buddha realized cessation of all dukkha as a young man aged 35 - the new statements imply that cessation can only be achieved after death
  2. The article has ten uses of the highly WP:TECHNICAL term "redeath". All of these could be replaced without loss of meaning by "death".

    The footnotes also make an inaccurate parallel with a non Buddhist idea of preventing Punarmrtyu, or "redeath" from a heavenly state back into Samsara. Therevadhans don't have the concept of an intermediate state between death and rebirth of any sort, heavenly or otherwise. Instead, they say that the next thought moment after your death is the first thought moment of the process of your next rebirth.
  3. The article presents a single WP:POV on authenticity according to which only a few very early teachings in the Pali Canon are by the historical Buddha. Many scholars such as Richard Gombrich conclude that the central teachings are by the historical Buddha. Some WP:RS such as Alex Wynne, Prayudh Payutto etc conclude that most of the Pali Canon was preserved nearly word for word since the first great council after Buddha died. They argue that they were preserved using the same memorization techniques the Brahmins used to preserve the Vedas.

In detail:

Background - How the Four Noble Truths came to be stated incorrectly in this article[edit | hide | edit source]

The previous lede stated the truths correctly as the truths of suffering (or more generally unsatisfactoriness), origin, cessation and path.[1]. This is how most books, articles and online WP:RS sources introduce them, followed by a detailed exposition of each truth in turn [2] Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] (For many more cites to WP:RS see the old lede's footnote b). Sometimes they are introduced one at a time as section or chapter headings, however it is still the same approach: short form first then exposition. It is hard to find a source that does it in any other way. This is, after all, how Buddha himself taught them according to the Pali canon.

One of the most distinctive features of Buddhism is that Buddha taught that cessation is something you can realize in this very lifetime. This can be challenging for readers who come to it with the background of another religion. Indeed, though we can all directly realize what suffering and dissatisfaction is from our own experience, according to the Pali Canon, only one of Buddha's first disciples, venerable Kondañña, directly realized the truth of what he was saying about cessation right away when he first taught them[9]. Several readers posted to the talk page complaining that they didn't understand the four truths, not surprisingly, and that is why the lede got rewritten.

Unfortunately, this rewrite turned them into statements describing a way of escape from "this mundane world" at death. This may indeed make them more familiar to you, and so easier to understand, if you are used to other religions. However, that doesn't make them more correct. (If you wish to comment, please use the section #4. Discussion below). Robert Walker (talk) 05:24, 11 December 2016 (UTC)

1. According to the Pali Canon Buddha realized cessation as a young man of 35[edit | hide | edit source]

Walpola Rahula Thero
Walpolarahula.jpg
Personal
Born 1907
Walpola, Sri Lanka
Died 1997
Religion Buddhism
Nationality Sri Lankan
School Theravada
As it is described in the Pali Canon, Buddha spoke to his companions after he realized enlightenment and he told them that he had already realized cessation of dukkha, or suffering and unsatisfactoriness. This was as a young man, aged 35. By this he meant cessation of dukkha in all its forms, not just the cessation of the dukkha of birth. Although he went on to grow old, get sick, and die, like anyone else, he had already reached cessation of the dukkha of old age, sickness and death as a young man.

Professor Walpola Rahula's book "What the Buddha Taught" is widely regarded as one of the best expositions of the central teachings in the Pali canon by both Eastern and Western scholars alike. He was a Pali expert thoroughly familiar with the canon of the Therevadhan sutras. He put it like this in his exposition of the Third Noble Truth[1]:

"It is incorrect to think that Nirvana is the natural result of the extinction of craving. Nirvana is not the result of anything. If it would be a result, then it would be an effect produced by a cause. It would be sankhata ‘produced’ and ‘conditioned’. Nirvana is neither cause nor effect. It is beyond cause and effect. Truth is not a result nor an effect. It is not produced like a mystic, spiritual, mental state, such as dhyana or samadhi. TRUTH IS. NIRVANA IS. The only thing you can do is to see it, to realize it. There is a path leading to the realization of Nirvana. But Nirvana is not the result of this path.You may get to the mountain along a path, but the mountain is not the result, not an effect of the path. You may see a light, but the light is not the result of your eyesight.

