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Slide Notes

Hi all,
My name is Alan Weller and I publish this book 'Abhidhamma in Daily Life' under the imprint of Zolag. The book is authored by Nina van Gorkom.

I saw this quote on the next slide on Goodreads reviewing 'Abhidhamma in Daily Life' and would like to explain why Abhidhamma in Daily Life is so important and some advice as to how to study it?

This video follows on from my other video 'Why Abhidhamma'. I have transcribed some points from this.

A video available at the link below:

https://youtu.be/2c3Ek9R6oSs

Why Abhidhamma in Daily Life?

Published on Oct 03, 2018

This is the presentation for the video 'Why Abhidamma in Daily Life'. Video available at the link below:

https://youtu.be/2c3Ek9R6oSs

PRESENTATION OUTLINE

Why 'Abhidhamma in Daily Life'?

Alan Weller
Hi all,
My name is Alan Weller and I publish this book 'Abhidhamma in Daily Life' under the imprint of Zolag. The book is authored by Nina van Gorkom.

I saw this quote on the next slide on Goodreads reviewing 'Abhidhamma in Daily Life' and would like to explain why Abhidhamma in Daily Life is so important and some advice as to how to study it?

This video follows on from my other video 'Why Abhidhamma'. I have transcribed some points from this.

A video available at the link below:

https://youtu.be/2c3Ek9R6oSs

"After 6 years I have quite some Buddhist jargon , but this is going to far. It's all very interesting and wise, but totally inaccessible ; I could not get through." Goodreads (accessed July 2016)

I think that most of us who have studied Abhidhamma have been in this very same situation especially when we have not come across it before.

I will address the following questions in this presentation:

Why did I publish it?
What is Abhidhamma?
Why study Abhidhamma?
Why use Pali terms?
How does the book ADL (Abhidhamma in Daily Life) help us with Abhidhamma?
How can we study Abhidhamma?
Is Abhidhamma a part of the original scriptures?

Eight reasons for Abhidhamma in Daily Life:
1. The object of mindfulness has to be known.
2. By getting to know the Pali terms we are getting to know realities.
3. Precision.
4. English translations of the terms are different and not always correct.
5. It helps to understand the deep meaning of anatta (not-self).
6. Encourages the right application of the Buddhist teachings.
7. Access more of the teachings through recordings and discussions with other nationalities.
8. It simplifies the original texts.

Questions

  • Why did I publish it? What is Abhidhamma? Why study Abhidhamma? Why use Pali terms? How does ADL help us with Abhidhamma? How can we study Abhidhamma? Is Abhidhamma a part of the original scriptures?
Photo by Mark Hessling

Why Publish?

My background is in physics. I graduated with a physics degree and worked as a Senior Physics lecturer at a university for several years.

I was given a free version of Abhidhamma in Daily Life by a friend.

I began to realise in the first few pages that there was another way of developing an understanding of the world. A different way of studying. This could be developed by understanding the difference between a concept and reality. I also understand the potential benefit of this understanding. Buddhism is a type of physics. Physics means 'knowledge of nature' from the Greek. Not all science is physics. Not all physics is physics!

I did not see any better book available so decided to publish it myself. It is also available free online via my support website.

What is
Abhidhamma?

Seeing is Abhidhamma, hearing is Abhidhamma, sound is Abhidhamma. We use words in the Abhidhamma to point out realities, but these realities are not words. It helps us to know our life, the present moment, deeper.

Before mindfulness can be developed it is essential to know the object of mindfulness. It is essential to know the difference between concept and reality.

Abhidhamma translates as 'higher reality' or sometimes it can mean subtle reality. Reality is subtle or difficult to understand.
Photo by Brooke Lark

The Art of Brick

Reading

We do not see words. We see different lines/shades, our mind instantly translates the lines into words. Seeing sees and this is followed by thinking in words. In the same way, the mind translates the different colours of what is seen into shape and form of something such as a person, as in our picture. There are different types of thinking. Thinking of shape and form is a type of thinking. We perceive a person. However we cannot see a person.

The same process occurs when we see a 'real person'

What is seen is real, however person, table, car are ideas read out of reality. They are concepts the object of thinking. This is not a theory of life, but life as it is. The reality which is seen is not understood. This is the domain of mindfulness. To study realities as they are so that they can be understood.

The engineer exploits this mechanism.

I was in orbit with Tim Peak and re-entered the Earths atmosphere for £6.50. This was using a virtual reality headset at the science museum. Better than the actual thing, because unlike Tim peak I could have a coffee and cookie afterwards. Whereas Tim Peak had to be carried out of his capsule by 10 people!

