|Burmese monastic (Perakman)|
During the intervening 45 years he taught, toured the “Middle Land” (Northeastern India) -- expounding the Dharma (Doctrine, sutras, Conventional Teachings), Abhidharma (Ultimate Teachings), and Vinaya (Disciplinary Code) for the benefit of all humans and devas.
This is of great benefit to all humankind and to beings on adjacent superior and inferior planes of existence. To promote the quality of conceptual understanding of sometimes very subtle teachings, he and later commentators taught the Abhidharma, which are the Ultimate Teachings abstracted and systematized from the conventional language of the discourses (sutras).
To help all who would help themselves overcome disappointment and misery and gain satisfaction and peace, the Buddha taught a path-and-practice we now call the Dharma [always capitalized to distinguish it from the multivalent Sanskrit term dharma]. Most of what we know about what the Buddha taught comes from ordinary discourses -- surviving in standardized form appropriate to oral transmission and memorization rather than writing and reading.
|BotanischerGarten Hamburg, Germany, KleinFlottbek Buddha (JinxHH/flickr)|
These sutras -- recorded in Pali, Sanskrit, and Prakrit (Magadhi) -- often appear to us as stilted, artificial, and redundant tautologies more than actual instructions or natural threads (sutras, sutures, i.e., strings of related ideas). This is because they were never meant to stand alone the way a book might today. They were chanted, explained, and studied; they make sense as shorthand reminders of the teachings, which are much broader and detailed instructions the Buddha and early disciples provided.
The Nuns' Teachings
Most of what the nuns taught does not seem to have survived or been preserved following the lapse of their Monastic Order. (Or it is only temporarily lost to most scholars, hidden away in the origin stories accompanying the Bhikkhuni Vinaya, where few male scholar-monks seem intent to search. Or it may be found in Central Asian storehouses (and treasure troves in and around Afghanistan, formerly Gandhara, Greater India) where Buddhism flourished before moving north and east to China). But there are a few scraps to be found in the Bhikkhuni Samyutta and inspired utterances (Therigatha).
This is a tragedy because the Buddha designated two chief female disciples, Khema Theri and Uppalavana Theri, who must have taught just as his chief male disciples Sariputra Thera and Maha Moggallana Thera did.
- The Buddha brought people to the Path, then newly ordained monks were brought to stream entry by Sariputra and arhatship by Maha Moggallana. It then makes sense that the wise nuns Khema and Uppalavana served these functions for female disciples.
|Studying monk (ChristyB30/flickr)|
1) Teachings (Doctrine or Discipline) the Buddha not taught should not be offered by monastics. 2) Those teachings taught by the Buddha should neither be deleted, augmented, nor edited by monastics. 3) Those teachings the Buddha taught should be followed by monastics.
|The Buddha, Indonesia (Luxquarta/flickr)|
Consequently, Sitagu International Buddhist Academy (S.I.B.A.) has Romanized and translated the authentic Three Baskets of the Sixth Council, in which learned monastics from five Theravada countries participated along with monastics from some Mahayana countries. This has been done for worldwide dissemination for the benefit of those interested in tasting the essence of the Dharma.
S.I.B.A. - Sitagu International Buddhist Academy