Thread: Mahayanist seeks like-minded Theravadan

  1. #1
    Forums Member Kodo308's Avatar
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    Mahayanist seeks like-minded Theravadan

    That is to say, one who is well acquainted with the Abhidhamma to a similar extent to which I am familiar w/the Abhidharma. Because I have questions, oh yes I do.

    Beginning with...what happens to the mental continuum (what do Theravadans call it?) of an arhat w/no remainder? I recently heard from a Tibetan geshe that it ends. Poof! Which I doubt is how Theravadans actually think. So I'd like to know what is the actual explanation.

    And...in Mahayana we speak of the Dharmakaya, as well as the 3 or 4 bodies of the Buddha. Is that present in Theravada & how is it expressed?

    From my little reading in Theravada philosophy, I get the impression that differences are largely (not entirely) semantic.

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    Moderator Element's Avatar
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    To many 'Theravadans', the Abhidhamma is as alien to them as Mahayana.

    In the original Pali suttas, there is no such idea as 'mental continuum'. In the original Pali suttas, what is said to be 're-born' is the idea of 'self'.

    In Theravada, it was a later-day interpretation/invention that purported 'consciousness' is 're-born' or 're-links' and that there is a 'mental continuum'.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Kodo308
    And...in Mahayana we speak of the Dharmakaya, as well as the 3 or 4 bodies of the Buddha. Is that present in Theravada & how is it expressed?
    Hi Kodo308,

    I used to be a Vajrayana practitioner before eventually changing to Theravada and there isn't anything in the historical Buddha's teachings about a "Dharmakaya" or about various "bodies of the Buddha," as far as I'm aware. There's a brief explanation of those terms at this Tibetan Buddhist link, for people who aren't familiar with them:

    http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Dharmakaya

    As for the later Abhidhamma and Abhidharma commentaries, I've never wanted to read them - sorry I can't be more helpful.

    This two page Abhidhamma topic from a few years ago might be of interest because of the quotes from Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Sumedho in posts #3 and #11 :

    https://www.buddhismwithoutboundarie...308-Abhidhamma



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    Forums Member Kodo308's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Element View Post
    To many 'Theravadans', the Abhidhamma is as alien to them as Mahayana.

    In the original Pali suttas, there is no such idea as 'mental continuum'. In the original Pali suttas, what is said to be 're-born' is the idea of 'self'.

    In Theravada, it was a later-day interpretation/invention that purported 'consciousness' is 're-born' or 're-links' and that there is a 'mental continuum'.
    The Abhidharma is alien to most of the Mahayanists I know, however, I know something of it (hardly an expert) as well as yogacara & madyamaka philosophies. So let's just put the others aside & do the ol' compare & contrast thing to the best of our abilities.

    Yesterday someone (sorry, don't recall who) introduced me to the Yamaka Sutta, SN 22.85 in answer to another question I had.
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipit....085.than.html
    While it seems clear that the 5 aggregates of a person do not take rebirth in one who is w/out effluents (an arhat, correct?), it's not so clear to me how the tathagata is being asserted.

    ""What do you think: Do you regard the Tathagata as form-feeling-perception-fabrications-consciousness?"

    "No, my friend."

    "Do you regard the Tathagata as that which is without form, without feeling, without perception, without fabrications, without consciousness?"

    "No, my friend.""

    Is the Tathagata understood to be w/out self? And if so, what mode of existence is asserted?

  5. #5
    Moderator Element's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kodo308 View Post
    Yesterday someone (sorry, don't recall who) introduced me to the Yamaka Sutta, SN 22.85
    Hi Kodo

    The Yamaka Sutta is part of a series of suttas, such as the well-known Vakkali Sutta, where the Buddha is wrongly regarded by monks as a "person", "being" or "self".

    For example, in the Vakkali Sutta, the Buddha rebukes Vakkali for identifying the Buddha as the physical body and speaks the famous words: "What is there to see in this vile body; he who sees the Dhamma sees me".

    Therefore, in the Vakkali Sutta, the Buddha is not regarded as any specific aggregate but as Dhamma or Truth.

    In the Yamaka Sutta, the monk with wrong view, namely, Yamaka, wrongly believes:

    1. The Buddha or an arahant is a "person", a "self" or a "being".
    2. The arahant experiences "death" ("marana").
    3. The arahant is "annihilated" (ucchijjati) at death.

    tathāhaṃ bhagavatā dhammaṃ desitaṃ ājānāmi, yathā khīṇāsavo bhikkhu kāyassa bhedā ucchijjati vinassati, na hoti para maraṇā
    As a response to his wrong view, it is explained to Yamaka how the Tathagata is not a 'self':

    1. How the five aggregates are impermanent & not-self.
    2. How the Tathagata is not any specific aggregate.
    3. But how the life of a Tathagata is not without aggregates.
    4. How the Tathagata (as a mere 'verbal designation') is not real or actual

    Then Yamaka is asked about if he is asked (by an unenlightened person) what happens to an arahant at death. Yamaka correctly answers:

    1. The five aggregates, which are impermanent & unsatisfactory, simply end.

    Then Yamaka is given a lengthy instruction on not-self (anatta).

