Mahayana Approaches to the Abhidharma?

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LionelChen
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Mahayana Approaches to the Abhidharma?

Postby LionelChen » Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:38 am

I've been putting this off for quite sometime, only because I am a little wary of traveling through the "ten valleys of dry bones."

Sounds pretty much like a daunting task, yet it has often been related to me by various practitioners an understanding of the Abhidharma teachings may help with a more nuanced understanding of later Mahayana philosophical concepts. Off the top of my head, apparently its a great help with teasing out some of the points related to Yogacara and has some overlap with the more esoteric schools of thought.

In light of this, i guess i've come to ask a few questions.

1.) If you've studied the Abhidharma - why? What brought you to that point?

2.) And more importantly, for the tradition that you uphold, how did you go about doing it?

I've heard people who've joined Theravada groups to get a better more precise understanding. I've also heard of various Mahayana practitioners simply using the Abhidharmakosa.

3.) Has it had any affect on your understanding of the version of Mahayana/Vajrayana that you follow?

4.) And finally could you suggest any good materials or study aids (videos, books, whatever).

Thank you all for your thoughts and your help in this matter.

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Indrajala
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Re: Mahayana Approaches to the Abhidharma?

Postby Indrajala » Fri Apr 26, 2013 12:28 pm

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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tobes
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Re: Mahayana Approaches to the Abhidharma?

Postby tobes » Sat Apr 27, 2013 2:34 am

I've been working through it lately - and to be honest I find it very daunting and difficult.

As Indrajala pointed out, you can't really understand the Madhyamakan tradition without understanding the Sarvastivadan Abhidharma.

Svabhāva has many different senses, and one cannot really understand the critique of svabhāva - i.e. that it is empty - without understanding how it functioned in Sarvastivadan metaphysics and soteriology; and why they felt they needed to posit it.

Beyond that, and perhaps even more importantly, there is a tremendous richness in the Abhidharma explanation of what I would call 'agency' or 'subjectivity' - such that if you look closely, all the keys to liberation revolve around.

The problem is that there are endless new books (both popular and scholarly) on Tibetan understandings of emptiness, and virtually nothing which attempts to unpack the richness of the Abhidharma. Theravadan sources are more plentiful, but of course, they are explaining a different bunch of texts. Nonetheless, it is a good starting point.

:anjali:

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Indrajala
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Re: Mahayana Approaches to the Abhidharma?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Apr 27, 2013 4:54 am

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Ayu
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Re: Mahayana Approaches to the Abhidharma?

Postby Ayu » Sat Apr 27, 2013 2:29 pm

I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

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Indrajala
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Re: Mahayana Approaches to the Abhidharma?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Apr 27, 2013 3:34 pm

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Ayu
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Re: Mahayana Approaches to the Abhidharma?

Postby Ayu » Sat Apr 27, 2013 4:11 pm

Thank you.
I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

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tobes
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Re: Mahayana Approaches to the Abhidharma?

Postby tobes » Sun Apr 28, 2013 5:46 am


LionelChen
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Re: Mahayana Approaches to the Abhidharma?

Postby LionelChen » Sun Apr 28, 2013 5:53 am


CaperAsh
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Re: Mahayana Approaches to the Abhidharma?

Postby CaperAsh » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:00 am

Please forgive if this has been covered but in terms of my two cents on this issue, I find the barrier is linguistic. For example late last year I purchased a new English language edition of Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakosha put together (over MANY years) by Gelong Lodro Zangpo, a monk at Gampo Abbey in Cape Breton Canada (where I also happen to live), and found after a few chapters that I simply couldn't get through it, not because of structural or conceptual complexity, but because the words chosen didn't work for me and spent so much time going to the glossaries, looking up endless acronym abbreviations. No doubt if I had persevered more I would have developed more facility, but to give one small example: the dhatus are translated as 'elements'. I don't know why elements was picked, but it doesn't click. And there are many words like that, none of them fit/click for me, so I found again and again, every single paragraph, that I simply had no idea what was being said.

So for me, I have not yet read a readable translation. The old French one is pretty good but I am not a French speaker so that too has problems. And I don't know Chinese, Sanskrit etc.

Again, just my two cents.

Now: if someone here is aware of some good texts - either basic of Mahayana - abhidharma in English, esp. those available online, I for one would be very grateful for that information, including links to the online stuff.

Thxs.

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Indrajala
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Re: Mahayana Approaches to the Abhidharma?

Postby Indrajala » Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:27 pm

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Indrajala
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Re: Mahayana Approaches to the Abhidharma?

Postby Indrajala » Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:40 pm

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Huifeng
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Re: Mahayana Approaches to the Abhidharma?

Postby Huifeng » Mon Apr 29, 2013 2:20 am

Re: Mahayana Approaches to the Abhidharma?

The Mahaprajnaparamitopadesa (大智度論) is an excellent example of integrating early sutra, Abhidharma, Mahayana sutra and Madhyamaka points of view.

~~ Huifeng


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tobes
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Re: Mahayana Approaches to the Abhidharma?

Postby tobes » Mon Apr 29, 2013 8:07 am


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Indrajala
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Re: Mahayana Approaches to the Abhidharma?

Postby Indrajala » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:34 am

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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tobes
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Re: Mahayana Approaches to the Abhidharma?

Postby tobes » Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:39 am

That's true - there is some really insightful scholarship coming out of India. It's a pity that it doesn't usually make it to the west.

:anjali:

Greg
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Re: Mahayana Approaches to the Abhidharma?

Postby Greg » Tue Apr 30, 2013 7:20 pm



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