Dhivan Thomas Jones

I’m a Buddhist practitioner, member of the Triratna Buddhist Order, and scholar based in Chester in the UK. I teach philosophy and Indian religions at the University of Chester. This blog is a way for me to share short essays on things that are on my mind. I chose the name A Blue Chasm to evoke the spirit of William Wordsworth. In 1791, approaching the summit of Snowdon in pre-dawn darkness, he witnessed a sea of mist, and:

                                  … from the shore
At distance not the third part of a mile
Was a blue chasm, a fracture in the vapour,
A deep and gloomy breathing-place, through which
Mounted the roar of waters, torrents, streams
Innumerable, roaring with one voice.
… in that breach
Through which the homeless voice of waters rose,
That deep dark thoroughfare, had Nature lodged
The soul, the imagination of the whole.
(The Prelude, (1805), XIII 54–9, 62–5)

A blue chasm – a gap in the clouds – a breathing-place of the infinite – I seek a kind of scholarly writing that speaks from such a place.

6 thoughts on “Dhivan Thomas Jones

  1. My comment is with regard to “Meaning of Pali word ‘sutta'”.

    I am a Sri Lankan and my mother-tongue is Sinhala.

    I am of the firm opinion that the meaning of Pali Sutta is the meaning of Sanskrit Sutra: a formula. This is the meaning we were taught in school; in the sixth grade when we were introduced to algebra, we learnt the meanig of Sutra. The meaning is also given in the Sinhala version of the Concise Pali-English Dictionary. A.P. Buddhadatta.

    I can give further justification, if necessary.

    • Thanks Mr Wijeratna for your comment. It is interesting to hear that you are of the firm opinion that the meaning of the Pāli word sutta is the same at Sanskrit sūtra. You are probably not alone in your view, since it is the usual one, as found in almost all books on Buddhism. However, I am sure you would agree that ‘firm opinion’ is not necessarily the truth, and indeed that the Lord Buddha taught his disciples to question views and opinions to make sure that they were not fixed or wrong. So I would ask you to read my article and think about it. I think you will notice that in fact the great Theravādin commentator, Buddhaghosa, in his commentary on the Dhammasaṅganī, did not think that the Pāli word sutta meant ‘formula’ or sūtra. He gives a number of explanations, basically explaining the word as meaning ‘discourse’. My article goes a bit further that this, to explain that from a modern scientific etymological point of view, we could understand the word sutta as equivalent to Sanskrit su-ukta ‘well-spoken’, in reference to the Buddha’s discourses. The reason I wrote my article and published it on my blog was to ask people to consider whether in fact sources like Ven. Buddhadatta’s dictionary are correct. Perhaps the connection of sutta and sūtra is a long-standing misunderstanding. Of course, I might be wrong. It is a matter of ongoing study and discussion, which you may wish to join in with. All good wishes, Dhivan.

  2. Hi Dhivan I’m a mitra at LBC and appreciated your article in the journal of Buddhist Ethics about the niyamas. I appreciated the scholarship in what you wrote and also the care you took to not undermine what Sangharakshita’s written, by describing it as a creative interpretation of what the Buddha taught. My own sense is that sometimes going beyond what the Buddha taught can be confusing and we need to be communicate clearly when we are doing this. I’d be interested to know how this was responded to by others in the movement – I notice that your book no longer seems to be part of the mitra study course.

    With metta Sarah

  3. Hi Dhivan and thanks for your time.

    May I ask if the Buddha taught that
    ‘All views are wrong until we are awake?’

    Thanks

    • Hi Andrew, thanks for the question. I am not aware of any teaching by the Buddha recorded in early Buddhist scriptures of this sort. In fact, the idea that all views are wrong until we are awakened would go against the teaching of right view in the eightfold path. I would say that, in order to engage in the Buddhist path, one needs to hold right views, rather than wrong views, and holding right views means holding such views that actions have consequences, that practising ethics is worthwhile, that it is possible to develop and grow as human beings, and that some people have gained awakening. Without holding views of such sorts it would be difficult to engage fully in the path. Hope this helps, all the best, Dhivan.

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