World Cycles and Cosmic Systems

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: World Cycles and Cosmic Systems

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:17 am

"let's blame it all on the Mahayana"
Geez, that is good sport.

Seriously, Bhante, you are a solid voice here and I am ever so appreciative of your contributions here, which very often give a balanced perspective to what can be an all too lopsided approach. So, what you said above: good stuff.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Re: World Cycles and Cosmic Systems

Postby Paññāsikhara » Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:18 am

pt1 wrote:
son of dhamma wrote:Buddha-fields are also Mahayana impositions

Hm, I could swear I saw the term "buddhafield" somewhere in Visuddhimagga, though it’s likely the term is used in a different sense than in Mahayana.


In the Visuddhimagga, the Apadana, and Theragatha too.

The sense is different from that of later developed Mahayana thought, but let's be honest enough to admit that such general terms are there, at least. Especially no definition or qualification of what "buddha-fields" are "Mahayana impositions" was given in the original claims.

Now someone will probably come along and point out that "but these texts are not taught by the Buddha!", he would be correct, but that does nothing for the original claims about these these being "Mahayana impositions".
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Re: World Cycles and Cosmic Systems

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:22 am

Dear Venerable,

Thank you for your input.
Paññāsikhara wrote:On a broader note, I hope that posters here will refrain from what is a common tendency, that of inaccurate and baseless assumptions that whatever is not in early Theravada but appears later in Buddhism must of necessity be a Mahayana creation (or "imposition"). A kind of baseless "let's blame it all on the Mahayana" type of approach.

It would be nice to see a broader study of the Buddhist tradition as a whole, which soon shows that the Theravada was just one of a large number of early Nikayan schools, and that these others schools had a host of different ideas about a number of topics. And often, these different views were not creations of the Mahayana, but rather, the Mahayana picked up these views from other mainstream Nikayan schools, views which were quite the norm in parts of mainland Indian Buddhism, but possibly not the Theravada.

I'm sorry that it is up to a small number of people, in particular yourself, who are knowledgeable enough on early Buddhism in general to be able to discuss such things authoritatively. All I can do (if I have time) is to consult modern reasonably general books to try to glean a little information.

It seems a pity that our "Early Buddhism" forum viewforum.php?f=29 is relatively inactive.

:anjali:
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Re: World Cycles and Cosmic Systems

Postby pt1 » Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:36 am

tiltbillings wrote:What is needed, as I understand it, is to simply pay attention to the rise and fall of what one experiences, be it one's breath or the vision of one's past lives, which should be seen in terms of paticcasamuppada. Without paticcasamuppada the danger is great of getting lost. Nothing else is needed.

Yes, but I feel what you're speaking about here already has to do with the third knowledge so to speak, since that's what breaks the cankers. What I'm trying to say though is that problems are bound to happen already with the first two knowledges for those who have such abilities. So, then the cosmolgy stuff seems useful so that they can get over the whole thing and just get to considering conditionality in it. Especially because those who have such abilities often tend to spend a lot more time on meditation than on reading, so they might not be very familiar with the teachings on conditionality, etc. Hm, in what case they probably won't be bothered to read about cosmology and how it ties in with conditionality either... :toilet:

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Re: World Cycles and Cosmic Systems

Postby son of dhamma » Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:37 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:Thus, it is quite incorrect to claim that "it is a Mahayana imposition", for it most certainly is not. And in fact, by so claiming, you have further confused the issue.

Moreover, the so-called Diamond sutra merely mentions these systems, but does not "explain" them at all. It does not have to. The reason being, that those followers of such a large school of the Sarvastivada, which was perhaps the most dominant school in mainland India at the time, already very clearly had a notion of such world systems. ...
...
It would be nice to see a broader study of the Buddhist tradition as a whole, which soon shows that the Theravada was just one of a large number of early Nikayan schools, and that these others schools had a host of different ideas about a number of topics. And often, these different views were not creations of the Mahayana, but rather, the Mahayana picked up these views from other mainstream Nikayan schools, views which were quite the norm in parts of mainland Indian Buddhism, but possibly not the Theravada.


