Reply To: Ghandhabba, Jati, Vinnana (Consciousness)


Hello Dipo,

In my opinion, reading the works of Roger Penrose, etc., in the present day to Aristotle, Plato and Socrates will not clarify the origin of consciousness. The bottom line is that consciousness CAN NOT arise from inert matter. But, of course, each person is entitled to whatever they want to do.

Dipo asked: “But, I must ask what sources do you rely on for deciphering the true meaning of the Pali language?”

1. The question should be, “But, I must ask what sources you rely on to learn Buddha Dhamma?”
– Learning Buddha Dhamma cannot be equated to learning Pali. One can be an expert in the Pali language and be totally ignorant of the teachings of the Buddha. Tipitaka suttas are in summary form. They MUST BE explained in detail. That is why the current word-by-word translations are mostly useless. Not only are they useless, but they lead to confusion. I have referred to one post that I wrote on that, but I regularly point out more examples in my posts.
– As I explained, I learned Buddha Dhamma from Waharaka Thero. I learned the Pali language on my own. It does help a lot that the Sinhala language is very similar to Pali.
– At some point, it would be very beneficial to learn Pali. Once one has a basic understanding of Buddha Dhamma, it is easier to learn Pali.

2. Learning the Pali language and learning Buddha Dhamma are two different things.
– If one needs to learn Buddha Dhamma from the Tipitaka, then one needs to learn Pali.
– However, even if one is an absolute scholar of the Pali language that DOES NOT mean he/she will have a good understanding of Buddha Dhamma by reading the Tipitaka. One MUST learn the basics of Buddha Dhamma from the Buddha himself or a true disciple of the Buddha who has attained a magga phala.
– Think about it this way: Suppose there is a person who has excellent knowledge of English and German languages. If he is not a scientist, will he be able to translate a science textbook from English to German?
– That is the current situation in translating Tipitaka Pali suttas to English. Most of the translators have no understanding of Buddha Dhamma. They translate Tipitaka texts word-by-word (using unreliable dictionaries). That only leads to confusion. That is apparent in any online discussion group like Dhamma Wheel or Discuss & Discover.

3. One NEEDS TO be able to learn Buddha Dhamma from a Noble Person who has UNDERSTOOD Buddha Dhamma to some level.
– Of course, the critical issue is determining whether a given translator has such qualifications.
The only way to sort out good teachers from bad ones is to check whether their teachings are self-consistent AND always compatible with the Tipitaka.
– The latter measure cannot be used until one learns the Pali language. But anyone should be able to see the inconsistencies WITHIN most of the English translations. I have given many examples.
– I always encourage anyone to point out any inconsistencies within my website. There could be (and have been) minor errors, and I have been able to fix them.

4. So it is good to have some knowledge of Pali. If one has a good knowledge of Pali, one would be able to check for the inconsistencies with the Tipitaka on one’s own.
– I have already stated that translations at Sutta Central and also Pali Text Society (PTS) have many inaccuracies. TamilCube does not have Pali resources, to my knowledge. It has Sanskrit, but the Buddha prohibited using the Sanskrit language to convey Buddha Dhamma. That is because Sanskrit has some words like anitya and anatma that many people equate with anicca and anatta (they sound similar but have very different meanings).
– A Pali dictionary that I use is “Concise Pali-English Dictionary“. This also has some errors.

5. Now, let me give some posts on a few Pali keywords to look up if you are interested:
– Tanha: “Kāma Tanhā, Bhava Tanhā, Vibhava Tanhā
– Sanna: “Saññā – What It Really Means
– Sankhara: “Saṅkhāra – What It Really Means
– Please feel free to ask questions.