First, I would like to quote the following statements made by Buddhaghosa in Section 57, Anangana Suttavannanaa, Mulapannaasa, Majjimanikaaya Atthakathaa.
“Buddhassa bhagavato duvidhaa desanaa sammutidesanaa, paramatthadesanaa caati. Tattha puggalo satto itthii puriso khattiyo braahmaºo devo maaroti evaruupaa sammutidesanaa. Aniccam dukkham anattaa, khandhaa dhaatuu aayatanaani satipa tthaanaati evaruupaa paramatthadesanaa.
Tattha bhagavaa ye sammutivasena desanam sutvaa attham pativijjhitvaa moham pahaaya visesam adhigantum samatthaa tesam sammutidesanam deseti. Ye pana para matthavasena desanam sutvaa attham pativijjhitvaa moham pahaaya visesamadhigantum samatthaa, tesam paramattha- desanam deseti.”
“The Buddha Bhagavaa’s way of teaching is twofold in terms of the conventional way of teaching (sammutidesanaa) and the ultimate way of teaching (paramatthadesanaa). There, such way of teaching as person, sentient being, woman, man, Royals, Brahmin, gods, and maaro is the conventional way of teaching. Such way of teaching as impermanence, misery, selflessness, aggregates, elements, venues, and Establishment of Recollection (Satipatthaana) is the ultimate way of teaching.
There, the Buddha Bhagavaa delivers the conventional way of teaching to those who are capable of gaining unique insight by hearing the teaching in conventional terms, penetrating the meaning, and removing ignorance. On the other hand, the Buddha delivers the ultimate way of teaching to those who are capable of gaining unique insight by hearing the teachings in ultimate terms, penetrating the meaning, and removing ignorance.”
Buddhaghosa also made the following statement in Atthasaalinii, page
223, in Roman edition.
“Abhidhammo naama paramatthadesanaa”
“Abhidhamma is the ultimate way of teaching.”
Thus, whenever we find in a Suttam the teachings of impermanence, misery, selflessness, aggregates, elements, venues, and Establishment of Recollection (Satipatthaana), we can know for sure that this Suttam is engaging in the ultimate way of teaching. And, as the ultimate way of teaching is indicative of Abhidhamma, we can establish the fact that this Suttam contains a segment or segments of Abhidhamma. For example, Mahaa Satipatthaana Suttam would easily qualify as Abhidhamma because this Suttam dedicates itself to teaching the establishment of recollection exclusively.
We can also find in the Suttams the teachings of persons and sentient beings so that they can also qualify as the conventional way of teaching. For example, Metta Suttam uses sentient beings as its objects while containing items of Abhidhamma such as gentleness (mettaa or adosa in Abhidhamma parlance).
Therefore, we now know that Suttanta Pitaka contains both the conventional way of teaching and the ultimate way of teaching. That is another way of saying that Suttams contains segments of Abhidhamma.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the second paragraph we quoted earlier from Anangana Suttavannanaa.
“There, the Buddha delivers the conventional way of teaching to those who are capable of gaining unique insight by hearing the teaching in conventional terms, penetrating the meaning, and removing ignorance. On the other hand, the Buddha delivers the ultimate way of teaching to those who are capable of gaining unique insight by hearing the teachings in ultimate terms, penetating the meaning, and removing ignorance.”
The above paragraph is extremely significant in determining the goal of Suttanta Pitaka and Abhidhamma Pitaka.
The first sentence shows the conventional way of teaching and its purpose. And the purpose is the gain of unique insight. Unique insight is the right view that is sammaaditthi, which is an ultimate reality, or an item of Abhidhamma.
In short, Suttams not only contain segments of Abhidhamma, but also have the right view that is an item of Abhidhamma as their goal.
The second sentence solves the issue of whether Abhidhamma can deliver awakening at all. Yes, Abhidhamma can deliver the goods because “the Buddha delivers the ultimate way of teaching to those
who are capable of gaining unique insight by hearing the teachings in ultimate terms, penetating the meaning, and removing ignorance.”
>S: This is what we read in the first chapter of the Abhidhammattha Sangaha (translated in C.M.A.,edited by B.Bodhi), a compendium or summary of the Abhidhamma Pitaka:
“The Fourfold Ultimate Reality (catudhaa paramattha)
Citta.m cetasika.m ruupa.m
Nibbaanam iti sabbathaa.
