Difference between revisions of "Abhidharma"

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:It is customarily assumed that the multiple [[Early Buddhist schools|ancient Buddhist schools]] transmitted their own versions of Abhidharma collections, but only two complete canonical collections are preserved, representing two schools: the [[Sarvāstivāda]], who emerged as an independent school from within the [[Sthaviras]] around the second or first century BCE, became dominant in north, especially northwest India, and spread to central Asia; and the Sinhalese [[Theravāda]], a branch of the Sthaviras that spread out in south India and parts of southeast Asia. These two extant collections comprise the third of the “three baskets” (Skt., ''tripiṭaka'', Pali, ''tipiṭaka'') of the Buddhist canon.  
 
:It is customarily assumed that the multiple [[Early Buddhist schools|ancient Buddhist schools]] transmitted their own versions of Abhidharma collections, but only two complete canonical collections are preserved, representing two schools: the [[Sarvāstivāda]], who emerged as an independent school from within the [[Sthaviras]] around the second or first century BCE, became dominant in north, especially northwest India, and spread to central Asia; and the Sinhalese [[Theravāda]], a branch of the Sthaviras that spread out in south India and parts of southeast Asia. These two extant collections comprise the third of the “three baskets” (Skt., ''tripiṭaka'', Pali, ''tipiṭaka'') of the Buddhist canon.  
  
:The exegetical traditions of the Sarvāstivāda and Theravāda understand their respective canonical Abhidharma to consist of a set of seven texts, though each school specifies a different set of texts. The Sarvāstivādin Abhidharma-piṭaka consists of the Saṅgītiparyāya (Discourse on the Collective Recitation), the Dharmaskandha (Compendium of Dharmas), the Prajñaptiśāstra (Manual of Concepts), the Vijñānakāya (Compendium of Consciousness), the Dhātukāya (Compendium of Elements), the Prakaraṇapāda (Literary Exposition), and the Jñānaprasthāna (The Foundation of Knowledge). These seven texts survive in full only in their ancient Chinese translations. The [[Abhidhamma Pitaka (Pali Canon)|Theravādin Abhidhamma-piṭaka]] comprises the Dhammasaṅgaṇi (Enumeration of Dhammas), the Vibhaṅga (Analysis), the Dhātukathā (Discourse on Elements), the Puggalapaññatti (Designation of Persons), the Kathāvatthu (Points of Discussion), the Yamaka (Pairs), and the Paṭṭhāna (Causal Conditions). These seven texts are preserved in Pali and all but the Yamaka have been translated into English.<ref name=ronkin1>Noa Ronkin (2014) [https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2014/entries/abhidharma/ Abhidharma (Stanford Encycopedia)]</ref>
+
:The exegetical traditions of the Sarvāstivāda and Theravāda understand their respective canonical Abhidharma to consist of a set of seven texts, though each school specifies a different set of texts. The [[Abhidharma texts (Sarvāstivādin Canon)|Sarvāstivādin Abhidharma-piṭaka]] consists of the Saṅgītiparyāya (Discourse on the Collective Recitation), the Dharmaskandha (Compendium of Dharmas), the Prajñaptiśāstra (Manual of Concepts), the Vijñānakāya (Compendium of Consciousness), the Dhātukāya (Compendium of Elements), the Prakaraṇapāda (Literary Exposition), and the Jñānaprasthāna (The Foundation of Knowledge). These seven texts survive in full only in their ancient Chinese translations. The [[Abhidhamma Pitaka (Pali Canon)|Theravādin Abhidhamma-piṭaka]] comprises the Dhammasaṅgaṇi (Enumeration of Dhammas), the Vibhaṅga (Analysis), the Dhātukathā (Discourse on Elements), the Puggalapaññatti (Designation of Persons), the Kathāvatthu (Points of Discussion), the Yamaka (Pairs), and the Paṭṭhāna (Causal Conditions). These seven texts are preserved in Pali and all but the Yamaka have been translated into English.<ref name=ronkin1>Noa Ronkin (2014) [https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2014/entries/abhidharma/ Abhidharma (Stanford Encycopedia)]</ref>
  
 
==Basic concepts==
 
==Basic concepts==
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** ''[[Atthasalini]]'', a commentary on the "Dhammasangani" by [[Buddhaghosa]]
 
** ''[[Atthasalini]]'', a commentary on the "Dhammasangani" by [[Buddhaghosa]]
 
** ''[[Abhidhammattha-sangaha]]'', a commentary by Acariya Anuruddha
 
** ''[[Abhidhammattha-sangaha]]'', a commentary by Acariya Anuruddha
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 +
===Sanskrit Sarvastivada tradition===
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* [[Abhidharma texts (Sarvāstivādin Canon)]]
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The complete Sarvāstivādin Abhidharma Piṭaka as well as many commentaries were translated in Chinese and are included in the [[Chinese Canon]].<ref name=bn1>[http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/history/s_chtripit.htm The Chinese Canon (Buddhanet)]</ref><ref name=ronkin1>Noa Ronkin (2014) [https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2014/entries/abhidharma/ Abhidharma (Stanford Encycopedia)]</ref> Part of the Sarvāstivādin Abhidharma Piṭaka has also been translated into the Tibetan language.<ref>{{84000|http://read.84000.co/section/O1JC76301JC10788.html|Abhidharma}}</ref>
  
 
===East Asian tradition===
 
===East Asian tradition===

Revision as of 07:53, 28 July 2020

Abhidharma (Skt.; Pal. Abhidhamma; Tib. ཆོས་མངོན་པ་, མངོན་པ་, chö ngönpa, Wyl. chos mngon pa) — refers to a collection of Buddhist texts that define many of the topics mentioned in the Buddha’s teachings (sutras), and arranges them in classifications, such as the five skandhas, the twelve ayatanas, the fifty-two mental factors, and so on, thereby providing tools for generating a precise understanding of all experience.

Contemporary scholar Steven Goodman describes the Abhidharma as:

“...an in-depth study, both analytically and experientially, of what makes up the entire universe, the person, and their world. [The Abhidharma] speaks about different patternings of what make up this entire universe, for the sole purpose...of helping beings along the path to the cessation of suffering.[1]

The Abhidharma is known as the third of the three pitakas, or collections, into which the Buddhist teachings are divided. The Abhidharma Pitaka is associated with the training in wisdom (Skt. prajñā).

Historical background

The Abhidharma (Pali: Abhidhamma) philosophy developed developed after the Buddha passed away, in an attempt to organize and systematize the teachings of the Buddha. As one contemporary scholar explains:

During the first two centuries following the Buddha’s parinibbāna there took place, within the early Buddhist community, a move towards a comprehensive and precise systematisation of the teachings disclosed by the Master in his discourses. The philosophical systems that emerged from this refined analytical approach to the doctrine are collectively called the Abhidhamma. Both the Theravāda and the Sarvāstivāda, the two major conservative schools in the early Sangha, had their own Abhidhammas, each based on a distinct Abhidhamma Piṭaka. It is likely too that other schools had also developed philosophical systems along similar lines, though records of them did not survive the passage of time.[2]

Two main traditions

Noa Ronkin states:

It is customarily assumed that the multiple ancient Buddhist schools transmitted their own versions of Abhidharma collections, but only two complete canonical collections are preserved, representing two schools: the Sarvāstivāda, who emerged as an independent school from within the Sthaviras around the second or first century BCE, became dominant in north, especially northwest India, and spread to central Asia; and the Sinhalese Theravāda, a branch of the Sthaviras that spread out in south India and parts of southeast Asia. These two extant collections comprise the third of the “three baskets” (Skt., tripiṭaka, Pali, tipiṭaka) of the Buddhist canon.
The exegetical traditions of the Sarvāstivāda and Theravāda understand their respective canonical Abhidharma to consist of a set of seven texts, though each school specifies a different set of texts. The Sarvāstivādin Abhidharma-piṭaka consists of the Saṅgītiparyāya (Discourse on the Collective Recitation), the Dharmaskandha (Compendium of Dharmas), the Prajñaptiśāstra (Manual of Concepts), the Vijñānakāya (Compendium of Consciousness), the Dhātukāya (Compendium of Elements), the Prakaraṇapāda (Literary Exposition), and the Jñānaprasthāna (The Foundation of Knowledge). These seven texts survive in full only in their ancient Chinese translations. The Theravādin Abhidhamma-piṭaka comprises the Dhammasaṅgaṇi (Enumeration of Dhammas), the Vibhaṅga (Analysis), the Dhātukathā (Discourse on Elements), the Puggalapaññatti (Designation of Persons), the Kathāvatthu (Points of Discussion), the Yamaka (Pairs), and the Paṭṭhāna (Causal Conditions). These seven texts are preserved in Pali and all but the Yamaka have been translated into English.[3]

Basic concepts

Three wisdom categories

Three wisdom categories of the abhidharma teachings.

The abhidharma tradition presents multiple methods with which to analyze the components of an individual and their relationship to the world. Three commonly used modes are:[4][5][6][note 1]

  • five skandhas (aggregates, heaps, etc.)
  • twelve ayatanas (sense bases, cognitive stimulators, etc.)
  • eighteen dhatus (sources, etc)

These different methods have been described as "wisdom categories",[4] "sets of phenomena",[5] "modes of analysis",[6] etc.

Each of these methods is taught to counteract specific wrong views. For example, contemporary scholar Karunadasa states:

Now the purposes for which Buddhism resorts to these analyses are varied. For instance, the main purpose of the khandha-analysis is to show that there is no ego either inside or outside the five khandhas which go to make up the socalled empiric individuality. None of the khandhas belongs to me (n’etaṃ mama), they do not correspond to “I” (n’eso’ham asmi), nor are they my self (n’eso me attā). [7] Thus the main purpose of this analysis is to prevent the intrusion of the notions of “mine,” “I,” and “my self” into what is otherwise an impersonal and egoless congeries of mental and physical phenomena. On the other hand, the analysis into eighteen dhātus is often resorted to in order to show that consciousness is neither a soul nor an extension of a soul-substance but a mental phenomenon which comes into being as a result of certain conditions: there is no independent consciousness which exists in its own right.[6]

Five skandhas

The five skandhas (Sanskrit: pañca skandha; Pali: pañca khandha) are five psycho-physical aggregates that are said to be the basis for self-clinging. The five skandhas (aggregates, heaps, etc.) were mentioned in the very first teaching of the Buddha, and which the Buddha stated that clinging to these skandhas causes suffering. The five skandas are:

  1. rupa-skandha - aggregate of forms
  2. vedana-skandha - aggregate of sensations
  3. saṃjñā-skandha - aggregate of perceptions
  4. saṃskāra-skandha - aggregate of formations
  5. vijñāna-skandha - aggregate of consciousness

The five skandha are taught to counteract grasping to a concept of the self as a solid, unique, and permanent entity.

Twelve ayatanas

The twelve ayatanas are another scheme for analyzing the workings of the mind. They "include all validly knowable phenomena, both nonstatic and static."[5]

The twelve ayatanas are:

  • the six outer ayatanas (six sense objects, six outer sources, etc.):
    • rūpa-āyatana - sights
    • śabda-āyatana - sounds
    • gandha-āyatana - smells
    • rasa-āyatana - tastes
    • spraṣṭavya-āyatana - textures
    • dharma-āyatana - mental objects
  • the six inner ayatanas (six sense faculties, six inner sources, etc.):
    • cakṣur-āyatana - eye base
    • śrotra-āyatana - ear base
    • ghrāṇa-āyatana - nose base
    • jihva-āyatana - tongue base
    • kāya-āyatana - body base
    • mano-āyatana - mind base

Eighteen dhatus

The eighteen dhatus also include all validly knowable phenomena. The eighteen dhatus are an extension of the twelve ayatanas. These dhatus include the twelve ayatanas, and add to them the six types of consciousness that arise when there is contact between a sense organ and an object.[6]

Main mind and mental factors

The mind is often explained in terms of 'main mind' (Tib. གཙོ་སེམས་, gtso sems) referring to the six or eight types of consciousness, and the mental factors (Tib. སེམས་བྱུང་, sems byung) , which are often given as a list of fifty-one or fifty-two states.[7]

Main mind

Main mind (Tib. གཙོ་སེམས་, tso sem; Wyl. gtso sems), in Buddhist psychology and epistemology, refers to the six or eight sets of consciousness. It is distinguished from the mental factors or processes, usually listed as fifty-one or fifty-two, which are said to perceive the features of objects, while main mind perceives only their basic identity.[8]

Mental factors

Mental factors (Sanskrit: caitasika; Pali: cetasika; Tibetan Wylie: sems byung), are defined within the Abhidharma as aspects of the mind that apprehend the quality of an object, and that have the ability to color the mind. The mental factors are categorized as formations (Sanskrit: saṅkhāra) concurrent with mind (Sanskrit: citta).[9][10][11]

Alternate translations for mental factors (Sanskrit: caitasika) include:

  • "mental states",
  • "mental events", and
  • "concomitants of consciousness".

Elements of ultimate reality

The Abhidharma traditions define the basic elements (or building blocks, or mental and emotional factors) of ultimate reality. These basic elements are said to describe everything that truly exists, "in all of its particularity and variety."[12]

The different Abhidharma traditions present different list of these basic elements. For example:

  • The Theravada tradition (of the Abhidhammattha-sangaha) present of list seventy-two ultimate realities.
  • The Sarvastidian tradition (of the Abhidharma-kosha) presents of list of seventy-five elements.

These lists are not intended as definitive "ontological" descriptions of ultimate reality, but rather as "maps" that indicate how our minds and bodies exist in the world in an interdependent manner. That is, these maps are taught to break down our grasping to a fixed sense of self.

72 dhammas of the Abhidhammattha-sangaha

The Abhidhammattha-sangaha identifies 72 basic elemements of existence, called vatthudhammā. The vatthudhammā are "phenomena which exist with intrinsic natures (sabhāva)".[13] These 72 entities are:

  • Consciousness (though there are many divisions of consciousness, this is regarded as one entity because all cittas have the same intrinsic nature—the cognizing of an object)
  • The fifty-two mental factors (these are each viewed as a distinct ultimate entity since each mental factor has its own individual intrinsic nature)
  • The eighteen concretely produced material phenomena (these are each viewed as a distinct ultimate entity since each concretely produced material phenomena has its own individual intrinsic nature)
  • Nibbana[13]

75 dharmas of the Abhidharma-kosha

See: Seventy-five dharmas of the Abhidharma-kosha

100 dharmas of the Yogacara school

Vasubhandu's Lucid Introduction to the One Hundred Dharmas (Mahāyāna śatadharmā-prakāśamukha śāstra) identifies 100 dharmas.[14]

Abhidharma texts

Theravada tradition

Sanskrit Sarvastivada tradition

The complete Sarvāstivādin Abhidharma Piṭaka as well as many commentaries were translated in Chinese and are included in the Chinese Canon.[15][3] Part of the Sarvāstivādin Abhidharma Piṭaka has also been translated into the Tibetan language.[16]

East Asian tradition

Tibetan tradition

Notes

  1. Karunadasa identifies five categories: 1. name and form; 2. five skandhas; 3. six dhatus; 4. twelve ayatanas; 5. eighteen dhatus.


References

  1. Steven Goodman on Abhidharma (Shambhala Publications)
  2. Karunadasa 1996, Introduction.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Noa Ronkin (2014) Abhidharma (Stanford Encycopedia)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Goodman 2020, p. 135.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 StudyBuddhism icon 35px.png StudyBuddhism, The 5 Aggregates, 12 Cognitive Stimulators, 18 Sources
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Karunadasa 1996, Ch.I.
  7. RW icon height 18px.png Six consciousnesses
  8. RW icon height 18px.png Main mind
  9. Guenther (1975), Kindle Location 321.
  10. Kunsang (2004), p. 23.
  11. Geshe Tashi Tsering (2006), Kindle Location 456.
  12. Goodman 2020, p. 83.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Bodhi 2012, "Compendium of Categories".
  14. The One Hundred Dharmas (Dan Lusthaus)
  15. The Chinese Canon (Buddhanet)
  16. 84000.png Abhidharma


Sources

  • Bodhi, Bhikkhu (2012). A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma. Buddhist Publication Society.
  • Geshe Tashi Tsering (2006). Buddhist Psychology: The Foundation of Buddhist Thought. Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.
  • Book icoline.svg Goodman, Steven D. (2020), The Buddhist Psychology of Awakening: An In-Depth Guide to the Abhidharma (Apple Books ed.), Shambhala Publications 
  • Guenther, Herbert V. & Leslie S. Kawamura (1975), Mind in Buddhist Psychology: A Translation of Ye-shes rgyal-mtshan's "The Necklace of Clear Understanding". Dharma Publishing. Kindle Edition.
  • Kunsang, Erik Pema (translator) (2004). Gateway to Knowledge, Vol. 1. North Atlantic Books.
  • Nārada Thera. Abhidhammattha-sangaha
  • Traleg Rinpoche (1993). The Abhidharmasamuccaya: Teachings by the Venerable Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche. The Kagyu E-Vam Buddhist Institute.[1]

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