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Abhidharma Terminology

Five Skandhas or Aggregates (phung po lnga)


1. Form (gzugs)

2. Feeling (tshor ba)

3. Perception (?du shes)

4. Formations (?du byed)

5. Consciousness (rnam shes)


For more on the translation of these terms click here


Eighteen Elements or Sensory Domains (khams bco brgyad)


1. Forms/Sights (gzugs)

2. Eye (mig)

3. Visual consciousness (mig gi rnam shes)

4. Sounds (sgra)

5. Ear (rna ba)

6. Auditory consciousness (rna ba'i rnam shes)

7. Smells (dri)

8. Nose (sna)

9. Olfactory consciousness (sna'i rnam shes)

10. Tastes (ro)

11. Tongue (lce)

12. Gustatory consciousness (lce'i rnam shes)

13. Textures (reg bya)

14. Body (lus)

15. Tactile consciousness (lus kyi rnam shes)

16. Mental objects (chos)

17. Mind (yid)

18. Mental consciousness (yid kyi rnam shes)


Twelve Sense Fields or Ayatanas (skye mched bcu gnyis)


1. Forms/sights (gzugs)

2. Eye (mig)

3. Sounds (sgra)

4. Ears (rna ba)

5. Smells (dri)

6. Nose (sna)

7. Tastes (ro)

8. Tongue (lce)

9. Textures (reg bya)

10. Body (lus)

11. Mental objects (chos)

12. Mind (yid)


The Fifty-One Mental States/Factors (sems byung lnga bcu nga gcig)


Five Ever-Present Factors (kun ?gro lnga)


1. Sensation (tshor ba)

2. Perception (?du shes)

3. Intention (sems pa)

4. Attention (yid byed)

5. Contact (reg pa)


Five Object-Determining Factors (yul nges lnga)


1. Interest (?dun pa)

2. Appreciation (mos pa)

3. Mindfulness (dran pa)

4. Concentration (ting nge ?dzin)

5. Intelligence (shes rab)


Eleven Virtuous States (dge ba?I sems byung bcu gcig)


1. Faith (dad pa)

2. Conscientiousness (bag yod pa)

3. Flexibility (shin tu sbyang ba)

4. Evenness/equanimity (btang snyoms)

5. Self-control/shame (ngo tsha shes pa)

6. Respect/sense of decency (khrel yod pa)

7. Nonattachment (ma chags pa)

8. Nonaggression (zhes sdang med pa)

9. Nondelusion (gti mug med pa)

10. Nonviolence (rnam par mi ?tshe ba)

11. Diligence (brtson ?grus)


Six Root Disturbing Emotions (rtsa nyon drug)


1. Ignorance (ma rig pa)

2. Desire (?dod chags)

3. Anger (khong khro ba)

4. Pride (nga rgyal)

5. Doubt (the tshom)

6. Beliefs/views (lta ba), which comprise:


View of the transitory collection (?jig tshogs la lta ba)

View of extremes (mthar dzin pa?i lta ba)

Wrong view (log par lta ba)

View of doctrinal superiority (lta ba mchog ?dzin)

View of ethical superiority (tshul khrims dang brtul zhugs mchog ?dzin)


Twenty Subsidiary Disturbing Emotions (nye nyon nyi shu)


1. Rage (khro ba)

2. Resentment (?khon du ?dzin pa)

3. Spitefulness (?tshig pa)

4. Cruelty (rnam par ?tshe ba)

5. Envy (phrag dog)

6. Deception (g.yo)

7. Pretension (sgyu)

8. Shamelessness/lack of self-control (ngo tsha med pa)

9. Disrespect (khrel med pa)

10. Concealment (?chab pa)

11. Miserliness (ser sna)

12. Self-satisfaction (rgyags pa)

13. Lack of faith (ma dad pa)

14. Laziness (le lo)

15. Carelessness (bag med pa)

16. Forgetfulness (brjed ngas)

17. Inattention (shes bzhin min pa)

18. Lethargy (rmug pa)

19. Excitement (rgod pa)

20. Distraction (rnam par g.yeng ba)


Four Variables (gzhan ?gyur bzhi)


1.      Sleep (gnyid)

2.      Regret (?gyod pa)

3.      Conception (rtog pa)

4.      Discernment (dpyod pa)

Other Important Terms


rkyen condition

khams gsum three realms

?gog pa?i snyom ?jug absorption of cessation (Pad)

sgom spang discards through cultivation

dngos po functional thing, entity

brtags min ?gog pa non-analytical cessation or absence (Pad)

thob pa acquisition

mthong spang discards through seeing

?dus byas conditioned, compounded

?dus ma byas unconditioned, uncompounded

rdul phran  particle

sdom pa (virtuous) vow/commitment

sdom min  negative vow/commitment

rnam par rig byed perceptible

phung po lnga five aggregates, heaps, psycho-physical components, bundles (MK)

phra rgyas ?subtle developers? [another word for nyon mongs]

dbang po (sense) organs, faculties

zag bcas defiled, contaminated (GTJ)


Key to Abbreviations


GTJ     Geshe Thubten Jinpa

Pad     Padmakara Translation Group

MK     Matthew Kapstein


Further Reading

Asanga, Abhidharmasamuccaya: The Compendium of the Higher Teaching (Philosophy), translated and annotated by Walpola Rahula, English version by Sara Boin-Webb, Asian Humanities Press, 2001


Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye, The Treasury of Knowledge, Book 1: Myriad Worlds (Treasury of Knowledge), Snow Lion Publications, 2003


Kangyur Rinpoche, Treasury of Precious Qualities, translated by the Padmakara Translation Group, Shambhala, 2001


La Vallee Poussin, L. de, Abhidharmakosha-bhashyam, translated by Leo Pruden, Asian Humanities Press, 1990


Mipham Rinpoche. Gateway to Knowledge, Volumes I and II, Rangjung Yeshe Publications 1997 and 2000


Ways of Enlightenment: Buddhist Studies at Nyingma Institute, Dharma Publishing, 1993

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