Monday, January 7, 2019

The "Ultimate Doctrine" (Abhidharma)

INTRODUCTION, BOOK I, PART 1 edited by Dhr. Seven for Wisdom Quarterly
There are those human beings in the world today who know the Truth and are free.
Abhidharma is the third and final "basket" or division of the canonical Buddhist texts. It is said to be complex, profound, and subtle. It has been described as a "valley of dry bones." This is an attempt to put some flesh on those dry bones that may be regarded as a manual introducing Abhidharma.

During the few weeks directly after the Buddha's enlightenment, he intuitively acquired the Abhidharma. It is therefore just about the earliest product of his thought. This is conclusively proved by the internal evidence of the first two sutras he taught to his former five companions.

The first sutra is called the "Discourse Setting the Wheel of the Dharma in Motion." The second is the "Discourse on the Impersonal Characteristic of All Things."

In the first discourse, the newly awakened Buddha was telling the five vaggi why he can now declare that he is the Buddha, the "Awakened or Enlightened One." At first they refused to believe or listen to him.

The sutra lasted five days, but it is very concisely stated (adumbrated) into two and a half pages. In this sutra the Buddha explains that the Five Aggregates or constituent categories of existence that are the objects of clinging (are clung to as a "self") are disappointing, unfulfilling, unsatisfactory, suffering: This is Abhidharma, which here is called Five Aggregates or the Clinging Aggregate.

The second sutra is pure Abhidharma, dealing as it does with corporeality (form), sensation (feeling), perception, karma-activities (mental formations like volitions), and consciousness and the 11 different distinctions of each aggregate.

However, legend has it that it would be necessary to expound the Abhidharma in one sitting. But as that would take three months in human time, this is impossible in the human world.

It was seven years after his great enlightenment, during the three months of the ancient Indian rainy season, that the Buddha traveled up to the world of the "shining ones" (devas), where his former mother had been reborn, to teach the Abhidharma non-stop.

Everyday, however, he took time off to eat and left a Buddha [a division body] after his own image, conjured up by miraculous psychic power, to carry on his work.

He also taught his chief male disciple foremost in wisdom Sariputra (counterpart of his chief female disciple foremost in wisdom Khema), who had a marvelous mind. It was Sariputra who taught the Abhidharma to his many students. More

No comments: