Ven. Vimalaramsi on the Abhidhamma & the Visuddhi Magga

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Re: Ven. Vimalaramsi on the Abhidhamma & the Visuddhi Magga

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:18 pm

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:without suggesting that they are the only ones to have figured it out...

Actually there's part of the talk, seemingly not transcribed in Tilt's notes where he says that others are now teaching a sutta-only approach as well, though he doesn't give names.

Yes, he says that after he (Bhante V.) explained the correct point of view some Bhikkhus started teaching his way. No mention of the Bhikkhus (such as those quoted by Geoff), who obviously didn't learn their stuff from Bhante V.

I've no problem with :
(a) People having a Sutta only approach.
(b) Teaching their particular take on meditation based on their interpretation of the Suttas and their experience.

As has been stated here, there are many, many, teaching that way.

What I find curious is the need to imply that everyone else got it horribly wrong and practitioners have been wasting their time on wrong paths, from Bhuddhaghossa's time (or before) to when Bhante V. figured it out all by himself.

Does anyone who has spent any time with real teachers seriously believe that they are all that confused?

:anjali:
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Re: Ven. Vimalaramsi on the Abhidhamma & the Visuddhi Magga

Postby adeh » Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:19 pm

The antagonism I'm talking about comes from just after the time he translated the commentaries into Pali and from what I've been told it's something that persists to this day. And I doubt that Sinhalese Buddhism is founded upon the Ven. Buddhaghosa as what he actually did was translate commentaries already in existence into Pali. He didn't 'write' the commentaries.
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Re: Ven. Vimalaramsi on the Abhidhamma & the Visuddhi Magga

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:34 pm

Hi Alexi,
Alexei wrote:Bhikkhu Bodhi's middle way seems to be most healthy approach:

    To be brief, I would say there are two extreme attitudes one could take to the commentaries. One, often adopted by orthodox Theravadins, is to regard them as being absolutely authoritative almost on a par with the suttas. The other is to disregard them completely and claim they represent “a different take on the Dhamma.” I find that a prudent middle ground is to consult the commentaries and use them, but without clinging to them. Their interpretations are often illuminating, but we should also recognize that they represent a specific systematization of the early teaching. They are by no means necessitated by the early teaching, and on some points even seem to be in tension with it.

    http://www.inquiringmind.com/Articles/Translator.html

Thanks for that. What I find puzzling is the idea that the opinions and analysis of one or two particular modern day Bhikkhus must necessarily be superior to the recorded opinions of a number of a number of presumably well-practised ancient monks. As I've said before, I tend to read the Commentaries and Visuddhimagga as snippets of Dhamma talks by those ancient Bhikkhus.

So I treat them in a similar way to modern talks: Some are useful to me at this time, some are not.

:anjali:
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Re: Ven. Vimalaramsi on the Abhidhamma & the Visuddhi Magga

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:47 pm

kirk5a wrote:Thanks for taking a closer look at that Tilt. I'm more interested in his interpretation of the jhanas than anything. I take that to be his primary point in criticising Buddhaghosa - that one-pointed concentration to the level of total "absorption" is not what the jhanas are about. What do you think about that point?
If one wants to criticize the Visuddhimagga's take on the Jhanas, this certainly can be and has been done without attacking the author on a personal basis, essentially stating that he was too stupid to know to know the difference between Brahmanical stuff and Buddhist stuff, which also implies that Sri Lankan monks who employed Buddhaghosa were too stupid to know the difference. Basically, Vimalaramsi approach is via an extended ad hominem. There has been an number of extended discussions in this forum that look at the issue of jhana in the suttas vs the jhanas in the Visuddhimagga from a carefully done textual manner, from which one can actually learn something. What one learns from Vimalaramsi is that Vimalaramsi is willing to twist source material to meet his needs.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Ven. Vimalaramsi on the Abhidhamma & the Visuddhi Magga

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:54 pm

mikenz66 wrote:What I find curious is the need to imply that everyone else got it horribly wrong and practitioners have been wasting their time on wrong paths, from Bhuddhaghossa's time (or before) to when Bhante V. figured it out all by himself.

