Theorists vs. Practitioners - who is better?

It’s from website I once shared. There are many more thesis if you go to second link.

More here

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Got both of them. Thank you. :blush:

not really. It depends of the person:

An 4.133:
“Bhikkhus, there are these four kinds of persons found existing in the world. What four?
One with direct discernment (insight), one with insight through elaboration, one who needs to be guided, one who is limited by the words.
These are the four kinds of persons found existing in the world.”

the PuggalaPannatti expand meaning from the 4 types:

  • Ugghatitannu - somebody who can be enlightened by arising of insight at the same instant of knowing some Dhamma teaching
  • Vipancitannu - somebody who can be enlightened by arising of insight with analysis after knowing some Dhamma teaching
  • Neyya - somebody who can be enlightened after doing practices and he can be guided
  • Padaparama - somebody who cannot be enlightened in this present life because there is no enough arising of panna to surpass the literal words

these 4 types of persons populates the Suttas with episodes of stream entry and even ahanthood. These 4 types characterize these episodes with immediate enlightenment, or after some time of ponderation, after doing practices, or without possibility of enlightenment in that present life.

Regarding the first type, the Ugghatitannu, this can be a difficulty issue. Leyi Sayadaw mentions the Ugghatitannu type only can exist in the case of somebody who find a Buddha in person, although at same time the Ed. says this interpretation is not based in Suttas neither commentaries (?):

In that link there are more things about this issue from the Ven. Ledi Sayadaw

yes, venerable. Please, accept my apologies.
Now I’m aware the context was different from what I had believed. Excuses if my tone sounded hard or robotics, I have some limitations with the language.

Truth is I have very little to contribute regarding the context. It’s better I stay just reading.

metta and all the best for your Path

Thank you for clarifying.

Interesting. I have found the original teachings of the Buddha to be more straightforward, simpler, and less complicated than the commentaries.

Furthermore, I have found myself feeling misled by and thus upset at commentaries that make claims without evidence nor support from the Dhamma-Vinaya.

The Buddha said that after his passing away, the Sangha should look to and regard the “Dhamma-Vinaya” as their teacher - not “Commentaries and Dhamma-Vinaya.”

So the Buddha did not say to use both “Commentaries and Dhamma-Vinaya.”

My main concern with this way of thinking is that the “Dhamma-Vinaya” is implicitly regarded as imperfect.

I don’t think the Dhamma-Vinaya needs any further clarifications or improvements.

The commentaries seem to be based on the assumption that the Dhamma-Vinaya is unclear, imperfect, and needs further clarification.

I think that I seem to find the Dhamma-Vinaya to be perfect and able to be understood directly without the help of any commentaries at all.

If there are any problems - perhaps the Sangha wasn’t able to transmit the Dhamma-Vinaya perfectly. But the Dhamma-Vinaya itself is hardly to be blamed for that, I don’t think.

What do you think?


I am sorry Bhante for going off topic here.

But I think there is a misunderstanding. I was just reading a Bhikkhu Bodhi book with its commentary. He mentioned there was two discourse given to the same fire worshippers by Buddha. One place it was his first. Then later probably after weeks there was another. So suttas need commentary still to understand the whole process. I think that’s why atleast read some sutta commentary to understand what happened before they got enlightened.

I’m not a master of suttas. But sure a Elder upasaka. I read a lot suttas I mean. That’s my joke. But in the suttas. In the time of Buddha itself those with insight Buddha probably means that their meditation can be directly in insight. I removed all dreams that there was the ones that got enlightenment on the spot, just by having insight. So no prior knowledge of Buddhas. That’s a dream and illusion. The where all a former disciple. Or a ascetic in the past. So they meditated.

I don’t believe that the persons in this sutta actually blamed meditation exactly. That’s why the others are called Jhana monks. That’s deep meditation.

While these monks in Dhamma. Meditate in access concentration probably and because of their kamma they become what they are. Not because choice.

