Why study Abhidhamma?


Vipassana means special or profound seeing. That is, insight into the
true nature of dhammas, realities. These dhammas are analysed and
explained by the Sammasamabuddha in the most careful way in the
Abhidhamma. They are also explained throughout the rest of the
Tipitaka but in a less comprehensive way.
The Buddha’s teaching are sometimes called DhammaVinaya (the
teachings and discipline). And these are recorded in the Tipitaka
(the pali canon). Ti means three and so it is divided into 1) Vinaya
(rules for monks and nuns). 2)Suttanta – individual discourses to
various people on diverse topics and 3) Abhidhamma
People have different accumulations and hence there are differences
as to which aspects of the DhammaVinaya are most appealing. However,
even one who devotes most time to suttanta or vinaya will have to
know much about the khandas, the ayatanas(sense fields), and the
dhatus(elements) , the different conditions; as these are, as the
visuddhimagga says “the soil in which understanding grows”. These are
all found in the suttanta and even a little in the vinaya . But it is
only in the Abhidhamma where they are elucidated in full detail. The
Abhidhamma details all that the realities that we experience in daily
life as well as those that we aspire to. Understanding Abhidhamma is
synonymous with with understanding life, with vipassana . (By
understanding I mean not as an academic understands but as direct and
deep understanding of whatever appears at the 6doors.)
here is an url: http://web.ukonline….sm/tipintr4.htm

From Nina Van Gorkom:

Nina van Gorkom

We may wonder why it is necessary to learn about the different
processes of cittas and the objects that are experienced by citta. It
may all seem abstract. However, we can find out that everything that
is taught in the Abhidhamma occurs in our daily life. There are time
and again seeing, attachment to seeing and to visible object,
attachment to the people and things we think of, and we can find out
that attachment brings sorrow. A more precise knowledge of the
different cittas and also of akusala citta and kusala citta will help
us to develop more wholesomeness.

Acharn Sujin reminded us that when we see a flower or a cup there is
usually clinging. This gave us a shock, we had not considered this
enough ourselves. We are so used to akusala citta that we do not
realize it when it is there. Besides, when akusala citta is
accompanied by indifferent feeling we can easily be misled as to the
nature of citta.

When we pay attention to the shape and form of all the familiar
things around us, such as a table, a flower or a cup, is there some
clinging, even when we do not feel particularly glad? We want to see
and we want to pay attention to the shape and form of things, even
though we do not think about these things for a long time but just
for a moment. We are so used to recognizing the things and people
around us, and we do not know whether such moments are kusala or
akusala. If the room would become pitch dark or we would become blind
we would regret it not to be able to discern the things around us and
that shows our clinging to all we experience. When we are reading a
book there are moments of seeing and also moments of citta that think
of the meaning of what is written, of the story, and such moments are
different from seeing. We should investigate the nature of the
different cittas which arise while we are reading. Seeing is vipåka,
but thinking about what is written is either kusala or akusala. We
think of the meanings of words mostly with clinging, we want to know
the meaning of what we read.

As regards hearing, this experiences sound through the ears. Hearing
is vipåkacitta, the result of kamma; it is neither kusala citta nor
akusala citta. Hearing hears, it does not know the origin of the
sound, it does not think of the meaning of the sound. When we know
that we perceive the sound of a bird or of the traffic, it is not
hearing but thinking of concepts. As we have seen, the cittas which
think of concepts are mostly akusala cittas with clinging. Thus, we
have many more akusala cittas than kusala cittas. We had pondered
over this before, but during this journey it all became clearer. We
realized that we had not considered enough in daily life what has
been taught in the Abhidhamma.



