Buddhagosa

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Buddhagosa

Postby clw_uk » Fri Jan 23, 2009 2:34 pm

There seems to be a broad set of opinions on Buddhagosa. Some seeing him as a great help in the understanding of the buddhadhamma and others feeling that he corrupted it. He does seem to have had a big infulence on Theravada either way. Should we continue to refer to his work to help us deepen our understanding or should we discontinue refering to his work?

Just wanted to see how others on this site view of him and his work.
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Buddhagosa

Postby bodom » Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:03 pm

Ive personally only ever read interpretations of his interpretations so i cannot say. The way i evaluate any teacher is if what they teach is in accord with what the Buddha taught. If it agrees then there genuine and we have nothing to worry about. There is no doubt whatsoever of his influence on Theravada today. There are a number of well known Theravada teachers today who quote him and his works so i feel that he was the real deal.

:namaste:
Last edited by bodom on Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Buddhagosa

Postby clw_uk » Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:13 pm

Some of his work i do find helpful, however i do have doubts about him as he didnt seem to believe in the buddhadhamma himself


Australian Buddhist monastic Shravasti Dhammika writes: "Even Buddhaghosa did not really believe that Theravada practice could lead to Nirvana. His Visuddhimagga is supposed to be a detailed step by step guide to enlightenment. And yet in the postscript he says he hopes that the merit he has earned by writing the Vishuddhimagga will allow him to be reborn in heaven, abide there until Metteyya appears, hear his teaching and then attain enlightenment."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhaghosa#cite_note-41
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Buddhagosa

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:37 pm

Hi Craig,

clw_uk wrote:Some of his work i do find helpful, however i do have doubts about him as he didnt seem to believe in the buddhadhamma himself

Australian Buddhist monastic Shravasti Dhammika writes: "Even Buddhaghosa did not really believe that Theravada practice could lead to Nirvana. His Visuddhimagga is supposed to be a detailed step by step guide to enlightenment. And yet in the postscript he says he hopes that the merit he has earned by writing the Vishuddhimagga will allow him to be reborn in heaven, abide there until Metteyya appears, hear his teaching and then attain enlightenment."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhaghosa#cite_note-41


This is an oft-repeated error. The colophon that Ven. Dhammika alludes to contains the words of Buddhaghosa's editor, not of Buddhaghosa himself.

But even if it were the case that they were Buddhaghosa's own words, it wouldn't show that he "didn't seem to believe in the buddhadhamma himself"; it would merely show that he lacked ariyan attainment. Lacking ariyan attainment would not render a man unqualified to undertake the task that Buddhaghosa set himself: translating Sinhalese commentaries into Pali. For that task great learning in the Pali texts, grammatical competence in Pali, Sanskrit and Sinhalese, a good grasp of logic, piety, and strong sense of reverence towards the texts with which he was working, ought to be sufficient. To judge from his writings, Buddhaghosa had all these qualities in abundance.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Buddhagosa

Postby bodom » Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:41 pm

Dhammanando wrote:Hi Craig,

clw_uk wrote:Some of his work i do find helpful, however i do have doubts about him as he didnt seem to believe in the buddhadhamma himself

Australian Buddhist monastic Shravasti Dhammika writes: "Even Buddhaghosa did not really believe that Theravada practice could lead to Nirvana. His Visuddhimagga is supposed to be a detailed step by step guide to enlightenment. And yet in the postscript he says he hopes that the merit he has earned by writing the Vishuddhimagga will allow him to be reborn in heaven, abide there until Metteyya appears, hear his teaching and then attain enlightenment."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhaghosa#cite_note-41


This is an oft-repeated error. The colophon that Ven. Dhammika alludes to contains the words of Buddhaghosa's editor, not of Buddhaghosa himself.

But even if it were the case that they were Buddhaghosa's own words, it wouldn't show that he "didn't seem to believe in the buddhadhamma himself"; it would merely show that he lacked ariyan attainment. Lacking ariyan attainment would not render a man unqualified to undertake the task that Buddhaghosa set himself: translating Sinhalese commentaries into Pali. For that task great learning in the Pali texts, grammatical competence in Pali, Sanskrit and Sinhalese, a good grasp of logic, piety, and strong sense of reverence towards the texts with which he was working, ought to be sufficient. To judge from his writings, Buddhaghosa had all these qualities in abundance.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu


Thank you for clarifying this Bhante.

