Pudgalavada

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
Post Reply
User avatar
DNS
Site Admin
Posts: 10928
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact:

Pudgalavada

Post by DNS » Thu Jun 08, 2017 5:46 pm

In my studies of Buddhism in the past I quickly dismissed the Pudgalavada ("personalist") school of Buddhism. After all they believe in atman which is diametrically opposed to the sine qua non of Buddhism. Recently, I learned that the Pudgalavada do accept the doctrine of anatta, so have been reading more about them. I am in the process of reading Leonard Priestly's Pudgalavāda Buddhism: The Reality of the Indeterminate Self.

The Pudgalavada school was confined to the Indian sub-continent as it did not spread to Burma, Tibet, Sri Lanka and other nations where Buddhism spread to. Starting from about the second century CE onward, there was a revitalization of Hinduism in India and then later Muslim conquerors which virtually eliminated Buddhism from India by around the 11th century CE. And with that, the end came to the Pudgalavada school. Their version of the Tipitaka was lost and only a few texts remain which were translated to Chinese and now subsequently to English and other languages, not until the late 20th century.

They believe in an indeterminate self, a sort of impermanent-self. I have written this article on Pudgalavada but just started it so will update it as I learn more about them. It is very interesting and I'm keeping an open mind; some points seem convincing, some less so.

https://dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Pudgalavada

User avatar
BasementBuddhist
Posts: 265
Joined: Sat Apr 08, 2017 1:03 pm

Re: Pudgalavada

Post by BasementBuddhist » Thu Jun 08, 2017 5:55 pm

Interesting find. Thank you for sharing. :anjali:

User avatar
Goofaholix
Posts: 2964
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Pudgalavada

Post by Goofaholix » Thu Jun 08, 2017 7:18 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:They believe in an indeterminate self, a sort of impermanent-self.
Isn't the whole point of teaching of anatta the denial of a determinate permanent self? The concept of indeterminate impermanent-self does not meet the definition of atta/atman so I don't see a problem with it except the Buddha didn't talk about it and focusing on this idea possibly leads to confusion and away from the practice, as we have seen in discussions here.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

User avatar
DNS
Site Admin
Posts: 10928
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact:

Re: Pudgalavada

Post by DNS » Thu Jun 08, 2017 9:55 pm

There is certainly the possibility of adding some more confusion. Over the years I've seen numerous people have issues with the anatta doctrine, even Buddhists who have been studying and practicing for many years and decades. I've heard a number of people say that if they knew about anatta, no-self when they first became Buddhist, they would have ran, but luckily for them they found out about it much later when they were ready for it. So from a purely Dhamma propagation model, this might provide some relief for some Buddhists, though don't know for sure. The best solution for those with troubling thoughts about it is to set it aside, but for those who are philosophically inquisitive, it is not so easy to set aside until they are ready and for that Pudgalavada might fill the gap. Buddhism is considered the most diverse religion; that is it comes in a wide variety of forms and to a certain degree this is an advantage, allowing for people to try out different schools of Buddhism for what they are ready for, what suits their temperament.

SarathW
Posts: 8255
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Pudgalavada

Post by SarathW » Thu Jun 08, 2017 10:04 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:They believe in an indeterminate self, a sort of impermanent-self.
Isn't the whole point of teaching of anatta the denial of a determinate permanent self? The concept of indeterminate impermanent-self does not meet the definition of atta/atman so I don't see a problem with it except the Buddha didn't talk about it and focusing on this idea possibly leads to confusion and away from the practice, as we have seen in discussions here.
:goodpost:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

SarathW
Posts: 8255
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Pudgalavada

Post by SarathW » Thu Jun 08, 2017 10:07 pm

There is certainly the possibility of adding some more confusion.
The final objective of Buddhism is to eliminate all confusions.
So keep :stirthepot:
:D
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

R1111
Posts: 1019
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2015 4:17 am

Re: Pudgalavada

Post by R1111 » Thu Jun 08, 2017 10:40 pm

If Twilight was still be posting he would probably let the "half-selfers" have it. Sure hope he is ok...

