Mental factors in the Abhidhamma

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LinLin64
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Mental factors in the Abhidhamma

Postby LinLin64 » Tue Feb 18, 2014 7:03 pm

I've just starting to explore the Abhidhamma sangaha, and finding Bhikku Bodhi's Comprehensive Manual fabulous.

When I checked in Wikipedia for the Abhidhamma, I see there is a Theravada list with 52 mental formations, but that a Mahayana list has 51. The groupings and factors are a little different.

My question is, how is it that they are not one and the same list of mental factors?

Thanks in advance.

santa100
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Re: Mental factors in the Abhidhamma

Postby santa100 » Tue Feb 18, 2014 8:13 pm

Also from the wiki page:
Within Buddhism, there are many different systems of abhidharma (commonly referred to as Buddhist psychology), and each system contains its own list of the most significant mental factors.[b][c] These lists vary from system to system both in the number of mental factors listed, and in the definitions that are given for each mental factor. These lists are not considered to be exhaustive; rather they present significant categories and mental factors that are useful to study in order to understand how the mind functions

suwapan
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Re: Mental factors in the Abhidhamma

Postby suwapan » Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:12 pm

LinLin64 wrote:I've just starting to explore the Abhidhamma sangaha, and finding Bhikku Bodhi's Comprehensive Manual fabulous.

When I checked in Wikipedia for the Abhidhamma, I see there is a Theravada list with 52 mental formations, but that a Mahayana list has 51. The groupings and factors are a little different.

My question is, how is it that they are not one and the same list of mental factors?

Thanks in advance.


I am truly delighted to hear that you find Abhidhamma "fabulous." I also study from the Abhidhamma Sangaha. The more you learn, the more you will appreciate the power of the Lord Buddha's mind, and that no ordinary being in all the 31 universal realms can even conceive of such doctrine, let alone teach it.

In Abhidhamma, we have only one mind, which plays a different role at a time. But it plays, i.e. come into existence and cease, so fast that we think it's all happening at the same time. My teacher said that if we were to hold our index finger up straight, then bend it 90 degrees fast. The time you took to do this, your Citta has already played its roles a million-million times. An analogy compares your mind to a movie negative. When it is played on screen , you see smooth actions. Yet in reality, they are thousands of still shots played consecutively.

There are 89 or 121 Cittas (if you include 32 Cittas from the 4 stages of jhanas for Sotappanna - Stream Enterer, Sakadagami - Once Returner, Anagami - Non Returner, and Arahanta - the Worthy One),
and 52 Cetasika (Mental factors/formation).

I value Abhidhamma Sangaha of Theravada Buddhism the most. As I understand, when Buddhism traveled from India to China, the teaching was influenced and modified by the regional cultures and traditions of the time along the way, which became Mahayan Buddhism. For me Abhidhamma Sangaha of Theravada Buddhism is the closest teaching of the Buddha. Originally the Pitaka consisted of two parts: the Vinaya and the Dhamma Pitakas. Then monks found that the Dhamma Pitaka was too large, and therefore it was split up into Suttanta and Abhidhamma Pitakas. Most people doubt Abhidhamma, but Abhidhamma Pitaka forms half (42,000 textual units) of the Tipitaka (Vinaya and Suttanta Pitakas both consist of 21,000 textual units each). I have no doubt of its importance and relevancy. In fact, if we study Abhidhamma, we will be able to understand in depth what is written in the other two Pitakas. Without Abhidhamma, the interpretations of the other two Pitakas will be subjective.

My teachers tell this story. First you have to understand that the Buddha said all the Arahants would have all reached Nibbanna in the first millemium after the Parinibbana of the Buddha . The Arahants were in fact the most knowledgeable and most accurate teachers of the Buddhas doctrine. At the end of of the first millenium, in south India, the Acariya Anuruddha was spreading the Teachings with many monks and laypeople as followers. Even then the Abhidhamma Pitaka was not easy to understand. So his followers asked him, who understood the Teachings thoroughly, to summarise the Abhidhamma Pitaka. His work is what we are now studying. In Thailand, a teacher is called "Ajarn." Ajarn Nab was the first person to translate and summarise his work from the Pali Texts in Burma. Her text books are the ones we use to study and are widely adopted for Abhidhamma teaching in many Thai cities and insight meditation centres.

In studying Abhidhamma, I recommend that you seek a teacher who teaches along the lines written in the Abhidhamma. Normally, we should study the nine chapters one by one. But if you want to study enough to perform Insight Meditation, which will lead you directly to Nibbana, you can study three Chapters first: Chapter 1 - Citta, Chapter 2 - Cetasika, and Chapter 6 - Rupa.

I'm learning Chapter 1 - Citta at present. If I can be of any help, just ask. :anjali:

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Re: Mental factors in the Abhidhamma

Postby Sati1 » Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:01 pm

It's great to learn of other fellow Abhidhamma students! I started reading Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of the Sangaha and found the excellent text by Nina van Gorkom (http://www.budsas.org/ebud/nina-abhidhamma/nina-abhi-00.htm), her book "Cetasikas", and this website (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/mendis/wheel322.html) from Access to Insight to also be great aids.

suwapan wrote:In studying Abhidhamma, I recommend that you seek a teacher who teaches along the lines written in the Abhidhamma.


Suwapan, do you know where one can find such a teacher? I have looked for YouTube classes, but most of them seem to be in a South Indian language.