...

In almost all religions the summum bonum can be attained only after death. But Nirvana can be realized in this very life; it is not necessary to wait till you die to ‘attain’ it."

The four truths are understood in this way in all the main sutra traditions, Zen [2], Tibetan [3], Therevadhan [4], etc.

Buddha did not have to die to reach enlightenment[edit | hide | edit source]

Far from the Buddha having to die to reach enlightenment, the Pali Canon also states in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta that Buddha didn't have to enter paranirvana either when he did. Ananda could have asked him to remain to the end of this world period, but he didn't get the hint. [5]

"Whosoever, Ananda, has developed, practiced, employed, strengthened, maintained, scrutinized, and brought to perfection the four constituents of psychic power could, if he so desired, remain throughout a world-period or until the end of it. The Tathagata, Ananda, has done so. Therefore the Tathagata could, if he so desired, remain throughout a world-period or until the end of it."

Although the historical Buddha entered paranirvana when he died, in the Tibetan traditions at least they also have the idea that other Buddhas can "emanate" after they die and take birth as young babies again over and over [6]

No use of the word "rebirth" in the Wheel Turning Sutra which presents the Four Noble Truths[edit | hide | edit source]

It's also worth noting that the wheel turning sutra[7] does not include the word "rebirth" in any form. Instead the teachings are based around dukkha. This is makes them far more accessible, as all that is required of the practitioner is to recognize the truth of suffering or unsatisfactoriness, which is a truth easy of access to anyone. After that, all that is needed to follow the path is an open mind, and a dedication to seeing the truth and to recognize clearly what you know and what you don't know.

That open mind also applies to what happens when you die. If the truths were based around an aim to end rebirth, then you would need to affirm a belief first, such as "I believe in rebirth", before you could start on the path. This would close your mind to other possibilities. It would be a way of declaring that you are have decided in advance that any other ideas about what happens when you die are wrong. But Buddhists don't have any such creed, even in the Tibetan traditions, which have the strongest emphasis of any on the process of rebirth, including recognition of reborn Tulkus. Instead, you commit to an open mind when you become a Buddhist. See for instance Trungpa Rinpoche's exposition of requirements for taking refuge[8], in the ceremony during which one affirms that one has chosen to follow the Buddhist path.

I know that there is a movement amongst some Westerners to try to identify what they take to be the original authentic teachings and to reinterpret the sutras. In the previous discussion then the other editors provided cites which they claimed presented the view that when Buddha became enlightened, all that happened is that he got an intimation that after death he would never be reborn again. But they were cites to densely argued complex technical discussions in the academic literature, and I was not convinced that these discussions were interpreted correctly.

Whether or not any WP:RS present such views, this is certainly not how the four truths are presented by most Buddhist scholars or teachers, nor is it how Buddhist practitioners understand them, and nor is it how they are presented in the original wheel turning sutra in the Pali canon. (If you wish to comment, please use the section #4. Discussion below). Robert Walker (talk) 05:24, 11 December 2016 (UTC)

2. Punarmrtyu translated as "redeath" doesn't seem to be a Buddhist term[edit | hide | edit source]

None of the editors in the previous discussion found a Buddhist sutra cite for this word (mentioned in note 1 in the current version). It is used in Hindu and pre Buddhist texts but these texts are not recognized as sutras by Buddhists. (If you wish to comment, please use the section #4. Discussion below). Robert Walker (talk) 05:24, 11 December 2016 (UTC)

Agatigati is a Buddhist term - but can be translated in a less WP:TECHNICAL way as "rebirth and death"[edit | hide | edit source]

Instead they gave cites to the Pali phrase agatigati, where agati means coming and gati means going. This is translated as

  • "coming-and-going" on page 171 of The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism[9],
  • "coming-and-going (rebirth-and-redeath?)" in the commentary on the translation there.
  • "re-birth and re-death" in a Pali dictionary pages 94-95 of Rhys Davids & William Stede[10],
  • "rebirth and death" in another Pali dictionary [11]

Most Buddhist readers will not be familiar with the term "redeath". If I can take myself as an example reader, I have listened to teachers from many traditions including Therevadhan, Korean Zen and three branches of Tibetan Buddhism (Nyingmapa, Gelugpa and Kagyupa), over a period of 30 years. I have never heard any of them use it. Nor have I ever heard any fellow Buddhists use the word. The word "rebirth" is familiar to most but not the word "redeath". Another Buddhist who responded to the RfC was also not familiar with the term. Perhaps it is only familiar to those who have read many Western scholarly papers on the topic. If one needs a translation of agatigati, what is wrong with "rebirth and death" which avoids need for this technical term at all? The article currently has ten uses of the word "redeath". All of those could be replaced by "death" with no loss of meaning.

As evidence that "redeath" is a rare word in English, and therefore WP:TECHNICAL, it's not found in these online dictionaries:

(If you wish to comment, please use the section #4. Discussion below). Robert Walker (talk) 05:24, 11 December 2016 (UTC)

Punarmrtyu is cited as a pre-Buddhist concept - Buddha made a clean break with the past in the Kalama sutta[edit | hide | edit source]

In the Pali Canon, in the Kalama sutta, Buddha made a clean break with the past, saying that scriptures and other sources such as the Vedas must not be followed just because they are scriptures but must be tested by "the results it yields when put into practice; and — to guard against the possibility of any bias or limitations in one's understanding of those results — they must further be checked against the experience of people who are wise." (quoting the translator's note).

This makes it different from the situation of Christianity or Islam which both treat the Old Testament as sacred. For Buddhists, the Vedas are not sacred in this sense. So, should the article use the the word Punarmrtyu in note 1? That note gives it as an internal link to Saṃsāra#Punarmrityu:_redeath which is pre-Buddhist. Wikipedia describes it as

"Redeath, in the Vedic theosophical speculations, reflected the end of "blissful years spent in svarga or heaven", and it was followed by rebirth back in the phenomenal world"

In more detail it is described here "Buddhist rituals of Death and Rebirth":

"Alternating between this and the other world constitutes the older stratum of the concept of rebirth. Only now the return to this world is not desired any more, but endured as an intermediate state between heavenly existences... When the alternating between the here and there came to be regarded as unsatisfactory, a new goal finds its expression in the Upanishads: the final escape from the suffering of redeath."

This is a historical section called "Some historical roots : time of death". It is not describing Buddhist ideas at this point. The four statements in the new lede seem to be based on this idea.

Buddhists don't have this idea of heaven as a state between death and rebirth. The sutras do describe states of bliss that one can enter, in this life or future lives, or rather many such, each more refined than the last. Some are described with "luminous bodies"[12], and some as just pure mind. But all this is a part of the cycle of rebirth. These blissful realms, are treated as another rebirth of the many possible in the cycle of Samsara. They are not thought of as separate from Samsara.

