using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Spring 2011
Current Translation Project Skill in Questions, an anthology of texts from the Pali Canon exploring the Buddha’s four strategies for responding to questions. THANISSARO BHIKKHU is abbot of Metta Forest Monastery in San Diego County, and the author and translator of numerous Buddhist works, including Handful of Leaves, a five-volume anthology of sutta translations. He ordained in the Thai Forest tradition in 1976. On Translation translator: THAnissArO BHiKKHU In your current translation work, you focus more on how the Buddha taught than on what he taught. Why the emphasis on how? Q&A The Buddha’s teachings start with a practical question: how do you put an end to suffering? This has two consequences. The first is that his teachings are strategic, aimed at bringing his listeners to a particular goal. Thus the what is always in service of the how. The second conse- quence is that he had to be sensitive to whether his listeners’ questions were in line with his aim. If not, the questions would get in the way of understanding him. This is why he divided ques- tions into four types: those deserving a categori- cal response, those deserving to be reanalyzed before he’d answer them, those deserving to be cross-questioned before he’d answer them, and those deserving to be put aside as useless distrac- tions. By examining how the Buddha used these four responses, we get a better idea of what ques- tions we should be bringing to his teachings to get the most use out of them. So what sort of questions did the Buddha think we should be asking? The Buddha framed questions for examining your intentions, your actions, and the results of your actions; questions for examining the results of your meditation, testing for even the slightest trace of complacency or stress; and then questions for testing any attainments you might reach. There’s no aspect of the practice where he METTAFOrEsTMOnAsTErY wouldn’t encourage you to question your sensi- tivity, skills, and self-honesty in this way. Instead of simply telling you how to practice, he’d train you to be a reliable and exacting judge of how well your practice was working. What are some of the choices you made in translating the Pali Canon for this project? The prime issue when encountering unclear pas- sages in the Canon is where you should look first for clarification: to the Commentary, or to other canonical passages that treat the same topic. I tend to favor the second approach because the Commentary postdates the Canon by many centuries, and conceptions about the dhamma changed radically during that time. The Commentary’s interpretation of the four response strategies is very narrow, focused on the sorts of logical traps an opponent might use to trip you up in a formal debate. The Canon’s examples of how the Buddha actually used the four response strategies, how- ever, shows that they served a much broader purpose, allowing him to tailor his words to the specific needs of his listeners—giving them the proper frame for understanding his teachings, steering them away from fruitless digressions, and showing them how to cross-examine their own minds. 83 spring 2 01 1 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly