Retrofuturist's Brief Sutta-Based Refutation of Abhidhamma

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Retrofuturist's Brief Sutta-Based Refutation of Abhidhamma

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings,


Preface: This refutation is not intended as a gratuitous assault upon the Abhidhamma. Rather, it is an attempt to logically and factually demonstrate to those who evangelize the Abhidhamma, that there are indeed valid reasons for disagreeing with it, and that these reasons do not require a full and comprehensive reading of the entire Abhidhamma Pitaka and its associated commentaries. I may update it over time if more grounds for refutation come to mind.


The Abhidhamma Pitaka did not exist until the 3rd Buddhist Council, centuries after the Buddha's passing and no other Buddhist sect in history has the Theravada's Abhidhamma Pitaka. As such, it is a sectarian document and not Buddhavacana (the voice of the Buddha). Therefore, even before addressing the content of the Abhidhamma itself, the authority and necessity of the Abhidhamma should be rejected on the following grounds specified in the Sutta Pitaka.

The following refutes the Theravada tradition's dramatic origin story for the Abhidhamma...
DN16 wrote:I have set forth the Dhamma without making any distinction of esoteric and exoteric doctrine; there is nothing, Ananda, with regard to the teachings that the Tathagata holds to the last with the closed fist of a teacher who keeps some things back.
Given the Buddha did not teach it, those who say he did slander the Buddha....
AN 2.23 wrote:"Monks, these two slander the Tathagata. Which two? He who explains what was not said or spoken by the Tathagata as said or spoken by the Tathagata. And he who explains what was said or spoken by the Tathagata as not said or spoken by the Tathagata. These are two who slander the Tathagata."
Irrespective of any self-made proclamations about its doctrinal validity, the Abhidhamma world-view is unnecessary and disconnected from the goal...
SN 56.31 wrote:"In the same way, monks, those things that I have known with direct knowledge but have not taught are far more numerous [than what I have taught]. And why haven't I taught them? Because they are not connected with the goal, do not relate to the rudiments of the holy life, and do not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding. That is why I have not taught them.
In fact, the Buddha explicitly warned us about later doctrines that would obfuscate his teachings on emptiness and recommended sticking to things he actually taught...
SN 20.7 wrote:"In the course of the future there will be monks who won't listen when discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — are being recited. They won't lend ear, won't set their hearts on knowing them, won't regard these teachings as worth grasping or mastering. But they will listen when discourses that are literary works — the works of poets, elegant in sound, elegant in rhetoric, the work of outsiders, words of disciples — are recited. They will lend ear and set their hearts on knowing them. They will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering. In this way the disappearance of the discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — will come about."

"Thus you should train yourselves: 'We will listen when discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — are being recited. We will lend ear, will set our hearts on knowing them, will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering.' That's how you should train yourselves."
Despite the claims of traditionalists that the Sutta requires interpretation (by them, of course) in order to be understood, the Buddha pre-emptively refuted any such attempt to establish an intellectual monopoly over his discourses...
Vammikasutta wrote:“Bhikkhus, the Dhamma well proclaimed by me thus is clear, open, evident, and free of patchwork.”
If despite all of the above, some merit is still perceived in the Abhidhamma, let us now address some of the most common arguments and doctrinal pillars of the Abhidhamma, analysed with recourse to the Sutta...


Common Abhidhamma Argument #1 - Mentality and materiality are paramattha dhammas (i.e. ultimate dhammas)

Sutta Reponse: Never in the Suttas are materiality referred to as "dhammas". Dhammas are phenomena, whereas materiality is noumena. Instead, materiality is represented in the Sutta via mahabhuta (great elements). As for mentality, that will be addressed below.


Common Abhidhamma Argument #2 - Dhammas exist

Sutta Reponse: If there was Right View about dhammas, it would be evident that to speak of "existence" and "non-existence" is to misconceive what dhammas are...
SN 12.15 wrote:"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one."
Instead, the same sutta shows how dhammas/phenomena arise via paṭiccasamuppāda...
SN 12.15 wrote:Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications.

Common Abhidhamma Argument #3 - Dhammas exist, independent of observation

Sutta Reponse: This may be true of noumena such as mahabhuta, which are not phenomena (dhammas) but as it applies to dhammas, it is refuted by the Suttas, which state...
SN 47.42 wrote:With the arising of attentiveness there is the arising of dhammas. With the cessation of attentiveness there is the cessation of dhammas

Common Abhidhamma Argument #4 - Dhammas exist and then do not-exist with great rapidity, faster than a flash of lightning

Sutta Reponse: This argument has no basis in the Suttas, and such a binary view of phenomena is in fact refuted...
AN 3.47 wrote:"Monks, these three are fabricated characteristics of what is fabricated. Which three? Arising is discernible, passing away is discernible, alteration (literally, other-ness) while staying is discernible.

"These are three fabricated characteristics of what is fabricated.
Note, the arising, alteration/other-ness, and passing away are all discernible. This establishes what one might call a non-binary approach to the nature of phenomena. The Abhidhamma ontology does not allow for such discernment of alteration inbetween its rigid binary options of "exist" and "does not exist". One might counter this Sutta analysis saying that under rarefied meditation conditions this could be seen, but again, there is no mention of this elaborate pre-requisite in the Suttas and it therefore appears to be nothing more than apologetics.


Common Abhidhamma Argument #5 - Concepts are not dhammas (phenomena)

Sutta Reponse: This doctrinal position is a consequence of the Abhidhamma's compulsion to classify dhammas as either existing or non-existing. Since "concepts" do not fall under the Abhidhamma classification of dhammas, they are denied existence, and denied the status of being "dhammas" (phenomena). However, anyone who has ever had an idea knows fully well that ideas are experienced. The Suttas confirm this common sense view...
SN 35.93 wrote:"In dependence on the mind & ideas there arises mind-consciousness. The mind is inconstant, changeable, of a nature to become otherwise. Ideas are inconstant, changeable, of a nature to become otherwise. Thus this pair is both wavering & fluctuating — inconstant, changeable, of a nature to become otherwise.
Instructions on observing the phenomena of ideas are presented in the Satipatthana Sutta...
MN 10 wrote:Thus he lives contemplating ideas in ideas internally, or he lives contemplating ideas in ideas externally, or he lives contemplating ideas in ideas internally and externally. He lives contemplating origination factors in ideas, or he lives contemplating dissolution factors in ideas, or he lives contemplating origination-and-dissolution factors in ideas. Or his mindfulness is established with the thought, "There are ideas," to the extent necessary just for knowledge and mindfulness, and he lives detached, and clings to nothing in the world.
Further, the Abhidhamma differentiates between paññatti (concept) and paramattha (reality). However, as it does so, it fails to discern that the set of dhammas that it meticulously tabulates are themselves paññatti, since the very notion of atomized binary dhammas is a conceptualization with no foundation either in the Suttas, or in reality. Thus, the whole Abhidhamma enterprise, with all its dhammas and relations is merely a mass of papañcasaññāsaṅkhā (i.e. concepts, reckonings, designations or linguistic conventions characterised by the prolific conceptualising tendency of the mind).


Common Abhidhamma Argument #6 - It is important to understand the different classifications for dhammas and their relations, as outlined in the Abhidhamma

Sutta Reponse: All phenomena with the exception of nibbana are fabricated. With the exception of the "suddhaṃ saṅkhārasantatiṃ" of the arahant (see Thag 16.1) all fabrications are borne of ignorance, per the paṭiccasamuppāda dependencies outlined above. Thus, any fabricated dhamma is nothing more than a mass of ignorance. It is the product of seeing and thinking incorrectly.

Thus, for any dhamma which a puthujjana or sekha might experience, it is a delusion, borne of delusion (per SN 12.15 above). If something is a delusion, borne of delusion, then the Abhidhamma's attempt to treat it as something that "ultimately exists" etc. is to mistake delusion for ultimate reality.

Falsely regarding delusional constructs as ultimate reality, the Abhidhamma committed itself to tomes upon tomes worth of painstaking analysis and conditional relations, which could truthfully be replaced with the one sentence, "All sankhata-dhammas are the delusional product of ignorance".


In conclusion...

Any one single Sutta on the subject of paṭiccasamuppāda has more worth and value in explaining dhammas, than the entire misguided, Sutta-opposing enterprise known as the Abhidhamma. Since the practice of the commentarial tradition is to retrofit Abhidhammic principles onto the Sutta Pitaka, it too is of less worth and value in explaining dhammas than a single Sutta from The Buddha on the subject of paṭiccasamuppāda.


