The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby pt1 » Mon Oct 19, 2009 3:27 am

Hi Pannasikhara, thanks very much for a very informative post.

Paññāsikhara wrote:
I would generally aruge that "originally there were no Pitakas", because it appears that the term Pitaka may have been a slightly later usage. It seemed to come about the same time as the nine-limbs (navanga) classification system, and then the twelve-limb.


Can you please say a bit more why do you think this? I mean, I think I read somewhere that navanga is mentioned around 40 times in the sutta pitaka, while pitaka calssification is not, so I'm wondering what does "about the same time" mean - within the last few years of the Buddha's life, within his death and the first council, within 100 years between the first two councils, etc?

Paññāsikhara wrote:
We can get back to the nine / twelve limbs in a moment, but for now, it is perhaps more useful to point out the twelve limb system is going to be more helpful than the nine limb system, because the relationship between vedalla and upadesa to the abhidhamma is much stronger.

Can you please say a bit more about the 12-limb system, its difference from the nine-limb system, time and a source?

Paññāsikhara wrote:
The Sariputra Abhidharma Sastra structurally is very, very close to the Theravada Vibhanga (and a bit of the Dhammasangani) and also the Sarvastivada Dharmaskandhapada Sastra.
...
I'd also like to add that the Vatsiputriyas had several Abhidhammic texts, such as the Lokapannatti Sastra, and the Tikkhandhaka. They may have also used the Sariputra Abhidharma Sastra, too.

Are any of these available in English yet? If not, then where can one find the originals? (I assume these sastras have a particualr classification within Chinese or Sanskrit collections of texts, but I'm not familiar with these)

Paññāsikhara wrote:
We have a couple of Sthaviravada schools say that there was an Abhidharma early on. Namely: Vatsiputriya, Theravada, Sarvastivada, Dharmagupta and Kasyapiya. This is also kind of the order in which they split off from the original schism Sthaviras.
...
One very good argument to explain all this is: Between the first schism (second council) and the time of Asoka (third council), there was a large group of Sthaviras around the area from Mathura - Avanti, east of the old heart of the dispensation, and slightly south too. While they were here, they developed possibly a couple of forms of "abhidharma", which are "about the dharma", and basically forms that were very similar to the Vedallas, and Vibhanga suttas, and also the newer Upadesas. These actual suttas were taught by people like Sariputra, Mahakatyayana, Ananda, etc.

Now, during Asoka's time, when the various groups spread out across India, these Sthavira groups took the proto-type Sariputra Abhidharma with them. Because the Theravada ended up so far away, and likewise the Sarvastivada in Kasmir, they developed rather independently, and bear less similarity over time. In central India, the groups like the Vatsiputriyas and Dharmaguptas maintained more commonality, hence their Sariputra Abhidharma Sastra was used by a couple of schools.

Interesting. Can you recommend some literature on this in English?

Also, Vibhajjavada is often mentioned to refer to Sthaviras that are closer to what later became Theravada, than to Sarvastivadins which were also Sthaviras. And then Vibhajjavada later splits into Theravada and Dharmaguptas and others. Any particular reason why you don't mention Vibhajjavada above? Thanks.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby pt1 » Mon Oct 19, 2009 3:45 am

BudSas wrote:Perhaps Frauwallner and some other Buddhist scholars (I can't remember names) believed that the Abhidhamma Pitaka was not closed at the Third Council (Asoka's time), but new material might still be added to it long after. According to those scholars, the Abhidhamma version we have today was closed anf fixed only before the Commentaries were written/compiled by Ven Buddhaghosa.

The question and debate on the "authenticity" of the Abhidhamma Pitaka continue to exist in may Buddhist forums & circles, and IMHO, we can never have any conclusive answer.

