Kosa Reading Group ii a: Introduction by Poussin

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Grigoris
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Kosa Reading Group ii a: Introduction by Poussin

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I am just going to comment on some elements of the introduction that I found interesting, if others have subjects from the introduction they want to discuss, they can add it to this thread.

Initially there were only two baskets (pitaka) of teachings (Dharma): Vinaya and Sutra.

The Pali school/traditions introduced Abhidhamma (around the 3rd century BCE) as the third basket, giving us the Tripitaka.

But what is Abhidhamma?

Quoting Mrs. Rhys Davids:

"The burden, then, of Abhidhamma is not any positive contribution to the philosophy
of early Buddhism, but analytic and logical and methodological elaboration of
what is already given . . . The chief methods of that (Abhidhamma) training
were: first, the definition and determination of all names or terms entering into
the Buddhist scheme of culture; secondly, the enunciation of all doctrines,
theoretical and practical, as formulas, with coordination of all such as were
logically interrelated; and finally, practice in reducing all possible heterodox
positions to an absurdity . . ."

Vasubandhu belongs to the (Sarvāstivāda)Vaibhasika tradition (started in about 150 BCE) but is not orthodox and draws on other existing views to overcome the inconsistencies in his school's views. They were one of the the most influential schools until about the 7th century CE.

One key differentiation expounded by this school is the idea that "all exists", whereas the Vibhajjavadins believed: "The present, and the past which has not yet brought forth its result exist; the future and the past which have brought forth their result do not exist."

And this is where I want to start the first discussion: What do these two positions mean to you? How do you conceive of these two different ideas? Can you give practical examples that show what these ideas mean and how they differ?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde
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jake
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Re: Kosa Reading Group ii a: Introduction by Poussin

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Grigoris wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 10:45 am But what is Abhidhamma?
I found the bits of discussion around this point rather interesting because I remain rather uneducated and had assumed Abhidharma was always one of the three baskets and was named such because it was "higher" and "further" elaborations of the Buddhadharma contained in the Sutras. It helped me to see that there is another meaning. Either Pruden or Poussin (at times I have difficulty understanding whom I'm reading) writes that there is a "non-judgemental" meaning in the texts. Referencing the locative case, giving the idea of the work meaning "facing the dharma" or "concerning the dharma." This presentation of the meaning of Abhidharma came into sharper focus for me when I encountered the discussion on the Agamas.

Here the text (pg xl) begins to discuss the two sides of Indian religion, the well-worked out clerical doctrine and the popular aspects, which includes many elements brought over in the mind of new adherents. This is a familiar concept to me and I'm sure all of you. It's on clear display at least in my tradition. What I appreciated here, though, is when LVP makes the argument that not all teachings of the Buddha where given out publically (again, not new to us) and that the subtle and philosophical teachings were embedded in texts reserved for the study of Monks. This helped me get a better feel, I think, for the purpose and meaning of "abhidharma." It also made me think of caddisfly larva for some reason.
Grigoris wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 10:45 am One key differentiation expounded by this school is the idea that "all exists", whereas the Vibhajjavadins believed: "The present, and the past which has not yet brought forth its result exist; the future and the past which have brought forth their result do not exist."

And this is where I want to start the first discussion: What do these two positions mean to you? How do you conceive of these two different ideas? Can you give practical examples that show what these ideas mean and how they differ?
While I find these arguments interesting, I've grown lazy with age and have started tuning out the more ontological issues in Buddhism, personally. I believe it is in William's "Buddhist Thought" that has a fairly good review of these issues, of how dharmas which only exist for a near instant have an impact in the future, how this affects the fruition of karma, etc. which, I concede crosses into soteriology, but still. To attempt to answer your question, I think this simply refers to the issues between how an action (karman) can have a future result. It's dinner time, so, I suppose a practical (but bad) example is purchasing a taco salad that comes in a taco-shell bowl vs purchasing a taco-salad that comes in a china bowl. The taco-shell bowl is consumed with the dinner, so it ceases to exist after eating. The china bowl continues to exist even after consuming the taco salad, though the specific causes and conditions of tonight's dinner have moved on. It's not a good example, I realise but I am hungry. Also, repeatedly reciting the Heart Sutra for 25 years makes it a little difficult to imagine a dharma existing.
Grigoris wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 10:45 am I am just going to comment on some elements of the introduction that I found interesting, if others have subjects from the introduction they want to discuss, they can add it to this thread.
I'd already alluded to one of the tidbits I enjoyed in the intro, the spying Buddhist Nun with the tiny camera and the story of Vasubandhu cutting out his tongue. Perhaps it's the timing, but I was particularly moved by this:
pg. 1, vol. 1, Pruden wrote:"One effectively combats hatred and anger only by destroying ignorance."
Thanks for taking the lead on this Greg!
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Queequeg
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Re: Kosa Reading Group ii a: Introduction by Poussin

Post by Queequeg »

jake wrote: Mon Jun 15, 2020 7:05 pm
Grigoris wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 10:45 am But what is Abhidhamma?
I found the bits of discussion around this point rather interesting because I remain rather uneducated and had assumed Abhidharma was always one of the three baskets and was named such because it was "higher" and "further" elaborations of the Buddhadharma contained in the Sutras. It helped me to see that there is another meaning. Either Pruden or Poussin (at times I have difficulty understanding whom I'm reading) writes that there is a "non-judgemental" meaning in the texts. Referencing the locative case, giving the idea of the work meaning "facing the dharma" or "concerning the dharma." This presentation of the meaning of Abhidharma came into sharper focus for me when I encountered the discussion on the Agamas.
There was a little contrast between the Western and Japanese ideas about the meaning abhidhamma and had to do with its development. IIRC the Japanese argument is that abhidhamma is a non-judgmental word, and relates to the gradual development of abhidhamma through discussion and debate; the Western argument is that abhidhamma is judgmental in claiming it is the highest dhamma, and that it was more or less always a feature of the Buddha's teachings.

I don't know what is right, but my impression is that the most variation among traditions is in the abhidhamma which would seem to suggest its something that developed gradually and locally.
Grigoris wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 10:45 am One key differentiation expounded by this school is the idea that "all exists", whereas the Vibhajjavadins believed: "The present, and the past which has not yet brought forth its result exist; the future and the past which have brought forth their result do not exist."

And this is where I want to start the first discussion: What do these two positions mean to you? How do you conceive of these two different ideas? Can you give practical examples that show what these ideas mean and how they differ?
While I find these arguments interesting, I've grown lazy with age and have started tuning out the more ontological issues in Buddhism, personally. I believe it is in William's "Buddhist Thought" that has a fairly good review of these issues, of how dharmas which only exist for a near instant have an impact in the future, how this affects the fruition of karma, etc. which, I concede crosses into soteriology, but still. To attempt to answer your question, I think this simply refers to the issues between how an action (karman) can have a future result. It's dinner time, so, I suppose a practical (but bad) example is purchasing a taco salad that comes in a taco-shell bowl vs purchasing a taco-salad that comes in a china bowl. The taco-shell bowl is consumed with the dinner, so it ceases to exist after eating. The china bowl continues to exist even after consuming the taco salad, though the specific causes and conditions of tonight's dinner have moved on. It's not a good example, I realise but I am hungry. Also, repeatedly reciting the Heart Sutra for 25 years makes it a little difficult to imagine a dharma existing.
I thought that was a good example. Its funny you mention that its hard to imagine dharmas existing due to your practice. I have a very hard time with that, too, thought didn't realize what the problem was until I read your comment.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta
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