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[Pali] Abhidhamma Series, no 5

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  • Nina van Gorkom
    Dear friends, Abhidhamma Series, no 5. Citta. The truth is different from what we always assumed. What we take for a person are only namas, mental phenomena,
    Message 1 of 6 , Mar 26, 2010
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      Dear friends,

      Abhidhamma Series, no 5.

      Citta.
      The truth is different from what we always assumed. What we take for
      a person are only namas, mental phenomena, and ruupas, physical
      phenomena, that arise and fall away. Naama and ruupa are real in the
      ultimate sense, they are different from concepts such as person or
      animal. Citta, consciousness, and cetasika, mental factors arising
      with the citta, are both naama. They experience different objects.
      It is not a self or a person who experiences something, it is citta
      that cognizes an object. Citta experiences only one object and then
      it falls away to be succeeded by the next citta. We may have thought
      that there is one consciousness that lasts, that can see, hear and
      think, but this is not so. Only one citta arises at a time: at one
      moment a citta that sees arises, at another moment a citta that hears
      arises. Each citta lasts only for an extremely short time and then it
      falls away.

      The five senses and the mind are the doorways through which citta can
      cognize the different objects which present themselves. Each citta
      experiences an object, in Paali: aaramma.na. Knowing or experiencing
      an object does not necessarily mean thinking about it. The citta
      which sees has what is visible as object; it is different from the
      cittas which arise afterwards, such as the cittas which know what it
      is that was perceived and which think about it. The citta which hears
      (hearing-consciousness) has sound as its object. Even when we are
      sound asleep and not dreaming, citta experiences an object. There
      isn't any citta without an object.

      There are many different types of citta which can be classified in
      different ways. Some cittas are kusala (wholesome), some are akusala
      (unwholesome). Kusala cittas and akusala cittas are cittas which are
      cause; they can motivate wholesome or unwholesome deeds through body,
      speech or mind which are able to bring about their appropriate
      results. Some cittas are the result of wholesome or unwholesome
      deeds, they are vipaakacittas. Some cittas are neither cause nor
      result; they are kiriyacittas (sometimes translated as �inoperative'').
      Cittas can be classified by way of jaati (jaati literally means
      ``birth'' or ``nature''). There are four jaatis:

      kusala
      akusala
      vip�ka
      kiriya

      Both kusala vipaaka (the result of a wholesome deed) and akusala
      vipaaka (the result of an unwholesome deed) are one jaati, the jaati
      of vipaaka.
      It is important to know which jaati a citta is. We cannot develop
      wholesomeness in our life if we take akusala for kusala or if we take
      akusala for vipaaka. For instance, when someone speaks unpleasant
      words to us, the moment of experiencing the sound (hearing-
      consciousness) is akusala vipaaka, the result of an unwholesome deed
      we performed ourselves. But the aversion which may arise very shortly
      afterwards is not vipaaka, but it arises with akusala citta. Aversion
      or anger, dosa, can motivate unwholesome action or speech. We can
      learn to distinguish these moments from each other by realizing their
      different characteristics.
      When we have understood that cittas both of ourselves and others
      arise because of conditions we shall be less inclined to dwell for a
      long time on someone else�s behaviour. In the ultimate sense there is
      no person to be blamed and no person who receives unpleasant results.
      In reality there are only citta, cetasika and ruupa that arise
      because of their own conditions.
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------
      ---------------------
      Nina.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Bryan Levman
      Hi Nina, Thank you for your explanations on the Abhidhamma. Since this is my first introduction to the Abhidhamma, I find some things puzzling. If naama is an
      Message 2 of 6 , Mar 26, 2010
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        Hi Nina,

        Thank you for your explanations on the Abhidhamma. Since this is my first introduction to the Abhidhamma, I find some things puzzling.

        If naama is an ultimate reality (paramattha) and naama includes the khandas vedanaa (feeling), sa~n~naa (perception), sankhaara (volition) and vi~n~nana (consciousness) and ruupa is also an ultimate reality, the same as the first khandha ruupa, then why do we find statements like the following in the suttas:

        Evameva kho bhikkhave, yaṃ ki~nci ruupa.m atiitaanaagatapaccuppanna.m ajjhattaṃ vaa bahiddhaa vaa o.laarika.m vaa sukhuma.m vaa hiina.m vaa pa.niita.m vā ya.m duure
        santike vaa, ta.m bhikkhu passati nijjhaayati yoniso upaparikkhati, tassa ta.m passato nijjhaayato yoniso upaparikkhato rittaka~n~neva khaayati tucchaka~n~neva khaayati asaaraka~n~neva khaayati kiṃ hi
        siyaa bhikkhave, raape saaro? [from the Phe.napi.n.duupama sutta.m , SN III 141]

        So too, bhikkhus, whatever kind of form there is, whether past, future or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near: a bhikkhu inspects it, ponders it, and carefully investigates it, and it would appear to him to be void, hollow, insusbstantial. For what substance could there be in form (trans. Bodhi, page 950)


        The Buddha then goes on to make the same observation on the other four naamas, the khandhas, viz., feeling, perception, volitional formations and consciousnsess.

        I know the Buddha talks about conventional reality in the suttas, but I can't think of any place where he calls the khandhas ultimate reality - more likely we see something like the above. There seems to be a contradiction. Can you explain?

        Tks,

        Bryan



        ________________________________
        From: Nina van Gorkom <vangorko@...>
        To: pali@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Fri, March 26, 2010 6:41:44 AM
        Subject: [Pali] Abhidhamma Series, no 5

        Dear friends,

        Abhidhamma Series, no 5.

        Citta.
        The truth is different from what we always assumed. What we take for
        a person are only namas, mental phenomena, and ruupas, physical
        phenomena, that arise and fall away. Naama and ruupa are real in the
        ultimate sense, they are different from concepts such as person or
        animal. Citta, consciousness, and cetasika, mental factors arising
        with the citta, are both naama. They experience different objects.
        It is not a self or a person who experiences something, it is citta
        that cognizes an object. Citta experiences only one object and then
        it falls away to be succeeded by the next citta. We may have thought
        that there is one consciousness that lasts, that can see, hear and
        think, but this is not so. Only one citta arises at a time: at one
        moment a citta that sees arises, at another moment a citta that hears
        arises. Each citta lasts only for an extremely short time and then it
        falls away.

        The five senses and the mind are the doorways through which citta can
        cognize the different objects which present themselves. Each citta
        experiences an object, in Paali: aaramma.na. Knowing or experiencing
        an object does not necessarily mean thinking about it. The citta
        which sees has what is visible as object; it is different from the
        cittas which arise afterwards, such as the cittas which know what it
        is that was perceived and which think about it. The citta which hears
        (hearing-consciousness) has sound as its object. Even when we are
        sound asleep and not dreaming, citta experiences an object. There
        isn't any citta without an object.

        There are many different types of citta which can be classified in
        different ways. Some cittas are kusala (wholesome), some are akusala
        (unwholesome). Kusala cittas and akusala cittas are cittas which are
        cause; they can motivate wholesome or unwholesome deeds through body,
        speech or mind which are able to bring about their appropriate
        results. Some cittas are the result of wholesome or unwholesome
        deeds, they are vipaakacittas. Some cittas are neither cause nor
        result; they are kiriyacittas (sometimes translated as “inoperative'').
        Cittas can be classified by way of jaati (jaati literally means
        ``birth'' or ``nature''). There are four jaatis:

        kusala
        akusala
        vipåka
        kiriya

        Both kusala vipaaka (the result of a wholesome deed) and akusala
        vipaaka (the result of an unwholesome deed) are one jaati, the jaati
        of vipaaka.
        It is important to know which jaati a citta is. We cannot develop
        wholesomeness in our life if we take akusala for kusala or if we take
        akusala for vipaaka. For instance, when someone speaks unpleasant
        words to us, the moment of experiencing the sound (hearing-
        consciousness) is akusala vipaaka, the result of an unwholesome deed
        we performed ourselves. But the aversion which may arise very shortly
        afterwards is not vipaaka, but it arises with akusala citta. Aversion
        or anger, dosa, can motivate unwholesome action or speech. We can
        learn to distinguish these moments from each other by realizing their
        different characteristics.
        When we have understood that cittas both of ourselves and others
        arise because of conditions we shall be less inclined to dwell for a
        long time on someone else’s behaviour. In the ultimate sense there is
        no person to be blamed and no person who receives unpleasant results.
        In reality there are only citta, cetasika and ruupa that arise
        because of their own conditions.
        ------------------------------------------------------------------------
        ---------------------
        Nina.

