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Re: [Pali] Q. Abhidhamma Series, no 4.

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  • Nina van Gorkom
    Dear Bryan, Thanks for your interest. ... N: Paramattha dhamma is real in the highest sense. It is different from conventional truth, which is not real in the
    Message 1 of 10 , Mar 21, 2010
      Dear Bryan,
      Thanks for your interest.
      Op 21-mrt-2010, om 12:20 heeft Bryan Levman het volgende geschreven:

      > I don't understand how citta, cetasiak and ruupa are paramattha
      > dhammas. Does paramattha mean "ultimate truth"? How can something
      > which is conditioned be an ultimate truth? I thought only
      > unconditioned things (like nibbaana) can be an ultimate truth?
      -------
      N: Paramattha dhamma is real in the highest sense. It is different
      from conventional truth, which is not real in the ultimate or
      absolute sense.
      We should not be misled by the word ultimate. Seeing is a citta and
      it is real in the ultimate sense, it is not a concept, it is not
      conventional truth. It has a characteristic that can be directly
      experienced. Its characteristic is unalterable, it cannot be changed
      into something else. Seeing is always seeing, even if we name it
      differently in another language. It arises because of conditions and
      then it falls away very rapidly.
      Person, animal, world peace, are conventional truth we may think of
      but which are not real in the ultimate sense.
      Citta, cetasika and ruupa are the three conditioned paramattha
      dhammas. They have the three general characteristics of impermanence,
      dukkhaa and anattaa. Conventional truth does not have these three
      general characteristics. The object of insight are paramattha
      dhammas, not conventional truth, not concepts.
      Citta, cetasika and ruupa arise and fall away very rapidly, but it
      seems as if they do not arise and fall away, they seem to last. We
      cling to a concept of a mass or a 'whole'. We think that a person
      really exists. In reality a person is citta, cetasika and ruupa that
      arise and fall away very rapidly.

      Nibbaana is the unconditioned paramattha dhamma. It is real in the
      ultimate sense, but it does not arise because of conditions, like
      seeing that arises only when there are conditions for it, such as
      visible object and eyesense. Nibbaana does not arise and fall away,
      it is not impermanent and not dukkha, but it is anattaa.

      Thus, there are four paramattha dhammas:
      citta
      cetasika
      ruupa
      nibbaana, the unconditioned element.

      Let me know if there is anything that is not clear,

      Nina.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Bryan Levman
      Hi Nina, ... Thanks for the explanation. I assume this is from the Abhidhamma, not the suttas? I thought that all phenomena, including conventional had the
      Message 2 of 10 , Mar 21, 2010
        Hi Nina,

        >Person, animal, world peace, are conventional truth we may think of
        >but which are not real in the ultimate sense.
        >Citta, cetasika and ruupa are the three conditioned paramattha
        >dhammas. They have the three general characteristics of impermanence,
        >dukkhaa and anattaa. Conventional truth does not have these three
        >general characteristics.


        Thanks for the explanation. I assume this is from the Abhidhamma, not the suttas?

        I thought that all phenomena, including conventional had the three characteristics of anicca, dukkha and anatta? Surely a person has these characteristics? Please explain,

        Best regards, Bryan





        ________________________________
        From: Nina van Gorkom <vangorko@...>
        To: Pali@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Sun, March 21, 2010 11:35:04 AM
        Subject: Re: [Pali] Q. Abhidhamma Series, no 4.


        Dear Bryan,
        Thanks for your interest.
        Op 21-mrt-2010, om 12:20 heeft Bryan Levman het volgende geschreven:

        > I don't understand how citta, cetasiak and ruupa are paramattha
        > dhammas. Does paramattha mean "ultimate truth"? How can something
        > which is conditioned be an ultimate truth? I thought only
        > unconditioned things (like nibbaana) can be an ultimate truth?
        -------
        N: Paramattha dhamma is real in the highest sense. It is different
        from conventional truth, which is not real in the ultimate or
        absolute sense.
        We should not be misled by the word ultimate. Seeing is a citta and
        it is real in the ultimate sense, it is not a concept, it is not
        conventional truth. It has a characteristic that can be directly
        experienced. Its characteristic is unalterable, it cannot be changed
        into something else. Seeing is always seeing, even if we name it
        differently in another language. It arises because of conditions and
        then it falls away very rapidly.
        Person, animal, world peace, are conventional truth we may think of
        but which are not real in the ultimate sense.
        Citta, cetasika and ruupa are the three conditioned paramattha
        dhammas. They have the three general characteristics of impermanence,
        dukkhaa and anattaa. Conventional truth does not have these three
        general characteristics. The object of insight are paramattha
        dhammas, not conventional truth, not concepts.
        Citta, cetasika and ruupa arise and fall away very rapidly, but it
        seems as if they do not arise and fall away, they seem to last. We
        cling to a concept of a mass or a 'whole'. We think that a person
        really exists. In reality a person is citta, cetasika and ruupa that
        arise and fall away very rapidly.

