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The Rosetta Stone of Buddhism

Copyright (C) 2022. Tomás Morales y Durán

The first thing that powerfully calls the attention of the diverse panorama of world Buddhism is the variety of sects and religions with no other connection between them than their denomination of "Buddhists". The approach to a religion begins by studying its sacred texts. Islam has the Koran, Christianity, the Bible.

But what about Buddhism?

There are Buddhist religions of a materialistic nature that have passed down huge piles of texts over the centuries without ever going into what they really mean. Their approach was limited to the scholastic production, editing, and dissemination of theories based on what they believed the texts contained in separate parallel publications they called "Commentaries."

The Indian tradition is extremely scrupulous with the strict conservation of the texts defined as "sacred", preserving them even from the people in charge of transmitting them. They make them study the pronunciation, the diction, the mnemonic rules of what they have to remember, but taking great care that the transmitters do not understand the meaning to avoid the phenomenon of the "broken phone."

That is why translation work was never undertaken until westerners from the second half of the 19th century took an interest in doing so. The transmitting monks only transmitted. And after knowing a set of texts by heart, they studied the details of the language to try to understand them.

But the texts did not come with a dictionary attached. Which would not make sense in any case. Those transmitting monks imagined meanings and explained them in long, tedious commentaries and subcommentaries which they offered to avid devotees, thereby gaining prestige and wealth, as did the Hinayana and its successors, the Theravadin fundamentalists.

Other sects directly renounced those texts as incomprehensible and created their own, embellishing them with philosophical contributions of all kinds, including Greek stoicism. This is the case of the Mahāyāna.

The point is that the myriad sects calling themselves Buddhists do not share a common sacred text. Just abstract concepts like the Four Noble Truths, or what they imagine the Four Noble Truths to be.

Let's go back more than twenty centuries.

The formulation of the problem would be the following: how can the Word of the Buddha be sent into the future without any alteration?

The first is the choice of medium. We are in a time when written scripts had not yet been reintroduced in India and therefore no writing was possible and the languages are all exclusively oral in nature.

We must choose a language.

If we choose a "natural" language, which is spoken in some territory, it will be subject to the natural evolution of languages, and what today means one thing, tomorrow will mean another and, therefore, any message encoded in it will be degraded by this same semantic evolution.

We must, therefore, choose an artificial language in which the texts will be encoded.

But artificial languages are created. They are formal languages, that is, there must be a one-to-one relationship between the signified and the signifier. It is absurd to create a language in which a word means one thing or the opposite depending on the context, because there is no context. This only happens over time in natural languages, as they evolve. But this is not the case. We are talking about a language built to contain a message and only to contain that message.

Those who encoded the texts based on memories in different natural languages did not create a dictionary to accompany the texts for later decoding. logically. Because that dictionary would be in a natural language and would also be subject to evolution, so we would be in the same problem.

So… how can we enable faithful translation and transmission regardless of the time that has elapsed?

The answer lies in redundancy.

The scheduled repetition of submessages is used to recover information in case of loss and also to determine its meaning.

The first is very well known. Redundant coding is used for error-proof transmission systems. But the second is even more interesting.

The texts cover an enormous length and are highly redundant. The same thing is not said just once, it is said on many different occasions, but never exactly the same. No two speeches are the same. The fact that a word appears in a multitude of places makes its meaning reveal itself. Only one meaning must make sense in all its multiple occurrences. And indeed, it has. It's like a gigantic sodoku.

In order to decipher the texts, one must first collect as many meanings of each word as possible. Not only those that this or that translator has traditionally used, which is the basis of conventional dictionaries, but also of the parallels of each word in Sanskrit or even how they were originally translated into ancient Chinese, in the scarcely preserved collections called agamas.

Afterwards, the word is located in all its occurrences and each meaning is tested until finding the one that gives meaning to all of them. We will know that the result is accurate if we do not have meanings left over, and that no meaning uses more than one word and also that the message is coherent in all its parts, something that the rest of the sacred texts lack.

In this way, in addition, those apocryphal texts that were introduced at some later time stand out, because they do not follow redundant structures nor is their meaning consistent with everything else.

Thus, they can be marked to warn of their falsehood.

They are few. But they serve as a demonstration of the difficulty of passing off an apocryphal text as genuine in such a complete web of redundancy.

Thanks to this, I have been able to decipher, after more than two thousand one hundred years, the message that they encoded with the Word of the Buddha. And the curious thing is that those who maintained this transmission without knowing it, and much more the rest, are located outside the Middle Path of the Buddha, either in the nihilistic ditch, or in the eternalist.

The Buddha's message has remained perfectly frozen during these centuries without anyone having altered its meaning even to know it.

Today it is already open and you have it in Spanish, English, German, Danish, French, Dutch, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Swedish. There are no more excuses. Read it and think if your faith is Buddhist or something else. Now you can.

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