:namaste:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Buddhagosa

Postby gavesako » Fri Jan 23, 2009 5:07 pm

Scholars and Meditators (AN VI.46)

'Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Venerable Mahaacunda was
dwelling at Sahaajaati among the Ceti people. There he addressed the
monks thus:
"Friends, there are monks who are keen on Dhamma (dhammayogi) and they disparage those monks who are meditators (jhayi), saying: "Look at those monks! They thing, "We are meditating, we are meditating!" And so they meditate
to and mediate from meditate up and meditate down! What, then, do
they meditate about and why do they meditate?' Thereby neither these
monks keen on Dhamma nor the meditators will be pleased, and they
will not be practising for the welfare and happiness of the
multitude, for the good of the multitude, for the welfare and
happiness of devas and humans.
"Then, friends, there are meditating monks who disparage the monks
who are keen on Dhamma, saying: 'Look at those monks! They thing "We
are Dhamma-experts, we are Dhamma-experts!" And therefore they are
conceited, puffed up and vain; they are talkative and voluble. They
are devoid of mindfulness and clear comprehension, and they lack
concentration; their thoughts wander and their senses are
uncontrolled. What then makes them Dhamma-experts, why and how are
they Dhamma-experts?' Thereby neither these meditating monks nor
those keen on Dhamma will be pleased, and they will not be
practising for the welfare and happiness of the multitude, for the
good of the multitude, for the welfare and happiness of devas and
humans.
"There are Dhamma-experts who praise only monks who are also Dhamma-
experts but not those who are meditators. And there are meditators
who praise only those monks who are also meditators but not those
who are Dhamma-experts. Thereby neither of them will be pleased, and
they will not be practising for the welfare and happiness of the
multitude, for the good of the multitude, for the welfare and
happiness of devas and humans.
"Therefore, friends, you should train yourselves thus: 'Though we
ourselves are Dhamma-experts, we will praise also those monks who
are meditators.' Any why? Such outstanding men are rare in the world
who have personal experience of the deathless element (Nibbaana).
'And the other monks, too, should train themselves thus: 'Though we
ourselves are meditators, we will praise also those monks who are
Dhamma-experts.' And why? Such outstanding persons are rare in the
world who can by their wisdom clearly understand a difficult
subject.
"
(Ven. Nyanaponika trs.)

Although somebody (Buddhaghosa, Buddhadasa, Bhikkhu Bodhi, ec.) may not "abide having touched with their body the deathless element" (amatadhatum kayena phusitva viharanti), they can very well "understand with their wisdom a difficult subject" and write about it, which can help others realize the Dhamma. So one should judge their writings merely on their own merits, I believe. (The opposite is also true: Someone who has realized the Dhamma themselves may not be very good at describing it to others.)
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Buddhagosa

Postby Ben » Fri Jan 23, 2009 10:30 pm

Frankly, I don't understand the criticisms of Buddhagosa. The commentarial tradition has been indispensable for many millions to develop a deeper understanding the Dhamma.
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Re: Buddhagosa

Postby Element » Fri Jan 23, 2009 10:39 pm

To me, Buddhagosa's higher teachings do not have the flavour of Buddha-Dhamma. To me, they are philosophical and, most notably, very convoluted. The Buddha taught fluently and perfectly.

For example, the Buddhagosa quote made often: "There is no sufferer only suffering".

The Buddha's predominant teaching was about removing the "I" and "mine". Why? The "I" and "mine" are the essense of suffering. Thus, to say there is no sufferer and only suffering is problematic. Suffering is intimately linked to "the sufferer".

To say there is "no sufferer and only suffering" has the flavour of nihilism. These are the words of an unrealised being.
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Re: Buddhagosa

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Jan 23, 2009 10:50 pm

I have read and studied the Visudhimagga and found it to be somewhat helpful. I would not place it in the same high regard as the Pali Canon (not saying that anyone else does), but still useful.

The only perhaps unusual feature of the epic is that it is about 1,000 pages long and primarily based on the seven stages of purification, a teaching barely alluded to in the Majjhima Nikaya in just one sutta.

But there are other topics too, including the 40 meditation subjects.
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Re: Buddhagosa

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:03 pm

Dear Venerable,
gavesako wrote:Although somebody (Buddhaghosa, Buddhadasa, Bhikkhu Bodhi, ec.) may not "abide having touched with their body the deathless element" (amatadhatum kayena phusitva viharanti), they can very well "understand with their wisdom a difficult subject" and write about it, which can help others realize the Dhamma. So one should judge their writings merely on their own merits, I believe. (The opposite is also true: Someone who has realized the Dhamma themselves may not be very good at describing it to others.)

Thank you for the reminding us of the Sutta and your thoughtful words.

I have found the Visuddhimagga very useful as a reference (though I wouldn't pick it as a place to start...).
The essence of most of the instruction I've received from my primary teachers (who are trained in the Mahasi tradition) is apparent there (or, of course, in the Suttas themselves).

