Intersection of Abhidharma and Meditation

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Intersection of Abhidharma and Meditation

Postby lotwell » Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:33 am

I'm curious as to how the complex theories of Abhidharma intersect with the "on the ground" reality of meditative experience.

Does the Abhidharma provide a map/guide to the inner world of meditation? Can dharmas be directly experienced and if so, how?

It seems that if there is so much radical revision occurring in the Abhidharma that it cannot be exactly representative of inner states.

Also, how was this connection understood in early schools.

Thank you for your reflection and insights,

Lotwell
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Re: Intersection of Abhidharma and Meditation

Postby Leo Rivers » Wed Nov 07, 2012 6:07 am

Abhidharma has been given a bad rep.

It has been represented as being dead academic categorization of things (a shallow long time popular view) that don't have meaningful existence anyway so can't bridge to actual enlightenment which is beyond dualistic processes. (a valid emptiness critique which need not necessarily applied as an utter dismissal).

But some modern scholarship has pointed its lists are rooted in meditation categories, and it was adapted by the third turning of the wheel tradition of the meditation oriented Yogacara School. Vasubandhu wrote the sravaka ABHIDHÁRMA-kośa-bhāṣya, and his older brother Asaṅga wrote the bodhisattva ABHIDHÁRMA-samuccaya.

Foundational Buddhist Oral tradition used lists of key words to facilitate fidelity to recollection of important ideas and their sequence.

Paths of meditation are themselves lists of items upon which to meditate and the lists of items of features which are signs of success or obstacle. (search this board for references to and Google the Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra)

There are some truly educated folks on this board who can recommend an approach to this topic. I will look forward to what they say as much as you do.
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Re: Intersection of Abhidharma and Meditation

Postby Jnana » Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:43 am

lotwell wrote:I'm curious as to how the complex theories of Abhidharma intersect with the "on the ground" reality of meditative experience.

Does the Abhidharma provide a map/guide to the inner world of meditation? Can dharmas be directly experienced and if so, how?

It seems that if there is so much radical revision occurring in the Abhidharma that it cannot be exactly representative of inner states.

Also, how was this connection understood in early schools.

I'd suggest reading the following, preferably also with the practical guidance of a qualified teacher:

Calm Abiding and Special Insight by Geshe Gedun Lodro.
Meditative States in Tibetan Buddhism by Lati Rinpoche & Denma Locho Rinpoche.
The Inner Science of Buddhist Practice by Artemus B. Engle.

:buddha1:
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Re: Intersection of Abhidharma and Meditation

Postby lotwell » Thu Nov 08, 2012 12:00 pm

Hi Leo,

I really like Rupert Gethin's analogy of language - the Abhidharma is like the grammar manual whereas the actual experience/practice of meditation is speaking the language. You can't really speak the language (unless of course you immerse yourself in the proper environment) without some study of the grammar. However, simply studying a grammar is, for most people, a rather boring task.

You're right that the Abhidharma cannot be dismissed. It is the basis for much of the terminology used in Yogacara and Madhyamika.

=Thank you for the links, Jhana.

Lowell
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