Hi BDS,

Yeah, I agree. I'm hoping though that we'll slowly assemble here many of the relevant ancient quotes which the modern scholars are using to come up with their own interpretations. Then we could decide for ourselves rather than argue about what different scholars think. At least that's what I'm hoping will happen.
BudSas wrote:I wish one day, the Abhidhamma Collection in the Taisho could be translated into modern languages (English, German, French, ...) so that we could study and compare with the Pali Abhidhamma.

The abhidhamma collection in the Taisho is in fact Sarvastivadin abhidhamma, right? Thanks.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby BudSas » Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:09 am

pt1 wrote: The abhidhamma collection in the Taisho is in fact Sarvastivadin abhidhamma, right?


As far as I know, the Abhidhamma Collection (毗曇部, Bidon-bu) of Taisho consists of volumes 26-29 of 38 books of which, 7 books are the Sarvastivadin Abhidhamma. The rest are abhidhamma materials of other schools (mentioned earlier by Paññāsikhara), and commentaries/treaties composed by monks of later periods on various abhidhamma topics.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby pt1 » Tue Oct 20, 2009 2:07 pm

Hi BDS,

Thanks. Wow, that really seems like a treasure trove of abhidhamma works. I wish I knew classical Chinese…

For those interested, here's a Wikipedia page which gives a short summary of the Taisho Tripitaka - that's in essence the Chinese Buddhist Canon. Aside from containing abhidhamma works, it also contains a lot more - agamas (near or complete equivalents of Theravadin suttas), vinaya, as well as many mahayana works, etc:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taisho_Tripitaka

Also, on which abhidhamma works it contains , this is from Chinese Canon page from buddhanet that BDS provided earlier:
The Chinese Tripitaka contains:

i) The Samgitiparyaya, the Dharmaskandha, the Prajnapti, the Vijnanakaya, the Dhatukaya, the Prakaranapada, the Jnanaprasthana, the Mahavibhasa, the Abhidharma-hrdaya-vyakhya, the Abhiraharmananyanyanusara and the Abhidharmasamayapradipika Sastras of the Sarvastivada school.

ii) Of the works of Vibhajyavadins, it includes the Abhidharma Sastra of Sariputa, which is the only important work that links up the Southern and Northern Abhidharmas.

iii) It also contains the Vimmuttimagga which is a different version of the Pali Visuddhimagga.

iv) It further contains the Sammitiya Sastra of the Vatsiputriya School.

v) The renowned Abhidharmakosa of the third to fourth century which combines the best teachings of the Sarvastivada and Sautrantika schools, and the Satyasiddi Sastra of Harivarman which greatly influenced Chinese Buddhism.


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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby pt1 » Tue Oct 20, 2009 2:26 pm

Hi Pannasikhara,

In addition to my questions from a couple of posts before, here are a few more I’d like to ask:

1. Could you please confirm about the authorship of Sarvastivadin abhidhamma books? I mean, perhaps we are comparing apples and oranges here because Theravadin abhidhamma books are ascribed to the Buddha, while Sarvastivadin apparently are not – this comes from a post by Bhante Dhammanando on DSG (#81054):
the authorship of each of the seven books in the Sarvastivadin
Abhidharma Pitaka is attributed not to the Buddha but to one or another of the
early patriarchs of the Sarvastivada school. I don't think they ever claimed
that their Abhidharma was buddhavacana, and indeed their third Basket is most
often called the "Shastra Pitaka", strongly suggesting an origin in the form of
written treatises.

Moreover, for the Sarvastivadins (and Sanskrit-based Buddhist schools in
general) 'abhidharma' didn't mean what 'abhidhamma' means for the Theravada.
'Abhidharma' for the sanskritic schools meant any further discussion of dhammic
topics by bhikkhus after the Buddha's parinibbana. If you look, for example, at
Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakosha, you'll see that virtually anything can be an
'abhidharmic' topic for the sanskritic schools. Although aggregates, elements
and sense-bases are a major theme in this work, there are also discussions of
Vinaya minutiae, history, aesthetic theory, and many other themes that a
Theravadin wouldn't see as specifically abhidhammic.