The four statements in the new lede seem closely modeled on this idea of Punarmrtyu[edit | hide | edit source]

The new lede describes a way of escaping Samsara through somehow "stopping karma" so that you no longer have to take rebirth back into this "mundane world". This would seem to have close parallels with this non Buddhist idea of Punarmrtyu or stopping "redeath from heaven":

  1. Dukkha, "incapable of satisfying," painful. Life in this "mundane world," with its craving and clinging to impermanent states and things,is dukkha, unsatisfactory and painful;
  2. Samudaya, the origination or arising of dukkha. Dukkha, and repeated life in this world, arises with taṇhā, "thirst," craving for and clinging to these impermanent states and things. This craving and clinging produces karma which leads to renewed becoming, keeping us trapped in rebirth and renewed dissatisfaction;
  3. Nirodha, the cessation of dukkha. By stopping this craving and clinging nirvana is attained, no more karma is produced, and rebirth and dissatisfaction will no longer arise again;
  4. Magga, the path to the cessation of, or liberation from dukkha. By following the Noble Eightfold Path, restraining oneself, cultivating discipline, and practicing mindfulness and meditation, craving and clinging will be stopped, and rebirth and dissatisfaction are ended

These four statements do not occur in this form in any Buddhist source. Though that section is heavily cited to the Buddhist literature, it is a WP:SYNTHESIS made up of ideas from many Buddhist sources combined together to make a whole that is no longer Buddhist. Compare the four truths as they were stated in the previous lede:

  • "The truth of dukkha (suffering, anxiety, unsatisfactoriness)
  • The truth of the origin of dukkha
  • The truth of the cessation of dukkha
  • The truth of the path leading to the cessation of dukkha" [1]

In Therevadhan teachings death is followed in the next thought-moment by the start of the next rebirth[edit | hide | edit source]

Therevadhans don't have the idea of an intermediate state between death and the next rebirth at all. Instead, they say that the next thought-moment after your death is the first thought-moment of your new rebirth. Here is professor Walpola Rahula describing this Therevadhan view on death and rebirth in "THE SECOND NOBLE TRUTH: SAMUDAYA: THE ARISING OF DUKKHA".

"The difference between death and birth is only a thought-moment: the last thought-moment in this life conditions the first thought-moment in the so-called next life, which, in fact, is the continuity of the same series. During this life itself, too, one thought-moment conditions the next thought-moment. So from the Buddhist point of view, the question of life after death is not a great mystery, and a Buddhist is never worried about this problem."

The Tibetan intermediate state between death and rebirth is not heaven[edit | hide | edit source]

Some Buddhists do think in terms of an intermediate state between death and the next rebirth, for instance in the Tibetan teachings. However, it is not described as a heavenly state. Rather, it is described for most beings as like being overwhelmed by exceedingly bright lights and loud noises like the loudest thunder, which most beings run away from, terrified, at that point and so take rebirth again. In the Tibetan Book of the Dead (translation by Chogyam Trungpa with Francesca Fremantle)

"Oh child of noble family, when your body and mind separate, the dharata will appear, pure and clear, yet hard to discern, luminuous and brilliant with terrifying brightness, shimmering like a mirage on a plain in spring. Do not be afraid of it, do not be bewildered. This is the natural radiance of your own dharmata, therefore recognize it.

"A great roar of thunder will come from the light, the natural sound of dharmata, like a thousand thunderclaps simultaneously. This is the natural sound of your own dharmata, so do not be afraid or bewildered...

"Oh child of noble family, if you do not recognize them in this way as your own projections, whatever meditation practice you have done during your life, if you have not met with this teaching, the coloured lights will frighten you, the sounds will bewilder you and the rays of light will terrify you. If you do not understand this essential point of the teaching you will not recognize the sounds, lights and rays, and so you will wander in samsara"

This could hardly be further from the pre-Buddhist Vedic idea of alternating between this life and a heavenly state with the aim of avoiding redeath in order to remain in the heavenly state. (If you wish to comment, please use the section #4. Discussion below). Robert Walker (talk) 05:24, 11 December 2016 (UTC)

In summary - not a Buddhist idea[edit | hide | edit source]

Tibetans do have the idea of a Bardo state between death and rebirth, but the aim is not at all to remain within Bardo which is seen as terrifying and bewildering for most beings, and not a heavenly state at all. Rather the idea in the Tibetan Book of the Dead is to find a way to awaken from the Bardo, to awaken to those bright lights and loud sounds, or failing that, to find your way to a fortunate rebirth where you may be able to awaken as Buddha did during that lifetime.

