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Dec 30

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The Dhamma Theory – Prof. Dr. Y. Karunadasa

Dhamma_Theory_LPhilosophical Cornerstone of the Abhidhamma

During the first two centuries following the Buddha’s parinibbana there took place, within the early Buddhist community, a move towards a comprehensive and precise systematization of the teachings disclosed by the Master in his discourses. The philosophical systems that emerged from this refined analytical approach to the doctrine are collectively called the Abhidhamma.

Although the dhamma theory is an Abhidhammic innovation, the antecedent trends that led to its formulation and its basic ingredients can be traced to the early Buddhist scriptures which seek to analyse empiric individuality and its relation to the external world.

In the discourses of the Buddha there are five such modes of analysis. The first, the analysis into nāma and rūpa,2 is the most elementary in the sense that it specifies the two main components, the mental and the corporeal aspects, of the empiric individual. The second is that into the five khandhas (aggregates): corporeality (rūpa), sensation (vedanā), perception (saññā), mental formations (sankhara), and consciousness (viññāa).3 The third is that into six dhātus (elements): earth (pathavi), water (āpo), temperature (tejo), air (vayo), space (ākāsa), and consciousness (viññāa).

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