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[dhammastudygroup] Why study?

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  • Robert Kirkpatrick
    What is the purpose of studying the many details of Buddhismm? Why did the Buddha teach so many different suttas? Why is the Abhidhamma so intricate? If the
    Message 1 of 4 , Jan 2, 2000
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      What is the purpose of studying the many details of
      Buddhismm? Why did
      the Buddha teach so many different suttas? Why is the
      Abhidhamma so
      intricate?
      If the aim is to understand the present moment then
      why not just study
      the experience of this moment? Won't too much study
      confuse and
      distract us from the real goal?
      The commentary to the Abhidhammattha Sangaha, the
      Abhidhammattha
      Vibhavani (no English translation completed yet) gives
      this answer:

      "There are people who like short explanations, there
      are people who
      like explanations of medium length, and there are
      people who like
      detailed explanations. Those among the different
      groups who are slow in
      understanding as regards mentality can understand
      realities as
      explained by way of five khandhas, because mentality
      is classified by
      way of four khandhas, thus, in a more extensive way.
      Those who are slow
      in understanding as regards physical phenomena (rupa)
      can understand
      realities as explained by way of �yatanas. The five
      senses and the
      five sense objects are ten kinds of r�pa which are
      �yatanas. As to
      dhamm�yatana this comprises both n�ma and r�pa. Thus
      in this
      classification r�pa has been explained more
      extensively. Those who are
      slow in understanding as to both n�ma and r�pa can
      understand realities
      as explained by way of elements, dh�tus, because in
      this
      classification both n�ma and r�pa have been explained
      in detail."

      I know which clssification I come under, hence my
      appreciation of the details that clarify the
      characteristics and functions of the many namas and
      rupas.
      Robert
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    • amara chay
      ... I think your passage nicely clarifies your questions. I have one I received from a reader, which we are preparing to put on a new page on the website, a
      Message 2 of 4 , Jan 2, 2000
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        >From: Robert Kirkpatrick <robertkirkpatrick@...>
        >Reply-To: dhammastudygroup@egroups.com
        >To: dhammastudygroup@egroups.com
        >Subject: [dhammastudygroup] Why study?
        >Date: Sun, 2 Jan 2000 05:42:22 -0800 (PST)
        >
        >What is the purpose of studying the many details of
        >Buddhismm? Why did
        >the Buddha teach so many different suttas? Why is the
        >Abhidhamma so
        >intricate?
        >If the aim is to understand the present moment then
        >why not just study
        >the experience of this moment? Won't too much study
        >confuse and
        >distract us from the real goal?
        >The commentary to the Abhidhammattha Sangaha, the
        >Abhidhammattha
        >Vibhavani (no English translation completed yet) gives
        >this answer:
        >
        >"There are people who like short explanations, there
        >are people who
        >like explanations of medium length, and there are
        >people who like
        >detailed explanations. Those among the different
        >groups who are slow in
        >understanding as regards mentality can understand
        >realities as
        >explained by way of five khandhas, because mentality
        >is classified by
        >way of four khandhas, thus, in a more extensive way.
        >Those who are slow
        >in understanding as regards physical phenomena (rupa)
        >can understand
        >realities as explained by way of �yatanas. The five
        >senses and the
        >five sense objects are ten kinds of r�pa which are
        >�yatanas. As to
        >dhamm�yatana this comprises both n�ma and r�pa. Thus
        >in this
        >classification r�pa has been explained more
        >extensively. Those who are
        >slow in understanding as to both n�ma and r�pa can
        >understand realities
        >as explained by way of elements, dh�tus, because in
        >this
        >classification both n�ma and r�pa have been explained
        >in detail."
        >
        >I know which clssification I come under, hence my
        >appreciation of the details that clarify the
        >characteristics and functions of the many namas and
        >rupas.
        >Robert

        I think your passage nicely clarifies your questions.
        I have one I received from a reader, which we are preparing to put on a new
        page on the website, a professor at CMU sent me the following:
        Comment on Max Weber's "abnegation and Buddhism"
        Please tell me what you think of this passage from Max Weber.
        >"India religiosity is the cradle of those religious ethics which have
        >abnegated the world, theorectically,practically, and to the greatest
        >extent. It is also in India that the "technique" which corresponds to such
        >abnegation has been most highly developed. Monkhood, as well as the typical
        >ascetic and contemplative manipulations, were not only first but also most
        >consistently developed in India."


        I sent him the following reply:

        Max Weber has a tendency to over-generalize. It is true that
        Indians, long before the Buddha's times, realized that the world leads to
        kilesa through the six dvaras and tried to shut them out through meditation
        (concentration on a certain object to block all other worldly experiences)
        as well as other froms of physical abnegations (no food, clothings etc.)
        which are still practiced to these days.

