The Abhidhamma Pitaka is the most important and most interesting of the three containing as it does the profound philosophy of the Buddha's teaching in contrast to the simpler discourses in the Sutta Pitaka. Abhidhamma, the Higher Doctrine of the Buddha, expounds the quintessence of His profound teachings. The collection of texts in which the underlying doctrinal principles presented in the Sutta Pitaka are reworked and reorganized into a systematic framework that can be applied to an investigation into the nature of mind and matter.
According to some scholars Abhidhamma is not a teaching of the Buddha, but is a later elaboration of scholastic monks. Tradition, however, attributes the nucleus of the Abhidhamma to the Buddha Himself. The Mâtikâ of Matrices of the Abhidhamma, such as Kusala Dhamma (Wholesome States), Akusala Dhamma (Unwholesome States), and Abyâkatâ Dhamma (Indeterminate States) etc., which have been elaborated in the six books (Kathâvatthu being excluded), were expounded by the Buddha. To the Venerable Sâriputta is assigned the honor of having explained all these topics in detail.
The seven books of the Abhidhamma Pitaka, the third
division of the Tipitaka, offer an extraordinarily detailed analysis of the
basic principles governing the behavior of mental and physical processes.
Whereas the Sutta and Vinaya Pitakas are characterized by their practical
teachings regarding the Buddhist path to Awakening, the Abhidhamma Pitaka
presents an almost scientific analysis of the underpinnings of that very path.
In Abhidhamma philosophy the familiar psycho-physical universe (our world of
"trees" and "rocks," "I" and "you") is reduced to a complex -- but
comprehensible -- web of impersonal phenomena arising and passing at an
inconceivably rapid pace from moment to moment, according to clearly-defined
The Abhidhamma Pitaka has a well-deserved reputation for being dense and difficult reading, yet some find its descriptions of the inner workings of the mind to be useful as an aid to meditation practice. The modern Burmese approach to the teaching and practice of Satipatthana meditation, in particular, draws heavily on an Abhidhammic interpretation of meditative experience.
According to one tradition, the essence of Abhidhamma philosophy was formulated by the Buddha during the fourth week after his Enlightenment, although scholars debate its authenticity as a work by the Buddha himself. Regardless of its authorship, however, the Abhidhamma stands as a monumental feat of intellectual genius.
The Abhidhamma Pitaka is divided into seven books, although it is the first (Dhammasangani) and last (Patthana) that together form the essence of the Abhidhamma teachings. The seven books are:
("Enumeration of Phenomena"). This book enumerates all the paramattha dhamma
(ultimate realities) to be found in the world. According to one such enumeration
these amount to: 52 cetasikas (mental factors), which, arising together
in various combination, give rise to any one of.89 different possible cittas (states of
consciousness) 4 primary physical elements, and 23 physical phenomena
derived from them Nibbana
Vibhanga ("The Book of Treatises"). This book continues the analysis of the Dhammasangani, here in the form of a catechism.
Dhatukatha ("Discussion with Reference to the Elements"). A reiteration of the foregoing, in the form of questions and answers.
Puggalapaññatti ("Description of Individuals"). Somewhat out of place in the Abhidhamma Pitaka, this book contains descriptions of a number of personality-types.
Kathavatthu ("Points of Controversy"). Another odd inclusion in the Abhidhamma, this book contains questions and answers that were compiled by Moggaliputta Tissa in the 3rd century BCE, in order to help clarify points of controversy that existed between the various "Hinayana" schools of Buddhism at the time.
Yamaka ("The Book of Pairs"). This book is a logical analysis of many concepts presented in the earlier books. In the words of Mrs. Rhys Davids, an eminent 20th century Pali scholar, the ten chapters of the Yamaka amount to little more than "ten valleys of dry bones."
Patthana ("The Book of Relations"). This book, by far the longest single volume in the Tipitaka (over 6,000 pages long in the Siamese edition), describes the 24 paccayas, or laws of conditionality, through which the dhammas interact. These laws, when applied in every possible permutation with the dhammas described in the Dhammasangani, give rise to all knowable experience.
The Psychology and Philosophy of Buddhism: An Introduction to the Abhidhamma, by Dr. W.F. Jayasuriya (Kuala Lumpur: Buddhist Missionary Society, 1988).
Translations from the Pali Text Society:
Buddhist Psychological Ethics (Dhammasangani, tr. 1900 by C.A.F. Rhys Davids)
The Book of Analysis (Vibhanga, tr. 1969 by Ven. U Thittila)
Discourse on Elements (Dhatukatha, tr. 1962 Ven. U Narada)
A Designation of Human Types (Puggalapaññati, tr. 1922 by B.C. Law)
Points of Controversy (Kathavatthu, tr. 1915 by S.Z. Aung and C.A.F. Rhys Davids)Conditional Relations (Tika-patthana, tr. 1960? Ven. U Narada)
Guide Through the Abhidhamma Pitaka, by Nyanatiloka
Mahathera (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1983).
A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma: The Abhidhamma Sangaha of Acariya Anuruddha, Bhikkhu Bodhi, ed. (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1993). This book should be required reading for every Abhidhamma student, as it gives a remarkably lucid and insightful overview of Abhidhamma philosophy
Abhidharmasamuccaya: The Compendium of the Higher Teaching by Asanga, translated by Walpola Rahula & Sara-Boin Webb (Asian Humanities Press)
There are two systems of Abhidharma according to the Tibetan tradition, the lower and the higher. The lower system is taught in the Abhidharmakosa, while the higher system is taught in this book--the two books form a complementary pair. Asanga is the founder of the Yogacara school of Mahayana Buddhism. His younger brother Vasubandhu wrote the Abhidharmakosa before Asanga converted him to Mahayana Buddhism. The Samuccaya follows the traditional prose question and answer style of the older Pali Abhidharma texts. Rahula's excellent translation was based on Sanskrit, Chinese, and Tibetan.
Four of these prayers were composed by Chen-nga Sherab Jungne, one of the two principal disciples of Lord Jigten Sumgön (1143-1217), the founder of the Drigung Kagyu lineage. Another is by Lord Jigten Sumgön's close student Ngorje Repa.One is by Lingje Repa, the teacher of Tsangpa Gyare, who founded the lineage of the Drukpa Kagyu. One is by the nineteenth-century treasure-revealer Nuden Dorje. Two are by the great Mipham Namgyal (1846-1912), and three are by Lord Jigten Sumgön himself. In every case, the theme of these prayers is devotion.
insert content here