Author Topic: Contradiction in the Theravada Pali Canon  (Read 324 times)

Offline Avrax

  • Member
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile
Contradiction in the Theravada Pali Canon
« on: October 25, 2017, 10:28:23 am »
Dear Friends,

I am having some trouble reconciling an apparent contradiction regarding the Arahat liberated by wisdom/discernment. The first sutta cited below states that a person liberated by wisdom does not attain the immaterial jhanas (jahna 5, 6, 7, and 8). The second sutta cited below states that an Araha liberated by wisdom attains the immaterial jhanas.

Could you help me reconcile these two passages?

1st Sutta:

"The one liberated by wisdom (paññāvimutta) is an arahat who does not obtain the immaterial attainments. In the words of the sutta:
But who, O monks, is the one Liberated by Wisdom? Here someone has not yet, in his own person, reached those peaceful Uncorporeal Deliverance [immaterial jhanas] transcending all corporeality. But after wisely understanding all things, have the biases reached extinction. Such a one, O monks, is called ‘Liberated by Wisdom [brackets added]" (MN. 1:477-78, cited and discussed in Henepola Gunaratana "A Critical Analysis of the Jhanas in Theravada Buddhist Meditation" p. 348-49, which you can find here http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/printguna.pdf).


2nd Sutta:

[Udayin:] "'Released through discernment, released through discernment,' it is said. To what extent is one described by the Blessed One as released through discernment?"

[Ananda:] "There is the case, my friend, where a monk, withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. And he knows it through discernment. It is to this extent that one is described by the Blessed One as released through discernment, though with a sequel.

"Furthermore, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhana... the third jhana... the fourth jhana... the dimension of the infinitude of space... the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness... the dimension of nothingness... the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. And he knows it through discernment. It is to this extent that one is described by the Blessed One as released through discernment, though with a sequel.

"Furthermore, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, he enters & remains in the cessation of perception & feeling. And as he sees with discernment, the mental fermentations go to their total end. And he knows it through discernment. It is to this extent that one is described by the Blessed One as released through discernment without a sequel."
(taken from here: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an09/an09.044.than.html)

Thanks!




Offline Ron-the-Elder

  • Member
  • Posts: 4486
  • May all beings live rightly and harmoniously.
    • View Profile
Re: Contradiction in the Theravada Pali Canon
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2017, 11:01:10 am »
  First:  "Arahat" is not a word used to describe one who is unbound. The correct term is "Arahant".   You can find the correct terms for those unbound and released here:

Source:https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/arahantsbodhisattvas.html


Quote
The Buddha is the first of the arahants, while those who reach the goal by following his path also become arahants. In the verse of homage to the Buddha, it is said: "Iti pi so Bhagavā Arahaṃ... — The Blessed One is an arahant..." Shortly after his enlightenment, while walking to Benares to meet the five monks, a wanderer stopped the Buddha and asked who he was. The Buddha replied: "I am the arahant in the world, I am the supreme teacher" (MN 26/I 171). So the Buddha first of all declares himself to be an arahant. The defining mark of an arahant is the attainment of nirvāṇa in this present life. The word "arahant" was not coined by the Buddha but was current even before he appeared on the Indian religious scene. The word is derived from a verb arahati, meaning "to be worthy," and thus means a person who is truly worthy of veneration and offerings. Among Indian spiritual seekers in the Buddha's time, the word was used to denote a person who had attained the ultimate goal, for this is what made one worthy of veneration and offerings.


Second:  The Jhanas are not equal to unbinding and release.  These are simply meditative states and still within the 31 Planes of Existence withing the samsaric realms.


Last:  Buddha never mentioned the Jhanas in his teachings.  See "Jhana Not by The Numbers"

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/jhananumbers.html
« Last Edit: October 25, 2017, 11:12:04 am by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline ground

  • Member
  • Posts: 2089
    • View Profile
Re: Contradiction in the Theravada Pali Canon
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2017, 11:08:53 am »
wisdom and discernment do not have the same meaning. To attain the form or formless jhanas discernment is required. These jhanas can be the basis for liberation but are not liberation. However wisdom can circumvent/bypass the jhanas as basis and access liberation directly.

