References on determining the actual teaching of Buddha
Pruning the Bodhi Tree: The Storm over Critical Buddhism (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press): 298–313. ISBN 0-8248-1949-7.
Full Text of Nikaya
Sensual pleasures are to be avoided.
Kâmasutta is ended.
Let no one cling to existence and sensual pleasures.
1. A man that lives adhering to the cave (i.e. the body), who is covered with much (sin), and sunk into delusion, such a one is far from seclusion, for the sensual pleasures in the world are not easy to abandon. (772)
2. Those whose wishes are their motives, those who are linked to the pleasures of the world, they are difficult to liberate, for they cannot be liberated by others, looking for what is after or what is before, coveting these and former sensual pleasures. (773)
3. Those who are greedy of, given to, and infatuated by sensual pleasures, those who are niggardly, they, having entered upon what is wicked, wail when they are subjected to pain, saying: 'What will become of us, when we die away from here?' (774)
6. Look upon those men trembling in selfishness, like fish in a stream nearly dried up, with little water; seeing this, let one wander about unselfish, without forming any attachment to existences. (777)
[1. Idheva = imasmim yeva sâsane. Commentator.
2. Na tassa hetu visamam kareyya.]
7. Having subdued his wish for both ends, having fully understood touch without being greedy, not doing what he has himself blamed, the wise (man) does not cling to what is seen and heard. (778)
8. Having understood name, let the Muni cross over the stream, not defiled by any grasping; having pulled out the arrow (of passion), wandering about strenuous, he does not wish for this world or the other. (779)
Guhatthakasutta is ended.
The Muni undergoes no censure, for he has shaken off all systems of philosophy, and is therefore independent.
1. Verily, some wicked-minded people censure, and also just-minded people censure, but the Muni does not undergo the censure that has arisen; therefore there is not a discontented (khila) Muni anywhere. (780)
[1. Comp. Sallasutta, v. 9.
2. Ubhosu antesu vineyya khandam
3. Saññam = nâmarûpam. Commentator.
4. Sakam hi ditthim katham akkayeyya
his own virtue and (holy) works to others, him the good call ignoble, one who praises himself. (782)
5. He whose Dhammas are (arbitrarily) formed and fabricated, placed in front, and confused, because he sees in himself a good result, is therefore given to (the view which is called) kuppa-patikka-santi. (?) (784)
6. For the dogmas of philosophy are not easy to overcome, amongst the Dhammas (now this and now that) is adopted after consideration; therefore a man rejects and adopts (now this and now that) Dhamma amongst the dogmas. (785)
7. For him who has shaken off (sin) there is nowhere in the world any prejudiced view of the different existences; he who has shaken off (sin), after leaving deceit and arrogance behind, which (way) should he go, he (is) independent. (786)
[1. Yo âtumânam sayam eva pâvâ = yo evam attânam sayam eva vadati. Commentator.
2. Yass' ussadâ n' atthi kuhiñki loke.
3. Pakappitâ samkhatâ yassa dhammâ
4. Ditthînivesâ na hi svâtivattâ,
5. Dhonassa hî n' atthi kuhiñki loke
8. But he who is dependent undergoes censure amongst the Dhammas; with what (name) and how should one name him who is independent? For by him there is nothing grasped or rejected, he has in this world shaken off every (philosophical) view. (787)
Dutthatthakasutta is ended.
No one is purified by philosophy, those devoted to philosophy run from one teacher to another, but the wise are not led by passion, and do not embrace anything in the world as the highest.
1. I see a pure, most excellent, sound man, by his views a man's purification takes place, holding this opinion, and having seen this view to be the highest he goes back to knowledge, thinking to see what is pure. (788)
2. If a man's purification takes place by (his philosophical) views, or he by knowledge leaves pain behind, then he is purified by another (way than the ariyamagga, i.e. the noble way), together with his upadhis, on account of his views he tells him to say so. (789)
[1. Upayo[*] hi dhammesu upeti vâdam
2. Passâmi suddham paramam arogam,
*. Upayo ti tanhâditthinissito. Commentator.]
