Knowledge of Abhidhamma can help us in meditation as well as in daily life.

Abhidhamma is like a mental map.
But with a road-, city- or hiking-map alone we do not arrive at the destination. We must have learned to read the map and be able to interpret it, but above all we have to set off and walk ourselves. A map has no end in itself. But no matter where we want to go or what we are searching, with a good, exact and complete map we will reach our goal safely. Without map or without understanding it our way will be a trial and error journey, probably with a lot of detours, dead ends, stumbling blocks and hindrances. If and when we will reach the goal, is doubtful.

Or we are lucky enough to be able to confide ourselves in an experienced mountain-guide – that is to say to practise under the guidance of an experienced master. This can save many detours, wrong tracks and a lot of time and energy. If one does not have or find such an experienced teacher or guide or does not want to totally depend on him or her, it is better to take the doctrine itself as teacher. As the Buddha had said: "The Dhamma may be your teacher, your refuge, your light..."

Examples of application:

  • It is said: Joy (pīti) is an enlightenment-factor and should be developed, because joy leads to concentration (sāmadhi) and concentration to insight, wisdom and liberation. But which kind of joy, rapture, zest, interest? Is every joy "wholesome", leading us into the direction of enlightenment? Certainly we know, malicious glee (schadenfreude) surely not! But otherwise? In the Abhidhamma, joy and associated mental states are analysed in detail, and it is explained, which kinds are wholesome, which unwholesome. Through Abhidhamma we get criteria how we can examine joy in ourselves. With them we ourselves can decide then if to cultivate and develop this joy or better to give it up.

  • Fear is suffering and unwholesome. Always? Actually fear only occurs in the types of con-sciousness rooted in hatred (dosamula cittas), which we want to overcome and in any case not to develop. But there are also kinds of "wholesome fear" which are to be developed and cultivated:
    Ottappa – fear of consequences, if we would act immorally - therefore we show consideration and abstain from immoral deeds;
    Saṃvega – fear of "conditioned phenomena", of transitoriness and death... - this leads to a sense of urgency and to vīriya (effort and energy) in our practice, what indeed is good.

  • Are wishes always accompanied by craving, desire, greed? Do we have to give up all our wishes? No. The mental factor "chanda" is not only associated with unwholesome conscious-ness rooted in greed (lobha). It associates - more or less developed and strong - with almost all types of consciousness, so with all kinds of wholesome consciousness too. The wish to meditate is good, also the wish to study and understand Abhidhamma, the wish to help a person or the wish to attain Nibbāna. Chanda can be very powerful. There are sayings like "Where there is a wish, there is a way", or "The wish can move mountains." But, we should pay attention what we wish and with which motivation...

  • Shwezigon-pagoda drawingWith Abhidhamma-knowledge we understand better which qualities to develop and how. If we know the conditions which make us happy and free, we can try to create them or strengthen them. And learning how our mind works and functions, we can apply these natural laws for our own goals.