What is touched?

How many objects can you touch?

Only three objects can be touched.

Typical answers such as chair, table, basket shows the reality is hidden. We can only touch hardness or softness, hot or cold, motion or pressure.

The body is only sensitive to hardness or softness, hot or cold, motion or pressure.

We experience a reality and this is immediately followed by thinking. Table is a concept the object of thinking.

If we take the word heat, this word represents a reality which can be directly experienced through the body-sense as hot or cold. We do not have to call it by any name. In science, we understand temperature as the average kinetic energy of the molecules. However, this is thinking about the temperature, not the direct experience of temperature.

Science never studies reality directly, only concepts about reality.

Mindfulness studies reality directly. When there is mindfulness a reality appears clearer than before. In this way understanding of it will develop.

It is essential for the development of mindfulness to know the object of mindfulness which is a reality not a concept.
Photo by KREYC

conditioned

Each moment is 
When you clap your hand a sound is produced. The sound does not come from anywhere, it does not go anywhere. It arises by a condition and falls away.
It only arises once in life.

All realities are like this they arise by conditions and fall away immediately. They never return again. Anger, sadness, compassion, kindness, racism. All realities which arise by conditions. There is no abiding self or agent who has control over them. They arise once and then they are gone completely never to return.

In the absolute sense there is no person, no self, just different realities arising and falling away by different conditions.

Mindfulness is conditioned to arise. No one can make mindfulness arise. Intention to have it is not a condition for it, sitting is not a condition. It is the intellectual understanding of this difference between reality and concept which is the condition.

There must be the firm intellectual understanding of these realities and their nature as not self or something in order to condition mindfulness.
Photo by marfis75

Precision

The difficulty is when the basic terms such as "dhamma" are not clearly understood. What is dhamma now? The answer is not a "book answer", it's what is real at this very moment. Abhidhamma is dhamma, the subtlety of understanding dhamma at this moment. So seeing now is dhamma, what is seen now, the visible object seen is dhamma, but a smart-phone is not dhamma. This is because a smart-phone is an idea, not a reality.

If "dhamma" (reality) is not understood clearly, then we cannot understand what nāma is - any dhamma which can experience an object such as seeing or hearing now. Also, without understanding dhamma, we cannot understand what is meant by rūpa, that reality which cannot experience anything, such as visible object or sound.

So the study or realities, no matter we call it Dhamma or Abhidhamma or anything else, has to proceed slowly and carefully considering and understanding the meaning of each term used. It has to be precise.
Photo by tudedude

Why use Pali terms? 

Nina van Gorkom writes: 'We need the terms, because the English translations of the terms are different and not always correct.' Many translate sammasankappa wrongly as right intention, thereby adding to great confusion as to the development of the eightfold Path.

The Pali terms automatically help us. By getting to know the Pali terms we are getting to know realities. All the Pali terms represent realities or classification or conditions for realities. Seeing is Abhidhamma, hearing is Abhidhamma.

By getting to know a core set of abhidhamma terms we are able to access more of the teachings through recordings and discussions. We can have discussions with our Thai, Vietnamese, Taiwanese friends (as long as they are in English!)

Abhidhamma in Daily life simplifies the complexity of the original texts without losing their meaning.

Is Abhidhamma authentic?

Historical reasons may not cure doubts about the authenticity of the scriptures, but careful examination and consideration of the contents of the Buddhist teachings themselves can convince us of their authenticity and their immense value for the development of the way leading to freedom from all suffering. Please see 'Introduction to the Buddhist Scriptures at the link below:

https://alwell.github.io/Support/adlinscript

How to study it?

The study of a Abhidhamma is a difficult and subtle journey. We need great patience to develop understanding, a tiny amount at a time.

It's not a matter of reading the book and studying the details like we would usually do with another subject. The Buddha's Teachings are very profound and without such careful considering, there will never be the understanding of dhammas as anattā (non-self).

As the Buddha said, better to study a few lines carefully and wisely than study all the texts and details with wrong understanding or for the wrong purpose. “Gradual Sayings” (Book of the Fours, First
Fifty, Ch I, §6).

Without Abhidhamma, it will be difficult to understand the terms in the sutta. Commentarians used Abhidhamma.

With Abhidhamma, one knows it is just dhamma. Nothing but dhamma. All experiencing is just dhamma, there is no one, no I, no self at all in the experiencing. There is experiencing but there is no experiencer.
Photo by Alexis Brown

Alan Weller

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