Does anyone who has spent any time with real teachers seriously believe that they are all that confused?
You look at his website's accountiong of his background and tons of teachers are mentioned. From what he said and from how he said it in this talk, they are indeed confused and this guy among all of them is the only one to really get it right.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Ven. Vimalaramsi on the Abhidhamma & the Visuddhi Magga

Postby legolas » Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:01 pm

adeh wrote:The antagonism I'm talking about comes from just after the time he translated the commentaries into Pali and from what I've been told it's something that persists to this day. And I doubt that Sinhalese Buddhism is founded upon the Ven. Buddhaghosa as what he actually did was translate commentaries already in existence into Pali. He didn't 'write' the commentaries.


Am I right in understanding that the Visuddhi Maga gained new life when it was translated into English? Either way it is amazing that a form of Buddhism that is founded upon a translation of a translation of a translation of a commentary of a commentary etc. of a set of teachings that did not exist until centuries after the Buddha's Parinibbana can hold such sway. Mahayana is often ridiculed for introducing teachings that have little to do with sutta teachings and giving outlandish provenance for them. Perhaps Buddhaghosa was a terton and the Visuddhi Maga is a Tibetan terma. I have no problem with commentaries or other works based on the suttas. I read them all the time, but these "commentaries" by modern monks do not try and claim the authenticity of Buddha's word. They are written to explain Buddhism according to that monk, no infallibility is claimed and the reader is left to decide for themselves if the "commentary" is in line with the suttas. I think it is the fact that Abhidhamma and the Visuddhi Magga is either portrayed as the Buddha's teachings or they are portrayed as what the Buddha really meant to say that I find disturbing.
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Re: Ven. Vimalaramsi on the Abhidhamma & the Visuddhi Magga

Postby cooran » Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:07 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
kirk5a wrote:Thanks for taking a closer look at that Tilt. I'm more interested in his interpretation of the jhanas than anything. I take that to be his primary point in criticising Buddhaghosa - that one-pointed concentration to the level of total "absorption" is not what the jhanas are about. What do you think about that point?
If one wants to criticize the Visuddhimagga's take on the Jhanas, this certainly can be and has been done without attacking the author on a personal basis, essentially stating that he was too stupid to know to know the difference between Brahmanical stuff and Buddhist stuff, which also implies that Sri Lankan monks who employed Buddhaghosa were too stupid to know the difference. Basically, Vimalaramsi approach is via an extended ad hominem. There has been an number of extended discussions in this forum that look at the issue of jhana in the suttas vs the jhanas in the Visuddhimagga from a carefully done textual manner, from which one can actually learn something. What one learns from Vimalaramsi is that Vimalaramsi is willing to twist source material to meet his needs.


He used to frequent the yahoo discussion groups, up until about 2005, with the same ''view'':
http://dir.groups.yahoo.com/group/Tripl ... ssage/5911

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Re: Ven. Vimalaramsi on the Abhidhamma & the Visuddhi Magga

Postby pulga » Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:16 pm

adeh wrote:The antagonism I'm talking about comes from just after the time he translated the commentaries into Pali and from what I've been told it's something that persists to this day. And I doubt that Sinhalese Buddhism is founded upon the Ven. Buddhaghosa as what he actually did was translate commentaries already in existence into Pali. He didn't 'write' the commentaries.


I wouldn't say that the Ven. Buddhaghosa merely translated the earlier Sinhala commentaries. He wrote the Visuddhimagga as well as commentaries based closely upon the Sinhala traditional exegesis that existed on the island upon his arrival.

But you are correct: it is more accurate to say that Sinhala Buddhism is ultimately founded upon the Sinhala tradition that preceded Buddhaghosa. I still very much doubt, however, that there is a tradition of animosity towards Buddhaghosa within Sinhala society, especially amongst the nationalists.
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Re: Ven. Vimalaramsi on the Abhidhamma & the Visuddhi Magga

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:23 pm

legolas wrote:
adeh wrote:The antagonism I'm talking about comes from just after the time he translated the commentaries into Pali and from what I've been told it's something that persists to this day. And I doubt that Sinhalese Buddhism is founded upon the Ven. Buddhaghosa as what he actually did was translate commentaries already in existence into Pali. He didn't 'write' the commentaries.


