Mumfie wrote:Heresiology isn't really my strong suit, but I don't believe there would be any heresy in it, provided you didn't insist that such a supererogatory observance is obligatory for a precept-keeping Buddhist, in which case it would be the heresy of treating dāna as sīla. As heresies go, this would be a relatively trifling one and we probably wouldn't burn you at the stake for it.
If I ever decide to give up the day job and go into the heresiology trade, I shall probably use a scheme of my own devising, wherein each departure from Theravada Buddhist orthodoxy will be placed in one of five classes, A, B, C, D and X, according to whether it's a dire heresy, a momentous heresy, a trivial heresy, a pseudo-heresy or a heresy whose gravity I'm quite unable to determine.
Here are the five classes with some examples:
Class A – the direst of all, undermining the basis of a moral life and conducive to rebirth in hell.
1. The heresy of Ariṭṭha Gaddhabādhipubba
I place this one at the very top of the list, for in the Vinaya it's the only kind of wrong view that the Buddha made actionable. A bhikkhu professing it must be remonstrated with and ostracised if he doesn't retract it after three warnings. A sāmanera professing it must be remonstrated with and expelled from the community if he doesn't immediately retract it. (Happily neither need to be burned at the stake).“Those things that have been declared by the Blessed One to be stumbling blocks are not in fact stumbling blocks for anyone who practises them.”
2. The wrong views that are akusala kammapathas, i.e., the mere holding of them creates unwholesome mental kamma of a kind weighty enough to ripen as rebirth in the lower realms.
These can be counted as one:
* Denial of ownership of kamma.
Or as three:
* Haphazardism (ahetukavāda).
* Kammic ineffectualism (akiriyavāda)
* Moral nihilism (natthikavāda).
Or as ten:
3. Views amounting to a slander of the Buddha's person, such as those described in MN12.“There is nothing given, nothing sacrificed, nothing offered; there is no fruit or result of good and bad actions; there is no this world, no other world; there is no mother, no father; there are no beings spontaneously reborn; there are in the world no ascetics and brahmins of right conduct and right practice who, having realized this world and the other world for themselves by direct knowledge, make them known to others.”
* Denial of the Buddha's attainment of dhammas exceeding the merely human (uttarimanussadhammā)
* Denial of the Buddha's four kinds of intrepidity“The Tathāgata has these ten Tathāgata’s powers, possessing which he claims the herd-leader’s place, roars his lion’s roar in the assemblies, and sets rolling the Wheel of Brahmā.
“Sāriputta, when I know and see thus, should anyone say of me: ‘The recluse Gotama does not have any superhuman states, any distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones. The recluse Gotama teaches a Dhamma merely hammered out by reasoning, following his own line of inquiry as it occurs to him’—unless he abandons that assertion and that state of mind and relinquishes that view, then as surely as if he had been carried off and put there he will wind up in hell.
Class B – momentous heresies, meaning those which are compatible with, or even supportive of, the moral life, but an insuperable impediment to Nibbāna.(i) “Though the Blessed One claims to be fully enlightened, there are such and such things that he is not enlightened about.”
(ii) “Though the Blessed One claims to have destroyed all the āsavas, there are such and such āsavas that he has not yet destroyed.”
(iii) Same as Ariṭṭha's view.
(iv) “When the Blessed One teaches the Dhamma to someone, it does not lead him when he practises it to the complete destruction of suffering.”
Eternalism (sassatavāda), personalism (puggalavāda), etc. All of the Brahmajālasutta's sixty-two diṭṭhigatas that don't belong in Class A.
Class C – trivial heresies, meaning those which though erroneous, concern matters so inconsequential that holding them is unlikely to be to anyone's palpable detriment.
* That Erāvaṇa, the elephant ridden by Indra, is a normal animal realm elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) and not a deva of elephantine form.
* That the Buddha's faeces had a sweet fragrance.
* That the post-mortem destinations (gatis) number six, not five.
Class D – pseudo-heresies, meaning those where the difference between the Theravadin and the heretic is not really a difference in view, but only in phrasing.
One example is the Gihi’ssa arahā’ti (“A householder may become an arahant”) debate in the Kathāvatthu.
The Theravādin states that you can't become an arahant unless you've abandoned “the fetter of householdership” (gihisaṃyojana), citing MN71:
His opponent of the Uttarapāthaka school replies that you can, citing the example of Yasa, who attained arahantship as a layman and only then went forth.The wanderer Vacchagotta asked the Blessed One: “Master Gotama, is there any householder who, without abandoning the fetter of householdership, on the dissolution of the body has made an end of suffering?”
“Vaccha, there is no householder who, without abandoning the fetter of householdership, on the dissolution of the body has made an end of suffering.”
Superficially it looks as if there's a disagreement of substance between the Theravādin and the Uttarapāthaka, but really there isn't; it's simply that the two parties are using the term gihisaṃyojana in different ways. The Theravādin uses it to refer to the householderish mental fetters that are opposed to renunciation, while the Uttarapāthaka uses it to refer to the physical fact of being still a householder. In effect, the two parties are talking at cross purposes, each trying to refute a view that the other doesn't hold. And so in this matter, though the Uttarapāthaka can be faulted for not using the term gihisaṃyojana correctly (i.e., in its original sutta sense), he can't be said to have fallen into any heresy.
Class X – heresies that may belong in Class B (momentous) or Class C (trivial), but of whose correct placement I'm presently undecided.
For me, sad to say, this is actually the largest class of all. With perhaps a third of the Kathāvatthu debates and three quarters of the topics people argue about on Buddhist forums, I simply have no idea as to whether they are arguments about things that matter. For this reason I expect I shan't be giving up the day job any time soon.