Are any of the ancient texts ever at odds with each other?

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pitithefool
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Are any of the ancient texts ever at odds with each other?

Post by pitithefool »

I'm not trying to rile anything up or to try and push for rejecting texts. I'm asking you guys what you think the best way to approach this type of situation is.

Are suttas ever at odds with commentaries?

Are commentaries ever at odds with each other?

What do we do when faced with this?

For example:

AN 8.63 and SN 46.54 appear to both explicitly state that all four jhanas can be developed by using brahmaviharas as an object.

However, the Visuddhimagga appears to state that absorption from metta is not possible.

Is this right? How is this best addressed?
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Eko Care
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Re: Are any of the ancient texts ever at odds with each other?

Post by Eko Care »

I guess you have read this. How did the inconsistencies occurr in commentaries
It gives some clues about how we should look at it.
But it may not in perfect English since online translation.

(Last passages are missing in the other thread's Google translation.)
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Re: Are any of the ancient texts ever at odds with each other?

Post by robertk »

However, the Visuddhimagga appears to state that absorption from metta is not possible.

Is this right? How is this best addressed
Actually the Visuddhimagga is clear that 'absorption' is possible from metta.
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pitithefool
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Re: Are any of the ancient texts ever at odds with each other?

Post by pitithefool »

Eko Care wrote: Thu Apr 15, 2021 11:05 pm I guess you have read this. How did the inconsistencies occurr in commentaries
It gives some clues about how we should look at it.
But it may not in perfect English since online translation.

(Last passages are missing in the other thread's Google translation.)
Thank you.

I'll be honest, the google translation is very difficult for me to read and I know maybe two words in Sinhala.

Could you maybe paraphrase it, if it isn't too much effort?
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pitithefool
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Re: Are any of the ancient texts ever at odds with each other?

Post by pitithefool »

robertk wrote: Thu Apr 15, 2021 11:09 pm
However, the Visuddhimagga appears to state that absorption from metta is not possible.

Is this right? How is this best addressed
Actually the Visuddhimagga is clear that 'absorption' is possible from metta.
Ah! I read it and the instructions really make sense. I don't think I've ever actually read that part of the visuddhimagga!
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pitithefool
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Re: Are any of the ancient texts ever at odds with each other?

Post by pitithefool »

Eko Care wrote: Thu Apr 15, 2021 11:05 pm I guess you have read this. How did the inconsistencies occurr in commentaries
It gives some clues about how we should look at it.
But it may not in perfect English since online translation.

(Last passages are missing in the other thread's Google translation.)
Wow I need to read more commentaries. The visuddhimagga is great.
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BrokenBones
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Re: Are any of the ancient texts ever at odds with each other?

Post by BrokenBones »

pitithefool wrote: Thu Apr 15, 2021 9:47 pm I'm not trying to rile anything up or to try and push for rejecting texts. I'm asking you guys what you think the best way to approach this type of situation is.

Are suttas ever at odds with commentaries?

Are commentaries ever at odds with each other?

What do we do when faced with this?

For example:

AN 8.63 and SN 46.54 appear to both explicitly state that all four jhanas can be developed by using brahmaviharas as an object.

However, the Visuddhimagga appears to state that absorption from metta is not possible.

Is this right? How is this best addressed?
That particular discrepancy is that the visudhimagga says Metta can only reach the 3rd jhana while the suttas say all four... e.g...
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

There are other similar suttas.
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Re: Are any of the ancient texts ever at odds with each other?

Post by DooDoot »

pitithefool wrote: Thu Apr 15, 2021 9:47 pm AN 8.63 and SN 46.54 appear to both explicitly state that all four jhanas can be developed by using brahmaviharas as an object.
Where? How? Please quote? Thanks :shrug:
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Re: Are any of the ancient texts ever at odds with each other?

Post by DooDoot »

pitithefool wrote: Thu Apr 15, 2021 9:47 pm Are suttas ever at odds...
MN 64
For a young tender infant lying prone does not even have the notion ‘identity,’ so how could identity view arise in him?
MN 123
"I heard and learned this from the Blessed One's own lips: 'As soon as the Bodhisatta was born, he stood firmly with his feet on the ground; then he took seven steps north, and with a white parasol held over him, he surveyed each quarter and uttered the words of the Leader of the Herd: "I am the highest in the world; I am the best in the world; I am the foremost in the world. This is my last birth; now there is no renewal of being for me " This too I remember as a wonderful and marvellous quality of the Blessed One.
:alien:
pitithefool wrote: Thu Apr 15, 2021 9:47 pm Are suttas ever at odds with commentaries?
Often. One merely needs to read Bhikkhu Bodhi's use of commentaries in his sutta footnotes and how he often disagrees with the commentary. It is unlikely few (such as Venerable Dhammanando) on this forum have an real knowledge of the commentaries.
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Re: Are any of the ancient texts ever at odds with each other?

Post by confusedlayman »

robertk wrote: Thu Apr 15, 2021 11:09 pm
However, the Visuddhimagga appears to state that absorption from metta is not possible.

Is this right? How is this best addressed
Actually the Visuddhimagga is clear that 'absorption' is possible from metta.
Yes
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pitithefool
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Re: Are any of the ancient texts ever at odds with each other?

Post by pitithefool »

I've been reading the Visuddhimagga and it does indeed seem to be invaluable. It's pretty advanced, but there does still appear to be some minor inconsistencies with what little other commentary that I've read as well as suttas.

The thing is though, like Eko Care pointed out, I don't really think it matters all that much. It's not like you should reject the entirety of a work because certain parts of it don't tally exactly with the suttas, nor should we really expect them to.

I think the commentaries represent a huge and extremely important part of the Triple Gem and that's the ancient Sangha and what they knew, again like Eko Care said. Ignoring them or even rejecting them seems like disregarding the Sangha thinking that the Buddha and Dhamma are everything.

I've learned a lot from this forum!
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sphairos
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Re: Are any of the ancient texts ever at odds with each other?

Post by sphairos »

pitithefool wrote: Thu Apr 15, 2021 9:47 pm I'm not trying to rile anything up or to try and push for rejecting texts. I'm asking you guys what you think the best way to approach this type of situation is.

Are suttas ever at odds with commentaries?

Are commentaries ever at odds with each other?

What do we do when faced with this?

For example:

AN 8.63 and SN 46.54 appear to both explicitly state that all four jhanas can be developed by using brahmaviharas as an object.

However, the Visuddhimagga appears to state that absorption from metta is not possible.

Is this right? How is this best addressed?
Check this out:
Panels of the VIIth World Sanskrit Conference. Vol. II. Earliest Buddhism and Madhyamaka. 1990. P .3. (Lambert Schmithausen) wrote: When asking my colleagues to participate in a workshop on "Earliest
Buddhism"", I expected them to present papers not so much on doctrinal
issues of "Early Buddhism"l in the sense of the canonical period prior to
the development of different schools with their different positions; I
expected them to discuss rather the question whether the doctrines found
in the four Nikayas and the early verse collections can or cannot be
stratified into layers of different antiquity or elements of different
provenience, layers which may, perhaps, even include such as contain the
doctrine, or stages of the development of the doctrine, of the Buddha
himself.
I was, of course, aware of the fact that this matter is still highly
controversial. To be sure, most of the above-mentioned canonical texts
are transmitted as instructions or utterances of the Buddha himself. But
in view of the discrepancies between the versions of the different
Buddhist schools as well as for other reasons, modem scholars will hardly
assert that all these materials are literal transmissions of the Buddha's
sermons (cp. also R. Gombrich's paper). But there is no agreement at all
with regard to the question whether and to what extent these texts can
be regarded as faithfully preserving the doctrine of the Buddha himself at
least in essence, ad sensum (and, in some cases - but which ones? -
perhaps even verbatim).
(1). Some (especially, but by no means exclusively, British) Buddhologists2 stress the fundamental homogeneity and substantial authentiCity
of at least a considerable part of the Nikayic materials.
Accordingly they
tend to take divergencies within these materials, and even incoherences
(provided they admit them at all), to be of little significance; and they
tend to regard creative, innovative doctrinal developments during the oral
period of transmission to have been minimal or to have been successfully
prevented from being included into the canon. On this assumption, the
canonical texts are taken to yield a fairly coherent picture of the
authentic doctrine of the Buddha himself, and in cases of scholarly
disagreement on doctrinal issues the presentation of one truly unambiguous passage is considered to be sufficient for settling the matter
for the canon in this entirety.3
(2). As against this, other scholars are extremely sceptical with rygard
to the possibility of retrieving the doctrine of earliest Buddhism, not to
speak of the Buddha's own doctrine, from the canonical texts as we now
have them. They point, e.g., to the fact that none of these texts were
codified before the 1st century B.C. and that we do not know to what
extent they were revised even afterwards
;4 to methodological difficulties
in reconstructing the common, "pre-sectarian" heritage through a comparative study of the versions of the different schools;5 or to the
heterogeneity of their contents and to the fact that they have so far not
yet been successfully stratified in a comprehensive manner.6 These
scholars therefore try to gather reliable information on earliest (or at
least earlier) Buddhism from other sources, especially from inscriptions
...
The discussion in the workshop left little doubt that the different
approaches documented in the papers themselves are hardly compatible,
and that neither party was convinced by the arguments or achievements
of the other to the extent of changing sides.
Thus, there is - apart from
declaring the whole matter to be hopeless or simply disregarding other
positions
- no choice but to continue methodological discussion as well as
the discussion on concrete issues.1S As long as the method of dealing
with the canonical materials is controversial, it would seem reasonable to
try different approaches side by side and to test the heuristic value of
each of them. For each approach and its presuppositions will probably
lead to specific observations but prevent or distort, at the same time, the
perception of other aspects. Perhaps the future (if there is any to us, as
things are in the world) will decide which of these approaches is the
most fruitful one, and which theory about the formation of the canon is
the one by which a maximum of facts can be satisfactorily explained
without twisting or disregarding others
http://www.ahandfulofleaves.org/documen ... yamaka.pdf

On the practical side: like they say in Thai and in many Buddhist countries: the Buddha gave 84000 Teachings. You are free to try and find out what works for you, in which combination. And of course one has to find a competent teacher. Because just reading the texts in English translation on your own is a road to nowhere...
How good and wonderful are your days,
How true are your ways?
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pitithefool
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Re: Are any of the ancient texts ever at odds with each other?

Post by pitithefool »

DooDoot wrote: Fri Apr 16, 2021 5:23 am
pitithefool wrote: Thu Apr 15, 2021 9:47 pm AN 8.63 and SN 46.54 appear to both explicitly state that all four jhanas can be developed by using brahmaviharas as an object.
Where? How? Please quote? Thanks :shrug:
Well I may be wrong about the interpretation, about metta specifically but
"Then you should train yourself thus: 'Good-will, as my awareness-release, will be developed, pursued, handed the reins and taken as a basis, given a grounding, steadied, consolidated, & well-undertaken.' That's how you should train yourself. When you have developed this concentration in this way, you should develop this concentration with directed thought & evaluation, you should develop it with no directed thought & a modicum of evaluation, you should develop it with no directed thought & no evaluation, you should develop it accompanied by rapture... not accompanied by rapture... endowed with a sense of enjoyment; you should develop it endowed with equanimity.
In reference to karuna
There is the case where a monk develops mindfulness as a factor for awakening accompanied by compassion, dependent on seclusion [...] I tell you, monks, awareness-release through compassion has the sphere of the infinitude of space as its excellence.
This seems to explicitly state 4 jhanas rather than three. The same formula is repeated verbatim with each of the Barhmaviharas as well as each of the four satipatthana.