For example in my first time meditating in Buddha’s Teaching I already did mindfulness of death corpse in my mind but a meditation teacher that became a monk once told me immediately. That’s is not possible for him. Not bragging. But just to give you an idea. I don’t have another example. He immediately told me it’s your paramis. That’s why you where able to do it. They are strong. After awhile I understood why he said that. Sometimes it makes you want to vomit. And some people can’t handle that. It goes away after awhile

Everything that is under insight it’s so strong from these people. That a mastery of mindfulness of breathing is enough for insight to help them later like you say in a Dhamma talk.

I have now seen the link you shared. It’s what I believe. That only Buddhas present can do this.

Of’ these four classes of beings, an Ugghàtitannu (one who understands immediately) is an individual who encounters a Buddha in person [1] and who is capable of attaining the Paths and the Fruits through the mere hearing of a short concise discourse.

And Piya Tan thesis on the sutta that Bhante is saying is said to be a after Buddha’s death situation. So that’s why no reference to Buddha.

Link to the text:

Seeing the sutta now I can’t say if Buddha was talking of attainments. But in understanding is true obviously.

But here it’s not like Buddha saying the modes of attainments. I think later tradition made us believe that.

Same as the converting of someone immediately after a sutta. Wow every sutta ends with someone becoming a follower. Reality check. There is something called real life. Things are not so easy. :joy:

As Buddha says negligence will bring about Buddhism decline.

To destroy something with the truth, one has to be in possession of the truth. I think it’s fair to say no one really knows. It might be wise to be prudent if not least for one’s own sake.

Mendicants, those mendicants who explain what is the teaching as not the teaching are acting for the hurt and unhappiness of the people, for the harm, hurt, and suffering of gods and humans.
Ye te, bhikkhave, bhikkhū dhammaṃ adhammoti dīpenti te, bhikkhave, bhikkhū bahujanaahitāya paṭipannā bahujanaasukhāya, bahuno janassa anatthāya ahitāya dukkhāya devamanussānaṃ.

They make much bad karma and make the true teaching disappear.”
Bahuñca te, bhikkhave, bhikkhū apuññaṃ pasavanti, te cimaṃ saddhammaṃ antaradhāpentī”ti.

I agree, that’s why I’m saying questioning
a received tradition should not be feared and discouraged. I’m not saying I know.

Those who can, do…
Those who can’t… Teach

Three years after publishing his first landmark paper on relativity, Einstein taught his debut course at the University of Bern. He wasn’t able to attract much interest in the esoteric subject of thermodynamics: Just three students signed up, and they were all friends of his. The next semester he had to cancel the class after only one student enrolled.

Although it’s often said that those who can’t do teach, the reality is that the best doers are often the worst teachers.



Bhante is it reality to say this has been going on since Buddha’s time?

Since the ones of Dhamma group. And probably in the group of Sariputta had him as example also. Sariputta is portrayed to be the leader of the wisdom group. To us it seems as if they concentrated on wisdom only.

But Sariputta is clearly portrayed as a meditator compared by Buddha to be alike Buddha to possess great wisdom.

I doubt the followers didn’t follow his examples. Leaders lead by example.

The sutta is actually a debate what should be done now that they are probably Arahants. Enjoy seclusion or follow Buddha’s command.

The sutta doesn’t say if they are Arahants

But let’s suppose they are. Arahants actually don’t have to do much meditation anymore.

So the Dhamma group is emphasizing that’s they should actually be doing more useful things to spread the Dhamma. Like Buddha commanded.

This is obviously a after Buddha’s parinibbana sutta.

What you say is certainly “possible” but given the conflict between unenlightened teachers and meditating monks (alluded to by Dhammapada 19 and 20 and the related Dhammapada story, AN 4 Dutiya Valahaka Sutta, and the case where dhammakathika who didn’t practice meditation came into confrontation with monks who followed strict Vinaya (actually dhutangas) and meditated, as I have mentioned in the first post of this discussion) I am not able to agree with you.

That’s why commentaries are just so precious, otherwise, it is easy to fall into the rabbit hole of ideas and suggestions. You’d be lost in your ideas for an unnecessarily long time, losing your precious time when you can either meditate or help others to be happy.

