Abhijjhā

Renderings

abhijjhā: greed

abhijjhālu: greedy

Introduction

Abhijjhā: greed not covetousness

Abhijjhā has long been called ‘covetousness,’ which means the desire for other’s possessions, but it more likely means ‘greed,’ because:

1) PED says it is ‘almost identical in meaning with lobha.’

2) The Sāḷha Sutta (A.1.194) says lobho and abhijjhā are synonyms (taṃ kiṃ maññatha sāḷhā atthi lobho ti? Evaṃ bhante. Abhijjhā ti kho ahaṃ sāḷhā etamatthaṃ vadāmi (A.1.194).

3) In the scriptures abhijjhā stands for the first of the five hindrances, where it is linked to sensuous pleasure (abhijjhālū kāmesu It.91), and is listed with the other four hindrances (vyāpannacittā thīnamiddha uddhatā vicikicchī M.1.17-18). In this last reference it is linked to rāga (abhijjhālū kāmesu tibbasārāgā M.1.17-18).

Abhijjhā: broad meaning more likely

Objection to rendering abhijjhā as greed may be raised on the grounds that abhijjhā is explained in terms of covetousness:

• ’In this regard, some person is greedy. He covets others’ property and possessions: “Oh, may what belongs to another be mine!”’
idha bhante ekacco abhijjhālu hoti yaṃ taṃ parassa paravittūpakaraṇaṃ taṃ abhijjhātā hoti aho vata yaṃ parassa taṃ mamassā ti (M.3.49).

But this is in illustration of the two types of mental conduct, good and bad, where abhijjhālū and vyāpannacitto are bad, and anabhijjhālū and avyāpannacitto are good. In this situation, it is likely the two words stand for two broad categories (greed and hatred), not one narrow category and one broad category (covetousness and hatred). The same is true of abhijjhādomanassā, where it is more likely that abhijjhā has a broad meaning, not a narrow meaning. For example:

1) While I am pacing back and forth thus, neither greed nor dejection nor unvirtuous, spiritually unwholesome factors will pursue me.
nābhijjhādomanassā pāpakā akusalā dhammā anvāssavissantī ti (M.3.113).

2) A bhikkhu abides contemplating the nature of the body, vigorously, fully consciously, and mindfully, having eliminated greed and dejection in regard to the world (of phenomena).
vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ (S.5.182).

Abhijjhā: not in relation to others’ possessions

Abhijjhā is not always linked to others’ possessions:

• In seeing a visible object with mindfulness muddled, focusing on the agreeable aspect, one experiences it with a mind of attachment and persists in cleaving to it. Many sense impressions arising from the visible object blossom (within oneself), greed and vexation as well, by which one’s mind becomes disturbed.
Rūpaṃ disvā sati muṭṭhā piyaṃ nimittaṃ manasikaroto
Sārattacitto vedeti tañca ajjhosa tiṭṭhati
Tassa vaḍḍhanti vedanā anekā rūpasambhavā
Abhijjhā ca vihesā ca cittamassūpahaññati
(Th.v.794-5).

Illustrations

Illustration: abhijjhā, greed

He, having abandoned these five hindrances which are spiritual defilements and weakening to penetrative discernment, abides contemplating the nature of the body, vigorously, fully consciously, and mindfully, having eliminated greed and dejection in regard to the world (of phenomena).
☸ So ime pañca nīvaraṇe pahāya cetaso upakkilese paññāya dubbalikaraṇe kāye kāyānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ (M.3.136).

Illustration: abhijjhā, greed

―’What do you think, Sāḷha: is there greed (lobho)?’
Taṃ kiṃ maññatha sāḷhā atthi lobho ti?

―’Yes, bhante.

―’I call it greed (abhijjhā), Sāḷha.
☸ Abhijjhā ti kho ahaṃ sāḷhā etamatthaṃ vadāmi
(A.1.194).

Illustration: abhijjhā, greed

There are these four spiritual shackles
cattārome bhikkhave ganthā

• the spiritual shackle of greed
abhijjhā kāyagantho

• the spiritual shackle of ill will
vyāpādo kāyagantho

• the spiritual shackle of adherence to observances and practices
sīlabbataparāmāso kāyagantho

• the spiritual shackle of stubborn attachment to dogmatic opinions.
idaṃsaccābhiniveso kāyagantho (S.5.59).

Illustration: abhijjhālu, greedy

In this regard, some person is

• greedy (abhijjhālu hoti) and abides with a greedy attitude (abhijjhāsahagatāya saññāya viharati);

• unbenevolent (vyāpādavā) and abides with an unbenevolent attitude

• malicious (vihesavā) and abides with a malicious attitude (M.3.55).