Abhidhamma is “a psychology without a psyche”. Abhidhamma teaches that ultimate reality consists of four elementary constituents: Nibbana, which is unconditioned, and citta, cetasika and rupa (meaning consciousness, mental factors and matter, respectively) that are conditioned. They are also called dhamma. Dhamma literally means to hold its own nature and characteristics. Dhamma are natural laws that are always true. Thus Abhidhamma describes the dhammas, their characteristics, their functions and their relations. All conceptual entities, such as self or person are resolved into their ultimates, i.e., into bare mental and material phenomena that are impermanent.
Some of the laity became scared when they are invited to lectures on Abhidhamma. Some think that the lecture, as the name implies, will be “profound” and “way over their heads”, or that the lecture will be too “heavy” or “dry” (meaning boring). I would submitted that Abhidhamma is within us and all around us- in the way we think, speak and act, in our interactions with those- animate and inanimate- around us, and in the purposes underlying these actions and interactions. Thus, I think that Abhidhamma is to be applied everyday by everyone to every conscious action (thought, speech or deed), and that Abhidhamma forms the foundation of Vipassana mindfulness that will help us get on the Eightfold Noble Path towards Liberation.
In this book, Ven. Nandamalabhivamsa has provided a concise and simplified, yet thorough and systematic, presentation of Abhidhamma. The chapters are written in a simple manner to give the backbone of Abhidhamma which the layman may make reference to, so that he could get an overview of Abhidhamma.
May all beings be able to understand and practise the Buddha’s teachings.
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