The context of the Buddha’s time is very important to understand the meaning of the Buddha’s words. It would be particularly wrong and foolish deed if meditators criticized Enlightened monks for teaching. I have never seen such a concept in the Pali texts. For such criticism, they would be roasted in hell anyway. Certainly not a good idea. On the other hand, we see commonly that meditators criticized unenlightened monks who did not meditate but taught, and the Buddha also seems to be quite critical in this respect; for this read Dhammapada 282 story.

Sometimes the Pali texts seem to ridicule unenlightened Dhamma teachers, most importantly ven. Upananda and ven. Udayi. Ven. Upananda and ven. Udayi were masters in teaching, but they had just so much of lust and greed. The scriptures illustrate how foolish is to chase after fame and gain without working hard on one’s Enlightenment.


Interestingly, Visuddhimagga suggests this in a very, very subtle way. It is explained that we should find an Arahant if we want a meditation teacher. If an Arahant is not available, then Anagami, or Sakadagami, or Sotapanna. (Although not mentioned in the text, I suppose a Sotapanna or Sakadagami, etc. would search a teacher who has attained a higher Enlightenment.) Visuddhimagga continues that if Sotapanna is not available then a Tipitakadhara should be sought. Then we find lengthy praise on how Tipitakadhara can actually explain Dhamma better than an Arahant because an Arahant knows his own path (possibly in the way we know from SN Kimsukopama Sutta) whereas a Tipitakadhara knows all Paths and can provide incredible detail. Commentaries suggest that Tipitakadharas are “suta Buddhas” (Buddha’s by learning) which I think would be an insult, or ridiculous term at least, in the Buddha’s time. (It sounds ridiculous to me, given the way how we in the Czech Republic ridicule so-called “educated fools.”)

Anyway, if I had a question about Vinaya I would obviously not ask an Arahant meditation teacher if he hasn’t memorized any of the scriptures. I would (and I do) approach those who don’t meditate but have memorized the texts. :blush:

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Bhante before I go read what you said.

Does it say the one that meditate are unenlightened?

I still think there is a misunderstanding

For example. In time of Buddha they would be called Dhamma teachers. And a householder was as we know it Citta the Householder. He was meditator.

My point is these discussions in suttas and commentaries came about probably for a lesson.

The way you say of these unenlightened monks that teached for example. Why would we believe they didn’t try meditation before?

Some monks tried meditation and spiritual life and they failed and went back to the household life.

I don’t think it’s right to come preaching as if there was a group that promoted non-meditation.

That’s why I say this type of sutta, to atleast be Monks that was futher already in the spiritual life.

I think Buddha and Mahakassapa wont be happy hearing what we are discussing here. :confused:

Buddha sasana was all about meditation. To promote this is kind against the grain.

Atleast explain that actually monks that was Arahants have done actually the job so why enjoy jhana

And those that tried already and failed, like Bhikhu Bodhi once shared it’s difficult now for him, so I doubt he is a meditator, those are the dhamma teachers.

I don’t say your theory is impossible, it is possible.

But given the conflict in AN Commentary which is cited until today in Myanmar to show that pariyatti (theory) teachers are more important than those who meditate it seems to me that dhammayoga in Mahacunda Sutta refers to unenlightened monks who can meditate but instead they just teach and do not meditate. So many teachers of scriptures today in Myanmar could meditate, but instead they just teach. I think they either worry that they would not be able progress fast or they simply worry that as meditators they would not be as “satisfied” as they are now in the well-supported city/village monasteries.

I think we will need another source of evidence or maybe psychic powers to see what the word dhammayoga really meant. :sun_with_face:

If you really think the Theravada commentaries and Abhidharma are from the same time as the suttas, how do you explain the fact that northern Abhidharma and commentary tradition preserved in Chinese, sanskrit and Tibetan is significantly different?

Why do all the main scholars of Buddhist studies agree that Abhidharma texts and commentaries are a later development which does not date from the Buddha’s time?

What about the fact that the commentaries and Abhidharma texts use terminology, ideas and language not found in the suttas at all?

I’m genuinely curious as to how you reconcile this.


I don’t say that the Commentaries are the same as in the Buddha’s time. I say, and you can read the same in the quote from Bhikkhu Bodhi above, that their core is coming from the Buddha’s time. The other schools of Buddhism are not considered as following the Buddha’s Teachings, so if I follow what my teachers say (which is however “extremism” in SuttaCentral and may be punished by banning from this forum) only our Commentaries are correct and the others are heretic. I cannot discuss further into why others are heretic or not, because I haven’t studied them properly.

Not all main scholars of Buddhist studies agree that Abhidhamma texts are a later development. Thousands and thousands of Buddhist scholars in Myanmar agree that Abhidhamma texts are originally from the Buddha Himself. Thousands and thousands of other scholars in Sri Lanka, Thailand, and certainly other countries agree that Abhidhamma is originally from the Buddha and it is exactly what we have now in Tipitaka. Ledi Sayadaw is certainly one of “main scholars” and he also received D.Litt. honorary title for his excellent scholarly works. Ledi Sayadaw memorized all 7 books of Abhidhamma and always taught Abhidhamma as the Buddha’s original word. I have got my BA degree from Buddhist Philosophy thanks to my arguments for Abhidhamma as original (already mentioned above, not sure whether you’ve read it), so it seems that the professors at the university, who know about this discussion and teach the different arguments ca. 2 years out of the 3 years study period, also agree that the arguments against Abhidhamma are not valid and incline toward Abhidhamma as original.

Commentaries obviously need to use different terminology and ideas because their (I think) larger portion is coming from later times and because they are meant to “explain” what is old. If you explain an old proverb or old text to a modern person you will certainly use a modern language even though your explanation is correct and vocabulary different.

Abhidhamma of course needs to use a different style and slightly different language because it was not taught to humans but to gods. (Gods can understand Magadhi/Pali language, believe it or not.) I believe that many of the Western scholars reject Abhidhamma as the Buddha’s word simply because they don’t believe in heaven or in a Buddha who would teach Dhamma in heaven. There were monks even short time after the Buddha passed away who didn’t believe in Abhidhamma and the Comy to Dhammasangani explains an encounter of a student like that with a great master. The great master asked the student a Vinaya question which the student couldn’t answer. The answer is included in Abhidhamma and nowhere else. An Abhidhamma mention is included in Bhikkhuni Vinaya and discussing Abhidhamma is required from forest monks in MN 69 Goliani Sutta and others. Even if you take Abhidhamma for “higher Dhamma” you end up accepting that they were basically discussing Commentaries. I have memorized a portion of Abhidhamma and studied it as well and can say that the depth and nature of Abhidhamma doesn’t resemble a summary or work made by Buddha’s students. That is because there are basic things which are intentionally irregular (such as repeated paccayo in different words possibly for didactic reason only) and deep illustration of kamma and world which are far deeper and more complicated than the suttas, the teachings for humans.


I love to discuss this topic, because if your Abhidhamma conspiracy theory is “true” then all of the 200 000 monks in Myanmar and many other in the world, plus uncountable in the history, would be “wrong.” If they are “wrong” then I need to have a good evidence for that. Otherwise I’ll have to say they are right or that they may be right. Even if you ask me a question that I cannot answer there are great masters in Myanmar who have memorized all 7 books of Abhidhamma and surely can answer all your suspicions and objections. I have studied the objections against Abhidhamma at the Sri Lankan University, so I have already my set of arguments “for Abhidhamma” ready at hand. :sun_with_face: However, if you want to discuss historicity of Abhidhamma I would love to do that in a different debate. (This one was intended only for Commentaries.)

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Well, you did in the post I quoted above. But now you backtracked in this response to say that only “their core” is from the Buddha’s time, which of course, is still a claim that is unsubstantiated. How do you know? How do you establish what this “core” is?

Well, I would say that believing that other traditions are heretical and non-Buddhist without having even read their their works (or studied the scholarship on them) is not a very intelligent and fair position.

