Nibbāna 2: Suttas versus Commentaries

The Buddha’s teaching expressed in the Theravāda Suttas is self-sufficient; it stands perfectly well on its own without outside help. But as the Buddha’s teaching spread it became diluted, distorted and polluted by outside ideas. This is a matter of great concern to all sincere followers of the Buddha’s teaching. Yet many hesitate to say anything about it, because criticism of any Buddhist may be seen as criticism of Buddhism; perhaps they fear being seen as promoting schism, or that our Sāsana might appear to the world as a house divided.

Well it is too late; the house was divided a long time ago. The great schisms already occurred, and are a matter of historical record. There is no use crying over spilt milk, or posing as if we Buddhists are one big happy family — we’re not. That being so, I sought to trace back the weakness in our line to the root, and cut it out there.

Our authentic tradition broke long ago, when the monks of Anuradhapura accepted scholastic ideas and attitudes drawn from South Indian Vedānta as more important than the Buddha’s original words, as being more essential to the propagation of the teaching than the perfection of the practice. Having previously been a teacher of Vedānta, with well over a million published words on the subject, I am intimately familiar with both its strengths and its flaws. My purpose here is to subtract from the Theravāda tradition what was added from outside, to restore the original literature, teaching and practice to the foremost priority, to create an authentic standard against which other renditions can be measured.


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Dev Jacobsen

Musician, author and yogi, developer of Palingenics.

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