Rebirth, antaraabhava, Metteyya, petas and more to come?
- Dear Ven. Kumara, Ven. Yuttadhamma, Frank, Gunnar, Piya, Robert,
Stephen, Suan, Teng Kee, Thomas, Tim, Yifer and friends,
it is not difficult to notice that recently there has been a stir
over some topics such as antaraabhava, Metteyya, etc. It is amazing
to me how a new topic arises before another ceases. The ongoing
discussions may arise due to renewed interests within the academic,
monastic, or lay communities. I do not know for sure until I can
investigate further on its causes.
It is indeed very noble of Stephen and others to emphasize the
importance of understanding our conditions of being after death.
However, it is also important to maintain a harmonious atmosphere
before any proper sharing and learning can take place. Considering
the number of people who are Buddhists and believe in antaraabhava,
that leave quite a few billions to be convinced.
I would like to point out, as in another post, that while we may find
traces of certain concepts in the Pali Tipitaka, they are never
treated in the systematic way as they are done in the Mahayana
For example, there are several Mahayana sutras dealing with the
genesis of the future Buddha Metteyya, the Bodhisatta's pure land,
and detailed discussion of his eventual enlightenment and the
conditions of the world during his time. There is even a minor school
in China (history has that the school originated in Asia-Minor)
devoted to Metteyya Pure Land practices.
Then, there is also the bulk of literature dealing with antaraabhava
among the Mahayana (particularly Tibetan) texts. These writings are
probably formed at the last stage of Mahayana development in India,
and then further developed outside India.
I like to say that, even so, these form just a small portion of the
overall Mahayana literature. Their significance varies according to
cultural, political and economic factors under different social
settings. In the Theravada context, of course, they have very little
significance. But, that is not to say that we can't discuss them at
all. Having said thus, I hope that this list remains Pali-focused and
Nikaya-centric. Therefore, let's discuss things within the context of
the Pali Tipitaka as much as possible.
One last point to raise is the practice of jhana. As much as I am
aware, jhana is important to the development of concentration as much
as books are important for the acquisition of knowledge. I remember
the Buddha advised people not to go beyond the fourth jhana, as
though there is a dark force lurking behind. LOL :-) Most, if not
all, of Buddha's formost disciples are great jhana masters. However,
jhana is never regarded as highly as other jhanic-based religions. If
I am not wrong, Mara is also capable of advance jhana attainments(?).
Further, jhana is no indication of /any/ progress on the path. It is
merely a practice well-suited for people to obtain the concentration
necessary for contemplating on, for example, the four noble truths.
It is, simply put, a mean to an end.
- Dear Yong Peng,
> Then, there is also the bulk of literature dealing with antaraabhavaSorry to persist with this, but the most extensive treatment in extant
> among the Mahayana (particularly Tibetan) texts.
Indian sources of the antaraabhava is found in the Sarvastivadin
Mahavibhasha. My impression is that it was taken as a given by many
Mahayana people and so they never discussed it a great length. The Tibetan
material seems to have been inspired by the above-mentioned lengthy
treatment by the Sarvastivadins.
> One last point to raise is the practice of jhana.I should stress that I do want to encourage people to attempt jhana
meditation by themselves without expert guidance.
> I remember the Buddha advised people not to go beyond the fourth jhanaDifficult since, properly speaking, there are only four jhanas.
> However, jhana is never regarded as highly as other jhanic-basedOn the contrary, I think one can argue that the jhanas were an extremely
important part of the Buddha's path, perhaps the originally central element.
But I would rather not get into a long discussion about this, because I can
already hear the howls of disagreement :)
- At 02:55 PM 01-06-05, Ong Yong Peng wrote:
>I rememberHope you still remember where you came across this, as I'm *very* interested. If you manage to find out only after I leave the discussion, hope you would remember to send it to me personally. No promises, of course.
>the Buddha advised people not to go beyond the fourth jhana
Btw, you might be interested to know that the so-called "5th jhana" and onwards are known as ayatanas in the suttas. They are called jhanas only in the commentaries.