Hello, everyone! It’s been a couple months since my last update. It seems like longer time than that! I traveled in September and visit family I hadn’t seen in over a year, which included an adventurous roadtrip as well as a less enjoyable time flying. It feels more like four or six months after going basically nowhere but the corner grocer for 18 months due to the Pandemic.
The translation of the Dīrgha Āgama continues apace. I’m not sure if I’ll hit my self-imposed deadline of March 1 to have the entire Āgama initially released, but there’s still a chance of it. I’ve also begun more in-depth studies of the Chinese Ekôttarika Āgama in preparation for a translation project that’s planned for next year. So, I’ve been quiet because I’ve been busy.
As of today, I’ve released 24 out of the 30 DĀ sutras, which looks very impressive. But it’s actually about 50% of the entire collection (~115,000 words in English). As winter approaches, I’ll be tackling the largest of the DĀ sutras in December and January, which include the Parinirvāṇa Sutra (DA 2) and the Description of the World Sutra (DĀ 30). (Yeah, it may spill over into March.)
The Buddha’s disciple Kaumāra (or Kumāra) Kāśyapa has an encounter with an unusual priest who holds nihilistic views and engages him in a colorful debate consisting of dueling stories. The priest at the end reveals that he was only testing Kāśyapa and becomes a layman. He assigns a subordinate to arrange for a large donation to the Saṃgha, but gets a dressing down by both Kāśyapa and his subordinate about relying on the merit of alms while still living an immoral life or giving low quality gifts. This sutra is unusual in admitting that it takes place after the Buddha’s Nirvāṇa and lacks the traditional “Thus I have heard” introduction.
At Anomiya (P. Anupiya), the Buddha decides to pay a visit to a wanderer, who tells him about an encounter he had with a former Buddhist monk. The Buddha recounts for him a number of stories about that monk, explaining his stubborn unwillingness to trust the Buddha’s instruction. The sutra develops from there into a dramatic comedy, culminating in a story of a wanderer who challenges the Buddha to a duel of miracle-working but can’t seem to show up for the event. At the end, the Buddha addresses a series of wrong views held by non-Buddhists about the origin of the world and sentient beings.
While staying at a town near Kapilavastu, a novice monk brings news to the Buddha about the death of the founder of the Jain ascetics and the schism among his disciples. The Buddha gives the monk a discourse on the conditions that lead to the success and failure of religious teachings and the difficulties disciples have after founders pass away. This leads to a general criticism of the unreasonable beliefs of other ascetic traditions and a summary of how such pitfalls are avoided by the Buddha’s teaching.