:anjali:
Sati1
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----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.10, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)

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Re: Mental factors in the Abhidhamma

Postby JeffR » Thu Mar 13, 2014 2:45 am

suwapan wrote:
In studying Abhidhamma, I recommend that you seek a teacher who teaches along the lines written in the Abhidhamma. Normally, we should study the nine chapters one by one. But if you want to study enough to perform Insight Meditation, which will lead you directly to Nibbana, you can study three Chapters first: Chapter 1 - Citta, Chapter 2 - Cetasika, and Chapter 6 - Rupa.

I'm learning Chapter 1 - Citta at present. If I can be of any help, just ask. :anjali:

Hello Suwapan,

In which currently published book are these chapter you refer to? I have been looking for a hard copy book of Nina Van Gorkom's Cetasikas, but, alas, it is no longer in print and only available in eformat. Any other suggestions of hard copy books?

Thanks,
Jeff

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Re: Mental factors in the Abhidhamma

Postby Ben » Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:56 am

I am coming to the conclusion that the Abhidhamma is absolutely indispensable to my own practice.
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia
e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com

suwapan
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Re: Mental factors in the Abhidhamma

Postby suwapan » Wed Apr 09, 2014 4:42 pm

Sati1 wrote:It's great to learn of other fellow Abhidhamma students! I started reading Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of the Sangaha and found the excellent text by Nina van Gorkom (http://www.budsas.org/ebud/nina-abhidhamma/nina-abhi-00.htm), her book "Cetasikas", and this website (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/mendis/wheel322.html) from Access to Insight to also be great aids.

suwapan wrote:In studying Abhidhamma, I recommend that you seek a teacher who teaches along the lines written in the Abhidhamma.


Suwapan, do you know where one can find such a teacher? I have looked for YouTube classes, but most of them seem to be in a South Indian language.

:anjali:


Dear Sati1,
I'm sorry for the late reply. I have tried to search for Abhidhamma teaching in the UK without success. From www.abhidhamma.com, Abhidhamma classes appear to be carried out at a centre in Germany, as a branch of a Burmese Abhidhamma organisation. Apparently they hold classes in other cities in Europe. Perhaps, you can contact them and your Abhidhamma group can arrange a place for them to frequently visit England to spread the teachings. This achievement would be of such a meritorious magnitude unimaginable. It will be generate incredible benefits for you in this life and be with you in every life. :smile:

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Re: Mental factors in the Abhidhamma

Postby suwapan » Wed Apr 09, 2014 4:55 pm

Hello Suwapan,

In which currently published book are these chapter you refer to? I have been looking for a hard copy book of Nina Van Gorkom's Cetasikas, but, alas, it is no longer in print and only available in eformat. Any other suggestions of hard copy books?

Thanks,
Jeff


Jeff,
Apologies for late reply. I am using Thai text books from Nab Foundation, which are used extensively in many Abhidhamma schooling foundations. I also have a copy of A Manual of Abhidhamma, translated by Narada Maha Thera (1975 edition). The owner of the latter book told me that in Burma, there is a whole library of Dharma books in English version. I am still searching in Bangkok for English books. If I find any English version of Abhidhamma, I will inform you in this post. Then you can give me your address and I can mail it to you. Cheers. :thumbsup:

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Re: Mental factors in the Abhidhamma

Postby JeffR » Sun Apr 13, 2014 3:38 am

suwapan wrote:
Hello Suwapan,

In which currently published book are these chapter you refer to? I have been looking for a hard copy book of Nina Van Gorkom's Cetasikas, but, alas, it is no longer in print and only available in eformat. Any other suggestions of hard copy books?

Thanks,
Jeff


Jeff,
Apologies for late reply. I am using Thai text books from Nab Foundation, which are used extensively in many Abhidhamma schooling foundations. I also have a copy of A Manual of Abhidhamma, translated by Narada Maha Thera (1975 edition). The owner of the latter book told me that in Burma, there is a whole library of Dharma books in English version. I am still searching in Bangkok for English books. If I find any English version of Abhidhamma, I will inform you in this post. Then you can give me your address and I can mail it to you. Cheers. :thumbsup:


Thank you Suwapan. I have a copy of the Manual of Abhidhamma translated by Narada Maha Thera (1979) edition. I appreciate your keeping an eye out for other books on Abhidhamma.
Metta,
Jeff :anjali:

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Re: Mental factors in the Abhidhamma

Postby StillABC » Thu Jun 05, 2014 7:37 pm

If you find Abidhamma in Daily Life of Nina useful, you may find that "Survey of Paramattha Dhammas", by Sujin Boriharnwanaket is also useful.

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Re: Mental factors in the Abhidhamma

Postby SarathW » Thu Jun 05, 2014 11:18 pm

It is great to see some Abhidhamma enthusiast here.

If you are a beginner it is a good idea to read the summary of Abhidhamma by Mr. N.G.K. Mendis.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el322.html

I use Ven. Narada’s Manual of Abhidhamma.

http://www.stefan.gr/buddhism/
======================
In regard to your OP, please consider 52 mental factors are only a guide to understand your mental state in a given time.
When you meditate you can be aware whether you have anger, attachment, remorse etc.
It is like the spectrum of colours. We say there are seven colours. But it is a quite an arbitrary notions.
If you go to a paint shop you can see thousand of colour shades.
Colours are the visible lights. There is an invisible light spectrum as well.
The same way there are mental states only can be experienced by meditators.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow

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Re: Mental factors in the Abhidhamma

Postby StillABC » Sat Jun 07, 2014 4:51 pm

To read Abhidhamma Sangaha, may i suggest reading Ch. 1 Cittas, Ch. 2 Cetasikas and Ch. 6 ruupa, matter or material form or physical phenomena first before going to other chapters. Ch. 4 should be the last chapter to review.


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