I should have spoken more specifically, as I am aware that I'm not so knowledgeable as to which terms and concepts originate from which doctrinal formations. But when I spoke that it is a Mahayana imposition, I was thinking that they impose it now--thanks for explaining where it comes from. "It would be nice to see a broader study of the Buddhist tradition as a whole, which soon shows that the Theravada was just one of a large number of early Nikayan schools, and that these others schools had a host of different ideas about a number of topics."
It would be nice, and I have studied every tradition of Buddhist practice and thought to a deep degree. Honestly, I don't know how to step around in those areas on this forum, and so I'm inclined to avoid posting about such things here, on the "Buddhist discussion forum on the Dhamma of the Theravada". From what I understand, "mainland Indian Buddhism" is quite ambiguous doctrinally.
with metta
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Re: World Cycles and Cosmic Systems

Postby pt1 » Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:40 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
pt1 wrote:
son of dhamma wrote:Buddha-fields are also Mahayana impositions

Hm, I could swear I saw the term "buddhafield" somewhere in Visuddhimagga, though it’s likely the term is used in a different sense than in Mahayana.


In the Visuddhimagga, the Apadana, and Theragatha too.

The sense is different from that of later developed Mahayana thought

Thanks for that Bhante. When you have time, it'd be great if you can say a bit on how you understand the difference between the two senses.

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Re: World Cycles and Cosmic Systems

Postby son of dhamma » Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:47 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
pt1 wrote:In the Visuddhimagga, the Apadana, and Theragatha too.

The sense is different from that of later developed Mahayana thought, but let's be honest enough to admit that such general terms are there, at least. Especially no definition or qualification of what "buddha-fields" are "Mahayana impositions" was given in the original claims.

Now someone will probably come along and point out that "but these texts are not taught by the Buddha!", he would be correct, but that does nothing for the original claims about these these being "Mahayana impositions".


That's really interesting! I'm not as studied in the Theravada commentaries--some specifics yes--as I am in the Mahayana commentaries, whereas concerning the Theravada Pali Canon I am quite studied, and in the Mahayana Sutras.
It is true that when I mentioned Buddha-field as a response to a question, I was thinking of the Buddha field presently imposed by the Mahayana--this certainly can't be found in a Theravada context, obviously. I was unaware that there were other concepts of the term and that they are commented. I haven't seen any mentioning of Buddha fields in those commentaries, but I would like to learn about what this term means and possibly gain knowledge from it. Could you make some references or just explain?
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Re: World Cycles and Cosmic Systems

Postby Paññāsikhara » Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:52 am

son of dhamma wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:Thus, it is quite incorrect to claim that "it is a Mahayana imposition", for it most certainly is not. And in fact, by so claiming, you have further confused the issue.

Moreover, the so-called Diamond sutra merely mentions these systems, but does not "explain" them at all. It does not have to. The reason being, that those followers of such a large school of the Sarvastivada, which was perhaps the most dominant school in mainland India at the time, already very clearly had a notion of such world systems. ...
...
It would be nice to see a broader study of the Buddhist tradition as a whole, which soon shows that the Theravada was just one of a large number of early Nikayan schools, and that these others schools had a host of different ideas about a number of topics. And often, these different views were not creations of the Mahayana, but rather, the Mahayana picked up these views from other mainstream Nikayan schools, views which were quite the norm in parts of mainland Indian Buddhism, but possibly not the Theravada.



Hello Son of Dhamma,

Thanks for your response.

I should have spoken more specifically, as I am aware that I'm not so knowledgeable as to which terms and concepts originate from which doctrinal formations. But when I spoke that it is a Mahayana imposition, I was thinking that they impose it now--thanks for explaining where it comes from.


"Imposition", from dictionary.com:
–noun
1. the laying on of something as a burden or obligation.
2. something imposed, as a burden or duty; an unusual or extraordinarily burdensome requirement or task.
3. the act of imposing by or as if by authority.
4. an instance of imposing upon a person: He did the favor but considered the request an imposition.
5. the act of imposing fraudulently or deceptively on others; imposture.
6. the ceremonial laying on of hands, as in confirmation or ordination.
7. Printing . the arrangement of page plates in proper order on a press for printing a Signature.
8. the act of putting, placing, or laying on.

Well, it was the Sarvastivada (and almost certainly other schools, too) that came up with the idea. As they were the dominant schools, they may (or may not) have "imposed" it upon the broader Buddhist tradition of the time.

