The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby Ben » Wed Sep 02, 2009 12:06 pm

The SN is indeed a jewel. Though my forays have been very brief as I am still wading very slowly through the Majjhima.
I think I;ve run out of time tonight to do any wholescale transcription from CMA, I think its going to be a couple of days considering my commitments...
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby pt1 » Wed Sep 02, 2009 2:28 pm

Ben wrote:Yes, I will endeavour to transcribe sections from the introduction to CMA though I am about to go to work and work is crazy this week.

Hi Ben, no need to transcribe, the introduction to CMA is available on ATI :
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... himan.html

A few quick snippets from it that seem relevant to the discussion:
At the heart of the Abhidhamma philosophy is the Abhidhamma Pitaka, one of the divisions of the Pali canon recognized by Theravada Buddhism as the authoritative recension of the Buddha's teachings. This canon was compiled at the three great Buddhist councils held in India in the early centuries following the Buddha's demise...

Perhaps robertk could comment here, if I recall correctly in one of the previous discussions, he mentioned that abdhidhamma pitaka was recited at all three councils, and it is only kathavatthu that was being changed because of the inclusion of refutations of various heretical points that arose in the three centuries after the Buddha's death, and then kathavatthu was also closed by the third council.

Unlike the Suttas, these are not records of discourses and discussions occurring in real-life settings; they are, rather, full-blown treatises in which the principles of the doctrine have been methodically organized, minutely defined, and meticulously tabulated and classified. Though they were no doubt originally composed and transmitted orally and only written down later, with the rest of the canon in the first century B.C., they exhibit the qualities of structured thought and rigorous consistency more typical of written documents.

This is a bit inconclusive for our discussion, as it seems to imply both that abhidhamma came early, but was "composed" - which presumably implies that it's not a direct word of the Buddha, but a summary of his words? This in fact seems plausible considering the origin story - Sariputta hearing from the Buddha a summary of abhidhamma which he taught to the gods, and then Sariputta retelling what he heard to his group of disciples, who were all very keen on insight like him, whereas Mogallana's students were keen on iddhis, Anuruddha's on divine eye, etc, if I remember rightly. Oh yeah, and I think most of them were arahats as well, so no lying and fixing possible there.

In the Theravada tradition the Abhidhamma Pitaka is held in the highest esteem, revered as the crown jewel of the Buddhist scriptures.
That's the thing about Theravada - it really holds abhidhamma very dear, and considers that what Theras were saying to be true. So, for someone who follows the sayings of the Theras, I think it's okay to refute the authenticity of mahayana scriptures, simply because that's not what our Theras were saying. But to refute abhidhamma means to refute the Theras, and as such I'm not sure how one can be a Theravada Buddhist in that case. Sure one can still be a Buddhist, maybe a Modern Buddhist, or a Sarvastivada Buddhist, but not a Theravada Buddhist I would think (hmm, by that definition I'm a modern buddhist most of the time - when I'm not reading CMA that is :smile: ).

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Sep 02, 2009 2:37 pm

pt1 wrote:
In the Theravada tradition the Abhidhamma Pitaka is held in the highest esteem, revered as the crown jewel of the Buddhist scriptures.
That's the thing about Theravada - it really holds abhidhamma very dear, and considers that what Theras were saying to be true. So, for someone who follows the sayings of the Theras, I think it's okay to refute the authenticity of mahayana scriptures, simply because that's not what our Theras were saying. But to refute abhidhamma means to refute the Theras, and as such I'm not sure how one can be a Theravada Buddhist in that case. Sure one can still be a Buddhist, maybe a Modern Buddhist, or a Sarvastivada Buddhist, but not a Theravada Buddhist I would think (hmm, by that definition I'm a modern buddhist most of the time - when I'm not reading CMA that is :smile: ).

Best wishes


Or you could hold the Abhidhamma to be of immense value and authentic words of the Theras, but not necessarily see it as Buddhavacana. It was certainly composed and written by Theras, but that does not necessarily make it the exact words of Buddha. They can even be considered highly beneficial and important, but Buddhavacana is another matter.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby pt1 » Wed Sep 02, 2009 2:41 pm

Hi all, this part of the introduction to CMA by Bhikkhu Bodhi seems most relevant to our discussion, so I'll reproduce it here together with the first paragraph that Ben transcribed earlier so that people don't need to search for it on the previous page.

The Origins of the Abhidhamma

Although modern critical scholarship attempts to explain the formation of the Abhidhamma by a gradual evolutionary process,4 Theravada orthodoxy assigns its genesis to the Buddha himself. According to the Great Commentary (maha-atthakatha) quoted by Acariya Buddhaghosa, "What is known as Abhidhamma is not the province nor the sphere of a disciple; it is the province, the sphere of the Buddhas."5 The commentarial tradition holds, moreover, that it was not merely the spirit of the Abhidhamma, but the letter as well, that was already realized and expounded by the Buddha during his lifetime.

The Atthasalini relates that in the fourth week after the Enlightenment, while the Blessed One was still dwelling in the vicinity of the Bodhi Tree, he sat in a jewel house (ratanaghara) in the northwest direction. This jewel house was not literally a house made of precious stones, but was the place where he contemplated the seven books of the Abhidhamma Pitaka. He contemplated their contents in turn, beginning with the Dhammasangani, but while investigating the first six books his body did not emit rays. However, upon coming to the Patthana, when "he began to contemplate the twenty-four universal conditional relations of root, object, and so on, his omniscience certainly found its opportunity therein. For as the great fish Timiratipingala finds room only in the great ocean 84,000 yojanas in depth, so his omniscience truly finds room only in the Great Book. Rays of six colors — indigo, golden, red, white, tawny, and dazzling — issued from the Teacher's body, as he was contemplating the subtle and abstruse Dhamma by his omniscience which had found such opportunity."6

Theravada orthodoxy thus maintains that the Abhidhamma Pitaka is authentic Word of the Buddha, in this respect differing from an early rival school, the Sarvastivadins. This school also had an Abhidhamma Pitaka consisting of seven books, considerably different in detail from the Theravada treatises. According to the Sarvastivadins, the books of the Abhidhamma Pitaka were composed by Buddhist disciples, several being attributed to authors who appeared generations after the Buddha. The Theravada school, however, holds that the Blessed One himself expounded the books of the Abhidhamma, except for the detailed refutation of deviant views in the Kathavatthu, which was the work of the Elder Moggaliputta Tissa during the reign of Emperor Asoka.

The Pali Commentaries, apparently drawing upon an old oral tradition, maintain that the Buddha expounded the Abhidhamma, not in the human world to his human disciples, but to the assembly of devas or gods in the Tavatimsa heaven. According to this tradition, just prior to his seventh annual rains retreat the Blessed One ascended to the Tavatimsa heaven and there, seated on the Pandukambala stone at the foot of the Paricchattaka tree, for the three months of the rains he taught the Abhidhamma to the devas who had assembled from the ten thousand world-systems. He made the chief recipient of the teaching his mother, Mahamaya-devi, who had been reborn as a deva. The reason the Buddha taught the Abhidhamma in the deva world rather than in the human realm, it is said, is because in order to give a complete picture of the Abhidhamma it has to be expounded from the beginning to the end to the same audience in a single session. Since the full exposition of the Abhidhamma requires three months, only devas and Brahmas could receive it in unbroken continuity, for they alone are capable of remaining in one posture for such a length of time.

However, each day, to sustain his body, the Buddha would descend to the human world to go on almsround in the northern region of Uttarakuru. After collecting almsfood he went to the shore of Anotatta Lake to partake of his meal. The Elder Sariputta, the General of the Dhamma, would meet the Buddha there and receive a synopsis of the teaching given that day in the deva world: "Then to him the Teacher gave the method, saying, 'Sariputta, so much doctrine has been shown.' Thus the giving of the method was to the chief disciple, who was endowed with analytical knowledge, as though the Buddha stood on the edge of the shore and pointed out the ocean with his open hand. To the Elder also the doctrine taught by the Blessed One in hundreds and thousands of methods became very clear."7

Having learned the Dhamma taught him by the Blessed One, Sariputta in turn taught it to his own circle of 500 pupils, and thus the textual recension of the Abhidhamma Pitaka was established. To the Venerable Sariputta is ascribed the textual order of the Abhidhamma treatises as well as the numerical series in the Patthana. Perhaps we should see in these admissions of the Atthasalini an implicit acknowledgement that while the philosophical vision of the Abhidhamma and its basic architecture originate from the Buddha, the actual working out of the details, and perhaps even the prototypes of the texts themselves, are to be ascribed to the illustrious Chief Disciple and his entourage of students. In other early Buddhist schools, too, the Abhidhamma is closely connected with the Venerable Sariputta, who in some traditions is regarded as the literal author of Abhidhamma treatises.8

Notes:
4. See, for example, the following: A.K. Warder, Indian Buddhism, 2nd rev. ed. (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1980), pp. 218-24; Fumimaro Watanabe, Philosophy and its Development in the Nikayas and Abhidhamma (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1983), pp. 18-67; and the article "Abhidharma Literature" by Kogen Mizuno in Encyclopaedia of Buddhism, Fasc. 1 (Govt. of Ceylon, 1961).
5. Asl. 410; Expos., p. 519
6. Asl. 13; Expos., pp. 16-17
7. Asl. 16; Expos., p. 20
8. The first book of the Sarvastivadin Abhidharma, the Sangitiparyaya, is ascribed to Sariputta by Chinese sources (but not by Sanskrit and Tibetan sources), while the second book, the Dharmaskandha, is ascribed to him by Sanskrit and Tibetan sources (but not by Chinese sources). The Chinese canon also contains a work entitled the Shariputra Abhidharma-Shastra, the school of which is not known.


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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Sep 02, 2009 2:42 pm

retrofuturist wrote:The Place of the Abhidhamma Pitaka, Any real need for controversy? (E-Sangha)
http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index. ... opic=26053

The history of Abhidhamma Pitaka (Web Sangha)
http://www.websangha.org/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=236


A lot of information and views there. I have just started skimming some of it. Here is one from Bhikkhu Pesala:

In my view, before trying to claim that the Abhidhamma is or is not the Buddha's teaching, we should acquire a thorough knowledge of the Tipitaka. Then we would be well qualified to compare the Abhidhamma to the Suttanta and Vinaya to see if it is compatible or not. It is not a topic that could be discussed by the average Buddhist these days, at least not to reach any useful conclusions. If it interests you, study it. If not, study something else.

Why bother to argue about whether or not it really belongs in the Tipitaka? Those learned elders who participated in the Sixth Buddhist Council thought so. Mingun Jetavan Sayādaw thought it worth spending several years of his precious life memorising and studying it. Has anyone here memorized even one book of the Dīghanikāya or Majjhimanikāya? You have all memorized at least one of the Long Discourses like the Mahāsatipatthāna Sutta at least surely?

There is no evidence to suggest that the Abhidhamma was rehearsed at the First Buddhist Council. Perhaps there were good reasons for that, but it is not even mentioned.


Written back in 2006, note that Bhikkhu Pesala is Classical Theravada all the way and was trained by the best Abhidhamma masters from Burma, but also agrees that the Abhidhamma was not recited at the First Coucil.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby pt1 » Wed Sep 02, 2009 2:48 pm

TheDhamma wrote:Or you could hold the Abhidhamma to be of immense value and authentic words of the Theras, but not necessarily see it as Buddhavacana. It was certainly composed and written by Theras, but that does not necessarily make it the exact words of Buddha. They can even be considered highly beneficial and important, but Buddhavacana is another matter.

Hi, the problem though is that the Theras are saying that abhidhamma is Buddhavaccana, so your above view equals to what Sarvastivadins were saying at the time, and Theravadins refuting.

From the CMA quote:
Theravada orthodoxy thus maintains that the Abhidhamma Pitaka is authentic Word of the Buddha, in this respect differing from an early rival school, the Sarvastivadins. This school also had an Abhidhamma Pitaka consisting of seven books, considerably different in detail from the Theravada treatises. According to the Sarvastivadins, the books of the Abhidhamma Pitaka were composed by Buddhist disciples, several being attributed to authors who appeared generations after the Buddha. The Theravada school, however, holds that the Blessed One himself expounded the books of the Abhidhamma, except for the detailed refutation of deviant views in the Kathavatthu, which was the work of the Elder Moggaliputta Tissa during the reign of Emperor Asoka.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Sep 02, 2009 4:00 pm

pt1 wrote:[
Hi, the problem though is that the Theras are saying that abhidhamma is Buddhavaccana, so your above view equals to what Sarvastivadins were saying at the time, and Theravadins refuting.


I believe it was the Mahāsāṃghika school that did not want it seen as Canonical. The Sarvastivadins just had disagreements over content. The Theravada term came a little later.

It can be Canonical, but not Buddhavacana in the same way the Milindapanha is Canonical in the Burmese Tipitaka. The Milindapanha is a question and answer format, which explains the Dhamma very well, but a story that takes place several hundred years after the parinibbana of Buddha and thus, not Buddhavacana. That does not diminish its usefulness or inclusiveness with the Canon.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby pt1 » Wed Sep 02, 2009 4:17 pm

TheDhamma wrote:I believe it was the Mahāsāṃghika school that did not want it seen as Canonical. The Sarvastivadins just had disagreements over content. The Theravada term came a little later.

It can be Canonical, but not Buddhavacana in the same way the Milindapanha is Canonical in the Burmese Tipitaka. The Milindapanha is a question and answer format, which explains the Dhamma very well, but a story that takes place several hundred years after the parinibbana of Buddha and thus, not Buddhavacana. That does not diminish its usefulness or inclusiveness with the Canon.


Hmm, perhaps I'm misunderstanding you, but as far as I can understand Bhikkhu Bodhi - Sarvastivada view was that abhidhamma was composed by disciples. Isn't this exactly what you said in a previous post? So, it's not about what's canonical, but about who uttered abhidhamma - Sarvastivada says it's the disciples, Theravada (or Staviravada, as I think it was called at the time) says it's the Buddha. It really seems as plain as that to me, please point out if I'm misunderstanding something. Here's that quote again:

Theravada orthodoxy thus maintains that the Abhidhamma Pitaka is authentic Word of the Buddha, in this respect differing from an early rival school, the Sarvastivadins. This school also had an Abhidhamma Pitaka consisting of seven books, considerably different in detail from the Theravada treatises. According to the Sarvastivadins, the books of the Abhidhamma Pitaka were composed by Buddhist disciples, several being attributed to authors who appeared generations after the Buddha. The Theravada school, however, holds that the Blessed One himself expounded the books of the Abhidhamma, except for the detailed refutation of deviant views in the Kathavatthu, which was the work of the Elder Moggaliputta Tissa during the reign of Emperor Asoka.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Sep 02, 2009 4:25 pm

The Theravada term came shortly after the Third Council. At the time of the Third Council, the early Buddhists were called something like 'Vibhajjavadins.'

The quote from Narada (or Bhikkhu Bodhi) is the classical view. There is also a 'Modern Theravada' view which focuses on the earliest teachings, such as the five Nikayas and the Patimokkha of the Vinaya. Just as in Asian countries there are many different forms of Theravada and some nations even have their own version of the Tipitaka (Burma) and their own patriarch, in many modern nations, we have been mostly arranged by the 'classical' view you quoted above and the 'modern Theravada' which may not see the Abhidhamma and the Commentaries as Buddhavacana.

I do not support litmus tests on what makes a Theravadin. It is very hard to get two people, even if they are married to agree on everything, I can't imagine getting all Theravadins to agree on the Abhidhamma and other issues. :tongue:

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby pt1 » Wed Sep 02, 2009 6:30 pm

Hi, I’m sorry, I’m a little confused now as your point of view seems to shift - are you then saying that Modern Theravada shares the view of Mahasamghikas regarding abhidhamma ? In the previous post you said that they didn’t want abhidhamma as canonical either.

And I don’t yet understand how is your view of abhidhamma authorship different from Sarvastivadin view.

Anyway, I guess the point is - why call ourselves theravadins (or modern theravadins) if our view(s) are in fact identical to those of other sects and not theravada?

I mean, the root of the problem doesn’t seem to be that we as theravadins agree or not agree – therevada position is spelled out in the katthavatthu and commentaries and doesn’t depend on us agreeing with it or not - the problem seems to be that we call ourselves theravadins, while in fact we harbor views of other sects - usually without realizing it, of course. It’s no wonder we can’t agree.

Perhaps it would be more useful for each one of us who would like to call ourselves “theravadins” to read kathavatthu and the commentaries and then honestly see for oneself – “okay, on this matter my view seems to be identical with this sect, and on this matter with this sect, etc.” I mean, why invent a new term like “modern theravada” if a “modern theravadin” in fact adheres to the same old set of views (or a combination of views) already presented by some other sect thousands of years ago? It just seems like lying to ourselves. Anyway, I'm sorry if all this sounds a bit rude, but I'm struggling with these same issues myself.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Sep 02, 2009 7:01 pm

The Mahasamghikas and Sarvastivadins no longer exist. We only have the Theravada from the early Buddhist schools. You are taking one snippet of their beliefs and assuming that everything else is also in agreement.

Expecting all Theravadins to even read, let alone accept the Kathavatthu would be placing expectations way too high! :tongue:

Just take a look at any number of discussions on this forum and others: masturbation, sense pleasures, God, etc. And you want the Kathavatthu to be read, understood, and accepted by all?