Offline IdleChater

  • Member
  • Posts: 566
    • View Profile
Re: Contradiction in the Theravada Pali Canon
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2017, 11:18:00 am »
  First:  "Arahat" is not a word used to describe one who is unbound. The correct term is "Arahant".   You can find the correct terms for those unbound and released here:

Source:https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/arahantsbodhisattvas.html


Quote
The Buddha is the first of the arahants, while those who reach the goal by following his path also become arahants. In the verse of homage to the Buddha, it is said: "Iti pi so Bhagavā Arahaṃ... — The Blessed One is an arahant..." Shortly after his enlightenment, while walking to Benares to meet the five monks, a wanderer stopped the Buddha and asked who he was. The Buddha replied: "I am the arahant in the world, I am the supreme teacher" (MN 26/I 171). So the Buddha first of all declares himself to be an arahant. The defining mark of an arahant is the attainment of nirvāṇa in this present life. The word "arahant" was not coined by the Buddha but was current even before he appeared on the Indian religious scene. The word is derived from a verb arahati, meaning "to be worthy," and thus means a person who is truly worthy of veneration and offerings. Among Indian spiritual seekers in the Buddha's time, the word was used to denote a person who had attained the ultimate goal, for this is what made one worthy of veneration and offerings.


Second:  The Jhanas are not equal to unbinding and release.  These are simply meditative states and still within the 31 Planes of Existence withing the samsaric realms.


Last:  Buddha never mentioned the Jhanas in his teachings.  See "Jhana Not by The Numbers"

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/jhananumbers.html

Come on, Ron.  Arhat is a perfectly proper term.  It's Sanskrit and used widely as a source laguage.  You know precisely what our new friend was saying, so address his question directly and quit with the Pali Snob act.  It's annoying and pretentious.  Apologize.

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

  • Member
  • Posts: 374
    • View Profile
Re: Contradiction in the Theravada Pali Canon
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2017, 07:18:53 pm »
wisdom and discernment do not have the same meaning.

In the two suttas quoted, wisdom & discernment are exactly the same word, namely, "panna". The translators are different.

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

  • Member
  • Posts: 374
    • View Profile
Re: Contradiction in the Theravada Pali Canon
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2017, 07:21:54 pm »
I am having some trouble reconciling an apparent contradiction regarding the Arahat liberated by wisdom/discernment. The first sutta cited below states that a person liberated by wisdom does not attain the immaterial jhanas (jahna 5, 6, 7, and 8). The second sutta cited below states that an Araha liberated by wisdom attains the immaterial jhanas.

There is no contradiction. The immaterial jhanas are a natural yet excessive/unnecessary development. The original path of the Buddha stops samadhi development at the 4th jhana, however, if samadhi development is not stopped, liberation can occur after the 9th jhana. In both cases, liberation occurs due to wisdom (rather than due to samadhi).

Offline ground

  • Member
  • Posts: 2089
    • View Profile
Re: Contradiction in the Theravada Pali Canon
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2017, 01:08:19 am »
wisdom and discernment do not have the same meaning.

In the two suttas quoted, wisdom & discernment are exactly the same word, namely, "panna". The translators are different.
Interesting. Still the wisdom faculty required for form or formless jhanas and the wisdom faculty required for rational analysis are different although the designator 'wisdom' may be applied for both.

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

  • Member
  • Posts: 374
    • View Profile
Re: Contradiction in the Theravada Pali Canon
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2017, 01:56:34 am »
Still the wisdom faculty required for form or formless jhanas and the wisdom faculty required for rational analysis are different although the designator 'wisdom' may be applied for both.

My reading finds the sutta is not about the wisdom faculty required for form or formless jhanas. Rather, it is about the wisdom that views the form or formless jhanas so the form or formless jhanas do not form a basis for attachment. To me, the sutta is about release via wisdom rather than about attaining jhana via wisdom.

Quote
[Udayin:] “‘Released through discernment, released through discernment,’ it is said. To what extent is one described by the Blessed One as released through discernment?”

[Ananda:] “There is the case, my friend, where a monk, withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. And he knows it through discernment.

https://suttacentral.net/en/an9.44

Offline ground

  • Member
  • Posts: 2089
    • View Profile
Re: Contradiction in the Theravada Pali Canon
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2017, 02:16:17 am »
Still the wisdom faculty required for form or formless jhanas and the wisdom faculty required for rational analysis are different although the designator 'wisdom' may be applied for both.

My reading finds the sutta is not about the wisdom faculty required for form or formless jhanas. Rather, it is about the wisdom that views the form or formless jhanas so the form or formless jhanas do not form a basis for attachment. To me, the sutta is about release via wisdom rather than about attaining jhana via wisdom.

Quote
[Udayin:] “‘Released through discernment, released through discernment,’ it is said. To what extent is one described by the Blessed One as released through discernment?”

[Ananda:] “There is the case, my friend, where a monk, withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. And he knows it through discernment.

https://suttacentral.net/en/an9.44


Ok, more precise ... there are actually more than two faculties involved. Why? Because the route to liberation that goes via the jhanas requires a faculty to attain the jhanas and a another faculty to attain liberation taking the jhanas as basis. As stated above: "These jhanas can be the basis for liberation but are not liberation."

The faculty that attains liberation directly - without jhanas - is different.



Offline Ron-the-Elder

  • Member
  • Posts: 4486
  • May all beings live rightly and harmoniously.
    • View Profile
Re: Contradiction in the Theravada Pali Canon
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2017, 11:16:54 am »
Quote
Idle:   Arhat is a perfectly proper term.  It's Sanskrit and used widely as a source laguage.   "You know precisely what our new friend was saying, so..."

Arhat is a term used in The Mahayana literature not in the Theravada. Regardless of the language chosen.  It has much different meaning.  An Arhat is of lesser attainment than either an "Arahant" or a "Buddha".  My understanding of they way it is used in the Mahayana traditions is one who has attained the state of neither bodhisatvah, nor buddha.  My suspicion was (is) that he got hold of a Mahayana translation.  I don't know this for sure unless he provides a source.

There is a similar problem with Bodhisatva and Bodhisatta.  The first is an attained one as recognized in the Mahayana, who has chosen to stay in the samsaric universe until all living there have been released.  There is no such thing in The Theravada. A Bodhisatta is simply someone living out their life on their path to enlightenment.  Buddha was self-poclaimed as an Arahant, not a Bodhisattvah in the Theravada Tradition.

The OP's question had to do with The Thervadan concepts within the context of practicing the Jhanas, not Mahayana understanding.

Quote
Idle: ... "address his question directly and quit with the Pali Snob act."

It's not a matter of snobbery, but of the use of the language used at the time by The Buddha and memorized in Pali by his followers , The Theravadan Bhikkhus and Bhikkunis.

 
Quote
It's annoying and pretentious.  Apologize.

Sorry if I have yet again offended you.  Some day you will eventually come to a mental state where you are free of your feelings and judgementalness, which lead you criticise others. :hug:

May this day of your release from this obcession to criticize be forthcoming soon.   :-P
« Last Edit: October 26, 2017, 11:29:27 am by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Avrax

  • Member
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile
Re: Contradiction in the Theravada Pali Canon
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2017, 01:53:45 pm »
Dear All,

Thank you for your replies.

Ron-the-Elder thanks for the explanation regarding the difference between Arahant and Arahat.
I am puzzled why you say that the Buddha never mentioned the Jhanas in his teaching since he did.
Also, I wonder if you know the answer to the question I asked, since that's what I am trying to understand in this post.

Thank you Ground.

Thank you IdleChater.

VisuddhiRapture you state:

"There is no contradiction. The immaterial jhanas are a natural yet excessive/unnecessary development. The original path of the Buddha stops samadhi development at the 4th jhana, however, if samadhi development is not stopped, liberation can occur after the 9th jhana. In both cases, liberation occurs due to wisdom (rather than due to samadhi)."

But the one released through discernment is said in the other sutta I quoted (MN. 1:477-78) to not reach the immaterial jhanas. So which one is it? Does he or does he not realize the immaterial jhanas?

Friends, so far all of your answers does not reconcile the apparent contradiction, unless as VisuddhiRapture stated in the post about (Jhanas experienced with and without the body), there could be a mistake spoken by Ananda--hence a contradiction. So, I am left with a "we don't know." Do you have any other thought?

Thanks for your time and patient to help me answer this question!  :namaste:





Offline VisuddhiRaptor

  • Member
  • Posts: 374
    • View Profile
Re: Contradiction in the Theravada Pali Canon
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2017, 04:16:30 pm »
But the one released through discernment is said in the other sutta I quoted (MN. 1:477-78) to not reach the immaterial jhanas. So which one is it? Does he or does he not realize the immaterial jhanas?

