Potthapada Sutta Vs Agganna Sutta

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Potthapada Sutta Vs Agganna Sutta

Postby C J » Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:12 am

Dear all,

I see some contradictions between Potthapada Sutta (DN 9) and Agganna Sutts(DN 27).
I need your help to understand it.

In Potthapada Sutta Buddha states that he had not expounded that the cosmos is eternal or not eternal. And the reason for not expounding as;
"Because they are not conducive to the goal, are not conducive to the Dhamma, are not basic to the holy life. They don't lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding. That's why I haven't expounded them."

But in Agganna Sutts Buddha expound about beginning or re-beginning of the world.
Why is it at this time this teaching is conducive to the goal, conducive to the Dhamma, and basic to the holy life. And lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding.

When asked about cosmos Buddha did not answer it stating that it is not conducive to the goal and Dhamma etc, but on a another incident he goes on to explain every detail of the re-beginning of the world.

What should I understand from this?


In Potthapada Sutta (DN 9);
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"
[Potthapada] Well then, lord, if — having other views, other practices, other satisfactions, other aims, other teachers — it's hard for me to know whether perception is a person's self or if perception is one thing and self another, then is it the case that the cosmos is eternal, that only this is true and anything otherwise is worthless?"

"Potthapada, I haven't expounded that the cosmos is eternal, that only this is true and anything otherwise is worthless."

"Then is it the case that the cosmos is not eternal, that only this is true and anything otherwise is worthless?"

"Potthapada, I haven't expounded that the cosmos is not eternal, that only this is true and anything otherwise is worthless."

"Then is it the case that the cosmos is finite... the cosmos is infinite... the soul & the body are the same... the soul is one thing and the body another... after death a Tathagata exists... after death a Tathagata does not exist... after death a Tathagata both exists & does not exist... after death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist, that only this is true and anything otherwise is worthless?"

"Potthapada, I haven't expounded that after death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist, that only this is true and anything otherwise is worthless."

"But why hasn't the Blessed One expounded these things?"

"Because they are not conducive to the goal, are not conducive to the Dhamma, are not basic to the holy life. They don't lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding. That's why I haven't expounded them."


Agganna Sutts(DN 27):
http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-con ... 7-piya.pdf

Thank You,
CJ
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Re: Potthapada Sutta Vs Agganna Sutts

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:47 am

You misunderstand; in the first sutta he is talking about the origin of the universe itself, as in all of existence, whereas in the second sutta he is talking about the beginning of a new world cycle; there have been infinite world cycles since the beginning of the cosmos. The Blessed One did not discuss the nature of the grand universe, but he did discuss how the world begins and ends in an infinite cycle inside that grand cosmos.

Does that make sense? The world is born and reborn and born and reborn again and again just like we are, but just like our minds, a beginning point is not worth looking for.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Potthapada Sutta Vs Agganna Sutts

Postby C J » Thu Nov 08, 2012 8:28 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:You misunderstand; in the first sutta he is talking about the origin of the universe itself, as in all of existence, whereas in the second sutta he is talking about the beginning of a new world cycle; there have been infinite world cycles since the beginning of the cosmos. The Blessed One did not discuss the nature of the grand universe, but he did discuss how the world begins and ends in an infinite cycle inside that grand cosmos.

Does that make sense? The world is born and reborn and born and reborn again and again just like we are, but just like our minds, a beginning point is not worth looking for.


I understand the fact that in first sutta, they talk about the origin of the universe and in second sutts they talk about new world cycles.
In-fact I had highlighted this same thing.
In Potthapada Sutta Buddha states that he had not expounded that the cosmos is eternal or not eternal.

But in Agganna Sutts Buddha expound about beginning or re-beginning of the world.


What I don't understand is when Buddha talk about the way world cycles end and begin, why he thinks talking about origin of the universe is pointless. If he talks about the way new world cycles work, why can't he just say if the cosmos is eternal or not eternal. I can't understand the big difference between talking about new world cycles and stating if universe is eternal or not eternal or whether universe also has cycles or not.

If Buddha describes the way world systems end and re begin, why can't he take one step further and describe the way cosmos works?

I like the way Buddha avoided the question about the cosmos stating that they are not conducive to the goal and Dhamma. I think he should had kept the same consent when he talked about the way world begins.
Agganna Sutts doesn't sound like Buddhas' teaching to me, that's my real concern.

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Thank you,
CJ
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Re: Potthapada Sutta Vs Agganna Sutts

Postby polarbuddha101 » Thu Nov 08, 2012 8:31 am

The first sutta is what the Buddha seriously thinks in my opinion and the second sutta is allegory. I think John Peacock thinks the Buddha is making jokes in the agganna sutta.
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Potthapada Sutta Vs Agganna Sutts

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Thu Nov 08, 2012 3:47 pm

C J wrote:What I don't understand is when Buddha talk about the way world cycles end and begin, why he thinks talking about origin of the universe is pointless. If he talks about the way new world cycles work, why can't he just say if the cosmos is eternal or not eternal. I can't understand the big difference between talking about new world cycles and stating if universe is eternal or not eternal or whether universe also has cycles or not.

Oh, I misunderstood! But that is a good question. My guess would be that the question of whether or not the cosmos is eternal is a metaphysical question that people of his day were bickering over and he didn't want to add fuel to the fire, so to speak, by giving his own opinion. He does that with a few other things as well, for the same reason.

The ending and beginning of a world system, however, is something that happens (relatively) often and affects people, so I think he had a good reason to at least explain it. No one encounters the beginning or non-beginning of the cosmos, but every being endures the beginning and end of a world cycle.

If Buddha describes the way world systems end and re begin, why can't he take one step further and describe the way cosmos works?

I just think that the question about whether or not the cosmos is eternal, like I said, is a kinda meaningless, metaphysical question that doesn't matter at all to anyone, but most beings will go through the world cycle many, many times, and it might help to inspire or educate those listening to hear how it works. That's just what I see out of it.

It's like if you found a tree in a field; if you asked, "Who planted this tree here?!" that would be a pointless question to worry about, but if you asked, "What will happen to this tree over time, and how will a new sapling come about?" that actually matters.

Agganna Sutts doesn't sound like Buddhas' teaching to me, that's my real concern.

In the end, it's not super important. It might be a later addition, the suttas definitely have them. But if you don't think it sounds like an authentic teaching, then you really don't have to worry about it :smile:
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Potthapada Sutta Vs Agganna Sutts

Postby santa100 » Thu Nov 08, 2012 4:09 pm

The Buddha taught what His audience needed to hear. There're different audiences in those 2 suttas. In DN 9, it was Potthapada who is a great admirer of the Buddha as a teacher and is ready for spiritual progress. Thus DN 9 was really about the nature of self and consciousness. The Buddha clearly saw the danger of cosmos speculation that would pose a big hindrance to Potthapada's spiritual progress. In DN 27, the audience were Vasettha and Bharadvaja, the brahmin youths who both are experts in the Three Vedas. The Buddha's mention of the beginning of things really served to strenghten their faith in Him and dispel the typical arrogant Brahmin misconception about their high birth and social status. Thus the DN 27 theme of the Buddha who "know the beginning of things, and not only that, but what is higher than that"..
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Re: Potthapada Sutta Vs Agganna Sutts

Postby SarathW » Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:25 pm

I have read the following statment from Buddha, regarding the world.
''In this very one-fathom-long body, along with its perceptions and thoughts, do I proclaim the world, the origin of the world, the cessation of the world, and the path leading to the cessation of the world''
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Re: Potthapada Sutta Vs Agganna Sutts

Postby C J » Fri Nov 09, 2012 7:41 am

polarbuddha101 wrote:The first sutta is what the Buddha seriously thinks in my opinion and the second sutta is allegory. I think John Peacock thinks the Buddha is making jokes in the agganna sutta.


Thanks for mentioning John Peacock. I got to know about him because of you and now I have all my answers.
Thank a lot
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Re: Potthapada Sutta Vs Agganna Sutts

Postby gavesako » Fri Nov 09, 2012 8:32 am

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF BUDDHIST COSMOLOGY

"Now there comes a time, Vasettha, when after a long period of time
this world contracts. When the world contracts beings are for the
most part born in the realm of Radiance There they exist made of
mind, feeding on joy, self-luminous, moving through the air,
constantly beautiful; thus they remain for a long, long time.
Now there
comes a time, Vasettha, when after a long period of time this world
expands. When the world expands beings for the most part fall from
the realm of Radiance and come here [to this realm]; and they exist
made of mind, feeding on joy, self-luminous, moving through the
air, constantly beautiful; thus they remain for a long, long
time." (1)
This striking and evocative passage introduces the well-known
account of the evolution of the world and human society found in the
Agganna-sutta of the Pali Digha Nikaya.(2) It marks the beginning of
a particular line of thought within Buddhist tradition concerning
the world and its cycles of expansion and contraction. It is this
line of thought that I wish to investigate in the present article.