2. On a related matter, I’m a bit confused about the timeline you suggest and the conclusion that all the early schools had only Sariputta abhidharma sastra in common as a sort of a proto-abhidhamma work, and then each school developed additional books on its own as they spread through India in Asoka’s time:
Paññāsikhara wrote:
The Sariputra Abhidharma Sastra structurally is very, very close to the Theravada Vibhanga (and a bit of the Dhammasangani) and also the Sarvastivada Dharmaskandhapada Sastra.
...
One very good argument to explain all this is: Between the first schism (second council) and the time of Asoka (third council), there was a large group of Sthaviras around the area from Mathura - Avanti, east of the old heart of the dispensation, and slightly south too. While they were here, they developed possibly a couple of forms of "abhidharma", which are "about the dharma", and basically forms that were very similar to the Vedallas, and Vibhanga suttas, and also the newer Upadesas. These actual suttas were taught by people like Sariputra, Mahakatyayana, Ananda, etc.

Now, during Asoka's time, when the various groups spread out across India, these Sthavira groups took the proto-type Sariputra Abhidharma with them. Because the Theravada ended up so far away, and likewise the Sarvastivada in Kasmir, they developed rather independently, and bear less similarity over time. In central India, the groups like the Vatsiputriyas and Dharmaguptas maintained more commonality, hence their Sariputra Abhidharma Sastra was used by a couple of schools.

This doesn’t make sense, because, afaik, 7 Theravadin abhidhamma books were already closed at the Third council, so before, or at the time when different schools (notably Sarvastivada) went their separate ways (geographically and philosophically speaking).

Further, the fact that Taisho Tripitaka contains only Abhidharma sastra of Sariputta that's ascribed to Vibhajjavadins (as per Chinese canon page on buddhanet) doesn’t have to mean that this was the only body of abhidhamma works that Vibhajjavadins developed while Sarvastivadins still had geographical contact with them. I mean, an equally valid theory could be that Sarvastivadins took only Dhammasangani and Vibhanga (as embodied in Abhidharma sastra of Sariputta), and eventually discarded (or simply forgot) the rest as their later abhidhamma works developed.

For example, the majority of books I come across on abhidhamma in English likewise deal only with the material from Dhammasangani and Vibhanga, and occasionally a bit from Patthana. The other 4 books from Abhidhamma pitaka are rarely mentioned or just declared too complicated. So, perhaps the situation was exactly the same back then – people took with them only what was simple enough and discarded the rest...

Anyway, please point out if I’m wrong somewhere. Thanks.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby pt1 » Tue Oct 20, 2009 2:34 pm

Hi all,
A correction of my statement in one of the previous posts that Sautrantikas rejected abhidhamma outright - Bhante Dhammanando explains (from the same DSG post I quoted above):

This is a common over-simplification. In fact the early Sautrantikas accepted
the Sarvastivadin Abhidharma Pitaka and if you look at a typical Sautrantika
text you will find that it will largely be about Abhidharma. What distinguished
the Sautrantikas was their rejection of certain doctrinal positions (mostly on
matters of ontology) taken in the Mahavibhasa, a late but influential
Sarvastivadin Abhidharma compendium. Since the basis of their rejection was the
Mahavibhasa's perceived incompatibility with the sutras, they acquired the
monicker 'Sautrantika'. But it would be a mistake to think of them as some kind
of separate school with their own monasteries etc. The early Sautrantika was not
a Buddhist sect, but merely a school of interpretation composed of
Sarvastivadins who didn't like the Mahavibhasa; likewise the late Sautrantika
was not a Buddhist sect, but merely a Sarvastivada sub-group whose members
preferred to focus on epistemology (e.g. Dharmakirti) and Buddhist logic (e.g.
Dinnaga) rather than Abhidharma.
...
As for those who *did* "reject the AP outright", there is a mention of such
persons in Buddhaghosa's Atthasalini, but from his description it appears he was
talking about individuals, not Buddhist schools.