:buddha1:

Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa


Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"Why now do you assume 'a being'? Mara, have you grasped a view?" (SN 5.10)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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Re: Retrofuturist's Brief Sutta-Based Refutation of Abhidhamma

Post by Pondera »

:goodpost: thanks Paul, for this contribution. Can you say anything about the Abhidamma authors who proclaim on their own authority that only “they” can “preach the true dhamma”? (Having understood “kamma” in all its fullness, for example).

Perhaps a sutta reference to the madness and vexation that arise from any attempt to understand the complexities of kamma and kamma result? 🤔
“Monk, the property of light, the property of beauty, the property of the dimension of the infinitude of space, the property of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, the property of the dimension of nothingness: These properties are to be reached as perception attainments.[2] The property of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception is to be reached as a remnant-of-fabrications attainment. The property of the cessation of feeling & perception is to be reached as a cessation attainment."[3]

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
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Re: Retrofuturist's Brief Sutta-Based Refutation of Abhidhamma

Post by DooDoot »

retrofuturist wrote: Sat Jun 12, 2021 2:03 am
Common Abhidhamma Argument #1 - Mentality and materiality are paramattha dhammas (i.e. ultimate dhammas)

Sutta Reponse: Never in the Suttas are materiality referred to as "dhammas". Dhammas are phenomena, whereas materiality is noumena. Instead, materiality is represented in the Sutta via mahabhuta (great elements). As for mentality, that will be addressed below.
So how is the use of the term "rupa" below distinguished from or otherwise related to the above?
The four primary elements, and form derived from the four primary elements.
Cattāro ca mahābhūtā, catunnañca mahābhūtānaṁ upādāyarūpa

This is called form.
Idaṁ vuccati rūpaṁ.
note: about namarupa, the suttas say:
Nāmarūpaṁ are impermanent, conditioned, dependently originated, liable to end, vanish, fade away, and cease.
nāmarūpaṁ, bhikkhave, aniccaṁ saṅkhataṁ paṭiccasamuppannaṁ khayadhammaṁ vayadhammaṁ virāgadhammaṁ nirodhadhammaṁ...

noble disciple has clearly seen with right wisdom this dependent origination and these dependently originated phenomena as they are.

Tathā hi, bhikkhave, ariyasāvakassa ayañca paṭiccasamuppādo ime ca paṭiccasamuppannā dhammā yathābhūtaṁ sammappaññāya sudiṭṭhā

https://suttacentral.net/sn12.20/en/sujato
Last edited by DooDoot on Sat Jun 12, 2021 2:53 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Retrofuturist's Brief Sutta-Based Refutation of Abhidhamma

Post by SarathW »

I honestly do not care about Sutta or Abhidhamma.
What I am saying is do not try to stop people who want to learn Sutta, Vinaya, Abhidhamma, Commentaries, Subcomentaries, or late commentaries whatever it is.
When people like Paul, Ajahn Braham, Ven. Sujato is in a powerful position that can inhibit free inquiry.
My object is not to evangelize anything what I am saying is to allow free inquiry.
If they want to understand Buddhism via Abrahamic religion, Hinduism or science, let them do it.
Every person is intelligent enough to make up they're their own mind.
:anjali:
However, I will try to answer Paul's questions line by line. :D
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Re: Retrofuturist's Brief Sutta-Based Refutation of Abhidhamma

Post by DooDoot »

retrofuturist wrote: Sat Jun 12, 2021 2:03 am
Common Abhidhamma Argument #2 - Dhammas exist

Sutta Reponse: If there was Right View about dhammas, it would be evident that to speak of "existence" and "non-existence" is to misconceive what dhammas are...
SN 12.15 wrote:"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one."
Instead, the same sutta shows how dhammas/phenomena arise via paṭiccasamuppāda...
SN 12.15 wrote:Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications.
The above fall back appears similar to Nagarjuna, relying on one single sutta to define the entire Buddhadhamma.

But there are many other suttas, such as SN 12,.17, Ud 8.1, etc, which says: "suffering exists"; "Nibbana exists".

