imo not worth worrying about exactly what Buddha said. He was an early hacker th... | by Nick



about 1 month ago

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imo not worth worrying about exactly what Buddha said. He was an early hacker that discovered cool and important stuff (eg tanha/dukkha), but some details were lost to history. Luckily, we are running the same hardware, any important bits we should be able to easily rediscover

This is complicated by the fact that there tends to be two distinct groups: people that have probed their own qualia / attention enough to rediscovered and experience the specific mechanics the old docs point to, and scholars who know the languages necessary to read the do

like having a ton of code scholars who don’t actually know how to code, discussing the details of each languages “for loop” syntax without actually understanding loops or being able to use them, like Feynman’s anecdote of Brazilian physics students who memorize but don’t grok

On the other hand, you have hackers experimenting with their qualia somewhat haphazardly and not really building on each other. Good docs and scholarship would organize them and speed things up, science and publishing is good. You want both sides (scholarship+direct experience)

Worth remembering Buddha was a prime example of this kind of hacker. Dude tried everything, asceticism, the jhanas, fasting, even tried holding his breath for a long time to see how it affected his body to see if it reduced suffering. Eventually found tanha&dukkha

It’s not that there’s no one at the intersection of scholarship and experience. There’s quite a few and I’m grateful for them. It’s just that I think the two sides without the union are common and worth talking about, bc in some cases I think they’re accidentally harmful

read the do => read the docs

every time I tweet about tanha Sanskrit / Pali / other scholars come at me discussing their favorite translations (thirst/fire/cravings). It’s a specific literal thing, an attentional mechanic, practically a bodypart, translate it to whatever you want, it’s like translating “arm”

Much more important than how you choose to translate the word arm is the right instructions so the reader can look down and see their arm. The words aren’t the important part, seeing the thing is

(discussing is quite charitable, it’s usually harsher criticism, saying everything but their preferred translation is stupid and the person just has to study more)

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