Paramatha Dhammas

Discussion of Abhidhamma and related Commentaries

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Paramatha Dhammas

Postby Myotai » Mon Mar 03, 2014 8:52 am

Hi,

I have the Madhyamika Prasangika as my philosophical backgraound before coming to the Theravada. Can someone explain how the Para are seen as 'ultimate' Paramatha Dhammas are seen as 'Ultimate' realities?

My understanding is that Emptiness is the ultimate nature of ALL phenomena and that as the Paramatha Dhammas are also conditioned phenomena and dependent related that they too are 'empty' rather than ultimate.

If I sound confused about this comparison its because I am :thinking:

Kind regards,

M...
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Re: Paramatha Dhammas

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Mar 03, 2014 9:25 am

Welcome Myotai,

The Theravada document that summarises the later developments of the Abhidhamma approach is the Abhidhammatthasangaha. A translation and commentary:
Bhikkhu Bodhi's A Comprehensive Manual of the Abhidhamma: The Abhidhammatthasangaha of Acariya Anuruddha, Buddhist Publication Society
is available as a book, and on-line:
http://store.pariyatti.org/Comprehensiv ... _4362.html
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=hxo ... ma&f=false

Certainly the paramattha dhammas (apart from Nibbana) are conditioned and empty according to Theravada. The translation "ultimate reality" may be a misleading expression, in my view. Perhaps "irreducible components of experience" would be better, but it's a bit of a mouthful...

Here is a discussion that you might find useful:
viewtopic.php?f=18&t=16650

:anjali:
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Re: Paramatha Dhammas

Postby Myotai » Mon Mar 03, 2014 9:50 am

Thanks Mike,

My rationale for asking is due to me mind still being hugely influenced by Nargajuna and the classical Tibetan teachings on Emptiness but my heart now lies in the Theravadin style of practice....its like being in love with two women, both equally attractive HAHA!

:tongue:
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Re: Paramatha Dhammas

Postby SarathW » Mon Mar 03, 2014 10:08 am

Hi This may some help:

What is the menaing of Paramatha?
viewtopic.php?f=18&t=19361
:)
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Re: Paramatha Dhammas

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Mar 03, 2014 10:13 pm

Greetings Myotai,

With all respect to both you and the Abhidhamma, if you're "still being hugely influenced by Nargajuna and the classical Tibetan teachings on Emptiness" (and there's nothing wrong with that), I think you're much more likely to satisfaction and benefit within the Sutta Pitaka and the teachings of those such as venerable Nanananda, as compared to the Abhidhamma schema and its associated commentaries. The reason for this is because even regarding paramattha dhammas as "irreducible components of experience" will probably be insufficient for you, as there is nothing inherently irreducible or atomic about dhammas and superimposing irreducibility is to introduce bracketing/framing upon experience that does not acknowledge the true emptiness of all dhammas.

Whether the Abhidhamma (at either a canonic and commentarial level) recognises the full emptiness of dhammas is a subject of debate, and you'll find such debates played out here at this forum from time to time.

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: Paramatha Dhammas

Postby Myotai » Tue Mar 04, 2014 4:56 pm

Hi Retro,

Why would it not be accepted? I have yet to see a viable refutation of Emptiness as described by Nargajuna.
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Re: Paramatha Dhammas

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:41 pm

Greetings,

Myotai wrote:Why would it not be accepted? I have yet to see a viable refutation of Emptiness as described by Nargajuna.

I think you're a bit confused by what I wrote. I didn't say Nagarjuna's description on emptiness would not be accepted... I'm saying that taking dhammas as irreducible (atomic) would not accord with emptiness as described by Nagarjuna, and would therefore be unacceptable to him (and therefore to you, if you are an adherent).

I recommend reading the postings by Nyana in the topic that Mike provided you a link with...

Nyana wrote:
Nyana wrote:The Pāli Abhidhammapiṭaka is compatible with the Madhyamaka view of the ultimate. Of course, one needs to have a basic comprehension of Madhyamaka in order to understand this.

Beautiful Breath wrote:I have a good grasp of the Prasangika school over the last 20 years or so. I'm really interested in know more re this. Do you have any links I may find out more?

What I said above requires differentiating between (1) the contents of the Pāli Abhidhammapiṭaka, and (2) the Pāli commentarial (Aṭṭhakathā) and sub-commentarial (Tīkā), etc., interpretations of the Abhidhammapiṭaka and the Suttapiṭaka. The vast majority of available resources and studies on the Abhidhamma don't make this differentiation. Therefore, to do so you would need to read the Abhidhammapiṭaka texts themselves and form your own conclusions.

The Abhidhammapiṭaka texts don't explicitly make statements that entail metaphysical realism. The Abhidhammapiṭaka doesn't even refer to conditioned phenomena as paramattha dhammā or paramattha sabhāva. The former does occur once in the Kathāvatthu but it's hardly a ringing endorsement for how this notion of paramattha dhamma later came to be applied and interpreted.

However, the Pāli commentaries and other post-canonical treatises are closer to Vaibhāṣika tenets in many respects than even to Sautrāntika tenets (e.g. in the Visuddhimagga Buddhaghosa explicitly argues against nibbāna being just a designation). Therefore, one would be rather hard-pressed if attempting to reconcile this strata of post-canonical commentary with Madhyamaka.

As for English language translations, most of the seven Abhidhammapiṭaka texts have been translated and published by the Pali Text Society. I would recommend reading U Thiṭṭila's translation of the Vibhaṅga first, followed by U Kyaw Khine's translation of the Dhammasaṅganī (not published by PTS). These books are expensive, but if you have access to a library with an inter-library loan service you should be able to acquire copies that way.

The Book of Analysis, translated by Ven. U Thiṭṭila.

The Dhammasaṅganī: Enumeration of the Ultimate Realities, translated by U Kyaw Khine (Volume 2).

To begin to get some idea of what the Pāli Abhidhammapiṭaka is like, here is the Satipaṭṭhānavibhaṅga from the Vibhaṅga, translated by Ven. Ānandajoti.

If you can read Pāli, the entire Tipiṭaka in Roman script is available online here: http://www.tipitaka.org/romn/. Other scripts here: http://tipitaka.org/.

:buddha1:

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


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