āgama 阿含 & āgatāgama 阿含及所得

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多聞廣博, 守持不忘諸法深奧, 上中下善, 義味誠諦, 梵行具足, 聞已入心。

“One has heard much and widely, keeping and maintaining without loss of memory the profound teaching that is good in the beginning, middle, and end, with truthful meaning and phrasing, being the equipment of the pure life, which on having been heard enters the heart” (DĀ 10 at T I 54c28)

Picture1The Āgama Research Group was (in)formally constituted in the autumn of 2012. Our group grew out of the long-term personal and scholarly friendship and collaboration among its core members. We are academics and scholars based at or affiliated with the Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts. The  Āgama Research Group’s vision as an academic community is informed by the intention to support the dialogue between traditional and text-critical / text-historical learning – the study of the Dharma, and the study of ‘Buddhism’ in the light of the principles of change and dependent arising. The  Āgama Research Group is at the same time dedicated to collaborative research between philologically trained scholars who specialise in early Buddhist philology and scholars of the digital humanities, and it is devoted to fostering exchange between local scholars in the Buddhist countries and international academia. We have a long-term plan of translation work, research, scholarly seminars and publications. From 2015, our group has been supported by the Fundación Bodhiyāna para la difusión del budhismo en su visión integral (Argentina) as well as by a few individual donors from around the world.

Agama_Reserch group_180x180The turtle of our logo (can you see it?) is a symbol that evokes the exceeding rarity of the coming together of two conditions: the manifestation of the Dharma as the Buddha’s liberating teachings in history and the possibility of coming into contact with them having attained human birth. In a well-known simile featured in early and later Buddhist texts, the Buddha describes a wooden yoke with a single hole floating on the ocean’s surface blown hither and thither and the possibility that  a blind turtle breaks the surface of the ocean once every hundred years finding its head in that hole is compared to the event of beings obtaining a human birth, hearing and putting into practice the Dharma and Vinaya made know through the appearance a Tathāgata in the world.* 

Our turtle also conveys a wish for the longevity of the Dharma and our aspiration to contribute to the continuity of its transmission. The āgamas literally stand (in both Pali and Sanskrit) for the authoritative transmitted, received texts functioning as a vehicle for the teachings. They are the body of the transmitted teachings of the Buddha as they have come down through history. The āgatāgamāḥ (Chinese 阿含及所得 or 阿含及其所得), those who have received and maintain the transmitted texts of the Tathāgata, are the ones to whom and through whom his Dharma and Vinaya have continued to exist in the world.

In the current climate and existential crisis with human wellbeing and survival being globally endangered, our Āgama Research Group is committed to embodying the same spirit as the āgatāgamāḥ, so that the Dharma may remain accessible in its integrity, be understood in its liberating essence as well as comprehended in its text-historical and doctrinal developments, be realized, and give joy and true refuge as long as human life lasts on this planet.

* the early discourse source of this simile are the Pali Chiggala-suttas, SN 56.47–48, with a Chinese parallel in SĀ 406 and a Gandhari version preserved in the Senior collection. For another beautiful early discourse simile featuring a tortoise see the Kumma- or Kummopāma-sutta, SN 35.199 and its Chinese parallel SĀ 1167 (with a verse parallel in the Dukkara- or Kumma-sutta, SN 1.17, SĀ 600 and SĀ² 174)

阿含經研究小組(Āgama Research Group)隸屬法鼓文理學院(前身為「法鼓佛教學院」)佛教學系之圖書資訊館。這是一著重比較研究早期佛教思想與文獻(阿含經群或結集「藏典」)的特別研究小組,主要研究經(sutta/sūtra)和律(Vinaya)文獻,但並不限於此。本小組成立於2012年秋天,由一群長期合作的法鼓文理學院專任或附屬學者們所組成。本小組以促進傳統佛學教相判釋與經文鑑別(text-critical)⁄ 文淵學(text-historical)——佛法研究與「佛教」研究——之對話,作為此學術群體的共同願景。與此同時,我們也致力拓展專精早期佛教文獻學者與數位人文學者之間的合作契機,並全力推展佛教國家在地學者們與國際學術界的交流。本小組對於進行翻譯、研究、舉辦研討會與編製學術出版品皆有長遠規劃。我們也同時投入數位化專案資訊的工作,以確保及時於網路發布並流通可自由存取的研究成果。自2015年起,阿含經研究小組之運作由「菩提乘基金會」(Fundación Bodhiyāna, 阿根廷)所資助。