    Conclusion:

    It seems the entire message in the Yamaka Sutta is that Buddhas & arahants are not "selves". Not being "selves", the word "death" is irrelevant to them because the word "marana" ("death") as taught by the Buddha does not refer to the ending of life but refers to a self-view that a "self" or "being" dies. .

    Since arahants are not "selves", the word "annihilated" does not apply since the wrong view called "Annihilationism" does not mean no life after death but means a "self" is annihilated at death. Annihilationism is a 'self-view', as explained below:

    How, bhikkhus, do some overreach? Now some are troubled, ashamed, and disgusted by this very same being and they rejoice in (the idea of) non-being, asserting: ‘In as much as this self, good sirs, when the body perishes at death, is annihilated and destroyed and does not exist after death—this is peaceful, this is excellent, this is reality!’ Thus, bhikkhus, do some overreach.

    Iti 49

    84. "There are, bhikkhus, some recluses and brahmins who are annihilationists and who on seven grounds proclaim the annihilation, destruction, and extermination of an existent being. And owing to what, with reference to what, do these honorable recluses and brahmins proclaim their views?

    85. "Herein, bhikkhus, a certain recluse or a brahmin asserts the following doctrine and view: 'The self, good sir, has material form; it is composed of the four primary elements and originates from father and mother. Since this self, good sir, is annihilated and destroyed with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death, at this point the self is completely annihilated.' In this way some proclaim the annihilation, destruction, and extermination of an existent being.

    DN 1
    I have posted threads here at BWB about MN 9 & Dependent Origination, which explained what the words "birth" & "death" really mean.

    Kind regards

    Last edited by Element; 18 May 17 at 22:22.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by kodo 308
    Yesterday someone (sorry, don't recall who) introduced me to the Yamaka Sutta, SN 22.85 in answer to another question I had.
    Hi Kodo,

    SN 22.85 is mentioned in Chapter 10 of the Book "The Island" which I spoke about today in the topic at the link below, and you said you were familiar with the same book.

    https://www.buddhismwithoutboundarie...5718#post75718



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    Forums Member Kodo308's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    Hi Kodo,

    SN 22.85 is mentioned in Chapter 10 of the Book "The Island" which I spoke about today in the topic at the link below, and you said you were familiar with the same book.

    https://www.buddhismwithoutboundarie...5718#post75718


    It was on another forum that someone brought that sutta forward. I have read "The Island" but it was some years ago. I still have it on my shelf, it's definitely a keeper.

    Wow, Element, thanks so much! Some of what you have written seems like it could have given rise to the 3 kayas idea. I'll have to look over it more carefully before I comment much.

    I think the understanding of nihilism may be slightly different in what I have studied. I won't speak for all Mahayanists, but in the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, I'm pretty sure it means nothing at all, not just the extinction of self-grasping, self-cherishing view.

  8. #8
    Moderator Element's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kodo308 View Post
    I think the understanding of nihilism may be slightly different in what I have studied.
    Yes, certainly. I have quoted what 'nihilism' meant to the Buddha.

    Where as most Buddhist schools have different views to the Buddha.

    In short, they are not really 'Buddhist', even though they claim to be (which includes Sri Lankan 'Theravada').

    This is why there are so many sects in 'Buddhism' rather than one united understanding.

    Kind regards

    85. "Herein, bhikkhus, a certain recluse or a brahmin asserts the following doctrine and view: 'The self, good sir, has material form; it is composed of the four primary elements and originates from father and mother. Since this self, good sir, is annihilated and destroyed with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death, at this point the self is completely annihilated.' In this way some proclaim the annihilation, destruction, and extermination of an existent being.

    DN 1

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    Forums Member Kodo308's Avatar
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    Wow. Just wow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Element View Post
    To many 'Theravadans', the Abhidhamma is as alien to them as Mahayana.

    In the original Pali suttas, there is no such idea as 'mental continuum'. In the original Pali suttas, what is said to be 're-born' is the idea of 'self'.

    In Theravada, it was a later-day interpretation/invention that purported 'consciousness' is 're-born' or 're-links' and that there is a 'mental continuum'.
    I would agree with Element, though I would say in Burma The abhi is huge!

    In the west people dig the suttas We are protestant buddhists lol

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