Comments on "commentary"

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cjmacie
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Comments on "commentary"

Postby cjmacie » Mon Oct 24, 2016 11:51 am

Having made some comments myself around here recently using "commentary" in a rather broad, perhaps sloppy, sense*, in effect for any "interpretation"; and having noticed the excellent points being brought out in the current thread " 'some say…' " (http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=28096), here's some potential clarification – extracted to a new thread to avoid hijacking another thread.

The status of my current understanding (open to correction):

Strictly speaking, a "commentary" (in the Pali Canon, in Confucian texts, Christian texts, etc.) is a work that follows some original text and, more or less line-by-line, trying to explain tries it in more detail. In the Pali tradition, these are called Atthakathā **. For instance the Majjhima Nikaya Atthakatha, (abbreviation MA) is "the" commentary on the Majjhima Nikaya. I believe "the" commentaries always treat basic texts in one of the three "baskets" (Tipitaka). For instance, Buddhaghosa's commentary on the Dhammasangani (1st book of Abhidhamma), the Atthasālinī, is titled in its English translation as "The Expositer" – commentary as exposition.

Then a "sub-commentary" (Pali "Tikā") is an exposition of a commentary, and hence, perhaps, of the original text. The official "sub-commentaries" I guess (haven't, yet, read any) each relate to one of the official canonical commentaries.

One sees this in the major subdivisions of the CST4.0 version of the Pali Canon:
1) Tipitaka – the "3 baskets"
2) Atthakathā – the commentaries, on (1)
3) Tikā – the sub-commentaries, on (2)
4) Añña "other" – e.g. the Visuddhimagga
Where both (2) and (3) have 3 subdivisions: "Sutta Pitaka", "Vinayapitaka", and "Abhidhamma Pitaka". (Why the second one runs the two words together beats me.)

One finds clear understanding of this organization occasionally. For instance, Pa Auk Sayadaw (in the interview in Richard Shankman's book on Samadhi), lists them in passing:
"People should trace back to the original suttas, the original commentaries and subcommentaries, and then to the Visuddhimagga, and only then will they understand the meanings."

There are also other (non Canonical) commentaries written by various authors down through the ages and into the present. For instance, the works (writings and transcribed talks) of Mahasi Sayadaw include 15 or so "Discourses" on individual sutta-s; though some of these include a lot more than just following the sutta text – e.g. his discourse on the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta. I've heard there is a commentary on the Vissudhimagga. I'm Not sure how books like the Abhidhammamattha-Sangaha (which B.Bodhi translated as "A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma") would be classified.

Then there's the term "the commentarial tradition", which it seems more diffuse, as people (including myself) use it a lot without defining exactly. Does it refer to a specific, well-defined body of texts? Or does it include an on-going tradition of glossing ancient texts – as, for example, both Mahasi Sayadaw's great "Treatise on Vipassana / Manual of Insight" and Daniel Ingram's "Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha" might be considered modern commentaries on the Visuddhimagga.


* In "Suttas and Commentaries. Was: Bhante Jag - Euthanasia", I wrote:
"I suspect "commentary" automatically gets carried down in any tradition, as person-to-person transmission involves, almost by definition, "commentary" – more detailed explanation – by the teacher. The writings of Mun-Lee-Chah-etc, as well as those of the PaAuk or Mahasi Sayadaws are all "commentaries". "

** PTS Dictionary:
Attha – "… 3. sense, meaning,…"
kathā -- "… 5 explanation, exposition, in Attha-…"

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samseva
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Re: Comments on "commentary"

Postby samseva » Mon Oct 24, 2016 1:08 pm

There is an important factor regarding the commentaries which you didn't mention—to better understand them and their accuracy—which is the date of which each commentary was written. Each commentary, which comments the Tipiṭaka, was written not long after the Tipiṭaka was written, and some thousands of years after it was written. While having been written earlier doesn't necessarily mean what was written is correct at all, it is a factor to take into consideration—as after thousands of years after the Buddha's passing away and his actual teachings, many things have probably been lost (and are sometimes left to near-speculation).

"People should trace back to the original suttas, the original commentaries and subcommentaries, and then to the Visuddhimagga, and only then will they understand the meanings."

This is just not true at all. The commentaries—and the sub-commentaries—are not required to understand the Suttas.