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



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      • Nina van Gorkom
        Dear Bryan, ... N: The five khandhas are the same dhammas as the three conditioned paramattha dhammas of citta, cetasika and ruupa. I do not speak now about
        Message 3 of 6 , Mar 28, 2010
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          Dear Bryan,
          Op 26-mrt-2010, om 18:29 heeft Bryan Levman het volgende geschreven:

          > So too, bhikkhus, whatever kind of form there is, whether past,
          > future or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior
          > or superior, far or near: a bhikkhu inspects it, ponders it, and
          > carefully investigates it, and it would appear to him to be void,
          > hollow, insusbstantial. For what substance could there be in form
          > (trans. Bodhi, page 950)
          >
          > The Buddha then goes on to make the same observation on the other
          > four naamas, the khandhas, viz., feeling, perception, volitional
          > formations and consciousnsess.
          >
          > I know the Buddha talks about conventional reality in the suttas,
          > but I can't think of any place where he calls the khandhas ultimate
          > reality - more likely we see something like the above. There seems
          > to be a contradiction. Can you explain?
          ----------
          N: The five khandhas are the same dhammas as the three conditioned
          paramattha dhammas of citta, cetasika and ruupa. I do not speak now
          about nibbaana.
          As to meaning, the five khandhas are the same as three paramattha
          dhammas, even though they are not called by the term paramattha
          dhammas. They are past, future or present, in other words, they arise
          and fall away, they are impermanent. They have no substance, no core,
          they are void, that is, they are not a self, not a person.
          All these texts about the khandhas are actually Abhidhamma in the
          suttas. The Buddha refers to ultimate realities, not to concepts.
          When we take the khandhas as the whole of a person, we have wrong
          view of self. Thus, when we fail to see the different characteristics
          of naama and ruupa when they appear one at a time, we take them for a
          self or a person.
          I quote from the Visuddhimagga Ch XIV, 213 and the tiika:

          Visuddhimagga Ch XIV, 213:

          Text Vis.: 'Order of teaching' is appropriate however; for there are
          those
          people who, while teachable, have fallen into assuming a self among the
          five aggregates owing to failure to analyze them.
          -------
          N: As to the expression, by non-analysis (abhedena), the Tiika states
          that this means: by not analysing the khandhas, beginning with ruupa,
          by taking them together as a mass (pi.n.da).
          As to the expression, assuming a self (attagaaha), the Tiika states
          that they have fallen into the flood of wrong view (di.t.thogha)by
          the assuming of a self as mentioned.

          ----------
          Text Vis.: and the Blessed One is desirous of releasing them from the
          assumption by getting them to see how the [seeming] compactness of
          mass [in the five aggregates] is resolved;
          ---------
          N: The Tiika explains that seeing the resolution of the mass or whole
          (of the five khandhas) is done by distinguishing (vivecento) ruupa
          from aruupa (naama).
          --------
          N: The teaching of the five khandhas is the teaching of citta,
          cetasika and ruupa, dhammas that appear in daily life through the six
          doorways.
          ****
          In the preceding section it has been explained that five khandhas
          have been taught because all dhammas that resemble each other are
          classified as five different khandhas.
          In the following section, the second reason for there being five
          khandhas is explained. They are the field of the wrong view of self.
          *****
          Vis. 218.
          Intro: in this section the second reason for there being five
          khandhas is explained. All the different dhammas included in them can
          be the basis of wrong view.
          ----------
          Text Vis.: (b) And this is the extreme limit as the basis for the
          assumption of self and what pertains to self, that is to say, the
          five beginning with materiality. For this is said: 'Bhikkhus, when
          matter exists, it is through clinging to matter, through insisting
          upon (interpreting) matter, that such a view as this arises: "This is
          mine, this is I, this is my self".
          When feeling exists ... When formations exist ... When consciousness
          exists, it is through clinging to consciousness, through insisting
          upon (interpreting) consciousness, that such a view as this arises:
          "This is mine, this is I, this is my self" ' (S.iii,181-82). So they
          are stated as five because this is the widest limit as a basis for
          the assumption of the self and what pertains to self.
          ------
          N: Ultimate realities are classified as khandhas, as elements, as
          aayatanas, with the purpose of showing that they are not self.

          -------
          Nina.






          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Bryan Levman
          Dear Nina, Thanks for the lengthy explanation which I understand. My concern is that, since the Buddha does not use these terms himself in the suttas, perhaps
          Message 4 of 6 , Mar 28, 2010
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            Dear Nina,

            Thanks for the lengthy explanation which I understand. My concern is that, since the Buddha does not use these terms himself in the suttas, perhaps they are later interpretations. I am thinking of the Kaccaanagottasuttaṃ SN II 17, where the Buddha talks about dualities of existence and non-existence:

            Dvayaṃnissito kho'yaṃ kaccaana loko yebhuyyena
            atthita~nceva natthita~nca. Lokasamudaya~nca kho kaccaana yathaabhuutaṃ sammappa~n~naaya
            passato yaa loke natthitaa, saa na hoti. Lokanirodhaṃ kho kaccaana yathaabhuutaṃ
            sammappa~n~naaya passato yāaa loke atthitaa, saa na hoti.
            For the most part this world is
            dependent on a duality , on the notion of existence
            or non-existence. But for the one seeing the arising of the world
            as it really is, with complete wisdom, there is no notion of non-existence with
            respect to the world ; and for one who sees the
            cessation of the world as it really is with complete wisdom, there is no notion
            of existence with respect to the world.
            He then goes on to say

            Sabbamatthii'ti kho kaccaana, ayameko anto. Sabbaṃ
            natthii'ti ayaṃ dutiyo anto. Ete te kaccaana ubho ante anupagamma majjhena
            tathaagato dhammaṃ deseti. Avijjaapaccayā saṅkhaaraa....

            “All exists,” Kacana, is one extreme. “All
            doesn’t exist,” is a second extreme. Not having approached these two extremes,
            the Tathāgata teaches the dharma of the middle. Depending on ignorance,
            volitional formations, ... (the other links in the chain of dependent arising follow).

            So I'm wondering if the duality of existence and non-existence which are extremes is comparable to the duality of ultimate and provisional truths, that is my question? Does it really matter (for liberation) if we look at the khandhas as ultimate truths or provisional, as long as we don't identify with them and mistakenly package them into an abstract concept, like individual? In other words, as long as we see them as instantaneous dhamma which rise in an instant and fall in an instant?

            Tks for your help,

            Bryan



            ________________________________
            From: Nina van Gorkom <vangorko@...>
            To: Pali@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Sun, March 28, 2010 9:51:08 AM
            Subject: Re: [Pali] Q. Abhidhamma Series, no 5


            Dear Bryan,
            Op 26-mrt-2010, om 18:29 heeft Bryan Levman het volgende geschreven:

            > So too, bhikkhus, whatever kind of form there is, whether past,
            > future or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior
            > or superior, far or near: a bhikkhu inspects it, ponders it, and
            > carefully investigates it, and it would appear to him to be void,
            > hollow, insusbstantial. For what substance could there be in form
            > (trans. Bodhi, page 950)
            >
            > The Buddha then goes on to make the same observation on the other
            > four naamas, the khandhas, viz., feeling, perception, volitional
            > formations and consciousnsess.
            >
            > I know the Buddha talks about conventional reality in the suttas,
            > but I can't think of any place where he calls the khandhas ultimate
            > reality - more likely we see something like the above. There seems
            > to be a contradiction. Can you explain?
            ----------
            N: The five khandhas are the same dhammas as the three conditioned
            paramattha dhammas of citta, cetasika and ruupa. I do not speak now
            about nibbaana.
            As to meaning, the five khandhas are the same as three paramattha
            dhammas, even though they are not called by the term paramattha
            dhammas. They are past, future or present, in other words, they arise
            and fall away, they are impermanent. They have no substance, no core,
            they are void, that is, they are not a self, not a person.
            All these texts about the khandhas are actually Abhidhamma in the
            suttas. The Buddha refers to ultimate realities, not to concepts.
            When we take the khandhas as the whole of a person, we have wrong
            view of self. Thus, when we fail to see the different characteristics
            of naama and ruupa when they appear one at a time, we take them for a
            self or a person.
            I quote from the Visuddhimagga Ch XIV, 213 and the tiika:

            Visuddhimagga Ch XIV, 213:

            Text Vis.: 'Order of teaching' is appropriate however; for there are
            those
            people who, while teachable, have fallen into assuming a self among the
            five aggregates owing to failure to analyze them.
            -------
            N: As to the expression, by non-analysis (abhedena), the Tiika states
            that this means: by not analysing the khandhas, beginning with ruupa,
            by taking them together as a mass (pi.n.da).
            As to the expression, assuming a self (attagaaha), the Tiika states
            that they have fallen into the flood of wrong view (di.t.thogha) by
            the assuming of a self as mentioned.

            ----------
            Text Vis.: and the Blessed One is desirous of releasing them from the
            assumption by getting them to see how the [seeming] compactness of
            mass [in the five aggregates] is resolved;
            ---------
            N: The Tiika explains that seeing the resolution of the mass or whole
            (of the five khandhas) is done by distinguishing (vivecento) ruupa
            from aruupa (naama).
            --------
            N: The teaching of the five khandhas is the teaching of citta,
            cetasika and ruupa, dhammas that appear in daily life through the six
            doorways.
            ****
            In the preceding section it has been explained that five khandhas
            have been taught because all dhammas that resemble each other are
            classified as five different khandhas.
            In the following section, the second reason for there being five
            khandhas is explained. They are the field of the wrong view of self.
            *****
            Vis. 218.
            Intro: in this section the second reason for there being five
            khandhas is explained. All the different dhammas included in them can
            be the basis of wrong view.
            ----------
            Text Vis.: (b) And this is the extreme limit as the basis for the
            assumption of self and what pertains to self, that is to say, the
            five beginning with materiality. For this is said: 'Bhikkhus, when
            matter exists, it is through clinging to matter, through insisting
            upon (interpreting) matter, that such a view as this arises: "This is
            mine, this is I, this is my self".
            When feeling exists ... When formations exist ... When consciousness
            exists, it is through clinging to consciousness, through insisting
            upon (interpreting) consciousness, that such a view as this arises:
            "This is mine, this is I, this is my self" ' (S.iii,181-82) . So they
            are stated as five because this is the widest limit as a basis for
            the assumption of the self and what pertains to self.
            ------
            N: Ultimate realities are classified as khandhas, as elements, as
            aayatanas, with the purpose of showing that they are not self.

            -------
            Nina.

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





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          • Nina van Gorkom
            Dear Bryan, I understand your question and concern. ... N: I agree with your last sentence, your conclusion. Then we have already left the world of concepts
            Message 5 of 6 , Mar 30, 2010
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              Dear Bryan,
              I understand your question and concern.
              Op 29-mrt-2010, om 3:32 heeft Bryan Levman het volgende geschreven:

              > “All exists,” Kacana, is one extreme. “All
              > doesn’t exist,” is a second extreme. Not having approached these
              > two extremes,
              > the Tathāgata teaches the dharma of the middle. Depending on
              > ignorance,
              > volitional formations, ... (the other links in the chain of
              > dependent arising follow).
              >
              > So I'm wondering if the duality of existence and non-existence
              > which are extremes is comparable to the duality of ultimate and
              > provisional truths, that is my question? Does it really matter (for
              > liberation) if we look at the khandhas as ultimate truths or
              > provisional, as long as we don't identify with them and mistakenly
              > package them into an abstract concept, like individual? In other
              > words, as long as we see them as instantaneous dhamma which rise in
              > an instant and fall in an instant?
              --------
              N: I agree with your last sentence, your conclusion. Then we have
              already left the world of concepts and conventional ideas.
              I summarize your points as threefold;
              1. Is the term paramattha dhamma used in the suttas.
              2. Is the meaning of paramattha and khandha the same?
              3. Is it essential for liberation to know the difference between
              conventional truth and ultimate truth.
              ------
              1: The terms paramattha dhammas are not found in the suttas, except
              the expression paramatthato: in truth and reality.
              --------
              2:
              Actually, one may have doubts as to the words paramattha dhammas, but
              let us consider again what the words paramattha dhammas and khandhas
              represent, thus, their meaning.
              The khandhas arise and fall away all the time. When seeing arises,
              there is vi~n~naa.nakkhandha, and there are the accompanying
              cetasikas: vedanaakkhandha, sa~n~naakhandha, sa'nkhaarakkhandha
              (including other cetasikas apart from feeling and sa~n~naa), and
              there is eyesense which is ruupa-kkhandha.
              Thus, the khandhas are: citta, cetasika and ruupa arising at this
              moment. We do not have to name them in order to know them, they each
              have their own characteristic that can be realised without naming.

