Buddhist Path, Buddhist Teachings - Studies in Memory of L.S. Cousins - Naomi Appleton

Buddhist Path, Buddhist Teachings - Studies in Memory of L.S. Cousins - Naomi Appleton

3. Paths of Monastic Practice from India to Sri Lanka: Responses to L.S. Cousins’ Work on Scholars and Meditators

Buddhist Path, Buddhist Teachings - Studies in Memory of L.S. Cousins - Naomi Appleton

Bradley Clough [+-]
University of Montana
Bradley Clough is Associate Professor in the Religious Studies faculty at the University of Montana.

Description

In 1996, L. S Cousins published a groundbreaking piece on paths of monastic practice titled ‘Scholar Monks and Meditator Monks Revisited’ (Powers and Prebish 2009, 31–46). As the title suggests, this work reconsiders the role of two types of monks, doing so by closely analyzing a famous sutta (Mahācunda Sutta, A III 355–356) that depicts a strong dispute between jhāyins or ‘meditators’ and dhammayogas, whom scholarship has almost universally defined as ‘scholars’. Because of this, almost all have interpreted this debate as the first sign in early Indian Buddhism of a great bifurcation in the saṅgha between those concentrating on book learning (pariyatti) and those concentrating on practice (paṭipatti) — a split that became more and more marked over the centuries until the division became more or less official in medieval Sri Lanka. Cousins convincingly contests this history, with one of his main points being that the dhammayogas were not at all just scholars. Like the meditators, theirs was a practical path that resulted in profound realization of the Dhamma, albeit a different path from that of the meditators. Cousins then goes even further, arguing that the split between scholars and meditators is not very evident in South Asian Buddhist history until the time of Buddhaghosa and thereafter. My intention here is to respond as fully as possible to Cousins’ methods and conclusions, by offering evidence and arguments that sometimes support his work further and sometimes critique his work. This is done in the spirit of spurring on more discussions on this important, complex, and contested issue.

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Citation

Clough, Bradley. 3. Paths of Monastic Practice from India to Sri Lanka: Responses to L.S. Cousins’ Work on Scholars and Meditators. Buddhist Path, Buddhist Teachings - Studies in Memory of L.S. Cousins. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 45-62 Oct 2019. ISBN 9781781798928. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=33385. Date accessed: 17 Oct 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.33385. Oct 2019

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