Provenance of the notion of momentariness in the Theravada

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tiltbillings
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Provenance of the notion of momentariness in the Theravada

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Mar 10, 2010 8:40 pm

vinasp wrote:. Suppose that I were a Buddhist monk living about 500 years after the time of the Buddha. The Abhidhamma has developed a doctrine of 'momentariness', meaning at first, the shortest perceptible moment. But this then gets extended to 'micro-moments' of infinitesimal duration which are merely fanciful speculation.
This then leads to the idea that the 'lifetime' of a being is, in the ultimate sense, just one of these micro-moments. So there are millions of such 'lifetimes' in a single day. It follows from this that reaching enlightenment will require millions of 'lifetimes'. This is lifetimes understood in the ultimate sense.
Now, if I, as a monk, am 'initiated' into this ultimate meaning of 'lifetime', and I say to a worldling that "It takes millions of lifetimes to reach enlightenment", how is the worldling going to understand what I have said? The poor worldling has no alternative but to take 'lifetime' in the conventional sense.
A bit of information here: 'Momentariness' was introduced into the Theravada by Buddhaghosa, 5th cent CE. It is not part of the Abhidhamma Pitkaka texts, which means it is also not part of the pre-Buddhaghosa Mahavihara tradition.
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>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Provenance of the notion of momentariness in the Theravada

Post by vinasp » Wed Mar 10, 2010 10:45 pm

tiltbillings wrote:A bit of information here: 'Momentariness' was introduced into the Theravada by Buddhaghosa, 5th cent CE. It is not part of the Abhidhamma Pitkaka texts, which means it is also not part of the pre-Buddhaghosa Mahavihara tradition.
Thanks tilt - that clears up some of my confusion about these later developments. Does that mean that 'momentariness' is not found in the Pali Canon?

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: Provenance of the notion of momentariness in the Theravada

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Mar 10, 2010 10:53 pm

vinasp wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:A bit of information here: 'Momentariness' was introduced into the Theravada by Buddhaghosa, 5th cent CE. It is not part of the Abhidhamma Pitkaka texts, which means it is also not part of the pre-Buddhaghosa Mahavihara tradition.
Thanks tilt - that clears up some of my confusion about these later developments. Does that mean that 'momentariness' is not found in the Pali Canon?

Best wishes, Vincent.
It means momentariness is not found in the suttas, AND it is not found in the Adhidhamma Pitaka, And the atomistic take on the the notion of dhammas that goes along with momentariness is not found in the Abhidhamma Pitaka, which means that there was, via Buddhaghosa, a major shift in the Mahavihara tradition.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Provenance of the notion of momentariness in the Theravada

Post by BlackBird » Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:56 am

Has anyone read Ven. Bodhisako's argument against the doctrine of flux? Essentially he put's forth the argument that this 'radical impermanence' or the idea of millions of moments of arising and passing away, is an introduced concept and a teaching not taught by the Buddha. He uses some logical argument, and quotes from the Suttas to back up his claim. He argues instead that impermanence refers simply to arising, enduring for a period, then passing away.

I would very much like to know your informed opinions on this piece of writing.

metta
Jack

edit: perhaps this belongs in it's own thread, rather than becoming yet another meta-discussion.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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Re: Many lifetimes of paramita development needed to be aryan?

Post by Paññāsikhara » Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:17 am

tiltbillings wrote:
vinasp wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:A bit of information here: 'Momentariness' was introduced into the Theravada by Buddhaghosa, 5th cent CE. It is not part of the Abhidhamma Pitkaka texts, which means it is also not part of the pre-Buddhaghosa Mahavihara tradition.
Thanks tilt - that clears up some of my confusion about these later developments. Does that mean that 'momentariness' is not found in the Pali Canon?

Best wishes, Vincent.
It means momentariness is not found in the suttas, AND it is not found in the Adhidhamma Pitaka, And the atomistic take on the the notion of dhammas that goes along with momentariness is not found in the Abhidhamma Pitaka, which means that there was, via Buddhaghosa, a major shift in the Mahavihara tradition.
My understanding is that most of what Buddhaghosa wrote was from the older Sinhalese commentaries, he merely compiled these into the commentaries we have today. Some of those older commentaries are fairly early, others later. In addition, some very tiny amounts of what Buddhaghosa wrote were his "own opinion" so to speak.

Tilt, do you know if Buddhaghosa's use of "khana" (etc.) was from other earlier commentaries, or his own addition?