Or there is AN 3.136 & SN 12.20, which say:
Whether Realized Ones arise or not, this law of nature persists, this regularity of natural principles, this invariance of natural principles,

Uppādā vā tathāgatānaṁ anuppādā vā tathāgatānaṁ, ṭhitāva sā dhātu dhammaṭṭhitatā dhammaniyāmatā .
Are you sure what is meant by the Pali words "atthita" & "natthita" found in SN 12.15? Are these word found in any other suttas? :shrug:
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Re: Retrofuturist's Brief Sutta-Based Refutation of Abhidhamma

Post by DNS »

SarathW wrote: Sat Jun 12, 2021 2:51 am When people like Paul, Ajahn Braham, Ven. Sujato is in a powerful position that can inhibit free inquiry.
My object is not to evangelize anything what I am saying is to allow free inquiry.
That is what Paul is doing (the latter); he is allowing free inquiry. He has presented a well-organized, coherent theory and is opening it up for discussion and debate.
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Re: Retrofuturist's Brief Sutta-Based Refutation of Abhidhamma

Post by DooDoot »

retrofuturist wrote: Sat Jun 12, 2021 2:03 am Common Abhidhamma Argument #3 - Dhammas exist, independent of observation

Sutta Reponse: This may be true of noumena such as mahabhuta, which are not phenomena (dhammas) but as it applies to dhammas, it is refuted by the Suttas, which state...
SN 47.42 wrote:With the arising of attentiveness there is the arising of dhammas. With the cessation of attentiveness there is the cessation of dhammas
It seems an examination of the suttas might find the word "dhammas" in SN 47.42 refers to Dhamma Principles, such as the Seven Factors of Enlightenment, as follows:
And what, bhikkhus, is the nutriment for the arising of the unarisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness and for the fulfilment by development of the arisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness? There are, bhikkhus, things that are the basis for the enlightenment factor of mindfulness: frequently giving careful attention to them is the nutriment for the arising of the unarisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness and for the fulfilment by development of the arisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness.

https://suttacentral.net/sn46.51/en/bodhi#sc7
Also, the impressions from AN 3.136 & SN 12.20 is it appears the Dhamma Law exists regardless of its discovery, namely:
Whether Realized Ones arise or not, this law of nature persists, this regularity of natural principles, this invariance of natural principles

Uppādā vā tathāgatānaṁ anuppādā vā tathāgatānaṁ, ṭhitāva sā dhātu dhammaṭṭhitatā dhammaniyāmatā .

https://suttacentral.net/sn12.20/en/sujato#2.3
Are there any suttas that can support the idea the word "dhammas" in SN 47.42 refers to all phenomena? Thanks :thanks:
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Re: Retrofuturist's Brief Sutta-Based Refutation of Abhidhamma

Post by SarathW »

Ahamma Argument #1 - Mentality and materiality are paramattha dhammas (i.e. ultimate dhammas)

Sutta Reponse: Never in the Suttas are materiality referred to as "dhammas". Dhammas are phenomena, whereas materiality is noumena. Instead, materiality is represented in the Sutta via mahabhuta (great elements). As for mentality, that will be addressed below./quote]


Irrespective of the terminology this is what says in the sutta:
When an object (external) and subject (internal) come together Vinnana arises.

Abhidhamma Says:
When Pureoctud (great elements and Gocara Rupa) and eye (Pureoctud plus internal Rupa and lifefaculty) come together Bhavaconscioiusness (Citta) arise.

https://puredhamma.net/tables-and-summa ... rial-form/

So Sutta and Abhidhamma say the same thing.


Abhidhamma also find Rupa, citta,Cetasika and Dhamma
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Re: Retrofuturist's Brief Sutta-Based Refutation of Abhidhamma

Post by SarathW »

Common Abhidhamma Argument #2 - Dhammas exist

Sutta Reponse: If there was Right View about dhammas, it would be evident that to speak of "existence" and "non-existence" is to misconceive what dhammas are...
SN 12.15 wrote:
"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one."
Instead, the same sutta shows how dhammas/phenomena arise via paṭiccasamuppāda...
SN 12.15 wrote:
Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications.
If you understand my reply to #1 you will see the consciousness is dependently originated.
We all know that Abhidhamma asserts all these Rupa are impermanence. They all go through birth, continuation, and death.

