An analysis of the Buddhist doctrines of karma and rebirth in the Visuddhimagga

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Abstract
In the Visuddhimagga, there is movement from an early Buddhist phenominalist epistemology towards essentialist ontology based in rationality and abstraction. The reductionist methodology of the Abhidhamma and reactions to it brought forth a theory of momentariness not found in early Buddhism. Abhidhamma reductionism and the concept of phenomenal dhammas led to a conception of momentary time-points and the incorporation of a cinematic model of temporal consciousness as a direct consequence of momentariness. Essentialism was incorporated into the Visuddhimagga precisely because of Buddhaghosa’s commitment to momentariness. This is seen in Buddhaghosa’s treatment of karma and rebirth. Karma, particularly death-threshold karma, receives more emphasis in the Visuddhimagga than was previously found in the Suttas. This is due to the need to explain the continuity of the process of karmic rebirth in light of the theory of momentariness, making it necessary for Buddhaghosa to synthesise momentariness with the tri-temporal existence of the Sarvāstivādins.
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BARAAO-18
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Archival date: 2018-12-26
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2018-12-26

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