The Personalists.

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.

The Personalists.

Postby vinasp » Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:22 pm

Hi everyone,

"Personalism (Pudgalavada) was a remarkable and durable aspect of an
important part of early Buddhism. For more than ten centuries it was
taught and defended by several schools and had numerous followers but
was strongly criticised by other Buddhist schools."

From: The Literature of the Personalists of Early Buddhism by
Bhikshu Thich Thien Chau, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi 1999.

This thread is for discussion of the Personalist School and their
interpretation of SN 22.22 The Burden - from the Theravada standpoint
of course!

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Personalists.

Postby SamBodhi » Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:37 pm

I looked up SN 22.22 on accesstoinsight.com and Thanissaro Bhikkhu's note at the end of the page might be relevant.

...in MN 72, where he refuses to get involved in questions of whether a person has a live essence separate from or identical to his/her body, or of whether after death there is something of an arahant that exists or not. In other words, the questions aren't worth asking. Nothing is accomplished by assuming or denying an ultimate reality behind what we think of as a person. Instead, the strategy of the practice is to comprehend the burden that we each are carrying and to throw it off.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.022.than.html

with Metta,
pung S
"An inward-staying
unentangled knowing,
All outward-going knowing
cast aside."
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Re: The Personalists.

Postby cooran » Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:40 pm

Hello Vinasp, all,

This might be of interest:

Pudgalavāda Buddhist Philosophy
http://www.iep.utm.edu/pudgalav/

with metta
Chris
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Re: The Personalists.

Postby vinasp » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:15 am

Hi everyone,

A question for those who have more knowledge of non-Theravada schools
than I have.

Is the distinction between the five aggregates and the five aggregates of
clinging, found only in the Theravada teachings?

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Personalists.

Postby cooran » Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:36 am

Hello Vinasp, all,

This has already been discussed on Dhamma Wheel in this thread:
The 5 Aggregates and the 5 Clinging Aggregates
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=6867

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: The Personalists.

Postby vinasp » Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:49 pm

Hi everyone,

It seems that the traditional Theravada interpretation of the Buddha's use
of the term "person" (puggala) in SN 22.22, is that it was merely a lapse
into the use of conventional speech.

On the other hand, the Personalists taught that this puggala was neither
true in the ultimate sense nor just conventional speech. Also, that this
puggala was neither identical with, nor different from, the five aggregates.

The term "person" (puggala) is frequently used in the Sutta Pitaka, including
when refering to an arahant. I assume that all such references are understood
to be merely conventional speech, in line with the orthodox interpretation.

However, the Tathagata is not included in the eight noble persons.

Turning now to SN 22.22, I do not regard the use of the term "person" as a
problem, but I am puzzled by two things:

1. Why has there been so much debate over this discourse?

2. Why does the main text say that the burden is the five clinging
aggregates, while the verse at the end says that the burden is
the five aggregates?

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Personalists.

Postby daverupa » Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:00 pm

vinasp wrote: 2. Why does the main text say that the burden is the five clinging
aggregates, while the verse at the end says that the burden is
the five aggregates?


Probably metri causa, which is Latin for "for the sake of the meter" - in other words, the poem's format required a syllable count for which pancakkhandha fit, while pancupadanakkhandha did not.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: The Personalists.

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:21 pm

Excellent point, Dave, and it is worth bearing in mind for any suttas done in verse (such as in the entire Sutta Nipata and Dhammapada) that the words may have had to be manipulated a bit to get the metre correct. And that some translators "fancy themselves as poets" (as Ven Dhammanando sometimes said) and give rather less than literal translations. Translating verse is tough. Bhikkhu Bodhi comments in his SN translation that he left Volume I to the end, because he was afraid if he started there he'd give up...

:anjali:
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Re: The Personalists.

Postby vinasp » Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:16 pm

Hi Dave, Mike, All,

I am not sure what you are saying.

1. Are you saying that the main text is correct, but the verse is incorrect?

2. Are you saying that they are both correct?

From my reading to date, the Personalists always seem to quote the verse.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Personalists.

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:23 pm

vinasp wrote: However, the Tathagata is not included in the eight noble persons.

isn[t he?
I believe arahant is an epithet also!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: The Personalists.

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Feb 18, 2012 1:46 am

Greetings,

Cittasanto wrote:I believe arahant is an epithet also!

:thumbsup:

:buddha2:

Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa.

Vincent wrote:I am not sure what you are saying.

1. Are you saying that the main text is correct, but the verse is incorrect?

2. Are you saying that they are both correct?

It sounds more like the point being made is verse must juggle both meter/timing and Dhammic accuracy.

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 Personalists.

Postby Dan74 » Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:00 am

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

A question for those who have more knowledge of non-Theravada schools
than I have.

Is the distinction between the five aggregates and the five aggregates of
clinging, found only in the Theravada teachings?

Regards, Vincent.