The Buddha attained enlightenment using the 4th jhana, as follows:
Quote
With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous disappearance of joy and grief, I entered upon and abided in the fourth jhāna, which has neither-pain-nor-pleasure and purity of mindfulness due to equanimity.

“When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to knowledge of the destruction of the taints. I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is suffering’; I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is the origin of suffering’; I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is the cessation of suffering’; I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’ I directly knew as it actually is: ‘These are the taints’; I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is the origin of the taints’; I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is the cessation of the taints’; I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of the taints.’

https://suttacentral.net/en/mn4

As I posted, the immaterial jhanas are a natural development but not necessary. Refer to MN 140:

Quote
He understands thus: ‘If I were to direct this equanimity, so purified and bright, to the base of infinite space and to develop my mind accordingly, then this equanimity of mine, supported by that base, clinging to it, would remain for a very long time. If I were to direct this equanimity, so purified and bright, to the base of infinite consciousness…mn.iii.244…to the base of nothingness…to the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception and to develop my mind accordingly, then this equanimity of mine, supported by that base, clinging to it, would remain for a very long time.’

“He understands thus: ‘If I were to direct this equanimity, so purified and bright, to the base of infinite space and to develop my mind accordingly, this would be conditioned. If I were to direct this equanimity, so purified and bright, to the base of infinite consciousness…to the base of nothingness…to the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception and to develop my mind accordingly, this would be conditioned.’ He does not form any condition or generate any volition tending towards either being or non-being. Since he does not form any condition or generate any volition tending towards either being or non-being, he does not cling to anything in this world. When he does not cling, he is not agitated. When he is not agitated, he personally attains Nibbāna. He understands thus: ‘Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being.’

https://suttacentral.net/en/mn140

Offline Avrax

  • Member
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile
Re: Contradiction in the Theravada Pali Canon
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2017, 04:50:48 pm »
Dear VisuddhiRaptor,

Thank you for your replies.

I am not arguing that the immaterial jhanas are necessary for enlightenment, I am just trying to understand the apparent contradiction between the two sutta quoted in the first post.

 :namaste:

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

  • Member
  • Posts: 374
    • View Profile
Re: Contradiction in the Theravada Pali Canon
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2017, 08:02:54 pm »
I am not arguing that the immaterial jhanas are necessary for enlightenment, I am just trying to understand the apparent contradiction between the two sutta quoted in the first post.

Jhanas are gradual & continual calming of the various mental factors of mind due to stillness & letting go (refer to SN 36.11 and MN 111, which provide a good description of how the various mental factors calm, tranquilize & disappear). Therefore, if the mind keeps letting itself calm & let go, it will reach the immaterial jhanas until the 9th jhana, where the mind lapses into unconsciousness.

The Buddha-To-Be was already wary of the limitations of immaterial jhanas with his initial two teachers (refer to MN 26). Therefore, to investigate the truth of the arising & ceasing of suffering and the three characteristics, it seems the Buddha regarded the clarity of the 4th jhana to be sufficient, which is why he eventually only included 4 jhanas in his 8 fold path.

With metta  :namaste:

Offline IdleChater

  • Member
  • Posts: 566
    • View Profile
Re: Contradiction in the Theravada Pali Canon
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2017, 10:18:51 pm »
Dear All,

Thank you for your replies.

Ron-the-Elder thanks for the explanation regarding the difference between Arahant and Arahat.

Ron is wrong.  Arhat = Arhant and vice versa.  One is Pali and the other is Sanskrit.  Apart from the language difference there is no difference.  Whether you call it a Arhat or and Arhant you're talking about the same thing

Ron cites that the Sanskrit spelling (Arhat) is used in ther Mahayana.  While this is true, it's about all Ron get's right.  This is not a surprise.  By his own admission, Ron doesn't really know anything about Mahayana.  What's surprising is that despite this admitted lack knpowledge of the subject he continually, makes reference to it as if he was truly knowledgable

 
Quote
I am puzzled why you say that the Buddha never mentioned the Jhanas in his teaching since he did.

He says it because he believes it.

Quote
Also, I wonder if you know the answer to the question I asked, since that's what I am trying to understand in this post.

I suspect not.  If he knew the answer, he would have most likely posted it.






 


SimplePortal 2.3.3 © 2008-2010, SimplePortal