Jayasooriya’s version of Buddha Dhamma Flays Abidhamma for creating confusion
Posted on February 25th, 2013

By Shelton A. Gunaratne

Gunaratne is a professor emeritus at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He conducts a monthly Buddhist discussion group in Moorhead on the second Saturday of every month.

More than 2600 years after the Buddha passed away, a modern-day Sri Lankan atuwacaria (commentator), L. Jayasooriya, has been trying to save Buddha Dhamma from Buddhism contaminated by the seven-volume Abidhamma Pitaka.

Because abidhamma originated some 100 to 200 years after the death of the Buddha, scholars have raised doubts about its reliability as a source for documenting Buddha Dhamma.

Jayasooriya, a chartered engineer, says that the authors of the textbooks currently used in Sri Lankan schools and universities to teach the Dhamma have failed to detect the errors caused by the atuwacarias. He asserts that his painstaking research would make a big difference in making the Dhamma more intelligible to the public worldwide.

He claims that the textbooks written for teaching the Dhamma pay little attention to the doctrine of paticca samuppada (dependent co-origination), which illustrates the dynamics of the Four Noble Truths; and that Walpola Rahula has devoted only one and one-half pages to this doctrine in his widely circulated book What the Buddha Taught first published in 1959.

Jayasooriya’s book titled Teachings of the Buddha for the Inquiring Mind, first published in 2000, has gone through nine revisions. In the latest revision, he has made a commendable attempt to refine the inscrutable paradigm of paticca samuppada the ontological metatheory that exemplifies the dynamic interaction of 11 (originally 12) interconnected and interdependent nidanas (causal links). The paticca samuppada system operates itself by using the mental energy generated by the karmic (volitional) activities of all living beings in relation to the relevant nidanas.
While conceding that Jayasooriya has unearthed some valid gems that should be included in a revision of Buddhism, one wonders why he ignored the work of Joanna Macy, who in 1991 published the seminal book Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory, which focuses on paticca samuppada.

Macy agrees with Nyanatiloka’s assertion that none of the teachings of the Buddha has given rise to greater controversy than the paticca samuppada paradigm that explains the cause-effect relationship of jati (birth) and jaramarana (decay and death) in the samsara (cyclic existence).

Both Macy and Jayasooriya have shunned the abidhamma in deriving their respective models of paticca samuppada, which denotes the causal process. Both relied on the Sutta Pitaka, but Macy retained the 12 nidanas while Jayasooriya has dropped the link named satayatana (six senses) because Buddha never referred to them in the MahƒÆ’-¾nidƒÆ’-¾na Sutta.

Paticca Samuppada (Revised)

Jayasooriya’s revised paticca samuppada paradigm explains the cause of samsara, in terms of a sequence of 11 nidanas (5.9) each of which arises conditioned by the nidana preceding it:

Step 1: Through Avijja (ignorance, viz., greed, hate and delusion) are conditioned Sankhara (volitional actions/ karma formations).

[Avijja is not the first nidana (causal link); it stands for the unwholesome karmic energy left over at death in the previous existence and automatically installed as sankhara, an embryonic sperm-ovum combination. It affirms that lobha (greed), dosa (hate) and moha (delusion) lead to karmic generation.]

Step 2: Through Sankhara is conditioned vinnana (consciousness).

[Karmic energy left over at death gives rise to consciousness in the new existence. The bhavacakra (wheel of becoming) of a living being begins at this step. Six specific types of consciousness exist: vision, sound, smell, taste, touch, and mind, which make up the fifth aggregate of the panca-skanda.]

Step 3: Through Vinnana is conditioned nama-rupa (mental and physical phenomena).

[Jayasooriya insists that Vinnana and Nama-rupa together constitute a human being””‚a significant revision. Nama stands for the panca-skandha aggregates of vedana (feelings), sanna (perceptions) and sankhara (mental formations); and Rupa stands for the panca-skandha aggregate of form, viz., external ayatana (sense bases) corresponding to the six internal ayatana of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind. Note the close interdependence and interconnection between Vinnana and Nama-rupa.]