Metta
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Re: Buddhagosa

Postby Element » Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:13 pm

It appears Buddhaghosa taught the cause of ignorance is sorrow:
275. Sorrow, grief and despair are inseparable from ignorance; and lamentation is found in one who is deluded. So firstly when these are established, ignorance is established.

Visuddhimagga

To read the rest of this convoluted text is for those with time.
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Re: Buddhagosa

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:32 pm

Element wrote:It appears Buddhaghosa taught the cause of ignorance is sorrow:
275. Sorrow, grief and despair are inseparable from ignorance; and lamentation is found in one who is deluded. So firstly when these are established, ignorance is established.

Visuddhimagga

To read the rest of this convoluted text is for those with time.


Partly because you quote part of an answer to a rhetorical question out of context...

But perhaps "evident" would be a better translation than "established"...

Metta
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Re: Buddhagosa

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:54 pm

Hi Element,

Element wrote:It appears Buddhaghosa taught the cause of ignorance is sorrow:
275. Sorrow, grief and despair are inseparable from ignorance; and lamentation is found in one who is deluded. So firstly when these are established, ignorance is established.

Visuddhimagga


He isn’t saying that sorrow is the cause of ignorance.

Siddha —the word translated by Ñanamoli as ‘established’— means “demonstrated to be the case/to be present.” The meaning is that one may know from there being sorrow that there must also be ignorance.

To read the rest of this convoluted text is for those with time.


It is for those with patience. If only you had had the patience to read on for two more paragraphs you wouldn't have fallen into the error of thinking that Buddhaghosa taught "the cause of ignorance is sorrow."

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Buddhagosa

Postby Element » Sat Jan 24, 2009 12:14 am

Whilst all things are inherently void of self, the follow teaching is not the Buddha's intent regarding dependent origination and voidness:
Becoming's Wheel reveals no known beginning;
No maker, no experiencer there;
Void with a twelvefold voidness, and nowhere
It ever halts; for ever it is spinning.

Buddha's intent was to use voidness to end the wheel rather than capitulate like the evangelical Mahayanas do that the wheel is void. This is the same as teaching: "We are all sinners but Jesus loves us". Instead of freeing our lives from sin, we just capitulate and say: "Jesus loves me".

For the Lord Buddha, voidness was a synonym for the ending of the wheel and not the wheel itself.

Buddha said voidness is void of sensuality, void of becomng and void of ignorance. (MN 121) Buddha thus said voidness is void of the wheel.

Buddhaghosa's voidness may hold to the ultimate nature of unenlightened beings but it is not inner enlightenment nor the Buddha's intention of expounding these dhammas.

As the saying goes: "Three strikes and your out". This exposition of Buddhaghosa does not even pass go. No $200. No cigar.
Last edited by Element on Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:36 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Buddhagosa

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Jan 24, 2009 12:16 am

gavesako wrote:Although somebody (Buddhaghosa, Buddhadasa, Bhikkhu Bodhi, ec.) may not "abide having touched with their body the deathless element" (amatadhatum kayena phusitva viharanti), they can very well "understand with their wisdom a difficult subject" and write about it, which can help others realize the Dhamma. So one should judge their writings merely on their own merits, I believe. (The opposite is also true: Someone who has realized the Dhamma themselves may not be very good at describing it to others.)


Well Said yet another post I wish I could thumb up :thumbsup:

we are talking about a view of the Suttas not the actual Suttas! they are helpful but not the full path.

Friends come in many forms, why not one who has more learning than practical experiance, to help us understand and guide than one who is more practical
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Buddhagosa

Postby Element » Sat Jan 24, 2009 12:22 am

gavesako wrote:Although somebody (Buddhaghosa, Buddhadasa, Bhikkhu Bodhi, ec.) may not "abide having touched with their body the deathless element" (amatadhatum kayena phusitva viharanti), they can very well "understand with their wisdom a difficult subject" and write about it, which can help others realize the Dhamma. So one should judge their writings merely on their own merits, I believe. (The opposite is also true: Someone who has realized the Dhamma themselves may not be very good at describing it to others.)

First, Buddhaghosa, Buddhadasa and Bhikkhu Bodhi teach differently. So clearly that are all not describing the Dhamma well.

Second, one of them may have touched with their mind the deathless element. (Regarding the body, it cannot touch the deathless element given the body cannot experience anything. Buddha taught, the deathless element is the cessation of greed, hatred and delusion thus it is touched with the mind).
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Re: Buddhagosa

Postby Ben » Sat Jan 24, 2009 12:48 am

Hi Element

Element wrote:Regarding the body, it cannot touch the deathless element given the body cannot experience anything. Buddha taught, the deathless element is the cessation of greed, hatred and delusion thus it is touched with the mind).


