The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:09 am

Greetings Manapa, all,
Manapa wrote:I think a safe bet would be any Arahant speaks the words of a Buddha, but this does leave open the conundrum in Retros/mine slightly side discussion.
As a counter to that proposition, I would put forward an example from the Dhanañjani Sutta where... (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el090.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;)
The Venerable Sariputta explains to the brahman Dhanañjani that the multifarious duties of a layman are no excuse for wrong moral conduct, nor do they exempt one from painful consequences of such conduct in a future existence. Later, when Dhanañjani was on his deathbed he requested the Elder to visit him, and the Venerable Sariputta spoke to him, on the way to Brahma through the Brahma-viharas. The Buddha mildly reproached the elder for not having led Dhanañjani to a higher understanding.
Link to sutta extract: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... 0.html#p59" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

In other words, what venerable Sariputta said to Dhanañjani was not incorrect... it certainly "fit" with the Dhamma and was in accord with his enlightened experiences as an arahant, but it is certainly not what the Buddha would have spoken or done, in his capacity of being a Sammasambuddha, thus... under such circumstances, are comments like Sariputta's to be understood as Buddhavacana?

My preference here is obviously... no.

If the Buddha had "rubber stamped" it with his "explained it as I would have done" style approval, I would permit it as Buddhavacana.

Even the great General of the Dhamma, the mighty venerable Sariputta, did not always speak Buddhavacana, let alone the arahants and commentators that were to speak and write of the Dhamma in later years. I hope this and above comments provide some clarity as to the stringent criteria I hold the texts to, and why the Abhidhamma Pitaka, given all available evidence, does not pass this test. It's not through lack of respect of those who came later, but rather, it's indicative of the respect I hold for the Buddha and the way, in both content and means, by which he expounded the Dhamma.

The Buddha did not need his teachings to be refined or systemized by arahants for him. I believe he already taught them as perfectly as anyone could do.

:buddha1:

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by Cittasanto » Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:19 am

EDIT Ignore this post already answered
retrofuturist wrote:Link to sutta extract: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... 0.html#p59" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

In other words, what venerable Sariputta said to Dhanañjani was not incorrect... it certainly "fit" with the Dhamma and was in accord with his enlightened experiences as an arahant, but it is certainly not what the Buddha would have spoken or done, in his capacity of being a Sammasambuddha, thus... under such circumstances, are comments like Sariputta's to be understood as Buddhavacana?

My preference here is obviously... no.

Metta,
Retro. :)
Are all of Sariputta's words to be left out of being classed as Buddhavacana? or Ananda's?
Last edited by Cittasanto on Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:23 am

Greetings,
Manapa wrote:Are all of Sariputta's words to be left out of being classed as Buddhavacana? or Ananda's?
I updated the above post a little while you were asking this question, so perhaps it has already been partly answered.

I will say:

1. I may apply a more stringent definition of Buddhavacana to others, so keep that in mind.
2. Directly in response to your question... (for me) they only constitute Buddhavacana if the Buddha "rubber-stamped" them as detailed above.

Again, that's my approach and my preference. Of course, others are free to tackle such issues by alternative methods and via their own discretion.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by Cittasanto » Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:42 am

cant delete it for some reason?? pointless post after your edit!

I think we agree on this, although I am less strict than you (on this matter atleast)

as I have said before I think we agree on more than disagree on.

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,
Manapa wrote:Are all of Sariputta's words to be left out of being classed as Buddhavacana? or Ananda's?
I updated the above post a little while you were asking this question, so perhaps it has already been partly answered.

I will say:

1. I may apply a more stringent definition of Buddhavacana to others, so keep that in mind.
2. Directly in response to your question... (for me) they only constitute Buddhavacana if the Buddha "rubber-stamped" them as detailed above.

Again, that's my approach and my preference. Of course, others are free to tackle such issues by alternative methods and via their own discretion.