Step 4: Through Nama-rupa is conditioned phassa (contact).

Step 5: Through Phassa are conditioned the aggregates of vedana (feelings), sanna (perceptions), and sankhara (mental formations) constituting Nama.

[Jayasooriya says that the entire paticca samuppada shows the various ways in which karmic energy is generated. The process occurs within the three steps 6 to 9 generating karmic energy from five causes in three different ways (5.10).]

Step 6: Through Vedana is conditioned tanha (sensual desire).

[If vedana (feelings) on contact with Rupa are pleasant, then tanha (greed/desire) will arise; if the feelings are unpleasant, then dosa (hate) will arise; if the feelings are neutral, the process shifts to sanna (perceptions) to test for absence of moha (delusion) caused by the three fetters””‚belief in self, rules and observances, wrong views; if the feelings show upekkha (equanimity), the person has become an arhant ready to leave samsara.]

Step 7: Through Tanha is conditioned upadana (mental attachment), which also generates karmic energy, and sums up all the energy from the previous steps.

[Jayasooriya revises the original formula again when he concludes that the Buddha intentionally omitted the step of jaramarana (death) of the living being that should precede the step of bhava (becoming)

Step 8: Through Upadana is conditioned bhava (becoming)

[Jayasooriya says at this step karmic formation gives rise to becoming in the form of an embryo/ fetus, which has to go through the same steps.]

Step 9: Through Bhava is conditioned jati (birth).

[Jayasooriya says that steps 9 to 11 are meant to explain the general case for living beings other than humankind. At this step, the fetus gives rise to birth following the identical steps as before.]

Step 10: Through Jati is conditioned (11) jaramarana (decay and death).

[Birth gives rise to old age and death.]

Comments on the Jayasooriya Model

  • Although Jayasooriya has gone in depth to the Pali Canon, I found his elucidation of the operational mechanism of the sequence of psychological nidanas””‚consciousness, nama-rupa, phassa, vedana, tanha, and upadana rather confusing.  He needs to revise Chart 5.30 to eliminate the discrepancies in the numbering sequence of the nidanas between the text and the chart.  Moreover, although he has reduced the number of nidanas from 12 to 11 by eliminating satayatana (six senses), he has complicated the model by adding the aggregates of sanna (perception) and sankhara (mental formations) to the chart together with a plethora of fetters. A useful paradigm should be simpler and easier to understand.
  • Jayasooriya’s diction reveals a tad of arrogance, which defies his advocacy of the Dhamma concept of ti-lakkhana asserting that existence is anicca (impermanent), anatta (no-self) and dukkha (sorrow). He repeatedly mocks the “monks and the university professors” who wrote the Buddhist texts for the classroom.
  • He is absolutely on the mark when he asserts says most of the so-called Buddhists suffer from ignorance and do not understand the true Dhamma. But an impartial reader gets the sense that Jayasooriya is indulging in a tad of braggadocio (moha) when he detects errors in the Sutta Pitaka itself because of atuwa intrusion.  Moreover, he fails to credit Macy or any other monk or scholar who has focused on paticca samuppada.
  • I praise Jayasooriya for listing the eight factors in the Noble Eightfold Path from the easiest to the most difficult to practice even though the Buddha did not specify such a sequence of steps. The easiest approach is to begin with the factors in the Sila dimension (right speech, right action, right livelihood); move on to Samadhi dimension (right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration); and then to the Panna dimension (right understanding and right intention). Those trained in the last two factors have reached the anagami and arhant level respectively.

Final Observations

Jayasooriya’s analysis of paticca samuppada needs the attention of all those who are interested in propagating Buddhist philosophy worldwide. It is a magnificent example of enlightenment savvy that exceeded the intellectual capacity of the best of philosophers of the sixth century BCE. It took centuries for Western scholars to catch up with the systems thinking embedded in Buddha Dhamma that no adversary could disprove even today.  Macy revealed the roots of modern systems theories in the paticca samuppada model. Buddha was adamant that no living thing could arise by itself; that mutual causality was the natural law; that every living thing bore the attributes of anicca, anatta, and dukkha.

