Viṣaya (P. visaya; T. yul ཡུལ་; C. jing) is commonly translated as "object" or "sphere". In the context of Buddhist epistemology, viṣaya is a general term for the field/object of the sense consciousnesses (see vijnana).
Buddhist texts distinguish between:
- pañcaviṣaya - the objects of the five sense consciousness, and
- manoviṣaya - the objects of the mind consciousness
The two above can be grouped as:
- the six sense objects.
Viṣaya can also be classified as:
- apparent or hidden,
- relative or absolute,
- specifically characterized or generally characterized,
- substantial or imputed, or
- in terms of the four types of object.
Distinction between viṣaya and ālambana
The Abhidharma-kosa states:
- What is the difference between a sphere, viṣaya, and an object, ālambana?
- Viṣaya is the place where the organ exercises its activity, seeing, hearing, etc.; ālambana is what is grasped by the mind and the mental states. Thus, whereas the mind and mental states have both viṣaya and ālambana, the eye, the ear, etc., have only viṣaya.
- Why term "striking" or "evolving" the activity of the organ or the mind with respects to its viṣaya or ālambana?
- Because the organ does not proceed, is not active, beyond the visaya: thus it is struck by the viṣaya (for one says in common usage that one is struck by a wall beyond which one cannot "proceed"). Or rather, "to strike" signifies "to encounter:" this is the process or activity of the organ with respect to its own sphere.
Steven D. Goodman states:
- Vasubandhu does note, however, two different senses for how to understand column II content [sense fields/objects]. He says that the sensory domains, or fields in column II (dhatus 7–11), are sometimes called “objects” (vishaya)106 when referring to their dependence on the capacity to process them (dhatus 1–5, column I). This is when one wishes to talk about the sensory field emphasizing the contact being made with the so-called capacity for sensory processing (called the “eye” and so on), those “visibles,” and the other four senses. This is a way of acknowledging that what we call a sensory thing, a sensory occurrence that has something to do with what we might call the seemingly “physical capacity” to process sensory information. But Vasubandhu then goes on to say that these same “sensory domains” (column II) are called “epistemological objects” (alambana) with respect to their contact with the integrative function (vijnana) of column III (dhatus 13–17). Vasubandhu clarifies that the same “content” (column II) is differently named according to which column of “contact” one wants to focus on, contact with either column I or column III.
- "sphere" or "object" (Buswell)
- sphere (Pruden)
- object (Ian James Coghlan)
- sensory domains, sensory fields, so-called object (Steven D. Goodman)
- Buswell, Robert E.; Lopez, Donald S. (2014), The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, Princeton University
- Goodman, Steven D. (2020), The Buddhist Psychology of Awakening: An In-Depth Guide to the Abhidharma (Apple Books ed.), Shambhala Publications
- Vasubandhu (1991), Abhidharmakośabhāṣyam, Volume 1, translated by Pruden, Leo M.; de La Vallée Poussin, Louis, Asian Humanities Press