See Material Qualities (Lakkhana Rupa) in the attached.
https://puredhamma.net/tables-and-summa ... rial-form/
Last edited by SarathW on Sat Jun 12, 2021 4:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Retrofuturist's Brief Sutta-Based Refutation of Abhidhamma

Post by SarathW »

Common Abhidhamma Argument #3 - Dhammas exist, independent of observation

Sutta Reponse: This may be true of noumena such as mahabhuta, which are not phenomena (dhammas) but as it applies to dhammas, it is refuted by the Suttas, which state...
SN 47.42 wrote:
With the arising of attentiveness there is the arising of dhammas. With the cessation of attentiveness there is the cessation of dhammas
Again if you understand #1, you will see that the contact (you call it observation) is necessary to raise consciousness.
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Re: Retrofuturist's Brief Sutta-Based Refutation of Abhidhamma

Post by SarathW »

Common Abhidhamma Argument #4 - Dhammas exist and then do not-exist with great rapidity, faster than a flash of lightning

Sutta Reponse: This argument has no basis in the Suttas, and such a binary view of phenomena is in fact refuted...
AN 3.47 wrote:
"Monks, these three are fabricated characteristics of what is fabricated. Which three? Arising is discernible, passing away is discernible, alteration (literally, other-ness) while staying is discernible.

"These are three fabricated characteristics of what is fabricated.
Note, the arising, alteration/other-ness, and passing away are all discernible. This establishes what one might call a non-binary approach to the nature of phenomena. The Abhidhamma ontology does not allow for such discernment of alteration inbetween its rigid binary options of "exist" and "does not exist". One might counter this Sutta analysis saying that under rarefied meditation conditions this could be seen, but again, there is no mention of this elaborate pre-requisite in the Suttas and it therefore appears to be nothing more than apologetics.
It is like Nibbana or rebirth we have to accept this by faith.
Scientist says that there are atoms and subatomic particles. They can't see it but they can observe the patterns and behaviors.
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Re: Retrofuturist's Brief Sutta-Based Refutation of Abhidhamma

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings DooDoot,

Thank you for your Sutta-based questions.

DooDoot's Sutta Based Question...
DooDoot wrote: Sat Jun 12, 2021 2:48 am
retrofuturist wrote: Sat Jun 12, 2021 2:03 am
Common Abhidhamma Argument #1 - Mentality and materiality are paramattha dhammas (i.e. ultimate dhammas)

Sutta Reponse: Never in the Suttas are materiality referred to as "dhammas". Dhammas are phenomena, whereas materiality is noumena. Instead, materiality is represented in the Sutta via mahabhuta (great elements). As for mentality, that will be addressed below.
So how is the use of the term "rupa" below distinguished from or otherwise related to the above?
The four primary elements, and form derived from the four primary elements.
Cattāro ca mahābhūtā, catunnañca mahābhūtānaṁ upādāyarūpa

This is called form.
Idaṁ vuccati rūpaṁ.
note: about namarupa, the suttas say:
Nāmarūpaṁ are impermanent, conditioned, dependently originated, liable to end, vanish, fade away, and cease.
nāmarūpaṁ, bhikkhave, aniccaṁ saṅkhataṁ paṭiccasamuppannaṁ khayadhammaṁ vayadhammaṁ virāgadhammaṁ nirodhadhammaṁ...

noble disciple has clearly seen with right wisdom this dependent origination and these dependently originated phenomena as they are.

Tathā hi, bhikkhave, ariyasāvakassa ayañca paṭiccasamuppādo ime ca paṭiccasamuppannā dhammā yathābhūtaṁ sammappaññāya sudiṭṭhā

https://suttacentral.net/sn12.20/en/sujato

Retrofuturist's Sutta Based Response...

My understanding of the term rupa in the Sutta Pitaka is that much like its English counterpart, form, it can relate both to materiality (i.e. noumena) itself, and/or to the presentation of that materiality as derived via the senses (i.e. phenomena). This accords with the above sutta presented above about rupa incorporating both mahabhuta and its derivatives.

When conjoined with nama, as it always is in paticcsamuppada...
SN 12.2 wrote:"And what is name-&-form? Feeling, perception, intention, contact, & attention: This is called name. The four great elements, and the form dependent on the four great elements: This is called form. This name & this form are called name-&-form.
... it is inextricably conjoined with feeling, perception, intention, contact, and attention. Being such, it is an experienced phenomena (dhamma), not noumena.

Unrestrained, this process of taking fabrications as having some inherent reality gives rise to interest in them, and to papanca...
MN 18 wrote:"Now, when there is the eye, when there are forms, when there is eye-consciousness, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of contact. When there is a delineation of contact, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of feeling. When there is a delineation of feeling, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of perception. When there is a delineation of perception, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of thinking. When there is a delineation of thinking, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of being assailed by the perceptions & categories of objectification.

"When there is the ear...

"When there is the nose...

"When there is the tongue...

"When there is the body...