        Nibbaana is the unconditioned paramattha dhamma. It is real in the
        ultimate sense, but it does not arise because of conditions, like
        seeing that arises only when there are conditions for it, such as
        visible object and eyesense. Nibbaana does not arise and fall away,
        it is not impermanent and not dukkha, but it is anattaa.

        Thus, there are four paramattha dhammas:
        citta
        cetasika
        ruupa
        nibbaana, the unconditioned element.

        Let me know if there is anything that is not clear,

        Nina.

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





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      • Nina van Gorkom
        Dear Bryan, ... N: There is Abhidhamma also in the suttas. The same dhammas as classified by way of the three conditioned paramattha dhammas can be classified
        Message 3 of 10 , Mar 22, 2010
          Dear Bryan,

          Op 21-mrt-2010, om 20:40 heeft Bryan Levman het volgende geschreven:

          > Citta, cetasika and ruupa are the three conditioned paramattha
          > >dhammas. They have the three general characteristics of impermanence,
          > >dukkhaa and anattaa. Conventional truth does not have these three
          > >general characteristics.
          >
          > Thanks for the explanation. I assume this is from the Abhidhamma,
          > not the suttas?
          -------
          N: There is Abhidhamma also in the suttas. The same dhammas as
          classified by way of the three conditioned paramattha dhammas can be
          classified as five khandhas and the suttas deal with the
          classification of dhammas by way of the five khandhas.

          What is classified as khandha arises because of conditions and falls
          away again. The five
          khandhas are not different from the three paramattha dhammas which
          are citta, cetasika and rúpa. Realities can be classified in many
          different ways and thus different names are given to them.

          One khandha is ruupakkhandha and the other four khandhas are
          naamakkhandhas. Three naamakkhandhas are cetasika and one
          naamakkhandha is citta, vi~n~naa.nakkhandha.
          Anything which is khandha does not last; as soon as it has arisen it
          falls away again. Although khandhas arise and fall away, they are
          real; we can experience them when they present themselves.
          ---------
          Samyutta Nikaaya III is a whole book dealing with the five khandhas.
          ------
          In the satipa.t.thaanasutta, under the application of mindfulness of
          citta, citta with lobha, without lobha, etc. are dealt with. This is
          another example of Abhidhamma in the suttas, citta is a paramattha
          dhamma.

          Also in the suttas the difference between conventional use of 'I',
          and ultimate realities is mentioned. In the Kindred Sayings I, the
          Devas, III, a Sword 25 (5), translated by Ven. Bodhi in the Connected
          Discourses of the Buddha, we read that someone asks whether an arahat
          can still speak of "I' and 'they', and that the Buddha answered:
          <If a bhikkhu is an arahant,
          Consummate, with taints destroyed,
          One who bears his final body,
          He might still say, 'I speak',
          And he might say, knowing the world's parlance,
          He uses such terms as mere expressions.">

          Thus, there is a distinction between ultimate truth and conventional
          truth.
          --------
          B:I thought that all phenomena, including conventional had the three
          characteristics of anicca, dukkha and anatta? Surely a person has
          these characteristics? Please explain,
          -------
          N: We can see that a person ages, that is body does not last. But
          this is thinking in conventional sense, it is different from direct
          understanding of momentary impermanence of realities. We say in
          conventional sense: a person has consciousness, but in the absolute
          sense there is not any consciousness, citta, that lasts. At one
          moment seeing-consciousness arises, and it falls away in
          splitseconds. At another moment hearing-consciousness arises, and it
          falls away in splitseconds. Only developed pa~n~naa can realize that
          mental phenomena and physical phenomena are very momentary, that they
          have the characteristic of impermanence.
          We think of the whole of a body, but in reality there are many
          different kinds of ruupas that arise and fall away, that are
          impermanent.
          A person is a concept of a 'whole', it is not real in the ultimate
          sense, but we can think of a person; in fact we do, the whole day.
          What we call a person are many different elements: naama-elements and
          ruupa-elements arising and falling away. These momentary elements are
          real in the ultimate sense, they are impermanent, dukkha and anattaa.

