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Study of the Abhidhamma

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  • Study of the Abhidhamma

    Dear Venerable Ajahn Brahmali,

    Is the study of the Abhidhamma harmful? Some monks, including Ajahn Brahm believe that it is not the word of the Buddha and from one of his Sutta talks he's pointed out discrepancy between the Abhidhamma and the Suttas. If I can read the Abhidhamma, can you please point out the sections which I need to avoid reading in the Abhidhamma?

    A few monks have recommended me to study the Abhidhamma, hence I'm curious as to what I need to do. I've studies the suttas a bit and got a little bored now, and want to study something else for the time being.

    With Metta.

  • #2
    Dear Abhishek,

    If you are interested, it can be useful to study a little bit of Abhidhamma - at the very least you will know first-hand what you are talking about when you are discussing it with others.

    I fully agree with with Ajahn Brahm that the Abhidhamma is not the word of the Buddha. The language is very different, both in style and vocabulary. It is very obvious that the suttas and the Abhidhamma were not spoken by the same person. Then there is the enormous discrepancies between the Abhidhammas of the different schools. Whereas the suttas are very similar across the different textual traditions, the Abhidhammas have little in common. This points to a post-sectarian date for their composition (or at least finalization).

    There are a number of areas, in my view, where there are discrepancies between the suttas and the Abhidhamma (one of these being the Abhidhamma idea of lokuttarajjhāna). But rather than me giving you a list, it is sufficient to know that the Abhidhamma is not the word of the Buddha. This means that the suttas are primary and that the Abhidhamma at most fills in the picture by giving supplementary information. For too many people the Abhidhamma is primary and they read the suttas through the lens of ideas developed in the Abhidhamma. This often leads one to read ideas into the suttas that were developed a long time after the Buddha. Some of these ideas may be wrong, or at the very least they may distort one's understanding of the sutta material.

    With metta.


    • #3
      Thank You Venerable Ajahn Brahmali for the answer.

      With Metta.



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