Are some, or all of the unanswered questions from the suttas answered in the Abhidhamma and commentaries?

The world is eternal.
The world is not eternal.
The world is (spatially) infinite.
The world is not (spatially) infinite.
The being imbued with a life force is identical with the body.
The being imbued with a life force is not identical with the body.
The Tathagata (a perfectly enlightened being) exists after death.
The Tathagata does not exist after death.
The Tathagata both exists and does not exist after death.
The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death.
-MN 72

What am I?
How am I?
Am I?
Am I not?
Did I exist in the past?
Did I not exist in the past?
What was I in the past?
How was I in the past?
Having been what, did I become what in the past?
Shall I exist in future?
Shall I not exist in future?
What shall I be in future?
How shall I be in future?
Having been what, shall I become what in future?
Whence came this person?
Whither will he go?
-MN 2

"There are these four unconjecturables that are not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about them. Which four?

"The Buddha-range of the Buddhas is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it.

"The jhana-range of a person in jhana…

"The [precise working out of the] results of kamma…

"Conjecture about [the origin, etc., of] the world is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it.

“These are the four unconjecturables that are not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about them.”
-AN 4.77

I think the point of the sutta is that such questions have no answer, and to speculate on these topics is folly, so why would the Commentators even try to answer them?

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The commentary says.
sassatadiṭṭhikoti and ucchedadiṭṭhikoti

There are several where the Buddha is silent when asked about these. By answering in certain ways, the Buddha will be affirming that there is a self that does not exist after death (it will never continue to exist after death).
The Buddha did not answer because those who asked at the time, were not suitable to hear proper answers. The abhidhamma comes into play (and other suttas if interpreted right) that the self is nothing more than 5 khanda that arise and pass at incredibly fast speeds. Therefore there is no self. If the question was asked properly…

  • Do the 5 khandas arise again after death of the Tathagata? The answer would be no.
  • Is there anything outside of of the 5 khanda that we all the Tathagata? The answer would be no.
  • Is there anything leftover when the the 5 khanda cease and do not arise again? The answer would be no.

Basic knowledge of Abhidhamma answers this question, and it is easy to understand why the Buddha was silent. Unfortunately, this is often used as “proof” that a Buddha or Arahant can “exist in some mystical way.”

You can watch the videos below by Ven Kumarabhivamsa prompted by yours truly.

You can see one comment:

Matthew Hartgraves

12 days ago

Your view of final paranibbana is wrong sir. Your view clings to the idea of total cessation. To understand the analogy of the “fire going cold” you must understand the lingo of ancient indian language: Nibbana by Thanissaro Bhikkhu … According to the ancient Brahmans, when a fire was extinguished it went into a state of latency. Rather than ceasing to exist, it became dormant and in that state — unbound from any particular fuel — it became diffused throughout the cosmos. When the Buddha used the image to explain nibbana to the Indian Brahmans of his day, he bypassed the question of whether an extinguished fire continues to exist or not, and focused instead on the impossibility of defining a fire that doesn’t burn: thus his statement that the person who has gone totally “out” can’t be described. … The second level of unbinding, symbolized by a fire so totally out that its embers have grown cold, is what the arahant experiences after this life. All input from the senses cools away and he/she is totally freed from even the subtlest stresses and limitations of existence in space and time. The Buddha insists that this level is indescribable, even in terms of existence or nonexistence, because words work only for things that have limits. All he really says about it — apart from images and metaphors — is that one can have foretastes of the experience in this lifetime, and that it’s the ultimate happiness, something truly worth knowing.

Bhante Subhuti](https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtCoUJXm0dAxEChyuYtDKuA)

7 days ago

I’m sorry, but your “views” are wrong according to theravada Buddhism. There is no self and no true self. There only exists the five khanda which arise and pass away very quickly. When the Arahant dies, the khanda do not arise again. There is no remainder. There is nothing apart from the 5 khanda. Nothing extra. There is no pure “citta” in proper Theravada. You are speaking the core views of the Dhammayut Thai Forest Tradition. Below is some pali. If you can read this, then you will know what it means. If you cannot read this, please check with a Buddhist monk who is well educated and degreed by the government of Sri Lanka or Myanmar. When you get an answer, please let us know the monk’s name, country and what certification of knowledge he has. Be sure that he wishes to publicly speak on this issue before mentioning his name.

Sāsanaantarahitavaṇṇanā Tīṇi parinibbānāni nāma kilesaparinibbānaṃ khandhaparinibbānaṃ dhātuparinibbānanti. Tattha kilesaparinibbānaṃ bodhipallaṅke ahosi. Khandhaparinibbānaṃ kusinārāyaṃ. Dhātuparinibbānaṃ anāgate bhavissati. Sāsanassa kira osakkanakāle imasmiṃ tambapaṇṇidīpe dhātuyo sannipatitvā mahācetiyaṃ gamissanti. Mahācetiyato nāgadīpe rājāyatanacetiyaṃ. Tato mahābodhipallaṅkaṃ gamissanti. Nāgabhavanatopi devalokatopi brahmalokatopi dhātuyo mahābodhipallaṅkameva gamissanti. Sāsapamattāpi dhātuyo na antarā nassissanti. Sabbadhātuyo mahābodhipallaṅke rāsibhūtā suvaṇṇakkhandho viya ekagghanā hutvā chabbaṇṇarasmiyo vissajjessanti. Tā dasasahassilokadhātuṃ pharissanti, tato dasasahassacakkavāḷadevatā sannipatitvā ‘‘ajja satthā parinibbāti, ajja sāsanaṃ osakkati, pacchimadassanaṃ dāni idaṃ amhāka’’nti dasabalassa parinibbutadivasato mahantataraṃ kāruññaṃ karissanti. Ṭhapetvā anāgāmikhīṇāsave avasesā sakabhāvena sandhāretuṃ na sakkhissanti. Dhātūsu tejodhātu uṭṭhahitvā yāva brahmalokā uggacchissati. Sāsapamattāyapi dhātuyā sati ekajālā bhavissati. Dhātūsu pariyādānaṃ gatāsu upacchijjissati. Evaṃ mahantaṃ ānubhāvaṃ dassetvā dhātūsu antarahitāsu sāsanaṃ antarahitaṃ nāma hoti.

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Thanks Venerable! Could you please tell us what the Pali says?

As to the rest of your well expounded reply, this was exactly what I noticed: some questions, like this one, were unanswered, due to the listener being unable to understand, but have clear answers from an Abhidhamma perspective, I wonder if there’s others? For example, “The being imbued with a life force is identical with the body.
The being imbued with a life force is not identical with the body.” is answered in the Kathavatthu, at least implicitly, and the things you point out about the khandas, combined with the Abhidhamma teachings on rebirth, give a pretty clear implicit answer as well: ultimately there are the four paramatthas, that’s it. In fact the Visuddhimagga puts it very clearly:

Q: The being imbued with a life force is identical with the body.
The being imbued with a life force is not identical with the body.

A:

There is no doer of a deed
Or one who reaps the deed’s result;
Phenomena alone flow on—
No other view than this is right.

-Vism. XIX.20

Therefore, just as a marionette is void, soulless and without curiosity, and
while it walks and stands merely through the combination of strings and wood, yet it seems as if it had curiosity and interestedness, so too, this mentality-
materiality is void, soulless and without curiosity, and while it walks and stands
merely through the combination of the two together, yet it seems as if it had
curiosity and interestedness. This is how it should be regarded. Hence the
Ancients said:

The mental and material are really here,
But here there is no human being to be found,
For it is void and merely fashioned like a doll—
Just suffering piled up like grass and sticks.
Vism. XVIII.31

Apologies, Venerable, I worded the post poorly. What I meant was: are some questions implicitly answered?

I would say that these unanswered questions were not answered by the Blessed One because whatever answer given to these questions would be wrong and doesn’t reflects the reality. For even “Yes”, “No”, “Yes and No”, “neither Yes nor No” would be attributed to Micchaditthi of Attavada or Ucchedavada. These ill-founded questions are, therefore, useless in finding truths and is wasting time if ponder upon them.

