jayarava wrote:My other find in the library yesterday was Gethin, Rupert. 'Bhavaṅga and Rebirth According to the Abhidhamma.' in The Buddhist Forum. Vol III. T. Skorupski and U. Pagel (eds.), London: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, pp. 11–35.
Gethin works through the details of bhavaṅga process in a way that is now becoming quite familiar - his sources are the same ones we've been discussing. He rules out the bhavaṅga as the carrier of karma:"it does not seem possible on the basis of what is said explicitly in the texts to justify the claim that the bhavaṅga carries with it all character traits, memories, habitual tendencies, etc." (30).
However Gethin is alive to the need to something to do this job or perhaps we should say for this function to be carried out somehow. Again, the fact that the Sarvāstivādins, the Sautrāntikas and the Yogacārins all recognised and proposed solutions to this problem seem to beg the question of how the Theravādins would solve it. This is exactly my own entry point. After years of study Pāli language and texts I started learning Sanskrit and delving into Sanskrit Buddhist texts. This led to an interest in Sarvāstivāda and puzzlement over how any Buddhist could believe that everything exists (sarva-asti). Gethin finds it inconceivable that the great Theravādin commentators, Buddhaghosa, Buddhadatta, and Dhammapala, had not considered the problem, and he ventures to speculate a little on how they might have solved it. Like Gethin, I'm interested that the great three seem not to have proposed an obvious solution. No one who has even dipped into the Visuddhimagga can conceive of Buddhaghosa as anything but thorough.
For Gethin there are many similarities between bhavaṅga and ālayavijñāna and thus he is willing to entertain the thought that the two at least "belong to the same complex of ideas within the history of Buddhist thought." (35). I agree on this last point.
There is still the lead pointing to pakati-upanissaya-paccaya which I will be trying to follow up today.
There is a highly interesting treatise on this matter by Vasubandhu, it is called the Karmasiddhiprakaraṇa and it is what one might call a 'sautrāntika-compatible' introduction into the concept of ālayavijñāna. Even though he mainly adresses the issues of the sautrāntika-system, Vasubandhu is not shy to equal ālayavijñāna with bhavaṇga-citta at one point. This might be his way of providing an upaya-kauśalya, and maybe he is stretching a little bit far in order to give his obviously mahāyānistic understanding an argumentative base among his mainstream buddhist opponents, but his argumentation is certainly very reasonable and adresses a couple if important issues within the framework of mainstream buddhist thought.
From my own humble point of view, mainstream buddhist schools did struggle hard to account for the problem of continuity in relation to their understanding of strict momentariness.