The Vism explains:
3. As to the kind of jhána: among those that bring absorption, the ten kasióas
together with mindfulness of breathing bring all four jhánas. The ten kinds of
foulness together with mindfulness occupied with the body bring the first jhána.
The first three divine abidings bring three jhánas. The fourth divine abiding and
the four immaterial states bring the fourth jhána. This is “as to the kind of jhána.”
And
So, in order to surmount that [materiality], he enters upon the
fourth jhána in any one of the nine kasióas beginning with the earth kasina and
omitting the limited-space kasina.
And
One who abides in compassion has come to know thoroughly the danger
in materiality, since compassion is aroused in him when he sees the suffering of
beings that has as its material sign (cause) beating with sticks, and so on. So,
well knowing the danger in materiality, when he removes whichever kasina
[concept he was contemplating], whether that of the earth kasina or another, and
applies his mind to the space [that remains (see X.6)], which is the escape from
materiality, then his mind enters into that [space] without difficulty.
However, it seems that the inconsistency is only apparent at a superficial level. The objects treated in the Vism are quite strictly delimited but seem to be able to give rise to other objects. The way it describes Kayagatasati, for example, is in terms of repulsiveness and that it only leads to the first jhana but it also states that Kayagatasati is explained elsewhere in terms of four elements and colors, all of which lead to all four jhanas.

The way it describes the four brahmavihara is also interesting because it goes to great length to treat them individually while also delineating what is possible with the singular meditation object in isolation from others or other qualities it may possess.

This brings a question to my mind though. I may need to read it more, but it seems that there may be no actual conflict with the suttas above because of the aforementioned properties of certain objects to be associated with others simultaneously that lead to higher concentration.

I.e., if one attains the fourth jhana meditating on brahmavihara, it is because it was endowed with equanimity or it is because a certain kasina. Likewise with kayagatasati, if one surmounts the first jhana contemplating the body, it is done so with an element kasina or with a color kasina.

This last part may be going on a limb, but do these objects delineate in practice? I.e. if one is practicing breathing meditation and reaches the fourth jhana but wishes to go on to infinite space, the breathing meditation could be endowed with the space property or likewise another color or element or limited space kasina. Is such a mixing possible? It seems so or at least they arise in succession. I could be wrong though, I haven't really read much of this.
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Eko Care
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Re: Are any of the ancient texts ever at odds with each other?

Post by Eko Care »

A somewhat better translation is to be continued in thread: Commentary Review - How did the inconsistencies in the commentaries come about?
Eko Care wrote: Fri Apr 16, 2021 5:34 pm I hope to post here the first half of the commentary review article by venerable Mahawa Gnanaloka, which was in Sinhala and the google translation is unclear. And I hope to post the remaining half of the article after some hours because the editing of google translation is difficult for a non-English person.
(My translation may be not very good as well.)
How did the inconsistencies in the comments come about?
Commentary Review - Article (9),
by
Tripitaka Master
Mahawa Gnanaloka Thero

"What is the Atthakata(commentary) ? And how is it a Buddha's discourse ? Why should we accept the present commentaries ?"
We have revealed the answers to the above questions in the previous articles. In spite of this, the Adhammavadins try to reiterate that the commentary is not a discourse of the Buddha, citing various errors in the present commentaries. Ven. Polwatte Buddhadatta is the one who emphasized that the Atthakatha cannot be the Pakinnaka Deasana (Explanatary Sermons), by presenting various inconsistencies of Atthakatha.It is important for anyone who inquires about the Dhamma to pay attention to the various contradictions that arise in such commentaries. Therefore, in this article, we intend to look into the reasons for the inconsistencies in the current commentary.