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Comments on "commentary"

Postby Coëmgenu » Mon Oct 24, 2016 2:11 pm

samseva wrote:
"People should trace back to the original suttas, the original commentaries and subcommentaries, and then to the Visuddhimagga, and only then will they understand the meanings."

This is just not true at all. The commentaries—and the sub-commentaries—are not required to understand the Suttas.
They aren't required for reading the suttas, I don't think anyone would say, but its probably fair to say that some Buddhist guidance is preferable when diving into the suttas, regardless of the source that guidance/assistance comes from, and regardless of if it is technically reliable or not. Reading the suttas in a vacuum can very possibly, but not necessarily absolutely, lead to interpretations of said suttas that only reinforce preconceived notions, and do not challenge a practitioner to engage in a true and radical transformation of the mind and heart.

Reading the suttas, all by yourself with absolutely no engagement with the living dispensations of the Dhamma, is wont to produce all kinds of unwarranted heterodoxies/heteropraxies from dichotomous inferences based on any given readers' inherited cultural preconceptions, ideologies, hermeneutics, biases, etc, as is evidenced on this forum, where you can encounter all kinds of "back-to-the-sutta" ideologies for discerning authentic Buddhadharma/Buddhavacana that produce odd readings of the Dharma such as "Buddha says there is a true self" or "Buddha says that external reality doesn't exist". That is the consequence of what happens when people only embrance "their own" commentarial tradition with respect to the Pali scriptures.

Neither I, nor anyone else, to the best of my knowledge, is saying that "just" reading the Pali Canon will absolutely lead one astray from Buddhadharma, but to use the Pali Canon as one's exclusive source for Dhamma, to the point of neglecting other valid dispensations, such as those given by esteemed monks, brings with it the danger of transforming the Pali scriptures into a "echo chamber", wherein one simply 'reads into' the text all sorts of reinforcements of one's preconceived views and biases, transforming the Buddha into a "personal Buddha" who agrees with everything one thinks. Reading the Pali Canon in a vacuum wont necessarily 'absolutely' lead one away from proper interpretations, but I think it is an unnecessarily difficult and arduous path to try to completely re-build Buddhism from the ground up with only access to one particular section of the textual tradition, a vital section, to be sure, but just a section. Particularly, also, a section that has never been intended to be read on its own outside the context of proper Buddhist practice (calming and insight, etc).

Nor is anyone saying that people who embrace well-established commentarial traditions will absolutely follow the Dhamma without backsliding or misunderstanding. Suffice to say though, the practitioner who defeats preconceived biases against monks, against commentary, against perceivably "official" interpretations that 'seem' to stifle individuality, against tradition, will have an easier time, IMO, engaging in a functional way with the Buddhadharma. Note that I said "defeats preconceived biases", not "embraces without question", since its obviously equally useless to just blindly obey everything that someone who seems to have a lot of authority says to you, in regards to Buddhavacana interpretation.

:anjali:
-Caoimhghín
Bhagavā arahaṃ sammasāmbuddho:
Svākkhāto yena bhagavatā dhammo / Supaṭipanno yassa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
Tammayaṃ bhagavantaṃ sadhammaṃ sasaṅghaṃ / Imehi sakkārehi yathārahaṃ āropitehi abhipūjayāma.
(Dedication of Offerings)
此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。These many dharmāḥ, the residence of these dharmāḥ, the emptiness of these dharmāḥ, these dharmāḥ self-explain, these dharmāḥ are thus, these dharmāḥ do not depart from their self-explaining, these dharmāḥ are not different than their self-explaining, judged as truly real, not delusional. (SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶

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robertk
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Re: Comments on "commentary"

Postby robertk » Mon Oct 24, 2016 3:27 pm

a useful topic:
The attakattha to the Dhammasangani (first book of the Abhidhamma) the Atthasalini, (from the introductory discourse):

"The ancient commentary thereof was sang by the first council, Mahakassapa their leader, and later again by seers, Mahinda bought it to the peerless isle, Ceylon,.."



The ancient Commentary- some/much of it dating to the Buddha's time- was then translated into the Singhala language. Buddhaghosa later translated it back to Pali, with additions and clarifications.

Personally I find the Commentaries invaluable and worthy of great respect.