My impression is that Jayasooriya fails to show the interaction, interdependence and interconnection of each nidana in the paradigm with one another. He has confined the eternal circular loop in the samsara to the psychological nidanas identified as phassa, vedana, tanha, and upadana. Moreover, he could explicitly state that dependent co-origination is a nonlinear model that has no first or last nidana.

(P.S.: I referred this review essay to Jayasooriya early this week. In his response, Jayasooriya said, “It is wearisome for me to go into the details of what you have written”¦ You are free to give your opinion provided you state that it is your opinion.” Readers can access Jayasooriya’s book at his website http://buddhadhamma.info/)

13 Responses to “Jayasooriya’s version of Buddha Dhamma Flays Abidhamma for creating confusion”

  1. Ben Silva Says:

    I fully respect Shelton G as an author. I really enjoy his writing on various travels. I would also like to thank him for discussing Buddhism. I do not know about L Jayasooriya’s model. If L Jayasooriya is a Chartered Engineer as he claims, then he should follow scientific principles and should follow evidence based theories. I am a Buddhist myself. I follow Buddhas Kalama suttra teaching, which is a evidence based scientific approach. I reject anything that is not evidence based I follow the Buddhist precepts. I also accept Buddhist mindfulness and also meditation techniques. We aso need to respect and safeguard Buddhism as a part of our heritage and could be kept for ceremonial reasons. Buddhist precepts are based on morality and are valid to day. I however question rebirth, sansare, Karma, Nirvana etc. The things sansare, rebirth, Nirvana are ‘is’ things dealing with the physical world and should follow known laws of physics. There is not a SINGLE SHRED OF EVIDENCE FOR nIRVANA, SANSARE and rebirth.The mechanics of these three cannot be explained by known laws of physics. Some Buddhist ideas such as escaping suffering goes against laws of nature such as survival of the fittest. In short, if you cannot face the challenges in the real world, you will automatically go extinct, as only those that are fit will survive. Karma, Nirvana, rebirth, sansare concepts were around in Indian religions before and during Buddhas time. Therefore I classify these things as unproven Indian myths, just like Allah to muslims and God to Christians. These things depend on pure blind faith and has no scientific basis. People such as Shelton, not trained in the scientific analytically techniques, have created some completely meaningless terms, as indicated in Paticca Samuppada, and have brainwashed themselves. His steps are completely meaningless garbage, created by someone seriously affected by the religion mind virus. Such people are more dangerous than LTTE. Such people will prepare us so that Muslims can do a ‘Nalanda’ on us. If at all, Japanese Buddhism and their thinking is the best to follow. If we want to go extinct, follow the teachings of Shelton. If we want to survive the steps below would be more appropriate.. Most of the ideas given below originated from Japan. Now these ides are practiced by British and even Indians. Remember, Indians who created Buddhism, found it not appropriate and have now dumped it. If it waS ANY GOOD THEY WOULD HAVE KEPT IT.
    1. Adapt and change to meet new situations and threats.
    2. Continuously improve, develop problem solving and crical thinking skills
    3. Learn from those who re successful and learn from those who failed, so that mistakes could be avoided.
    4. Develop information seeking, analysis, design, presentation and communication skills
    5. Be prepared to overcome difficulties and undergo suffering.(Do not expect to have an easy ride, if you want to win ) (No pain, nogain)
    6. Be aware of the external environment and be aware of threats.
    7. Be prepared to dump old beliefs and move forward
    8. Be imaginative, innovative and have self belief.
    9. Maximise desire to be competitive, survive and win, rather than run away due to fear of pain or suffering.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    I agree with 1 to 9.

    If we didn’t desire to hammer the terrorists, we are still loving them while they kill us.

    Our scripture teacher: Love thy neighbour, love thy enemy, Jesus said.
    Our class: Absolutely, sir. We will but not before I slay my hot neighbour’s ugly husband.

  3. Voice123 Says:

    Im not an expert in Buddhism, but doesnt it allow for defending oneself, done with the correct motivations? Martial arts of self defence was invented by Buddhist monks to protect themselves agaist brigands as well as train the mind. Hound the terrorists wherever in the world they are and disarm them whatever way necessary. I wonder why we are even having this debate.