Therevadhans don't have the idea of an intermediate state between death and rebirth. For them your last moment of death is followed immediately by the first moment of the process of rebirth in another lifetime. So, the idea behind Punamrtyu of avoiding "redeath" from an intermediate state between death and rebirth can't even be stated in a Therevadhan context.

The note doesn't make it clear that this is a non Buddhist idea. I think this is another reason to avoid the use of the technical word "redeath" in the article in translations of Agatigati.

Scholars can be expected to understand "rebirth and redeath" in a Buddhist context as meaning repeated ordinary deaths, with each "redeath" leading to the start of the next rebirth in the next moment of thought (in the Pali canon at least). However, a non scholar reader could easily confuse this with the non Buddhist idea of death leading to heaven and "redeath" leading from heaven back to Samsara. This confusion seems especially likely to happen since the footnote links to a passage in wikipedia describing "redeath" in the non Buddhist sense. (If you wish to comment, please use the section #4. Discussion below). Robert Walker (talk) 05:24, 11 December 2016 (UTC)

3. Authenticity of the Buddhist teachings[edit | hide | edit source]

This article presents the view according to which the Four Noble Truths are a later development and were not taught by the historical Buddha. This is a view at one end of a continuum. At the other end of the continuum is the view of Prayudh Payutto and several other scholars according to which the teachings of the Pali canon for the most part consist of the words recorded at the time of the Great Council after Buddha died. The only exceptions are some obviously later texts. This is not a view based on faith but rather on scholarship.

In the Pali Canon it's said that after the death of Vardhamana, or as Buddhists refer to him, Nirgrantha, leader of the Jains, Buddha's followers noticed that his followers fell into discussion and dispute about what his teachings were. They didn't want that to happen to Buddha's teachings. At the time Northern India didn't have writing. However, as scholars generally agree, the Brahmins were able to preserve the Vedas word for word through memorization, and many of Buddha's disciples were Brahmins trained to do this. So, the sutras say, they committed his teachings to memory while he was still alive. After he died, then they held a great council during which they agreed on the material in the Pali Canon and recited each sutra in unison.

With this internal evidence from within the sutras themselves, it is at least possible that what we have preserved are the teachings as memorized in the first great council, pretty much word for word. After all, it is generally agreed that the Brahmins achieved that with the Vedas. In support of this view they present these main reasons:

  • Geographically separated versions are near identical The Pali Canon was finally written down, in many places widely geographically separated. When they did this, the versions were nearly word for word identical apart from some obviously later additions
  • Politics described is authentic for his period The earlier sutras in the very extensive canon describe Northern India as it was at the time of the Buddha, including the various kingdoms and their geographical extent. This political geography changed soon after he died. There is a lot of material in support of this, as the canon is vast (similar in size to an encyclopedia)
  • Technology described is authentic for his period The earlier sutras in the canon also describe the technology in some detail, and this developed rapidly too. They describe technology authentic to the time of the Buddha which and don't mention technology that followed soon after. They also makes no mention of writing, which was introduced to Northern India already by the time of King Ashoka.
  • Only mentions regions known to inhabitants of Northern India at the time They also don't mention Southern India, Sri Lanka, or King Ashoka. This would seem to date it to before this Buddhist King who unified much of India and ruled it from 304 to 232 BC. The later Mahayana sutras include back-written prophecies of the rise of King Ashoka, but the Pali Sutras don't mention him at all, which again suggests that they predate King Ashoka.
  • The theory of authenticity can explain the textual layering These scholars agree that there is a progression of textual layers within these early sutras but attribute this to variation in teaching style during a long lifetime, for 45 years from age 35 to age 80, along with the inclusion in the canon of some teachings that predate the Buddha.