3. But the Brâhmana who does not cling to what has been seen, or heard, to virtue and (holy) works, or to what has been thought, to what is good and to what is evil, and who leaves behind what has been grasped, without doing anything in this world, he does not acknowledge that purification cornes from another. (790)
4. Having left (their) former (teacher) they go to another, following their desires they do not break asunder their ties; they grasp, they let go like a monkey letting go the branch (just) after having caught (hold of it). (791)
5. Having himself undertaken some (holy) works he goes to various (things) led by his senses, but a man of great understanding, a wise man who by his wisdom has understood the Dhamma, does not go to various (occupations). (792)
7. They do not form (any view), they do not prefer (anything), they do not say, 'I am infinitely pure;' having cut the tied knot of attachment, they do not long for (anything) anywhere in the world. (794)
[1.Na brâhmano aññato suddhim âha
2. Sa sabbadhammesu visenibhûto[*]
*. Mârasenam vinâsetvâ thitabhâvena visenibhûto. Commentator.]
8. He is a Brâhmana that has conquered (sin); by him there is nothing embraced after knowing and seeing it; he is not affected by any kind of passion; there is nothing grasped by him as the highest in this world. (795)
Suddhatthakasutta is ended.
One should not give oneself to philosophical disputations; a Brâhmana who does not adopt any system of philosophy, is unchangeable, has reached Nibbâna.
1. What one person, abiding by the (philosophical) views, saying, 'This is the most excellent,' considers the highest in the world, everything different from that he says is wretched, therefore he has not overcome dispute. (796)
2. Because he sees in himself a good result, with regard to what has been seen (or) heard, virtue and (holy) works, or what has been thought, therefore, having embraced that, he looks upon everything else as bad. (797)
[1. Katunnam kilesasîmânam atîtattâ
2. Paraman ti ditthîsu paribbasâno
3. Yad attanî passati ânisamsam
upon which one looks upon anything else as bad. Therefore let a Bhikkhu not depend upon what is seen, heard, or thought, or upon virtue and (holy) works. (798)
4. Let him not form any (philosophical) view in this world, either by knowledge or by virtue and (holy) works, let him not represent himself equal (to others), nor think himself either low or distinguished. (799)
5. Having left what has been grasped, not seizing upon anything he does not depend even on knowledge. He does not associate with those that are taken up by different things, he does not return to any (philosophical) view. (800)
6. For whom there is here no desire for both ends, for reiterated existence either here or in another world, for him there are no resting-places (of the mind) embraced after investigation amongst the doctrines (dhammesu). (801)
[1. Tam vâpi gantham kusalâ vadanti
2. Attam pahâya anupâdiyâno
3. Yass' ûbhayante panidhîdha n' atthi
8. They do not form (any view), they do not prefer (anything), the Dhammas are not chosen by them, a Brâhmana is not dependent upon virtue and (holy) works; having gone to the other shore, such a one does not return. (803)
Paramatthakasutta is ended.
From selfishness come grief and avarice; The Bhikkhu who has turned away frorn the world and wanders about houseless, is independent, and does not wish for purification through another.
[1. Maranena pi tam pahîyati
remains undecayed of the person that has passed away. (808)
[1. Ditthâpi sutâpi te ganâ
2. Patilînakarassa bhikkhuno
3. Udabindu yathâpi pokkhare
*. Bi has vivitta-.]
purification through another, for he is not pleased nor displeased (with anything). (813)
Garâsutta is ended.
Sexual intercourse should be avoided.
[1. Dhono na hi tena maññati
deeds) urged by the doctrines of others, he is very greedy, and sinks into falsehood. (819)
Tissametteyyasutta is ended.
Disputants brand each other as fools, they wish for praise, but being repulsed they become discontented; one is not purified by dispute, but by keeping to Buddha, who has shaken off all sin.
1. Here they maintain 'purity,' in other doctrines (dhamma) they do not allow purity; what they have devoted themselves to, that they call good, and they enter extensively upon the single truths. (824)
[1. Atha satthâni kurute
2. Idh' eya suddhim iti vâdiyanti
2. Those wishing for dispute, having plunged into the assembly, brand each other as fools mutually, they go to others and pick a quarrel, wishing for praise and calling themselves (the only) expert. (825)
3. Engaged in dispute in the middle of the assembly, wishing for praise he lays about on all sides; but when his dispute has been repulsed he becomes discontented, at the blame he gets angry he who sought for the faults (of others). (826)
5. These disputes have arisen amongst the Samanas, in these (disputes) there is (dealt) blow (and) stroke; having seen this, let him leave off disputing, for there is no other advantage in trying to get praise. (828)
7. That which is his exaltation will also be the field of his defeat, still he talks proudly and arrogantly; seeing this, let no one dispute, for the expert do not say that purification (takes place) by that. (830)
[1. Yi unnatî sâssa vighâtabûmi,
hero; formerly there was nothing like this to fight against. (831)
10. Those who wander about after having secluded themselves, without opposing view to view--what (opposition) wilt thou meet with amongst those, O Pasûra, by whom nothing in this world is grasped as the best? (833)
11. Then thou wentest to reflection thinking in thy mind over the (different philosophical) views; thou hast gone into the yoke with him who has shaken off (al1 sin), but thou wilt not be able to proceed together (with him). (834)
Pasûrasutta is ended.