In my opinion if someone reads, studies and practices by the Nikayas and Patimokkha, takes refuge in the Triple Gem, and practices Theravada meditation, what else could they be called? Theravada is only appropriate; as I said before there will never be 100% agreement on all issues by adherents of any religion or sect or denomination and this applies to Buddhism and Theravada too. If by your definition, a "Modern Theravada" Buddhist is not a Theravadin, then neither is Bhikkhu Bodhi and numerous other bhikkhus and bhikkhunis who have expressed similar sentiments.

"Another danger is to let one's capacity for critical thought fly out the window and buy into everything the suttas say. After all, there is quite a lot in the suttas that can't stand up against modern scientific knowledge. We can't criticize Christian creationists while we become Buddhist variants of the same.”


Ven. Dr. Bhikkhu Bodhi, in interview with Inquiring Mind, Spring 2006 issue

http://www.inquiringmind.com/Articles/Translator.html

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby kc2dpt » Wed Sep 02, 2009 7:29 pm

pt1 wrote:Anyway, I guess the point is - why call ourselves theravadins...

What one calls oneself is of no account whatsoever. All it means when one says "I am Theravadin" is really just "I tend to follow along with Theravada teachings, moreso than I tend to teachings of other religions." The whole question of "What religion are you?" is a bad one. The question used to be,and still should be IMHO, "Who is your teacher?"

I mean, the root of the problem doesn’t seem to be that we as theravadins agree or not agree – therevada position is spelled out in the katthavatthu and commentaries and doesn’t depend on us agreeing with it or not

Agreed. The problem is not what you or I are. The problem is when you or I start attributing views to Theravada that are wrongly attributed.

the problem seems to be that we call ourselves theravadins, while in fact we harbor views of other sects

The problem in my view is when I say "I am Theravadin. I believe X." and then X is not in fact Theravada and then someone reads my statement and comes to the conclusion "Theravada teaches X." What we all need to understand is that one might call themselves Theravadin but that does not automatically make everything that comes out of their mouth Theravada. I just made some banana nutella crepes; that doesn't make them part of Theravada.

Perhaps it would be more useful for each one of us who would like to call ourselves “theravadins” to read kathavatthu and the commentaries...

Perhaps. It couldn't hurt anything. I think it would be more useful if we stopped saying "I am X". After all, as Buddhists aren't we supposed to be getting away from I-making? ;)

Anyway, I'm sorry if all this sounds a bit rude...

Not to me, but then again I'm pretty rude myself. ;)

but I'm struggling with these same issues myself.

I think the entire internet Buddhist community is as well. :?
- Peter

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby kc2dpt » Wed Sep 02, 2009 7:33 pm

TheDhamma wrote:If by your definition, a "Modern Theravada" Buddhist is not a Theravadin, then neither is Bhikkhu Bodhi and numerous other bhikkhus and bhikkhunis who have expressed similar sentiments.

Continuing the theme from my last post... what Bhikkhu Bodhi IS or IS NOT is irrelevant. What is relevant is that whenever he expresses a view at odds with Theravada tradition he is very explicit about it. He does not attempt to substitute his own views for that of Theravada.

What this does is allow one who is interested in Theravada to learn it unpolluted. Then if one wants to deviate one at least knows when and how one is deviating.

To my mind, the whole idea of "Modern Theravada" is a farse. There is no Modern Theravada. Rather there are certain ideas of certain individual modern day monks which are at odds with Theravada. These ideas may be closer to the Buddha's actual intent, or they may not be. Regardless these ideas are not Theravada. The ideas aren't; what the monks are is of no relevance.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Sep 02, 2009 7:47 pm

Peter wrote:To my mind, the whole idea of "Modern Theravada" is a farse. There is no Modern Theravada. Rather there are certain ideas of certain individual modern day monks which are at odds with Theravada. These ideas may be closer to the Buddha's actual intent, or they may not be. Regardless these ideas are not Theravada. The ideas aren't; what the monks are is of no relevance.


The above of course is an opinion. A Modern Theravadin could have a different opinion and show Sutta references for the position he or she takes. A Classical Theravadin could also show Sutta references for the position he or she takes. The labels help differentiate. Labels may have no relevance or meaning for you, but for some people they do have meaning.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Sep 02, 2009 7:51 pm

Continuing from my point above, in modern nations where Buddhism is still new, we have been pretty much grouped into Classical and Modern Theravada. That is a far cry and far short from how Theravada is currently segmented in Asia:

from Wikipedia:

The different schools in Theravada often emphasize different aspects (or parts) of the Pali Canon and the later commentaries, or differ in the focus on (and recommended way of) practice. There are also significant differences in strictness or interpretation of the Vinaya.

