Is it compulsory to accept Abhidhamma as a part of doctrine to be considered as Theravada?

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Ceisiwr
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Re: Is it compulsory to accept Abhidhamma as a part of doctrine to be considered as Theravada?

Post by Ceisiwr »

waryoffolly wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 2:57 pm It would be good for people arguing against the commentaries to take a look at an example of the atthakatha. To me they seem much closer to the suttas than many modern commentarial works (ie modern books on Buddhism!).

Is this really so anti-dhamma?
https://www.bps.lk/olib/bp/bp212s_Bodhi ... seship.pdf

Also see here for other free commentary translations (you have to google the titles).
https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/pl ... ions/16882
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But here there is no human being to be found,
For it is void and merely fashioned like a doll—
Just suffering piled up like grass and sticks.”


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Re: Is it compulsory to accept Abhidhamma as a part of doctrine to be considered as Theravada?

Post by Dhammavamsa »

Ceisiwr wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 2:51 pm
Dhammavamsa wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 2:13 pm For one to begin studying Abhidhamma, which book should be read first?

Currently I have gone through Majjhima Nikaya, partial Anguttara Nikaya, and now Samyutta Nikaya just arrived my home today.

But I really interested to know more Abhidhamma Pitaka. Is Ven. Narada Thero's Abhidhammattha Sangaha book a good start?

I got Patisambhidamagga, Dhammasangani, Atthasalini, and Kathavathu soft copies. Any suggestion for reading sequence?
I would actually start with “The Theravada Abhidhamma: Inquiry Into the Nature of Conditioned Reality” and “The Buddhist Analysis of Matter” both by Y. Karunadasa. They are very good introductions. Regarding the texts themselves I would say start with the Vibangha, then the Dhammasangini then the Patthana, which can be a difficult read (this is where Karunadasa comes in handy) . The Yamaka is more of a question and answers book for students. It and the dhātukathā can be hard to read at times. The Kathāvatthu is simple enough and can be read at any time. The same for the Puggalapaññatti.
Thanks for the suggestion. Will search for those books.
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Na bhaje pāpake mitte, na bhaje purisādhame.
bhajetha mitte kalyāṇe, bhajetha purisuttame.

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Re: Is it compulsory to accept Abhidhamma as a part of doctrine to be considered as Theravada?

Post by Ceisiwr »

Dhammavamsa wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 3:01 pm
Ceisiwr wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 2:51 pm
Dhammavamsa wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 2:13 pm For one to begin studying Abhidhamma, which book should be read first?

Currently I have gone through Majjhima Nikaya, partial Anguttara Nikaya, and now Samyutta Nikaya just arrived my home today.

But I really interested to know more Abhidhamma Pitaka. Is Ven. Narada Thero's Abhidhammattha Sangaha book a good start?

I got Patisambhidamagga, Dhammasangani, Atthasalini, and Kathavathu soft copies. Any suggestion for reading sequence?
I would actually start with “The Theravada Abhidhamma: Inquiry Into the Nature of Conditioned Reality” and “The Buddhist Analysis of Matter” both by Y. Karunadasa. They are very good introductions. Regarding the texts themselves I would say start with the Vibangha, then the Dhammasangini then the Patthana, which can be a difficult read (this is where Karunadasa comes in handy) . The Yamaka is more of a question and answers book for students. It and the dhātukathā can be hard to read at times. The Kathāvatthu is simple enough and can be read at any time. The same for the Puggalapaññatti.
Thanks for the suggestion. Will search for those books.
You can get the first book for free here: https://www.bps.lk/olib/bp/bp439s_Karun ... dharma.pdf
“The mental and material are really here,
But here there is no human being to be found,
For it is void and merely fashioned like a doll—
Just suffering piled up like grass and sticks.”


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Re: Is it compulsory to accept Abhidhamma as a part of doctrine to be considered as Theravada?

