Debates in the Pali tradition

Hi everyone,

What are some debates involving the interpretation of the Pali Canon that have well-studied positions on both sides? (By “well-studied” I simply mean that academic studies grounded in critical thinking find reasons to support a certain position.) So far, I am aware of debates on the concept of anatta and the admissibility of unilateral bhikkhuni ordination. What else has generated scholarly debate? If you can provide direct links to sources that describe positions on the topic, that would be helpful. And let’s try to avoid debating the issues themselves in this thread; I am simply interested in an outline of areas in dispute. My opening question is intentionally open-ended.


Well, there’s also the Great Jhana Debate™️ … two overviews I know of are by Leigh Brasington and Justin Merritt (not necessarily an endorsement of their views, just easily accessible introductions)


Yuttdhammo’s response to Brahmavamso’s Jhanas is another article worth mentioning. Can’t provide a link at the moment. I wouldn’t call them scholarly, however, they are monks and that counts for something.

There is also the debate about whether you need the jhānas to attain Nibbāna. Here I would recommend Satipaṭṭhāna Vipassanā: Criticisms and Replies.

These can easily be found by a Google search.

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I believe you meant this link?

EDIT: It seems Bhante Yuttadhammo has taken down his blog. You can still find this article on, however.


Whether arahanths can have nighttime ejaculations.


That’s the one.

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