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A Survey of Paramattha Dhammas
Sujin Boriharnwanaket

Acharn Sujin in Cambodia 2000

Namo tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammå Sambuddhassa
Hommage to Him, the Blessed One, the Worthy One, the Fully
Enlightened One

Part I
General Introduction

Chapter 1

The Scriptures and their Commentaries

The word of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Vinaya as taught by him, consists of nine divisions which are: Sutta, Geyya, Veyyåkaraùa, Gåthå, Udåna, Itivuttaka, Jåtaka, Abbhuta and Vedalla 1.
2 includes all Discourses, such as the “Mangala sutta” (”Good Omen Discourse “, Minor Readings, V), and also the Vinaya Piìaka 3 and the Niddesa.
Geyya includes all suttas with verses (gåthå), such as the Sagåthå-vagga of the Saÿyutta Nikåya or “Kindred Sayings” (I).
Veyyåkaraùa or “Exposition” includes the Abhidhamma Piìaka, the suttas without verses, and the words of the Buddha which are not included in the other eight divisions.
Gåthå or “Verses”, include the Dhammapada, Theragåthå, Therígåthå (Psalms of the Brothers and Sisters) and those parts of the Sutta-Nipåta not called Sutta and entirely in verse.
Udåna or “Verses of Uplift” include eightytwo suttas connected with verses recited by the Buddha, inspired by knowledge and joy.
Itivuttaka or “As it was said” includes hundred and ten suttas
4 beginning with “Thus it was said by the Blessed One” (in Påli: “Vuttaÿ h’etaÿ Bhagavatå”).
Jåtaka or Birth Stories include fivehundred and fifty stories of the past lives of the Buddha and his disciples, beginning with the “Apaùùaka Jåtaka”.
Abbhuta, “Marvellous”, includes suttas connected with wonderful and marvellous things (dhammas with extraordinary qualities, which are amazing).
Vedalla includes suttas with questions and answers which have as result understanding and delight, such as the “Cullavedallasutta”.

The word of the Buddha consists of eightyfour thousand units of text. The venerable Ånanda learnt from the Exalted One eightytwo thousand units of text, and from the bhikkhus, mainly from the venerable Såriputta, two thousand units of text. Each theme is one unit of text, thus, the sutta containing one theme is one unit of text. Where there are questions and answers, each question forms one unit of text and each answer forms one unit of text.
When the scriptures are classified as the “Tipiìaka”, they are classified as threefold, namely: the Vinaya, the Suttanta and the Abhidhamma.
The Vinaya Piìaka or “Books of Discipline” consist of five Books, namely:
Parivåra (Appendix or Accessory)

The Commentary which explains the Vinaya is the “Samantapåsådikå”.

The Suttanta Piìaka or Discourses consist of five “Nikåyas
6 ”, namely: Dígha Nikåya or “Dialogues of the Buddha” 7, Majjhima Nikåya or “Middle Length Sayings” 8, Saÿyutta Nikåya or “Kindred Sayings” 9, Anguttara Nikåya or “Gradual Sayings”10, Khuddaka Nikåya or “The Minor Collection” 11.
The Dígha Nikåya is a collection of long dialogues (dígha means long), consisting of thirtyfour suttas. This collection is divided into three sections (in Påli: vagga)
Síla-kkhandha-vagga (síla means morality and khandha means group)
Mahå-vagga (mahå means great)
Påìika-vagga ( called after the first sutta; Påìika is a proper name).

The Commentary to this collection is the “Sumaògalavilåsiní”.

The Majjhima Nikåya is a collection of suttas of medium length (majjhima means middle), and it consists of hundred and fiftytwo suttas. It is divided into three parts which are called in Påli “paùùåsa”, meaning fifty. The first two parts consist of fifty suttas each and the third part of fiftytwo suttas. They are called:
Múla-paùùåsa (múla means root), consisting of five sections of ten
Majjhima-paùùåsa, consisting of five sections of ten suttas
Upari-paùùåsa (upari means above or later), consisting of five
sections, of which four have ten suttas and the fifth has twelve

The Commentary to this collection is the “Papañcasúdaní”.

The Saÿyutta Nikåya is a group of suttas (saÿyutta means joined, connected) divided into five main divisions, namely:
Sagåthå-vagga (gåtha means verse, with verses), with eleven
Nidåna-vagga (nidåna means origin or cause), consisting of nine
Khandha-vagga (dealing with the five khandhas), consisting of
thirteen sections
Saîåyatana-vagga (saîåyatana is the sixfold åyatana or sphere of
sense), consisting of ten sections
Mahå-vagga (great chapter), consisting of twelve sections.

The Commentary to this collection is the “Såratthappakåsiní”.

The “Anguttara Nikåya” consists of suttas grouped according to the numbers of Dhamma subjects or points dealt with. They are arranged by way of an increase of the parts by one at a time, from one up to eleven. Thus, there are eleven “nipåta”, or sections in all. “Book of the Ones” consists of suttas dealing with one kind of subject, and so on up to the Book of the Elevens. Summarizing them, they are:
Eka-nipåta (eka means one), Book of the Ones
Duka-nipåta (duka, from dve, two, meaning pair), Book of the
Tika-nipåta, Book of the Threes
Catuka-nipåta, Book of the Fours
Pañcaka-nipåta, Book of the Fives
Chaka-nipåta, Book of the Sixes
Sattaka-nipåta, Book of the Sevens
Aììhaka-nipåta, Book of the Eights
Navaka-nipåta, Book of the Nines
Dasaka-nipåta, Book of the Tens
Ekådasaka-nipåta, Book of the Elevens.

