The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Sep 04, 2009 12:40 am

Greetings Manapa,

Manapa wrote:does the Abhidhamma (or anyother supposidly Buddhavacana) fit with the teachings leading to liberation or do they deviate from the path?


I think that is at the crux of this issue. Yet, who do we trust to answer such a question? A Sammasambuddha? An arahant? A non-returner? A once-returner? A stream-entrant? A Thera? Ourselves? How can we validate the "enlightenment credentials" of people who claim to be such?

"Fit with" is also an interesting term. Does it mean, on one hand, "the most profound explanation, as explained by a Buddha", or on the other hand, "not inconsistent with the teachings of the Buddha". Again, people may have different expectations. Who do we trust to determine fit?

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)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Sep 04, 2009 12:49 am

Just realised and think I should clarify, I am on about arahants who we think are Arahants as in Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Boowa etc as speaking words of a Buddha, not for instance anything I say or anyone as speaking Buddhas words, although I have read some of my words :coffee: and no they are not :tongue:
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Sep 04, 2009 12:56 am

Greetings Manapa,

With the greatest respect to Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Boowa... I would never be comfortable in calling anything they say Buddhavacana. Even those who are purported to be arahants do not speak in unison on certain issues. Consider for instance Ajahn Chah's dismissiveness of much of the Abhidhammic and commentarial material. Contrast this with some of the Burmese masters, for example.

Who to believe as definitive Buddhavacana? Why open that Pandora's Box?

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 great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:05 am

retrofuturist wrote:For me though, this application of Buddhavacana is a slippery slope. I'm all for the Buddha declaring he would have spoken in such a way, but once people who aren't Sammasambuddhas start declaring that the now-deceased Buddha would have spoken in such a way... then I think things start to go awry. Subtleties and profundity get missed, and the process repeats ad infinitum until what remains is not Buddhavacana by anyone's definition.


Since the Theragatha and Therigatha are included as Buddhavacana, but obviously not the words of Buddha, another more middle way position of Buddhavacana could be the words of Buddha, plus those enlightened elders (monks and nuns) during the time of Buddha, up to the First Council.

That would eliminate the possibilities of the slippery slope you refer to above, and certainly not including anything anyone said today as Buddhavacana. :tongue:

That would include at least the first 4 Nikayas, some or most of the Khuddaka Nikaya, the Patimokkha and the rest depending upon your view of the historical information from scholars and the later councils.

Or if we accept Buddhavacana to include all those elders up to the Third or even Fourth Council, then we have the current Tipitaka as Buddhavacana.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:12 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Manapa,

Manapa wrote:does the Abhidhamma (or anyother supposidly Buddhavacana) fit with the teachings leading to liberation or do they deviate from the path?


I think that is at the crux of this issue. Yet, who do we trust to answer such a question? A Sammasambuddha? An arahant? A non-returner? A once-returner? A stream-entrant? A Thera? Ourselves? How can we validate the "enlightenment credentials" of people who claim to be such?

"Fit with" is also an interesting term. Does it mean, on one hand, "the most profound explanation, as explained by a Buddha", or on the other hand, "not inconsistent with the teachings of the Buddha". Again, people may have different expectations.

Metta,
Retro. :)

not read this when I had posted my last responce, but in answer to your responce to that responce (now my head goes hurty :thinking: ) is ehipasiko
but I also think that is the answer to this reply also, or at least in part, who can we trust? we are to make ourselfves like an island, but islands are not disconected from everything else, under the sea we can see that islands are connected, we need friends who can help us, but should we rely on them to provide all the answers? or should we rely on our own understanding to help us? or should we use both?

personally I think we should use what we need to, if we find ourselves going off course then see where the problem is and amend that problem.
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:17 am

Greetings David,

TheDhamma wrote:Since the Theragatha and Therigatha are included as Buddhavacana


Out of interest, do you know who defined them as such, and when?

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 great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:27 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings David,
TheDhamma wrote:Since the Theragatha and Therigatha are included as Buddhavacana

Out of interest, do you know who defined them as such, and when?