Post by Dhammavamsa »

Ceisiwr wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 3:09 pm
Dhammavamsa wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 3:01 pm
Ceisiwr wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 2:51 pm

I would actually start with “The Theravada Abhidhamma: Inquiry Into the Nature of Conditioned Reality” and “The Buddhist Analysis of Matter” both by Y. Karunadasa. They are very good introductions. Regarding the texts themselves I would say start with the Vibangha, then the Dhammasangini then the Patthana, which can be a difficult read (this is where Karunadasa comes in handy) . The Yamaka is more of a question and answers book for students. It and the dhātukathā can be hard to read at times. The Kathāvatthu is simple enough and can be read at any time. The same for the Puggalapaññatti.
Thanks for the suggestion. Will search for those books.
You can get the first book for free here: https://www.bps.lk/olib/bp/bp439s_Karun ... dharma.pdf
Gee. Thank you. :thanks:
Dhammapada (78)
Na bhaje pāpake mitte, na bhaje purisādhame.
bhajetha mitte kalyāṇe, bhajetha purisuttame.

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Re: Is it compulsory to accept Abhidhamma as a part of doctrine to be considered as Theravada?

Post by Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta »

Great topic. I learnt a lot from this thread, esp Craig.

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Re: Is it compulsory to accept Abhidhamma as a part of doctrine to be considered as Theravada?

Post by Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta »

SarathW wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 5:10 am Is it compulsory to accept Abhidhamma a part of the doctrine to be considered as Theravada?
...

I don't think so, regarding the word accept. It depends on one's ability.

However, if the question is:
  • Is it un-Theravadin to reject Abhidhamma a part of the doctrine?
    ...

Yes ... would be my answer. Historical documentations would agree to that.

:heart:

ps: I have been wondering why people are attracted to and craved to be identified with the word Theravada despite a core doctrine itself being anathema to them. They should adopt whatever other label they fancy. And, they should just spare Theravada from their projections & distorted identifications. Please leave Theravada alone. Thanks :lol:
.


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Re: Is it compulsory to accept Abhidhamma as a part of doctrine to be considered as Theravada?

Post by Bundokji »

Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 4:42 pm ps: I have been wondering why people are attracted to and craved to be identified with the word Theravada despite a core doctrine itself being anathema to them. They should adopt whatever other label they fancy. And, they should just spare Theravada from their projections & distorted identifications. Please leave Theravada alone. Thanks :lol:
I was wondering the same thing. Why would it be important to be designated as Theravadin?
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.
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Re: Is it compulsory to accept Abhidhamma as a part of doctrine to be considered as Theravada?

Post by Coëmgenu »

Possibly identity politics. Possibly they want to trace themselves back to the Sthaviravādins during the first schism. Possibly it's just a way to signal "non-Mahāyāna." There are more possibilities too.
The spotless mind,
the most highly pure, the tranquil,
all unspoiled phenomena supporting,
this name applying to the consciousness of the Tathāgata.

A bodhisattva, one of two vehicles, an ordinary person:
these are thrones which hold seeds subject to germination.
In acquiring the virtuous pure mind of a Buddha,
which is resolute suchness, the sūtra says:

The Tathāgata's spotless mind
is a pure place without outflows.
It is liberation from all bondage.
It is like a spherical mirror.
It is consciousness always in internal agreement.

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Re: Is it compulsory to accept Abhidhamma as a part of doctrine to be considered as Theravada?

Post by mikenz66 »

Ceisiwr wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 10:45 am
SarathW wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 10:34 am
I am pleased to hear that Ven. Sujato supports Abhidhamma. My impression was he believes the same as his teacher (?) Ajahn Braham.
If Ven. Sujato also rejects Abhidhamma, people like us have to fight an uphill battle.
I should clarify he does reject the Theravadin Abhidhamma, in toto it seems. Rather he is aware that his project is a form of Abhidhamma, as in seeking to explain and expand on the suttas. To draw out the meaning as it were.
I'm not sure it's accurate to say that people such as Ven Sujato, Ven Analayo, etc "reject <stuff> in toto". Bhikkhu Analayo often talks about how he's not necessarily saying that "later is wrong". For example here:

And Bhikkhu Sujato has a nice series of talks on the Visuddhimagga:

[And, of course, it's essential to distinguish the Canonical Abhidhamma from the Commentaries. Many ideas that are labelled "Abhidhamma" are not actually in the Canonical texts.]

See also: Abhidhamma: a systematic analysis of the doctrine
...
Unlike the Suttas and Vinaya, the Abhidhamma texts of the different schools are not closely related. It seems likely, in fact, that these were some of the formative texts in establishing the different schools. Nevertheless, Erich Frauwallner in his Studies in Abhidharma Literature and the Origins of Buddhist Philosophical Systems (1996) has identified certain core features of Abhidhamma that are common between the traditions. This notably includes the Pali Vibhaṅga, the Sarvāstivāda Dharmaskandha, and the Dharmaguptaka Śāripūtrābhidharmaśastra. These texts all include a common core, which is ultimately derived from the Saṁyutta Nikāya.

