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following the Hermeneutical thread, (Lopez, B. Hermeneutics)

The Abhidhamma presents a Hermeneutical Approach to the scriptures. For while all things are possible for an enlightened master, in the Ab. we see the beginnings of a tradition that ran away in the Mahayana in attributing to the Buddha posthumous teachings.

The Ab. is a hermeneutical text in that it forms an interpretive structure for the mnemonical recollected teachings passed down from teacher to student for many generations. As such, it cannot, fortunately, be subject to the same form of analysis that one would perform on a Sutta. We are already dwelling in the realm of condensation, culling, extraction, and exegesis.

A "traditional reading" of the AB by its "intended" audience implies a deep knowlege of the dhamma, a taking of vows, a commitment to a certain lifestyle. Furthermore, a traditional "Reading" is a process of recitation and memorization. Several hundred years after their composition were the books of the Tipitaka commited to writing. But in any case, it was not written for casual perusal. The very structure, the very first sentence presupposes a formal acceptance of the dhamma of the Buddha:

  • "When at a certain time a meritorious though pertaining to the sensuous sphere arises, accompanied by pleasure and associated with knowlege, having as its object any sense object, such as a visible object, a sound, a taste, a tangible object, a mind object, -- then at that time contact arises, perception arises, volition arises, thought arises, initial application of mind arrises, sustained application of mind arises,..." (trans. Khine, Dhammasangani, 33)

Thus are we launched into the notion of dependant origination with which the Suttana is saturated. This is not a text for scholars outside the camp of Buddhism, and it is far from a text for the lay person seeking an introduction to Buddhist philosophy. We BEGIN in exegis. We are already presupposing a path of meditation, and a moment within that path from the outset.

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