Dear Nina, Num and Rob K,
Youve inspired me to consider a little more on ayatanas and i've been
following some of your references. (Details can be found for others in
Visuddhimagga, ch XV: The Bases and Elements <Aayatana-dhatuu-niddesa>)
(Vis 1)The bases are the twelve bases, that is to say, the eye-base,
visible-data base, ear base, sound base, nose base, odour base, tongue
base, flavour base, body base, tangible-data bae, mind base, mental-data
(5)Furthermore, base, (ayatana) should be understood in the sense of
abode, store (mine), meeting-place, locality of birth, and cause.(Vism
When we read about ayatanas, I understand it is the importance of the
meeting point of the various phenomena that is being stressed. Hence when
there is the meeting of visible object, eye base and seeing consciousness,
they are actuated (aayananti) and so on. I think they help us to
understand that this moment is conditioned in a split-second and then
passes away. We learn more about the conditioned nature of all realities:
(15) As to how to be seen: here all formed bases should be regarded as
having no provenance and no destination. for they do not come from
anywhere prior to their rise, nor do they go anywhere after their fall.
On the contrary, before their rise they had no individual essence
<sabhava>, and after their fall their individual essences are completely
dissolved. And they occur without mastery (being exercisable over them)
since they exist in dependence on conditions and in between past and the
future. Hence they should be regarded a having no provenance and no
Likewise they should be regarded as incurious and uninterested. for it
does not occur to the eye and the visible datum, etc, Ah, that
consciousness might arise from our concurrence. And as door, physical
basis, and object, they have no curiosity about, or interest in, arousing
consciousness. On the contrary, it is the absolute rule that the
eye-consciousness, etc, come into being with the union of the eye with
visible datum, and so on. So they should be regarded as incurious and
Furthermore, the internal bases should be regarded as an empty village
because they are devoid of lastingness, pleasure, and self; and the
external ones ass village-raiding robbers (S.iv,175) because they raid the
internal ones. and this is said: Bhikkhus, the eye is harassed by
agreeable and disagreeable visible objects (S.iv,175). Furthermore, the
internal ones should be regarded as like the six creatures (S.iv, 198-99)
and the external ones as like their resorts....<end quotes>
These same quotes are given in the Dispeller of Delusion. However, Frank
will find it of interest, that in the Dispeller translation it says the
internal bases should be regarded as an empty village because they are
devoid of lastingness, beauty, pleasure and self... (note the inclusion
I was interested to read the Sam Nikaya references which I think Christine
will appreciate(1V, 238 The Vipers).
We read about a mans adventure facing four deadly vipers, five murderous
enemies,an even more scary sixth murderer, village-attacking dacoits and a
great expanse of water to be crossed with no ferry or boat:
The four vipers of fierce heat and deadly venom: this is a designation
for the four great elements......
The five murderous enemies: this is a desgnation for the five
aggregates ubject to clinging......
The sixth murderer, the intimate companion with drawn sword: this is a
desgnation for delight and lust.
The empty village: this is a designation for the six internal sense
bases. If bhikkhus, a wise, competent, intelligent person examines them
by way of the eye, they appear to be void, hollow, empty....by way of the
ear....by way of the mind....
Village-attacking dacoits: this is a designation for the six external
sense bases. The eye, bhikkhus, is attacked by agreeable and disagreeable
forms, the ear..The nose...The tongue...The body..The mind is attacked by
agreeable and disagreeable mental phenomena.
The great expanse of water: this is a designation for the four floods;
the flood of sensulality, the flood of existence, the flood of views, and
the flood of ignorance.
The near shore, which is dangerous and fearful: this is a designation
The further shore, which is safe and free from danger: this is a
designation for Nibbana.
The raft': this is a designation for the Noble Eightfold Path; that is
right view....right concentration.
Making effort with hands and feet: this is a desgnation for the
arousing of energy.
Crossed over, gone beyond, the brahmin stands on high ground: this is a
designation for the arahant. <end quote>
I asked about a few points when we were in Bangkok that youd all been
discussing. As I recollect, the ayatanas help us understand how this
moment is conditioned in a split second and passes away.. We cannot say
that ayatanas are another way of classifying namas and rupas. Mind base
refers to all cittas, including lokuttara and all bhavanga cittas strictly
speaking. However, manayatana doesnt usually refer to bhavanga cittas
because who knows these? Cetasikas are classified as external mind
objects (dhammayatana), but not pannatti (concepts) which of course are
We can only talk about eyebase (cakkayatana) at this moment of seeing
(cakkhuvinnana) and other experiences through this doorway.It is only at
this meeting (as we read in the Vism quote above) that eye sense and
visible object have sabhava.
Num, most of the detail on ayatana in the Dispeller of Delusion
(Sammohavinodani) is included in the Visuddhimagga. This includes the
paragraph which I think you asked to be quoted in full. It can be found
(identical, from a quick look) at Vism XV, 14 and includes these two
...And the mind base, when classified according to profitable,
unprofitable, resultant, and functional consciousness, is of eighty-nine
inds or of one hundred and twenty-one kinds, but it is of infinite variety
when classified according to physical basis, progress, and so on. The
visible data, sound, odour and flavour bases are of infinite variety when
classified according to sissimilarity, condition, and so on....
This really reminds me of the complexity of conditions and the infinite
variety of resulting phenomena. Categories and numbers are only used to
help us understand these phenomena better, I think.
Let me add one more quote:
Sam Nik 1V, 19 Delight
Bhikkhus, one who seeks delight in the eye seks delight in suffering.
One who seeks delight in suffering, I say, is not free from suffering.
One who seeks delight in the ear..in the nose..in the tongue..in the
body...in the mind eeks delight in suffering. One who seeks delight in
suffering, I say, is not freed from suffering.
One who does not seek delight in the eye...in the mind does not seek
delight in suffering. One who does not seek delight in suffering, I say,
is freed from suffering.
20 Delight 2
(The same for the six external sense bases).
Thanks for the chance to consider a little more.
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