I don't know if this answers your question (you are probably interested in other early schools), but in Mahayana (as far as I know) the emphasis is on the emptiness of the five aggregates, rather than on clinging. It amounts to much the same thing, if you ask me - insight that they are empty, ie insubstantial, changing, leads to the release of clinging, identification, reification, etc.


Heart Sutra wrote:"He Perceived That All Five Skandhas Are Empty.

"Thus He Overcame All Ills and Suffering."
_/|\_
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Re: The Personalists.

Postby vinasp » Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:49 am

Hi Dan74,

Thank you, that was very interesting. It is not a complete answer but was
most helpful.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Personalists.

Postby Virgo » Sat Feb 18, 2012 6:09 am

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

It seems that the traditional Theravada interpretation of the Buddha's use
of the term "person" (puggala) in SN 22.22, is that it was merely a lapse
into the use of conventional speech.

On the other hand, the Personalists taught that this puggala was neither
true in the ultimate sense nor just conventional speech. Also, that this
puggala was neither identical with, nor different from, the five aggregates.

The term "person" (puggala) is frequently used in the Sutta Pitaka, including
when refering to an arahant. I assume that all such references are understood
to be merely conventional speech, in line with the orthodox interpretation.


Theravadins would just write off the idea of a puggala which is not separate from but not different than the 5 aggregates as a mere concept, nothing other than mere concept, just like all other concepts. Nama and rupa arise, not-self, conditioned along by 24 paccaya (conditions). This would explain how the "puggala" goes from life to life and so on. However, the Puggalavadins, not following such an Abhidhamma scheme which is meant to explain such things while having a person keep right view, imo, felt the need to explain things away with this kind of proliferation that actually makes much less sense than the Theravada explanation does, imo. Past and future doesn't exist, so why the need to explain away realities that arose in the past or may arise in the future, just need to know those at this exact moment and the conditions that keep them arising again and again in a sequence.

Kevin
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Re: The Personalists.

Postby Zom » Mon Feb 20, 2012 7:30 am

1. Why has there been so much debate over this discourse?


Because this was a self-view (that is - Wrong View).
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Re: The Personalists.

Postby vinasp » Mon Feb 20, 2012 5:33 pm

Hi Zom,

Quote: "Because this was a self-view (that is - Wrong View).

I cannot really tell what you mean by this, it is too short a remark.

We all know that the arahant has eliminated the view of self, and yet he
is called a person, not just in this Sutta but elsewhere, for example the
eight noble persons. Why the debate about this Sutta?

If you mean that the Personalists regarded this "person" as a self, then I
would not agree with you. They applied the term to the arahant who has
eliminated the view of self, as we find also in the Sutta Pitaka.

The disputes between the Schools was over the meaning of the term puggala.

The puggala is closer to the conceit "I am" than to the "self".

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Personalists.

Postby ancientbuddhism » Tue Feb 21, 2012 7:50 pm

vinasp wrote:The puggala is closer to the conceit "I am" than to the "self".


The notion ‘I am’ (asmimāna) is synonymous with the viewpoint of self (attato samanupassati). Both refer to the presumption of a substantial support of the khandhas, and both point directly to the ontology of ātman in the Upaniṣads.
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another. – Townes Van Zandt ‘Lungs’

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: The Personalists.

Postby vinasp » Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:53 am

Hi ancientbuddhism,

And yet, there are some passages which say that view of self (sakkaya-ditthi)
is removed first, and the conceit "I am" only later.

See, for example, SN 22.89 - Khemaka.

Also the explanation of the "four pairs of persons" by reference to the
fetters which have been removed at each stage, although this is somewhat
later, as no such explanation is found in the Sutta Pitaka.

It could be that sakkaya-ditthi depends on the conceit "I am". So if this
conceit is removed, then so is sakkaya-ditthi. But it may be possible to
remove sakkaya-ditthi and yet still have the conceit "I am", which requires
further work to remove.

There may be a "middle strata" of discourses which assumes that the two
are removed together, and a "later strata" which sees their removal as
possible in two stages.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Personalists.

Postby ancientbuddhism » Thu Feb 23, 2012 2:33 pm

This was just added to our Early Buddhism resources shelf:

The Literature of the Personalists of Early Buddhism by Bhikshu Thích Thién Châu
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another. – Townes Van Zandt ‘Lungs’

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

A Handful of Leaves
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Re: The Personalists.

Postby vinasp » Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:36 pm

Hi ancientbuddhism,

While reading what Conze has to say about the Personalists, I found this
interesting remark:

"It was clearly a mistake of lesser minds to deny categorically
that the self exists. As the Personalists pointed out, it had
been said that 'to say that the self does not exist, in truth
and reality (satyatah sthititah), is a wrong view'". (33)

Note 33 reads: AK ix 270

AK is the Abhidharmakosa by Vasubandhu, [ 4th century C.E.]

[ Buddhist Thought in India, by Edward conze, London, 1983, page 130 ]

What do you make of this remark by Conze?

Do you know where the quotation comes from - is it from Nagarjuna perhaps?

Regards, Vincent.
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