Also in the Pali commentaries are a few mentions of schools called the
Suttantikas and Suttavadins, but as nothing is said about their views there's no
way of knowing whether they are identical with the Sautrantikas mentioned above,
nor what their view of the Abhidhamma was.


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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby BudSas » Wed Oct 21, 2009 1:59 am

pt1 wrote:

... please confirm about the authorship of Sarvastivadin abhidhamma books? I mean, perhaps we are comparing apples and oranges here because Theravadin abhidhamma books are ascribed to the Buddha, while Sarvastivadin apparently are not – this comes from a post by Bhante Dhammanando on DSG (#81054) ...



Since you discovered the Wikipedia page on Taisho Tripitaka: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taisho_Tripitaka , then from there, you could follow the link to "Abhidharma":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abhidharma

Scroll down to the Section "Sarvastivada Abhidharma" on that page, you will see the listing of 7 books of their Abhidharma, click on each title will give you the link to more detailed information, including the authorship.

BDS
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Oct 21, 2009 2:29 am

pt1 wrote:Hi all,
A correction of my statement in one of the previous posts that Sautrantikas rejected abhidhamma outright - Bhante Dhammanando explains (from the same DSG post I quoted above):

This is a common over-simplification. In fact the early Sautrantikas accepted
the Sarvastivadin Abhidharma Pitaka and if you look at a typical Sautrantika
text you will find that it will largely be about Abhidharma. What distinguished
the Sautrantikas was their rejection of certain doctrinal positions (mostly on
matters of ontology) taken in the Mahavibhasa, a late but influential
Sarvastivadin Abhidharma compendium. Since the basis of their rejection was the
Mahavibhasa's perceived incompatibility with the sutras, they acquired the
monicker 'Sautrantika'. But it would be a mistake to think of them as some kind
of separate school with their own monasteries etc. The early Sautrantika was not
a Buddhist sect, but merely a school of interpretation composed of
Sarvastivadins who didn't like the Mahavibhasa; likewise the late Sautrantika
was not a Buddhist sect, but merely a Sarvastivada sub-group whose members
preferred to focus on epistemology (e.g. Dharmakirti) and Buddhist logic (e.g.
Dinnaga) rather than Abhidharma.
...
As for those who *did* "reject the AP outright", there is a mention of such
persons in Buddhaghosa's Atthasalini, but from his description it appears he was
talking about individuals, not Buddhist schools.

Also in the Pali commentaries are a few mentions of schools called the
Suttantikas and Suttavadins, but as nothing is said about their views there's no
way of knowing whether they are identical with the Sautrantikas mentioned above,
nor what their view of the Abhidhamma was.


Best wishes


Most importantly, the Sautrantikas soon dropped the sarva-asti thesis "existence of dharmas in past, present and future", and became vibhajyavadins who distinguish between what dharmas exist and what do not, eg. "present exists, past and future do not exist".

The Sautrantikas were "Without the Sutras, the trainee is unable to understand the meaning of the Abhidharma", whereas the Vaibhasikas (orthodox Abhidharmika Sarvastivadins basing themselves on the Mahavibhasa) said "Without the Abhidharma, the trainee is unable to understand the meaning of the sutras".

A matter of which is fully explicit and which is not, rather than a complete rejection of one or the other.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Oct 21, 2009 2:32 am

BudSas wrote:
pt1 wrote:

... please confirm about the authorship of Sarvastivadin abhidhamma books? I mean, perhaps we are comparing apples and oranges here because Theravadin abhidhamma books are ascribed to the Buddha, while Sarvastivadin apparently are not – this comes from a post by Bhante Dhammanando on DSG (#81054) ...



Since you discovered the Wikipedia page on Taisho Tripitaka: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taisho_Tripitaka , then from there, you could follow the link to "Abhidharma":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abhidharma

Scroll down to the Section "Sarvastivada Abhidharma" on that page, you will see the listing of 7 books of their Abhidharma, click on each title will give you the link to more detailed information, including the authorship.