User avatar
Lucas Oliveira
Posts: 512
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2015 10:07 pm

Re: Pudgalavada

Post by Lucas Oliveira » Fri Jun 09, 2017 1:15 am

Thank you David!

:namaste:
I participate in this forum using Google Translator. http://translate.google.com.br

http://www.acessoaoinsight.net/

Caodemarte
Posts: 745
Joined: Fri May 01, 2015 3:21 pm

Re: Pudgalavada

Post by Caodemarte » Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:25 am

David N. Snyder wrote:In my studies of Buddhism in the past I quickly dismissed the Pudgalavada ("personalist") school of Buddhism. After all they believe in atman which is diametrically opposed to the sine qua non of Buddhism. Recently, I learned that the Pudgalavada do accept the doctrine of anatta...Their version of the Tipitaka was lost and only a few texts remain which were translated to Chinese and now subsequently to English and other languages, not until the late 20th century....
It is important to note that the at one time numerous Pudgalavada are known chiefly through their critics and hostile sectarian polemics. It appears to me that it is unlikely that the charge by their enemies that they advocated any kind of atman is true. From what does survive it seems more likely to me that they held a more subtle view, perfectly in line with standard Buddhism, but slightly different from other sects in its refinements. In my opinion the main difference was probably lineage related, not ideological.

Circle5
Posts: 441
Joined: Wed May 31, 2017 2:14 am

Re: Pudgalavada

Post by Circle5 » Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:53 am

The "person" was their method of accounting for karma, rebirth, and nirvana. Other schools held that the "person" exists only as a label, a nominal reality.
No need for that when we have "a being". There is a being made out of 5 aggregates witch are constantly changing just like the cells in an organism. A being selfless as a car, a computer or a chariot. (to quote Buddha) Or, to also quote Buddha, as the scattered leaves and branches of a forest. Adding a "person" idea would only confuse people. Why add concepts that Buddha did his best to not only avoid, but also refute ?
I've heard a number of people say that if they knew about anatta, no-self when they first became Buddhist, they would have ran, but luckily for them they found out about it much later when they were ready for it.
I agree. That is why Buddha only presented the teachings on no-self at the end, after first exposing them to mundane dhamma, then conditionality, aggregates, sense bases, etc.
this might provide some relief for some Buddhists, though don't know for sure.
For that, we have Thanissaro perfectly filling that gap. Many novice buddhist first start with him and then move on at one point. I got attracted to him too in the beginning.
There is certainly the possibility of adding some more confusion.
That possibility was the biggest fear of the Buddha. He went to great lengths to prevent that, it was by far his main concern. And he still failed, schools believing in a self are and have always been more numerous than schools who don't. The no-self doctrine is considered the thing that differentiates an enlightened person from other philosophers. Only an enlightened person could discover it. All others believe in a self, be it gross or subtle.

It is a concept impossible to understand without studying and contemplating the full doctrine exposed in the thousands of pages of the nikayas. Most people try to understand it fast, by just reading a couple of suttas on the no-self subject itself, not taking the time to read thousands of pages of difficult material. But that is like trying to understand how an airplane works by reading just 10 scattered pages out of thousands of the mechanical manual. When Buddha explained the no-self doctrine to a person, he only did so after explaining all other important doctrines and the person still required a period of contemplation.

This was not such a big problem in the past due to monks being required to not only read but also memorize thousands of pages of the nikayas. But it is a problem today when people can just read scattered suttas out of context and jump straight to the no-self ones, fail to understand them and then be fast to conclude it doesn't make any sense.

User avatar
DNS
Site Admin
Posts: 10928
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact:

Re: Pudgalavada

Post by DNS » Fri Jun 09, 2017 4:07 am

Caodemarte wrote: It is important to note that the at one time numerous Pudgalavada are known chiefly through their critics and hostile sectarian polemics. It appears to me that it is unlikely that the charge by their enemies that they advocated any kind of atman is true. From what does survive it seems more likely to me that they held a more subtle view, perfectly in line with standard Buddhism, but slightly different from other sects in its refinements. In my opinion the main difference was probably lineage related, not ideological.
Yeah, I noticed that from my readings so far about this school of Buddhism. That is why I dismissed them outright without reviewing it further (in the past). Ideologically they are not that far away from other schools of Buddhism as I previously thought. Just goes to show, it's not good to have a closed-mind.