The Pali text was preached by the Supreme Buddha and its interpretation (Atthakata) was maintained by the disciples such as Sariputra , Moggallayana , Mahakashyapa and Ananda. The Tripitaka with its textual interpretations was the subject of the first , second and third councils. It is pretty well known that the Pali text had memorized, bore and maintained by the Bhanaka(preacher) lineages such as Dīghabhāṇaka , Majjhimabhāṇaka. But there is no mention of a Bhanaka lineage who maintained the interpretation (Atthakatha) because each of the Bhanaka lineages also bore the interpretation of the Dhamma which they had memorized and carried. But the Pali text was maintained by memorizing and the commentary was maintained as interpretations. There is only a little space to appear inconsistencies between the two, because maintaining was done by chanting from time to time. Therefore, there are only very few differences can be seen in the text books available today .

Each lineage of Bhanakas bore only their own commentary, and there was no difference between the interpretations of the basic objectives that all of them endured. But it is not surprising that in the absence of books, there are some inconsistencies in certain numerical facts, environmental information, etc. that do not help in the realization of Nirvana. It is a wonder that so many people, including Ven. Buddhadatta, make such an unimportant point by saying that there are inconsistencies in the commentaries. The interpretations of objective doctrines do not differ between any two commentaries. Those who see such a difference will not be able to interpret the Dhamma due to pettiness.

It is timely to comment on some of the inconsistencies in the Atthakatha, pionted out by Ven. Buddhadatta from the very beginning of his criticism. One of the points he makes is the numerical error of the Brahmins who examined the features of the Bodhisattva (Commentary , pp .03, 04). In one commentary it is stated that five Brahmins said that the Bodhisattvas were definitely enlightened, and in another commentary it was said that only the Brahmin Kondanna said that. It must have been a mistake in maintaining commentaries by different lineages. Such a mistake can occur between Bhanaka lineages and there is no impediment by it to attain Nirvana. If so, did not Acariya Buddhaghosa, who edited both the Majjhima Nikaya commentary and the Anguttara commentary, see this difference ? He did see. If so, why did no he not correct them ? It is a good example of their piety. Because a Buddha himself must come down again to correct such matters . It cannot be corrected by inquiring wisely about objective doctrines. So they did as they were told, without showing any 'own views'. It ensured that there was little or no change in the Dhamma in their service.

But if there was any mismatch between the objectives that affect the Sasana, he himself said that he re-corrected them all, by the phrase "tasmahi yam atthakathasu vuttam - tam vajjayitvana pamadalekham".
We have outlined this in our fifth (5) article.
continued....
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Re: Are any of the ancient texts ever at odds with each other?

Post by DooDoot »

pitithefool wrote: Fri Apr 16, 2021 2:21 pm Well I may be wrong about the interpretation, about metta specifically but
"Then you should train yourself thus: 'Good-will, as my awareness-release, will be developed, pursued, handed the reins and taken as a basis, given a grounding, steadied, consolidated, & well-undertaken.' That's how you should train yourself. When you have developed this concentration in this way, you should develop this concentration with directed thought & evaluation, you should develop it with no directed thought & a modicum of evaluation, you should develop it with no directed thought & no evaluation, you should develop it accompanied by rapture... not accompanied by rapture... endowed with a sense of enjoyment; you should develop it endowed with equanimity.
To me, the above says:

1. develop metta for metta release

2. then, later, develop samadhi for jhana

it does not appear the metta is for jhana but is only a foundation, similar to the below:
And as I remained thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, thinking imbued with non-ill will arose in me. I discerned that 'Thinking imbued with non-ill will has arisen in me; and that leads neither to my own affliction, nor to the affliction of others, nor to the affliction of both. It fosters discernment, promotes lack of vexation & leads to Unbinding. If I were to think & ponder in line with that even for a night... even for a day... even for a day & night, I do not envision any danger that would come from it, except that thinking & pondering a long time would tire the body. When the body is tired, the mind is disturbed; and a disturbed mind is far from concentration.' So I steadied my mind right within, settled, unified, & concentrated it. Why is that? So that my mind would not be disturbed.

MN 19
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

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