“The Three-fold Basket” is the name given to the collection of teachings made up of the Sutrapitaka: “the basket of the Sutras”, the Vinayapitaka: “the Basket of the Vinaya” and l'Abhidharmapitaka: “the Basket of the Higher Knowledge of Phenomena”.These three baskets emphasize respectively the three trainings which enable to reach enlightenment: ethic and discipline, meditation and wisdom.
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The Abhidharmakosha is based on the treatises of the masters of the Vaibashika School of thoughts. Buddha Shakyamuni didn’t teach in systematic way, he rather gave answers to the questions that were asked to him. The great Indian masters composed root texts that are references which synthesized the Buddha’s words. When Vasubandhu wrote the Abhidharmakosha, he called it “the presentation of the Abhidharma as taught by the Vaibhashikas from Kashmir.” This text is considered to be a summary of the Mahavibhasa, the principal Vaibhashika treatise.
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Suffering, its origin, its cessation and the path out of it are the main subject of the eight chapters of Abhidharmakosha.Chapters 1 and 2 give a general explanation about samsara and nirvana. Chapters 3, 4 and 5 explain contaminated phenomena in detail. Chapters 6, 7 and 8 present the non contaminated phenomena.
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The Abhidharmasamuccaya discusses the Abhidharma from the point of view of the Mahayana. It holds an outstanding place in Buddhist literature. According to Walpola Rahula: “Nearly all of the principal doctrines of the mahayana are contained in it, and it can be considered as the summary of all other works of Asanga.”The text, originally composed in Sanskrit language, contains two parts: the Compendium of Characteristics, in four chapters, and the Compendium of Decisions, in another four chapters.
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The first chapter is divided into two sections. The first section details the enumeration, characteristics and definitions of the "three Dharmas". Following this habitual structure of the Abhidharma, Asanga adds a second section, “the division of aspects” which again takes up the three Dharmas, but discussing them under several different perspectives, such as their substances, their designations, their relative and ultimate aspects. The chapters 2, 3 and 4 give a synthetic view over the “three Dharmas” which represent the entire range of phenomena.
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The first chapter explains the Four Noble Truths, then Asanga defines the “object of Dharma” in four points, showing how a follower should study the Buddha's teaching, thereby giving in detail a fruitful manner of integrating the Dharma.
Read more: Part two: The Compendium of Decisions
As for all the teachings of the Buddha, the Abhidharma teachings came to us through an uninterrupted transmission from master to disciple and from India to Tibet.
This part presents the various transmission lineages of these texts.
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