"When there is the intellect, when there are ideas, when there is intellect-consciousness, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of contact. When there is a delineation of contact, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of feeling. When there is a delineation of feeling, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of perception. When there is a delineation of perception, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of thinking. When there is a delineation of thinking, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of being assailed by the perceptions & categories of objectification.
Better then, to nip it in the bud before that point...
SN 12.67 wrote:"If one were to pull away one of those sheaves of reeds, the other would fall; if one were to pull away the other, the first one would fall. In the same way, from the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of consciousness, from the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form."

From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of suffering & stress."
Thus, understanding the true Sutta meaning of nama, rupa and nama-rupa can be very advantageous. In contrast, the Abhidhamma re-frames nama-rupa to mean "mentality" and "materiality" and treats them as things to be separated, rather than understanding them as inextricably entwined components of conditioned experience. This Abhidhammic bifurcation distorts and misrepresents the Sutta meanings, quoted above, and therefore inhibits rather than assists in cultivating the proper understanding of paticcasamuppada.

:buddha1:

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"Why now do you assume 'a being'? Mara, have you grasped a view?" (SN 5.10)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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Re: Retrofuturist's Brief Sutta-Based Refutation of Abhidhamma

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings DooDoot,

Thank you for your Sutta-based questions.

DooDoot's Sutta Based Questions...
DooDoot wrote: Sat Jun 12, 2021 3:27 am
retrofuturist wrote: Sat Jun 12, 2021 2:03 am Common Abhidhamma Argument #3 - Dhammas exist, independent of observation

Sutta Reponse: This may be true of noumena such as mahabhuta, which are not phenomena (dhammas) but as it applies to dhammas, it is refuted by the Suttas, which state...
SN 47.42 wrote:With the arising of attentiveness there is the arising of dhammas. With the cessation of attentiveness there is the cessation of dhammas
It seems an examination of the suttas might find the word "dhammas" in SN 47.42 refers to Dhamma Principles, such as the Seven Factors of Enlightenment, as follows:
And what, bhikkhus, is the nutriment for the arising of the unarisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness and for the fulfilment by development of the arisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness? There are, bhikkhus, things that are the basis for the enlightenment factor of mindfulness: frequently giving careful attention to them is the nutriment for the arising of the unarisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness and for the fulfilment by development of the arisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness.

https://suttacentral.net/sn46.51/en/bodhi#sc7
Also, the impressions from AN 3.136 & SN 12.20 is it appears the Dhamma Law exists regardless of its discovery, namely:
Whether Realized Ones arise or not, this law of nature persists, this regularity of natural principles, this invariance of natural principles

Uppādā vā tathāgatānaṁ anuppādā vā tathāgatānaṁ, ṭhitāva sā dhātu dhammaṭṭhitatā dhammaniyāmatā .

https://suttacentral.net/sn12.20/en/sujato#2.3
Are there any suttas that can support the idea the word "dhammas" in SN 47.42 refers to all phenomena? Thanks :thanks:
Retrofuturist's Sutta Based Response...

I concur with your position that "Dhamma" in the sense of "Dhamma Law" or "Dhamma principles" is something that remains true regardless of its discovery or observation.

Further, I agree that the Pali term "dhamma" has multiple meanings and shades in meaning in the Sutta Pitaka, including those specified above.

Thus, when you ask...
"are there any suttas that can support the idea the word "dhammas" in SN 47.42 refers to all phenomena?"
... indeed there are - and you have already presented it yourself.

By stating "whether Realized Ones arise or not, this law of nature persists, this regularity of natural principles, this invariance of natural principles", you are stating that such a Dhamma is one that does not arise, and does not pass away. Hence, the dhammas of SN 47.42 cannot possibly be referring to that application of the word dhamma, since SN 47.42 is describing the arising and passing away of dhammas. As you identify above, Dhamma Law and Principles do not arise or pass away due to their aforementioned invariance.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"Why now do you assume 'a being'? Mara, have you grasped a view?" (SN 5.10)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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Re: Retrofuturist's Brief Sutta-Based Refutation of Abhidhamma

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Sarath,

Thank you for your Abhidhamma-based objections to my Sutta-based analysis.

Sarath's Abhidhamma-Based Objection...
SarathW wrote: Sat Jun 12, 2021 3:42 am Irrespective of the terminology this is what says in the sutta:
When an object (external) and subject (internal) come together Vinnana arises.

