How necessary is Abhidhamma study?

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How necessary is Abhidhamma study?

Postby bodom » Sun Jan 25, 2009 8:58 pm

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.

:namaste:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: How necessary is Abhidhamma study?

Postby clw_uk » Sun Jan 25, 2009 9:09 pm

I dont think you need the abhidhamma in order to reach nibbana. The essential teachings for this are in the other parts of the Pali Canon and in my opinion particually the SN and MN which i feel are more enlightening than the abhidhamma. To me the abhidhamma just expands slightly on the buddhas dhamma with the intent of an intellectual understanding of the dhamma.

Ultimately though this is just my opinion, it is for you to decide, i would recomend you read it and then contemplate if what you are reading is helping you reach cesstation or not. If you find it helpful in doing this then use it, if not then leave it.

:namaste:
Last edited by clw_uk on Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How necessary is Abhidhamma study?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jan 25, 2009 9:31 pm

Hi BBB,

I think that how useful it is to you depends to a certain extent what your practise is and how your teachers teach. If your teachers use a lot of Abhidhamma concepts (e.g. they talk about cittas, sense doors, etc) then it's less confusing if you have some idea of the basics. I see it as a more detailed way of classifying experience, an elaboration of the classifications in terms of elements, khandhas, sense bases, dependent origination steps, etc, that appear in the Suttas.

I've only studied summaries such as Abhidhamma in Daily Life by Nina Van Gorkom
http://mail.saigon.com/~anson/ebud/nina ... bhi-00.htm
http://www.zolag.co.uk/ (for PDF).
This introduction:
The Abhidhamma in Practice by N.K.G. Mendis
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el322.html
also looks useful.

Metta
Mike
Last edited by mikenz66 on Sun Jan 25, 2009 9:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How necessary is Abhidhamma study?

Postby cooran » Sun Jan 25, 2009 9:35 pm

Hello bbb, all,

The Abhidhamma is part of the Pali Canon. It is the third basket of the Tipitaka.
This excerpt from the book by Ven. Nyanaponika may be of assistance.

The Abhidhamma Philosophy ~ Its estmation in the past and its value for the present
from the book Abhidhamma Studies: Researches in Buddhist Psychology by Ven. Nyanaponika Thera

~High Esteem of Abhidhamma in Buddhist Tradition
~The Abhidhamma as System and Method
~Clarification of Terms
~Analysis of Consciousness
~The Anatta Doctrine
~Abhidhamma and Meditation
~Abhidhamma: Requirement for the Teachers of Dhamma
~Evaluation of Abhidhamma & Question of its Authenticity
~Concluding Remarks and a Warning
http://www.buddhanet.net/abhidh01.htm

metta
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Re: How necessary is Abhidhamma study?

Postby Jason » Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:49 pm

bodom_bad_boy,

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.


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.

Jason
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: How necessary is Abhidhamma study?

Postby cooran » Sun Jan 25, 2009 11:05 pm

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.

Hello Elohim,

Your choice of words is interesting - but, as we are in Classical Mahavihara Theravada folder, I'm wondering if your comments are appropriate?

metta
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---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: How necessary is Abhidhamma study?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jan 25, 2009 11:19 pm

Greetings Chris, all,

Since the topic seems to be seeking to elicit a wide range of opinions, I'm relocating it to the General Theravada discussion forum.

Thanks everyone.

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: How necessary is Abhidhamma study?

Postby Element » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:09 am

bodom_bad_boy wrote:How necessary is Abhidhamma study to ones practice?

BBB

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, no there, no this, no that, no coming or no going. Just this is the cessation of dukkha". This is the foundation for deeping practise.

Best wishes

Element
Last edited by Element on Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How necessary is Abhidhamma study?

Postby jcsuperstar » Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:01 am

Element wrote:
bodom_bad_boy wrote:How necessary is Abhidhamma study to ones practice?

BBB

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.

Best wishes

Element

isnt the training 3fold?

but i was going to bring up that LP chah and buddhadasa both didnt seem to find it nessary. though i wouldnt call it a total waste of time. what little i have read has helped. it presents the dhamma in a different way than the suttas and this may be better for some people.
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: How necessary is Abhidhamma study?

Postby Heavenstorm » Mon Jan 26, 2009 8:44 am

Element wrote:Offering my opinion, studying Abidhamma is a total waste of time. Ajahn Chah did not study it nor Ajahn Buddhadasa.


Not necessary.....perhaps but waste of time???? Come on, where do you get this from?
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Re: How necessary is Abhidhamma study?

Postby bodom » Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:46 pm

Thanks for the replys.

:namaste:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: How necessary is Abhidhamma study?

Postby piotr » Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:12 pm

Hi,

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.
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...
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Re: How necessary is Abhidhamma study?

Postby bodom » Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:17 pm

piotr wrote:Hi,

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.


Excellent! Ajahn Chah's words are always what i seem to need to hear. Thank you piotr! Ajahn Chah! :bow: :bow: :bow:

:namaste:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: How necessary is Abhidhamma study?

Postby Jesse Smith » Thu Jan 29, 2009 4:49 pm

I've kind of avoided exposing myself to Aghidhamma teachings. I can see how I would take what I read and plant it as a preconceived notion in my head. Then, during meditation, I might find myself looking for signs or indications of these preconceived notions, reading into what was going on, instead of just seeing things as they are.
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Re: How necessary is Abhidhamma study?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jan 29, 2009 6:54 pm

Hi Jesse,

Did you manage to also avoid hearing the teaching that all of what you are seeing when you meditate is Anicca, Dukkha, and Anatta?

:meditate:

Metta
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Re: How necessary is Abhidhamma study?

Postby dumb bonbu » Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:47 pm

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.
Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding.
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Re: How necessary is Abhidhamma study?

Postby bodom » Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:49 pm

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.


I dont find it intimidating, just excessive or redundant.

:namaste:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: How necessary is Abhidhamma study?

Postby dumb bonbu » Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:53 pm

hmm, i'm not sure if i'd used the word excessive though there a lot of terms and groupings that i often lose my way in. redundant...imo, i've found it helpful...i never really got a grip on rebirth (ofcourse, i don't mean to imply that i somehow now have complete understanding, i realise i have a lot to learn) until i read about the cittas.
Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding.
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Re: How necessary is Abhidhamma study?

Postby clw_uk » Thu Feb 05, 2009 10:31 pm

Found a good quote by Ajahn Chah in relation to this thread, thought id share


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."


:namaste:
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: How necessary is Abhidhamma study?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:56 pm

Greetings,

Some thoughts from Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda

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.


Source: http://www.budsas.org/ebud/whatbudbeliev/67.htm

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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