What is the benefit of learning Abhidhamma

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Re: What is the benefit of learning Abhidhamma

Postby dhamma follower » Fri Mar 29, 2013 2:52 am

Sein wrote:When buddha refer to his teaching, he call it dhamma vinaya.
His disciples attain arahat, ...sotapatti doesn't need abhidhamma too (They just listen,and practice according to the sutta,).
And abhidhamma is very difficult to understand. And I find it no benefit in apply into practice. Because I hear my teacher said the citta and cetasika appear and disappear thousands times in a second. The process of mind happens so fast, that even you pay attention to it, you find only a general feeling, thought,.... If you don't have enough concentration to be aware of it (say, the four jhana), you can also find it helpful, but you missing the meaning of abhidhamma (like using mediation to relax).
What do you think about abhidhamma and it's benefit?


Greeting Sein,

I will offer you my opinion below.

What do you think the Buddha's enlightenment was about? One would answer the Four Noble Truths, the Eight Noble fold path, and Dependent Origination, agreed?

Let's have a deep look at the Four Noble Truth first, the truth of suffering goes like this:
"...in short, the five aggregates of clinging are suffering"

There are two meanings for the five aggregates of clinging:
1. the aggregates that are object of clinging, so even the aggregates of the Buddhas and arahats are aggregates of clinging because they are object of clinging by others
2. the aggregates which are the result of clinging. Without clinging, there would be no cause for the arising of the aggregates.

So now,what are 5 aggregates: materiality, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness.

They are all realities explained in details in the Abhidhamma.

If you consider the Abhidhamma a body of dry text books, there would be no appeal to study it. But if you consider it to be the description of the truth the Buddha has become enlightened about, and that it pertains to this very moment: seeing, hearing, touching....then you will see it is essential to the development of wisdom.

I used to think like you...that there's no need for abhidhamma to become a sotapana, I don't remember where I got that idea...but a lot of ideas we gather here and there are taken to be granted, to be the truth in that way. In reality, no one can become a sotapana without realizing the three marks, and without realizing dhammas as dhammas (seeing is just seeing ...etc) first, it would be only thinking about the three marks, because the three marks can only make sense with the arising and falling away of dhammas.

The extent to which one needs to go deep into the vast teaching of Abhidhamma varies. However, according to what I understand, the lower one is in wisdom, the more details we need to study in order to really understand the anattaness of phenomena. It is a long process.

You might wonder why we need to study it....then you might want to look into what is the real cause of wisdom according to the Buddha. Without hearing his words and right considering of them, there's no cause for wisdom to arise.

The Abhidhamma is also found in the sutta too. Whenever the Buddha was teaching about seeing, hearing, feeling, contact, perception etc...it was the dhammas that are talked about in the Abhidhamma.

And again, it is not the book, it is now appearing to your six-sense door to be understood,

Similar analysis can be made about DO and ENP

Brgds,

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Re: What is the benefit of learning Abhidhamma

Postby BlackBird » Fri Mar 29, 2013 6:47 am

I personally do not believe the Abhidhamma to be the Buddha's teachings, and I have my suspicions that it may in fact paint the wrong picture and be a stumbling block.

But some people believe it to the word of the Buddha, and some people take great value from it. It's not a necessary thing to learn, you're not missing out on anything great by not knowing about it, but for those of an intellectual inclination it can help them understand the mahaviharan doctrine in all it's intricacies. Perhaps some might say it has helped their meditation too? I don't know.

I'm not a fan, but I won't rubbish those who are :)
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: What is the benefit of learning Abhidhamma

Postby danieLion » Tue Apr 02, 2013 4:25 am

MAN.

What is man, that thou art mindful of him?

Man being the subject of these Essays, it is first proper to explain what will be meant therein by the word.

Man is a microcosm: that is, an image (concentrated around the point of consciousness) of the macrocosm, or Universe. This Theorem is guaranteed by the hylo-idealistic demonstration that the perceptible Universe is an extension, or phantasm, of the nervous system.

It follows that all phenomena, internal and external, may be classified for the purpose of discussing their observed relations, in any manner which experience may show to be the most convenient. (Examples: the elaborate classifications of science, chemical, physical, etc., etc. There is no essential truth in any of these aids to thinking: convenience is the sole measure.) Now for the purposes of analysing the spiritual nature of man, of recording and measuring his experiences in this kind, of planning his progress to loftier heights of attainment, several systems have been devised. That of the Abhidhamma is on the surface alike the most practical, the most scientific, and the most real; but for European students it is certainly far too unwieldly, to say nothing of other lines of criticism.

Therefore, despite the danger of vagueness involved in the use of a system whose terms are largely symbolic, I have, for many reasons, preferred to present to the world as an international basis for classification, the classico-mathematical system which is vulgarly and erroneously (though conveniently) called the Qabala....

Edward Crowley, Little Essays Toward Truth, Man
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Re: What is the benefit of learning Abhidhamma

Postby mogg » Sun Apr 21, 2013 5:40 pm

BlackBird wrote:I personally do not believe the Abhidhamma to be the Buddha's teachings, and I have my suspicions that it may in fact paint the wrong picture and be a stumbling block.

But some people believe it to the word of the Buddha, and some people take great value from it. It's not a necessary thing to learn, you're not missing out on anything great by not knowing about it, but for those of an intellectual inclination it can help them understand the mahaviharan doctrine in all it's intricacies. Perhaps some might say it has helped their meditation too? I don't know.

I'm not a fan, but I won't rubbish those who are :)

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Re: What is the benefit of learning Abhidhamma

Postby Sekha » Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:28 am

Learning the abhidhamma is not necessary to practice successfully the noble path
Learning the abhidhamma can be misleading, as it at times contradicts the teachings of the Buddha as preserved in the most authentic suttas.
I am not fond of abhidhamma, neither was the Webu Sayadaw. Here is an interesting quote:

You have already acquired some knowledge of the Buddha's teachings according to your individual capacities. Thinking about these, however, will slow down your progress. So listen well to the teachings now and practice.

If you practice, you will arrive at your goal, and the reality of it may or may not correspond with your thoughts about it. Only when you know for yourselves will you also know that your thoughts and speculations about the goal were not correct. All of you know from Dhamma lectures that if you follow the teachings of the Buddha, you will gain great happiness in the present and in the future. In fact, you are all preachers of the Dhamma yourselves.

Don't you think that thinking and speculating will slow your progress down? If you think and analyze, will every thought be correct?

D: No, sir.

S: If you establish your goal as I told you and keep thinking about your wanting to attain it, will this help?

D: No, sir.

S: So, will you continue to think and ponder?

D: If we analyze and think all the time we shall go the wrong way, sir.

S: Once we start thinking there will be very many thoughts. Will much of what we think be of use to us?

D: It is difficult to think useful thoughts. Thoughts often become quite useless and misleading.

S: The noble monks of the community have expounded the real and true teachings to you and still your thoughts are apt to mislead you. How is this possible?

But tell me, you are from Kemmendine, right? Your house must have a garden and a fence around it. Isn't that so?

D: Yes, sir, this is correct.

S: On which side of the compound is the gate?

D: I have one gate opening to the south and one opening to the north, sir.

S: How many stories does your house have?

D: It is a single storey house, sir.

S: On which side do you have your door?

D: There are two doors, sir, one in the west wall and one in the south wall.

S: So, now we know that you live in Kemmendine, that you have a fence around your garden with gates to the north and south. Your house is a one storey building and has two doors facing south and west respectively. You see, because you told me, I know everything about your place. Now my knowledge and your knowledge about your house are about the same, aren't they?

D: They cannot be, sir.

S: But why? You know your village, your garden and your house, and you told me that you live in Kemmendine and you described your garden and your house to me as you know them. Therefore I know your village, your garden and your house. I know the reality about it, as you do.

D: You don't know it in the same way I know it, sir.

S: My dear friend, why should what I know be different from what you know? Just ask me where you live and I shall reply that you live in Kemmendine. Furthermore, I know about your garden and house just as you do. What is there that you can tell me that I don't know already?

D: Even if I told you the house number and the street it is on, you wouldn't be able to find the house, sir.

S: Tell me then, what more do you know about this matter than I know?

D: I can't tell you more about it, sir, but I know more because I have actually been there.

S: In that case I shall think about it and figure out where Kemmendine is.

D: You can't find out by thinking about it, sir.

S: I shall think a lot and for a long time. Some of it is bound to be right. I will think about a house in Kemmendine with two gates, two doors, one storied. Will some of my findings about your house be correct?

D: I don't think so, sir.

S: Is it so difficult then? Well, I'll think in many different ways; some of them will turn out right. I shall ponder over this problem for about one year. Will I find the answer then?

D: If you just think about it, sir, you won't find it. But if you please, come and look, you will really know for yourself.

S: Now, what if I were to think about it really deeply for about forty or fifty years? Or better, if I don't just think but also talk about it, will I come to know it then?

D: Even if you think and talk about it, sir, you'll never get there.

S: Then please tell me where Kemmendine is.

D: From here you would have to walk towards the southwest.

S: So, if I walk in a southwestern direction, will I get there?

D: Yes, sir, you will, but you will still not find my house.

S: Well, I'll begin now, I'll think very deeply and at the same time recite your instructions and descriptions. In this way I will come to know.

D: No, sir, I don't think so.

S: You tell me that know all this about your house, but if I repeat what I know from you, then you tell me that I am talking into the blue. I cannot bear this.

D: Sir, you simply repeat what you heard, but you don't actually know.

S: So, all I say about this house is correct, but he claims that I still don't know it the way he does. I don't know whether this is true... But now, if I were to think about it deeply and recite my thoughts, would there still be a difference in understanding? Or if I were to recite all you said day and night, would it still not be possible for me to really know?

D: Sir, you would still not know it in the same way you would if you went there yourself.

S: Before you told me about your house I didn't know anything about it, but now I know something.

D: Yes, sir, this is true, but if you came to see it you would know everything about it.

S: Tell me, if I were to walk according to your directions, would I arrive at your house?

D: Yes, sir.

S: And if I didn't know the house number?

D: You would wander aimlessly, sir.

S: And if you go there?

D: I head straight for my house, sir.

S: Will you worry about how to get there and whether you are on the right road.

D: If you come with me, sir, you can't get lost, because I have been there before.

S: The Buddha taught what he had realized for himself. Now, all of you are able to accept good advice. The Buddha's teachings are vast. There is the Suttanta, the Vinaya and the Abhidhamma. You need not study all these. Choose one object of meditation, one technique that suits you, and then work with firm determination. Once you have established yourselves in this way and you arrive at the goal, you will understand deeply and completely.
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

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Re: What is the benefit of learning Abhidhamma

Postby Ben » Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:53 am

Webu Sayadaw was a very idiosyncratic teacher.
However, I am more inclined to the teachings of Ledi Sayadaw.
kind regards,

Ben
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