I don't know. Where's Bhante Dhammanando when you need him? :tongue:

My guess would be because they are all written by arahants and well-up on the 'Chronology of Pali Canon' list by Thomas William Rhys Davids in his Buddhist India.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:29 am

TheDhamma wrote:That would eliminate the possibilities of the slippery slope you refer to above, and certainly not including anything anyone said today as Buddhavacana. :tongue:

Or if we accept Buddhavacana to include all those elders up to the Third or even Fourth Council, then we have the current Tipitaka as Buddhavacana.


1 - is tomorrow open for some Buddhavacana??? :thinking:

2 - then why not the 5th & 6th? then the more recent burmese additions would be included.

I think a safe bet would be any Arahant speaks the words of a Buddha, but this does leave open the conundrum in Retros/mine slightly side discussion.

personally I feel that it falls on faith, I have met one monk who did not inspire me in the slightest and would have a hard time saying he was at any level of the path other than being clothed in robes, and another monk whos teaching and manner had me instantly thinking should he be saying doing this but after each thought feeling inspired to practice harder and have no problem with believing he is a Arahant and saying so.
Last edited by retrofuturist on Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: corrected attribute of quote
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:35 am

Manapa wrote:2 - then why not the 5th & 6th? then the more recent burmese additions would be included.


If you accept the account from the Commentaries, the era we are in now is 'not open' to arahants and non-returner is the highest state one can reach.

That would mean the 5th & 6th councils had no arahants in attendance (years 1871 & 1954).
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:39 am

TheDhamma wrote:
Manapa wrote:2 - then why not the 5th & 6th? then the more recent burmese additions would be included.


If you accept the account from the Commentaries, the era we are in now is 'not open' to arahants and non-returner is the highest state one can reach.

That would mean the 5th & 6th councils had no arahants in attendance (years 1871 & 1954).


That is true, so I take it tomorow is closed also :group: LOL

I have occasionally wondered why such a 'timeframe' developed it doesn't seam to make sense to me, but I hav't read the relevant info on it
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:09 am

Greetings Manapa, all,

Manapa wrote:I think a safe bet would be any Arahant speaks the words of a Buddha, but this does leave open the conundrum in Retros/mine slightly side discussion.


As a counter to that proposition, I would put forward an example from the Dhanañjani Sutta where... (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el090.html)

The Venerable Sariputta explains to the brahman Dhanañjani that the multifarious duties of a layman are no excuse for wrong moral conduct, nor do they exempt one from painful consequences of such conduct in a future existence. Later, when Dhanañjani was on his deathbed he requested the Elder to visit him, and the Venerable Sariputta spoke to him, on the way to Brahma through the Brahma-viharas. The Buddha mildly reproached the elder for not having led Dhanañjani to a higher understanding.


Link to sutta extract: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... 0.html#p59

In other words, what venerable Sariputta said to Dhanañjani was not incorrect... it certainly "fit" with the Dhamma and was in accord with his enlightened experiences as an arahant, but it is certainly not what the Buddha would have spoken or done, in his capacity of being a Sammasambuddha, thus... under such circumstances, are comments like Sariputta's to be understood as Buddhavacana?

My preference here is obviously... no.

If the Buddha had "rubber stamped" it with his "explained it as I would have done" style approval, I would permit it as Buddhavacana.

Even the great General of the Dhamma, the mighty venerable Sariputta, did not always speak Buddhavacana, let alone the arahants and commentators that were to speak and write of the Dhamma in later years. I hope this and above comments provide some clarity as to the stringent criteria I hold the texts to, and why the Abhidhamma Pitaka, given all available evidence, does not pass this test. It's not through lack of respect of those who came later, but rather, it's indicative of the respect I hold for the Buddha and the way, in both content and means, by which he expounded the Dhamma.

The Buddha did not need his teachings to be refined or systemized by arahants for him. I believe he already taught them as perfectly as anyone could do.

:buddha1:

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 great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:19 am

EDIT Ignore this post already answered

retrofuturist wrote:Link to sutta extract: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... 0.html#p59

In other words, what venerable Sariputta said to Dhanañjani was not incorrect... it certainly "fit" with the Dhamma and was in accord with his enlightened experiences as an arahant, but it is certainly not what the Buddha would have spoken or done, in his capacity of being a Sammasambuddha, thus... under such circumstances, are comments like Sariputta's to be understood as Buddhavacana?

My preference here is obviously... no.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Are all of Sariputta's words to be left out of being classed as Buddhavacana? or Ananda's?
Last edited by Cittasanto on Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:23 am

Greetings,

Manapa wrote:Are all of Sariputta's words to be left out of being classed as Buddhavacana? or Ananda's?


I updated the above post a little while you were asking this question, so perhaps it has already been partly answered.

I will say:

1. I may apply a more stringent definition of Buddhavacana to others, so keep that in mind.
2. Directly in response to your question... (for me) they only constitute Buddhavacana if the Buddha "rubber-stamped" them as detailed above.

Again, that's my approach and my preference. Of course, others are free to tackle such issues by alternative methods and via their own discretion.

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 great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:42 am

cant delete it for some reason?? pointless post after your edit!

I think we agree on this, although I am less strict than you (on this matter atleast)

as I have said before I think we agree on more than disagree on.


retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Manapa wrote:Are all of Sariputta's words to be left out of being classed as Buddhavacana? or Ananda's?


I updated the above post a little while you were asking this question, so perhaps it has already been partly answered.

I will say:

1. I may apply a more stringent definition of Buddhavacana to others, so keep that in mind.
2. Directly in response to your question... (for me) they only constitute Buddhavacana if the Buddha "rubber-stamped" them as detailed above.

Again, that's my approach and my preference. Of course, others are free to tackle such issues by alternative methods and via their own discretion.

Metta,
Retro. :)
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:56 am

Short intermission break for some humor:

From RobertK's abhidhamma study group:

Robert,
A few years ago I tried reading the Abhidhamma but I kept falling asleep from boredom (another reason why it was taught in the deva-realm - their ability to stay awake :-) But hearing you constantly espouse the virtues of this body of work has aroused my curiousity again. I can understand how the detailed elucidation of all the permutations of sensory/mental/physical phenomena can help break down the notion of a "self", but besides this what other aspects of the abhidhamma do you find particularly valuable? Is there a cliff notes version of it I can read? I don't have the stamina or leisure time of a deva at the moment.
FK
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby pt1 » Fri Sep 04, 2009 8:03 am

TheDhamma wrote:At first glance it looks like the case for the recitation from the First Council is only from the later commentaries. Some of the commentaries were written as early as 250 BC, but most were written several hundred years after the Buddha's parinibbana. From what I understand some commentaries go to as far as the 9th century AD or even later?

Hi, I think the origin of commentaries and their alleged dates of creation are probably the main controversial point here because both camps use it in their arguments, but to completely opposite ends (to be clear - when saying "commentaries", the reference is to atthakathas, not to tikas and other later derivative works).

From what i gather so far, the theravada position is that:
1. atthakathas originated at the time of the Buddha
2. were sung at the first council
3. Mahinda took them to Sri Lanka in 3rd century BCE
4. at some point they were translated (in parts or whole) into Sinhala
5. in 5th century CE, Buddhagosha edited and translated them back into Pali, and in that form they came down to us.

Regarding point 5, it should be noted that Buddhagosha was the editor and translator, not composer/creator. I kind of think of him as the ancient Bhikkhu Bodhi :smile: Anyway, editing and translation of the major atthakathas (to the 4 nikayas and 7 abhidhamma books) is ascribed to Buddhagosha, while Dhammapala, Buddhadatta and others helped with atthakathas to various Khuddaka nikaya books in the 5th and 6th century CE.

Obviously, the most controversial points are 1 and 2. While there is no doubt that some commentary came from the time of the Buddha (and some even ended up as suttas later), the question for the modern skeptic remains how much - the whole thing, only parts of it, which parts? Other than believing the accounts of the Theras (i.e. pretty much the whole thing), I have no idea how to ascertain that scholarly at the moment, if that's what you're looking for.