“The four things contained in the Abhidhamma, spoken therein, are altogether fourfold from the standpoint of ultimate reality: consciousness, mental factors, matter, and Nibbaana.”
S: The commentary to this text, the Vibhaavinii, (translated by Wijeratne and Gethin) further states:
“Therein – in the Abhidhamma – the topics of Abhidhamma spoken of in full, as wholesome and so on, and as aggregates and so on, from the ultimate standpoint – by way of ultimate exposition, setting aside conventional talk – are four – are classified in four ways, namely: consciousness (citta), the aggregate of consciousness (vi~n~naa.na); mentalities, the three aggregates beginning with feeling; materiality, the aggregate of materiality differentiated as the elements and dependent [materialities]; nibbaana, the unconditioned dhamma which becomes the object of the path and fruits. This is the grammatical construction.
“Ultimate means in the ultimate, highest and undistorted sense; or it is the sense that comes within the sphere of knowledge that is highest and ultimate.”
2. > S: From Kathaavatthu, transl. as ‘Points of Controversy’ by Shwe Zan Aung & Mrs RhysDavids (PTS) (the last book of the Abhidhamma Pitaka), Book 1, 1 The Eight Refutations.
The First Refutation, 1) The fivefold Affirmative Presentation.
“Theravadin – Is ‘the person’ known in the sense of a real and ultimate
fact?” [S:Puggalo upalabbhati saccika.t.thaparamatthenaa ti]
Puggalavadin – Yes
Th – Is the person known ‘in the same way’ as a real and ultimate fact is
P – Nay, that cannot truly be said.
Th – Acknowledge your refutation:
i) If the person be known in the sense
of a real and ultimate fact, then indeed, good sir, you should also say,
the person is known in the same way as [any other] real and ultimate
fact [is known].
ii) that which you say here is wrong, namely, 1) that we ought to say,’the
person is known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact,’ but 2) we ought
not to say, the person is known in the same way as [any other] real
and ultimate fact [is known].
iii) If the latter statement 2) cannot be admitted, then indeed the former
statement 1) should not be admitted.
iv) In affirming the former statement 1), while
v) denying the latter 2), you are wrong
Summary of commentary:
“Of the Existence of a Personal Entity.
Controverted Point. That the ‘person’ is known in the sense of a real and
ultimate fact. (S:paramattha dhamma).
From the commentary-
The Theravadin questions a Puggalavadin (one who believes in the existence
of a personal entity, soul, or perduring immortal essence in man)
concerning his position. Who among the eighteen schools of thought were
Puggalavadins? In the Saasana the Vajjiputtakas and Sammitiyas, and many
other teachers besides, not belonging to the Saasana. ‘Person'(puggala)
means soul, being, vital principle. ‘Is known’: is approached and got at
by the understanding, is cognized. ‘Real’: not taken as an effect of magic
or mirage, actual. ‘Ultimate’ (paramattho): highest sense, not taken from
tradition, or hearsay. ‘Known’ as one of the fifty-seven ultimates of our
conscious experience (i.e 5 aggregates, 12 sense organs and objects, 18 elements, 22 controlling powers).”
3. >S: From MN, the Muulapariyaaya Sutta. This is “The Exposition of the Root of All Things” (sabbadhammamuulapariyaaya). Here sabba dhamma refers to all the khandhas of clinging (pa~cupaadaanakkhandhaa). Dhammas here, as confirmed by the commentary, refers to those dhmmas with sabhava (specific nature). “This is the word-meaning: ‘they bear their own characteristics, thus they are dhammas; (attano lakkha.na.m dhaarentii ti dhammaa).’ (Bodhi transl.)
The commentary above continues to stress: ‘They bear their own characteristics, thus they are dhammas’ (attano lakkha.na’m dhaarentii ti dhamma) . It continues to stress that this is said to show that they are ‘mere dhammas’ (or ‘bare dhammas’), ‘devoid of such attributions as that of a ‘being’, etc.’
As the text continues:
“Whereas such entities as self, beauty, pleasurableness, and permanence, etc, or nature (pakati), substance (dabba), soul (jiiva), body, etc,which are mere misconstructions (parikappitaakaaramatta) due to craving and views, or such entities as ‘sky-flowers’, etc, which are mere expressions of conventional discourse (lokavohaaramatta), cannot be discovered as ultimately real actualities (saccika.t.thaparamatthato), these dhammas (i.e. those endowed with a specific nature) can. These dhammas are
discovered as ultimately real actualities.”< ****