BDS


Haha! Most of those Wiki posts were written by yours truly.

For English, grab a copy of
Willemen, Dessein & Cox: Sarvāstivāda Buddhist Scholasticism, Brill, 1998.
for more details.

Or course, we can't just necessarily believe verbatim the authorship attributed by the various schools.
It requires rather more research than that!
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Oct 21, 2009 2:36 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:...whereas the Vaibhasikas (orthodox Abhidharmika Sarvastivadins basing themselves on the Mahavibhasa) said "Without the Abhidharma, the trainee is unable to understand the meaning of the sutras".

This is how I understand the position of the Khun Sujin students at DSG
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastudygroup/
except that it is Pali Abhidhamma in their case...

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Oct 21, 2009 2:41 am

pt1 wrote:
2. On a related matter, I’m a bit confused about the timeline you suggest and the conclusion that all the early schools had only Sariputta abhidharma sastra in common as a sort of a proto-abhidhamma work, and then each school developed additional books on its own as they spread through India in Asoka’s time:
...
This doesn’t make sense, because, afaik, 7 Theravadin abhidhamma books were already closed at the Third council, so before, or at the time when different schools (notably Sarvastivada) went their separate ways (geographically and philosophically speaking).

Further, the fact that Taisho Tripitaka contains only Abhidharma sastra of Sariputta that's ascribed to Vibhajjavadins (as per Chinese canon page on buddhanet) doesn’t have to mean that this was the only body of abhidhamma works that Vibhajjavadins developed while Sarvastivadins still had geographical contact with them. I mean, an equally valid theory could be that Sarvastivadins took only Dhammasangani and Vibhanga (as embodied in Abhidharma sastra of Sariputta), and eventually discarded (or simply forgot) the rest as their later abhidhamma works developed.

Regards "an equally valid theory ..."
First one would actually have to go and study these texts and their history.
Otherwise we will come up with all sorts of ideas that are pure speculation.


For example, the majority of books I come across on abhidhamma in English likewise deal only with the material from Dhammasangani and Vibhanga, and occasionally a bit from Patthana. The other 4 books from Abhidhamma pitaka are rarely mentioned or just declared too complicated. So, perhaps the situation was exactly the same back then – people took with them only what was simple enough and discarded the rest...

Anyway, please point out if I’m wrong somewhere. Thanks.


I think that making an analogy with the situation in present day English is very misleading.
For a start, the most important of the seven Sarvastivadin Abhidharma sastras is the Jnanaprasthana, which they said was the first, but almost all scholars say is probably the last. This is ostensibly the basis for the Vibhasa sastras.

I wouldn't say that you are "wrong", but it appears that you are now starting to theorize a few things without doing the background study. This is bound to lead to all sorts of inaccurate conclusions.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Oct 21, 2009 2:45 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:...whereas the Vaibhasikas (orthodox Abhidharmika Sarvastivadins basing themselves on the Mahavibhasa) said "Without the Abhidharma, the trainee is unable to understand the meaning of the sutras".

This is how I understand the position of the Khun Sujin students at DSG
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastudygroup/
except that it is Pali Abhidhamma in their case...

Mike


Of course, this is the basic position that marks anyone - be they Theravadin, Sarvastivadin, or whatever - as an Abhidharmika rather than as a Sautrantika.
Similar for much of Mahayana, taking Mahayana sutras as the ultimate criteria.

This was the key situation in Indian Buddhism at that time - What texts are nitartha? What texts are neyartha?
It seems that it was seldom that a school would reject a text or type of literature outright, but rather, they wished to place in as neyartha, and set up some other text as nitartha. This still opens things up for discussion, which I personally appreciate.

Interesting thing is, we are still doing the same right now. But nowadays, many schools will outright reject the literature of other schools, and hence discussion falls into sectarianism, and worse. "Only this is true, all else is false!"
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby pt1 » Wed Oct 21, 2009 3:34 am

BudSas wrote:Scroll down to the Section "Sarvastivada Abhidharma" on that page, you will see the listing of 7 books of their Abhidharma, click on each title will give you the link to more detailed information, including the authorship.


Thanks BDS.

Paññāsikhara wrote:Haha! Most of those Wiki posts were written by yours truly.


That's good to know.

Paññāsikhara wrote:For English, grab a copy of
Willemen, Dessein & Cox: Sarvāstivāda Buddhist Scholasticism, Brill, 1998.
for more details.

Thanks.

Best wishes
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby pt1 » Wed Oct 21, 2009 3:45 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:...whereas the Vaibhasikas (orthodox Abhidharmika Sarvastivadins basing themselves on the Mahavibhasa) said "Without the Abhidharma, the trainee is unable to understand the meaning of the sutras".

This is how I understand the position of the Khun Sujin students at DSG
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastudygroup/
except that it is Pali Abhidhamma in their case...

Mike



Hi Mike,

Having spent a bit of time there, I get a slightly different impression. What's often said is that while there are exceptional people with very clear faculties (little dust in their eyes) that can understand all that needs to be understood just from the suttas, most of us are individuals of blunt faculties who need a lot of explaining and a lot of reminders, and hence we need abhidhamma to clarify things mentioned in the suttas. I can certainly say that this is true in my case.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby pt1 » Wed Oct 21, 2009 3:57 am

Hi Pannasikhara,
Paññāsikhara wrote:Regards "an equally valid theory ..."
First one would actually have to go and study these texts and their history.
Otherwise we will come up with all sorts of ideas that are pure speculation.
...
I think that making an analogy with the situation in present day English is very misleading.
For a start, the most important of the seven Sarvastivadin Abhidharma sastras is the Jnanaprasthana, which they said was the first, but almost all scholars say is probably the last. This is ostensibly the basis for the Vibhasa sastras.

I wouldn't say that you are "wrong", but it appears that you are now starting to theorize a few things without doing the background study. This is bound to lead to all sorts of inaccurate conclusions.


Yeah, you're right, apologies for a bit of needless speculating there on my part.

Still, I'd like to hear you view on the timeline - the fact that theravadin abhidhamma books were closed at the Third council, because from you post I get the feeling that you don't agree with this. Also, if you have time, it'd be great if you can say a bit more about the issues in this earlier post - regarding the timeline of navanga and Pitaka classifications and about the 12-limb system. Thanks!

Best wishes
Last edited by pt1 on Wed Oct 21, 2009 4:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Oct 21, 2009 3:58 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:Interesting thing is, we are still doing the same right now. But nowadays, many schools will outright reject the literature of other schools, and hence discussion falls into sectarianism, and worse. "Only this is true, all else is false!"

There are two rejection issues here:

1. Completely rejecting literature of other schools (which clearly has a long history).
2. Completely rejecting literature of one's own school (e.g. Abhidhamma and Commentary), which seems to be a particularly modern idea and is perhaps more prominent in Western Theravada. At least that's my impression. (To be over-simplistic about it: I don't see Chan/Zen Buddhists calling Bodhidharma mixed up the way some people talk about Buddhaghosa...)

Regarding the rejection of literature of other schools, isn't it arguable that for those of us don't have the time for a PhD-level study of these issues it might be more productive for us to practise according to a particular school and not get distracted by trying to figure out all the connections? My attitude is not so much: "I reject all these other schools"; but: "If I tried to seriously study all of the schools there wouldn't be any time left to actually practise..."

Sorry, that's getting a little off topic here.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Oct 21, 2009 4:08 am

Hi pt1,
pt1 wrote: [Commenting on DSG]
Having spent a bit of time there, I get a slightly different impression. What's often said is that while there are exceptional people with very clear faculties (little dust in their eyes) that can understand all that needs to be understood just from the suttas, most of us are individuals of blunt faculties who need a lot of explaining and a lot of reminders, and hence we need abhidhamma to clarify things mentioned in the suttas. I can certainly say that this is true in my case.