Caodemarte
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Re: Comments on "commentary"

Postby Caodemarte » Mon Oct 24, 2016 4:14 pm

robertk wrote:a useful topic:
The attakattha to the Dhammasangani (first book of the Abhidhamma) the Atthasalini, (from the introductory discourse):

"The ancient commentary thereof was sang by the first council, Mahakassapa their leader, and later again by seers, Mahinda bought it to the peerless isle, Ceylon,.."



The ancient Commentary- some/much of it dating to the Buddha's time- was then translated into the Singhala language. Buddhaghosa later translated it back to Pali, with additions and clarifications.

Personally I find the Commentaries invaluable and worthy of great respect.


Could you identify a commentary that historians or scholars date back to the Buddha's time please?

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Re: Comments on "commentary"

Postby Dmytro » Mon Oct 24, 2016 6:09 pm

cjmacie wrote:Then there's the term "the commentarial tradition", which it seems more diffuse, as people (including myself) use it a lot without defining exactly. Does it refer to a specific, well-defined body of texts? Or does it include an on-going tradition of glossing ancient texts – as, for example, both Mahasi Sayadaw's great "Treatise on Vipassana / Manual of Insight" and Daniel Ingram's "Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha" might be considered modern commentaries on the Visuddhimagga.


Somehow this term, according to my observations, tends to refer to modern Asian interpretations. This leads to some confusion between modern Asian practices and practices of the 5th-10th centuries, reflected in Atthakatha and Tika. Due to this confusion some people, who reject modern approaches to practice, hasten to reject whole Atthakatha and Tika. However Athakattha and Tika are poorly studied nowadays and have quite distant relation to various modern practices.

I advocate "earliest possible source" approach, whereby one finds as early explanations as possible. That is, I try to find explanations of terms in the earliest preserved texts, and then, if I don't find clear explanation, gradually move to later texts.

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Comments on "commentary"

Postby Coëmgenu » Mon Oct 24, 2016 10:22 pm

Caodemarte wrote:
robertk wrote:a useful topic:
The attakattha to the Dhammasangani (first book of the Abhidhamma) the Atthasalini, (from the introductory discourse):

"The ancient commentary thereof was sang by the first council, Mahakassapa their leader, and later again by seers, Mahinda bought it to the peerless isle, Ceylon,.."



The ancient Commentary- some/much of it dating to the Buddha's time- was then translated into the Singhala language. Buddhaghosa later translated it back to Pali, with additions and clarifications.

Personally I find the Commentaries invaluable and worthy of great respect.


Could you identify a commentary that historians or scholars date back to the Buddha's time please?
Are the places in Buddhaghosa's commentary, with his additions and clarifications, which come principally from this broader, more ancient tradition, clearly demarcated and delineated from Buddhaghosa's specific additions and clarifications? I have never read Buddhaghosa, so I'm asking from a position of legitimate curiosity, not anti-Buddhaghosa bias.
Bhagavā arahaṃ sammasāmbuddho:
Svākkhāto yena bhagavatā dhammo / Supaṭipanno yassa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
Tammayaṃ bhagavantaṃ sadhammaṃ sasaṅghaṃ / Imehi sakkārehi yathārahaṃ āropitehi abhipūjayāma.
(Dedication of Offerings)
此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。These many dharmāḥ, the residence of these dharmāḥ, the emptiness of these dharmāḥ, these dharmāḥ self-explain, these dharmāḥ are thus, these dharmāḥ do not depart from their self-explaining, these dharmāḥ are not different than their self-explaining, judged as truly real, not delusional. (SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶

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cjmacie
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Re: Comments on "commentary"

Postby cjmacie » Mon Oct 24, 2016 11:11 pm

samseva wrote:
"People should trace back to the original suttas, the original commentaries and subcommentaries, and then to the Visuddhimagga, and only then will they understand the meanings."

This is just not true at all. The commentaries—and the sub-commentaries—are not required to understand the Suttas.


Pay attention. The quotation from the Pa Auk Sayadaw says one should consider all four levels of the Pali Canon to "understand the meanings." That's Theravada.

Modernist pretensions that there are discrepancies, conflicts, that later commentaries misunderstood suttas, or willfully try to replace or add meaning, and that these modernist theories, after 2.5 millennia, are, for the first time, privy to the "real truth" -- That's conceit, plain and simply -- and so historically and culturally provincial.

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Re: Comments on "commentary"

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Oct 25, 2016 12:14 am

Coëmgenu wrote:Are the places in Buddhaghosa's commentary, with his additions and clarifications, which come principally from this broader, more ancient tradition, clearly demarcated and delineated from Buddhaghosa's specific additions and clarifications? I have never read Buddhaghosa, so I'm asking from a position of legitimate curiosity, not anti-Buddhaghosa bias.

This post might be useful: viewtopic.php?f=19&t=28096#p400739

The short answer is that Buddhaghosa wrote the Visuddhimagga based on the ancient commentaries, and also translated those commentaries (which had been written down in Sri Lanka in a local dialect) into Pali. See the introduction to Nanamoli's translation of the Visuddhimagga for a detailed list.

:anjali:
Mike

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samseva
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Re: Comments on "commentary"

Postby samseva » Tue Oct 25, 2016 2:30 am

Whoa, I just said the Commentaries and Sub-Commentaries are not a requirement for understanding the Suttas and I'm rebuked with a wall of text and indirectly called pretentious.

I respect the Commentaries and have actually read parts of some of them. The Visuddhimagga is a book which I very much cherish and the Commentaries are also crucial to understanding almost the whole of the Vinaya Piṭaka.

No need to jump on your horse.

The Pa-Auk Sayadaw quote is exactly:
"People should trace back to the original suttas, the original commentaries and subcommentaries, and then to the Visuddhimagga, and only then will they understand the meanings."

Notice the "only then" part. The Suttas are already many thousands of pages. Add to that thousands upon thousands of pages of the Commentaries, even many more thousands of the Sub-Commentaries. And then add the Visuddhimagga to that. So you need to trace back to all of this to understand the Suttas? With this workload, there pretty much isn't any time left for meditation either. And if you don't have the time to read all the Commentaries, Sub-Commentaries and Visuddhimagga, what is the point of even starting to study the teachings then, if you aren't going to understand the meanings anyway?

The monks who became Arahants from hearing only a single discourse from the Buddha, did they need to read a few million pages of text—to only understand the meaning of what he taught? No.

A life reading the Tipiṭaka and meditating, at least to me, would be a better life—and a life where progress would be better—than a whole life spent almost almost solely studying many millions of pages of text, only to "understand the meaning of the Suttas". Sorry, but I'm not convinced that until I read the whole of the Commentaries, Sub-Commentaries and the Visuddhimagga, that I don't understand any of the teachings. I'd rather concentrate on what is important, studying the Tipiṭaka (with the Commentaries as an occasional aid is very much useful), meditating well, good sīla, and so on, than having as a goal to study all the Commentaries and Sub-Commentaries "to understand the meaning of the Suttas".

Coëmgenu wrote:[...]

cjmacie wrote:
samseva wrote:
"People should trace back to the original suttas, the original commentaries and subcommentaries, and then to the Visuddhimagga, and only then will they understand the meanings."

This is just not true at all. The commentaries—and the sub-commentaries—are not required to understand the Suttas.

Pay attention. The quotation from the Pa Auk Sayadaw says one should consider all four levels of the Pali Canon to "understand the meanings." That's Theravada.

Modernist pretensions that there are discrepancies, conflicts, that later commentaries misunderstood suttas, or willfully try to replace or add meaning, and that these modernist theories, after 2.5 millennia, are, for the first time, privy to the "real truth" -- That's conceit, plain and simply -- and so historically and culturally provincial.

robertk wrote:a useful topic:
The attakattha to the Dhammasangani (first book of the Abhidhamma) the Atthasalini, (from the introductory discourse):

"The ancient commentary thereof was sang by the first council, Mahakassapa their leader, and later again by seers, Mahinda bought it to the peerless isle, Ceylon,.."

The ancient Commentary- some/much of it dating to the Buddha's time- was then translated into the Singhala language. Buddhaghosa later translated it back to Pali, with additions and clarifications.

Personally I find the Commentaries invaluable and worthy of great respect.

Maiev
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Re: Comments on "commentary"

Postby Maiev » Tue Oct 25, 2016 3:23 am

I agree with you. Suttas are already written in great detail to cover all possible questions and wrong interpretations and they have thousands of pages already.
Whoa, I just said the Commentaries and Sub-Commentaries are not a requirement for understanding the Suttas and I'm rebuked with a wall of text and indirectly called pretentious.

I'm surprised too by how little confidence people have in the suttas compared to the commentaries

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cjmacie
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Re: Comments on "commentary"

Postby cjmacie » Tue Oct 25, 2016 3:37 am

samseva wrote:Whoa, I just said the Commentaries and Sub-Commentaries are not a requirement for understanding the Suttas and I'm rebuked with a wall of text and indirectly called pretentious.

What was said was "This is just not true at all."

And there's millions of pages in the Pali Canon, therefore Pa Auk means "So you need to trace back to all of this to understand the Suttas?"

Any more straw dogs? (re-framing in extreme terms -- "not true AT ALL", "trace to ALL of this")

Say whatever positive it is you mean to say, get on with it. Dressing it in half-blinded reactivity raises doubt as to credibility.

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robertk
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Re: Comments on "commentary"

Postby robertk » Tue Oct 25, 2016 4:26 am

Coëmgenu wrote:
robertk wrote:a useful topic:
The attakattha to the Dhammasangani (first book of the Abhidhamma) the Atthasalini, (from the introductory discourse):

"The ancient commentary thereof was sang by the first council, Mahakassapa their leader, and later again by seers, Mahinda bought it to the peerless isle, Ceylon,.."



]

Could you identify a commentary that historians or scholars date back to the Buddha's time please?
Are the places in Buddhaghosa's commentary, with his additions and clarifications, which come principally from this broader, more ancient tradition, clearly demarcated and delineated from Buddhaghosa's specific additions and clarifications? I have never read Buddhaghosa, so I'm asking from a position of legitimate curiosity, not anti-Buddhaghosa bias.


Well scholars are wont to believe half of the Tipitaka was invented by 'later monks' let alone the Commentaries.

I gave the beginning section of the Commentary to the Dhammasangani where Buddhaghosa states that he uses the Great Commentary which was recited alongside the Tipitaka at the first council.
In many sections of many of his Commentaries he refers to the Great Commentary - but not often enough to be certain where he gets every statement (see the postmikenz referred to by Dhammanando for a rough estimate).

I liked your long post on this thread :anjali:

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robertk
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Re: Comments on "commentary"

Postby robertk » Tue Oct 25, 2016 4:38 am

Maiev wrote:I agree with you. Suttas are already written in great detail to cover all possible questions and wrong interpretations and they have thousands of pages already.
Whoa, I just said the Commentaries and Sub-Commentaries are not a requirement for understanding the Suttas and I'm rebuked with a wall of text and indirectly called pretentious.

I'm surprised too by how little confidence people have in the suttas compared to the commentaries

The Commentaries never disagree with the suttas, they merely elucidate the meaning.

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Re: Comments on "commentary"

Postby Maiev » Tue Oct 25, 2016 10:56 am

robertk wrote:The Commentaries never disagree with the suttas, they merely elucidate the meaning.

Have you started by first reading the suttas and then reading the commentaries, or have you first read Visuddhimagga and then later the suttas ?

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Comments on "commentary"

Postby Coëmgenu » Tue Oct 25, 2016 12:02 pm

Maiev wrote:
robertk wrote:The Commentaries never disagree with the suttas, they merely elucidate the meaning.

Have you started by first reading the suttas and then reading the commentaries, or have you first read Visuddhimagga and then later the suttas ?
Thats not really a relevant question to robertk's post. If the commentaries do not disagree with the suttas then it doesn't matter which is read first. IMO part of reading a commentary presumes you read both simultaneously, since commentaries do not exist on their own, required something to "comment" upon. It would be very strange if I, for example, read a number of commentaries on suttas without ever seeing any of the actual sutta text.

Edit: But in the interest of trying to cut straight through the to heart of the issue, if I am able to do anything like that, I think that what we are seeing on this forum and out there in the real world, to a lesser extent, is an ideological clash between two wings of the same "back-to-the-sutta" Forest-based reform movement that, for instance, Ven Thanissaro talks about here (that happened to be the only link I can readily pull up, I am sure there are far more).

