The Learning of Mind & Mentallity
The //Abhidhammattha Sangaha// contains nine chapters. It opens by enumerating the four ultimate realitieshand, not being bound to the //matika//,
The first divides consciousness ( or Mind ) on the basis of plane, characteristic and then subdivides our Mind on the basis of ethical quality.
The second chapter, the Compendium of Mental Factors, first enumerates the fifty-two //cetasikas// or concomitants of consciousness, divided into four classes: universals, occasionals, unwholesome factors, and beautiful factors. Thereafter the factors are investigated by two complimentary methods: first, the method of association (//sampayoganaya//), which takes the mental factors as the unit of inquiry and elicits the types of consciousness with which they are individually associated; and second, the method of inclusion or combination (//sangahanaya//), which takes the types of consciousness as the unit of inquiry and elicits the mental factors that enter into the constitution of each. This chapter again draws principally upon the first chapter of the //Dhammasangani//.
The third chapter, entitled Compendium of the Miscellaneous, classifies the types of consciousness along with their factors with respect to six categories: root (//hetu//), feeling (//vedana//), function (//kicca//), door (//dvara//), object (//arammana//), and base (//vatthu//).
The first three chapters are concerned principally with the structure of consciousness, both internally and in relation to external variables. In contrast, the next two chapters deal with the dynamics of consciousness, that is, with its modes of occurrence. According to the Abhidhamma, consciousness occurs in two distinct but intertwining modes -- as active process and as passive flow.
Chapter IV explores the nature of the "cognitive process,"
Chapter V the passive "process-freed" flow, which it prefaces with a survey of the traditional Buddhist cosmology. The exposition here is largely basedupon the Abhidhamma Commentaries.
Chapter VI, Compendium of Matter, turns from the mental realm to the material world. Based primarily on the second chapter of the //Dhammasangani//, it enumerates the types of material phenomena, classifies them in various ways, and explains their modes of origination. It also introduces the commentarial notion of material groups, which it treats in detail, and describes the occurrence of material processes in the different realms of existence. This chapter concludes with a short section on the fourth ultimate reality, Nibbana, the only unconditioned element in the system.
With the sixth chapter, Acariya Anuruddha has completed his analytical exposition of the four ultimate realities, but there remain several important subjects which must be explained to give a complete picture of the Abhidhamma. These are taken up in the last three chapters.
Chapter VII, the Compendium of Categories, arranges the ultimate realities into a variety of categorical schemes that fall under four broad headings: a compendium of defilements; a compendium of mixed categories, which include items of different ethical qualities; a compendium of the requisites of enlightenment; and a compendium of the whole, an all-inclusive survey of the Abhidhamma ontology. This chapter leans heavily upon the //Vibhanga//, and to some extent upon the //Dhammasangani//.
Chapter VIII, the Compendium of Conditionality, is introduced to include the Abhidhamma teaching on the inter-relatedness of physical and mental phenomena, thereby complementing the analytical treatment of the ultimate realities with a synthetical treatment laying bare their functional correlations. The exposition summarily presents two alternative approaches to conditionality found in the Pali Canon.
One is the method of dependent arising, prominent in the Suttas and analyzed from both Suttanta and Abhidhamma angles in the //Vibhanga// (VI). This method examines conditionality in terms of the \cause-and-result pattern that maintains bondage to //samsara//, the cycle of birth and death. The other is the method of the Patthana//, with its twenty-four conditional relations. This chapter concludes with a brief account of concepts (//pannatti//), thereby drawing in the //Puggalapannatti//, at least by implication.
The ninth and final chapter of the //Sangaha// is concerned, not with theory, but with practice. This is the Compendium of Meditation Subjects. This chapter functions as a kind of summary of the //Visuddhimagga//. It concisely surveys all the methods of meditation exhaustively explained in the latter work, and it sets forth condensed accounts of the stages of progress in both systems of meditation, concentration and insight. Like the masterwork it summarizes, it concludes with an account of the four types of enlightened individualsand the attainments of fruition and cessation. This arrangement of the //Abhidhammattha Sangaha// perhaps serves to underscore the ultimate soteriological intent of the Abhidhamma. All the theoretical analysis of mind and matter finally converges upon the practice of meditation, and the practice culminates in the attainment of the supreme goal of Buddhism, the liberation of the mind by non-clinging.
* * * * * * * *
Home : Next