  4. mjaya Says:

    Voice123 said

    ** I wonder why we are even having this debate. **

    The answer is simple, when Buddhists rise up to defend themselves, certain characters suddenly pop up. Some tell the Buddhists to observe “non-violence” while others say that inherently non violent Buddhism is not good enough for defense.

    Now do you get the picture?

  5. Ben Silva Says:

    To answer voice 123, I believe Chinese monks developed self defence. We can learn from Sikhs. Sikhs have Gurus that make the Sikh religion learn and evolve. When Muslims killed Sikhs, they learnt that they have to be militaristic to defend themselves. So they changed the re legion so that they defend themselves. Unfortunately our Mahanayaks do nothing and they do not learn and evolve.
    Why do we need this debate ?The whole of Sri Lanka was the home land of the Sinhalese. Now Sri Lanka is multiethnic. Very soon if we do nothing, it will be Muslim. We have lost the North, East, Hill country and now even the Capital. We have not been fit enough to survive. Probably good to debate to find the reason why we declined and to stop the decline.
    as for Buddhism, there are several versions. Sheltons version, Jayasooriya’s version. Japanese Version, Chinese version and so on. The safest Buddhist version is the Japanese version. They have fine tuned desires and winning. There is a big difference between Buddhism in the Silk route and Buddhism in Japan. I would say Buddhism in the silk route, similar to Sri Lankan Buddhism could be described as losers Buddhism. In Sri Lanka we are told to give up desires. If we do that we end up as nobody or end up as the poorest of the poor. In Japan they fine tune desires and end up at the top. Japanese Buddhism is the wionners Buddhism and it is better to practice Japanese Buddhism. As for Sheltons Buddhism, it is total garbage. Does anyone understand the steps he is talking about. He is affected by the religion mind virus, just like Muslims are affected.
    For people like Shelton, it is best when they feel depressed, to go to the nearest Temple and seek Nirvana rather that write garbage.

  6. Wickrama Says:

    ” [Avijja is not the first nidana (causal link); it stands for the unwholesome karmic energy left over at death in the previous existence ”
    The question is, then, WHAT IS THE FIRST “NIDANA” OF THE VERY FIRST EXISTENCE ??

    IN OTHER WORDS, HOW DID “KARMIC ENERGY” BECAME TO EXIST ?

  7. Senevirath Says:

    DHAMMA will be there for ever. we dont have to protect it but sometimes we have to find it out when some people mix it up- specialy hindus.
    but we have to ptotect the culture — that is laymens culture—
    ONLY FEW EXTRA WISE PEOPLE WHO WANTS TO BE ENLIGHTENED IN THIS “” bhava”” FOLLOW PURE DHAMMA. THEY DONT WANT TO POSTPONE NIRVANA BECAUSE THEY HAVE REALISED THAT NOTHING IS PERMANENT AND NOTHING IS “”sukha””. THEY SHOULD GO ON THAT PATH AND WE HAVE TO LET THEM DO THAT BECAUSE IN THE FUTURE WE TOO MIGHT NEED THEIR ASSISTENCE TO FOLLOW THE SAME PATH AFTER OUR SRTUGGGLE TO PROTECT OUR CULTURE OR THE LIVING PATTERN

    WE ALL HAVE BODHI SATVA QUALITIES UP TO A CERTAIN PERCENTAGE EVEN SUMEDHA TAAPASA POSTPONED NIRVANA WHEN HE MET LORD BUDDHA AND WISHED TO BECOME ANOTHER BUDDHA IN THE FUTURE TO SERVE THE WORLD BUT HE HAD SUFFER FOR A VERY LONG TIME IN THE SAMSARA FOR AVERY LONG TIME

    VERY WISE PEOPLE GO ON DEFFERENT PATHS
    NIRVANA CANNOT BE EXPLAINED BY WORDS WHEN WE DEVELOPE THE MIND — SIXTH SENSE– MANASA–

