Jyoti, Rev. Eijo, Vinketa,
Thank you for your replies.
Jyoti, part of the reason I started this inquiry was because "faith" or 信 did not seem like the right translation of adhimukti.
Kumarajiva rendered adhimukti into Chinese as 信解. This has in turn been translated into English, in connection with translations of the Lotus Sutra, as Belief and Understanding, Faith and Understanding, Understanding through Faith, and the like. But something about the gist of these translations did not seem to fit the narrative context of the text. What I found is that other terms like sraddha and prasada were also rendered in Chinese as 信. As far as I can tell, adhimukti, sraddha and prasada have different meanings. However, because they are all rendered into Chinese as 信, this character has taken on an expansive meaning conflating these three sanskrit terms in East Asian Buddhism. Using an index of the Lotus Sutra that compares Kumarajiva's rendition to the Sanskrit version Kern translated into English, what I found is that Kumarajiva's translation itself conflates these meanings, translating sraddha at times as 信解 as well. It makes me wonder if the terms sraddha and adhimukti in particular were interchangeable in South Asian Buddhist traditions... Another inquiry.
Rev. Eijo, the way I came to associate adhimukti and adhimokkha is because of Poussin's footnote in his translation of the Abhidharmakosabhyasam -
See p. 355 fn. 117
This term presents a difficulty… "Adhimukti is the consideration of the object from the point of view of its qualities; according to others, complaisance; according to the Ascetics (the Yogacarins), the contemplation of the object in conformity with the decision taken." (This last point is explained ad. ii. 72 adhimuktimanaskara)…
Paramartha translates: "Adhimukti, tha is neng you ching yin-k'o..." We can translate: "that which makes a sign of approbation with respect to the object." The expression yin (=mudra) k'o (possible) is mentioned by Rosenburg in many word lists. A. Whaley, who has consulted the Japanese glosses, translates: "the sign of approval given to a disciple who has understood what has been taught him." We would thus have k'o = k'o-I = "this is allowable" (A. Debasse). Adhimukti is the approbation of the object, the dharma by reason of which one grasps the object under consideration; it marks the first stage of the act of attention. See the note of Shwe Zan Aung, Compendium, p. 17 and 241 on adhimokkha: "… the settled state of a mind…; it is deciding to attend to this, not that irrespective of more complicated procedure as to what 'this' or 'that' appears to be."
Samghabhadra (TD 29, p. 384b9): Approbation (yin k'o) with repect to an object is called adhimukti. According to other masters, adhi signifies "superiority, sovereignty;" mukti signifies vimoksa. Adhimukti is a dharma by virtue of which the mind exercises its sovereignty over an object without any obstacle; like adhisila. Adhimukti is a separate object, for the Sutra says: "The mind, by reason of adhimukti, approves of (yin k'o) the object." When the mental states arise, all approve (yin) the object; as a consequence adhimukti is a mahabhumika. Nevertheless the Sthavira says: "It is not proven that adhimukti is a separate thing, for we see that its characteristic is not distinguished from that of knowledge (jnana): the characteristic of adhimukti is that the mind is determined (niscita) with respect to its object. But this is not different from the characteristic of knowledge (jnana) Consequently adhimukti is not a separate thing." This is not correct, for approbation (yin k'o) brings about determination.
Some say: "Adhimukti is determination (avadharana, niscaya)." This is to give the cause of determination (namely adhimukti) the name of its effect. If this is the case, then adhimukti and determination would not be sumultaneous. No: for these two mutually condition one another: by reason of discernment (pratisamkhya) there arise approbation, and by reason of approbation there arises determination (niscaya). There is not contradiction: thus there is no obstacle to their being simultaneous. If all thought include these two, then all categories off mind will be approbation and determination. This objection is worthless, for it happens that their activity is damaged when they are dominated by dharmas: even if there is approbation (yin) and determination, they are small and recognized only with difficulty.
I have no background in Sanskrit or Pali, so my approach to this question is just what I have been able to piece together from minor comments here and there from various sources. What I am pretty confident about, however, is that mutta/mukta and mokkha/moksha seem to derive from the same root and have similar connotations - namely this "determination" or "intention", see http://www.vipassana.info/cetasikas11.html
This is where I've come to suspect that adhimukti refers to a very specific dharma in abhidhamma/abhidharma psychological analysis and is not adequately captured in a term like "faith" or "trust" or any other other renditions of the term into English, particularly when translated to English via Chinese. For reasons I won't get into, I think some East Asians caught on to this problem of conflating several distinct terms into 信 and even 信解 and took steps in response. Another matter.
Vinketa, it is interesting how adhimoksa comes around to a meaning of determination. This is a new avenue I haven't explored yet.
What I really need to do is learn Sanskrit and Pali, maybe. Ah. I'll have to remember to set aside the time next life.