A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Does Buddhist Scripture meet the standards expected of a scientific paper?

To an ordinary layperson the six elements that need to preface a report, namely: The lead researcher, his assistants, time and place of the experiment, the object being studied, the materials and instruments used during the experiment are all listed. Buddhism in its earliest writings followed this format. This was long before the scientific community had developed this format, in another part of the world. He gives us the passage : “Thus have I heard. Once the Buddha was staying in the garden of Anathapindika in Srvasti with a group of 1,250 Bhiksus. . .” Faith is demonstrated by the word “thus”. The source of knowledge is identified by “I have heard”  and “once” is the time when it occurred. “Buddha” is the lead individual. The location is “in the garden of Anathapindika in Srvasti” . Finally the audience is “1,250 Bhiksus”. So if this was a paper being presented to a University for peer review, the basic 6 proofs that are expected before the main report have already been presented. He then states that unlike other important literature from Chinese history, only the  Buddhist scriptures meet these 6 proofs. He then goes through an analytical analysis, and examines the syntax and style according to accepted scientific principles. He then examines how the words were translated into Chinese and was astounded at the Buddhist dictionary that existed. One point he makes about the exactness of the translations, is that you get the same translation of terminology if you go from Sanskrit to English today, as you do if you translate from Chinese to English the same writings. The final item I will mention for today, is that on the last page of Buddhist texts the total number of words, and the total number of punctuation marks are written, as a check against inaccurate copying.

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