Of course, this question does not deny the fact that the notion of "khana" does not appear in any of the three Pitakas. Just maybe looking to fine point the sources.
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Re: Many lifetimes of paramita development needed to be aryan?

Post by robertk » Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:14 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:A bit of information here: 'Momentariness' was introduced into the Theravada by Buddhaghosa, 5th cent CE. It is not part of the Abhidhamma Pitkaka texts, which means it is also not part of the pre-Buddhaghosa Mahavihara tradition.

quote]It means momentariness is not found in the suttas, AND it is not found in the Adhidhamma Pitaka, And the atomistic take on the the notion of dhammas that goes along with momentariness is not found in the Abhidhamma Pitaka, which means that there was, via Buddhaghosa, a major shift in the Mahavihara tradition.


Of course, this question does not deny the fact that the notion of "khana" does not appear in any of the three Pitakas. Just maybe looking to fine point the sources.

Lets go to the sutta pitaka just to dispell this idea. Notice the use of teh pali khane -moment

Guhatthaka-suttaniddeso
(Exposition of the Sutta of the Eightfold Mystery)

Translated by Andrew Olendzki.
Edited by mod to fix an incomplete link (TB): http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .olen.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;



1. "Life, personhood, pleasure and pain
- This is all that's bound together
In a single mental event
- A moment that quickly takes place.

2. Even for the devas who endure
For 84,000 thousand kalpas
- Even those do not live the same
For any two moments of the mind.

3. What ceases for one who is dead,
Or for one who's still standing here,
Are all just the same heaps
- Gone, never to connect again.

4. The states which are vanishing now,
And those which will vanish some day,
Have characteristics no different
Than those which have vanished before.

5. With no production there's no birth;
With "becoming" present, one exists.
When grasped with the highest meaning,
The world is dead when the mind stops.

6. There's no hoarding what has vanished,
No piling up for the future;
Those who have been born are standing
Like a seed upon a needle.

7. The vanishing of all these states
That have become is not welcome,
Though dissolving phenomena stand
Uncombined through primordial time.

8. From the unseen, things come and go.
Glimpsed only as they're passing by;
Like lightning flashing in the sky
- They arise and then pass away."

Kathaṃ ṭhitiparittatāya appakaṃ jīvitaṃ? Atīte cittakkhaṇe jīvittha,
na jīvati na jīvissati; anāgate cittakkhaṇe jīvissati, na jīvati na jīvittha; paccuppanne cittakkhaṇe jīvati, na jīvittha na jīvissati.

“Jīvitaṃ attabhāvo ca, sukhadukkhā ca kevalā;
ekacittasamāyuttā, lahuso vattate khaṇo.
“Cullāsītisahassāni, kappā tiṭṭhanti ye marū;
natveva tepi jīvanti, dvīhi cittehi saṃyutā.
“Ye niruddhā marantassa, tiṭṭhamānassa vā idha;
sabbepi sadisā khandhā, gatā appaṭisandhikā.
“Anantarā ca ye bhaggā, ye ca bhaggā anāgatā;
tadantare niruddhānaṃ, vesamaṃ natthi lakkhaṇe.
“Anibbattena na jāto, paccuppannena jīvati;
cittabhaggā mato loko, paññatti paramatthiyā.
“Yathā ninnā pavattanti, chandena pariṇāmitā;
acchinnadhārā vattanti, saḷāyatanapaccayā.
“Anidhānagatā bhaggā, puñjo natthi anāgate;
nibbattā ye ca tiṭṭhanti, āragge sāsapūpamā.
“Nibbattānañca dhammānaṃ, bhaṅgo nesaṃ purakkhato;
palokadhammā tiṭṭhanti, purāṇehi amissitā.
“Adassanato āyanti, bhaṅgā gacchanti dassanaṃ;
vijjuppādova ākāse, uppajjanti vayanti cā”ti.

Evaṃ ṭhitiparittatāya appakaṃ jīvitaṃ.

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Re: Many lifetimes of paramita development needed to be aryan?

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Mar 11, 2010 7:09 pm

robertk wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:Of course, this question does not deny the fact that the notion of "khana" does not appear in any of the three Pitakas. Just maybe looking to fine point the sources.

Lets go to the sutta pitaka just to dispell this idea. Notice the use of teh pali khane -moment
But you have not gone to the Sutta Pitaka; You have gone to a commentary and to a poem that is anomalous to the text in which it finds it self. It is also a poem that is not consistent with the Abhidhamma Pitaka texts, though it does find itself to be consistent with the notion of momentariness seemingly introduced by Buddhaghosa, which is not inconsistent with other schools of Buddhism.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Many lifetimes of paramita development needed to be aryan?

