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Vicikitsa (Sanskrit, also vicikitsā; Pali: vicikicchā; Tibetan Wylie: the tshom) is a Buddhist term that is translated as "doubt"; sceptical doubts or "indecision". It is defined as being of two minds about the meaning of the Four Noble Truths; it functions as a basis for not becoming involved with wholesome activities.
Vicikitsa is identified as:
- One of the six root unwholesome mental factors within the Mahayana Abhidharma teachings
- One of the fourteen unwholesome mental factors within the Theravada Abhidharma teachings
- One of the five hindrances that impede meditation within the Theravada teachings
- One of the ten fetters in the Theravada tradition
Nina van Gorkom explains:
- The reality of vicikicchā is not the same as what we mean by doubt in conventional language. Vicikicchā is not doubt about someone's name or about the weather. Vicikicchā is doubt about realities, about nāma and Rūpa, about cause and result, about the Four Noble Truths, about the “Dependent Origination”.
The Atthasālinī (II, Part IX, Chapter III, 259) defines vicikicchā as follows:
- ...It has shifting about as characteristic, mental wavering as function, indecision or uncertainty in grasp as manifestation, unsystematic thought (unwise attention) as proximate cause, and it should be regarded as a danger to attainment.
The Abhidharma-samuccaya states:
- What is vicikitsa? It is to be in two minds about the truth, and its function is to serve as a basis for not becoming involved with positive things.