Abhidhamma Says:
When Pureoctud (great elements and Gocara Rupa) and eye (Pureoctud plus internal Rupa and lifefaculty) come together Bhavaconscioiusness (Citta) arise.

So Sutta and Abhidhamma say the same thing.
Retrofuturist's Sutta-Based Response: It is not for me to say whether they "say the same thing" but the Abhidhamma certainly says it in a more convoluted manner than the Sutta and recklessly changes definitions to suit its own unique taxonomy. That aside, if its greatest achievement is to "say the same thing" in a more cumbersome manner, then this does not seem to be of any benefit and thus it can be disregarded.

Sarath's Abhidhamma-Based Objection...
SarathW wrote: Sat Jun 12, 2021 3:55 am We all know that Abhidhamma asserts all these Rupa are impermanence. They all go through birth, continuation, and death.
Retrofuturist's Sutta-Based Response: If by rupa you mean "materiality", then I would suggest:

- Continuation in Abhidhamma is infinitesimal and insignificant. Your Abhidhamma doctrine states the lifecycle of rupa is equivalent in duration to 17 citta. Such an infinitesimal and insignificant "continuation" is not what any well-considered person would regard as "continuation".

- That this is irrelevant to my points above regarding paticcasamuppada, since in the Abhidhamma, rupa is always "materiality", and whereas the rupa of paticcasamuppada is never materiality, and is always "rūpasaññā" by virtue of its inextricable conjoinment with the factors of nama listed above, plus its dependence upon avijja.

Sarath's Abhidhamma-Based Objection...
SarathW wrote: Sat Jun 12, 2021 4:05 am
Common Abhidhamma Argument #4 - Dhammas exist and then do not-exist with great rapidity, faster than a flash of lightning

Sutta Reponse: This argument has no basis in the Suttas, and such a binary view of phenomena is in fact refuted...
AN 3.47 wrote:
"Monks, these three are fabricated characteristics of what is fabricated. Which three? Arising is discernible, passing away is discernible, alteration (literally, other-ness) while staying is discernible.

"These are three fabricated characteristics of what is fabricated.
Note, the arising, alteration/other-ness, and passing away are all discernible. This establishes what one might call a non-binary approach to the nature of phenomena. The Abhidhamma ontology does not allow for such discernment of alteration inbetween its rigid binary options of "exist" and "does not exist". One might counter this Sutta analysis saying that under rarefied meditation conditions this could be seen, but again, there is no mention of this elaborate pre-requisite in the Suttas and it therefore appears to be nothing more than apologetics.
...
It is like Nibbana or rebirth we have to accept this by faith.
Scientist says that there are atoms and subatomic particles. They can't see it but they can observe the patterns and behaviors.
Retrofuturist's Sutta-Based Response: So, am I correct in saying that your defense of this Common Abhidhamma Argument is that even though the Sutta directly opposes the Abhidhamma Argument, you prefer to "trust the (Abhidhamma) science" and insist that "we have to accept this by faith"? If this is the highest level of opposition you're able to mount to arguments against the Abhidhamma which are founded in the Suttas, then it might be best to retire before you inadvertently make the Abhidhamma look more useless than I myself have contended it is.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"Why now do you assume 'a being'? Mara, have you grasped a view?" (SN 5.10)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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Re: Retrofuturist's Brief Sutta-Based Refutation of Abhidhamma

Post by SarathW »

That aside, if its greatest achievement is to "say the same thing" in a more cumbersome manner, then this does not seem to be of any benefit and thus it can be disregarded.
Actually, it depends on each person.
I understand the Sutta, my own way but I do not have enough support in Sutta to convey my thoughts to someone else.
Now I have the Abhidhamm as support.

Abhidhamma reestablishes what you already learn from Sutta.
Some people need the quality but others need the quantity.
I need both because I discuss my points in a forum.
Without Abhidhamma, I can't survive the questions many people ask here.

I agree that if your objective is to attain Nibbana, you don't need Nibbana.
But Buddhist monks can't reject Abhidhamma as they have to face people like you who cross-examine matters.
So any Buddhis monk who got many students studying under him, asking his students to reject Abhidhamma is to cripple them.

My understanding is Abhidhamma was taught formally to counteract the Hindu scholars.
This is one reason why Buddhism disappeared from India.

It is important to note that my knowledge of Abhidhamma is very minimal.
I am fighting with my sward :jedi: with a man who got a :guns: gun, :D
Last edited by SarathW on Sat Jun 12, 2021 5:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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