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Mar 11, 2010 7:19 pm

Paññāsikhara wrote:
Tilt, do you know if Buddhaghosa's use of "khana" (etc.) was from other earlier commentaries, or his own addition?

Of course, this question does not deny the fact that the notion of "khana" does not appear in any of the three Pitakas. Just maybe looking to fine point the sources.
The only books I have at have that discuss this are from Kalupahana, but I know I have seen this mentioned/discussed elsewhere. It would be an interesting journal article looking at where and when momentariness (plus the atomistic notions of dhamma), not being part of the Abhidhamma Pitaka texts (not to mention definitely not part of the suttas), entered into the Theravada. Buddhaghosa is the very likely culprit, giving it an official stamp allowing for scholastic elaborations not found in the Pitaka texts, as in the quite late Abhidhammattha Sangaha.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Provenance of the notion of momentariness in the Theravada

Post by vinasp » Thu Mar 11, 2010 7:27 pm

Hi everyone,

For those interested in 'momentariness':

A review of "The Buddhist Doctrine of Momentariness: A Survey of the Origins and Early Phase of this Doctrine Up to Vasubandhu, By Alexander von Rospatt, 1995.

Link: http://www.buddhistethics.org/5/power981.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Provenance of the notion of momentariness in the Theravada

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Mar 11, 2010 7:48 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

For those interested in 'momentariness':

A review of "The Buddhist Doctrine of Momentariness: A Survey of the Origins and Early Phase of this Doctrine Up to Vasubandhu, By Alexander von Rospatt, 1995.

Link: http://www.buddhistethics.org/5/power981.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Best wishes, Vincent.
Thanks.

From the review: He limits himself to an examination of early Buddhist sources, and concludes that momentariness is never mentioned until at least the time of Buddhaghosa.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Provenance of the notion of momentariness in the Theravada

Post by vinasp » Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:18 pm

Hi everyone,

An interesting document on momentariness can be downloaded in 'rtf' format from :
http://www.library.websangha.org/earlyb ... kkhana.rtf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The author is not specified, perhaps 'Termite' or 'Kester' would know?

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Provenance of the notion of momentariness in the Theravada

Post by BlackBird » Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:53 pm

tiltbillings wrote: But you have not gone to the Sutta Pitaka; You have gone to a commentary and to a poem that is anomalous to the text in which it finds it self. It is also a poem that is not consistent with the Abhidhamma Pitaka texts, though it does find itself to be consistent with the notion of momentariness seemingly introduced by Buddhaghosa, which is not inconsistent with other schools of Buddhism.
Although it is technically assigned to the Sutta Pitaka, I agree.

An issue that has not thus far been addressed is that if these doctrinal points such as momentariness, and paramita development over many lifetimes as a requirement for Nibbana were in fact important doctrinal points, the chances are they would crop up in the four nikayas at least a few times.

Now the counter-argument has been put forth (at least as far as paramitas are concerned) that they do in fact crop up in the four nikayas, they're just not codified.

My response in the case of the paramitas, according to the four nikayas, these virtues are praiseworthy, to be developed, but no where is it said that one must neccessarily develop these 10 paramitas for a period of many lifetimes, let alone such an unfathomable period as 100,000 aeons. Furthermore, we must remember that the Dhamma is Well-expounded by the Blessed One. That means that everything the Buddha knew was necessary for reaching Nibbana, he proclaimed. It might pay to also remember that The Buddha was omnicscient with regards to the nature of samsara, if 100,000 aeons of parami development was necessary in order to attain the goal of arahantship, or momentariness was in fact a doctrine of the Dhamma, I am absolutely sure the Buddha would have taught it in the four nikayas. However, the fact that such a declaration is absent from the four nikayas, is a clear indication that such ideas are not the word of the Buddha.
Yet, Lord, I still had some little comfort in the thought that the Blessed One would not come to his final passing away until he had given some last instructions respecting the community of bhikkhus."

32. Thus spoke the Venerable Ananda, but the Blessed One answered him, saying: "What more does the community of bhikkhus expect from me, Ananda? I have set forth the Dhamma without making any distinction of esoteric and exoteric doctrine; there is nothing, Ananda, with regard to the teachings that the Tathagata holds to the last with the closed fist of a teacher who keeps some things back.
- DN. 16 Maha-paranibbana sutta.

These doctrinal points may adhere to the Theravada commentaries, or the so called 'Mahavihara' position, but that doesn't mean that the Buddha taught them.

