bodom_bad_boy wrote:How necessary is Abhidhamma study to ones practice? Specifically to a householders practice? Personally for me it seems excessive. It seems to be for the scholars. Maybe i am completely wrong though? I have studied the Nikayas and have really come to the conclusion that book knowledge does not equal wisdom. If book knowledge was all that was needed for enlightenment i would have been there already. Ajahn Chah reiterates this fact over and over in his teachings. For myself i want to experience the peace that the Buddhas path leads to and not just read about it. Is the Abhidhamma for the scholars only? Is there something to be found in it that i have not already learned from the Sutta Pitaka? Will it show me the way to enlightenment anymore than the Suttas will? Should i add more to my already full hands with the Sutta Pitaka? Thanks.
Elohim said: Apparently it's not all that necessary seeing as how the Buddha didn't bother to teach it to human beings. As the story goes, the Buddha originally taught the "higher Dhamma" to his mother and the other devas in Tavatimsa heaven. After each day of teaching, however, the Buddha would return to the human realm for alms (I guess the food wasn't that good in Tavatimsa heaven). The explanation of how we came to have it is that after his meal, the Buddha would give Sariputta a synopsis of the teaching given that day, which he would, in turn, would teach to his 500 hundred disciples. Of course, opinions vary as to whether the Abhidhamma is necessary. Some people feel that since we are in "degenerate times," the study of Abhidhamma is absolutely essential. There are others, however, who feel differently. As for myself, I think that the Abhidhamma is interesting and worth studying, but I would not go so far as to say that it is necessary.
bodom_bad_boy wrote:How necessary is Abhidhamma study to ones practice?
Element wrote:bodom_bad_boy wrote:How necessary is Abhidhamma study to ones practice?
Offering my opinion, studying Abidhamma is a total waste of time. Ajahn Chah did not study it nor Ajahn Buddhadasa.
If you wish to experience the peace of the Buddhist path, it is important to be grounded in sila. Second, is to develop samadhi. Samadhi is rooted in letting go and abandoning and being free from defiled mind states. This unified consciousness, is the foundation for practise. As Buddha instructed Bahiya in a few sentences: "When seeing, just see; when hearing, just hear; when knowing, just know. There will be no here, there, this, that, coming or going. Just this is the cessation of dukkha". This is the foundation for deeping practise.
Element wrote:Offering my opinion, studying Abidhamma is a total waste of time. Ajahn Chah did not study it nor Ajahn Buddhadasa.
Here is a quote from Ajahn Chah's Key to the Liberation,
Studying the Abhidhamma can be beneficial, but you have to do it without getting attached to the books. The correct way to study is to make it clear in the mind that you are studying for the realisation of truth and to transcend suffering. These days there are many different teachers of vipassana and many different methods to choose from, but actually, the practice of vipassana isn't such an easy thing to do. You can't go and do it just like that; it has to develop out of a strong foundation in sila. Try it out. Moral line, training rules and guidelines for behaviour are a necessary part of the practice – if your actions and speech are untrained and undisciplined, it's like skipping over part of magga and you won't meet with success. Some people say you don't need to practise samatha, you can go straight into vipassana, but people who speak like that tend to be lazy and want to get results without expanding any effort. They say that keeping sila isn't important to practice, but really, practising sila in itself is already quite difficult and not something you can do casually. If you were to skip the sila, then of course the whole practice would seem comfortable and convenient. It would be nice if whenever the practice involved a bit of difficulty you could just skip over it – everybody likes to avoid the difficult bits.
dumb bonbu wrote:i find it useful for mindfulness in day to day life. i was, and still am to tell the truth, a bit daunted by it but i think if you take it steadily then it's not quite as intimidating as you may initially believe.
One day, a famous woman lecturer on Buddhist metaphysics came to see Achaan Chah. This woman gave periodic teachings in Bangkok on the abhidharma and complex Buddhist psychology. In talking to Achaan Chah, she detailed how important it was for people to understand Buddhist psychology and how much her students benefited from their study with her. She asked him whether he agreed with the importance of such understanding.
"Yes, very important", he agreed.
Delighted, she further questioned whether he had his own students learn abhidharma.
"Oh, yes, of course."
And where, she asked, did he recommend they start, which books and studies were best?
"Only here," he said, pointing to his heart, "only here."
The question is also raised whether the Abhidhamma is essential for Dhamma practice. The answer to this will depend on the individual who undertakes the practice. People vary in their levels of understanding, their temperaments and spiritual development. Ideally, all the different spiritual faculties should be harmonized, but some people are quite contented with devotional practices based on faith, while others are keen on developing penetrative insight. The Abhidhamma is most useful to those who want to understand the Dhamma in greater depth and detail. It aids the development of insight into the three characteristics of existence -- impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and non-self. It is useful not only for the periods devoted to formal meditation, but also during the rest of the day when we are engaged in various mundane chores. We derive great benefit from the study of the Abhidhamma when we experience absolute reality. In addition, a comprehensive knowledge of the Abhidhamma is useful for those engaged in teaching and explaining the Dhamma. In fact the real meaning of the most important Buddhist terminologies such as Dhamma, Kamma, Samsara, Sankhara, Paticca Samuppada and Nibbana cannot be understood without a knowledge of Abhidhamma.
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