This Volume is a translation from original Pali into English of Dhamma-Sangani, the first book of the seven books of the Abhidhamma-Pitaka. The Dhamma-Sangani is an important text of the Theravadin School of Buddhism and deals with the enumeration of the psychic and mental properties, i.e., elements and objects of consciousness and constitutes an important work from the point of view of psychological ethics. It is a Buddhist manual of psychological ethics and provides an ‘enumeration of the Dhammas’, i.e., an inquiry into the mental elements or processes. It is a compendium of the terms and concepts in vogue among the Buddhists and the import and meaning of which have been made clear for those striving to attain the Budhist ideal of Arahat-ship.
The book is divided into three main sections containing the Genesis of Thoughts, Form and the Division Entitled ‘Elimination’. The learned author has not simply rendered a literal translation of this difficult text but has added copious notes to the text and has also tried to connect the Manual with the rest of the Buddhist Pitakas. In her Introductory Essay, she has discussed with great erudition; the relevant portions regarding the historical traditions, the commentaries on the subject, Buddhist psychological ethics the fundamental concepts such as those relating to mind, and theory of intellection, and Buddhist notions of good, bad and indeterminiate. A glossary of Pali words and a general index have enhanced the value of the book.
Caroline Augusta Foley Rhys Davids (27 September 1857-26 June 1942), a well-known authority on Buddhism, undertook the difficult task of translating from original Pali a number of Buddhist works which justifiably earned her a place among the foremost scholars of Buddhism. She was the pupil Prof. T.W. Rhys Davids whom she later married. Besides her translation of the Dhamma-Sangani under the title of A Buddhist Manual of Psychological Ethics, she undertook the translation and interpretation of a number of works on Abhidhamma.
As the editor of the Pali Text Society, a number of other works were published under her guidance. She was also the author of a number of books and articles, the more well-known are: Buddhist Psychology; translation of Thera-Therigatha in English verse entitled Psalms of the Early Buddhist Brothers and Sisters, and The Wayfarer’s Words (in three vols.), and What was the /original Gospel in Buddhism?
IF the tombs of Egypt or the ruins of Greece itself were to give up, among their dead that are now and again being restored to us, a. copy of some manual with which the young Socrates was put through the mill of current academic doctrine, the discovery would be hailed, especially by scholars of historical insight, as a contribution of peculiar interest. The contents would no doubt yield no new matter of philosophic tradition. But they would certainly teach something respecting such points as pre- Aristotelian logical methods, and -the procedure followed in one or more schools for rendering students conversant with the concepts in psychology, ethics and metaphysic accepted or debated by the culture of the age.
Readers whose sympathies are not confined to the shores of the Mediterranean and iEgean seas will feel a stir of interest, similar in kind if fainter in degree, on becoming more closely acquainted with the Buddhist text - book entitled Dhamma-Sangani. The English edition of the Pali text, prepared for the Pali Text Society by Professor Dr. Ed. Muller, and published fifteen years ago, has so far failed to elicit any critical discussion among Pali scholars. A cursory inspection may have revealed little but what seemed dry, prolix and sterile. Such was, at least, the verdict of a younger worker, now, alas! no more. Closer study of the work will, I believe, prove less un- grateful, more especially if the conception of it as a student's manual be kept well in view. The method of the book is explicative, deductive; its object was, not to add to the Dhamma, but to unfold the orthodox import of terms in use among the body of the faithful, and, by organizing and systematizing the aggregate of doctrinal concepts, to render the learner's intellect both clear and efficient.
Even a superficial inspection of the Manual should yield great promise to anyone interested in the history of psychology. When upwards of six years ago my attention was first drawn to it, and the desirability of a translation pointed out by Professor Rhys Davids, I was at once attracted by the amount of psychological material embedded in its pages. Buddhist philosophy is ethical first and last. This is beyond dispute. But among ethical systems there is a world of difference in the degree of importance attached to the psychological prolegomena of ethics. In ethical problems we are on a basis of psychology, depending for our material largely upon the psychology of. conation or will, with its co-efficients of feeling and intelligence. And in the history of human ideas, in so far as it clusters about those problems, we' find this dependence either made prominent or slurred over. Treated superficially, if suggestively and picturesquely, in Plato. The nature and functions of that faculty in man, whereby he is constituted an ethical and political 'animal,' are by Aristotle analysed at length. But the Buddhists were, in a way, more advanced in the psychology of their ethics than Aristotle-in a way, that is, which would now be called scientific. Rejecting the assumption of a psyche and of its higher manitestations or nons, they were content to resolve the consciousness of the Ethical Man, as they found it, into a complex continuum of subjective phenomena. They analyzed this continuum, as we might, exposing it, as it were, by transverse section. But their treatment was genetic. The distinguishable groups of d h a m a-of states or mental psychoses- , arise' in every case in consciousness, in obedience to certain laws of causation, physical and moral I-that is, ultimately, as the outcome of antecedent states of' consciousness. There is no exact equivalent in Pali, any more than there is in : Aristotle, for the relatively modern term 'consciousness,' yet is the psychological standpoint of the Buddhist philo- sophy virtually as thoroughgoing in its perceptual basis as that of Berkeley. It was not solipsism any more than Berkeley's immaterialism was solipsistie. It postulated other percipients? as Berkeley did, together with, not a Divine cause or source of percepts, but the implicit Monism of early thought veiled by a deliberate Agnosticism. And just as Berkeley, approaching philosophical questions through psychology, 'was the first man to begin a perfectly scientific doctrine of sense-perception as a psychologist, '3 so Buddhism, from a quite early stage of its development, set itself to analyze and classify mental processes with remarkable insight and sagacity. And on the results of that psychological analysis it sought to base the whole rationale of its practical doctrine and discipline. From studying the processes of attention, and the nature of sensation, the range and depth of feeling and the plasticity of the will in desire and in control, it organized its system of personal self-culture.
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