A dialogue between Mâgandiya and Buddha. The former offers Buddha his daughter for a wife, but Buddha refuses her. Mâgandiya says that purity cornes from philosophy, Buddha from 'inward peace.' The Muni is a confessor of peace, he does not dispute, he is free from marks.
[1. Sûro yathâ râgakhâdâya puttho
2. Patisenikattâ ti patilomakârako. Commentator.
3. Atha tvam pavitakkam âgamâ
(in me) for sexual intercourse. What is this (thy daughter's body but a thing) full of water and excrement? I do not even want to touch it with my foot.' (835)
3. '"This I say," so (I do now declare), after investigation there is nothing amongst the doctrines which such a one (as I would) embrace, O Mâgandiya,'-- so said Bhagavat,--'and seeing (misery) in the (philosophical) views, without adopting (any of them), searching (for truth) I saw "inward peace."' (837)
4. 'All the (philosophical) resolutions that have been formed,'--so said Mâgandiya,--'those indeed thou explainest without adopting (any of them); the notion "inward peace" which (thou mentionest), how is this explained by the wise?' (838)
5. 'Not by (any philosophical) opinion, not by tradition, not by knowledge, O Mâgandiya,'--so said Bhagavat,--'not by virtue and (holy) works can any one say that purity exists; nor by absence of (philosophical) opinion, by absence of tradition, by absence of knowledge, by absence of virtue and (holy) works either; having abandoned these without adopting (anything else), let him, calm and independent, not desire existence. (839)
[1. Idam vadâmîti na tassa hoti--Mâgandiyâ ti Bhagavâ--
2. Vinikkhaya, placita?
3. Na ditthiyâ na sutiyâ na ñânena--Mâgandiyâ ti Bhagavâ--
6. 'If one cannot say by (any philosophical) opinion, or by tradition, or by knowledge,'--so said Mâgandiya,--'or by virtue and (holy) works that purity exists, nor by absence of (philosophical) opinion, by absence of tradition, by absence of knowledge, by absence of virtue and (holy) works, then I consider the doctrine foolish, for by (philosophical) opinions some return to purity.' (840)
7. 'And asking on account of (thy philosophical) opinion, O Mâgandiya,'--so said Bhagavat,--'thou hast gone to infatuation in what thou hast embraced, and of this (inward peace) thou hast not the least idea, therefore thou holdest it foolish. (841)
8. 'He who thinks himself equal (to others), or distinguished, or low, he for that very reason disputes; but he who is unmoved under those three conditions, for him (the notions) "equal" and "distinguished" do not exist. (842)
9. 'The Brâhmana for whom (the notions) "equal" and "unequal" do not exist, would he say, "This is true?" Or with whom should he dispute, saying, "This is false?" With whom should he enter into dispute? (843)
[1. Ditthiñ ka nissâya anupukkhamâno
2. Sakkan ti so brâhmano kim vadeyya
houseless, not making acquaintances in the village, free from lust, not desiring (any future existence), let the Muni not get into quarrelsome talk with people. (844)
11. 'Let not an eminent man (nâga) dispute after having embraced those (views) separated from which he (formerly) wandered in the world; as the thorny lotus elambuga is undefiled by water and mud, so the Muni, the confessor of peace, free from greed, does not cling to sensual pleasures and the world. (845)
12. 'An accomplished man does not by (a philosophical) view, or by thinking become arrogant, for he is not of that sort; not by (holy) works, nor by tradition is he to be led, he is not led into any of the resting-places (of the mind). (846)
13. 'For him who is free from marks there are no ties, to him who is delivered by understanding there are no follies; (but those) who grasped after marks and (philosophical) views, they wander about in the world annoying (people).' (847)
Mâgandiyasutta is ended.
Definition of a calm Muni.
[1. Saññâvirattassa na santi ganthâ,
does not depend upon beginning and end, nor reckons upon the middle, by him there is nothing preferred. (849)
[1. Vîtatanho purâ bhedâ
2. Rasesu nânugigghati
13. 'Free from covetousness, without avarice, the Muni does not reckon himself amongst the distinguished, nor amongst the plain, nor amongst the low, he does not enter time, being delivered from time. (860)
14. 'He for whom there is nothing in the world (which he may call) his own, who does not grieve over what is no more, and does not walk amongst the Dhammas (after his wish), he is called calm.' (861)
Purâbhedasutta is ended.