Despite their differences, however, it would be a mistake to see the canonical Abhidhamma texts as presenting strongly sectarian positions. Apart from the polemical works such as the Kathāvatthu, for the most part they focus on presenting the central ideas of the Dhamma in different ways.
...
The attitude of Vens Sujato, Analayo, and various others seems quite different to the hostile attitude to such works that we sometimes see here, or in works by other teachers.

As has been pointed out several times, any attempt at making sense of the suttas is "abhidhamma" in the sense of discussion about Dhamma. It makes sense to consider carefully any such abhidhamma, whether it comes from modern or ancient teachers or practitioners.

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Re: Is it compulsory to accept Abhidhamma as a part of doctrine to be considered as Theravada?

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Ceisiwr wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 12:27 pm
DooDoot wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 12:03 pm Abhdidhamma says:
Therein what is the cause of suffering (dukkhasamudayo)? Craving. This is called the cause of suffering.

Therein what is suffering? The remaining corruptions, the remaining unskilful dhammas, the three skilful roots that are objects of the defilements, the remaining skilful dhammas that are objects of the defilements, the resultants of skilful and unskilful dhammas that are objects of the defilements, whatever inoperative dhammas there are neither skilful nor unskilful nor the resultants of action, and all material qualities. This is called suffering.

https://suttacentral.net/vb4/en/thittila#pts-cs206
:thinking: :rolleye:
Those dhammas are all classed under suffering, as per the 3 different types of dukkha.
The term "dukkhasamudaya" is not related to any notion of "classed" under suffering. The word "samudaya" means "arising" or "origination". The Suttas define "dukkhasamudaya" as:
And what is the noble truth of the origination of stress?

"From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then old age & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

"This is called the noble truth of the origination of stress.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
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Re: Is it compulsory to accept Abhidhamma as a part of doctrine to be considered as Theravada?

Post by Ceisiwr »

mikenz66 wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 8:51 pm [The attitude of Vens Sujato
Sujato is quite clear that he is fundamentally opposed to the Theravada Abhidhamma.
But the Dhammasangini asks ‘What is the aggregate of cognition on that occasion?’ This is as nonsensical as asking ‘Which dog is the canine species?’ The Dhammasangini is so crude
a semantic steamroller that it is unable to distinguish between a class and a member of the class. A class is too obviously a concept, and it just wouldn’t do to soil the abhidhamma with mere concepts.

In the later abhidhamma, the treatment of time is dominated by a radical new theory, totally unlike anything in the suttas or even the canonical abhidhamma, the theory of moments (khanavada). [..] Now it is quite possible to take this theory, compare it with the suttas, and refute it point by point. But here I would simply like to point out what an implausible and useless idea it is.
[..]

So too the self (atta) is just a big pile of ‘self-existents’ (sabhava). This kind of analysis is reminiscent of Jain animism, which sees all existence as composed of atoms (paramanu), which they call ‘persons’ (pudgala). These are elemental souls (jiva, lives), possessed of color, odor, and taste. The souls of earth, etc., are tiny, undeveloped, and can only be perceived when vast amounts of them accumulate in one place. The souls of humans are merely an advanced version. The simple animistic theories of the early Jaina Sutras, whose concepts probably pre-date the Buddha, became developed by their commentaries in abstruse and baffling detail.

The reifying tendency takes full flight in later abhidhamma literature. This task is the burden of the Patthana, a book whose labyrinthine mazes are ideally suited to masking the fact that it is a spurious solution to a pseudo-problem. The Patthana, the most revered – and therefore least read – of all abhidhamma books, is said to present 24 modes of conditional relationships. It
does nothing of the sort. Most of the much-vaunted ‘modes of conditional relations’ are merely lists of dhammas that act as condition for other dhammas. The text says little about causality as such; in fact this work excels all other products of the human mind in its combination of verbosity of form with vacuity of content. Remarkably, it is less intellectually stimulating and less readable than a telephone book. The Patthana attempts
to glue the mind and the body back together again with its ‘dissociation condition’, a term which perfectly encapsulates the strange world of mind-body dualism: things are connected by being disconnected. I can certainly confirm that if I think about this stuff too much, I end up in a very dissociated condition!
....
I suggest that the abhidhamma is most profitably considered, not as a psychology or as a philosophy, but as a mystical cult.
http://kusala.online-dhamma.net/文字資料/南傳 ... dhamma.pdf