          Appreciating your questions, they are good points for all of us to
          consider.
          ------
          Nina.



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Bryan Levman
          Thanks very much Nina for taking the time to explain this, Metta, Bryan ________________________________ From: Nina van Gorkom To:
          Message 4 of 10 , Mar 22, 2010
            Thanks very much Nina for taking the time to explain this,

            Metta, Bryan







            ________________________________
            From: Nina van Gorkom <vangorko@...>
            To: Pali@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Mon, March 22, 2010 5:33:12 AM
            Subject: Re: [Pali] Q. Abhidhamma Series, no 4.


            Dear Bryan,

            Op 21-mrt-2010, om 20:40 heeft Bryan Levman het volgende geschreven:

            > Citta, cetasika and ruupa are the three conditioned paramattha
            > >dhammas. They have the three general characteristics of impermanence,
            > >dukkhaa and anattaa. Conventional truth does not have these three
            > >general characteristics.
            >
            > Thanks for the explanation. I assume this is from the Abhidhamma,
            > not the suttas?
            -------
            N: There is Abhidhamma also in the suttas. The same dhammas as
            classified by way of the three conditioned paramattha dhammas can be
            classified as five khandhas and the suttas deal with the
            classification of dhammas by way of the five khandhas.

            What is classified as khandha arises because of conditions and falls
            away again. The five
            khandhas are not different from the three paramattha dhammas which
            are citta, cetasika and rúpa. Realities can be classified in many
            different ways and thus different names are given to them.

            One khandha is ruupakkhandha and the other four khandhas are
            naamakkhandhas. Three naamakkhandhas are cetasika and one
            naamakkhandha is citta, vi~n~naa.nakkhandha .
            Anything which is khandha does not last; as soon as it has arisen it
            falls away again. Although khandhas arise and fall away, they are
            real; we can experience them when they present themselves.
            ---------
            Samyutta Nikaaya III is a whole book dealing with the five khandhas.
            ------
            In the satipa.t.thaanasutt a, under the application of mindfulness of
            citta, citta with lobha, without lobha, etc. are dealt with. This is
            another example of Abhidhamma in the suttas, citta is a paramattha
            dhamma.

            Also in the suttas the difference between conventional use of 'I',
            and ultimate realities is mentioned. In the Kindred Sayings I, the
            Devas, III, a Sword 25 (5), translated by Ven. Bodhi in the Connected
            Discourses of the Buddha, we read that someone asks whether an arahat
            can still speak of "I' and 'they', and that the Buddha answered:
            <If a bhikkhu is an arahant,
            Consummate, with taints destroyed,
            One who bears his final body,
            He might still say, 'I speak',
            And he might say, knowing the world's parlance,
            He uses such terms as mere expressions. ">

            Thus, there is a distinction between ultimate truth and conventional
            truth.
            --------
            B:I thought that all phenomena, including conventional had the three
            characteristics of anicca, dukkha and anatta? Surely a person has
            these characteristics? Please explain,
            -------
            N: We can see that a person ages, that is body does not last. But
            this is thinking in conventional sense, it is different from direct
            understanding of momentary impermanence of realities. We say in
            conventional sense: a person has consciousness, but in the absolute
            sense there is not any consciousness, citta, that lasts. At one
            moment seeing-consciousnes s arises, and it falls away in
            splitseconds. At another moment hearing-consciousne ss arises, and it
            falls away in splitseconds. Only developed pa~n~naa can realize that
            mental phenomena and physical phenomena are very momentary, that they
            have the characteristic of impermanence.
            We think of the whole of a body, but in reality there are many
            different kinds of ruupas that arise and fall away, that are
            impermanent.
            A person is a concept of a 'whole', it is not real in the ultimate
            sense, but we can think of a person; in fact we do, the whole day.
            What we call a person are many different elements: naama-elements and
            ruupa-elements arising and falling away. These momentary elements are
            real in the ultimate sense, they are impermanent, dukkha and anattaa.

            Appreciating your questions, they are good points for all of us to
            consider.
            ------
            Nina.

            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





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          • thomaslaw03
            Dear Nina, If you say: These momentary elements are ... in the ultimate sense ... impermanent, dukkha and anattaa , then they should not be real but empty
            Message 5 of 10 , Mar 22, 2010
              Dear Nina,

              If you say: 'These momentary elements are
              ... in the ultimate sense ... impermanent, dukkha and anattaa',
              then they should not be 'real' but 'empty' of real in ultimate sense. Why are these momentary elements are real in the ultimate sense???