THE EXPANSION AND CONTRACTION OF WORLD-SYSTEMS


According to Buddhist cosmological systems the universe is

constituted by innumerable "world-systems" or "world-spheres"

(loka-dhatu, cakkavala) comprising just thirty-one levels of

existence.(36) Much as the mind is not static or stable, neither, on

a grander scale, are world-systems; they themselves go through vast

cycles of expansion and contraction. According to the exegetical

traditions of both the Theravadins and Sarvastivadins, the formula I

quoted from the Agganna-sutta, referring as it does to the rebirth

of beings in the realm of Radiance (abhassara/abhasvara)(37) at the

time of world contraction, describes this contraction as the result

of destruction by fire. Both Buddhaghosa and Vasubandhu provide some

further details about how the destruction proceeds.(38) According to

Buddhaghosa, world-systems contract in great clusters--he speaks of

a billion (koti-sata-sahassa) world-systems contracting at a

time.(39) Both writers describe how, when they contract,

world-systems contract from the bottom upward. Thus in the case of

destruction by fire, the fire starts in the lower realms of the

sense sphere and having burned up these, it invades the form realms;

but having burned up the realms corresponding to the first

jhana/dhyana, it stops. The realms corresponding to the second,

third, and fourth jhanas, and the four formless realms, are thus

spared the destruction. But destruction by fire is not the only kind

of destruction, merely the most frequent--water and wind also wreak

their havoc. When the destruction is by water, the three realms

corresponding to the second jhana are also included in the general

destruction, while the destruction by wind invades and destroys even

the realms corresponding to the third jhana. Overall, only the seven

realms corresponding to the fourth jhana and the four formless

realms are never subject to this universal destruction.(40)

So what becomes of the beings that occupy the lower realms when

fire, water, and wind wreak their destruction? They cannot just

disappear from samsara; they must go somewhere.


Here we touch upon a

question which posed something of a problem in the Buddhist

tradition and to which its answers are not entirely consistent. The

simple answer that Buddhaghosa gives in the Visuddhimagga is that at

the time of the destruction of a world-system by fire, all the

beings that occupy the lower realms--including hell beings

(nerayika)--are reborn in the Abhassara Brahma realm (corresponding

to the second jhana) or above it. But since rebirth in a Brahma

realm can only occur as a result of the practice of the jhanas,

Buddhaghosa has a problem. The chaos and hardships that are a

prelude to the destruction of the world are hardly conducive to the

practice of jhana. Moreover, certain beings simply do not have the

capacity to attain jhana even if they try.


There is no rebirth in the Brahma world without jhana, and some

beings are oppressed by the scarcity of food, and some are incapable

of attaining jhana. How are they reborn there? By virtue of jhana

acquired in the Deva world. For at that time, knowing that in a

hundred thousand years the aeon will come to an end, the

sense-sphere gods, called "Marshals of the World," loosen their

headdresses and, with disheveled hair and pitiful faces, wiping

their tears with their hands, clothed in red and wearing their

garments in great disarray, come and frequent the haunts of men

saying, "Good sirs, a hundred thousand years from now the aeon will

come to an end: this world will be destroyed, the great ocean will

dry up, and Sineru, king of mountains, will be burnt up and

destroyed. The destruction of the world will reach the Brahma world.

Develop loving kindness, good sirs. Develop compassion, sympathetic

joy, and equanimity. Take care of your mothers and fathers; honor

the elders of the family." Hearing their words, both men and the

deities of the earth are for the most part moved; they become kind

to one another, and making merit by loving kindness and so on, they

are reborn in the Deva world. There they enjoy the food of the gods

and having completed the initial work on the air kasina, they attain

jhana.

However there are others who are reborn in the Deva world by virtue

of their kamma "that is to be experienced at an unspecified time,"

for there is certainly no being wandering in samsara devoid of kamma

that is to be experienced at an unspecified time. They also

similarly acquire jhana there [in the Deva world]. So all beings are

reborn in the Brahma world by virtue of the attainment of jhana.(41)



For Buddhaghosa, at the time of the contraction of a world-system,

all the beings occupying the lower realms should be understood as

being reborn in those higher Brahma worlds that escape the

destruction--this is true even of the beings in the lower realms of

hell. When all else fails, this comes about by virtue of the fact

that there is no being in samsara that has not at some time or other

performed the kamma necessary for rebirth in the happy realms of the

sense sphere. Thus even beings born in hell realms as the result of

unwholesome kamma will always have a latent good kamma that can come

to fruition at the time of the pending contraction of the

world-system; this is their "kamma to be experienced at an

unspecified time" (aparapariya-vedaniya-kamma).(42) Such beings are

first reborn in a sense-sphere heaven, where they subsequently

cultivate jhana leading to rebirth in the Brahma worlds. What

follows from this view of the matter is that all beings in samsara

are regarded as having dwelt at some time in the Brahma realms

corresponding to the second, third, and fourth jhanas; moreover,

periodically--though the periods may be of inconceivable

duration--all beings are regarded as returning to these realms.

It seems, however, that some in the Buddhist tradition were not

entirely happy with the understanding of the matter presented by

Buddhaghosa. Commenting on the phrase, "when the world contracts

beings are for the most part born in the realm of Radiance," as it

occurs in the Brahmajala Sutta, Buddhaghosa states that "`for the

most part' [yebhuyyena] is said because there are other beings who

are born either in higher Brahma realms or in the formless

realms."



The assimilation of cosmology and psychology

found in early Buddhist thought and developed in the Abhidharma must

be seen in this context to be fully understood and appreciated. I

can do no better than to finish with the words of the Buddha:



"That the end of the world . . . is to be known, seen or reached by

travelling -- that I do not say. . . . And yet I do not say that one

makes an end of suffering without reaching the end of the world.

Rather, in this fathom-long body, with its consciousness and mind, I

declare the world, the arising of the world, the ceasing of the

world and the way leading to the ceasing of the world." (80)



From: Cosmology and meditation: from the Agganna-Sutta to the Mahayana. (Buddhism)
Rupert Gethin
http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-EPT/rupert.htm
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

ajahnchah.org - Teachings of Ajahn Chah in many languages
Dhammatube - Videos on Buddhist practice
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts
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Re: Potthapada Sutta Vs Agganna Sutts

Postby C J » Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:40 pm

polarbuddha101 wrote:The first sutta is what the Buddha seriously thinks in my opinion and the second sutta is allegory. I think John Peacock thinks the Buddha is making jokes in the agganna sutta.


Yes, John Peacock has a good explanation about all this. He had look for answers for the same question that I have, and I think his explanation is the best I found so far.

He says there are lot of later additions to Pali canon and Agganna sutta as such example.

http://secularbuddhism.org/2012/01/06/e ... rahmanism/
(he talks about Agganna sutta at 18:38)
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Re: Potthapada Sutta Vs Agganna Sutta

Postby Jason » Sat Nov 10, 2012 4:27 am

In DN 27, the Buddha basically tells a story about the beginning of life on this world to two brahmins that, in the end, is used to illustrate how the way to liberation is beyond caste and lineage. Looking at the context, I happen to agree with Prof. Gombrich that this sutta is a lively and ingenious parody that's actually meant to make fun of the very need for a cosmology as a foundation for religious development (How Buddhism Began: The Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings, pg. 81-82), and essentially transforms a Brahmanic creation myth into a Dhamma lesson. Hence, no need to necessarily take the story as a literal explanation of how world-systems and life in them begins and ends. That's my two cents, at any rate.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: Potthapada Sutta Vs Agganna Sutta

Postby C J » Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:55 pm

Jason wrote:In DN 27, the Buddha basically tells a story about the beginning of life on this world to two brahmins that, in the end, is used to illustrate how the way to liberation is beyond caste and lineage. Looking at the context, I happen to agree with Prof. Gombrich that this sutta is a lively and ingenious parody that's actually meant to make fun of the very need for a cosmology as a foundation for religious development (How Buddhism Began: The Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings, pg. 81-82), and essentially transforms a Brahmanic creation myth into a Dhamma lesson. Hence, no need to necessarily take the story as a literal explanation of how world-systems and life in them begins and ends. That's my two cents, at any rate.


Thank you.
Will add Prof. Gombrich to my to-read list.
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