TheDhamma wrote:the further removed we are from the Buddha's time, the further we tend to get from the true Dhamma.

This line of argument is a bit confusing. I mean, when you say things like "later commentaries", "Some of the commentaries were written as early as 250 BC, but most were written several hundred years after the Buddha's parinibbana." - to me that kind of says that your view is that atthakathas are a later invention than the suttas. Apologies if I'm wrong there, but if I'm right, then that view seems to go against "classical theravada" position, what basically says that your view is based on some sources that you consider more reliable than the ancient accounts of the Theras in the atthakathas. I'm guessing these more reliable sources could only be the works of the XX century scholars, but by your above line of argument, they shouldn't probably even be considered in this discussion because they are by 15 centuries further removed from the Buddha than Buddhagosha was for example.

So, it's a bit confusing because any research we or others do into this subject would still be a work of scholars far removed from the Buddha's time, so basically inadmissible by the above line of argument. I mean, if the accounts of Theras who lived close to the Buddha's time are no good in this discussion, nor are the accounts of the modern scholars, then whose accounts are we looking for here? Apologies if my deductive powers of what you're thinking/saying here completely failed me :coffee:

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby Ben » Fri Sep 04, 2009 9:41 am

Nice post, pt!
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Sep 04, 2009 12:53 pm

pt1 wrote:
I mean, if the accounts of Theras who lived close to the Buddha's time are no good in this discussion, nor are the accounts of the modern scholars, then whose accounts are we looking for here? Apologies if my deductive powers of what you're thinking/saying here completely failed me :coffee:


The Buddha. :buddha2:

Ananda and the other 499 arahants at the First Council.

Do you have a atthakatha reference for the claim that the Abhidhamma was recited at the First Council? If yes, do you know the dating of that atthakatha?

So far, from the discussions in the other forums, I have only seen references that allegedly 'implied' the recitation, for example, brackets are placed next to Council like this: and then at the [First] Council . . . . (which usually means it is being interpreted or re-interpreted as being implied).
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby kc2dpt » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:43 pm

TheDhamma,

You seem to be missing pt1's point. If person A at some point in time X stated the Abhidhamma was recited at the First Council and person B at a later point in time Y stated that it wasn't, then by your own comment of "the further removed we are from the Buddha's time, the further we tend to get from the true Dhamma" we should believe person A over person B. The question therefore isn't "What is the dating of the atthakatha reference for the claim that the Abhidhamma was recited at the First Council?" The question is "Do the people who claim it wasn't recited come later or earlier than the people who claim it was recited?"

Or alternatively, "Why do you, TheDhamma, believe later claims over earlier one's on this matter?"

TheDhamma wrote:
pt1 wrote:whose accounts are we looking for here?
The Buddha.

OK, please show us the quote where the Buddha contradicts the claim that the Abhidhamma was recited at the First Council. You might find this difficult since he was already dead by that point...
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:54 pm

Peter wrote:
The question therefore isn't "What is the dating of the atthakatha reference for the claim that the Abhidhamma was recited at the First Council?" The question is "Do the people who claim it wasn't recited come later or earlier than the people who claim it was recited?"


Hi Peter,

Yes, I understand pt's point. It is here:

Hi, I think the origin of commentaries and their alleged dates of creation are probably the main controversial point here because both camps use it in their arguments, but to completely opposite ends (to be clear - when saying "commentaries", the reference is to atthakathas, not to tikas and other later derivative works).


Which is why I asked for the reference and the dating of that atthakatha. And that is why it is important to know the dating of that commentary because it seems to get at the crux of the matter.

In regard to the Buddha refuting the Abhidhamma, yes of course the Abhidhamma could not have been refuted by him since it was recited well after his parinibbana. And thus, we have this conversation, because it is not overtly mentioned in the Dhamma and Vinaya (as the Buddha referred to the Dhamma and Discipline) as his teachings.
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