              Thinking arises shortly after seeing has fallen away, but we may be
              confused about different cittas and take seeing and thinking
              together. Thus, it seems that we see at once a person or a tree, but
              these are concepts we think about, they are not seen through the
              eyesense. Seeing sees only what is visible and it is different from
              thinking.
              At the moment of thinking there are five khandhas, but these are
              different from the khandhas that arose at the moment of seeing. We
              may think of a person or tree with clinging and wrong view. Thinking
              is vi~n~naa.nakkhandha, and there are the accompanying cetasikas:
              vedanaakkhandha, sa~n~naakhandha, and in sa.nkhaarakkhandha are now
              included clinging and wrong view. Moreover there is a ruupa that is
              the physical base of thinking.
              Cittas arise and fall away so rapidly that it is difficult to
              distinguish different cittas from each other. It seems that there is
              one citta performing different functions at the same time. We take
              seeing and thinking ofr my seeing and thinking.
              When we read a text about the khandhas, the message is: they are not
              self, they are citta, cetasika and ruupa. Or we read in the sutta
              texts about the elements, for example M III, 61, Discourse on the
              Manifold Elements. We read about the elements of eye, visible object,
              seeing, of ear, sound, hearing, etc. The message is again: there is
              no self who sees or hears, only different elements.

              To return to your question: the duality of existence and non-
              existence which are extremes is comparable to the duality of ultimate
              and provisional truths, that is my question?
              -------
              N: I think that the duality of existence and non-existence refers to
              eternalism and annihilation view. As to the first view one fails to
              see falling away and as to the second view one fails to see arising
              because of conditions.
              I consider ultimate truth and conventional truth as a different subject.
              -------
              B: Point 3: Does it really matter (for liberation) if we look at the
              khandhas as ultimate truths or provisional, as long as we don't
              identify with them and mistakenly package them into an abstract
              concept, like individual?
              -------
              N:We really are in trouble if we do not understand the khandhas that
              arise and fall away at this moment as mere conditioned naamas and
              ruupas.
              Ultimate truth just means this: naama and ruupa, and except nibbaana,
              they are conditioned naama and ruupa. They are different from
              concepts of self, person, animal. We do not have to name them
              paramattha dhammas, we can also call them dhammas, or elements. Their
              characteristics can be directly known by pa~n~naa when they appear,
              and this leads to liberation. Ultimate realities have characteristics
              that can be directly known and understood. Seeing has a
              characteristic that can be directly understood, no matter we name it
              paramattha dhamma or khandha.
              The meaning, the interpretation of conditioned paramattha dhammas
              (excluding nibbaana) is the same as found in the suttas where the
              terms khandhas, elements, aayatanas are used. Paramattha dhammas, not
              concepts, are the objects of insight. Insight can eventually lead to
              liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

              Nina.



              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Bryan Levman
              Dear Nina, Thanks very much for taking the time to answer my question so thoroughly. It was a good explanation and has clarified my understanding, Metta, Bryan
              Message 6 of 6 , Mar 30, 2010
              • 0 Attachment
                Dear Nina,

                Thanks very much for taking the time to answer my question so thoroughly. It was a good explanation and has clarified my understanding,

                Metta, Bryan







                ________________________________
                From: Nina van Gorkom <vangorko@...>
                To: Pali@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Tue, March 30, 2010 5:14:41 AM
                Subject: Re: [Pali] Q. Abhidhamma Series, no 5


                Dear Bryan,
                I understand your question and concern.
                Op 29-mrt-2010, om 3:32 heeft Bryan Levman het volgende geschreven:

