aflatun wrote:And I agree with you regarding rejecting Nibbana as nothingness or "mere cessation." Outside of the Sautrantikas (supposedly) and a few modern Theravadins, I still maintain that this is basically a modern innovation, and not a good one....
As much as all of these views rub me the wrong way on some level, commentarial theravada is far closer to the mark on this point IMO than contemporary "sutta only" absolute death camp... [emphasis added]
A perhaps extreme example of this “modern innovation” is the case made in:
On Being Mindless: Buddhist Meditation and the Mind-Body Problem
, by Paul J. Griffiths (1986).
(Note the negative bias from the get-go in the title – “Mindless”.)
One can plow through that book (I got partway through), or consider the book review by Frank Hoffman in “The Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies
], Vol. 11, 1988, No. 2.
“A major ambiguity in Theravada tradition is explicated by asking whether "cessation" is equivalent to nirvana (Buddhaghosa's view) or to nirvana in life with substrate (Dhammapala's view). Griffiths' puzzle is: in the second case how could one emerge from "cessation" (30-31)? He offers a complex argument for the claim that the puzzle of how emergence from "cessation" is possible once one enters it is neither answered in Theravada Buddhism nor is answerable on Theravada assumptions (41)
…[detailed logical analysis of Griffith’s argumentation]
Despite some difficulties which make his case less than entirely convincing, Griffiths gives considerable thought to the topic of "cessation" so as to repay careful reading. His conclusion is: "In sum, we have a non-substantivist, event-based interactionist psycho-physical dualism" (112). Some passages, e.g. as in Griffiths' note 80 discussed above, do suggest that a mind-body dualism is presupposed in Sutta Pitaka Buddhism (SPB), but SPB does not unequivocally assert a mind-body dualism overall. To follow Griffiths on this point without reservation would be to superimpose a (basically Western) mind-body distinction wholesale.”
Note also the usage “Sutta Pitaka Buddhism (SPB)
”, which appears to be an earlier (1980s) incarnation of the currently popular notion of “Early Buddhist Teachings” (EBT)
I ran across Griffith’s work as part of the background (together with the work of one Martin Stuart-Fox) for Rodney Bucknell’s essay “Reinterpreting the Jhānas
, Vol 16, No 2, Winter 1993), which Leigh Brasington led me to as a foundation for his notion of “Sutta-Jhāna
Note also, Rupert Gethin, in his article on ‘bhavanga
’, takes Griffiths to task for failing to grasp essentials of abhidhamma
, and Bucknell’s thesis is soundly criticized by other scholars (c.f. threads in SuttaCentral discussions). But relatively naïve literalist interpretations (not unlike comparable Christian Biblical views) of the EBT vs abhidhamma
and commentaries etc. continue to thrive in the forums.