The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby cooran » Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:36 pm

Budsas said: Actually, I wonder how many of us actually read the Abhidhamma Pitaka?


Very good point.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:46 pm

Greetings,

Well if this is current, then anyone whose only language is English will not have read the Abhidhamma Pitaka.

From "Abhidhamma Pitaka - The Basket of Abhidhamma" (Access to Insight) http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/abhi/index.html

The seven books

The Abhidhamma Pitaka is divided into seven books, although it is the first (Dhammasangani) and last (Patthana) that together lay out the essence of Abhidhamma philosophy. The seven books are:

I. Dhammasangani ("Enumeration of Phenomena").
This book enumerates all the paramattha dhamma (ultimate realities) to be found in the world. According to one such enumeration these amount to:
52 cetasikas (mental factors), which, arising together in various combination, give rise to any one of...
...89 different possible cittas (states of consciousness)
4 primary physical elements, and 23 physical phenomena derived from them
Nibbana
English translations:
Buddhist Psychological Ethics, translated from the Pali by C.A.F. Rhys Davids (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1900).

II. Vibhanga ("The Book of Treatises").
This book continues the analysis of the Dhammasangani, here in the form of a catechism.
English translations:
The Book of Analysis, translated from the Pali by Ven. U Thittila (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1969).

III. Dhatukatha ("Discussion with Reference to the Elements").
A reiteration of the foregoing, in the form of questions and answers.
English translations:
Discourse on Elements, translated from the Pali by Ven. U Narada (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1962).

IV. Puggalapaññatti ("Description of Individuals").
Somewhat out of place in the Abhidhamma Pitaka, this book contains descriptions of a number of personality-types.
English translations:
A Designation of Human Types, translated from the Pali by B.C. Law (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1922).

V. Kathavatthu ("Points of Controversy").
Another odd inclusion in the Abhidhamma, this book contains questions and answers that were compiled by Moggaliputta Tissa in the 3rd century BCE, in order to help clarify points of controversy that existed between the various "Hinayana" schools of Buddhism at the time.
English translations:
Points of Controversy, translated from the Pali by S.Z. Aung and C.A.F. Rhys Davids (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1915).

VI. Yamaka ("The Book of Pairs").
This book is a logical analysis of many concepts presented in the earlier books. In the words of Mrs. Rhys Davids, an eminent 20th century Pali scholar, the ten chapters of the Yamaka amount to little more than "ten valleys of dry bones."
English translations:
None.

VII. Patthana ("The Book of Relations").
This book, by far the longest single volume in the Tipitaka (over 6,000 pages in the Siamese edition), describes the 24 paccayas, or laws of conditionality, through which the dhammas interact. These laws, when applied in every possible permutation with the dhammas described in the Dhammasangani, give rise to all knowable experience.
English translations:
Conditional Relations (vol I), translated from the Pali by Ven. U Narada (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1969). Part I of the Tika-patthana section of the Patthana.
Conditional Relations (vol II), translated from the Pali by Ven. U Narada (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1981). Part II of the Tika-patthana section of the Patthana.
A Guide to Conditional Relations, translated from the Pali by Ven. U Narada (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1978). An introduction and guide to the first 12 pages (!) of the Patthana.


Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:12 pm

BudSas wrote:Actually, I wonder how many of us actually read the Abhidhamma Pitaka?


:hello:

I have! And I like it too. The style is certainly not the same as the Suttas, but still seems to have some valuable information for analyzing and breaking down phenomena.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:14 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Well if this is current, then anyone whose only language is English will not have read the Abhidhamma Pitaka.


I assume you mean in full? All books have been translated by PTS, except the Yamaka. And as you noted above, Mrs. Rhys Davids calls it the "ten valleys of dry bones." Also, I have heard that the Yamaka is almost entirely repetition of some of the material in the other books.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:29 pm

Greetings TheDhamma,

TheDhamma wrote:I have! And I like it too. The style is certainly not the same as the Suttas, but still seems to have some valuable information for analyzing and breaking down phenomena.


Setting aside the findings of scholars and such for now, has your personal reading of a decent amount of the Abhidhamma Pitaka provided you with any clues, insight, pointers, information etc. which may be relevant to the discussion?

I assume that was the relevance of Budsas' question of "I wonder how many of us actually read the Abhidhamma Pitaka?" to the discussion, since reading something does not change its origins or 'authenticity'. Reading something may give insights as to the 'efficacy' of the teachings, but that is an entirely different debate.

Metta,
Retro. :)

P.S. Yes, I did mean the entire thing, 'cover to cover' earlier when I provided the information on English translations.
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:42 pm

TheDhamma wrote:
BudSas wrote:Actually, I wonder how many of us actually read the Abhidhamma Pitaka?