• Quote
FRom NINAI’m not agree what you said. How could you say understand abhidhamma help
your daily life. I think The Buddha said that The Four noble truth is most
important and nothing else. The Buddha said metafisika(abhidhamma) is not
important to achieve your holy life. May Those used to you and all. Thank,
be happier, be better every day metta,

Dear Purnomo, I like your question, it is straightforward and deep.
You may think that Abhidhamma is metaphysics, something abstract, beyond our
daily life. You are right to point to the four noble Truths which are the
essence of the Buddha¹s teaching. The Buddha taught Dhamma to people so
that they would develop understanding and eventually realize the four noble
Truths. What is the connection between the Abhidhamma and the four noble
The fourth noble Truth is the eightfold Path, the development of rright
understanding of all realities in daily life. What is our daily life? We see
and hear pleasant and unpleasant things and we think about them. On account
of what we see and hear we often have attachment and aversion. They arise
already before we realize it. Because of these defilements we may commit bad
deeds, we may steal or become agressive and harm other people. This is
Abhidhamma means higher dhamma or dhamma in detail. This should not put us
off. The Abhidhamma is not merely theory, the Buddha taught it so that
people could develop understanding of their life. We think of and
other people, other people hurt us, they are unpleasant to us. The
Abhidhamma is higher dhamma because it teaches us what is really there: no
self, no person, only elements which are impermanent. When a cow has been
cut up, you do not have the idea of cow, cow does not really exist, there
are only elements. Our life is: experiencing objects through eyes, ears,
nose, tongue, bodysense and mind, through six doors. There is no self who
experiences, there are only elements. That is Abhidhamma. Seeing now just
sees, it is not committing any deed. It is result, vipaka, result of past
kamma. Even though we do not know whether seeing now experiences a pleasant
object or an unpleasant object, it is the result of kusala kamma or akusala
kamma. We receive reults of past kamma, time and again. The Abhidhamma
teaches us cause and result in life, it teaches us how everything in life
arises because of the appropriate conditions. When understanding has been
developed we shall realize that there is no self, that there are only
elements, mental phenomena, nama, and physical phenomena, rupa.
You may like to read suttas, but also in the suttas there is Abhidhamma. The
Buddha taught suttas to people with different accumulations, he used words
adapted to their level of understanding; and he used similes to explain the
truth: that there is no self, only elements. That visible object, sound and
the other sense objects are experienced one at a time through the six doors.
We cannot understand the deep meaning of the suttas without a basic
understanding of the Abhidhamma. This does not mean that everybody has to
read all seven Books of the Abhidhamma and know all details. That depends on
the personal inclination of the individual. Also in the Vinaya there is
Abhidhamma: the Buddha explained different degrees of defilements to the
monks. He explained how causes bring about their results accordingly. The
Abhidhamma, the Suttanta and the Vinaya are one, they are the teaching of
the Buddha.
Now I come back to the four noble Truths. The first Truth is dukkha,
suffering. This is not merely pain, it means: the arising and falling away
of nama and rupa, their impermanence. Seeing now is dukkha, hearing now is
dukkha. The Abhidhamma teaches us about seeing, hearing, and all other
realities. If their different characteristics can be understood one at a
time, their arising and falling away can be realized later on. It is a long
process of developing understanding to penetrate the Truth of dukkha. Seeing
arises at a moment different from hearing; seeing experiences visible object
and hearing sound; seeing arises at the eyesense and hearing at the
earsense. Again, the teaching of seeing, hearing and the different
conditions which make them arise, is the teaching of the Abhidhamma, the
teaching of all that happens in our daily life. The aim of the study of the
Abhidhamma is nothing else but the practice: the development of
understanding of nama and rupa as they appear one at a time, at this moment.
This is the only way to eventually understand that they are dukkha. The
practice is the development of the eightfold Path, the development of
satipatthana. The development not of theoretical understanding but of direct
understanding of all that is real. This leads to the direct realisation of
the four noble Truths.
The second noble Truth is the origin of dukkha: craving. This shows us the
condition for our life now which is dukkha. In the teaching on the Dependant
Origination the Buddha taught us in detail about all the conditions for our
going around in the cycle of birth and detah. Again, this is Abhidhamma. We
cannot seperate the teaching of the Abhidhamma from the teaching about the
four noble Truths. The third noble Truth, the cessation of dukkha, nibbana,
can only be realized by panna, understanding, which has been developed, but
this is a long process.
If you have more questions, you are welcome, I like your way of questioning.
With metta, Nina van Gorkom.

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