The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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PadmaPhala
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by PadmaPhala » Fri Jun 29, 2012 6:18 am

Sutra Pitaka is more... legit than the other pitakas.

Pāli Tripitaka sounds better... as per buddhist hybrid samskrita.

mogg
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by mogg » Tue Apr 23, 2013 10:33 am

I take a common sense approach to this question. The Buddha's ministry lasted 45 years, he had plenty of time to teach the essentials to his disciples. If a teaching wasn't included in those 45 years then its not important to the path.

I take it on good authority from various Ajahns that the Abhidhamma is a later addition and not the 'word of the Buddha'. Thats good enough for me. There's 17000 odd suttas and only so much time.

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Kumara
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Abhidhamma Origins, Purpose & Limitations

Post by Kumara » Sun Aug 18, 2013 2:39 am

I thought some of you might be interested in this talk:
http://sasanarakkha.org/dhamma_mp3/vene ... ations.mp3
(probably faster downlaod) http://archive.org/download/AbhidhammaO ... ations.mp3
I'm not just a monk. I'm a human being. — Sayadaw U Jotika

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mikenz66
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 8:02 pm

Thanks Kumara,

Bhante Aggacitta visited us here a few years ago. He has an excellent knowledge of Sutta, Abhidhamma, and practice. I really appreciate his practical attitude towards ancient and modern interpretations of the Dhamma.

:anjali:
Mike

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flaneur9
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Ajahn Buddhadasa on Abhidhamma

Post by flaneur9 » Tue Sep 10, 2013 1:29 pm

would someone care to comment on buddhadasa's opinion of the abhidhama?

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”

what's to be made of the following argument?

1. In the only canonical account of the first Buddhist council (Vinaya Cullavagga Ch.12 it is stated that the venerable Upāli recited Vinaya, then the venerable Ānanda recited the five nikāyas (i.e., the Suttantas), after which the council was brought to a close. Abhidhamma is mentioned not at all in the entire account (nor is it mentioned in the canonical account of the second council). The general consensus of Western scholars is that the traditional account of the first council is largely fiction; nevertheless, it does indicate that at the occasion of its composition (presumably some time before the third council) Abhidhamma philosophy was either unknown or considered to be unworthy of mention. Ven. Buddhaghosa in his commentary to the Dīgha Nikāya tried to rectify the omission by simply changing the details of the story, which is a rather unconvincing device. The standard Burmese explanation of the conspicuous absence of Abhidhamma in the oldest ecclesiastical histories is that it is included in the Khuddaka Nikāya of the Suttanta Pltaka, but this assertion receives no support from the ancient texts themselves. (The Burmese also consider Vinaya to be included in the Khuddaka Nikāya, thereby rendering the fifth Nikāya—“The Small Collection” or “Collection of the Small”—very much larger and more comprehensive than the entire remainder of the Canon and reducing the Buddhist scriptures to a single Piṭaka.)

2. The word “abhidhamma” is very seldom found in the Vinaya and Suttanta (according to one authority eleven times), and when it is found it is usually paired with the term “abhivinaya.” Since there is and never was an Abhivinaya Piṭaka the context implies that “abhidhamma” here means simply “about Dhamma,” not “higher Dhamma.” In the very few cases where the term clearly refers to the philosophy of the Abhidhamma Piṭaka it is found in relatively very late canonical exegesis of older texts—for example, the Vinaya Suttavibhaṅga and the Mahāniddesa.

3. Very many of the terms which play integral, central roles in Abhidhamma philosophy (cetasika, citta-vīthi, bhavaṅga, javana, kiriya-citta, rūpakalāpa, etc. etc.) are either entirely lacking in the Sutlanta or are found there rarely and in a radically different context. The elaborate doctrine of citta-vīthi, for example, which is essential to traditional abhidhammic psychology and is taught in even the most elementary of Abhidhamma courses, is entirely foreign to the first two Piṭakas (and, curiously, is mentioned only briefly and obscurely in the third). Abhidhamma philosophy is claimed by orthodox authorities to be the most profound and important part ofthe teachings ofthe Buddha; but there is not a single narrative episode in the Canon, believable or otherwise, which clearly indicates that he ever taught it to anyone; and furthermore, much of the supposed “highest teachings of Buddha” (e.g., the theory of rūpakalāpas) is non-canonical—not even to be found in the Abhidhamma Piṭaka itself.