Am I right in understanding that the Visuddhi Maga gained new life when it was translated into English?
Probably not.

Either way it is amazing that a form of Buddhism that is founded upon a translation of a translation of a translation of a commentary of a commentary etc. of a set of teachings that did not exist until centuries after the Buddha's Parinibbana can hold such sway.
It is interesting that you are willing to be critical of something about which you know nothing. While the question of how innovative Buddhaghosa was in the Visuddhimagga is a question worth asking, it also important to note that he was working for the Mahavihara which was anything but innovative, resisting, among other things, the Mahayana influences that were affecting other Buddhist groups in Sri Lanka. If anything Buddhaghosa was quite conservative.

Mahayana is often ridiculed for introducing teachings that have little to do with sutta teachings and giving outlandish provenance for them. Perhaps Buddhaghosa was a terton and the Visuddhi Maga is a Tibetan terma.
Cute and in keeping with Vimalaramsi's style of scholarship, but carries no weight.

I have no problem with commentaries or other works based on the suttas. I read them all the time, but these "commentaries" by modern monks do not try and claim the authenticity of Buddha's word. They are written to explain Buddhism according to that monk, no infallibility is claimed and the reader is left to decide for themselves if the "commentary" is in line with the suttas. I think it is the fact that Abhidhamma and the Visuddhi Magga is either portrayed as the Buddha's teachings or they are portrayed as what the Buddha really meant to say that I find disturbing.
Buddhaghosa's commpendium does not claim to be Buddha-word, and he did not claim to be inflallible.
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: Ven. Vimalaramsi on the Abhidhamma & the Visuddhi Magga

Postby Adrien » Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:50 pm

Thanks for your analysis (page 3) tiltbillings, it was helpfull for me to have a better look at the situation.
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Re: Ven. Vimalaramsi on the Abhidhamma & the Visuddhi Magga

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:00 pm

Adrien wrote:Thanks for your analysis (page 3) tiltbillings, it was helpfull for me to have a better look at the situation.
You are welcome. It is one thing to state: here is what the VM says, here is what the suttas say and here is why I think the VM is wrong based upon the suttas, but it is another thing - not really meaningful at at all - to say that the VM is wrong because Buddhaghosa was too stupid to not know the difference between Hindu and Buddhist meditation, wbich is why I find Vimalaramsi's approach appalling.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Ven. Vimalaramsi on the Abhidhamma & the Visuddhi Magga

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:00 pm

Alexei wrote:Bhikkhu Bodhi's middle way seems to be most healthy approach:

    To be brief, I would say there are two extreme attitudes one could take to the commentaries. One, often adopted by orthodox Theravadins, is to regard them as being absolutely authoritative almost on a par with the suttas. The other is to disregard them completely and claim they represent “a different take on the Dhamma.” I find that a prudent middle ground is to consult the commentaries and use them, but without clinging to them. Their interpretations are often illuminating, but we should also recognize that they represent a specific systematization of the early teaching. They are by no means necessitated by the early teaching, and on some points even seem to be in tension with it.

    http://www.inquiringmind.com/Articles/Translator.html


:thumbsup: Bhikkhu Bodhi is cool.