Although there are some kind words, on the whole Sujato is completely opposed to the Theravada Abhidhamma and Theravada in general given how many times he criticises it and us. I suspect part of this is orthodox Theravadin’s continued opposition to the ordination of nuns. Can’t let things get in the way of progressive politics I guess.
Last edited by Ceisiwr on Wed Jun 09, 2021 9:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
“The mental and material are really here,
But here there is no human being to be found,
For it is void and merely fashioned like a doll—
Just suffering piled up like grass and sticks.”


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Re: Is it compulsory to accept Abhidhamma as a part of doctrine to be considered as Theravada?

Post by mikenz66 »

Ceisiwr wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 11:41 am Sujato departs radically from other Abhidhammas in that he thinks the Dhamma has no underlying structure or core, and that all of the teachings were always and ever context specific. Still, even on this basis he can’t help but from an Abhidhamma of his own.
Could you provide a quotation for this idea? I don't think it's at all controversial that the Buddha taught differently to people with different inclinations, and at different levels, so some effort is required to work out how the teachings in various suttas fit together (which is what the various strata of Commentary do), but you seem to be suggesting something other than that.

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Re: Is it compulsory to accept Abhidhamma as a part of doctrine to be considered as Theravada?

Post by Ceisiwr »

mikenz66 wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 9:06 pm
Ceisiwr wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 11:41 am Sujato departs radically from other Abhidhammas in that he thinks the Dhamma has no underlying structure or core, and that all of the teachings were always and ever context specific. Still, even on this basis he can’t help but from an Abhidhamma of his own.
Could you provide a quotation for this idea? I don't think it's at all controversial that the Buddha taught differently to people with different inclinations, and at different levels, so some effort is required to work out how the teachings in various suttas fit together (which is what the various strata of Commentary do), but you seem to be suggesting something other than that.

:heart:
Mike
That Sujato thinks there is no underlying structure? Sure. I’ll try and dig it out. It’s part of his criticism of the Abhidhamma’s attempts to systemise the teachings.
“The mental and material are really here,
But here there is no human being to be found,
For it is void and merely fashioned like a doll—
Just suffering piled up like grass and sticks.”


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Re: Is it compulsory to accept Abhidhamma as a part of doctrine to be considered as Theravada?

Post by Ceisiwr »

Whilst looking this came up. Another one for the books from
Sujato:
Warning: using the Abhidhamma to understand the suttas will only lead to weariness and vexation! You will have to learn a bunch of complicated stuff, and then spend years unlearning it! Like I did!
https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/wh ... upa/4600/8
“The mental and material are really here,
But here there is no human being to be found,
For it is void and merely fashioned like a doll—
Just suffering piled up like grass and sticks.”


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Re: Is it compulsory to accept Abhidhamma as a part of doctrine to be considered as Theravada?

Post by Ceisiwr »

And some more where he actually agrees with what I was saying earlier, that even he can’t escape “doing Abhidhamma”:
Who said I was opposed to abhidhamma? “Abhidhamma” just means “about the dhamma”, and it is what we do here, have discussions “about the dhamma”. But in modern Theravada, abhidhamma is used in a much more pregnant sense. It has come to mean a specific body of teachings, primarily those found in the Abhidhammatthasangaha, which constitute the “Higher Teachings”.

So what I’m opposed to is misusing the abhidhamma by using it as a lens through which the suttas are seen. That’s not what it was meant for: it was meant as an advanced study for those who have already mastered the suttas and want to put their study on a more systematic basis.

The problem is that, as used in modern Theravada, the abhidhamma has come to be seen as authoritative, and rather than explaining the suttas, it explains them away. For practical purposes, in modern Theravada, when the abhidhamma (i.e the Abhidhammatthasangaha and its commentaries) and the suttas disagree, the suttas are interpreted so as to agree with the abhidhamma.
https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/wh ... pa/4600/23
“The mental and material are really here,
But here there is no human being to be found,
For it is void and merely fashioned like a doll—
Just suffering piled up like grass and sticks.”


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