But, does the Mahayana "impose" it? Do they go knocking on doors demanding that people accept this idea? Maybe some zealous types do, but most do not. Another reason why they do not, is that some 2000 years ago, the other non-Mahayana schools had already influenced pretty much the whole of Buddhism to accept this doctrine, including the Theravada. So, even nowadays, the Mahayana does not have to "impose" this even on the Theravada.

"It would be nice to see a broader study of the Buddhist tradition as a whole, which soon shows that the Theravada was just one of a large number of early Nikayan schools, and that these others schools had a host of different ideas about a number of topics."
It would be nice, and I have studied every tradition of Buddhist practice and thought to a deep degree.


Then I am surprised that you didn't see, for example, the large amount of material on such cosmology which is found in the Abhidharmakosa, another major non-Mahayana source (which again stems from the Sarvastivadins). Or that the Dharmaguptakas adhered to this notion in their Buddha biographical material.

Honestly, I don't know how to step around in those areas on this forum, and so I'm inclined to avoid posting about such things here, on the "Buddhist discussion forum on the Dhamma of the Theravada". From what I understand, "mainland Indian Buddhism" is quite ambiguous doctrinally.
with metta


I tend to disagree that it is ambiguous. If you have a statement in a given text, and you have a basic providence and school for the text, then not too much problem. The problems come when we tend to over generalize, beyond what we have evidence for. For example, even if a given doctrine is first found in a given Mahayana text, we still cannot really say "this was created by the Mahayana", rather, "the first evidence we have for this is in a Mahayana text". Once you see the doctrines, the lines of flow through schools over time, not so ambiguous. Lots of blank spaces, but that is another matter.
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Re: World Cycles and Cosmic Systems

Postby Sylvester » Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:54 am

So sad that the intersticial hells did not even get a mention...
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Re: World Cycles and Cosmic Systems

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:55 am

son of dhamma wrote: That's really interesting! I'm not as studied in the Theravada commentaries--some specifics yes--as I am in the Mahayana commentaries, whereas concerning the Theravada Pali Canon I am quite studied, and in the Mahayana Sutras.
It is true that when I mentioned Buddha-field as a response to a question, I was thinking of the Buddha field presently imposed by the Mahayana--this certainly can't be found in a Theravada context, obviously.
presently imposed by the Mahayana" Imposed? What are you talking about here?

I was unaware that there were other concepts of the term and that they are commented. I haven't seen any mentioning of Buddha fields in those commentaries, but I would like to learn about what this term means and possibly gain knowledge from it. Could you make some references or just explain?
Maybe you are not so well read. Try the Visuddhimagga XIII, 31 (pgs 455-6 in Nanamoli's translation).
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: World Cycles and Cosmic Systems

Postby son of dhamma » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:08 am

tiltbillings wrote:Maybe you are not so well read. Try the Visuddhimagga XIII, 31 (pgs 455-6 in Nanamoli's translation).


Maybe I said that I wasn't well-read in the Theravada commentaries. Visuddhimagga isn't a commentary?
Sometimes no Buddhas arise in the world. Sometimes they do. When it happens, it is for the welfare and happiness of men, out of compassion for all creatures. For a long, long time he has been working to become a Buddha. He met other Buddhas along the way. And after his long striving he attains his final life, yet not without showing everyone else how to get there.
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Re: World Cycles and Cosmic Systems

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:18 am

son of dhamma wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Maybe you are not so well read. Try the Visuddhimagga XIII, 31 (pgs 455-6 in Nanamoli's translation).