I have! And I like it too. The style is certainly not the same as the Suttas, but still seems to have some valuable information for analyzing and breaking down phenomena.

I occasionally browse it (we have almost the entire Tipitika in English and Thai at my local Wat). It is rather dense, but there is some interesting analysis of causation.

Of course, as has been pointed out elsewhere, most of us have only really studied relatively late commentarial works, such as the Visuddhimagga (400 CE) and the Abhidhamatthasangha, which is 500 or so years later. Or modern exposition such as by Nina van Gorkom or others. This can lead to confusion about what is actually in the Canon.

The really serious hole in translation into English is the Canonical Commentaries (on both Sutta and Abhidhamma). Those of us not fluent in Pali only have access to selected commentaries (e.g. of the Satipatthana Sutta, The Great Discourse on Causation (DN 15), etc, and generally rely on translators to provide footnotes of key passages, and the summaries in the Visuddhimagga.

This is a little off topic but I bring this up here because it's the same issue: it's hard to evaluate what one has not actually read.

Metta
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:49 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Setting aside the findings of scholars and such for now, has your personal reading of a decent amount of the Abhidhamma Pitaka provided you with any clues, insight, pointers, information etc. which may be relevant to the discussion? I assume that was the relevance of Budsas' question of "I wonder how many of us actually read the Abhidhamma Pitaka?" to the discussion, since reading something does not change its origins or 'authenticity'.


The style is certainly different from what is found in the other two pitakas, but then again the Vinaya is pretty different from the other two as well, except for perhaps the biographical stories in the Vinaya which is comparable to the Suttas.

The Abhidhamma appears to stand a little more on its own in relation to the other two, but there are some similarities with some of the analysis in the Anguttara Nikaya and especially the discourses on Dependent Origination and causation in the Samyutta Nikaya.

I find it helpful in regard to the analysis and causation, but sometimes wonder if it is needed for liberation -- not that I am anywhere near there, heavens no! But some of it appears to be analysis beyond the need, but for those with that type of inclination, it could be beneficial and the Buddha did teach in skillful means to different temperaments. And actually that is discussed in the Abhidhamma too -- the different personality and temperament types.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby pt1 » Thu Oct 22, 2009 2:49 am

I'd just like to share that it's a bit easier to read the abhidhamma books in conjunction with their respective commentaries - both the dhammasangani commentary (Atthasalini - Expositor) and vibhanga commentary (Sammohavinodani - Dispeller of delusion) are available in English from PTS. With the commentary to other 5 books (Pañcappakarana), it's a bit harder, but there are bits and pieces of it translated by different authors (notably U Narada). If you happen to live in a big city, usually the biggest library will have some or all the books from PTS (excluding Yamaka as mentioned), so it's not that hard to find them. And of course there's more and more info online (I already mentioned Chew's blog - there are English translations of several sections of Yamaka there now, aside from the lectures and other interesting stuff).

In terms of the relevance of abhidhamma, I remember one of RobertK's posts where he says something to the effect that all the modern vipassana techniques are basically abhidhamma rehashed. I really liked that, because the more I learn about abdhidhamma the more that seems true. Actually, there's a commentarial explanation that says that abhidhamma is most useful for establishing the right view - and this seems very true, especially in terms of understanding the three marks and conditionality (I can't remember now what the other two pitakas are most useful for - I think suttas were for samadhi and vinaya for sila, though of course, each pitaka addresses all these issues in its own way).

Best wishes

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby BudSas » Sun Oct 25, 2009 10:07 pm

TheDhamma wrote:
BudSas wrote:Actually, I wonder how many of us actually read the Abhidhamma Pitaka?


:hello:

I have! And I like it too. The style is certainly not the same as the Suttas, but still seems to have some valuable information for analyzing and breaking down phenomena.


Let pick the odd one out first: How do you think of the Katthavathu of the Abhidhamma Pitaka? Do you think it's "authentic"? Do you think its contents reflecting the Abhidhamma? Do you think the explanation by Ven Buddhaghosa in the Atthasalini's Introduction on the origin of the Katthavathu credible? (that it was revealed by Ven Moggaliputta Tissa from his deep meditation ...)

To me, in my hunble opinion, that book should be treated as one of those post-canonical texts (such as the Milindapanha, the Visuddhimagga, etc.), and I'm not convinced that it should be included in the Abhidhamma Pitaka.

BDS

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Oct 26, 2009 6:33 pm

BudSas wrote:Let pick the odd one out first: How do you think of the Katthavathu of the Abhidhamma Pitaka? Do you think it's "authentic"? Do you think its contents reflecting the Abhidhamma? Do you think the explanation by Ven Buddhaghosa in the Atthasalini's Introduction on the origin of the Katthavathu credible? (that it was revealed by Ven Moggaliputta Tissa from his deep meditation ...)
To me, in my hunble opinion, that book should be treated as one of those post-canonical texts (such as the Milindapanha, the Visuddhimagga, etc.), and I'm not convinced that it should be included in the Abhidhamma Pitaka.


