A Study of the Sarvāstivāda Doctrine of the Three Types of Direct-Comprehension of Four Truths (Abhisamaya)

By Jew Chong Liew.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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The word ‘abhisamaya’ is used in the literatures of Sarvastivada to denote the direct-comprehension – that is, spiritual insight – of the four Truths accomplished in a gradual manner. A practitioner, through a series of preparatory efforts, enters into the path of seeing (darsana-marga) which lasts for fifteen uninterrupted moments. At the very first moment of darsana-marga, he becomes an arya, the candidate for the fruit of Stream-entry (srotaapatti-phala-pratipannaka). At the sixteenth moment, he completes the direct-comprehension of the four Truths. There is much controversy among the various schools of sectarian Buddhism, notably by Sarvastivada and Mahasamghika, etc. as to whether this direct-comprehension of the four Truths takes place gradually or abruptly. In this paper, three types of direct-comprehension of four Truths are investigated:- they are darsana-abhisamaya, alambana-abhisamaya and karya-abhisamaya. Few details of abhisamaya are gleaned from the Abhidharmakosa-bhasya and Mahavibhasa-sastra. Perhaps no greater details of abhisamaya teaching has been drawn to the modern scholarly attention, with the exception of Ven. Yin Shun’s sporadic mention of it in his masterpiece, and Ven. KL Dhammajoti’s Sarvastivada Abhidharma. In my presentation, I shall draw the available data mainly from the Nyayanusara, and the Notes of Pu Guang which hopefully will yield a better picture of the doctrine.

Keywords: Abhisamaya, Direct-Comprehension, Sarvastivada, Darsana-Marga, Bhavana-Marga, Nyayanusara, Abhidharmakosa-Bhasya

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 12, pp.127-138. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 836.084KB).

Ven. Jew Chong Liew

PhD, Centre of Buddhist Studies, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong


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