I don't claim to be an expert on the matter, but from what I have seen it seems like these "back-to-the-sutta" reformist tendencies are, in turn, in reaction to what could be called a legitimate fetishization of Abhidhammic and commentarial texts by some Buddhist societies of the past. I refer to, for instance, the fetishization and improper reading of extra-sutta material in such a way that it is functionally replacing and superseding the earlier textual tradition, by virtue of undue focus being placed on them, perhaps, to the detriment of similarly intensive sutta-study, which I don't think was ever the intended purpose of the Abhidhamma or commentaries. Certainly though, I hope it is not a completely unwarranted inference for me to speculate that a tendency toward fetishization and malformed hermeneutic could have been instrumental in the tantric infiltration of the tradition that many sutta-reformers were against.

I don't think many of these perhaps-existent past fetishistic practitioners conceived of themselves as supersessionally fetishizing these later texts (and indeed I may be presenting a slightly slanted view of events based on either a lack of sufficient education in the subject, or bias), but many highly learned monks have made veiled comments to this affect, that there has been a tendency toward "Abhidhamma fundamentalism" (my words, not theirs) that I have heard in various Dhamma Talks online by some very famous monks. Maybe the belief that there was a somewhat widespread misreading of Abhidhamma and commentary materials is all unwarranted inferences on the parts of these monks, and part of the bias of being swept up in a "movement", reformist or otherwise, but it seems to be that this reform movement must be in-reaction to something, some problem that it wanted to address.

Perhaps what has happened, by no fault of the reformers, is that some people have had a radical ideology of textual supremacy and "sutta pseudo-inerrancy" creep into their Dhamma transmissions, and what was originally an attempt to re-orient the focus of the textual tradition of Buddhism to its original, theoretically more equal-focused form, has become, in the instance of some people, a movement that mangles the textual tradition of Buddhist discourse.

I wouldn't be surprised if there was a counter-movement of Abhidhamma and commentary enthusiasts who push back against the (small) radical wing of sutta-enthusiasts brewing, presently or in the future, who, like the "back-to-the-sutta" reformers, inadvertently end up birthing Abhidhamma-commentary-fetishists, who do the same to the suttas what the suttta-fetishists do to the Abhidhamma and commentaries.

But perhaps a critique of the questionably legitimate sutta-only movement that has been birthed inadvertently from the legitimate "back-to-sutta" reformers is a better topic for "Connections to Other Paths" than "Classical Theravada". The Classical Theravada sub-forum is so tidy and I would have for it to get involved in the kind of squabbles that would inevitably occur when peoples' well-cherished beliefs and unconscious ideologies are put up for public critique.

One last edit: In the interest of providing some concrete examples of what I am talking about here
many highly learned monks have made veiled comments to this affect, that there has been a tendency toward "Abhidhamma fundamentalism" (my words, not theirs) that I have heard in various Dhamma Talks online by some very famous monks
we have here this
Coëmgenu wrote:What is Ajahn Brahm refuting here as Abhidhammic, commentarial, and not-Dhamma? I am having a difficult time figuring out what the word is.
This is Ajahn Brahm pointing out that an apparently Abhidhammic concept, bhavanga, has the tendency toward forming what is called pernicious self-view in practitioners, now whether he thinks bhavanga is innately itself a self-view or if he think it has an unfortunate tendency towards instilling that view in uninformed practitioners I cannot say.

There is also this from Ajahn Chah
Studying the Abhidhamma can be beneficial, but you have to do it without getting attached to the books. The correct way to study is to make it clear in the mind that you are studying for the realization of truth and to transcend suffering.
which seems to imply that there is or has been a tendency to read the Abhidhamma incorrectly, in his opinion.

There is also this, from an article about Ajahn Buddhadasa
In a famous lecture in 1971 Buddhadasa condemned contemporary Abhidhamma studies in Thailand for overemphasizing the sacred and supernatural, for packaging themselves as “consumer goods”, and for leading their supporters into “delusion and addiction” (p. 159).
which seems to support the idea of the existence of a past ill-usage of Abhidhamma and commentarial materials.

These monks have to be reacting to something, real or imagined, and I don't see any reason to discount their sometimes seemingly anti-Abhidhamma tendencies as completely frivolous or unjustifiably revolutionary. Everything is in reaction to something, right?

