In Buddhism, dhamma vicaya (Pali; Sanskrit: Dharma-vicaya) has been variously translated as the "analysis of qualities," "discrimination of dhammas," "discrimination of states," "investigation of doctrine," and "searching the Truth." This concept implies applying discernment to things in order to deliver one from ignorance and craving.
In the Pali canon's Sutta Pitaka, this is the second of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment (satta bojjhaṅgā). It is preceded by the establishment of mindfulness (sati) and leads to energy (viriya), rapture (piti), tranquillity (passaddhi), concentration (samadhi) and equanimity (upekkha). According to the Samyutta Nikaya, this factor is to be developed by paying continuous careful attention (yoniso manasikāra bahulīkāro) to the following states (dhammā): wholesome and unwholesome (kusalā-akusalā); blameable and blameless (sāvajjā-anavajjā); inferior and superior (hīna-paṇītā); and, evil and good (kaṇha-sukka). An alternate explanation in the nikayas is that this factor is aroused by "discriminating that Dhamma with wisdom" (taṃ dhammaṃ paññāya pavicināti).
- What on that occasion is the faculty of wisdom (paññindriyaṃ)?
- The wisdom which there is on that occasion is understanding, search, research, searching the Truth....
In later Abhidhamma texts and in post-canonical literature (such as those by the 4th c. CE Indian scholar Vasubandhu), dhamma vicaya refers to the study of dhamma as physical or mental phenomena that constitute absolute reality (Pali: paramattha; Skt.: paramārtha)