For the details of this view, see

Many scholars hold intermediate views. For example:

Peter Harvey, "Introduction to Buddhism: teachings, history and practices", says

"While parts of the Pali Canon clearly originated after the time of the Buddha, much must derive from his teaching."

Richard Gombrich says in an interview [13]

"There are certain scholars who do go down that road and say that we can't really know what the Buddha meant. That is quite fashionable in some circles. I am just the opposite of that. I am saying that there was a person called the Buddha, that the preachings probably go back to him individually - very few scholars actually say that - that we can learn more about what he meant, and that he was saying some very precise things. I regard deconstructionists as my enemies."

By presenting only one view, and such an extreme view in the debate, the current article is very WP:POV. The wikipedia article on the Pali Canon under: Attribution according to scholars presents the full range of views on this matter, in a WP:NPOV way. Surely the approach used in the Pali Canon article is more in accord with wikipedia guidelines. (If you wish to comment, please use the section #4. Discussion below). Robert Walker (talk) 05:24, 11 December 2016 (UTC)

Update - Gombrich's Views in What the Buddha Thought[edit | hide | edit source]

I've just been reading Gombrich's "What the Buddha Thought"[14] and was surprised to find that he presents an "escape from this mundane world" interpretation. He is a top scholar in the field of Western academic Buddhism, though he admits that he doesn't have Walpola Rahula's depth of understanding of the vast encyclopedia sized Pali Canon - few Westerners do.

Richard Gombrich's main thesis (if I understand it right) is that:

  • The central teachings of the Pali Canon are all due to the historical Buddha; however some of them have been restated since then. As a result the sutras need careful reinterpetation to get back to the views of the historical Buddha. In particular he thinks the present form of the four noble truths dates back only to the second great council not the first, though the teaching must have been present in some form earlier.
  • The historical Buddha required his followers to believe in rebirth (modern Buddhists do not have this requirement)
  • Buddha's enlightenment was some kind of a temporary insightful mystical experience - such as is present in many religions. Richard Gombrich works hard to reconcile this with the passage from Walpola Rahula's book quoted above with the phrase: "It is not produced like a mystic, spiritual, mental state, such as dhyana or samadhi." - I can't say that I understand his points in this section of the book as he seems to be interpreting that passage as describing a mystic state. How can he when Walpola Rahula so clearly says it is not a mystic state?
  • The aim of the historical Buddha's teaching was to lead his followers to find a way to end the cycle of rebirth when they died and to lead their lives in a calm and peaceful way until their death. In this way he also taught them how not to be upset by the prospect of their impending death. He used metaphor and analogy extensively and we need to distinguish between what he taught and what he thought.

He also presents this thesis in short form on his Oxford home page[15]. The basic message according to him is

"Now what is the purpose of the Buddhist religion? It is, in the end, escape from rebirth. Everybody in India believed – and more or less still believes – in rebirth. And of course a basic premise of that is that, if you weigh it up in all, life is pretty rotten. There’s more suffering than pleasure in life."..."

As I said above, at least for someone approaching this as a Buddhist in the sutra traditions, what he says seems to be inconsistent in almost all respects with the way that Walpola Rahula and other modern Buddhist scholars and teachers in these traditions present it. He seems to be of the view that these interpretations don't quite make sense as is, but that with his humanist reinterpretation they can be transformed into something that does make sense. Please correct me if I have made any mistakes in this summary of his views. His approach can be especialy hard to understand if you are used to the way the four truths are traditionally understood and explained in the main sutra traditions, perhaps just as hard to understand as the traditional approach clearly is for those who approach this in the other direction..