    WE WILL RELISE IT OUR 5 SENSES ARE NOT ENOUGH FOR THAT
    WHO HAS SEEN OR FELT gravity. WE HAVE SEEN ONLY APPLES FALLING DOWN FOR SOME REASON NEWTON SAID THAT IT IS DUE TO gravity. NOW WE BELIEVE IT. THEN EINSTEIN ( 1915) DENIED IT . NOW WE BELIEVE THAT TOO.
    SOME PEOPLE PREFER TO BELIEVE ANYTHING WHAT WESTERN SCIENTIST SAY WHETHER IT IS VISIBLE OR NOT BUT REFUSE TO ACCEPT WHAT ENLIGHTENED MEDITATERS SAY

    WE NEED PURE DHAMMACHARIS AND ALSO PEOPLE LIKE DUTUGEMUNU

  8. weeralanka Says:

    One does not have to be an Engineer but a WISE person to understand the Buddhism, Karma Rebirth etc. An Action has a Reaction is the scientific saying. Just as in Buddhism, HETHU / PALA or Dependant Origination. If one really wants find the true path do vipassana meditation and you will find answers to questions yourself

  9. Ben Silva Says:

    Weeralanka, would you be kind enough to explain Nirvana, rebirth and sansare in simple language. If you claim anything, pleaSE PROVIDE VERIFIABLE EVIDENCE. nO POINT FOLLOWING THE SAME ARGUMENT AS ‘aLLAH OR gOD SAID SO’. I can accept Karma in this life – It is similar to action and reaction to your actions. However there is no evidence that reactions are passed down after death. As for Nirvana, which some say achieved after cessation of self awareness, can be achieved by reducing the blood flow to that part of the brain that deals with self awareness. Probably mentioned by LJayasooriya.

  10. Ben Silva Says:

    I understand that the article written by Shelton G on Paticca Samuppada, dealing with birth and death. If it is dealing with practical/tecnical/biological issues related to birth, it is no longer exclusively in the domain of religion or philosophy, but in the domain of bio science and genetics. I made an attempt to understand what he has written. I must admit that I failed miserably. Shelton G has used lot of words and said one thing leads to the other- how ? on what theoretical basis ? Is it because ALLAh or God or someone else said so ? bUT IN SCIENCE WE NEED VERIFIABLE EVIDENCE AND A SOLID BODY OF THEORY, obeying known laws of nature. Is journalist Shelton G an expert on molecular biology, genetics, epi genome field etc to talk about the mechanics of birth. If he is not an expert on these fields, he must be using some thing strong and powerful. He has used a lot of his imagination and lots of complicated words. Sheldton G, PLEASE TELL US WHAT YOU ARE SMOKING (Please let L Jayasooriya know as well, so that he will not confuse you). I am not clever enough to understand your jargon.!

  11. Nanda Says:

    I made an attempt to understand what he has written, with my little brain.

  12. Nanda Says:

    This fool wants evidence to everything.
    IF some western fool shows a monkey skull and and compare with a his skull and highlighted the similarities, he will accept it as “evolution”.
    If another western fool analysyes DNA and compare with his DNA as say 99% the same he will worship him and accept the theory.
    He cannot understand the immense suffering he underwent when his mothere died in SirLanka, because every time he thinks about it he regrets and suffers. He cannot understand that profound understanding of sufffering, its cause and cesation of the cause is Nibbana, not something mythical or has to be proven.

    “The fool who knows his foolishness, is wise at least so far. But a fool who thinks himself wise, he is called a fool indeed.”

  13. Nanda Says:

    Lorenzo,
    You don’t need “desire” to hammer terrorist.
    You need immense concentration, proper planning without any self desire( to steal money from army).
    To do things properly , you don’t need desire. Only fools need desire to catch up with the superior, but ultimately they will burn and loose.
    For sucess, what you need is
    1. Courage
    2. Get rid of lazyness.
    3. Hard wrok.
    4. Concentration ( no point thinking I want to do this every time repeatedly.)
    5. Happiness gain through little sucess.

    It is no other religion but Buddhism teaches all these. This fool Ben Silva is reading nonsence.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

 

 


Copyright © 2018 LankaWeb.com. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress