Monday, August 17, 2009

A quick note about the sutra posts for folks new to this blog...

I realize that some folks who are coming here for the first time might not understand why I'm posting about the Lankavatara Sutra.


  • It's good to have read these things, and blogging about it helps instill a discipline to do so, especially if you're a Buddhist.

  • If you're a Zen Buddhist, you are practicing a "way outside the scriptures," but that "way" is "outside" mainly because the experience and activity is not covered in the scriptures, in at least somewhat the same way as a recipe does not substitute for the actual action of preparing (and eating) the dish prepared. Knowledge of the canon of Buddhist literature is useful to actually know what other practitioners have been saying and doing; but this is more in the order of the stare decisis of case law rather than some Platonic Ideal.

  • The sutras were written with certain literary techniques in mind, e.g., learning by repetition, and repetition with slight variations and giving of details, for some of the longer ones, and making nifty chants for the smaller ones. However, to a modern reader, this makes the text of the longer sutras seem overly dense and somewhat unwieldy. In most business communication one would never write this way and have a long happy career.

  • So a while back I realized that writing blog-post summaries of portions of the Buddhist canon might be useful to do, and started a series of blog-posts in this regard. It's helped me actually remember to carve out time to read this stuff.

  • It's also having the ancillary effect of helping to make my written prose more concise.

  • These are just my summaries and interpretations; they don't represent anyone's thinking, teaching, or authorization from anyone to anything like this. Your mileage will likely vary in quite a few places.

  • Evidently there are a continuing two-to-three dozen readers a day throughout the world who actually read my "PowerPoint ready summaries," based on Google Analytics. (Sometimes it's more than two or three dozen, especially when I comment on something on a much more trafficked site.) It's positively amazing how many folks from all over the world - with obvious exceptions like North Korea or Myanmar/Burma - actually get to this blog in the course of a month. And some of them stay & actually read posts too.

Hope that helps.

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