(If you wish to comment, please use the section #4. Discussion below). Robert Walker (talk) 10:02, 17 December 2016 (UTC)

Conclusions[edit | hide | edit source]

In summary:

  • The four statements in the lede correspond roughly to some views of Western academic Buddhist scholars of what they think the historical Buddha taught
  • They are not consistent with the views of typical modern practicing Buddhists including many Buddhist scholars and leading teachers in all the main traditions of Buddhism.
  • The WP:POV that these are the views of the historical Buddha is one academically respected view in a wide ranging debate about what Buddha taught. Other scholars like Alex Wynne, Prayudh Sujato etc have an equally carefully reasoned WP:POV that Buddha taught the four truths and other central teachings just as recorded in the Pali Canon.

So first, is this an accurate summary of the present day situation, of what is said in the WP:RS that I summarized?

(If you wish to comment, please use the section #4. Discussion below). Robert Walker (talk) 10:02, 17 December 2016 (UTC)

If the conclusions are correct[edit | hide | edit source]

Then, what should we do if those conclusions about what is said in the WP:RS on this subject are correct? I think we can learn a lot by looking at the articles on Christianity. There are many more Christians than Buddhists (2.2. billion compared with 535 million Buddhists). Most Buddhists don't speak English (over half are Chinese, and the next most common by population are the Thai and Japanese [16]). Christianity also is a religion far more familiar to the majority of English speaking editors of Wikipedia. The wikipedia articles on theology are of a high standard.

So, let's take a similarly central article in Christianity: Resurrection of Jesus. In the section on Historicity and origin you learn that there is a wide range of scholarly views about whether this event happened and what the event was. However, there is no suggestion that the lede be rewritten to mention these views. In a similar way, the old lede was not taking a WP:POV on this scholarly debate. As with the lede for Resurrection of Jesus, which relies on the biblical acount, it just presented the four truths as they are presented in the canon. Of course Richard Gombrich's views are notable, and interesting, and need to be mentioned. It's a matter of where and how this is done.

Whatever the decision is, as a modern Buddhist reader myself, I feel that it is especially important that the lede does not give the false view that most modern Buddhists aim to escape from this "mundane world" and to prevent rebirth when they die. That is so different from the views and practice of most Buddhist practitioners including many of the most respected Buddhist scholars and teachers like Walpola Rahula that it is as if the lede of Resurrection of Jesus falsely promulgated the idea that most Christians don't believe in the resurrection.

The way it is done at present in the lede for Four Noble Truths is a bit like someone rewriting the lede of Resurrection of Jesus to attempt a coherent "best account" of what "really happened" according to the views of theologians that the wikipedia author of the lede thinks "got it right". That surely can't be the right way to do it, and the way that it is handled in theological articles on wikipedia may show the way to an alternative approach to this issue.

(If you wish to comment, please use the section #4. Discussion below). Robert Walker (talk) 10:02, 17 December 2016 (UTC)

4. Discussion[edit | hide | edit source]

(back to start of comment)

Please discuss here to avoid breaking up and confusing the exposition above. I will step back now and if there is discussion I will only comment after there has been a fair amount of it, or alternatively, after a reasonable amount of time has passed by. This should help to make it easier for other editors to follow what is being said. If you ping me, please don't expect a fast response. I think the main issue before was that I responded rapidly to comments. By engaging in a much slower pace of discourse here, even after pings, then I should be able to avoid the issues that lead to my topic ban. So please be understanding about that. Thanks! Robert Walker (talk) 12:56, 28 November 2016 (UTC)

[This is a user space draft, actual discussion section is on the Four Noble Truths talk page]
  1. 1.0 1.1

    "The Four Noble Truths (Sanskrit: catvari aryasatyani; Pali: cattari ariyasaccani) are regarded as the central doctrine of the Buddhist tradition, and are said to provide a conceptual framework for all of Buddhist thought. These four truths explain the nature of dukkha (Pali; commonly translated as "suffering", "anxiety", "unsatisfactoriness"), its causes, its cessation, and the path leading to its cessation.