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The pāḷi just talks of the 3 parinibba ( Tīṇi parinibbānāni ) spending quite a bit of time on the last one Dhātuparinibbānaṃ… my pali is not so good but it might be best not to translate the Dhātuparinibbānaṃ description.

If you look at the “pa-auk mistakes anonymous video guy”, you will see that whatever you say, he just takes whatever he can and tries to bend it and then claim wrong statements were made. One of the videos has comments turned off. It is fruitless to speak with some of these people, as you might know with dhammawheel. Do you see me there anymore? And that was why I created/resurrected this group.

I would imagine such characters in the time of the Buddha and who were hopefully more competent than this “mistakes guy”. The Buddha would know who he was talking to and chose to ignore such questions. The most recent comment which I replied to and copied in the above thread, seems to similar to a typical nyanaviran. He has since responded back, but I won’t be answering him unless requested by sayadaw kumarabhivamsa who gave me the pāḷi. I really feel sorry for the “mistakes guy.” A new video is coming out with the commentary story of kokālika sutta.

You will see that:

  • Ven. Nyanavira had many of the akusala results of reviling the enlightened. He had over-estimation, lost what he had, died confused, had a very rare disease, and he killed himself which is considered abnormal mental state.
  • what-the-buddha-said-net monk also killed himself.
  • a third western monk killed himself at an island near island forest hermitage.

ananta : (adj.) endless; limitless; infinite. (from Pali glossary)

Four Ananta in Buddhism are the space, number of cakkavala (galaxies?), number of beings - Sattava, and Buddhaguna (the incomparable leader of men to be tamed (anuttaro purisa-damma-sārathi))

I think many people in this forum know the answers for many of these questions, even if not sure how to answer them. Learned Buddhists (particularly the Sanga) know the answers for these questions within Buddha’s Dhamma. But they don’t necessarily know how to make answers that can make an outsider understand. Ones from the outside are also certain Buddhists with little knowledge, who are not keen to investigate or care that much.
The Buddhists who are keen on practice would not have the answers either, and would not understand the answers, but would take the answers as facts due to their confidence in Ti-Sarana.
The answers of these questions cannot be simple. There are many subjects one needs to know clearly to tackle the questions and answers. In terms of practice (samatha vipassana), these questions/answers are not beneficial. They can benefit Pariyatti scholars however. In Tipitaka, the answers of these questions can be found in terms of law of kamma ( paṭiccasamuppāda), etc.

Are some, or all of the unanswered questions from the suttas answered in the Abhidhamma and commentaries?

The answer is yes. DN 15  Mahā Nidāna Sutta | The Great Causes Discourse

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True, I wonder why such unfortunate incident happened to those western monks. It gives a bad name to Buddhism if viewed by other religions’ people, they might say without understanding: “Look at them! They practice and yet kill themselves! What could be more wrong than if a religion encourages suicides?”

Yes, just the phenomena. We can clearly understand that if we approach that from the four Paramattha Dhamma.

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I will make a new topic for this.

We would not know others’ choice. It could be due to their past or present or both, which we cannot know.
Two monks became arahants after cutting their own throats and realized they were not yet being free. Not many would have such strength of consciousness - this is extreme level of consciousness. But it is true one can attain liberation at the end of life. This was also true to a monk who was gored by a buffalo, at the end of his life marked his liberation from samsara.
Death is an important part of meditation practice.

I made a separate topic here for suicide.

Blameless-ness occurs as the monk is not influenced by sakkaya ditthi in his act, and when the monk attains liberation. In this case, suicide is not aimed for a better next life. The act did not arise from greed, anger and delusion but intention to end the samsara as the monk is endowed with sila and samadhi, as the monk is fully prepared for panna, which he has not yet attained and as he is suffering from moha and dukkha.
But suicide is not a recommended method for liberation as there is no certainty for the monk to know their level of ripeness. Only Samatha Vipassana they should practice, as this method is also aimed for experiencing death without ending in actual death.