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Title: A study of a stereotyped structure of the path in early Buddhist literature : a comparative study of the Pali, Chinese and Sanskrit sources
Author: Yit, Kin Tung
ISNI:       0000 0004 2718 2262
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2004
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This thesis is a study of one prominent meditative path-structure in early Buddhism. The path-structure is called the 'Stereotyped Structure of the Path' (henceforth SSP) in this study, as it is a list that contains more than twenty items of formulas that are composed in a step-by-step order and according to a definite pattern. The list sequentially presents the stages from initial meditative and related disciplinary practice through to the result of Buddhist final liberation. This thesis is divided into two parts, both of which are based on a comparative study of the different versions of the texts that contain the SSP list. These texts include the materials transmitted in Pali, Sanskrit, and Chinese sources. The four Nikayas, the four Agamas and the Sarighabhedavastua re our primary concern. Part I examines the appearances of the SSP list as a whole entity, while Part II examines the members of the list individually. Many forms of the list are found throughout the early Buddhist canon. The most common form of the list presents a complete and longest version, which occurs in considerable numbers of text in DN/DĀ and MN/MĀ. There are also other forms of the list scattered in many other texts. Some of them have a shortened form in terms of the length, which present a partial form of the list with items missing. In a number of cases these shorter lists are combined with items that are not seen in the standard SSP list. All these accounts are examined in Part I, and a thorough comparison is undertaken. The applications of these lists and their broad distribution across various texts have significant implication. The wide-ranging use of the SSP list brings us to consider whether we could discover the origin of the SSP list in these numerous instances. Through a careful investigation several possibilities have been considered. Part II is dedicated to a comprehensive study on the components of the SSP list, namely the SSP formulas. Ten of such formulas are examined in full detail and others are summarized in the Appendices. The presentation and content of the formulas reveal interesting points while doing a comparative study through many different texts. The implications of the variation as well as the similarity of the formulas in various texts indicate some significant points. They imply information regarding how the fixed units of expression have been applied successfully, in terms of the transmission of the list. These fixed units from the SSP formulas work well not only due to a certain level of flexibility in their employment but also under a remarkable fixity of the arrangement. The conclusion drawn from this suggests that this fixity, which is in fact governed by the underlined fundamental principle of the path-structure, has lead the SSP list - as seen all over the canon - to a highly consistent and coherent presentation. This is so regardless of the great deal of variations found in many occurrences. This message is in turn of crucial importance in assisting our understanding of the nature of the composition and transmission of Buddhist oral literature.
Supervisor: Gethin, Rupert Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available