Biography[ edit ] He was born in at Walpola, a tiny village in southern Sri Lanka. At thirteen, he entered the Sangha. His education covered Sinhala , Pali , Sanskrit , Buddhism, history and philosophy. He studied at the Vidyalankara Pirivena and at the University of Ceylon , where he associated with E.
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Who can write about a religion best? An insider or an outsider? Obviously it takes a lifetimes learning to understand the religion, just to get a feel for it. Then surely the insider is the one best placed to introduce others Invitation Complications or Who is the Best Spokesperson for a Religion? Then surely the insider is the one best placed to introduce others to this sacred mystery?
This is done by adhering to a faithful and accurate presentation of the actual words used by the Buddha as they are to be found in the original Pali texts of the Tipitaka, universally accepted by scholars as the earliest extant records of the teachings of the Buddha. Almost all the material Rahula commands so effortlessly are taken directly from these originals.
That way it must be admitted that only a scholar of his stature could have brought us so close to the original teachings. What that something is has to be judged by the author. The rest can be kept for later, if the guest decides to stay awhile. Now to return to our problem. Can an insider do this? After all, the insider is as much an alien to other religions as the visitor is to his own. So how can he write for the visitor? How can he inhabit his viewpoint and judge what would suit him best?
Could it be that the one best placed to understand the house is not so well suited to understand the visitor? So a Christian reader would need a christian author to interpret Buddhism for him?
A 21st century reader would need a 21st century guide? Who else can understand the reader as well? And in any case, since we are going down this road, who can understand both - the ancient house and the modern visitor? I think the best compromise would be to allow the welcome sermon to be delivered by a scholar outside the tradition, but steeped in it. One who has stayed in the house long enough to feel at home there. This is why every age needs to reinterpret its holy texts and greatest works.
Only then would they take the trouble to go visit too. And maybe stay awhile.
What the Buddha Taught
Walpola Rahula Thero