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Re: [Pali] about Mount Meru

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  • Nina van Gorkom
    Venerable Bhante Pandita, dear Nich, Bhante, thank you very much for your impressive and balanced exposition about Sutta and Abhidhamma and the (seemingly)
    Message 1 of 39 , May 2, 2005
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      Venerable Bhante Pandita, dear Nich,
      Bhante, thank you very much for your impressive and balanced exposition
      about Sutta and Abhidhamma and the (seemingly) contradictions in the
      Suttanta.
      I like to consider more what you say. Inspired by your post I shall add just
      a few personal ideas.
      op 01-05-2005 14:56 schreef Ven. Pandita op ashinpan@...
      >
      > Setting aside the question whether Abhidhamma is the Buddha's authentic
      > words or not, I can certify its consistence in the treatment of its
      > subject-matter. And the final part of Abhidhamma, Pa.t.thaana, is
      > especially wonderful.
      But why has Prof. Gombrich failed to mention it? Probably because he
      > cannot say it from his experience. After Mrs. Rhys David calling
      > Abhidhamma Pi.taka "a valley of dry bones", the West has lost interest
      > in Abhidhamma, with a few exceptions such as Mrs. Iggleden.
      -----------
      N: I hope that very gradually people will relate Abhihamma to their personal
      life.
      I am always impressed when reading the very beginning of the Dhammasangani,
      the first Book of the Abhidhamma. I read about all the sobhana cetasikas
      that come to assist the first type of mahaa-kusala citta accompanied by
      paññaa. This clarifies how many conditions are necessary for just one moment
      of kusala citta that falls away immediately.
      The text is very direct, straight to the point, and I find that it goes
      straight to the heart.

      I repost what I wrote before in Dhamma Studygroup List:

      < But the Abhidhamma is not supposed to be book study, it is to be lived and
      practised. Then one will discover many, many defilements, coarse and subtle,
      one had never thought of before. One comes to see that lobha arises in a day
      more often than one could dream of. Lobha can take any object through the
      six doorways. And see the suttas: here we also find the teaching of kusala
      and akusala. How lobha lures us all the time.
      Through the Abhidhamma we come to know the deep underlying motives of our
      actions, speech and thoughts. We often deceive ourselves as to the motives
      of our actions, speech and thoughts that seem to be wholesome. In reality
      they are mostly directed towards our own gain, they are motivated by selfish
      desire. With a growing understanding of the latent tendencies that are
      powerful conditions for all akusala cittas in our life, we will be urged to
      be mindful of all realities, akusala included. By reflecting and being aware
      of whatever reality appears we can learn to become more sincere and truthful
      with regard to the cittas that arise.
      Learning about the latent tendencies helps us to understand why we again and
      again make the same mistakes in life.
      We learn more details about conceit and come to know that it can arise with
      regard to any object we experience. See the Book of Analysis, Small Matters.
      We should study the Abhidhamma together with Suttanta and Vinaya. Through
      the Vinaya we learn about many shades and degrees of defilements, to see
      danger in the smallest faults. Through the Abhidhamma we come to understand
      more the Buddha's message contained in the suttas and the Vinaya. The
      Abhidhamma is closely connected with satipatthana.>
      I also learn from the Abhidhamma that the source of all problems in life is
      our defilements, not other people, not the situations we are in.
      ------------
      Bhante: Now about suttas full of contradictions. I would like to remind you
      that
      > the Buddha was a public teacher, preacher, and religious leader for 45
      > years of his life. His suttas were delivered to various audiences of
      > various sizes, ranging in number from a single listener to thousands.
      > His purpose is to teach them, and to train them, in the path of
      > liberation as per their abilities and attitudes. He might choose to give
      > direct answers to their questions, or interpret the questions in his own
      > way, or he might simply refuse to answer. As a saying in Burma goes, "A
      > teacher is a dancer who has to dance to the tune played by his student"
      > --- different tunes will result in different types of dancing. He had
      > different facets for different people...
      -----------
      N: I like very much the way you explain this.
      A few personal thoughts: I think that the seemingly contradictions are
      merely different aspects shown to different people. The Buddha used
      countless methods of teaching.
      As you explain, we have to consider to whom he is addressing the sutta. Go
      to the forest, to the root of a tree. To whom does he say this? Not to
      everyone.
      I like the simile about the dancing.
      ----------------
      Bh: Here comes in the role of Abhidhamma. If you look at the commentaries,
      > whether of Vinaya or Suttanta, you would find that the commentators
      > would call in Abhidhammic concepts whenever really subtle points are to
      > be expounded. Moreover, Abhidhamma is the ultimate arbiter as regards
      > all seeming contradictions in suttas; you would find them explained away
      > by the commentators using Abhidhamma.
      -----------
      N: Yes, all this has begun with Mount Meru. This is a name, a concept.
      Science, history etc. these are conventional realities, and certainly have
      merits in their own field. But they are different from citta, cetasika and
      rupa. These have characteristics that cannot be changed, they are true for
      everyone.
      Therefore, it does not matter any longer where Mount Meru was. There is no
      conflict here. Science sees realities from a different angle, it does not
      pretend to lead to liberation.

      I find that the suttas are full of Abhidhmma.
      Take: S.N. IV, 52,
      The World. A monk asked the Buddha what the world is.
      <It crumbles away, brethren. Therefore it is called 'the world'. What
      crumbles away? The eye... objects...eye-consciousness..etc.>
      I find that through the Abhidhamma I acquire more understanding of the
      suttas. Many of the suttas deal with seeing, hearing, etc.
      With respect and appreciation,
      Nina.
    • Stephen Hodge
      Dear Alex, ... I suspect that Shangri-la is fake Tibetan, the notion being based on or inspired by the Tibetanized version of the myth of Shambhala. The -la
      Message 39 of 39 , May 18, 2005
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        Dear Alex,

        > We are intrigued about this name/meme re-injection from East to West
        > and back to East. There may be modern references which predate the
        > book. However, is anyone aware of an earlier origin on the name? Is it
        > purely fictional or derived from another term (perhaps Shambhala?).

        I suspect that Shangri-la is fake Tibetan, the notion being based on or
        inspired by the Tibetanized version of the myth of Shambhala. The "-la" in
        Shangri-la is probably the Tibetan word for a mountain valley, but not in
        the case of the "la" at the end of Shambhala.

        I previously mentioned that the true location of Shambhala should be sought
        in western Orissa, but the place I intended to designate is Sambhalpur
        according to modern spelling. In medieval religious documents the place is
        also called Sambhola or Sambalaka, located along the upper Orissan reaches
        of the River Mahanadi. It is even mentioned by Ptolomy in his Geography as
        Sumelpur and Sambolaka. Carefuly sifting through the evidence, one can also
        hypothesize that the famed tantric land of Uddiyana / Oddiyana was the
        general name for the whole of that area, with Shambhala forming the
        westernmost portion. Any placing of Shambhala in Central Asia or elsewhere
        is a product of the later mythologized version of Shambhala.

        Best wishes,
        Stephen Hodge
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