Hi BDS,

In my opinion, I agree with you, that the Katthavathu is post-Canonical. But perhaps the entire Abhidhamma is post Canonical, much like the Commentaries. It does not appear to have been recited at the First or Second Council, but it could still be some worthy and beneficial material, in the same way that the Visuddhimagga is.

Do you think the explanation by Ven Buddhaghosa in the Atthasalini's Introduction on the origin of the Katthavathu credible?


(My opinion, again) No, to me it seems to be a clear example of defining what is and is not Buddhism (known then as, Dhamma, Vibhajjavada).

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby BudSas » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:09 am

TheDhamma wrote:In my opinion, I agree with you, that the Katthavathu is post-Canonical. But perhaps the entire Abhidhamma is post Canonical, much like the Commentaries. It does not appear to have been recited at the First or Second Council, but it could still be some worthy and beneficial material, in the same way that the Visuddhimagga is.


Thanks. Just a humble thought:

- To me, the Abhidhamma of both Theravada and non-Theravada schools -- in a way -- is similar to Euclidean geometry we learnt at highschool, which is based on a number of axioms. It's not the absolute truth, but it has wide applications in our mundane, day to day activities.

BDS

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby pt1 » Sun Nov 22, 2009 7:14 am

pt1 wrote:
TheDhamma wrote:By process of elimination, the best possible argument that the Abhidhamma may have been recited at the First Council would come from your no. 2 above. If it could be shown that Abhidhamma was considered a part of the Khuddaka Nikaya at that time, then the statement that the five Nikayas were recited could include the Abhidhamma.


Yeah, again, the problem is how to show that? I mean, the atthasalini quote says so explicitly that abhidhamma is classified as khudaka nikaya, but if one discards atthasalini, then are there any other ancient Pali sources that say so? At the moment, I'm not familiar with any.


Hi all, an update to the above post of mine - I came upon a really interesting quote from commentary to Mahaparinibbana sutta - what seems interesting about it is that these appear to be the actual words of the Buddha, so not commentators nor Buddhaghosa - this quote comes from DSG post 102106:

From the beginning of part 6 of the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, the last words of the
Buddha, transl. by Sister Vajiraa and Francis Story (BPS):

"Now, the Blessed One spoke to the venerable Aananda saying: 'It may be,
Aananda, that to some among you the thought will come: 'Ended is the word of the
Master; we have a Master no longer.' But it should not, Aananda, be so
considered. For that which I have proclaimed and made known as the Dhamma and
the Discipline, that shall be your Master when I am gone."

From the commentary to the last sentence above, taken from the beginning of Ch
VI, Commentary on the Mahaaparinibbaana Sutta, transl. by Yang-Gyu An (PTS) in
"The Buddha's Last Days":

" 'That which was taught and made known (pa~n~natta)': The Dhamma is both taught
and made known. The Vinaya is also both taught and made known. 'Made known'
means set up, established.
'That is your teacher, after I am gone': The Dhamma and the Vinaya are your
teacher after I am gone. While I remained alive, I taught you: 'This is slight
(lahuka); this is serious (garuka); this is curable (satekiccha); this is
incurable (atekiccha); this is what is to be avoided by the world (loka-vajja);
this is what is to be avoided by specific precept (pa~n~natti-vajja); this
offence (aapatti) is removable in the presence of an individual (puggala) this
offence is removable in the presence of a group (ga.na); this offence is
removable in the presence of the Order (sa"ngha).' Thus concerning the subject
matter handed down as seven groups of offences (aapatti-kkhandha), I have taught
what is called the Vinaya: the Khandhaka, the Parivaara and the two Vibha"ngas.
All of that, the basket of the Vinaya, will perform the role of Teacher for you
when I attain parinibbaana.

"And during my life, I have taught these: the four foundations of mindfulness
(satipa.t.thaana), the four right efforts (sammapphadhaana), the four roads to
supernormal power (iddhipaada), the five spiritual faculties (indriya), the five
mental powers (bala), the seven factors of enlightenment (bojjha"nga), the noble
eightfold path (magga). In various ways I have analysed these doctrinal matters
and have taught the basket of Suttanta. All of that basket of Suttanta will
peform the role of Teacher for you when I attain parinibbaana.