:reading:

User avatar
DNS
Site Admin
Posts: 10928
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact:

Re: Pudgalavada

Post by DNS » Fri Jun 09, 2017 4:14 am

Circle5 wrote: No need for that when we have "a being". There is a being made out of 5 aggregates witch are constantly changing just like the cells in an organism. A being selfless as a car, a computer or a chariot. (to quote Buddha) Or, to also quote Buddha, as the scattered leaves and branches of a forest. Adding a "person" idea would only confuse people. Why add concepts that Buddha did his best to not only avoid, but also refute ?
If the Buddha did, but admittedly it certainly appears that way from the Pali Canon. In terms of Dhamma propagation, I wonder how many followers there would be in Buddhism if there were only the Theravada? Not that the Theravada is bad, of course not for us here, but it doesn't have the mass appeal that is found in the various schools of Mahayana and Vajrayana. I wonder if it might have just been a small religion, similar to Jainism, which only has about 4 to 9 million followers world-wide? The diversity of schools in Buddhism allowed it to flourish and gain large numbers of followers. It is sort of like, "there is something for everyone" with the various varieties, sort of like a Las Vegas buffet where one can find just about every type of diet available on the buffet line. :tongue:

Circle5
Posts: 441
Joined: Wed May 31, 2017 2:14 am

Re: Pudgalavada

Post by Circle5 » Fri Jun 09, 2017 4:26 am

I agree, it would have died out without this amazing adaptive capability that it has. It's great that people can get attracted to different parts of it and gradually move towards "the real thing". Most of us here probably got attracted through the idea of meditation. Early buddhist understood this too and the Digha Nikaya is written in such a way to attract newcomers. And it also contains some poetic verses that can be interpreted as consciousness existing in nibbana, showing this was always a thing that scared people, even back in those times. Buddha himself would speak differently depending with who he was speaking with.

User avatar
cappuccino
Posts: 807
Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:45 am

Re: Pudgalavada

Post by cappuccino » Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:03 pm

Circle5 wrote:Buddha himself would speak differently depending with who he was speaking with.
the Blessed One would not say, 'A monk with no more effluents, on the break-up of the body, is annihilated, perishes, & does not exist after death.'
Yamaka Sutta
Buddha has said, "As even a little excrement is of evil smell, I do not praise even the shortest spell of existence, be it no longer than a snap of the fingers."

User avatar
Will
Posts: 791
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 11:26 pm
Location: So Cal

Re: Pudgalavada

Post by Will » Fri Jun 09, 2017 3:03 pm

David: "Buddhism is considered the most diverse religion; that is - it comes in a wide variety of forms..."

Mahayana sutras are explicit in saying that Buddha taught vast numbers of Dharma doors, ie, many ways & paths to Bodhi for the differing qualities of mind that beings have.

But what about Theravada? Are there any similar ideas that Buddha put forth, about very different Dhamma paths for people, accounting for our varied stages of readiness?
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
Nietzsche

User avatar
DNS
Site Admin
Posts: 10928
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact:

Re: Pudgalavada

Post by DNS » Fri Jun 09, 2017 10:44 pm

Will wrote: But what about Theravada? Are there any similar ideas that Buddha put forth, about very different Dhamma paths for people, accounting for our varied stages of readiness?
Sort of; there are 40 different subjects for samatha meditation, and the meditator chooses based on his temperament. There are also different suggestions based on personality types, for example:

https://dhammawiki.com/index.php?title= ... typography

User avatar
Will
Posts: 791
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 11:26 pm
Location: So Cal

Re: Pudgalavada

Post by Will » Sat Jun 10, 2017 3:08 am

I recall, but not well enough, some sutta? that mentioned at least 3 or 4 types, devotional, intellectual etc. But just discovered this Abhidhamma text, Puggala-pannatti that is amazingly thorough.

https://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/ti ... 1010181403

The heart of humanity is highly complex, so one can see why Buddha taught from so many angles.
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
Nietzsche

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests