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Dharma is BS

Several years ago I decided to sit in on Buddhism classes by Dr. Gregory Schopen. I heard legendary stories about his research and personality, so I had to check it out for myself.Gregory Schopen Those few weeks had a major effect on not just how I see Buddhism, but also on how I viewed academic research in general. One lecture in particular has stuck with me, and this was about “what the Buddha said.”

We Buddhists love to talk about what the Buddha said. Of course, none of us has ever heard the actual words he said. We usually don’t even quote the Pali or Sanskrit words that he’s claimed to have said. For those of us who don’t speak Sanskrit our Pali, we beg our readers to put their trust in our trust of the fellows who translate from the Pali or Sanskrit texts (and their editors). Sometimes we need to elaborate on the meaning of these translated texts, apparently the Buddha’s words don’t always speak for themselves.

Schopen applied this reasoning to Buddhist texts, and did so much more simply. And of course he uses the provocative abbreviation BS for what the Buddha Said.*

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