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Awareness

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  • christina white
    I sometimes try to practise awareness in a heightened way when I am doing domestic tasks - washing up, etc.. I find there are 2 ways in which I can do this.
    Message 1 of 7 , Aug 18, 2003
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      I sometimes try to practise awareness in a heightened way when I am doing domestic tasks - washing up, etc.. I find there are 2 ways in which I can do this. One is to "go with the flow" - to watch things happen as they happen. So I observe that I pick up a fork, etc.. The other is to be aware first of the impulse to pick up a fork, and then decide whether to or not.
      I would be grateful for your advice on which method, if either, is good to cultivate.
      Thank you.
      Christina.


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    • Bhikkhu Pesala
      ... when I am doing domestic tasks - washing up, etc.. I find there are 2 ways in which I can do this. One is to go with the flow - to watch things happen
      Message 2 of 7 , Aug 18, 2003
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        > I sometimes try to practise awareness in a heightened way
        when I am doing domestic tasks - washing up, etc.. I find there
        are 2 ways in which I can do this. One is to "go with the flow" -
        to watch things happen as they happen. So I observe that I pick
        up a fork, etc.. The other is to be aware first of the impulse to
        pick up a fork, and then decide whether to or not.
        > I would be grateful for your advice on which method, if either,
        is good to cultivate.
        > Thank you.
        > Christina.


        I would say, when you are busy and want to get results quickly,
        "go with the flow" ... try to practise general awareness. When
        you in less of a hurry and want to get results in meditation, slow
        down and pay more attention to the intentions, before, during,
        and after the actions. That is, "Intending to pick up the fork,"
        "picking up the fork," "holding the fork."

        Slow, precise, and continuous mindfulness is essential to gain
        insight knowledge into the mental and physical processes.
        Quick, general, and intermittent mindfulness will help you to stay
        focused on the current task, but it is not enough to gain insight.
      • jas
        Dear Ven Nagasena or any Ven Master, I have been looking at the meditation exercises such as mindfulness and vipassans and i would like to know, when watching
        Message 3 of 7 , Dec 18, 2010
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          Dear Ven Nagasena or any Ven Master,
          I have been looking at the meditation exercises such as mindfulness and vipassans and i would like to know, when watching thoughts, emotions, feelings, there remains a watching unchanging witness,a subject aware of the changing phenomena, always aware of experiences. What is this conciousness awareness, as it appears unchanging, aware of the changing expierences of mind and body?
        • Nagasena Bhikkhu
          Dear Jas I am not sure what you actually wanted to know as your question is not clear. So, I guess to anser your question. What you have stated about watching
          Message 4 of 7 , Dec 24, 2010
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            Dear Jas

            I am not sure what you actually wanted to know as your question is not clear. So, I guess to anser your question. What you have stated about watching your minds, thoughts, emotions are correct and every meditation teacher would tell you the same while advising to consecrate as deeper level as possible. According to my understanding, your experience is the nature of mind manifests itself during meditation but you can be trapped with this experience, particularly if you attach to it. In other words, it could hinder you to develop into right direction.

            I mean 'right direction' here is to understand the world as they really are. I believe you already knew what I wanted to explain you.  I can still share with you: the world is a mystery, it appears to be diverse while united and while appearing to be united, it is indeed diverse! We cannot conclude it with one experience because there are many diverse experiences occurred individually. This happens because everyone and everything is interconnected with and lived by the law of condition, causality while everyone has its own karmic force, the power of mind. What you have experienced is one way of understanding about the state of mind (your mind) while many more ways are required to consider to understand the reality.

            Even though you have witnessed the changing phenomena as unchanged, you cannot claim it as permanent object because the consciousness does not function alone. The consciousness is a kind of object nothing within it or it is an empty object, which can only operate when other mental factors are involved. The consecration is for example one of mental factors, which can dominate the remaining mental factors temporarily. As a result, you can feel it unchanged! It is because the other mental factors are temporarily ceased! Similarly, anger or hatred can dominate the other mental factors. When such a mental factor has dominated, we react physically or interpret the state of mind, which can be quite different to each other. Someone may interpret a ‘Supreme Consciousness’ while other interprets mere a reality manifested!

            Your experience could also happen to any meditator but I don’t know whether they interpret similar to you. Remember our mind is very mysterious, even modern scientific concept or tool cannot detect, define the way how it operates. The quality of mind may differ depending on the people ability, skill, consecration and their interpretation. The most important thing is not to judge as it appears to be something what people said to you and remember also Vipassa meditation is not to prove the unknown phenomenon beyond ordinary perception but vipassana meditation is develop our skills in noble eightfold path. That includes the stability in the right understanding and right consecration for oneself that leads to peace, happiness and confidence!  This means to understand the cause and effect of the world and oneself. When you are not affected by this cause and effect, the enlightenment is near to you! I have a request. That is to investigate yourself - whether your experience remains the same, appears or arise in every meditation permanently? You can then realise yourself whether you take it for granted, whether you should hold it forever or mere a manifestation of mind that arises in one meditation only?

             
            Hope this helps you a bit!


            Nagasena




            --- On Sat, 18/12/10, jas <jas.dullat@...> wrote:

            From: jas <jas.dullat@...>
            Subject: [SanghaOnline] Awareness
            To: SanghaOnline@yahoogroups.com
            Date: Saturday, 18 December, 2010, 14:03

             

            Dear Ven Nagasena or any Ven Master,
            I have been looking at the meditation exercises such as mindfulness and vipassans and i would like to know, when watching thoughts, emotions, feelings, there remains a watching unchanging witness,a subject aware of the changing phenomena, always aware of experiences. What is this conciousness awareness, as it appears unchanging, aware of the changing expierences of mind and body?


          • han tun
            Venerable Bhante Nagasena,   We have discussed among our friends why Puggalapannatti is included in the Seven Books of the Abhidhamma? But we could not get an
            Message 5 of 7 , Dec 24, 2010
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              Venerable Bhante Nagasena,

               

              We have discussed among our friends why Puggalapannatti is included in the Seven Books of the Abhidhamma? But we could not get an agreement.  

               

              (1) If the Abhidhamma deals not only with paramattha dhammas, but also with pannatti dhammas, then it is not a problem why Puggalapannatti is included in the Seven Books of the Abhidhamma.

               

              (2) However, if the Abhidhamma deals only with paramattha dhammas, then the question remains: why Puggalapannatti is included in the Seven Books of the Abhidhamma? In this case, there must be a very good reason why it is included in the Seven Books of Abhidhamma. 

               

              I will be grateful to know your views on this issue, sir.

              Thank you very much.

               

              Respectfully,

              Dr Han Tun

               
               

            • Nagasena Bhikkhu
              Takagyi Dr Han Thun Thank you for your question. Though I am extremly busy, I try to answer your question as brief as i can. Two questions are interrelated
              Message 6 of 7 , Dec 26, 2010
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                Takagyi Dr Han Thun

                Thank you for your question. Though I am extremly busy, I try to answer your question as brief as i can. Two questions are interrelated with each other. If one question is explained the other will be clear. You have a view- you state-  'there must be a very good reason why it is included in the Seven Books of Abhidhamma'. I believe this is your key point in your question.


                 I must admit that it is a difficult question as it contains philosophical elements. It cannot be answered with a paragraph or a page, even many pages. It requires to look at both commentarial and scholars' views.  The answer can be quite diverse among the scholars, particularly between the western and traditional scholars view.  According to the traditional scholars i.e. Burmese Theravada Buddhist scholars, the entire teaching of Abhidhamma is believed to be the words of the Buddha but this contrasts with the western scholars, most of whom are not agreed with this belief. They look at the methodology of Abhidhamma and contrasts it with the period of which the texts have developed. They then continue to contrast its methodology found in the Suttapitaka. I just mention a bit here to look at how the Abhidhamma treaty is studied by the different western scholars, some of which are exhaustive and acceptable to traditionalists while other are narrated their works without faith.  

                As you know, the methodology Abhidhamma is mainly based on the exposition and analysis of nama (mind) and rupa (body). These nama and rupa have further analysed and divided into pancakhanda (five aggregates). These five aggregates again classify into 12 ayatana and 18 dhatus on the one hand and the same five aggregates classify into citta, cetasika and rupa on the other. The former and later are interconnected and developed into a discrete entity. Ayatana are for example part of rupa and when external and internal ayatana comes into contact, the citta arouses to give rise to different cetasika. These cetasika again classify into a number of groups, universal group, wholesome or unwholesome groups, which finally added to 52 in Theravada tradition.  They work together as it describes in the treaty of pathana. 


                With the conditions and combinations these citta, cetasika and rupa the concept of Abhidhamma developed into ultimate reality. The first three books and the last two books of Abhidhamma are intended to explain miniature details of how these nama and rupa works in the form of citta, cetasika and rupa and their relationship with ayatana and dhatu or indriya etc. Even though they are part of the ultimate reality, they are called conditional and conditioned Dhamma. If they are conditional Dhamma how can they be called as ultimate reality? The answer is that they are still paramattha because they have their own essence and quality, which are subject to the law of condition, for example feeling does not arise itself but is subject to the condition of contact between internal and external ayatana. In other words, because of their conditional genesis, they are called ultimate reality. The methodology of Abhidhamma also includes sacca, satipathana, idhipada or bojhanga in order to move from the conditioned ultimate reality to the unconditioned ultimate reality, Nibbana.


                However, when we explain about the qualities of these realities, we may need to use the identity without which we cannot define human beings or any being. We can state, for example, Tin Maung has a wholesome mind and his complexion is beautiful. To express the reality contains within Tin Maung, we are bound to use the term 'identity' or 'puggala' and the first three ultimate reality (citta, cetasika and rupa) are thus covered up and replaced with the appearance of human beings. The ordinary people see only the identity or status i.e. handsome Tin Maung rather citta, cetasika or rupa.


                The inclusion of puggalapannyatti in Abhidhamma treaty is to understand how these ultimate realities operate within a puggala. In other words, puggalapannyatti shows us how the conventional reality and ultimate reality are interconnected. We can understand their connection or relationship by looking at the structure of Dhamma. There are two aspect of Dhamma, one is what we learn from the Sutta for example four noble truths, noble eightfold path, enlightenment factors and so on and the other is the essence of Dhamma which bears its own nature. The essence of Dhamma operates itself whether Buddha discovers them or not. Likewise, citta, cetasika, rupa and nibbana are part of the Dhamma whether we know them or not.

                For example, water or earth elements exist on their own nature or natural energy. We can realise their nature using our own relationship with them. Some of these elements are useful to us while others are not. If we do not have relationship with the water, we will not perceive the water as good and bad for example coke water, salted water, acid water, poisoned water or alcohol. Similarly, the earth elements, iron, gold, silver, uranium and so on. We have our own sensory detectors to detect these chemicals, at least the apparent level of these elements though we may differ from the scientific apparatus. So, we interpret the water or the earth with a number of combined elements, as scientist discovered. Each of them bears their own essence whether we classify them in terms of modern scentific terms or not. This is the Dhamma that relates with us and of course, we have a faith on the Buddha or Sariputta, who possessed divine eyes on this matter. Buddha once  holding a handful leaves in his hand asked Ananda to compare whether the leaves in the forest is the same quantity to his hand. Buddha then continued to state- Ananda, what I taught to you is just the same quantity as the amount of leaves in my hand, but what i know is the large as the leaves in the forest. I do not teach them because they do not lead to peace, tranquility and Nibbana.


                According to my understanding, Abhidhamma in this sense is a just methodology, like a four noble truth that shown us suffering and cause of suffering, used to detect this hidden Dhamma. Therefore, this is called Abhidhamma because the subject matter is deep and profound to understand. We do not need more than this to realise the Nibbana. Although the early Abhidhamma methodology discovered within the other schools are attempted to define the atomic nature of element, Theravada methodology remains focus on the atomic nature of mind and their combination of mental factor – citta, cetasika and rupa relationship.


                The methodology shows a gateway to understand how the citta, cetasika, rupa are disintegrated into a discrete entity while they are interconnected into different groups. They are conditional Dhamma and universal to all human beings except Nibbana. When we realise how these mind-body operates, we can understand the world as they really are! In other words, the study of Abhidhamma methodology is to overcome from the conditioned objects and conditional Dhamma. This methodology offers a precise tool to detect our problems. We need to understand these problems to put the right medicine, like a doctor needs to examine the diseases before medication.


                Finally, in my understanding, if we want to know the Dhamma, we need to know the essence of Dhamma as discussed in Abhidhamma. We can in fact analyse the Dhamma without referring to puggala but since we have our own identity, we need to include puggala in order to understand what not puggala is. In other words, in order to understand the right, we need to know what not right is. We need to contrast what is right and what is not right.  By the same token, in order to understand what is not the ultimate reality, we also need to understand what is the ultimate reality; without one the other cannot exist. So, we need to understand both paramattha and pannyatti to realise the Nibbana, the Nibbana is beyond the cause and condition. So, Pannyatti is conventional reality, paramattha is the ultimate reality but they are connected and required to understand both. So, this is not to a suprise to include puggalapannyatti to point out the person (puggala) while disintegrating and analysing this person into citta, cetasika and rupa.


                I am not sure this would help you.


                Nagasena


                --- On Sat, 25/12/10, han tun <hantun1@...> wrote:

                From: han tun <hantun1@...>
                Subject: [SanghaOnline] Puggalapannatti
                To: SanghaOnline@yahoogroups.com
                Date: Saturday, 25 December, 2010, 7:30

                 

                Venerable Bhante Nagasena,

                 

                We have discussed among our friends why Puggalapannatti is included in the Seven Books of the Abhidhamma? But we could not get an agreement.  

                 

                (1) If the Abhidhamma deals not only with paramattha dhammas, but also with pannatti dhammas, then it is not a problem why Puggalapannatti is included in the Seven Books of the Abhidhamma.

                 

                (2) However, if the Abhidhamma deals only with paramattha dhammas, then the question remains: why Puggalapannatti is included in the Seven Books of the Abhidhamma? In this case, there must be a very good reason why it is included in the Seven Books of Abhidhamma. 

                 

                I will be grateful to know your views on this issue, sir.

                Thank you very much.

                 

                Respectfully,

                Dr Han Tun

                 
                 


              • han tun
                Venerable Bhante Nagasena, Thank you very much, sir, for your very detailed and very helpful explanation on the issue. I understand it very clearly now. I most
                Message 7 of 7 , Dec 26, 2010
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                  Venerable Bhante Nagasena,

                  Thank you very much, sir, for your very detailed and very helpful explanation on the issue.
                  I understand it very clearly now.
                  I most respectfully say saadhu!, saadhu!, saadhu!

                  Your explanation is the best that I ever come across.
                  I have some glimpses of the reason, why Puggalapa~n~natti is included in the Seven Books of Abhidhamma, in some books that are very brief.
                  For example,

                  (1) Guide to The Tipitaka, by Prof U Ko Lay
                  IV. Puggalapannati Pali

                  Abhidhamma is mainly concerned with the study of abstract truths in absolute terms But in describing the dhammas in their vanous aspects, it is not possible to keep to absolute terms only. Inevitably, conventional terms of every day language have to be employed m order to keep the lines of communication open at all. Abhidhamma states that there are two main types of conventional usage; the first type is concerned with terms which express things that actually exist in reality and the sec'ond type describes things which have no existence in reality.

                  The first three books of the Abhidhamma investigate the absolute Truth of Dhamma in a planned system of detailed analysis employing such terms as Khandha, Ayatana, Dhatu, Sacca and Indnya. These terms are mere designations which express things that exist in reality and are therefore classed as the conventional usage of the first type. To the second type of conventional usage belong such expressions as man, woman, deva, individual etc , which have no existence in reality, but nevertheless are essential for communication of thoughts.

                  It becomes necessary therefore to distinguish between these two types of apparent truths But as the terms Khandha, Ayatana, Dhatu, Sacca and Indnya have been elaborately dealt with in the first three books, they are dealt with here only briefly The terms used in the second type concerning individuals are given more weight and space in the treatise, hence its title Puggalapanfiatti, designation of individuals. Different types of individuals are classified, in ten chapters of the book, after the manner of enumeration employed in Ariguttara Nikaya
                  ----------
                  Guide Through The Abhidhamma Pitaka by Venerable Nyanatiloka
                  Puggalapa~n~natti

                  This smallest of the seven Abhidhamma books appears to be somewhat out of place in the Abhidhamma Pi.taka, as is shown even by its title 'Description of Individuals'. For it is one of the main characteristics of the Abhidhamma that it does not employ conventional concepts like 'individual' (puggala), etc., but deals only with ultimates, or realities in the 'highest sense' (paramattha-dhamma), i.e. the mental and material phenomena, and their classifications into groups (khandha), bases, elements, etc.

                  This treatise, however, in accordance with its subject-matter, is written in the conventional language as used in the Sutta Pi.taka. In fact, most of its contents has literal parallels in the Anguttara Nikaaya and the Sangìti Sutta of the Dìgha Nikaaya. The treatise is introduced by a Matrix and its first part is suggestive of a formal reason for the inclusion of this book in the Abhidhamma Pi.taka. The Matrix begins with enumerating six kinds of 'descriptions' (pa~n~natti): the description of Groups (khandha-pa~n~natti), of Bases, of Elements, of Truths, of Faculties, and finally, of Individuals (Puggalapa~n~natti). The first five fall certainly within the scope of the Abhidhamma, and may well have been the original reason for ascribing this treatise to the Abhidhamma Pi.taka. These five items, however, appear only in the Matrix, which adds only their respective divisions into corporeality-group, etc. There is no detailed treatment of them in the main
                  body of the book. As a reason for that omission, the commentary mentions that the subject-matter of these five 'descriptions' had already been dealt with, in full detail, in the respective chapters of the Vibhanga.
                  ----------
                  But as I have said, your explanation, sir, is the best.

                  Respectfully,
                  Dr Han Tun
                  ==========
                  Venerable Nagasena wrote:

                  Takagyi Dr Han Thun

                  Thank you for your question. Though I am extremely busy, I try to answer your question as brief as i can. Two questions are interrelated with each other. If one question is explained the other will be clear. You have a view- you state- 'there must be a very good reason why it is included in the Seven Books of Abhidhamma'. I believe this is your key point in your question.

                  I must admit that it is a difficult question as it contains philosophical elements. It cannot be answered with a paragraph or a page, even many pages. It requires to look at both commentarial and scholars' views. The answer can be quite diverse among the scholars, particularly between the western and traditional scholars view. According to the traditional scholars i.e. Burmese Theravada Buddhist scholars, the entire teaching of Abhidhamma is believed to be the words of the Buddha but this contrasts with the western scholars, most of whom are not agreed with this belief. They look at the methodology of Abhidhamma and contrasts it with the period of which the texts have developed. They then continue to contrast its methodology found in the Suttapitaka. I just mention a bit here to look at how the Abhidhamma treaty is studied by the different western scholars, some of which are exhaustive and acceptable to traditionalists while other are narrated their
                  works without faith.

                  As you know, the methodology Abhidhamma is mainly based on the exposition and analysis of nama (mind) and rupa (body). These nama and rupa have further analysed and divided into pancakhanda (five aggregates). These five aggregates again classify into 12 ayatana and 18 dhatus on the one hand and the same five aggregates classify into citta, cetasika and rupa on the other. The former and later are interconnected and developed into a discrete entity. Ayatana are for example part of rupa and when external and internal ayatana comes into contact, the citta arouses to give rise to different cetasika. These cetasika again classify into a number of groups, universal group, wholesome or unwholesome groups, which finally added to 52 in Theravada tradition. They work together as it describes in the treaty of pathana.

                  With the conditions and combinations these citta, cetasika and rupa the concept of Abhidhamma developed into ultimate reality. The first three books and the last two books of Abhidhamma are intended to explain miniature details of how these nama and rupa works in the form of citta, cetasika and rupa and their relationship with ayatana and dhatu or indriya etc. Even though they are part of the ultimate reality, they are called conditional and conditioned Dhamma. If they are conditional Dhamma how can they be called as ultimate reality? The answer is that they are still paramattha because they have their own essence and quality, which are subject to the law of condition, for example feeling does not arise itself but is subject to the condition of contact between internal and external ayatana. In other words, because of their conditional genesis, they are called ultimate reality. The methodology of Abhidhamma also includes sacca, satipathana, idhipada or
                  bojhanga in order to move from the conditioned ultimate reality to the unconditioned ultimate reality, Nibbana.

                  However, when we explain about the qualities of these realities, we may need to use the identity without which we cannot define human beings or any being. We can state, for example, Tin Maung has a wholesome mind and his complexion is beautiful. To express the reality contains within Tin Maung, we are bound to use the term 'identity' or 'puggala' and the first three ultimate reality (citta, cetasika and rupa) are thus covered up and replaced with the appearance of human beings. The ordinary people see only the identity or status i.e. handsome Tin Maung rather citta, cetasika or rupa.

                  The inclusion of puggalapannyatti in Abhidhamma treaty is to understand how these ultimate realities operate within a puggala. In other words, puggalapannyatti shows us how the conventional reality and ultimate reality are interconnected. We can understand their connection or relationship by looking at the structure of Dhamma. There are two aspect of Dhamma, one is what we learn from the Sutta for example four noble truths, noble eightfold path, enlightenment factors and so on and the other is the essence of Dhamma which bears its own nature. The essence of Dhamma operates itself whether Buddha discovers them or not. Likewise, citta, cetasika, rupa and nibbana are part of the Dhamma whether we know them or not.

                  For example, water or earth elements exist on their own nature or natural energy. We can realise their nature using our own relationship with them. Some of these elements are useful to us while others are not. If we do not have relationship with the water, we will not perceive the water as good and bad for example coke water, salted water, acid water, poisoned water or alcohol. Similarly, the earth elements, iron, gold, silver, uranium and so on. We have our own sensory detectors to detect these chemicals, at least the apparent level of these elements though we may differ from the scientific apparatus. So, we interpret the water or the earth with a number of combined elements, as scientist discovered. Each of them bears their own essence whether we classify them in terms of modern scentific terms or not. This is the Dhamma that relates with us and of course, we have a faith on the Buddha or Sariputta, who possessed divine eyes on this matter. Buddha once
                  holding a handful leaves in his hand asked Ananda to compare whether the leaves in the forest is the same quantity to his hand. Buddha then continued to state- Ananda, what I taught to you is just the same quantity as the amount of leaves in my hand, but what i know is the large as the leaves in the forest. I do not teach them because they do not lead to peace, tranquility and Nibbana.

                  According to my understanding, Abhidhamma in this sense is a just methodology, like a four noble truth that shown us suffering and cause of suffering, used to detect this hidden Dhamma. Therefore, this is called Abhidhamma because the subject matter is deep and profound to understand. We do not need more than this to realise the Nibbana. Although the early Abhidhamma methodology discovered within the other schools are attempted to define the atomic nature of element, Theravada methodology remains focus on the atomic nature of mind and their combination of mental factor – citta, cetasika and rupa relationship.

                  The methodology shows a gateway to understand how the citta, cetasika, rupa are disintegrated into a discrete entity while they are interconnected into different groups. They are conditional Dhamma and universal to all human beings except Nibbana. When we realise how these mind-body operates, we can understand the world as they really are! In other words, the study of Abhidhamma methodology is to overcome from the conditioned objects and conditional Dhamma. This methodology offers a precise tool to detect our problems. We need to understand these problems to put the right medicine, like a doctor needs to examine the diseases before medication.

                  Finally, in my understanding, if we want to know the Dhamma, we need to know the essence of Dhamma as discussed in Abhidhamma. We can in fact analyse the Dhamma without referring to puggala but since we have our own identity, we need to include puggala in order to understand what not puggala is. In other words, in order to understand the right, we need to know what not right is. We need to contrast what is right and what is not right. By the same token, in order to understand what is not the ultimate reality, we also need to understand what is the ultimate reality; without one the other cannot exist. So, we need to understand both paramattha and pannyatti to realise the Nibbana, the Nibbana is beyond the cause and condition. So, Pannyatti is conventional reality, paramattha is the ultimate reality but they are connected and required to understand both. So, this is not to a suprise to include puggalapannyatti to point out the person (puggala) while
                  disintegrating and analysing this person into citta, cetasika and rupa.

                  I am not sure this would help you.

                  Nagasena
                  ====================
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