Maybe I said that I wasn't well-read in the Theravada commentaries. Visuddhimagga isn't a commentary?
It is a - if not the - doctrinal compendium of the Theravada.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: World Cycles and Cosmic Systems

Postby PeterB » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:20 am

Son Of Dhamma if you really want to live up to your epithet I suggest that you curb your ambition and spend the time learning Vipassana instead.
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Re: World Cycles and Cosmic Systems

Postby son of dhamma » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:28 am

Paññāsikhara, thanks very much for helping me to understand that the Mahayana didn't invent these concepts. I am convinced however that they do impose them and that these concepts are an imposition on the Buddha's teaching, because I haven't found any references to them. You're talking much about things like, "some 2000 years ago, the other non-Mahayana schools had already influenced pretty much the whole of Buddhism to accept this doctrine," and, "large amount of material on such cosmology which is found in the Abhidharmakosa, another major non-Mahayana source (which again stems from the Sarvastivadins)." Yes I'm aware that, "the Dharmaguptakas adhered to this notion in their Buddha biographical material."
Sarvastivadins. Please explain how the Buddha's teachings or his close commentators explained the thousandfold, millionfold, and billionfold world-systems. I haven't been able to find such concepts in the Theravada, but you've told me that pretty much the whole of Buddhism accepted this doctrine. I don't discredit the claim, but I can't find anything that penetrates the Theravada or the Buddha's original teaching. Where are the chiliocosms accepted?

tiltbillings wrote:
son of dhamma wrote: Maybe I said that I wasn't well-read in the Theravada commentaries. Visuddhimagga isn't a commentary?

It is a - if not the - doctrinal compendium of the Theravada.


I'm aware of this. I cannot find the entire Visuddhimagga commentary, so I would appreciate it if you could simply reference the section concerning Buddha-fields--still I cannot find such are references.

PeterB wrote:Son Of Dhamma if you really want to live up to your epithet I suggest that you curb your ambition and spend the time learning Vipassana instead.


I don't live up to things that I say or claims that I make. For me, it's the other way around. If you insist on commenting on my practice which you don't know of, and telling me to learn vipassanna, then I'll ask what epithet you're referring to.
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Re: World Cycles and Cosmic Systems

Postby son of dhamma » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:30 am

Surely not "son of Dhamma"? That isn't a very constructive thing to say about someone.
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Re: World Cycles and Cosmic Systems

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:31 am

son of dhamma wrote: I cannot find the entire Visuddhimagga commentary, so I would appreciate it if you could simply reference the section concerning Buddha-fields--still I cannot find such are references.

See viewtopic.php?f=13&t=6759&p=107867#p107860
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: World Cycles and Cosmic Systems

Postby PeterB » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:34 am

Au contraire its a highly consructive thing to suggest to an 18 year old to steer them away from Talking School Buddhism, which has never aided anyone in finding the way out of Dukkha, and pointing them to what will.
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Re: World Cycles and Cosmic Systems

Postby son of dhamma » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:46 am



I found the book and managed look into these pages. I see, that's very helpful. I didn't know that Buddhaghosa claimed the chiliocosm, dichiliocosm, and trichiliocosm, or that they constituted three levels of "Buddha-fields". I appreciate that very much, Tilt. Do you have any other information regarding the connections of this material, as I haven't found them mentioned anywhere else in the Theravada texts.

PeterB wrote:Au contraire its a highly consructive thing to suggest to an 18 year old to steer them away from Talking School Buddhism, which has never aided anyone in finding the way out of Dukkha, and pointing them to what will.


I think that you're making some presumptions here, Pete. You shouldn't assume that I don't have a foundation of practice and that I'm of some Talking School, and my age is hardly a presupposition to belittle my understanding of the Buddhadhamma and experience of vipassanna. I'm telling you that this was uncalled-for.
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Sometimes no Buddhas arise in the world. Sometimes they do. When it happens, it is for the welfare and happiness of men, out of compassion for all creatures. For a long, long time he has been working to become a Buddha. He met other Buddhas along the way. And after his long striving he attains his final life, yet not without showing everyone else how to get there.
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Re: World Cycles and Cosmic Systems

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:54 am

son of dhamma wrote:


I found the book and managed look into these pages. I see, that's very helpful. I didn't know that Buddhaghosa claimed the chiliocosm, dichiliocosm, and trichiliocosm, or that they constituted three levels of "Buddha-fields". I appreciate that very much, Tilt. Do you have any other information regarding the connections of this material, as I haven't found them mentioned anywhere else in the Theravada texts.
It is likely something Buddhaghosa brought from the mainland.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: World Cycles and Cosmic Systems

Postby son of dhamma » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:58 am

Do you know much about what was taking place doctrinally on the mainland? Anyone? I'd like to understand more in-depth the relation to the Buddha's teaching here.
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