The Commentaries are unreliable: I know better

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Re: The Commentaries are unreliable: I know better

Postby legolas » Sun Mar 13, 2011 1:21 pm

robertk wrote:
legolas wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:One example might be the technique of "no technique", where "developing understanding of realities" au natural looks to the abhidhamma for its validation.
As in the Sujin Boriharnwanaket "method."


Ok, so earlier when you mentioned about vipassana techniques, you meant the way Sujin Boriharnwanaket teaches? You accept that Suppabuddha was enlightened while listening to the Buddha, who he happened to come across (due to past kamma) while he was out looking for food, but he wasn't a) understanding realities..OR b) he did something that was unnatural or C) he had a special different method ?


a) Understanding realities - I dont get
b) Doing something unnatural - I dont understand
c) Ditto

The Buddha gave a progressive teaching to Suppabuddha who gave full attention to the words of the Buddha. Suppabuddha's mind contemplated the benefit of virtue/generosity -the bliss of heaven - the danger of sensual desire - the bliss of renunciation, resulting in Suppabuddha's mind acquiring samadhi at which point the Buddha gave the teaching of the four noble truths - which Suppabuddha due to his mind being joyful & happy along with his body being calmed/tranquilised was able to penetrate.
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Re: The Commentaries are unreliable: I know better

Postby robertk » Sun Mar 13, 2011 2:13 pm

legolas wrote:


a) Understanding realities - I dont get
b) Doing something unnatural - I dont understand
c) Ditto

The Buddha gave a progressive teaching to Suppabuddha who gave full attention to the words of the Buddha. Suppabuddha's mind contemplated the benefit of virtue/generosity -the bliss of heaven - the danger of sensual desire - the bliss of renunciation, resulting in Suppabuddha's mind acquiring samadhi at which point the Buddha gave the teaching of the four noble truths - which Suppabuddha due to his mind being joyful & happy along with his body being calmed/tranquilised was able to penetrate.

Let's consider the samadhi: what type was, was was it's character?
Think of all the suttas where the Buddha explained about knowing the 6 senses or the khandas, wasn't suppabuddha understanding aspects of them and aren't these elements realities?
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Re: The Commentaries are unreliable: I know better

Postby phil » Sun Mar 13, 2011 3:41 pm

legolas wrote:One example might be the technique of "no technique", where "developing understanding of realities" au natural looks to the abhidhamma for its validation.



How is seeing consciousness different when noting "seeing, seeing" during a mahasi retreat for example and durong daily life? I tend to believe that proper understanding ofthe ayatanas for example can develop in an unforced way in daily life...noting "seeing, seeing" seems a very questionable practice though I knpw it is said to be for "beginners" as defined by some kind of standard....

And what about the words "developing understanding of realities " is not in line with the tipitika?
I hope that every time I post it will be accompanied by a wish for the wellbeing of everyone in this sangha and all beings.
(so I don't have to write "metta" every time!)


Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: The Commentaries are unreliable: I know better

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Mar 13, 2011 7:53 pm

Hi Geoff,
Ñāṇa wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:In most cases disagreements don't seem to me to have much to do with alleged inconsistencies between Sutta and Commentary.

Issues of inconsistencies and dubious interpretations present in the commentarial literature have been noted by various teachers, , translators, and scholars, largely based on quite reasonable readings of the different historical strata of texts.
But there is still plenty of middle ground between the two extremes of dogmatic allegiance to every commentarial word an letter on the one hand, and dogmatic wholesale rejection of all commentary on the other. ...

I don't disagree with this. I think that it is useful to consider various analyses, and I'm thankful that we have people here who can explain various takes on the Tipitaka and Commentary to those of us who have not yet got to grips with the entire tradition.

However, a lot of posts I see complaining about "commentaries" or "commentarial methods" really seem to have nothing to do with the commentaries themselves, or detailed analyses of subtleties of interpretation (such as those of Ven Nanananda).
They seem to be more to do with perceptions of the teachings of the various teachers who (no doubt sincerely) claim to be teaching entirely consistently with commentary+sutta or sutta alone. As we can see from the discussion here, various teachers who take the Commentaries seriously (such as Khun Sujin and Mahaisi Sayadaw) have come to rather different conclusions about how to instruct their students.

:anjali:
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Re: The Commentaries are unreliable: I know better

Postby legolas » Mon Mar 14, 2011 12:32 am

robertk wrote:
legolas wrote:


a) Understanding realities - I dont get
b) Doing something unnatural - I dont understand
c) Ditto

The Buddha gave a progressive teaching to Suppabuddha who gave full attention to the words of the Buddha. Suppabuddha's mind contemplated the benefit of virtue/generosity -the bliss of heaven - the danger of sensual desire - the bliss of renunciation, resulting in Suppabuddha's mind acquiring samadhi at which point the Buddha gave the teaching of the four noble truths - which Suppabuddha due to his mind being joyful & happy along with his body being calmed/tranquilised was able to penetrate.

Let's consider the samadhi: what type was, was was it's character?
Think of all the suttas where the Buddha explained about knowing the 6 senses or the khandas, wasn't suppabuddha understanding aspects of them and aren't these elements realities?


I think we might be getting ahead of ourselves. "Realities" do not make an appearance in this sutta or other suttas as far as I am aware. This is a classification which has been drafted onto the suttas.
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Re: The Commentaries are unreliable: I know better

Postby daverupa » Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:04 am

Commentarial authors are perhaps closer to Pali idiom and a more natural use of that language (yes? no?) than modern folk, and perhaps therefore able to explicate the Suttas with otherwise lost detail, but my approach now is to see the Commentaries as comparable to modern monastics: wrong in some ways, or perhaps with a turn of phrase that isn't skillful for me, and so on.

One question, hopefully germane to this thread: are the Commentaries coextensive with the abhidhamma? I thought the abhidhamma was an earlier textual period, and that the Commentarial authors had access to it but were writing after the Tipitaka was closed. Maybe the Commentaries are a larger corpus of which the abhidhamma is only a part? In any case, I can clarify my own concerns as being to do with the abhidhamma, and the Commentaries then only insofar as they rely on abhidhammic material.
    "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 Commentaries are unreliable: I know better

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:12 am

Greetings Dave,

The Abhidhamma Pitaka is part of the Pali Canon, first formalised at the Third Council. Tradition has it that it was taught by the Buddha to his mother in Tusita Heaven.

There are many commentaries based on the Abhidhamma. The most common one used by Abhidhamma practitioners nowadays seems to be Abhidhammattha Sangaha by Acariya Anuruddha, translated by Ven. Narada as "A Manual of Abhidhamma" and fleshed out further by Bhikkhu Bodhi to form "A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma".

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 Commentaries are unreliable: I know better

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:44 am

Hi Retro,

I don't think that the Abhidhammattha Sangaha can really be classified as a commentary. It seems to me to be a brief quick-reference guide, written at least 1500 years after the Buddha, which summarises key points from the Abhidhamma and its Commentaries.

There are extensive ancient commentaries in Pali:
http://www.palitext.com/subpages/comm.htm
but, as with the sutta commentaries, the vast majority are not available in English.

Perhaps someone with better historical knowledge than me can explain whether the Adhidhamma Commentaries were assembled by Ven. Buddhaghosa, or by someone else.

:anjali:
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Re: The Commentaries are unreliable: I know better

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:05 am

Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:I don't think that the Abhidhammattha Sangaha can really be classified as a commentary.

I don't see why not.

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 Commentaries are unreliable: I know better

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:24 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:I don't think that the Abhidhammattha Sangaha can really be classified as a commentary.

I don't see why not.

I already explained that... :tongue:

The AS is a quick summary (not a detailed analysis, which is what I'd expect from a commentary, based on reading a few sutta commentaries) of a huge amount of material (some from the Abhidhamma and some from ancient commentaries). That material is vast: 8 volumes of Abhidhamma, 8 volumes of commentary, each volume running into hundreds or thousands of pages. In itself the AS is dozens of pages, and even with the material that Bhikkhu Bodhi (and others) has added by way of explanation, it's still just a summary.

My point is that I think that it would be misleading to base one's impression of what is contained in "The Commentaries" on that slim volume.

:anjali:
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Re: The Commentaries are unreliable: I know better

Postby Nyana » Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:01 am

mikenz66 wrote:Perhaps someone with better historical knowledge than me can explain whether the Adhidhamma Commentaries were assembled by Ven. Buddhaghosa, or by someone else.

The main Abhidhammapiṭaka commentaries (Aṭṭhakathā) are traditionally attributed to Buddhaghosa. However, some modern scholars have questioned attributing these commentaries to Buddhaghosa.

All the best,

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Re: The Commentaries are unreliable: I know better

Postby phil » Mon Mar 14, 2011 5:46 am

I think there is doubt about the word "realities" so is "dhammas" less problematic? I personally prefer dhammas.

And I ask again, is there any difference between seeing-consciousness and form as described for example in SN35 on the ayatanas and seeing consciousness and visible object as described in Abhihdamma or commentaries? If there is a significant difference, I need to know, please advise, thanks.
I hope that every time I post it will be accompanied by a wish for the wellbeing of everyone in this sangha and all beings.
(so I don't have to write "metta" every time!)


Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: The Commentaries are unreliable: I know better

Postby legolas » Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:00 am

phil wrote:I think there is doubt about the word "realities" so is "dhammas" less problematic? I personally prefer dhammas.

And I ask again, is there any difference between seeing-consciousness and form as described for example in SN35 on the ayatanas and seeing consciousness and visible object as described in Abhihdamma or commentaries? If there is a significant difference, I need to know, please advise, thanks.


Abhidhamma's take on "realities" or "dhamma's" appear so far removed from anything within the suttas that I would'nt know where to begin to answer your question. I guess that because I am a bit stupid I will have to just follow the Buddha's words and not attempt to understand the "Higher" teachings as represented within the Abhidhamma. The point about them being "Higher" is attributed to Abhidhamma scholars and not myself.
In a similar vein - a lot of the deeper teachings within the sutta's are aimed at people who have attained some jhana and are able to differentiate mind states and see rising and falling with a calm and contented mind that is open to seeing DO in operation. Perhaps because people were trying to understand these "difficult" suttas without having jhana, they came up with a scholastic framework that they could operate within.
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Re: The Commentaries are unreliable: I know better

Postby phil » Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:40 am

ok,thanks anyways Legolas...can anyone else clarify in which ways seeing consciousness and its object are taught differently in Abhidhamma and the commentaries than in the suttas? I chose seeing as it is certainly a form of consciousness that we all have unlimited opportunities to develop understanding of...if Abhidhamma and the commentaries steer us away from rather than towards a better understanding of the Buddha's teaching on the sense doors it should be clarified explicitly, thanks!
I hope that every time I post it will be accompanied by a wish for the wellbeing of everyone in this sangha and all beings.
(so I don't have to write "metta" every time!)


Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: The Commentaries are unreliable: I know better

Postby phil » Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:28 pm

phil wrote:ok,thanks anyways Legolas...can anyone else clarify in which ways seeing consciousness and its object are taught differently in Abhidhamma and the commentaries than in the suttas? I chose seeing as it is certainly a form of consciousness that we all have unlimited opportunities to develop understanding of...if Abhidhamma and the commentaries steer us away from rather than towards a better understanding of the Buddha's teaching on the sense doors it should be clarified explicitly, thanks!


I guess the answer to my question would include some reference to sense door processes, the 17 cittas per arisen rupa etc so it could be said the process is explained in more detail than in the suttas. people pf this day and age with all our hunger for immediate results will reject a teaching that can't be confirmed through lobha rooted demands for "confirmation through experience" and that is natural based on the way we appreciate Kalama sutta for example but I think it shows a kind of recklessness to reject an entire basket of the tipitika and commentaries becaise it can't yet synch with our feeble understanding...

As the title of this thread says many are so comfortable declaring that their understanding is superior to that of the commentators, a little odd, but people are driven for results in this day and age, enough said.
I hope that every time I post it will be accompanied by a wish for the wellbeing of everyone in this sangha and all beings.
(so I don't have to write "metta" every time!)


Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: The Commentaries are unreliable: I know better

Postby Jhana4 » Sun Sep 08, 2013 11:43 am

An interesting title for a thread.

As far as the commentaries, other tradtions, other meditation techniques, other philosophies, science, psychology, etc have to go, there is IMHO, a question to ask.

Is it possible for anyone in the centuries following the Buddha to have a good idea?
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: The Commentaries are unreliable: I know better

Postby pabhaata » Sat Dec 07, 2013 9:25 am

commentaries are very useful when we are trying to study the suttas. the commentaries give a more detailed or more clear explanation of some terms that are used in the suttas. they bring about a depth in understanding a sutta that one is trying to analyse/ comprehend - this happens 99% of the time ( at least in my case). so what matters is that it allows me to savour the taste of the sutta much more.
in the beginning, one can just refer to the commentaries to find a more detailed explanation of some word in the sutta that one has difficulty in understanding. then they can make more and more use of the commentaries as they get comfortable with it.
i think it is better to use the commentaries as reference books to comprehend the terms used in the main canon.

regarding abhidhammattha sangaha - it is a sub commentary (tika). it was complied by Aniruddha thera in Kaveripattanam ( now near Chennai in South India). you can refer the Wheel Publication No. 124/ 125. the thorough study of abhidhammattha sangaha gives a good foundation to proceed to learn the other books of Abhidhamma. otherwise it is very cumbersome. it is like a briefing given before the major venture into the big books of Abhidhamma.
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