Buddhism before the Theravada

The Buddha did not teach in a vacuum, John Peacock tells us in a series of talks given at the Sati Center in Redwood City, California. His teachings were directed to those who shared the social world in which he lived.

A British scholar who studies and translates in more than a dozen languages John Peacock is familiar with the philosophical environment of the Buddha’s day.

He maintains that by framing the Buddha’s teachings in their original context, it is possible to recover the original meaning of teachings that have been ignored and lost by later Buddhist schools — including the Theravada.

In this weekend class, he examined many of the ways in which Buddhist practice was radically different from the Brahmanical and Upanishadic thinking of the time and, indeed, how it differs in substantive ways from much present day understanding of the dharma.

The exploration detailed the Buddha’s shift away from metaphysical thinking to a focus on internal experience and ethical activity.

In the process, there was consideration of how the Buddha’s earliest teachings diverge from much of the western philosophical tradition, and often from what has become the traditional view of the dharma today as well.

This series of talks is available here.


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One Comment

  1. tony Reardon
    Posted April 8, 2012 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    This sounds really good and echoes what I’ve found in Richard Gombrich’s books. Before that I’d thought of the Buddha as quite remote and dry but now see him in a much more human way, responding to each particular audience often with humour and irony.

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