Thread: Abhidhamma was not taught by the Buddha

  1. #1

    Abhidhamma was not taught by the Buddha

    A short talk from Ajahn Brahm (approx. 3 minutes)

    Any comments about what he said?

  2. #2
    Technical Administrator woodscooter's Avatar
    London UK
    I always find talks by Ajahn Brahm to be full of simple wisdom. It's lovely to hear him demolish or discard the importance of Abhidhamma.

    Unlike myself, Ajahn Brahm has a great depth of knowledge of Buddhist teaching, of the suttas and their meaning. So to hear his view on this subject in his own words means a lot to me.

    I did a short introductory study on Abhidhamma with my meditation group some time ago, and found it hard going. To learn and understand the whole thing would require huge effort.

    Even though it was not taught by the Buddha, even if it was tacked on to Buddhist teaching later, it's still worth asking whether it contains anything of substance, anything of value in living a life in accordance with Buddhist principles. In other words, Abhidhamma may deserve to be treated with a degree of respect.

    It is for each of us to make our own judgement on Abhidhamma. I've looked at it and decided it has nothing to offer me. I'm now happy to know that Ajahn Brahm and I are in agreement on that.

  3. #3
    Forums Member Olderon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Concord, New Hampshire, U.S.A.
    Thanks for the link, Aloka and your comments, Woodscooter.

    Ajahn Brahm & I agree that "keeping it simple" is the best course and that it is difficult enough to study, but most importantly, to put into practice "What the Buddha Taught". In my last post I provided a link to The Simsapa Sutta in which he (The Buddha) explained why this was the most effective approach with regard to the goal.:

  4. #4
    Forums Member manoPG's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    The thing about Abhidhamma is that it really is simple; there are only 4 kinds of dhammas and one of them, nibanna, is not even immediately accessable.

    A lot of modern scholarship is viewing the Samyuttas as a core genesis from which arose all schools of Buddhist thought.

    The Abhidhamma probably grew out of the same core, with a different analysis; that of the dhammas, instead of telling stories of the Buddha sitting down and others circumbobulating and then a dialogue.

    It is all the same flavor of dhamma, just a more technically precise wording; its the same as say, the Jataka tales, just different venue.

    During the first sanghiti, when bhanakas started to specialize, I imagine that the best vipassana meditators, remembering the exact same suttas as the rest of the sangha, began to record the same suttas in terms of dhammas, and thus the abhidhamma was born.

    I think Abhidhamma helps tremendously in both understanding suttas, as well as vipassana practice.

    Core Buddhist teachings are listed pericopes and this is found in abhidhamma as well as suttanta.

    Masters of Paryatti that study Abhidhamma are worlds apart in terms of technical acumen than those who do not.

    I personally view Ledi Sayadaw as the preeminent scholar who mastered vipassana and samadhi as well as the Abhidhamma; his writings are absolutely precious, and while its not polite to call them 'better' than anyone elses, they are at the very least, elegant in a technical and logical sense and not vague at all.

    On an inverse point, note the number of emotionalist-teachers who wind up being sexual predators?

    Logic is a way of counteracting misbehavior; as the dhamma is both "verifiable in the hear and now" as well as "having the same taste; the taste of liberation."

    This is why we should investigate a teacher before hand to see if he is teaching his own 'dhamma' or if he is really spinning the Wheel of Dhamma that the Buddha set in motion in Sarnath.

    This is one reason Ledi Sayadaw revived the abhidhamma in Burma for the laity; it is a rational educator for people to tell what is dhamma and what is adhamma.

    Burma has even illiterate fishermen who know the Abhidhammasamaha Sanghaha by heart!

    Try to pull some b.s. nonsense on these guys! They will be able to call the bluff infinitely quicker than someone with a PhD in Buddhist Studies from a university.

    If we throw out the dhamma because we view it as not entertaining enough, or if it conflicts in same way with some moral from a society that is several thousands years (and miles) away, than indeed we will be snipping away the vast majority of it, and what is left may not be even coherent, much less worth dedicating one's life to.

    Another thing to note, is the commentaries and subcommentaries: Buddhists take refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the SANGHA.

    If we don't preserve and cherish the work of those who handed us the precious jewel of the dhamma, who is to say that our works and insights will in any way be cherished or even respected by posterity?
    Last edited by manoPG; 12 Feb 19 at 16:38.

  5. #5
    Technical Administrator woodscooter's Avatar
    London UK
    I thank you manoPG for offering the opposing view to that of Ajahn Brahm in post #1. Your words have made me think twice about it.

    Although I found my study of Abhidhamma to be fruitless, I believe there are respected teachers who support it.

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