Bhante Punnaji takes a similar middle way position and not as rejecting as perhaps Bhante V. makes it sound at his website.
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Re: Ven. Vimalaramsi on the Abhidhamma & the Visuddhi Magga

Postby Adrien » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:28 pm

Similarly, Nanananda wrote in "Con­cept and Real­ity in Early Bud­dhist Thought" :

It is feared that the nov­elty of some of our inter­pre­ta­tions will draw two types of extreme reac­tion. One the one hand, it might give rise to a total antipa­thy towards the crit­i­cal analy­sis of doc­tri­nal points as attempted here. On the other, it might engen­der an unrea­son­able dis­trust lead­ing to a sweep­ing con­dem­na­tion of the com­men­taries as a whole. This work has failed in its pur­pose if its crit­i­cal scrutiny of the occa­sional short­com­ings in the com­men­tar­ial lit­er­a­ture makes any­one for­get his indebt­ed­ness to the com­men­taries for his knowl­edge of the Dhamma.
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Re: Ven. Vimalaramsi on the Abhidhamma & the Visuddhi Magga

Postby alan » Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:43 am

Hi tilt. Thanks for your perspective.
Did V. actually say that B. was too stupid to know the difference between Hindu and Buddhist meditation? What is what is the difference, and why is it relevant?

What Mahayana influence was existing in Sri Lanka at that time?
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Re: Ven. Vimalaramsi on the Abhidhamma & the Visuddhi Magga

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:51 am

alan wrote:Hi tilt. Thanks for your perspective.
Did V. actually say that B. was too stupid to know the difference between Hindu and Buddhist meditation? What is what is the difference, and why is it relevant?

Well, as I recall, he claims in the talk that Ven B. didn't know anything about Buddhist meditation, and that he only knew Brahmin meditation. Of course, he gives no evidence for that assertion...


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Re: Ven. Vimalaramsi on the Abhidhamma & the Visuddhi Magga

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:49 am

alan wrote:Hi tilt. Thanks for your perspective.
Did V. actually say that B. was too stupid to know the difference between Hindu and Buddhist meditation? What is what is the difference, and why is it relevant?
Vimalaramsi: "He was a not a meditator; he did not know what the Buddha taught as far as meditation, but he did know what the Vedas said about meditation, and to him meditation was meditation, right? He did not know what the Buddha said, he knew what the Vedas said, so he put what the Vedas said in this book." Buddhaghosa was essentially commissioned by the Mahavihara to translate the commentaries into Pali, but to suggest, as Vimalaramsi did, that he did not know the difference between "Vedic meditation" and what the Buddha taught, is not a picture of an intelligent man.


What Mahayana influence was existing in Sri Lanka at that time?
That you will have to research on your own, not having access to my library at this time.
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: Ven. Vimalaramsi on the Abhidhamma & the Visuddhi Magga

Postby cooran » Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:12 am

Hello all,

This may be of interest:

23. Buddhaghosa Thera and the Compilation of the Pali Commentaries
The compilation of the Pali Atthakathaa (commentaries) by Buddhaghosa Thera is another important event in the annals of Sri Lanka, which marks the progress of Buddhism. As has already been stated, the Pitakas or the teachings of the Buddha which were being handed down orally were committed to writing in 397 b.e. (89 BCE) and the commentaries on these, composed in Sinhalese, were also committed to writing at this time. Since this period much by way of exegetical works in Sinhalese was added from time to time and during the next five hundred years literary activity progressed considerably. By about 896 b.e. (410 a.c.), when King Mahaanaama reigned at Anuraadhapura, the fame of Buddhist literature in Sri Lanka was well recognized throughout India and tradition mentions Sinhalese Buddhist monks visiting India, China and other countries and introducing the literature produced in Sri Lanka. Monks from India and China also visited Anuraadhapura during this time to procure Buddhist books.

It was about this time that Buddhaghosa Thera came to Sri Lanka in the reign of King Mahaanaama (410-432). Mahaanaama succeeded to the throne 79 years after the death of King Sirimeghavanna, during whose reign the Sacred Tooth Relic was brought to Sri Lanka, and three rulers, namely Jetthatissa II, Buddhadaasa and Upatissa I, reigned in between. The story of Buddhaghosa is given in detail both in the Mahaava.msa and the Sinhalese works composed in later times. According to these sources Buddhaghosa was a brahman youth who was born in the vicinity of Buddha Gayaa and became well known as an exponent of Veda and philosophy. He was such a proficient scholar that in his youth he was able to assert his knowledge among the great scholars of the time. He traveled from place to place, from one seat of learning to another, from one set of teachers to another, triumphantly asserting his knowledge and scholarship.

At a well-known Buddhist monastery at Tamluk, he met Revata Mahaathera, one well versed in the doctrines and philosophy of Buddhism. There he entered into discussions and found not a peer but one superior to him in knowledge and understanding. This made him join the Order of Buddhist monks as a pupil of Revata Mahaathera. At this vihaara he studied Buddhist philosophy diligently and produced a treatise on Buddhism, �aa.nodaya; he also planned to compose commentaries on the Abhidhamma and the suttas. His teacher at this stage advised him to go to Anuraadhapura before undertaking this work, as he said that in Lanka were preserved not only the Tipitaka, the teachings of the Buddha himself, but also the Sinhalese commentaries and various expositions of the teachings which were very valuable and of high repute.

Buddhaghosa Thera proceeded to Sri Lanka and stayed at the Mahaapadhaanaghara of the Mahaavihaara. He then asked the monks at Anuraadhapura for access to books for the compilation of commentaries. The learned theras at Anuraadhapura tested his knowledge and ability by setting him a thesis on which he compiled the well-known Visuddhimagga. They were so pleased with this work that he was given facilities for his projected work and books were placed at his disposal for the preparation of Pali commmentaries.

The old Sinhalese commentaries from which Buddhaghosa drew material for the compilation of his Pali commentaries are occasionally named in his works. The Mahaa (or Muula) Atthakathaa occupied the foremost position among them while the Mahaa-paccari Atthakathaa and the Kurundi Atthakathaa were also important. These three major works probably contained exegetical material on all the three Pitakas. Apart from these there were other works like the Sankhepatthakathaa, Vinayatthakathaa, Abhidhammatthakathaa and separate commentaries on the four agamas or Nikaayas, namely, the Diigha Nikaaya Atthakathaa, Majjhima Nikaaya Atthakathaa, Samyutta Nikaaya Atthakathaa, and the Anguttara Nikaaya Atthakathaa. References to numerous other sources like the Andhakatthakathaa, the acariyaa (or Teachers), and the Poraanaa (or Ancient Masters) are also found in Buddhaghosa's works.

Utilizing the copious material of these commentaries and other sources, which sometimes contained conflicting views and contradictory assertions, Buddhaghosa compiled his Pali commentaries including all authoritative decisions, sometimes giving his own views but leaving out unnecessary details and repetitions as well as irrelevant matter. The first of such commentaries was the Samantapaasaadikaa on the Vinaya Pitaka. The Kankhaavitaranii on the Paatimokkha of the Vinaya Pitaka was compiled later. These books were followed by the commentaries on the four Nikaayas, the Sumangalavilaasinii on the Diigha Nikaaya, the Papañca-suudanii on the Majjhima Nikaaya, the Saaratthappakaasinii on the Samyutta Nikaaya, and the Manorathapuura.nii on the Anguttara Nikaaya. The Dhammapadaññhakathaa on the Dhammapada, the Jaatakaññhakathaa on the Jaataka, and the Paramatthajotikaa on the Khuddaka Nikaaya, are also ascribed to him. On the books of the Abhidhamma Pitaka, Buddhaghosa compiled the Aññhasaalinii on the Dhammasanganii, the Sammohavinodanii on the Vibhanga, and the Pañcappakara.naññhakathaa on the other five books.

The voluminous literature which Buddhaghosa produced exists to this day and is the basis for the explanation of many crucial points of Buddhist philosophy which without them would have been unintelligible. His commentaries become all the more important since the old Sinhalese commentaries gradually went out of vogue and were completely lost after the tenth century. Buddhaghosa's activities gave an impetus to the learning of Pali in Sri Lanka which resulted in the production of many other Pali commentaries and other literary works, and also established the pre-eminence of Sri Lanka as the home of Theravaada Buddhism.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ml#sect-23

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Re: Ven. Vimalaramsi on the Abhidhamma & the Visuddhi Magga

Postby cooran » Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:16 am

Hello all,

Some further information which may be useful:
Impact of Mahayana on Sri Lanka by Janaka Perera

When examining the influence of Mahayana Buddhism in Sri Lanka it would be appropriate to approach the topic from a human interest angle before moving into history, archaeology and the academic sphere. A glance at the role of Mahayana in contemporary Sri Lankan society, I believe, will be a guide to the impact of this school of Buddhism here.

A common practice among Sri Lanka’s Theravada Buddhist families is to give alms to the Sangha on the seventh day after the death of a near and dear one.

The Venerable Balangoda Dhammananda, Chief Incumbent of the Piyarathanarama Temple, Nedimala-Dehiwala, a suburb of Colombo, traces this practice of giving alms (a week after death) to the belief in gandhabba – a state of mind that exists between the death and rebirth of a being. When a person passes away it is hoped to transfer to him / her merit gained by giving alms to the Sangha on the seventh day after death. It is widely accepted that the idea of gandhabba spread in Sri Lanka via Mahayana sects that emerged during the Anuradhapura period of Sri Lanka’s history.

In Theravada there is no gandhabba. Instead rebirth (or re-becoming) occurs at the instant death strikes. Depending on his / her karma the person may be reborn a human, an animal or a spirit (a formless being). So an almsgiving to the Sangha in his / her memory after seven days serves no purpose if the departed is reborn into a state where merit could not be transferred (like being born a human or animal) according to Theravada. It becomes meaningful only if the deceased is reborn in the spirit world.

“Nevertheless” the practice of the seventh day alms giving is now in the “blood of our Buddhists,” says the Venerable Dhammananda.

A most notable feature of Mahayana influence here was the Bodhisatva concept. King Sirisangabo (A.D.251-253) was such a strong believer in it that he gave up his throne rather than give orders to kill people when a relative, Prince Gotabhaya led a rebellion to seize power. After the practice of worshipping Bodisatvas began in Sri Lanka, many a Bodhisatva statue came up in different parts of the island. The most well-known of these is Kushtaraja in Weligama. According to Historian, G.C. Mendis, the deity Natha worshipped by Sri Lankan Buddhists is Bodhisatva Avalokiteshwara or Lokeshwara Natha (Ceylon History1961). A number of local Buddhist temples have within their premises shrines built for this deity.

Mahayana influence began to take hold on Sri Lanka around the seventh Century and reached its zenith during the rule of King Mahasen (A.D. 276-303). By the 7th and 8thCenturies the centres of Mahayana practices were the Abhayagiri and Jethawana monasteries (which also includes the country’s largest stupa) complexes in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka’s ancient capital.

When the Chinese itinerant monk the Ven. Fa-hsien (A.D. 412-414) arrived in Sri Lanka, Abhayagiri was enjoying a very prosperous period. Sanskrit works such as Deerghagama, Sanyuktagama, Samyukta Sanchayapitaka and the Vinaya Pitaka based on the Mahinsasaka tradition, which he took to China, are believed to have been obtained from Abhayagiri.

Mahayana beliefs, especially the Saddharmapundarika sutra was known in ancient Sri Lanka as Vitulyawada, according to the Venerable Aththudawe Rahula, Ven. Bambarende Pannaloka and Bambarende Mahanama (BuddhistCivilization 1980).

Sanskrit studies received a major boost as a result of the spread of Mahayana in the island. Stone inscriptions on Buddhist beliefs and practices written in Sanskrit have been found in Anuradhapura. An eighth century stone inscription clearly proves that the occupants of Abhayagiri monastery knew Sanskrit well (Ceylon History by G.C. Mendis).

Dr. Nandasena Mudiyanse was the first to do a detailed study of Mahayana in Sri Lanka (Mahayana Monuments in Sri Lanka, Colombo 1967), according to Dr. Hema Goonatilake who covered Mahayana influence in Sri Lanka (The Impact ofMahayana on Sinhalese Buddhism), for her unpublished PhD thesis (London1974).

There, Dr. Goonatilake notes that Sri Lanka was a centre of non-orthodox teachings from an early period. Fa-hsien had recorded that 5,000 monks were in the Abhayagiri while 3,000 in Mahavihara, the centre of Theravada (Hinayana) Buddhism.

The Abhayagiri stupa was 470 ft in height. The Tooth Relic festival was held at Abhayagiri once year when the relic was brought there once a year for public exhibition. The Vetulla (Vaitulya) school was the most well known Mahayana Sect at the time. King Silakala (518-531) was a samanera at Bodh Gaya monastery during the time Mahayana was gaining ground in India and was a follower of Mahayana. He believed in Dhammadhatu, a treatise on Trikaya (practice of enshrining scriptures of the Trikaya concept) as the true doctrine and supported the Jetavana Vihara.

Chinese sources have revealed that Mahayanism was strongly entrenched in Sri Lanka. Inscriptions depicting aspiration for Buddhahood-invocations to Bodhisattvas (e.g. Tiriyaya inscription of the7th Century) confirm this. Trikaya doctrine was popular in 8th Century (e.g. Trikayastava inscription of Mahintale). Pragnaparamita sutra was found at Indikatuseya, Mihintale. By 9th & 10th Centuries Abhayagiri Vihara complex covered an area of 300 acres. (R.A.L.H Gunawardana).

Among the ruins seen at the Abhayagiri monastery complex is the Mahayana Stupa – situated to the West of Elephant pond (Eth Pokuna). A lead scroll found there with Mahayana mantras written on it caused the structure to be called Mahayana Stupa (Abhayagiri Vihara at Anuradhapura by Professor T.G.

Kulatunga – Central Cultural Fund)

By 8th Century, Sri Lanka was a centre of Tantrism or Thanthrayana. The most Influential of the three patriarchs who propagated this sect in China was Amaghavajra. He translated a large number of texts into Chinese and was popular with the Imperial Family and also performed the abhiseka (coronation) of the Emperor. Amghavajra was born in ‘Simhala’ (Land of the Lions) as Sri Lanka was known in China then. In AD 705 he became a pupil of Vajrabodhi in Yavadvipa (in Java or in South India) and went with him to China. Later he arrived in Sri Lanka with a message from the Chinese Emperor & and accorded royal reception by the then King of Sri Lanka, ilamegha (Aggabodhi VI A.D.733-772). He was highly venerated by the royal family - the king bathed Amoghavajra every day with scented water (Pachow, Ancient Cultural RelationsBetween Ceylon & China, UHC, Vol XI. No. 3 & 4, Encyclopaedia of Buddhism).

Acharya Samantabhadra was a well known Tantrist in Sri Lanka at the time. Amoghavajra with his two Chinese disciples received further training from him for two years in Tantric practices such as two mandalas (Garbhadhatu & Vajradhatu), abhisecani, dharani, mudra etc. Amoghavajra collected 100,000 slokas of Vajrasekharayogasutras, 500,000 slokas of mantras, sutras, satras of various schools Yuan-chao’s Sung-kao-seng-chuan), more than 500 sutras and commentaries (Taisho Tripitaka). After returning to China, at Emperor’s request, he translated Sanskrit works into Chinese and intiated thousands of pupils for 40 years.

Amoghavajra’s Malayan teacher Vajrabodhi who studied in Nalanda University too visited Sri Lanka, stayed for half a year in Abhayagiri, went in pilgrimage to Sripada, visited Ruhuna and converted the king (Silamegha) to Mahayana.

An 8th Century inscription recording the establishment of an “Abhayagiri Vihara of Sinhalese ascetics” was found in Ratubaka plateau in central Java. Casparis Identified Buddhism at Ratbaka as Mahayana. (‘New evidence on cultural relations between Java and Ceylon’, Artibus Asiae, 24, 1961, pp. 241-248)

An ascetic of the Vajraparvata nikaya in India, also known as Vajiriyavada came to Sri Lanka in the 9th century and resided at Abhayagiri, according to the Nikayasangrahaya.

Most of the Tantra texts attributed to this sect have been in Tibetan and Chinese translations, e.g. Mayajalatantra, Samajatantra, Tattvasangrahatantra, Vajramrutatantra, Cakrasamvaratantra, Dvadasacakratantra, Mahamayatantra, Catuspitahatantra, Sarvabuddhatantra, Samuccayatantra etc. It has been established that Vajiriyavada that was introduced to Sri Lanka was Vajrayana.

By the 10th Century, pillars of a temple within the precincts of the Thuparama Were identified as tridents (vajra), similar to the dorja or thunderbolt of Tibet which is usually held by Mahayana Bodhisattvas (A.M. Hocart, ‘Archaeological Summary).

By the 12th Century, Tantrism became a living force when Parakramabahu I built a dharanighara for the recitation of magic incantations – where Tantrists recited dharanis.

Nalanda Gedige (8h Century) was an image house where Tantric rituals were performed. Tantrimalai (Tantra Hill) (PE.E. Fernando).

The Ven. Rangama Chandawimala of the University of Hong Kong studied for his Ph.D thesis primary literary sources on Tantric practices that were available in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s former Archaeology Commissioner Dr. Raja De Silva in his scholarly assessment of Sri Lanka’s World Heritage site Sigiriya states that King Kassapa I (478-496) who figures prominently in the history of the famous rock was a follower of Abhayagiri monks. Dr. De Silva believes that available evidence reveals a strong possibility that the site was a Mahayana monastery. According to him that the well-known Sigiriya frescoes which were iconised depict Tara – the consort of the Bodhisatva Avalokiteshwara (Sigiriya and its Significance /Digging into the Past)

There were however periodic conflicts between the bhikkus of Abhayagri and Jethawana on the one side and those of Maha Vihara on the other. The latter Considered themselves the guardians of Orthodox Pali Buddhism (Theravada or Hinyana) At times books were burnt causing great losses.

Many rituals among Sri Lankan Buddhists are rooted in Mahayana. Works such as Nikayasangrahaya, Buthsarana, Daham Sarana and Sanga Sarana have been attributed to its impact on Sri Lankan society. Mahayana also popularised the chanting of sutras (pirith or parithha) and all forms of Buddhist rituals as well as contributed greatly to the development of art forms.

Fourteen years ago a young Sri Lankan researcher H.M. Moratuwegama began observing similarities in the Zen art of story-telling and the art of story telling in certain Theravada scriptures and commentaries. These he included in a book in Sinhala titled Buddhankura (Seeding of Buddhahood)

Some of the gardens of Zen temples such as Japan’s Ryoangi Temple bear a Striking similarity to the well-swept sandy floors of Sri Lankan temple gardens.

In conclusion let us recall the words of the late Venerable Professor Walpola Rahula at a seminar organized by the Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies in 1994. There he told the participants that the differences between Mahayana and Theravada have been over emphasized by Western writers.
http://www.buddhistdoor.com/journal/iss ... tion3.html

with metta
Chris
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Re: Ven. Vimalaramsi on the Abhidhamma & the Visuddhi Magga

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:20 am

Thanks for the info.
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: Ven. Vimalaramsi on the Abhidhamma & the Visuddhi Magga

Postby mirco » Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:08 pm

adeh wrote:It's interesting to take into account that Bhante Vimalaramsi's Abhidhamma teacher-and preceptor I think, but don't quote me on that-was the Ven. Sayadaw Silananda, a well known Bhikkhu who had a problem with his blood pressure and only recently passed away in 2005. The centre of his teaching was actually the Visuddhimagga, and he gave many courses and discourses based on the same. I have been told that every time Ven. Vimalaramsi turned up and started explaining his theories about Buddhaghosa, the Venerable Sayadaws blood pressure went through the roof.

Hi,

yes, and after giving him his book the first time to review it, the Venerable Silananda said that everything is completely right with his method. So the Venerable Vimalaramsi asked, why he doesn't teach that to his students. The reply was, that he has been teaching such long time his way, the incorrect way, that he won't change anymore. That was all. ^^

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