                > “All exists,” Kacana, is one extreme. “All
                > doesn’t exist,” is a second extreme. Not having approached these
                > two extremes,
                > the Tathāgata teaches the dharma of the middle. Depending on
                > ignorance,
                > volitional formations, ... (the other links in the chain of
                > dependent arising follow).
                >
                > So I'm wondering if the duality of existence and non-existence
                > which are extremes is comparable to the duality of ultimate and
                > provisional truths, that is my question? Does it really matter (for
                > liberation) if we look at the khandhas as ultimate truths or
                > provisional, as long as we don't identify with them and mistakenly
                > package them into an abstract concept, like individual? In other
                > words, as long as we see them as instantaneous dhamma which rise in
                > an instant and fall in an instant?
                --------
                N: I agree with your last sentence, your conclusion. Then we have
                already left the world of concepts and conventional ideas.
                I summarize your points as threefold;
                1. Is the term paramattha dhamma used in the suttas.
                2. Is the meaning of paramattha and khandha the same?
                3. Is it essential for liberation to know the difference between
                conventional truth and ultimate truth.
                ------
                1: The terms paramattha dhammas are not found in the suttas, except
                the expression paramatthato: in truth and reality.
                --------
                2:
                Actually, one may have doubts as to the words paramattha dhammas, but
                let us consider again what the words paramattha dhammas and khandhas
                represent, thus, their meaning.
                The khandhas arise and fall away all the time. When seeing arises,
                there is vi~n~naa.nakkhandha , and there are the accompanying
                cetasikas: vedanaakkhandha, sa~n~naakhandha, sa'nkhaarakkhandha
                (including other cetasikas apart from feeling and sa~n~naa), and
                there is eyesense which is ruupa-kkhandha.
                Thus, the khandhas are: citta, cetasika and ruupa arising at this
                moment. We do not have to name them in order to know them, they each
                have their own characteristic that can be realised without naming.

                Thinking arises shortly after seeing has fallen away, but we may be
                confused about different cittas and take seeing and thinking
                together. Thus, it seems that we see at once a person or a tree, but
                these are concepts we think about, they are not seen through the
                eyesense. Seeing sees only what is visible and it is different from
                thinking.
                At the moment of thinking there are five khandhas, but these are
                different from the khandhas that arose at the moment of seeing. We
                may think of a person or tree with clinging and wrong view. Thinking
                is vi~n~naa.nakkhandha , and there are the accompanying cetasikas:
                vedanaakkhandha, sa~n~naakhandha, and in sa.nkhaarakkhandha are now
                included clinging and wrong view. Moreover there is a ruupa that is
                the physical base of thinking.
                Cittas arise and fall away so rapidly that it is difficult to
                distinguish different cittas from each other. It seems that there is
                one citta performing different functions at the same time. We take
                seeing and thinking ofr my seeing and thinking.
                When we read a text about the khandhas, the message is: they are not
                self, they are citta, cetasika and ruupa. Or we read in the sutta
                texts about the elements, for example M III, 61, Discourse on the
                Manifold Elements. We read about the elements of eye, visible object,
                seeing, of ear, sound, hearing, etc. The message is again: there is
                no self who sees or hears, only different elements.

                To return to your question: the duality of existence and non-
                existence which are extremes is comparable to the duality of ultimate
                and provisional truths, that is my question?
                -------
                N: I think that the duality of existence and non-existence refers to
                eternalism and annihilation view. As to the first view one fails to
                see falling away and as to the second view one fails to see arising
                because of conditions.
                I consider ultimate truth and conventional truth as a different subject.
                -------
                B: Point 3: Does it really matter (for liberation) if we look at the
                khandhas as ultimate truths or provisional, as long as we don't
                identify with them and mistakenly package them into an abstract
                concept, like individual?
                -------
                N:We really are in trouble if we do not understand the khandhas that
                arise and fall away at this moment as mere conditioned naamas and
                ruupas.
                Ultimate truth just means this: naama and ruupa, and except nibbaana,
                they are conditioned naama and ruupa. They are different from
                concepts of self, person, animal. We do not have to name them
                paramattha dhammas, we can also call them dhammas, or elements. Their
                characteristics can be directly known by pa~n~naa when they appear,
                and this leads to liberation. Ultimate realities have characteristics
                that can be directly known and understood. Seeing has a
                characteristic that can be directly understood, no matter we name it
                paramattha dhamma or khandha.
                The meaning, the interpretation of conditioned paramattha dhammas
                (excluding nibbaana) is the same as found in the suttas where the
                terms khandhas, elements, aayatanas are used. Paramattha dhammas, not
                concepts, are the objects of insight. Insight can eventually lead to
                liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

                Nina.

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





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