Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Don't Be a Scholar. Don't. A Rejection of the Ancient, Narrow Path.

[You should be able to easily imagine what the questions are that I'm answering here, given the title and what ensues below.  The person writing to me has devoted some small amount of time and effort to the study of Pali, and he/she is wondering if he/she should devote many years to it… or not.]

Re: "…but I'm still trying to assess whether it’s worth it for me…"

Read Appian: read just the few pages about "the brothers Gracchi".

Read Sallust (his complete works are pretty brief, frankly, so I don't think I need to recommend just a few pages).

Read Lord Shang (it's very repetitious: you do not need to read the whole book to get a sense of it).  The translation I recommend = https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.283023/page/n137/mode/2up 

There are interesting things to read in Japanese, too, for example —Russian entails its own portion of comedy and tragedy.

Should you learn Pali?  

The short answer that I have to offer is, "no".

Pali was part of "a package" that included humanitarian work in Cambodia and Laos (etc.) that made it more meaningful for me.  Pali was part of "a package" that included the study of contemporary politics in S.E.A., and the hope of changing the world, in some small way, through that knowledge.

In the absence of that "package", no: you shouldn't study Pali.

Is some other package possible?  Yes.  In theory, you could put together a package that involves the modern politics of Maharashtra or Myanmar, for example.

The cost of this decision is tremendous.  The rewards are few to nil.

I know nothing about "the rest" of your life.  However, if you read No More Manifestos and Future of an Illusion, it is fair to say: I am telling you DO NOT BE A SCHOLAR.  I'm setting out a path of being a dissident intellectual that has more to do with the creative arts (and even stand up comedy, etc.) than it has to do with the "ancient, narrow path" of scholarship that I followed when I first taught myself to read and write Pali.