I am mainly referring to modern academic Buddhist studies scholars (mainly) in the West as well as other places like Japan (indeed, the term Buddhist Studies here is referring to modern academic study of Buddhism, not all Buddhist scholarship in general, which would indeed include Abhidharma scholarship and so on). But yes you are right, there are many in Myanmar who oppose the historical critical conclusions of modern Buddhist studies that Abhidharma and Commentaries are later.

But of course, this story comes not from the suttas but from the very later texts that you are trying to prove as authentic. As such, its not a very good argument. Not only that, but we know historically that there was much disagreement among the different Buddhist schools regarding the Abhidharma Pitakas and where they came from. So there was never any real agreement in India among the various early schools regarding the origin and validity of the Abhidharma Pitakas. Indeed, the very fact that there are many Abhidharma Pitakas and many Commentaries are good proof that these are later textual genres that developed among the different schools after the schisms.

Its not a “conspiracy theory”, its a pretty well established scholarly view in modern Buddhist studies. Calling it a conspiracy theory makes it seem like its some unfounded internet rumor. It is not. Venerable, you need to be a bit more careful with your language, it can be taken as quite insulting. I am sure that is not your intent of course.


The Dhammasaṅganī and the Vibhaṅga can be found in other schools, thus they represent the earliest form of Abhidhamma. The matikas of the Dhammasaṅganī are essentially a continuation of and further development on the lists that we see in the suttas, thus showing some form of Abhidhamma thought in the suttas. If we compare, say, the Theravadin Abhidhamma and the Sarvastivadin Abhidharma we can see that the Theravadin version is more basic. Mostly its simple lists, matikas and their interconnection. The Sarvastivadin Abhidharma by comparison contains a lot more detailed philosophical arguments. Based on this its possible to suggest that the Theravadin Abhidhamma is closer to the original Abhidhamma out of the two schools. That is to say, an older version. The Abhidhamma itself is merely a more detailed analysis of the teachings found in the suttas. It is essentially a highly detailed map of the whole Dhamma, unifying all of the teachings found in the suttas into one comprehensive and consistent whole. It is pure Dhamma. It is the kind of Dhamma explanation you would expect the Buddha to give to his monks and nuns, since the suttas we have are stripped down teachings to aid with memorisation. Whilst it is true that other schools in their heresy moved away from the suttas and the original Abhidhamma, be it through claims of there being a real “person” or dhammas with a continuous essence that exist in the 3 times, we can’t really say the same for the Theravadin Abhidhamma. Nothing in the Theravadin Abhidhamma contradicts what is in the suttas, nor the subsequent Atthakatha on the Abhidhamma or the suttas.

Theravada, with its Abhidhamma and Atthakatha, has remained true to what the Buddha taught. The rest are in doctrinal error.

"Ten thousand of the of the Vajjiputtaka bhikkhus[after spliting from the good monks] seeking adherents among themselves, formed a school called the Mahasanghika [these then split several times] Thus from the school of the Mahasanghikas, in the second century only two schools seceded from the Theravada[note that the rightful monks are called Theravada by Buddhaghosa]-Mahimsinsasakas and Vajjiputtakas… [it lists more that split later]…Thus from the Theravada arose these eleven seceding bodies making 12 in all. And these 12 together the six schools of the Mahasanghikas constitute the 18 schools which arose in the second century. Of the eighteen, 17 are to be understood as schismatics, the Theravadan only being non- schismatic."""

Katthavathuppakarana-Atthakatha by Ven. Buddhoghosa

The Atthakatha of course are from a later time. No one has claimed otherwise. Still, they are old texts likely produced from the 3rd council onward or just prior to. Given that the suttas are stripped down teachings, as I already mentioned, they will need elaboration to draw out their meaning. There are very few suttas where you can just read it and fully understand it without further explanation. As soon as you have begun to explain a sutta you have essentially commented upon it. With this in mind i see no issue in going back to the oldest of commentaries, from awakened monks and nuns who lived closest in time to the Blessed One. These are of course my personal reasons, but this is why I think the Atthakatha should be taken seriously. From a non-academic position I have placed faith in the sangha. The Atthakatha were produced by the sangha, so it follows naturally that I would accept their authority.