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Abhidhamma Series, no 15. The Sense Organs

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  • Nina van Gorkom
    Dear friends, The Sense Organs. For the experience of objects through the senses there have to be sense organs and these are ruupas. Visible object and also
    Message 1 of 1 , May 21, 2010
      Dear friends,

      The Sense Organs.

      For the experience of objects through the senses there have to be
      sense organs and these are ruupas. Visible object and also the ruupa
      which is eyesense are conditions for seeing. Eyesense does not know
      anything since it is ruupa, but it is a necessary condition for
      seeing. Eyesense is a ruupa in the eye, capable of receiving visible
      object, so that citta can experience it. For hearing, the experience
      of sound, there has to be earsense, a ruupa in the ear, capable of
      receiving sound. There must be smellingsense for the experience of
      odour, tastingsense for the experience of flavour and bodysense for
      the experience of tangible object.
      Through the bodysense are experienced: the earth element, appearing
      as hardness or softness; the fire element, appearing as heat or cold;
      the wind element, appearing as motion or pressure. When these
      characteristics appear they can be directly experienced wherever
      there is bodysense. The bodysense is all over the body, also inside
      the body. Thus, there are five kinds of sense organs. These sense
      organs can be the doorways for the cittas that experience sense
      objects. As we have seen, visible object, sound, odour, flavour and
      tangible object (which consists of three of the four Great Elements)
      are experienced through the corresponding sense-doors and they can
      also be experienced through the mind-door.

      Ruupas of the body and also ruupas outside the body do not arise
      without there being conditions for their arising. There are four
      factors that produce ruupas of the body: kamma, citta, temperature
      (the element of heat) and nutrition. As we have seen, kamma is
      actually the volition that motivates good and evil deeds. Kamma that
      has been committed has fallen away, but since it is a mental activity
      it is accumulated and can produce result later on.
      Throughout our life kamma produces seeing, hearing and the other
      sense-impressions that are vipÄkacittas, cittas that are results.
      Rebirth-consciousness is the mental result of kamma, vipÄkacitta, but
      at that moment kamma also produces ruupas and kamma keeps on
      producing ruupas throughout life; when it stops producing ruupas our
      life-span has to end.
      Kamma produces particular kinds of ruupas such as the sense organs.
      Citta also produces ruupas. Our different moods become evident by our
      facial expressions and then it is clear that citta produces ruupas.
      Temperature, which is actually the element of heat, also produces
      ruupas. Throughout life the element of heat produces ruupas.
      Nutrition is another factor that produces ruupas. When food has been
      taken by a living being it is assimilated into the body and then
      nutrition can produce ruupas. Some of the groups of ruupas of our
      body are produced by kamma, some by citta, some by temperature and
      some by nutrition. The four factors which produce the ruupas of our
      body support and consolidate each other and keep this shortlived body
      going. If we see the intricate way in which different factors
      condition the ruupas of our body we shall be less inclined to think
      that the body belongs to a self.
      There are not only ruupas of the body, there are also ruupas which
      are the material phenomena outside the body. What we take for rocks,
      plants or houses are ruupas and these originate from temperature. We
      may wonder whether there are no other factors apart from the element
      of heat that contribute to the growth of plants, such as soil, light
      and moisture. It is true that these factors are the right conditions
      that have to be present so that a plant can grow. But what we call
      soil, light and moisture are, when we are more precise, different
      combinations of ruupas, none of which can arise without the element
      of heat or temperature that produces them. Ruupas outside the body
      are only produced by temperature, not by kamma, citta or nutrition.


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