Abhidhamma, 11 Definition(s)
AKA: Higher Dhamma, Abhidharma
Abhidharma (Sanskrit) or Abhidhamma (Pali) are ancient (3rd century BCE and later) Buddhist works which contain detailed scholastic reworkings of doctrinal material appearing in the Buddhist Sutras, according to schematic classifications. The Abhidhamma works do not contain systematic philosophical treatises, but summaries or abstract and systematic lists. "Abhidhamma Pitaka." Encyclopaedia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2008.
According to the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Abhidhamma started as an elaboration of the teachings of the suttas, but later developed independent doctrines. According to L. S. Cousins, the suttas deal with sequences and processes, Abhidhamma deals with occasions and events. "Pali oral literature", in Buddhist Studies, ed Denwood and Piatigorski, Curzon, London, 1982/3
The literal translation of the term Abhidharma is unclear. Two possibilities are most commonly given:
- abhi - higher or special + dharma- teaching, philosophy, thus making Abhidharma the higher teachings
- abhi - about + dharma of the teaching, translating it instead as about the teaching or even meta teaching.
In the West, the Abhidhamma has generally been considered the core of what is referred to as Buddhist Psychology. See, for instance, Rhys Davids (1900), Trungpa (1975) and Goleman (2004).
1) In the discourses of the Pali Canon, this term simply means "higher Dhamma," and a systematic attempt to define the Buddhas teachings and understand their interrelationships.
2) A later collection of analytical treatises based on lists of categories drawn from the teachings in the discourses, added to the Canon several centuries after the Buddhas life.
M (Superior, to face (sth) (abhi); study of reality (dhamma)). Supreme science on reality. Third basket of tipitaka, the abhidhamma is the purely theoretical part of it. It does detail forth a full description of everything that can be perceived and all the functioning that reality is made of.
The term "abhi" can mean great, mighty. Abhidhamma is the Dhamma which is mighty, because it is anatta, non self, it is beyond anybody"s control
Abhidhamma, the third part of the Tipitaka, means "higher Dhamma", Dhamma in detail. It deals with ultimate or absolute realities, different from conventional truth. Ultimate reality or paramattha Dhamma can also be called Abhidhamma.
1. Abhidhamma is a word from the Pali language, the language in which the Theravadin records of the teachings of the Buddha have been recorded and passed down to the present day. The word is composed of the two parts, "abhi" meaning "higher" or "greater" and "dhamma" which means "reality" or "truth" (it can be loosely translated as to mean "everything which is real"). So the word "Abhidhamma" means the "higher truth" or "the higher teaching".
The Abhidhamma itself is a collection of seven books of teachings. It is the third of the three sections of the Pali Canon (the collected teachings of the Buddha in the Pali language).
See Abhidhamma Pitaka.
2. The Abhidhamma is the higher teaching of the Buddha. It contains the essentials of the Buddha Dhamma without the need for conventional terminology. It deals directly with those elements which constitute the exact nature of our existence, and all questions of a conventional nature are left aside. This should not deter one from plunging into the Abhidhamma however. Once begun, the Abhidhamma can lead us on to a better understanding of the practise of insight (vipassana).
The Abhidhamma enumerates all realities and the different conditions for the phenomena which arise. The study of the Abhidhamma can prevent wrong ideas about the development of the Buddha's path. The realities of our life, including out defilements, should be understood as not self.
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