The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Jun 12, 2009 9:34 am

Greetings,

This is a topic in which to discuss issues surrounding the Abhidhamma Pitaka, such as its:

* Origins (including issues relating to Buddhist Councils etc.)
* Timeframes
* Inclusion in the Pali Tipitaka, versus other Canons (such as the Chinese Canon where it is absent)
* Content, and variations therein with respect to the teachings of the Sutta Pitaka

... plus any other issues of scholarly, academic, practical or casual interest that cannot be pursued within the Abhidhamma Forum on account of its Terms Of Service.

In doing so, please ensure you abide by the guidelines for the Open Dhamma forum - viewtopic.php?f=16&t=175

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: What's up with Bhikkhu Bodhi

Postby phil » Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:34 am

Hi all

I must admit I've been wondering about one issue related to Bhikkhu Bodhi, which brought up elsewhere a few months. In his talks he repeatedly says that Abhihdamma is a later teaching, that evolved in the centuries after the Buddha's death. Now I know that there is a lot of evidence that this is the case, but it always feels to me that a Theravadin monk should stand by the orthodoxy, especially one who has edited the Abhidhamma Sangaha (in the introduction of which he describes Abhihdhamma in the orthodox way) and leave the wanderings from the orthodoxy to the academics. I'm finding it difficult to get fully concentrated on my Abhidhamma studies, such as they are, because of his comments. Which is fair enough, I guess.

Who speaks for the Theravadin orthodoxy? I suppose the answer is that there isn't one Theravadin orthodoxy? As far as I know, there hasn't been any institutional (if that's the right word) distancing from/censuring of Bhikkhu Bodhi's comments (including the well know comments in the introduction to his SN anthology, which describe Abhidhamma as a later teaching) so I guess that means it stands all right with people and is another reminder that Buddhism is a religion that allows freedom of expression.

No desire to ignite an Abhidhamma-related debate hear, but thought I would add this to this thread because it comes up to bug me whenever I consider Abhidhamma, and I do often wonder about the huge influence Bhikkhu Bodhi has just by virtue of having risen to his eminent position in the translation world. (And by virtue, of course, of being a wonderful teacher, as evidenced by this talk series.) He tends to add a lot of personal opinions in his commentarial notes, which is fine but it just seems the faith people place in his words is possibly a bit too heavy...possibly?

I'm off to Canada for a few weeks. Happy summering everyone.

Metta,

Phil
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: What's up with Bhikkhu Bodhi

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:42 am


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Re: What's up with Bhikkhu Bodhi

Postby Ben » Wed Jul 22, 2009 8:28 am

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: What's up with Bhikkhu Bodhi

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:55 am


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Re: What's up with Bhikkhu Bodhi

Postby kc2dpt » Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:24 pm

- Peter


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Re: What's up with Bhikkhu Bodhi

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:55 pm

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: What's up with Bhikkhu Bodhi

Postby cooran » Sun Aug 30, 2009 6:13 am

Hello Retro,

Can you give some hard evidence please?

metta
Chris
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Re: What's up with Bhikkhu Bodhi

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Aug 30, 2009 10:41 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Aug 31, 2009 3:51 am

I mean no disrespect and I happen to like the content of the Abhidhamma, but:

I am pretty sure nearly all scholars agree that the Abhidhamma was not recited until the Third Council, which is part of the reason for the controversy among some, if it is Buddhavacana or not. If it is Buddhavacana, why was it not recited in the First Council?

The material is useful, but should it be seen as more of a Commentary? It could still be considered authentic, in my opinion, and as I have mentioned in other threads, we probably cannot and should not deem which texts are inauthentic. But by examining the dating of certain texts, such as the Abhidhamma, we may gain a better foothold on how we use the material, i.e., as Buddhvacana or more like Commentary.
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Re: What's up with Bhikkhu Bodhi

Postby cooran » Mon Aug 31, 2009 4:08 am

Hello Retro,

Hmmm ... I was hoping for something a little more substantial.
Can you point to numerous individual teachings in the Abhidhamma which actually contradict the Suttas? With traceable references, so we can discuss.

The Evaluation of Abhidhamma and the Question of its Authenticity - by Nyanaponika Thera
Theravada tradition holds that the Buddha preached the Abhidhamma first to the assembled gods of the Tavatimsa heaven, headed by his mother. After that, having returned to earth again, he conveyed the bare method to the Arahat Sariputta. Whatever one may think about this tradition, whether, as the devout Eastern Buddhist does, one regards it as a historical account, or whether one takes it as a significant legend, one fact emerges fairly clearly from it; the originators of this very early tradition did not assume the Abhidhamma texts to have been expounded by the Buddha to human beings in the same way and as literally as the Sutta texts. If one wishes to give a psychological interpretation to that traditional account, one might say that the sojourn in the world of gods may refer to periods of intense contemplation transcending the reaches of an earth-bound mentality; and that from the heights of that contemplation its fundamental teachings were brought back to the world of normal human consciousness and handed over to philosophically gifted disciples like the Venerable Sariputta.

In a comparative evaluation of Abhidhamma and Sutta texts, the fact is often overlooked - which, however, has been repeatedly stressed by the Venerable Nyanatiloka Mahathera - that the Sutta Pitaka too contains a considerable amount of pure Abhidhamma. This comprises all those numerous Suttas and passages where ultimate (paramattha) terms are used, expressing the impersonal (anatta) or functional way of thinking, for example, when dealing with the khandhas, dhatus, ayatanas, etc.

One also frequently hears the question asked whether the Abhidhamma is necessary for a full understanding of the Dhamma or for final liberation. In this general form, the question is not quite adequately put. Even in the Sutta Pitaka many different methods of practice, many 'gates' to the understanding of the same four Truths and to the final goal, Nibbana, are shown. Not all of them are 'necessary' or suitable in their entirety for all individual disciples, who will make their personal choice among these various methods of approach according to circumstances, inclination and growing maturity. The same holds true for the Abhidhamma both as a whole and in its single aspects and teachings.
http://www.buddhanet.net/abhidh09.htm

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: What's up with Bhikkhu Bodhi

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Aug 31, 2009 4:24 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: What's up with Bhikkhu Bodhi

Postby cooran » Mon Aug 31, 2009 4:48 am

---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: What's up with Bhikkhu Bodhi

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Aug 31, 2009 4:59 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: What's up with Bhikkhu Bodhi

Postby cooran » Mon Aug 31, 2009 6:04 am

---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: What's up with Bhikkhu Bodhi

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Aug 31, 2009 6:29 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: What's up with Bhikkhu Bodhi

Postby appicchato » Mon Aug 31, 2009 8:04 am


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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby cooran » Mon Aug 31, 2009 7:06 pm

---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 great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Aug 31, 2009 7:50 pm

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby Jason » Mon Aug 31, 2009 9:15 pm

"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" ().

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