              Regards,

              Thomas Law
            • Nina van Gorkom
              Dear Thomas, ... N: These momentary elements are real in the ultimate sense. As I said before: the term ultimate may be misunderstood. Paramattha dhammas are
              Message 6 of 10 , Mar 25, 2010
                Dear Thomas,
                Op 22-mrt-2010, om 23:51 heeft thomaslaw03 het volgende geschreven:

                > If you say: 'These momentary elements are
                > ... in the ultimate sense ... impermanent, dukkha and anattaa',
                > then they should not be 'real' but 'empty' of real in ultimate
                > sense. Why are these momentary elements are real in the ultimate
                > sense???
                -------
                N: These momentary elements are real in the ultimate sense. As I said
                before: the term ultimate may be misunderstood. Paramattha dhammas
                are real. They can be experienced one at a time through one of the
                senses or the mind-door. They have characteristics that can be
                directly experienced when they appear, without having to name them or
                think about them.
                If you touch your computer, hardness appears through the bodysense.
                Hardness is real, we may give it another name. but its characteristic
                is just hardness. It seems that it can stay for a while, but it falls
                away immediately to be replaced by another unit of hardnes. The fact
                that it falls away does not make it less real.
                Computer is not real in the absolute sense, it is a concept we think
                of. It does not have a characteristic that can be experienced through
                one of the senses or the mind-door.
                We need concepts in our daily life to do our work, to communicate,
                but they are different from paramattha dhammas. It is essential to
                know the difference between conventional truth and ultimate truth.
                The term 'ultimate' is used to denote that it is different from
                concepts or conventional ideas.

                The �Abhidhammattha Sangaha�, a compendium of the Abhidhamma composed
                in India at a later time, states that concepts are only shadows of
                realities. When we watch T.V., we see projected images of people and
                we know that through the eyesense only visible object is seen, no
                people. Also when we look at the persons we meet, only colour is
                experienced through the eyesense. In the ultimate sense there are no
                people. Although they seem very real they are only shadows of what is
                really there. The truth is different from what we always assumed.
                What we take for a person are only n�mas and r�pas that arise and
                fall away. So long as we have not realized the momentary arising and
                falling away of n�ma and r�pa we continue to believe in a lasting self.

                It is good you ask, because it may not be easy to understand the
                difference between paramattha sacca and sammuti sacca. If my answer
                is not clear, do ask again,

                *****
                Nina.





                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Ong Yong Peng
                Dear Nina and Bryan, ... in a recent conversation with a colleague at work, I said that in some situations, conventional wisdom can become downright
                Message 7 of 10 , Mar 26, 2010
                  Dear Nina and Bryan,

                  > Person, animal, world peace, are conventional truth we may think
                  > of but which are not real in the ultimate sense.

                  in a recent conversation with a colleague at work, I said that in some situations, "conventional wisdom" can become downright "conventional stupidity". The discussion was related to engineering not Buddhism. But, I wonder if the Abhidhamma authors saw it in the same light.


                  metta,
                  Yong Peng.
                • Nina van Gorkom
                  Dear Yong Peng, ... N: Wisdom in the teachings is different from science, worldly knowledge. Wisdom or understanding in the teachings leads to detachment. This
                  Message 8 of 10 , Mar 27, 2010
                    Dear Yong Peng,
                    Op 27-mrt-2010, om 0:00 heeft Ong Yong Peng het volgende geschreven:

                    > Person, animal, world peace, are conventional truth we may think
                    > > of but which are not real in the ultimate sense.
                    >
                    > in a recent conversation with a colleague at work, I said that in
                    > some situations, "conventional wisdom" can become downright
                    > "conventional stupidity". The discussion was related to engineering
                    > not Buddhism. But, I wonder if the Abhidhamma authors saw it in the
                    > same light.
                    --------
                    N: Wisdom in the teachings is different from science, worldly
                    knowledge. Wisdom or understanding in the teachings leads to detachment.
                    This does not mean that we have to reject science or conventional
                    understanding. We need it for our work, for our activities in the
                    world. It depends on the citta that is engaged with worldly
                    knowledge, whether this is used in a wholesome way or not. Whatever
                    our activity we have in the world, there can be more metta, concern
                    for others, wishing to help others. The Abhidhamma helps us to know
                    the different cittas more, kusala or akusala.

                    -------
                    Nina.



                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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