        But the greatest religion India has ever produced, and once the most
        practiced in the world, (although now other religions have almost caught up
        with it), does not teach abnegation but comprehension, not just of the world
        but of the 'self', which no other religion does. The Buddha taught that one
        need not deny the world in order to be a Buddhist, the order comprises 4
        parties: bhikkus, bhikkunis, upasakas and upasikas, and in the tripitaka, he
        encouraged most people to continue as laypeople. Only those he knew would
        become the anagamis at the least or the arahantas were ordained, as well as
        those who have attained were permitted to at once. For them, as well as
        those who remain at home, their respective lifestyles were the normal way to
        live, not abnegation. By realizing what things really are they do not
        expect or force themselves to be different. Those who still have desire for
        the 'comforts' of the world would not deny themselves but understand that in
        fact all are impermanent and not the 'self', nor would they do 'wrong' to
        others in order to get what they wish. Those who have attained certain
        levels have already completely lost their desires of certain things
        automatically, therefore no abnegation is in process for them, since it
        requires self-denial, up to the ultimate arahantship where all kilesa is
        completely eradicated, all 'self', all
        'mana'. There can be no 'self-denial' where there is no 'self'. The
        techniques he mentions would be learning, fully experiencing and attainment
        of multiple levels of wisdom in the Buddhist order, not any abnegations to
        practice.

        Of course India, as well as other countries, also practices other
        religions--the worship of one or multiple deities (for example
        Hinduism)--which require absolute obedience to and binding with the god or
        gods (even Jesus told people to leave everything and follow him) and all
        kinds of practices and techniques which must be easier for Max Weber or any
        other religious communities to understand.


        Any comments?
        Amara
        ______________________________________________________
      • Robert Kirkpatrick
        I think you explained it very well, Amara. It is true that the monks life is different from a laypersons life. But the path - which is a path of understanding
        Message 3 of 4 , Jan 2, 2000
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          I think you explained it very well, Amara.
          It is true that the monks life is different from a
          laypersons life. But the path - which is a path of
          understanding - is the same for all. In the
          commentaries, which were recorded by monks , it is
          said that far more laypeople than monks attained the
          stages of enlightenment including anagami, sakadagami
          and sotapanna. This is not because a laypersons life
          is more suitable for developing wisdom but because
          there were more laypeople. The main point to realize
          is that the path is an internal development. The
          outward life one leads is not a reliable indication of
          whether wisdom is developing.

          You said that "Only those he knew would
          > become the anagamis at the least or the arahantas
          > were ordained, as well as
          > those who have attained were permitted to at once. "
          This is a little incorrect. The order became very
          large later in the Buddha's life and many people
          became monks or nuns who never attained any of the
          paths . And even laypeople , such as his father,
          became arahants. Of cause, once becoming arahant if
          they were going to live longer than a week they would
          enter the order.
          There were numerous men and women anagamis who, even
          after reaching that stage, spent the rest of their ,
          sometimes long, lives as laypeople.
          Robert



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        • amara chay
          ... Thank you for the precisions, Amara ______________________________________________________
          Message 4 of 4 , Jan 2, 2000
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            >From: Robert Kirkpatrick <robertkirkpatrick@...>
            >Reply-To: dhammastudygroup@egroups.com
            >To: dhammastudygroup@egroups.com
            >Subject: [dhammastudygroup] Re: Why study?
            >Date: Sun, 2 Jan 2000 17:42:40 -0800 (PST)
            >
            >I think you explained it very well, Amara.
            >It is true that the monks life is different from a
            >laypersons life. But the path - which is a path of
            >understanding - is the same for all. In the
            >commentaries, which were recorded by monks , it is
            >said that far more laypeople than monks attained the
            >stages of enlightenment including anagami, sakadagami
            >and sotapanna. This is not because a laypersons life
            >is more suitable for developing wisdom but because
            >there were more laypeople. The main point to realize
            >is that the path is an internal development. The
            >outward life one leads is not a reliable indication of
            >whether wisdom is developing.
            >
            >You said that "Only those he knew would
            > > become the anagamis at the least or the arahantas
            > > were ordained, as well as
            > > those who have attained were permitted to at once. "
            >This is a little incorrect. The order became very
            >large later in the Buddha's life and many people
            >became monks or nuns who never attained any of the
            >paths . And even laypeople , such as his father,
            >became arahants. Of cause, once becoming arahant if
            >they were going to live longer than a week they would
            >enter the order.
            >There were numerous men and women anagamis who, even
            >after reaching that stage, spent the rest of their ,
            >sometimes long, lives as laypeople.
            >Robert



            Thank you for the precisions,
            Amara
            ______________________________________________________
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