Saturday, January 14, 2006

Sutra Opening Lines Part 2

OK, let's finish the opening lines of most sutras, or ,འདི་སྐད་བདག་གིས་ཐོས་པ་དུས་གཅིག་ན།'di skad bdag gis thos pa dus gcig na.

ཐོས་པ།thos pa is listening, especialy in the context hearing a dharma teaching, receiving oral instructions. Just listening to a teacher even reciting texts is very important in the Buddhist tradition. What is established is a continuous tradition going back to the original teachings. Alas, this chain will be broken in future, so meanwhile it's good to try to keep the connection available for future generations.

དུས།dus is a very common word, means time. However, here it is used in an expression,འདུས་གཅིག་ན། dus gcig na, when one time, or one day.

So, the second part,་ཐོས་པ་དུས་གཅིག་ན། thos pa dus gcig na is one day I heard. The full translation might look like: One day I heard the words of this teaching. However, this is not how you usually see the first line translated. A very common variant is: Thus I once heard, or Thus I have heard.

This whole first sentence is actually an indication that it is an authentic sutra. Shakyamuni Buddha gave instructions to his disciple Ananda to start any sutra with this statement, as welll as indicating the time and place, as well who were attending when the sutra was spoken.

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