Dhyana Sutras of the Sarvastivadin School

I’ve recently been reading the translations of these sutras and just checking out the doctrines of these other early buddhist schools. The thought came to mind, if these were written down around the same time as the pali canon, how do we know which school is correct when it comes to doctrinal differences? Honestly a lot of their instruction on meditation makes total sense, and isn’t really in any way contradictory to the Theravadin school. Although on occasion they do stray on some major points. I guess my real interest is whether these are worth studying, and also, whether the probability that one or the other is the true doctrine of the Buddha is just 50/50, or if there are reasons to think that they are the ones that strayed from his true teaching. I mean, when you think about it, it’s not crazy to think that just because certain teachings were more psychologically palatable or even interesting or whatever, that they were the ones to catch on and become popular. It’s difficult to know with the amount of time that has passed. I am not seriously wavering from the more accepted teachings, but it is certainly something to think about.

Can you provide the link to Dhyana Sutras?


Here’s the two things I’ve been reading. And for me it’s not about whether they’re correct, but more so, if there’s any worth to studying them.

Thanks for sharing these with us.

To be clear, the word sūtra here just means “religious text”. These are not suttas in the sense of “sayings of the Buddha”, but rather are late Abhidhamma treatises.

The Sūtra of Sitting Dhyana Samadhi is, upon a short glance, a fascinating text, in many ways parallel to the much better known instructions on meditation found in the Visuddhimagga. I couldn’t comment on the details, but on the whole it seems like a nice survey of meditation practices and approaches. (BTW, the translator, Fa Qing, is an old friend of mine from back in the day in Penang.)

The second link is, as it says, an overall survey of Abhidharma doctrines. It looks quite useful as an introductory survey to the field. Even if you’re not really interested in studying such matters in detail, it doesn’t hurt to take a few hours to get acquainted with the different perspectives developed by Buddhists in times of old.