The origin of contentions, disputes, &c. &c.
[1. Vîtagedho amakkharî
and arrogance and conceit together with slander, whence do these spring up? pray, tell me this.' (862)
2. 'From dear (objects) spring up contentions and disputes, lamentation and sorrow together with envy; arrogance and conceit together with slander; contentions and disputes are joined with envy, and there is slander in the disputes arisen.' (863)
3. 'The dear (objects) in the world whence do they originate, and (whence) the covetousness that prevails in the world, and desire and fulfilment whence do they originate, which are (of consequence) for the future state of a man?' (864)
4. 'From wish originate the dear (objects) in the world, and the covetousness that prevails in the world, and desire and fulfilment originate from it, which are (of consequence) for the future state of a man.' (865)
[1. Ye samparâyâya narassa honti.
4. Rûpesu disvâ vibhavam bhavañ ka.
5. Te pi kodhâdayo dhammâ sâtâsâtadvaye sante eva pahonti uppagganti. Commentator.]
their origin, for want of what do these not arise? This notion which (thou mentionest), viz. "decay and origin," tell me from what does this arise.' (869)
9. 'Pleasure and displeasure have their origin from phassa (touch), when there is no touch they do not arise. This notion which (thou mentionest), viz. "decay and origin," this I tell thee has its origin from this.' (870)
13. 'Let one not be with a natural consciousness, nor with a mad consciousness, nor without consciousness, nor with (his) consciousness gone; for him who is thus constituted form ceases to exist, for what is called delusion has its origin in consciousness.' (?) (874)
[1. Katham sametassa vibhoti rûpam,
2. Na sannasaññî na visannasaññî
unto us; we will ask thee another question, answer us that: Do not some (who are considered) wise in this world tell us that the principal (thing) is the purification of the yakkha, or do they say something different from this?' (875)
15. 'Thus some (who are considered) wise in this world say that the principal (thing) is the purification of the yakkha; but some of them say samaya (annihilation), the expert say (that the highest purity lies) in anupâdisesa (none of the five attributes remaining). (876)
16. 'And having known these to be dependent, the investigating Muni, having known the things we depend upon, and after knowing them being liberated, does not enter into dispute, the wise (man) does not go to reiterated existence.' (877)
Kalahavivâdasutta is ended.
A description of disputing philosophers. The different schools of philosophy contradict each other, they proclaim different truths, but the truth is only one. As long as the disputations are going on, so long will there be strife in the world.
[1. Comp. Sundarikabhâradvâgasutta, v. 25.
2. Ettâvat' aggam pi vadanti h' eke
3. Ete ka ñatvâ upanissitâ ti
*. Ukkhedam. Commentator.]
the (only) expert (saying), '(He) who understands this, he knows the Dhamma; he who reviles this, he is not perfect.' (878)
2. So having got into contest they dispute: 'The opponent (is) a fool, an ignorant (person),' so they say. Which one of these, pray, is the true doctrine (vâda)? for all these assert themselves (to be the only) expert. (879)
3. He who does not acknowledge an opponent's doctrine (dhamma), he is a fool, a beast, one of poor understanding, all are fools with a very poor understanding; all these abide by their (own) views. (880)
7. For the truth is one, there is not a second, about which one intelligent man might dispute with another intelligent man; (but) they themselves praise different truths, therefore the Samanas do not say one and the same thing). (884)
[1. Sakam sakam ditthi paribbasânâ
2. Ekam hi sakkam na dutîyam atthi
9. There are not many different truths in the world, no eternal ones except consciousness; but having reasoned on the (philosophical) views they proclaim a double Dhamma, truth and falsehood. (886)
10. In regard to what has been seen, or heard, virtue and (holy) works, or what has been thought, and on account of these (views) looking (upon others) with contempt, standing in (their) resolutions joyful, they say that the opponent is a fool and an ignorant person (?) (887)
12. He is full of his overbearing (philosophical) view, mad with pride, thinking himself perfect, he is in his own opinion anointed with the spirit (of genius), for his (philosopbical) view is quite complete. (889)
[1. Na h' evâ sakkâni bahûni nânâ
2. Ditthe sute sîlavate mute vâ
3. Yen' eva bâlo ti param dahâti
13. If he according to another's report is low, then (he says) the other is also of a low understanding, and if he himself is accomplished and wise, there is not any fool amongst the Samanas. (890)
14. 'Those who preach a doctrine (dhamma) different from this, fall short of purity and are imperfect,' so the Titthiyas say repeatedly, for they are inflamed by passion for their own (philosophical) views. (891)
17. Standing in (his) resolution, having himself measured (teachers, &c.), he still more enters into dispute in the world; but having left all resolutions nobody will excite strife in the world. (894)
Kûlaviyûhasutta is ended.
[1. Parassa ke hi vakasâ nihîno
2. Vinikkhaye thatvâ sayam pamâya
*. So pi ten' eva. Commentator. Ved. tva (?).]
Philosophers cannot lead to purity, they only praise themselves and stigmatise others. But a Brâhmana has overcome all dispute, he is indifferent to learning, he is appeased.
2. This is little, not enough to (bring about) tranquillity, I say there are two fruits of dispute; having seen this let no one dispute, understanding Khema (i.e. Nibbâna) to be the place where there is no dispute. (896)
3. The opinions that have arisen amongst people, all these the wise man does not embrace; he is independent. Should he who is not pleased with what has been seen and heard resort to dependency? (?) (897)
4. Those who consider virtue the highest of all, say that purity is associated with restraint; having taken upon themselves a (holy) work they serve. Let us learn in this (view), then, his (the Master's) purity; wishing for existence they assert themselves to be the only expert. (898)
[1. Yâ kâk' imâ sammutiyo puthuggâ
2. Sîluttamâ saññamenâhu suddhim,
*. So all the MSS.]
prays for purity in this world, as one who has lost his caravan or wandered away from his house. (899)
6. Having left virtue and (holy) works altogether, and both wrong and blameless work, not praying for purity or impurity, he wanders abstaining (from both purity and impurity), without having embraced peace. (900)
8. For him who wishes (for something there always are) desires, and trembling in (the midst of his) plans; he for whom there is no death and no re-birth, how can he tremble or desire anything? (902)
11. If one (becomes) low by another's censure, then there will be no one distinguished amongst the Dhammas; for they all say another's Dhamma (is) low, in their own they say there is something firm. (905)
2. Parassa ke vamhayitena hîno
13. There is nothing about a Brâhmana dependent upon others, nothing amongst the Dhammas which he would embrace after investigation; therefore he has overcome the disputes, for he does not regard any other Dhamma as the best. (907)
14. 'I understand, I see likewise this,' so saying, some by (their philosophical) views return to purity. If he saw purity, what then (has been effected) by another's view? Having conquered they say that purity exists by another. (?) (908)
[1. Sadhammapûgâ ka panâ tath' eva
2. Gânâmi passâmi tath' eva etam
3. Nivissavâdî na hi suddhinâyo
number (of living beings), (he is) no follower of (philosophical) views, nor a friend of knowledge; and having penetrated the opinions that have arisen amongst people, he is indifferent to learning, while others acquire it. (911)
18. The Muni, having done away with ties here in the world, is no partisan in the disputes that have arisen; appeased amongst the unappeased he is indifferent, not embracing learning, while others acquire it. (912)
19. Having abandoned his former passions, not contracting new ones, not wandering according to his wishes, being no dogmatist, he is delivered from the (philosophical) views, being wise, and he does not cling to the world, neither does he blame himself. (913)
20. Being secluded amongst all the doctrines (dhamma), whatever has been seen, heard, or thought, he is a Muni who has laid down his burden and is liberated, not belonging to time (na kappiyo), not dead, not wishing for anything. So said Bhagavat. (914)
Mahâviyûhasutta is ended.
How a Bhikkhu attains bliss, what his duties are, and what he is to avoid.
1. 'I ask thee, who art a kinsman of the Âdikkas and a great Isi, about seclusion (viveka) and the state of peace. How is a Bhikkhu, after having seen it, extinguished, not grasping at anything in the world?' (915)
2. 'Let him completely cut off the root of what is called papañka (delusion), thinking "I am wisdom;"'--so said Bhagavat,--'all the desires that arise inwardly, let him learn to subdue them, always being thoughtful. (916)
[1. Aviggâdayo kilesâ. Commentator.
2. Nâtumânam vikappayan titthe.
4. Akittayi vivatakakkhu sakkhi
let the Bhikkhu not lament, and let him not wish for existence anywhere, and let him not tremble at dangers. (923)
13. 'Let him not apply himself to practising (the hymns of) the Âthabbana(-veda), to (the interpretation of) sleep and signs, nor to astrology; let not (my) follower (mâmaka) devote himself to (interpreting) the cry of birds, to causing impregnation, nor to (the art of) medicine. (927)
[1. Virame kukkukkam.
2. Payuta; comp. Nâlakasutta, v. 33.]
Tuvatakasutta is ended.
Description of an accomplished Muni.
2. Sakkhi dhammam anîtiham adassî.]
this world an arrow, difficult to see, stuck in the heart. (938)
[1. Âkâsam na sito siyâ ti tanham nissito na bhaveyya. Commentator.
2. Gedham brûmi mahogho ti
stands fast on the firm ground (of Nibbâna, being) a Brâhmana, he, having forsaken everything, is indeed called calm. (946)
[1. Nâggheti = nâbhigghati (read nâbhigghâyati). Commentator.
2. Comp. infra, Gatukannin's question, v. 4, and Dhammapada, p. 308.
3. Comp. infra, Gatukannin's question, v. 5.
4. Yassa n'atthi 'idam me' ti
5. = upekhako. Commentator.]
discerning (man) there is no Samkhâra; abstaining from every sort of effort he sees happiness everywhere. (953)
Attadandasutta is ended.
On Sâriputta asking what a Bhikkhu is to devote himself to, Buddha shows what life he is to lead.
[1. Anegassa vigânato
3. Atthi pañhena âgamim = atthiko pañhena âgato 'mhîti atthikânam vâ pañhena atthi âgamanañ kâ ti. Commentator.]
9. 'What is pleasant for him who is disgusted (with birth, &c.), O Sâriputta,'--so said Bhagavat,--'if he cultivates a lonely dwelling-place, and loves perfect enlightenment in accordance with the Dhamma, that I will tell thee as I understand it. (963)
[1. Gakkhato amatam disam.
2. Ekodi = ekaggakitto. Commentator.
3. Comp. Dhp. v. 239.
5. Damsâdhipâtânan ti pingalamakkhikânañ ka sesamakkhikânañ ka, sesamakkhikâ hi tato adhipatitvâ khâdanti, tasmâ adhipâtâ ti vukkanti. Commentator.
6. Manussaphassânan ti korâdiphassânam. Commentator.
will overcome other dangers while seeking what is good. (965)
13. 'Let him not commit theft, let him not speak falsely, let him touch friendly what is feeble or strong, what he acknowledges to be the agitation of the mind, let him drive that off as a partisan of Kanha (i.e. Mâra). (967)
17. 'Having had in (due) time both food and clothes, let him know moderation in this world for the sake of happiness; guarded in these (things) and wandering restrained in the village let him, even (if he be) irritated, not speak harsh words. (971)
him break stubbornness in his fellow-students, let him utter propitious words and not unseasonable, let him not think detractingly of others. (973)
21. 'Let the Bhikkhu subdue his wish for these Dhammas and be thoughtful, and with his mind well liberated, then in time he will, reflecting upon Dhamma, and having become intent upon one object, destroy darkness.' So said Bhagavat. (975)
Sâriputtasutta is ended.
Atthakavagga, the fourth.
The question is whether to call "what the Buddha taught" meditation or religion. Vipassana is the theravedan approach. To see reality for what it is. Whether awareness of breath or sensation, this technique uses observation to tame the subconscious impulses.
I wonder whether observation is where it ends. Gautama said "there is nothing in the clenched fist of the teacher", rejecting esotericism.
Yet we see humans who meditate for long periods of time who do not seem to show spiritual enlightenment beyond a basic level. Still cross or irritable at times, or simply depressed. What of energized enthuthiasm, jollity, development of abilities. Does the practice start and end with observation?
The greatest benefit I have recieved is to recognize irrational thought structures when they rise up in me, and to release them, not let them take me over. So if I continued a lot of benefits are still to be obtained. Every memory associated with discomfort or craving would gradually loosen its hold on my mind, theoretically freeing me.
Yet without chasing the high, the craving, a certain gloominess or apathy can seem to loom at times. What is the point?
The teachings of the Buddha spread North East via Tibet and Central Asia to China and the Far East, the mahayana branches, and they spread south east, to Ceylon and South East Asia, the theravedan school.
The oldest surviving manuscripts are the Gandhara collection.
The writings that can be found in both China (Mahayana) and Sri Lanka (Theraveda) and have the greatest likelihood of being as close as we can get to knowing what the Buddha taught are as follows:
sutta nipata - parayana vagga and atthaka vagga are very old indeed.