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Guide through the Abhidhamma-Pitaka

being a synopsis of the philosophical collections belonging to the... etc.
General Notes:
Seven books of the Abhidhamma

  1. Dhamma-Sangani
  2. Vibhanga
  3. Dhatu-Katha
  4. Puggala-Pannatti
  5. Katha-Vatthu
  6. Yamaka
  7. Patthana

Forward by Cassius A. Pereira

of these, "Internal evidence indicates that the Dhammasangni, the Vibhanga, and the Patthana are the oldest, and were recited as they stand at the Second Great Council of the Arahants, held in the first quarter of the 4th century BC or earlier." The Dhatu-Katha, Puggala-Pannatti and the Yamaka too, are pre-Asokan,... and were recited at the Third Great Council of the Arahants, held during Dhamma-Asoka's reign. The Kathavatthu, as we know it today, dates from that same Third Council, whose president, The Arahant Thera Moggaliputta Tissa, composed it to refute the pernicious views of all schismatics till that time.

"All evidence, therefore, goes to prove that all seven books of the Abhidhamma, in practically the same cast and arrangement as we have them today were already fixed at a date not later than 250 BCE." (xi)

  • Introduced to Lanka by Asoka's Arahant son, and considered closed, inviolate

"When one speaks of Books, in this connection, it must be remembered that the Ti-Pitaka was reduced to writing [ital. added] only later in Lanka. Till then, an orderly arrangement of the Dhamma as taught by the Buddha, was cast in definite groups and memorized by members of the Sangha. Thus it was recited by saintly yellow-robed teacher to eager yellow robed pupil, memorized and passed on from generation to generation till the reign of Vattagamani Abhaya." (xi)

  • Pali text committed to writing in cir. 25 BCE. History related in Mahavamsa....
  • committed to writing because people considered less righteous, and in order that the books should endure they were committed to writing.
  • Tradition states that the Buddha composed the Abhidhamma in the presence of Sariputra during the rains retreat immediately following the "twin miracles" for his mother, Maya-Devi, Queen of the Sakyas. It was taught to Thera Sariputra, who in turn taught it to 500 monks.
  • interestingly, he also taught the Katthavatthu which outlines the schisms that followed the Buddha's mahasamadhi. (physical death).
  • Sutta Pitaka is in common language of conventional truth, Sammuti sacca.

"[in the suttana] men are called "men," trees are called "trees," and stones are called "stones." Slowly the puthujjana, the worldling, is introduced to Truth and the value of the higher life that alone opens the Path to Deliverance... the Abhidhamma comes as a wonderful revelation, for even the Abhidhamma can be only that, a revelation and not a realization to a "worldling," however high he may have climbed up this ladder of Knowlege. Here he feels he at last enjoys a picture of Truth... a glimpse, however faint, of the Truth that the Noble Ones have attained. This is the nearest that a worldling's study can approach to Paramattha Sacca, the Real, or 'ultimate Truth' that is the exclusive heritage of the 'complete coming into' (abhisamaya), the enlightenment, the penetration or realization (pativedha) of an Arahant." (xiii)

"A soaring royal swan spied a lowland crane puddling in a mudpool. Of compassion he descended and told this inglorious feathered kinsman of the Himalayan Heights, of cool mountain streams, the translucent crystal waters and their shining jewels. 'But I live on mudfish. are there any mudfish there?' asked the crane.

'No, there are no mudfish'

'Then don't want your mountains and your jewels,' said the crane.

And the Abhidhamma does not mention mudfish. Here we find no gods, no men, no devils, no trees, no stones, and so forth. All these are mere appearances, and we find that an "individual" has no real existence." (xiv)

"Professor C.G. Jung, who was in Colombo lately, told us that 'as a student of comparitive religion he believed that Buddhism was the most perfect religion the world has seen... in every religion the powers of the subconscious mind were represented by gods and demons... The actual psyche is really unconscious, and greater experience would impress us of the fact that the consciousness of man is like a little island floating in an ocean. Greater experience with the facts of Buddhist philosophy would show Prof. Jung that actuality is something very different to what he dreams. And the consciousness of a being is more like an octopus, at the bottom of the ocean, grabbing and grasping now this, now that, its suckered tentacles ever seeking to feed that greedy mouth." (xiv)


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