Yes, good point, I was oversimplifying. I certainly find Abhidhamma/Commentary useful, since the practise I do is heavily based on it (though of course Khun Sujin's students disagree with the interpretations of Abhidhamma/Commentary/Visuddhimagga that the well-known Burmese teachers use...).

Metta
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Oct 21, 2009 4:09 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:Regarding the rejection of literature of other schools, isn't it arguable that for those of us don't have the time for a PhD-level study of these issues it might be more productive for us to practise according to a particular school and not get distracted by trying to figure out all the connections? My attitude is not so much: "I reject all these other schools"; but: "If I tried to seriously study all of the schools there wouldn't be any time left to actually practise..."


There's certainly a balance to be had though, as per recent cautionary tales from...

Doctor Who - viewtopic.php?f=24&t=2437&start=20#p34390
Chris - viewtopic.php?f=24&t=2437&start=40#p34412

It's just as easy to accept the consensus scholarly view on these matters (without having to engage in PhD level study), as it is to accept the intra-tradition consensus view... it's probably more valuable though to consider the respective merits of each.

Sorry, that's getting a little off topic here.


It's not really that off topic. In some sense it points to the heart of the issue and why it's of importance...

Did the Buddha himself teach the Abhidhamma?... How close is it to what he taught?... How important or crucial does that make it to one's pursuit of the Dhammic path? etc.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Oct 21, 2009 4:29 am

Hi Retro,

retrofuturist wrote:Did the Buddha himself teach the Abhidhamma?... How close is it to what he taught?... How important or crucial does that make it to one's pursuit of the Dhammic path? etc.

These are three very different questions. The way you've expressed the third one is rather restrictive (though I guess it fits in with the title of the thread). I would rather decouple it from "authenticity" and phrase it as:
"How useful is Abhidhamma in one's pursuit of the Path?"
and we might well ask:
"How useful are the Commentaries?"

As I said, it's interesting that I don't notice Mayahana schools outright dismissing their post-Buddha's-lifetime literature (of course they do argue about it...). Is that because the authors were mostly people with actual names (such as Nagarjuna or Bodhidharma) rather than just "The Ancients"?

Mike
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby BudSas » Wed Oct 21, 2009 2:01 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Retro,

retrofuturist wrote:Did the Buddha himself teach the Abhidhamma?... How close is it to what he taught?... How important or crucial does that make it to one's pursuit of the Dhammic path? etc.

These are three very different questions. The way you've expressed the third one is rather restrictive (though I guess it fits in with the title of the thread). I would rather decouple it from "authenticity" and phrase it as:
"How useful is Abhidhamma in one's pursuit of the Path?"
and we might well ask:
"How useful are the Commentaries?"


Just a humble thought:

- Instead of making sweeping statements on the Abhidhamma or the Commentaries, perhaps it's more beneficial if we could be more specific: which part(s) of the Abhidhamma Pitaka (section/chapter/book) do you think are authentic or not authentic, useful or not useful?

Actually, I wonder how many of us actually read the Abhidhamma Pitaka?
(For me, I only know Abhidhamma from the English translation of the Abhidhamatthasangha and the Visuddhimagga, and some Abhidhamma textbooks written by contemporary teachers. )

As I said, it's interesting that I don't notice Mayahana schools outright dismissing their post-Buddha's-lifetime literature (of course they do argue about it...). Is that because the authors were mostly people with actual names (such as Nagarjuna or Bodhidharma) rather than just "The Ancients"?


Don't know if it's relevant here: in the 4th cencury CE, Ven Dao'an (Tao An), the famous Chinese scholar monk, raised questions on the authenticity of some translated Buddhist scriptures, and he made a catalog in which he reserved a class of texts which he named as of doubtful origin.

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