"And during my life, I have taught these: the five aggregates, twelve sphere
(aayatana), eighteeen elements (dhaatu), four truths (sacca), twenty-two
faculites (indriya), nine causes (hetu), four foods (aahaara), seven contacts
(phassa), seven feelings (vedanaa), seven perceptions (sa~n~naa), seven
intentions (cetanaa), seven thoughts (citta). And here too, a certain number of
things are of the sensual realm (kaamaavacara), a certain number are of the form
realm (ruupaavacara), and a ceertain number are of the formless realm
(aruupaavacara); a certain number are included (pariyaapanna), a certain number
are not included (apariyaapanna); a certain number are mundane (lokika), a
certain number are supramundane (lokuttara).

"I have analysed these things in detail and taught the Abhidhamma-pi.taka,
which is adorned by the Mahaapa.t.thaana with its countless methods and
its twenty-fourfold complete origin (samantapa.t.thaana). All of that,
the basket of the Abhidhamma, will perform the role of the Teacher for you
when I attain parinibbaana.

" Thus all of this has been told and discussed for forty-five years from my
enlightenment to my parinibbaana; three baskets, five Nikaayas, nine
branches (a"nga), eight-four thousand groups of dhamma: these are the
major divisions. Thus these eighty-four thousand groups of dhamma remain.
I alone attain parinibbaana, and now I alone advise and instruct. After I
have attained parinibbaana, these eighty-four thousand groups of dhamma,
will advise and instruct you.

"Thus giving many reasons, the Blessed One advised: 'It is your Teacher after I
am gone....' "

Aside from the point that the quote again supports the classical position regarding abhidhamma, it particularly leaves me wondering how much of the commentarial materials are in fact direct quotations of the Buddha, which apparently don't appear in the suttas, and why they were not included in the suttas but left in the commentaries...

Back to the topic, regarding the above mentioned divisions of the teachings into 3 pitakas, etc, apparently the same point is mentioned in the introductory chapter to every major commentary by Buddhaghosa (to each of the 4 nikayas and vinaya) where he traces the commentaries to originate at the first council based on the Sinhala materials available to him at the time (one particular that I can confirm is from Bahiranidana - introductory chapter to vinaya commentary, Samantapasadika, where the same thing is said about the 3 pitakas, 5 nikayas, 9 angas and 84 thousand groups of dhamma). Anyway, didn't want to bother you all with these, as many of you probably wouldn't be interested in what Buddhaghosa had to say, but the above one seemed ineresting enough, apparently being the Buddha's words.

Best wishes

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Re: what is difference between suttas and Abhidamma

Postby alan » Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:26 am

Lots of monks analyzing ideas to death instead of putting them into practice.

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Re: what is difference between suttas and Abhidamma

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jul 27, 2011 4:25 am

alan wrote:Lots of monks analyzing ideas to death instead of putting them into practice.
Not necessarily. Do you know that the authors of the Abhidhamma Pitaka texts did not use these texts, or did not intend these text, to be put into practice?
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: what is difference between suttas and Abhidamma

Postby alan » Wed Jul 27, 2011 4:35 am

Not sure what you mean. Your response is kind of slippery.

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Re: what is difference between suttas and Abhidamma

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jul 27, 2011 4:41 am

alan wrote:Not sure what you mean. Your response is kind of slippery.
You are seemingly dismissing the Abhidhamma as "Lots of monks analyzing ideas to death instead of putting them into practice" and I am asking, in turn, you how do you know that is the case, particularly in relation to the Abhidhamma Pitaka texts.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: what is difference between suttas and Abhidamma

Postby alan » Wed Jul 27, 2011 4:49 am

Are you on the prowl? I'm not going to get caught up in that.

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Re: what is difference between suttas and Abhidamma

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jul 27, 2011 5:57 am

alan wrote:Are you on the prowl? I'm not going to get caught up in that.
It is a reasonable question in response to what is obviously a negative statement by you: "Lots of monks analyzing ideas to death instead of putting them into practice". Your choice to respond to it or not, but if you do not want the question, don't make the statement (if you are unable or unwilling to back it up).
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: what is difference between suttas and Abhidamma

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:19 am

cooran wrote:Hey guys,

This is the Classical Mahavihara Theravada - Abhidhamma sub-forum. Not the Dhamma-free-for-all section.

Alan, if you want to debate the third Pitaka of the Buddhist Canon, please go to this thread:

The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=2169

with metta
Chris
I am not debating. I am asking for clarification of a statement that seemed inappropriate to this section.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: what is difference between suttas and Abhidamma

Postby Sylvester » Thu Jul 28, 2011 6:23 am

tiltbillings wrote:
alan wrote:Lots of monks analyzing ideas to death instead of putting them into practice.
Not necessarily. Do you know that the authors of the Abhidhamma Pitaka texts did not use these texts, or did not intend these text, to be put into practice?



Ahh, might that be the "apologetics" offered in terms of the rationale for the Abhidhammic bifurcation of its method into synthesis and analysis, and the intended audiences of each method?


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