Monday, June 16, 2008

Orange, White and Blue

Here’s an interesting fact I bet you didn’t know. Wisdom Publications used to issue their books in three different formats according to the depth of the Dhamma they contained – orange for basic Dhamma, white for intermediate and blue for advanced. When they published Maurice Walshe’s translation of the Long Discourses (Digha Nikaya), the very words of the Fully and Perfectly Enlightened Buddha, it was put in the white or intermediate class. Books by various Tibetan lamas were put in the blue class. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho! So I suppose if the Buddha came back today and he wanted to know the deeper aspects of his own teachings and insights he would read something written by a Tibetan lama. Makes sense. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! I love starting my day with a good laugh.


Ser Ming said...


Cannot laugh at the lama wor! Later their yidam or protector deities will punish you!

Don't play-play!


Sheridan said...


This may seem a bit disrespectful, but it seems that there is some passive aggression happening towards Tibetan Buddhism in most of your writing. I am a Theravadin Buddhist, and myself had a very hard time reconciling myself with Vajrayana practice, even at one point trying to understand the visualization practices as a degenerate form of Kasina practice. Guru yoga had a particularly acrid taste to my more austere and simple sensibilities.

This was tough, however, because the only center around me was Tibetan with a slightly less than virtuous Lama. He is no Trungpa, but the five precepts are even covered! However, I had to look past that, and even dabbled in visualizations myself, with some slight fruit. Seeing good people come out of these practices, I take a softer light to them, though I do see the grave danger in the moral laxity that this teaching can engender.

I would be curious to hear what you think about these practices. Your blog has been very interesting and, finding it just recently, I devoured all in your archives in a week. If you could, please blog on these practices. Tell us what you think. So far, your mentions have been quick and giving a very bad light.

Thank you very much for all this wonderful information!!


madsolitaire said...


I share sheridan's perception.

With regards to Wisom Pub's grouping of books into basic, intermediate and advanced categories, I'd like to think that it is to guide readers' in selecting readings 'suitable' to their level of journey in Buddhism. It would certainly be disastrous if someone entirely new to Buddhism plunged into Mahayana or Tantra teachings without any basic knowledge and understanding of the Suttas. There is a vast corpus of Buddhist teachings and writings. Wisdom Publications colour coding is probably just a general road-map for readers, with no intention of insinuating that some books are 'higher' teachings and others are 'lower' teachings.

Important Note: I am not an employee of Wisdom Publications nor am I related to the organization in any way.

with metta

madsolitaire said...

Amendment to posting:

Amend "suitable to their level of journey in Buddhism" to "suitable to where they are at in their journey in Buddhism."

Robert said...

Well, I can sort of see why they might put it in the "advanced" classification because what little I have read of Tibetan Buddhist writing seems to do it's best to mystify everything. This may be due to the influence of certain schools like that of Nagarjuna rather than Tibetan Buddhism per-se. The Buddha would say "There is stress. There is the origin of stress. [etc.]" While Nagarjuna would say "there is neither stress nor non-stress."

"Complicated sounding/nonesense" = advanced! I have to imagine that by comparison much of what the Buddha said would probably go into the "intermediate" category compared to stuff like Nagarjuna because the Buddha speaks plainly about difficult subjects and actually intends to communicate as clearly as possible.

Chuan Guan bhikkhu said...

Well, that's what most Tibetan Buddhist would deem it as. Savraka teachings followed by Mahayana teachings and concluded by Vajrayana teachings.

One take is that the earliest (Sravaka) teachings were for the dullest faculty disciples while the latter for the most advanced disciple.

I like what one venerable mentioned in one talk and I quote him occassionally in my talks. "When the disciple is of high-faculty type, he don't need too much of an explanation or instruction, and he can practice and attain to Nibbana. Eg, Ven. Sariputta and Ven. Mahamoggallana. When the disciple is of dull-faculty, then much explanations is required, and still they cannot practice. So more techniques (skillful means) are needed to help the disciple practice. Such is the case for the later schools."

I've also quizzed someone from some classes on placing the Vajrayana tradition as Advanced module while Four Noble Truth and Noble Eightfold Path (and other Sravaka teachings) as Basic teachings.

Maybe the following classification will be more appropriate:

White: Core teachings
Yellow: Advanced teachings
Blue: Auxillary teachings

As a footnote, the various traditions do serve a purpose to provide an entry point for people of different affinity. So the different skillful means are skillful if and only if they gradually point towards the core teachings. If these skillful means become the core teachings then that would be like forsaking the medicine for the candy wrapping.

Buddha said...

Dear Bhante...
I do not Know much abt Vajrayana form of Buddhism...I just read the Book on Milarepa.
I had tears in my eyes while reading the book itslef.
The Book on Milarepa has definitley Strengthened my practise.
May be it would make sense to put the Buddhas teaching in Orange i would not mind..becuase his teachins are easy to understand and relate to ...
Like the Story of Handful of leaves

Unknown said...

your more a direct path kind a guy?