The Abhidhamma Pitaka
The seven books of the Abhidhamma Pitaka, the third division of the Tipitaka , offer an extraordinarily detailed analysis of the basic principles governing the behavior of mental and physical processes. Whereas the Sutta and Vinaya Pitakas are characterized by their practical teachings regarding the Buddhist path to Awakening, the Abhidhamma Pitaka presents an almost scientific analysis of the underpinnings of that very path. In Abhidhamma philosophy the familiar psycho-physical universe (our world of "trees" and "rocks," "I" and "you") is reduced to a complex -- but comprehensible -- web of impersonal phenomena arising and passing at an inconceivably rapid pace from moment to moment, according to clearly-defined natural laws.
The Abhidhamma Pitaka has a well-deserved reputation for being dense and difficult reading, yet many find its descriptions of the inner workings of the mind to be a valuable aid to meditation practice. The modern Burmese approach to the teaching and practice of Satipatthana meditation, in particular, draws heavily on an Abhidhammic interpretation of meditative experience.
According to one tradition, the essence of Abhidhamma philosophy was formulated by the Buddha during the fourth week after his Enlightenment, although scholars debate its authenticity as a work by the Buddha himself. Regardless of its authorship, however, the Abhidhamma stands as a monumental feat of intellectual genius.
The Abhidhamma Pitaka is divided into seven books, although it is the first (Dhammasangani) and last (Patthana) that together form the essence of the Abhidhamma teachings. The seven books are:
Note:At present there are no texts from the Abhidhamma Pitaka available here at Access to Insight, nor do I currently plan to include them in the future.