It appears that the phrase 'touched with the body' seems to be synonymous as an 'eye-witness' to nibbana.

kāya-sakkhi: 'body-witness', is one of the 7 noble disciples (s. ariya-puggala, B.). He is one who "in his own person (lit. body) has attained the 8 deliverances (vimokkha, q.v.), and after wisely understanding the phenomena, the cankers have partly come to extinction" (Pug. 32). In A. IX, 44 it is said: "A monk, o brother, attains the 1st absorption (jhāna, q.v.), and as far as this domain reaches,- so far he has realized it in his own person. Thus the Blessed One calls such a person a body-witness in certain respects. (The same is then repeated with regard to the 7 higher absorptions). Further again, o brother, the monk attains the extinction of perception and feeling (s. nirodha-samāpatti), and after wisely understanding the phenomena, all the cankers come to extinction. Thus, o brother, the Blessed One calls such a person a body-witness in all respects."

-- Venerable Nyantiloka's Buddhist dictionary
http://www.budsas.org/ebud/bud-dict/dic3_k.htm

Kind regards

Ben
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Re: Buddhagosa

Postby Element » Sat Jan 24, 2009 12:50 am

Ben wrote:It appears that the phrase 'touched with the body' seems to be synonymous as an 'eye-witness' to nibbana.


If so, I stand corrected. Thank you. :smile:
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Re: Buddhagosa

Postby clw_uk » Sat Jan 24, 2009 3:18 am

Element wrote:To me, Buddhagosa's higher teachings do not have the flavour of Buddha-Dhamma. To me, they are philosophical and, most notably, very convoluted. The Buddha taught fluently and perfectly.

For example, the Buddhagosa quote made often: "There is no sufferer only suffering".

The Buddha's predominant teaching was about removing the "I" and "mine". Why? The "I" and "mine" are the essense of suffering. Thus, to say there is no sufferer and only suffering is problematic. Suffering is intimately linked to "the sufferer".

To say there is "no sufferer and only suffering" has the flavour of nihilism. These are the words of an unrealised being.



In an ultimate sense though there is no sufferer because there is no real self. To me it does keep with what the buddha said;

"it is only suffering that arises and it is only suffering that ceases"
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Buddhagosa

Postby genkaku » Sat Jan 24, 2009 12:43 pm

Element wrote:To me, Buddhagosa's higher teachings do not have the flavour of Buddha-Dhamma. To me, they are philosophical and, most notably, very convoluted. The Buddha taught fluently and perfectly.

For example, the Buddhagosa quote made often: "There is no sufferer only suffering".

The Buddha's predominant teaching was about removing the "I" and "mine". Why? The "I" and "mine" are the essense of suffering. Thus, to say there is no sufferer and only suffering is problematic. Suffering is intimately linked to "the sufferer".

To say there is "no sufferer and only suffering" has the flavour of nihilism. These are the words of an unrealised being.


I would like to stick a very-uneducated oar in the water here. As an old, lazy Zennie, I don't mean to offend anyone.

I like the line, "there is no sufferer, only suffering." To my mind, it just means there is only enlightenment. Before there is some recognition of this fact, an effort is required of the imagined sufferer. Everything appears separate and uncertain. Things change and, as the bumper sticker wisely observes, "shit happens." And within this framework, sentient beings make their best efforts. Often it's a matter of blood, sweat and tears. It is no joke: All the talk in the world cannot compare with this good effort. And yet there is someone striving for something.

To infer that when no one strives for anything that it is somehow nihilistic is an obvious intellectual conclusion. The problem is that intellectual conclusions seldom bring peace to the heart. They may be good as far as they go, but the problem is that they don't go far enough.

It may feel insulting to all those with fine intellects and a good grasp of concepts, but a sneeze is really pretty instructive. When you sneeze, where is the sufferer you were so concerned about a moment ago? Seriously, take a look. Intellectually, we can say "I sneeze," but when sneezing, where is this "I" we talk about after the fact? And likewise we can say "I suffer," but where is this "I" we talk about with such confidence after the fact?

In the midst of sneezing, as in the midst of suffering, it's not nothing and yet it's not exactly something either. It's just sneezing, isn't it? It's just suffering, isn't it? If you call it "suffering," that's OK. If you call it "enlightenment," that's OK. But there is no need to believe it just because you say it or think it or emote about it or dissect it. Sneezing is sneezing ... what could possibly be missing? You want to write a book about it? OK. You want to build a philosophy around it? OK. But whatever you do, you still sneeze, don't you? Sneezing ... isn't that wonderful?

As I say, I don't want to disrespect anyone with these words. I just liked "there is no sufferer, only suffering."
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