    "The four noble truths are:

    • "The truth of dukkha (suffering, anxiety, unsatisfactoriness)
    • The truth of the origin of dukkha
    • The truth of the cessation of dukkha
    • The truth of the path leading to the cessation of dukkha"
  2. Four Noble Truths entry in the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, by Carol Anderson "The four noble truths present the fact of suffering in this world and the means to end suffering in the following verses:"
  3. Anderson, Basic Buddhism, "The Four Noble Truths deal specifically with the existence of suffering and they are the root from which all teachings arise. According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths in the very first teaching he gave after he attained enlightenment and he further clarified their meaning in many subsequent teachings throughout his life. These four truths are: A. Dukkha / Dukha: All life is marked by suffering. B. Samudaya: Suffering is caused by attachment and desire. C. Nirodha: Suffering can be stopped. D: Magga: The way to end suffering is to follow the Noble Eightfold Path"
  4. Quote from the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta using the translation in this article itself: "Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering."
  5. The Four Noble Truths, Chris Seiho Priest, International Zen Association "The First Truth is the truth of ‘dukhka’ – Life is duhkha." "The Second Truth is: where does this suffering come from?" "The Third Noble Truth of the Buddha is that there is a way beyond this suffering." "The Fourth Noble Truth is the Way, which leads us to that experience."
  6. "Footprints of an elephant", online short article by Bikkhu Boddhi, president of the Buddhist Publication Society "The recorded teachings of the Buddha are numerous. But all these diverse teachings fit together into a single unifying frame, the teaching of the Four Noble Truths. The Buddha compared the Four Noble Truths to the footprints of an elephant. Just as the footprint of an elephant can contain the footprints of any other animal, the footprints of tigers, lions, dogs, cats, etc. So all the different teachings of the Buddha fit into the single framework of the Four Noble Truths. "The Buddha makes it clear that the realization of the Four Noble Truths coincides with the attainment of enlightenment itself. He says that when a Buddha appears in the world there is a teaching of the Four Noble Truths. So the special purpose of the Dhamma is to make known the Four Noble Truths and the special aim of those treading the path to enlightenment is to see for themselves the Four Noble Truths. "The Four Noble Truths are as follows:
    1. The truth of Dukkha
    2. The truth of the origin of Dukkha
    3. The truth of the cessation of Dukkha
    4. The truth of the path, the way to liberation from Dukkha
    "The word 'Dukkha' has often been translated as suffering, pain and misery. But 'Dukkha' as used by the Buddha has a much wider and a deeper meaning. It suggests a basic unsatisfactoriness pervading all existence, all forms of life, due to the fact that all forms of life are changing, impermanent and without any inner core or substance. The term, dukkha, indicates a lack of perfection, a condition that never measures up to our standards and expectations."
  7. The Four Noble Truths, BBC Religions, "I teach suffering, its origin, cessation and path. That's all I teach", declared the Buddha 2500 years ago. The Four Noble Truths contain the essence of the Buddha's teachings. It was these four principles that the Buddha came to understand during his meditation under the bodhi tree. The truth of suffering (Dukkha)
    The truth of the origin of suffering (Samudaya)
    The truth of the cessation of suffering (Nirodha)
    The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering (Magga)
    The Buddha is often compared to a physician. In the first two Noble Truths he diagnosed the problem (suffering) and identified its cause. The third Noble Truth is the realisation that there is a cure.
    The fourth Noble Truth, in which the Buddha set out the Eightfold Path, is the prescription, the way to achieve a release from suffering.
  8. Four Noble Truths, His Holiness the Dalai Lama "When the great universal teacher Shakyamuni Buddha first spoke about the Dharma in the noble land of India, he taught the four noble truths: the truths of suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering and the path to the cessation of suffering."
  9. "This is what the Blessed One said. Elated, the bhikkhus of the group of five delighted in the Blessed One's statement. And while this explanation was being spoken, there arose in the venerable Kondañña the dust-free, stainless vision of the Basic Pattern: "whatever is patterned with an origination, all that is patterned with a cessation.""