[Buddha-l] Abhidharma vindicated once again

tccahill tccahill at loyno.edu
Fri Mar 4 14:03:48 MST 2011

> Paul Griffiths ... decides ... that it is a rather useless
comatose state 
> and so spends the rest of the book looking at some of the
> discussions to try to figure out why they valorized it.
> The more puzzling role assigned nirodha-samapatti in the
literature and 
> tradition, for me, is that it an experience so valorized
and raised to the 
> highest level ... that it becomes considered the veritable
vestibule for full 
> awakening, a kind of glimpse of nirvana before reaching
full awakening. I 
> devote a lengthy chapter to this in my Buddhist
Phenomenology and don't 
> remember finding any better solution than did Griffiths.

Thanks for the interesting discussion!  I'd like to put this
in the context of ancient debates with Jains and probably
others about what it means to be a "victor".  (Or "winner"
to use Charlie Sheen's word.)   Most śramanas who made
claims to a breakthrough experience wanted to convince
others. But if you still inhabited your regular old body
then some skeptics would never be impressed. I'm thinking
here of the Ājīvika named Upaka who seems to have
dismissed the newly enlightened Buddha's claims and gone his
own way.  The true jina (for some) was one who had left his
body.  Now, if you could demonstrate this near deathless
state more or less on demand, and still come out of it to
regain your normal state, this must have been quite
impressive.  You could claim that you had conquered death by
entering such a state and then dismissing it. The adept
could summon and dismiss Yama at he pleased. So, maybe the
sangha valorized this state because it bolstered their claim
to have achieved something remarkable. It's certainly true
that Indians of all types have shown great esteem for any
holy person who leaves the physical body permanently after
having entered this state voluntarily.  


Timothy C. Cahill
Associate Professor and Chair
Department of Religious Studies
Loyola University New Orleans
6363 St. Charles Ave.
New Orleans, LA  70118

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