* Bangladesh:
o Sangharaj Nikaya
o Mahasthabir Nikaya
* Burma:
o Thudhamma Nikaya
+ Vipassana tradition of Mahasi Sayadaw and disciples
o Shwekyin Nikaya
o Dvaya Nikaya or Dvara Nikaya (see Mendelson, Sangha and State in Burma, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, 1975)
* Sri Lanka:
o Siam Nikaya
+ Waturawila (or Mahavihara Vamshika Shyamopali Vanavasa Nikaya)
o Amarapura Nikaya
+ Kanduboda (or Swejin Nikaya)
+ Tapovana (or Kalyanavamsa)
o Ramañña Nikaya
+ Galduwa (or Kalyana Yogashramaya Samsthava)
+ Delduwa
o forest nikaya
* Thailand
o Maha Nikaya
+ Dhammakaya Movement
o Thammayut Nikaya
+ Thai Forest Tradition
# Tradition of Ajahn Chah

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby kc2dpt » Wed Sep 02, 2009 7:58 pm

TheDhamma wrote:A Modern Theravadin could have a different opinion and show Sutta references for the position he or she takes. A Classical Theravadin could also show Sutta references for the position he or she takes.

Being able to support one's ideas with a sutta reference does not automatically make those ideas Theravada. This is a common conceit of many so called "modern Theravadins" - that if it can be linked back to a sutta then it is automatically Theravada Buddhism. Every idea from every school of Buddhism can be linked back to the suttas. That's what makes it Buddhism.

The labels help differentiate. Labels may have no relevance or meaning for you, but for some people they do have meaning.

They have relevance and meaning for me. They help me differentiate those with respect for tradition from those without respect for tradition. :tongue: It is one thing to say "Here is this scripture, here is how it is understood by Theravada, and here is how I understand it differently." It is quite another thing to say "I will recast the Theravada tradition in my own image." That is a lack of respect. If you have an idea which is at odds with Theravada then just say "This is my idea." To say "This idea is Theravada, just not classical Theravada, but rather modern Theravada" is meaningless at best and deceptive at worst.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby kc2dpt » Wed Sep 02, 2009 8:03 pm

TheDhamma wrote:"The different schools in Theravada often emphasize different aspects (or parts) of the Pali Canon and the later commentaries, or differ in the focus on (and recommended way of) practice. There are also significant differences in strictness or interpretation of the Vinaya."

Notice "reinterpretation of scripture" is not mentioned.
- Peter

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David N. Snyder
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Sep 02, 2009 8:04 pm

Peter wrote:Being able to support one's ideas with a sutta reference does not automatically make those ideas Theravada. This is a common conceit of many so called "modern Theravadins" - that if it can be linked back to a sutta then it is automatically Theravada Buddhism.


The Theravada does not contradict the Suttas, so Sutta referencing is appropriate at times.

Every idea from every school of Buddhism can be linked back to the suttas. That's what makes it Buddhism.


Really? What about Tantrayana? :tongue:

The labels help differentiate. Labels may have no relevance or meaning for you, but for some people they do have meaning.
They have relevance and meaning for me. They help me differentiate those with respect for tradition from those without respect for tradition. :tongue:


Okay, good, then we are in agreement. It is just a difference of opinion and interpretation on some issues.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Sep 02, 2009 8:07 pm

Peter wrote:
TheDhamma wrote:"The different schools in Theravada often emphasize different aspects (or parts) of the Pali Canon and the later commentaries, or differ in the focus on (and recommended way of) practice. There are also significant differences in strictness or interpretation of the Vinaya."

Notice "reinterpretation of scripture" is not mentioned.


How else did they come to "significant differences in the interpretation of Vinaya" ?

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Sep 03, 2009 12:29 am

Greetings Ben,

Ben wrote:The SN is indeed a jewel. Though my forays have been very brief as I am still wading very slowly through the Majjhima.


In terms of tackling the Nikayas in their whole, I actually started with the Samyutta Nikaya, primarily on account of the fact that scholars who have undertaken textual analysis and cross-canon studies (such as Ajahn Sujato) tend to agree that, overall, the Samyutta Nikaya represents the earliest stratum of the Buddha's teaching. To me that made it a logical place to start.

It's also interesting to note that because suttas deal with "abhidhammic" topics such as six sense bases, five aggregates, dependent origination and so on, they're certainly not just "conventional" (pannati) teachings... a charge often laid upon the Sutta Pitaka.

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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