Sorry for the length of this post, I figured it was better to get it all out in one rather than in a multitude of shorter posts.
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Tue Oct 25, 2016 1:09 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Bhagavā arahaṃ sammasāmbuddho:
Svākkhāto yena bhagavatā dhammo / Supaṭipanno yassa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
Tammayaṃ bhagavantaṃ sadhammaṃ sasaṅghaṃ / Imehi sakkārehi yathārahaṃ āropitehi abhipūjayāma.
(Dedication of Offerings)
此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。These many dharmāḥ, the residence of these dharmāḥ, the emptiness of these dharmāḥ, these dharmāḥ self-explain, these dharmāḥ are thus, these dharmāḥ do not depart from their self-explaining, these dharmāḥ are not different than their self-explaining, judged as truly real, not delusional. (SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶

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robertk
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Re: Comments on "commentary"

Postby robertk » Tue Oct 25, 2016 12:09 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:. IMO part of reading a commentary presumes you read both simultaneously, since commentaries do not exist on their own, required something to "comment" upon. It would be very strange if I, for example, read a number of commentaries on suttas without ever seeing any of the actual sutta text.

good examples of this are Bodh's translations such as

https://store.pariyatti.org/Discourse-o ... _1472.html


note the whole book is under 100 pages with sutta, commentary, and tika

Maiev
Posts: 73
Joined: Tue Oct 11, 2016 6:10 pm

Re: Comments on "commentary"

Postby Maiev » Tue Oct 25, 2016 12:16 pm

Yes but reading individual suttas to check what is written in the commentaries while reading the commentaries is different than first reading the pali canon and then reading other books. To get the main idea of a book, you need to read it all not just individual pages. And after reading a book, you get a general idea about it. This was the purpose of my question. By reading other books, you first get exposed to the main idea of other books and get attached to that. That is why, in my opinion, it's good to start by reading the pali canon, get attached to the ideas of the pali canon and only then read other books to see if they are in accordance with it or not.

Maiev
Posts: 73
Joined: Tue Oct 11, 2016 6:10 pm

Re: Comments on "commentary"

Postby Maiev » Tue Oct 25, 2016 12:29 pm

In my opinion, important ideas such as dependent origination have been preserved without too much change in the commentary understanding. But ideas about meditation have been completely lost. That is how we went from contemplating how consciousness, volitional formations, feelings, form and perception are impermanent to contemplating just how the physical sensation of the breath is impermanent. How are we supposed to gain insight into how consciousness is impermanent in that way ? And how is the focusing on a fixed spot interpretation deal with contemplation of death for example, mentioned in the 4 foundations of mindfulness ?

Also, the commentaries split meditation into 2 types - vipassana and jhana, something not present in the suttas and then say jhana, the 8th factor of the noble eighfold path is not necessary for liberation. And of course nothing mentioned about this in the commentaries:

“’I tell you, the ending of the mental fermentations depends on the first jhana.’ Thus it has been said. In reference to what was it said? There is the case where a monk, secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He regards whatever phenomena there that are connected with form, feeling, perception, fabrications, & consciousness, as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, an emptiness, not-self. He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: ‘This is peace, this is exquisite—the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.’

https://suttacentral.net/en/an9.36

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samseva
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Re: Comments on "commentary"

Postby samseva » Tue Oct 25, 2016 3:10 pm

cjmacie wrote:What was said was "This is just not true at all."

And there's millions of pages in the Pali Canon, therefore Pa Auk means "So you need to trace back to all of this to understand the Suttas?"

Any more straw dogs? (re-framing in extreme terms -- "not true AT ALL", "trace to ALL of this")

Say whatever positive it is you mean to say, get on with it. Dressing it in half-blinded reactivity raises doubt as to credibility.

Here is the Pa-Auk Sayadaw quote again:
"People should trace back to the original suttas, the original commentaries and subcommentaries, and then to the Visuddhimagga, and only then will they understand the meanings."

Yes, it's not true at all that to understand the Suttas, you need to trace back to the Commentaries, Sub-Commenaries and the Visuddhimagga, to understand the meaning of the Suttas. Even less so that "only then will you understand the meanings". This is pretty much the quote itself (but negated).

You incorrectly rewrote my argument, that somewhat being itself a straw man (which I think is what you meant by "straw dog").

cjmacie, if you are going to point fingers, at least point them at the actual arguments (or correctly quoted arguments) from my previous post, rather than meta-straw men and near-ad hominems.


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