4. Kathāvatthu, the fifth book of the Abhidhamma Piṭaka, deals exclusively with dogmatic controversies with schismatic sects of Buddhism that existed around the time of the third council (i.e., the mid-third century B.C.). Also, it is believed that the compiler of the work was a bhikkhu named Moggaliputtatissa, who according to ven. Buddhaghosa presided over the third council. Some fundamentalism claim that the Buddha, foreseeing the doctrinal disputes and schism: that would arise after his death, laid down the general outline of the Kathāvatthu, and more than two centuries later ven. Moggalīputtatissa merely elaborated upon it. Although this cannot be categorically disproved it is, needless to say, rather unlikely. (Incidentally, considering that one of the main purposes of the third council was to purge the Saṅgha of heretics and champion what one faction, presumably led by ven. Moggalīputtatissa, believed to be Right View, it may be assumed that the Canon was edited and infused with new material favoring the views of the prevailing faction.)

5. Among the many ancient schools of Buddhism there were at least two versions of the Abhidhamma or Abhidharma Piṭaka, one being of the Theravadins, another being of the Sarvastivadins. Both of these versions consist of seven books, but this is almost their only resemblance, and they obviously are not based upon a common precursor. Other sects possessed of an Abhidharma Piṭaka, including the Mahayanists, tended to modify or borrow outright the version of the Sarvastivadins; but many schools, particularly thou which diverged from the Theravada/Sarvastivada lineage prior to around the beginning of the third century B.C., had none. Now it would be absurd to suggest that all of the ancient schools of Buddhism that broke away from the Theravadin line were so foolish as to throw out an entire Piṭaka, which many Theravadins claim is the most profound and most important of the three, that the Sarvastivadins subsequently concocted another one from scratch, and that some of the other schools then adopted the counterfeit in place of the original. lt would be much more reasonable to assume that there simply was no Abhidhamma Piṭaka in the earliest days of Buddhism, the trend for composing such abstract, technical philosophy beginning in the Theravada/Sarvastivada lineage shortly before the occurrence of the schism that divided them. This one point is sufficient to convince most Buddhistic scholars in the West that Abhidhamma philosophy was never taught by the Buddha.

Virgo
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by Virgo » Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:38 pm

Friends:

The following is a good discussion which I highly recommend. Please enjoy it.

http://www.abhidhamma.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=4

Sincerely,

Kevin

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daverupa
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by daverupa » Wed Sep 11, 2013 5:12 pm

It's odd to take paramatha sacca as a given when comparing the suttas and the abhidhamma, as that discussion seems to do. I find the abhidhamma's premise that the suttas are in conventional language while it itself is in ultimate language to be woefully unsupported.

I see these abhidhammas as being records of the sorts of discussions Buddhist virtuosos were having amongst themselves as time went on. They respond to context, and in this differ little from any book on the Dhamma which is trying to explain it for a particular audience in a different space-time matrix than the specifically 'Nikayan' worldview.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Kumara
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Re: Ajahn Buddhadasa on Abhidhamma

Post by Kumara » Thu Sep 12, 2013 3:38 am

flaneur9 wrote:2. The word “abhidhamma” is very seldom found in the Vinaya and Suttanta (according to one authority eleven times), and when it is found it is usually paired with the term “abhivinaya.” Since there is and never was an Abhivinaya Piṭaka the context implies that “abhidhamma” here means simply “about Dhamma,” not “higher Dhamma.” In the very few cases where the term clearly refers to the philosophy of the Abhidhamma Piṭaka it is found in relatively very late canonical exegesis of older texts—for example, the Vinaya Suttavibhaṅga and the Mahāniddesa.
Well said. But don't bother trying to convince the abhidhammikas!

Here's what I think: Vinaya simply means discipline. By "abhivinaya", I believe that the Buddha was referring to a higher form of discipline, which is not about mere confirming to rules, but a higher inner discipline. So, parallel to that, "abhidhamma" should mean a higher form of dhamma, but we need not let orthodox thinking influence us to confine our understanding to some sort of mere technical-philosophy. I see it as higher practicable, realisable dhamma.

I sometimes find it funny that while Abhidhammatthasangaha enthusiasts think that they are studying ultimate reality, it is obvious that they are getting themselves involved with more concepts.
I'm not just a monk. I'm a human being. — Sayadaw U Jotika

thomaslaw
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by thomaslaw » Tue Oct 07, 2014 1:32 am

Dear Dhamma friends,

Regarding the notion/concept of Paramattha shown in Abhidhammattha Sangaha 'Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma', p. 25, I consider that it is very likely that the teachings of Paramattha (and its connection with Pa~n~natti 'Concept') are 'not' supported by the suttas, particularly the SN suttas (cf. Choong MK, The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism, pp. 54, 92, 138 (on 'pa~n~naapeti'), 154).
E.g. the five aggregates (according to the SN suttas) should be seen as they really are as 'void (without reality, rittaka), insubstantial (tucchaka), and lacking essence (asaaraka)' (SN 22.95: PTS, iii, 140-143), because they are phenomena (dhammas) arisen by causal condition ('not' by their own right as 'irreducible' realities/components of existence), having the nature (dhamma) of anicca 'impermanence', nirodha 'cessation' (SN 12.20: PTS ii, 25-27).

Regards,

Thomas

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Alex123
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Re: Ajahn Buddhadasa on Abhidhamma

Post by Alex123 » Tue Oct 07, 2014 2:42 am

Kumara wrote:By "abhivinaya", I believe that .
Just like Abhivinaya does not mean abhivinaya pitaka, same with abhidhamma.
"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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lionking
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by lionking » Tue Jul 12, 2016 3:44 am

Well, the Buddha insisted on keeping things simple. He said he will only divulge the things essential for enlightenment.

The Dhamma in many ways runs counter to normal human intuition. For example, it says give up creature comforts in order to be free from suffering.

Many struggle to understand the reasoning behind such thinking even now. It does not help confusing more with complexity those who are already confused.

The Pali Tripitaka represents the bare essentials to be on the path. Although over his lifetime many of the wiser monks would have learnt and perhaps inferred the mechanics just by listening to Buddha. Perhaps a select few were taught the higher principles by the Buddha himself.

The first council did not even acknowledge Abhidhamma following Buddha’s policy on keeping it simple. Although by the 3rd council some felt it would be worthy of preservation for future generations.

An example is the 6th sense base – “Thinking”. The Abhidhamma explains the mechanics of "Thinking". It reveals thinking emerges from the heart.

Prevailing mainstream science does not acknowledge thinking as a sensory activity. It considers thinking to be a cognitive function isolated to the brain.

This has been challenged, however. It appears the heart is not only a sensory organ it has a cognitive function.
Recent work in the relatively new field of neurocardiology has firmly established that the heart is a sensory organ and an information encoding and processing center, with an extensive intrinsic nervous system that’s sufficiently sophisticated to qualify as a heart brain. Its circuitry enables it to learn, remember, and make functional decisions independent of the cranial brain. To everyone’s surprise, the findings have demonstrated that the heart’s intrinsic nervous system is a complex, self-organized system; its neuroplasticity, or ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections over both the short and long term, has been well demonstrated.
http://noeticsi.com/thinking-from-the-h ... n-science/
So the Pali Tripitaka is akin to a driving manual. The Abhidhamma is the manual on combustion engine and its principles. All you need for the journey is the driving manual. Although if curiosity arises one may take a peek at the mechanics with the Abhidhamma too.
grr ..

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cjmacie
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by cjmacie » Tue Jul 12, 2016 11:14 am

postby lionking » Mon Jul 11, 2016 7:44 pm

"Well, the Buddha insisted on keeping things simple. He said he will only divulge the things essential for enlightenment."
As the Buddha saw fit, out of expediency, to concentrate for teaching purposes on a "handful of leaves" compared to all the rest of the forest compost, the vast details of his experience and knowledge, my view is that Abhidhammikers were attempting to "reverse engineer" the distilled teachings towards getting a sense of the whole forest of leaves – at least mapping-out that territory. (Some see the abhidhamma as claiming to be exhaustive, hence hopelessly complex; other modern commentators, e.g. Rupert Gethin, hold that it was understood as illustrative, as demonstration of methodology.)