Metta,
Retro. :)
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by DNS » Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:56 am

Short intermission break for some humor:

From RobertK's abhidhamma study group:

Robert,
A few years ago I tried reading the Abhidhamma but I kept falling asleep from boredom (another reason why it was taught in the deva-realm - their ability to stay awake :-) But hearing you constantly espouse the virtues of this body of work has aroused my curiousity again. I can understand how the detailed elucidation of all the permutations of sensory/mental/physical phenomena can help break down the notion of a "self", but besides this what other aspects of the abhidhamma do you find particularly valuable? Is there a cliff notes version of it I can read? I don't have the stamina or leisure time of a deva at the moment.
FK

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by pt1 » Fri Sep 04, 2009 8:03 am

TheDhamma wrote: At first glance it looks like the case for the recitation from the First Council is only from the later commentaries. Some of the commentaries were written as early as 250 BC, but most were written several hundred years after the Buddha's parinibbana. From what I understand some commentaries go to as far as the 9th century AD or even later?
Hi, I think the origin of commentaries and their alleged dates of creation are probably the main controversial point here because both camps use it in their arguments, but to completely opposite ends (to be clear - when saying "commentaries", the reference is to atthakathas, not to tikas and other later derivative works).

From what i gather so far, the theravada position is that:
1. atthakathas originated at the time of the Buddha
2. were sung at the first council
3. Mahinda took them to Sri Lanka in 3rd century BCE
4. at some point they were translated (in parts or whole) into Sinhala
5. in 5th century CE, Buddhagosha edited and translated them back into Pali, and in that form they came down to us.

Regarding point 5, it should be noted that Buddhagosha was the editor and translator, not composer/creator. I kind of think of him as the ancient Bhikkhu Bodhi :smile: Anyway, editing and translation of the major atthakathas (to the 4 nikayas and 7 abhidhamma books) is ascribed to Buddhagosha, while Dhammapala, Buddhadatta and others helped with atthakathas to various Khuddaka nikaya books in the 5th and 6th century CE.

Obviously, the most controversial points are 1 and 2. While there is no doubt that some commentary came from the time of the Buddha (and some even ended up as suttas later), the question for the modern skeptic remains how much - the whole thing, only parts of it, which parts? Other than believing the accounts of the Theras (i.e. pretty much the whole thing), I have no idea how to ascertain that scholarly at the moment, if that's what you're looking for.
TheDhamma wrote:the further removed we are from the Buddha's time, the further we tend to get from the true Dhamma.
This line of argument is a bit confusing. I mean, when you say things like "later commentaries", "Some of the commentaries were written as early as 250 BC, but most were written several hundred years after the Buddha's parinibbana." - to me that kind of says that your view is that atthakathas are a later invention than the suttas. Apologies if I'm wrong there, but if I'm right, then that view seems to go against "classical theravada" position, what basically says that your view is based on some sources that you consider more reliable than the ancient accounts of the Theras in the atthakathas. I'm guessing these more reliable sources could only be the works of the XX century scholars, but by your above line of argument, they shouldn't probably even be considered in this discussion because they are by 15 centuries further removed from the Buddha than Buddhagosha was for example.

So, it's a bit confusing because any research we or others do into this subject would still be a work of scholars far removed from the Buddha's time, so basically inadmissible by the above line of argument. I mean, if the accounts of Theras who lived close to the Buddha's time are no good in this discussion, nor are the accounts of the modern scholars, then whose accounts are we looking for here? Apologies if my deductive powers of what you're thinking/saying here completely failed me :coffee:

Best wishes

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by Ben » Fri Sep 04, 2009 9:41 am

Nice post, pt!
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by DNS » Fri Sep 04, 2009 12:53 pm

pt1 wrote:
I mean, if the accounts of Theras who lived close to the Buddha's time are no good in this discussion, nor are the accounts of the modern scholars, then whose accounts are we looking for here? Apologies if my deductive powers of what you're thinking/saying here completely failed me :coffee:
The Buddha. :buddha2:

Ananda and the other 499 arahants at the First Council.

Do you have a atthakatha reference for the claim that the Abhidhamma was recited at the First Council? If yes, do you know the dating of that atthakatha?

So far, from the discussions in the other forums, I have only seen references that allegedly 'implied' the recitation, for example, brackets are placed next to Council like this: and then at the [First] Council . . . . (which usually means it is being interpreted or re-interpreted as being implied).

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by kc2dpt » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:43 pm

TheDhamma,

You seem to be missing pt1's point. If person A at some point in time X stated the Abhidhamma was recited at the First Council and person B at a later point in time Y stated that it wasn't, then by your own comment of "the further removed we are from the Buddha's time, the further we tend to get from the true Dhamma" we should believe person A over person B. The question therefore isn't "What is the dating of the atthakatha reference for the claim that the Abhidhamma was recited at the First Council?" The question is "Do the people who claim it wasn't recited come later or earlier than the people who claim it was recited?"

Or alternatively, "Why do you, TheDhamma, believe later claims over earlier one's on this matter?"
TheDhamma wrote:
pt1 wrote:whose accounts are we looking for here?
The Buddha.
OK, please show us the quote where the Buddha contradicts the claim that the Abhidhamma was recited at the First Council. You might find this difficult since he was already dead by that point...
- Peter

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by DNS » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:54 pm

Peter wrote:
The question therefore isn't "What is the dating of the atthakatha reference for the claim that the Abhidhamma was recited at the First Council?" The question is "Do the people who claim it wasn't recited come later or earlier than the people who claim it was recited?"
Hi Peter,

Yes, I understand pt's point. It is here:
Hi, I think the origin of commentaries and their alleged dates of creation are probably the main controversial point here because both camps use it in their arguments, but to completely opposite ends (to be clear - when saying "commentaries", the reference is to atthakathas, not to tikas and other later derivative works).
Which is why I asked for the reference and the dating of that atthakatha. And that is why it is important to know the dating of that commentary because it seems to get at the crux of the matter.

In regard to the Buddha refuting the Abhidhamma, yes of course the Abhidhamma could not have been refuted by him since it was recited well after his parinibbana. And thus, we have this conversation, because it is not overtly mentioned in the Dhamma and Vinaya (as the Buddha referred to the Dhamma and Discipline) as his teachings.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by DNS » Fri Sep 04, 2009 3:54 pm

pt1 wrote: Hi, I think the origin of commentaries and their alleged dates of creation are probably the main controversial point here because both camps use it in their arguments, but to completely opposite ends (to be clear - when saying "commentaries", the reference is to atthakathas, not to tikas and other later derivative works).
I think I may have found it! I have done some more looking over at RobertK's discussion and this is what he (RobertK) posted:
I found this in the attakattha to the Dhammasangani (first book of the Abhidhamma) the Atthasalini, (from the introductory discourse):

"The ancient commentary therof was sang By the First council, Mahakassapa Their leader, and later again by seers, Mahinda bought it to the peerless isle, Ceylon,.." endquote.
Robert then goes on to say that he is not sure which "commentary" is referred to by Buddhaghosa.

Buddhaghosa wrote that commentary around 4th to 5th century CE (AD).

Does anyone know of any other references, if any, that might suggest a First Council reciting? The above is still a little vague, but provide some evidence.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by DNS » Fri Sep 04, 2009 4:02 pm

From the introduction to the Mahavamsa (not in the Mahavamsa) translation by Geiger:
"There is, besides, an account in the second volume of the Dulva, the Tibetan Vinaya of the Sarvastivadin sect. The fixing of the canon took place, according to this source, in the following order: 1) Dharma, by Ananda; 2)Vinaya, by Upali; 3)Matrka (i.e.Abhidarma) by Mahakasyapa himself.....
(The Tibetan version of the Vinaya)

Matrka is Sanskrit for Matikas (summaries), which could be Abhidhamma summaries.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by DNS » Fri Sep 04, 2009 4:45 pm

pt1 wrote:Apologies if I'm wrong there, but if I'm right, then that view seems to go against "classical theravada" position, what basically says that your view is based on some sources that you consider more reliable than the ancient accounts of the Theras in the atthakathas.
Peter wrote: You seem to be missing pt1's point.
Or alternatively, "Why do you, TheDhamma, believe later claims over earlier one's on this matter?"
Hi pt, Peter,

I was responding to pt's other point earlier, so now I will get to this other point you both make.

I don't accept modern scholars over the Theras, but as somewhat of a scholar myself, I like to look at all available evidence. :juggling:

Yes, the scholars are further removed from the time of Buddha. Some of them are not Buddhist. The fact that they are not Buddhist gives them somewhat of an edge in that they don't get accused of sectarian bias. The accounts of the Theras is certainly important too, but which ones? There have been many schisms and disagreements over the centuries.

Often and usually, the scholars don't provide new information. They are simply examining the ancient texts written by the Theras. They are examining the Visudhimagga, the Canon, the Atthakathas, etc. Sometimes they are simply noticing some inconsistencies the rest of us did not notice. An example is Ven. Analayo, Ph.D. and Ven. Dhammananda, Ph.D., both monastic and both are scholars who have noticed some inconsistencies in regard to the 8 garudhammas and the Buddha's alleged reluctance to ordain women. They were not providing any new information, just a scholarly study of the existing texts.

In the same way, we can look at what modern scholars have to say, but without ignoring the relevance, importance, and respect the Theras deserve.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by Cittasanto » Fri Sep 04, 2009 11:55 pm

Hi Dhamma
I think I have the same if not similare opinion to you here, I prefer to look at the texts myself, and use the comentators what ever the time frame to see if there is something I missed took wrongly or if there is another angle I didn't consider, or just simply for 'scolarly' curiousity, not that I am a scholor or anything, more an (overly) enthusiastic layman.
TheDhamma wrote:
pt1 wrote:Apologies if I'm wrong there, but if I'm right, then that view seems to go against "classical theravada" position, what basically says that your view is based on some sources that you consider more reliable than the ancient accounts of the Theras in the atthakathas.
Peter wrote: You seem to be missing pt1's point.
Or alternatively, "Why do you, TheDhamma, believe later claims over earlier one's on this matter?"
Hi pt, Peter,

I was responding to pt's other point earlier, so now I will get to this other point you both make.

I don't accept modern scholars over the Theras, but as somewhat of a scholar myself, I like to look at all available evidence. :juggling:

Yes, the scholars are further removed from the time of Buddha. Some of them are not Buddhist. The fact that they are not Buddhist gives them somewhat of an edge in that they don't get accused of sectarian bias. The accounts of the Theras is certainly important too, but which ones? There have been many schisms and disagreements over the centuries.

Often and usually, the scholars don't provide new information. They are simply examining the ancient texts written by the Theras. They are examining the Visudhimagga, the Canon, the Atthakathas, etc. Sometimes they are simply noticing some inconsistencies the rest of us did not notice. An example is Ven. Analayo, Ph.D. and Ven. Dhammananda, Ph.D., both monastic and both are scholars who have noticed some inconsistencies in regard to the 8 garudhammas and the Buddha's alleged reluctance to ordain women. They were not providing any new information, just a scholarly study of the existing texts.

In the same way, we can look at what modern scholars have to say, but without ignoring the relevance, importance, and respect the Theras deserve.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Sep 05, 2009 7:59 am

This whole thread is starting to puzzle me. It seems clear that the translation of many technical points in the Suttas is only possible with a careful reading of commentaries and a lifetime of study. "Just reading the Suttas" is therefore not an option for most of us. One is actually reading the interpretations of the translator, so in my opinion it would be sensible to read what the translator says about the commentary and how he/she has used the commentary to tease out the meaning.

Similarly, there is the idea that the ancient commentators and Venerable Buddhagosa were completely confused about the meaning of the Tipitika is rather odd. But modern Venerables such as Ajahn Chah, or people who have spent a few years reading translations, have derived a clear vision from the Suttas that surpasses the understanding of the ancient Sangha...

There is certainly a place scholarship on these issues, and it is of course possible that modern translators have misinterpreted the ancient commentators, and more analysis of their views is necessary. But simply rejecting the Abhidhamma and Commentaries because they are "later" than the Suttas seems to me a rather odd attitude. A little like insisting that everyone since Newton has misunderstood Calculus...

Metta
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