I am just going through the posts in my inbox that came in while we were
away. I hope you don't mind a late contribution on this thread!
--- Mr Tzung-Kuen Wen <s4060239@...
> wrote: >
> Dear Dhamma friends
> Since many members in this group study Abhidhamma, I have a question
> to ask. Can every paramattha dhamma listed in Abhidhamma texts can be
> observed by everyone?
This is a very pertinent question, one that will have a considerable
bearing on one's idea of the 'practice'.
> Ven. Pa-Auk Sayadaw of Burma is a well-known meditation teacher and
> very learned in both Pali commentaries and Abhidhamma. Actually, his
> meditation teaching is completely combined with Abhidhamma.
> According to him, every paramattha dhammas, every citta and cetasika
> including the bhavanga-citta, patisandhi-citta should be ¡¥really¡¦
> observed in meditation. (We only know the terms of Abhidhamma
> intellectually.) He also teaches yogis to observe the namas and rupas in
> the past and future existences in order to really understand the law of
> I would like to know if anyone of you has any thoughts about this
I agree that in general we know the various dhammas only intellectually,
not directly. However, I do not agree that all these dhammas can or
should be known directly, by a person wishing to develop the path.
To think that they should all be known directly would involve an idea of
focussing on them all in turn at some stage or other. To my understanding
of the teachings, it is not possible to come to know any dhamma directly
by choosing to focus on it (I exclude here someone for whom insight has
been developed to a high degree). Dhammas are not perceivable directly
except by awareness or insight (the highest level of panna), and this
means that they cannot be selected to be the object of (intended) insight.
If this is attempted, then what seems like directly observing a chosen
dhamma will not in fact be so. True awareness or insight is a high level
of kusala that arises only by a complex and very occasional set of
There is no suggestion in the teachings that enlightenment comes only when
*all* dhammas have been directly known. According to the teachings,
insight needs to be developed to the point that the fetters are broken
(the fetters are the various kinds of akusala that bind us to continued
existence). The overcoming of the fetters is achieved by seeing dhammas
as they truly are, as anicca/dukkha/anatta, and this is the function of
insight, but to my understanding this level is achieved without the need
for *all* dhammas to be directly expereinced. That sort of knowlwedge is
the province of a Buddha or the great disciples only.
Of course, intellectual knowledge about all dhammas is useful and is a
support for the development of understanding. But the arising of insight
is not a self-directed kind of thinking, and both the time of its arising
and the dhamma that is its object on any occasion are matters beyond our
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