"So the Pali Tripitaka is akin to a driving manual. The Abhidhamma is the manual on combustion engine and its principles. All you need for the journey is the driving manual. Although if curiosity arises one may take a peek at the mechanics with the Abhidhamma too."
A corrolary viewpoint might be that driving, say, a Formula 1 machine involves a more refined awareness of and sensitivity to the technicalities.

Though the commentaries and sub-commentaries do seem to often spin off in rather dubious directions, obscure corners of esoterica, my sense is the basic abhidhamma texts can be useful supports to bhavana-practice, especially for the more intellectually inclined. That it's all seems extraneously heady, impractical to some doesn't mean that it can't be an aid to refining insight for others.

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lionking
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by lionking » Wed Jul 13, 2016 12:10 am

cjmacie wrote:That it's all seems extraneously heady, impractical to some doesn't mean that it can't be an aid to refining insight for others.
Most certainly. In the case of Abhidhamma it easier to learn it from someone who has already read and understood the material.

Ven Bikkhu Bodhi (101 Abhidhamma) - 1 of 15 in the series of video (The Accompanying Book (Free Download))
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSL1N5caXZM

Ven Bikkhu Bodhi (202 Abhidhamma) - 1 of 26 in the series of video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFuVmcXTikw

Ven Thiththagalle Anandasiri. The young monk here explains it quite well in Sinhala. This video is 1/40 in the series.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bt9O4eZEUtQ
grr ..

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by theY » Mon Aug 21, 2017 12:37 am

https://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f ... 99#p434599
Zom wrote:
45 years of buddha time was enough for buddha to taught abhidhamma to sāriputta
However, the truth is, he didn't teach it. That is, if we take unbiased (scientific) approach to texts. But if we blindly follow tradition, yes, we will have to think that he taught it. Just like mahayanists who are sure that Nagarjuna brought mahayana sutras from Naga Realm - because this is said in their sacred texts.

Commentary already said "buddha taught a summary of abhidhamma to sāriputta, then sāriputta taught and described that abhidhamma to his students" (Abh.Saṅ.Com. Intro). But the western professors never focus on it. It is your professor's mistake for through 200 years ago. The commentary clearly wrote the history from 0 buddhist era, but your professors biased and distort it like commentary never said this history to discredit abhidhamma and commentary through 200 years ago.

Another, especially, more than 40 years, that sāriputta lived in buddha age and taught abhidhamma to his students (mahāgosiṅgasāla-sutta), include the memorizers in 1st saṅgāyanā such as ānanda, upāli, kassapa, and anuruddha, this period was very enough to prove that buddha and saṅgha very agree with abhidhamma of sāriputta. Also, buddha announced by himself that sāriputta was the best teacher who can taught 4 noble truths like him (A.N. Ekapuggalavagga).
Above message maybe out of date. Latest update will be in massage's link.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by Zom » Mon Aug 21, 2017 12:48 pm

Another, especially, more than 40 years, that sāriputta lived in buddha age and taught abhidhamma to his students (mahāgosiṅgasāla-sutta), include the memorizers in 1st saṅgāyanā such as ānanda, upāli, kassapa, and anuruddh
Oh, by the way, do you know that Abhidhamma is never mentioned in theravadin canonical texts about 1st Council and even 2nd one, which happened roughly 100 years after Buddha's demise? The answer is simple and obvious: nothing is said about it in there because there was no such thing as Abhidhamma 8-) All 5 nikayas are mentioned, even particular suttas. Vinaya is mentioned. But that's it, no even a tiny hint about so called "3rd pitaka". And this very word "ti-pitaka" appeard only after 3rd council.

The massive inclusion of Abhidhamma books into Buddhist Canons was so bold move, that even whole protesting school appeared - Sautrāntika. These monks just plainly denied Abhidhamma - not because they didn't understand it or didn't like it - but because this was not said by the Buddha. There were no schools which denied Suttanta, no schools which denied Vinaya. But yes, there were ancient monks who denied Abhidhamma, and this is understandable.

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