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Buddhadharma : Winter 2010
65 winter 2 01 0 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly Every day I lurk and listen to scholars of Eastern religions on the academic forum Buddha-L, taking notes when their exchanges clarify some arcane matter of Pali grammar or touch upon sutras I feel I should study. One day the forum’s moderator, scholar Richard Hayes, provided an examination of the meaning and implications of the Sanskrit word maana that I found insightful. “According to some Abhidharma traditions,” wrote Hayes, “one of the last obstacles that a person overcomes on the road to liberation is maana, usually translated as pride... In Abhidharma literature, maana is described as the tendency to Is Mine Bigger Than Yours? Charles Johnson explores our endless capacity to compare ourselves to others, and the Buddha’s antidote to trying to measure up. Charles Johnson is a novelist, scholar, and essayist. his novels include Dreamer, based on the life of Martin luther King Jr., and Middle Passage, for which he won a national Book award. he is also the author of Turning the Wheel: Essays on Buddhism and Writing. think in one of three ways: 1) Thinking of oneself as better than others; 2) Thinking of oneself as inferior to others; and 3) Thinking of oneself as equal to others... The Sanskrit word is derived from a verbal root that means to measure. So maana is the act of measuring, or perhaps comparing. It is the kind of thinking we do when we wonder, whether to ourselves or out loud, ‘Is mine bigger than yours? Is mine as good as yours?’ Abhidharma is right, I think, in pointing out that all of us who are not arhants (and I’m guessing that would be several of us on Buddha-L) are busy measuring ourselves against the standards set by others.” Hayes added, “Having acknowledged that we are all prone to looking around to see how well we stack up in comparison to others (for we are, after all, social animals, and we learn best by imitation) and whether we’re still okay in the imagined eyes of other beholders, even those we pretend to disregard, IllustratIon By andre slob