On an interesting side note, there is a school of Dhamma heavily based upon the Visuddimagga called the 'Pa Auk' system. It's catchphrase if you will is 'Nibbana in this very life.' Here is what one of their well renowned teachers has to say on the issue:
Ven. Revata wrote:How many years did it take the Buddha to perfect his Pàramis? We can not estimate in years. It is said that it took him four incalculable and one hundred thousand eons to fulfill his Pàramis, his Perfections. How very long that is! Does it take that long to graduate? Is it very difficult?
Truly, it is not very difficult. Within this very life time we can achieve that goal, if we spend enough time and make the necessary effort.
But the Dhamma which was realized by our Buddha is very profound and another matter altogether. It required an incalculable amount of time, even for the Buddha, to perfect his Paramis and penetrate the Dhamma.
Emphasis mine.

metta
Jack
Last edited by BlackBird on Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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Alex123
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Provenance of the notion of momentariness in the Theravada

Post by Alex123 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:29 pm

Hello all,


The Buddha did say that
“"I don't envision a single thing that is as quick to reverse itself as the mind — so much so that there is no feasible simile for how quick to reverse itself it is."”
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

svākkhāto bhagavatā dhammo sandiṭṭhiko akāliko ehipassiko opaneyyiko paccattaṃ veditabbo viññūhī’ti. The Dhama is well proclaimed by the Exalted One, Can be realized here and now, not a matter of time, come and see , to be experienced by oneself, realizable by the wise
Also I suggest to read sutta such as DN14. The story of previous Buddhas. There is no mention of any vows, of lifetimes of parami development.

In MN81, 2 lives back, the future Buddha-to-be whas Jotipala. He was not a Buddhist, infact he hated Buddha Kassapa. He was dragged by his anagami friend to see the Buddha Kassapa. Eventually Jotipala was converted and became a monk under Buddha Kassapa. Then he was reborn in Tusita heaven after which he was reborn as Siddhartha Gotama.
http://metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/ ... ra-e1.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I find it strange that a person striving on a Buddhist path for 4 Incalculable Aeons and 300,000 MK (if I remember correctly) being 99% complete, would refuse to see a Buddha, and would swear at him... It seems more probably that future Buddha Gotama started his Buddhist path under Buddha Kassapa and 2 lives later was Buddha Gotama.

IMHO.

With metta,

Alex
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Provenance of the notion of momentariness in the Theravada

Post by robertk » Fri Mar 12, 2010 3:54 am

tiltbillings wrote:
robertk wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:Of course, this question does not deny the fact that the notion of "khana" does not appear in any of the three Pitakas. Just maybe looking to fine point the sources.

Lets go to the sutta pitaka just to dispell this idea. Notice the use of teh pali khane -moment
But you have not gone to the Sutta Pitaka; You have gone to a commentary and to a poem that is anomalous to the text in which it finds it self. It is also a poem that is not consistent with the Abhidhamma Pitaka texts, though it does find itself to be consistent with the notion of momentariness seemingly introduced by Buddhaghosa, which is not inconsistent with other schools of Buddhism.
Actually it is from the sutta Pitaka. Why do you think it is part of the Commentaries (atthakatha).

In what way do you find it inconsistent with Abhidhamma?

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Provenance of the notion of momentariness in the Theravada

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:30 am

robertk wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
robertk wrote:
Lets go to the sutta pitaka just to dispell this idea. Notice the use of teh pali khane -moment
But you have not gone to the Sutta Pitaka; You have gone to a commentary and to a poem that is anomalous to the text in which it finds it self. It is also a poem that is not consistent with the Abhidhamma Pitaka texts, though it does find itself to be consistent with the notion of momentariness seemingly introduced by Buddhaghosa, which is not inconsistent with other schools of Buddhism.
Actually it is from the sutta Pitaka. Why do you think it is part of the Commentaries (atthakatha).
I know where it is from. That it is from the Sutta Pitaka still does not change the fact that it is from a commentary later than the suttas or that the nature of the the poem as an anomalous to the text in which it finds itself, by the admission of the translator.
In what way do you find it inconsistent with Abhidhamma?
Show us the Abhidhamma Pitaka texts that unambiguously, without being contested, promulgates the notion of momentariness as found in the Abhidhammattha Sangaha and its commentary which which talks about discrete mind moments and that they happen in the billions per the duration of a blink of an eye, which something in this thread you tried to use to dismiss mindfulness/vipassana practice: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 708#p55708" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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