The Commentary to the Anguttara Nikåya is the Manorathapúraní.

Apart from these four Nikåyas, there is the Khuddaka Nikåya
which contains the word of the Buddha. This consists of the
following books:
Khuddakapåìha or “Minor Readings”
Dhammapada (pada means word or phrase)
Udåna or “Verses of Uplift”
Itivuttaka or “As it was said”
Suttanipåta or “The Group of Discourses”
Vimånavatthu or “Stories of the Mansions” (in Minor Anthologies
Petavatthu or “Stories of the Departed” (in Minor Anthologies IV)
Theragåthå or “Psalms of the Brethren”
Therígåthå or “Psalms of the Sisters”
Jåtaka or “Stories of the Buddha’s Former Births” (in three
volumes by P.T.S.)
Mahå-Niddesa (niddesa means descriptive exposition)
Cúîa-Niddesa (cúîa or culla means small)
Paìisambhidåmagga or “The Path of Discrimination”
Apadåna (life histories)
Buddhavaÿsa or “Chronical of the Buddhas” (in Minor
Anthologies III)
Cariyåpiìaka or “Basket of Conduct” (in Minor Anthologies III)

The Commentaries to these collections of the Khuddaka Nikåya are the following:
the Paramatthajotikå which is the Commentary to the
Khuddakapåtha and the Suttanipåta
Dhammapadaììhakathå or “Buddhist Legends” (in three volumes
by the P.T.S.) which is the Commentary to the Dhammapada
The Paramatthadípaní which is the Commentary to the Udåna, the
Itivuttaka, the Petavatthu, the Theragåthå, the Therígåthå, the
Cariyåpiìaka and the Vimånavatthu
the Jåtakatthavaùùanå, which is the Commentary to the Jåtaka
the Saddhammapajjotika, which is the Commentary to the Mahå-
Niddesa and the Cúîa-Niddesa
the Saddhammappakåsiní, which is the Commentary to the
the Visuddhajanavilåsiní, which is the Commentary to the Apadåna
the Madhuratthavilåsiní, or “The Clarifier of Sweet Meaning”
(P.T.S.), which is the Commentary to the Buddhavaÿsa.

The Abhidhamma Piìaka consists of the following seven Books:
Dhammasaògaùí or “Buddhist Psychological Ethics”, which has as
Commentary the Aììhasåliní or “The Expositor”
Vibhaòga or “The Book of Analysis”, which has as Commentary
Sammohavinodaní or “Dispeller of Delusion”
Dhåtukathå or “Discourse on Elements”
Puggalapaññatti or “a Designation of Human Types”
Kathåvatthu or “Points of Controversy”
Paììhåna or “Conditional Relations”

As to the Commentary to the last five Books of the Abhidhamma,
this is the Pañcappakaraùatthakathå.

The greater part of the commentaries to the Tipiìaka are from the hand of the great commentator Buddhaghosa
26. He translated into Påli, compiled and arranged material from the ancient commentaries which were written in Singhalese. These commentaries which were the Mahå-Atthakathå, the Mahå-Paccarí and the Kuruùèi, stemmed from the time of the Thera Mahinda, the son of the great King Asoka who came to Sri Lanka in order to propagate Buddhism.
Furthermore, there are subcommentaries, called in Påli: ìíkå, which explain the commentaries. These are the Såratthadípaní, a subcommentary to the Samantapåsådikå, which is the commentary to the Vinaya, the Sårattha Mañjúså, a subcommentary to the Suttanta Piìaka, the Paramatthapakåsiní, a subcommentary to the Abhidhamma Piìaka, and the anu-ìíkå (anu meaning: along, alongside) which explains words and expressions in the subcommentaries. Apart from the afore-mentioned works there are several other texts in Buddhism needed for the Study of the Dhamma which were composed by the “Elders”
27 who were qualified to pass on the tradition of the Dhamma. These are the following texts:

Milindapañha or “Milinda’s Questions”
28, composed about 500
Buddhist Era (43 B.C.)
Visuddhimagga or “Path of Purification”
29, an Encyclopedia on
Buddhism, composed by Buddhaghosa about 1000 B.E. ( 457 A.D.)
Abhidhammattha Saògaha or “A Manual of Abhidhamma”
composed by Ven. Anuruddha about 1000 B.E. (457 A.D.)
Sårattha Saògaha, composed by Ven. Nanda about 1000 B.E. (457
Paramattha Mañjúsa, a subcommentary to the Visuddhimagga,
composed by the Ven. Dhammapåla.
Saccasaùkhepa (meaning Exposition of the Truth), composed by Ven. Dhammapala.
Abhidhammattha-vibhåviní-ìíkå, a subcommentary to the
Abhidhammattha Saògaha
32, composed by Sumangala, of Sri
Moha Vicchedaní, an explanation of the Dhammasangaùi and the
Vibhaòga (the first and second Books of the Abhidhamma),
composed by Ven. Kassapa of Sri Lanka, about 1703 B.E. (1160
Mangalattha Dípaní, an explanation of the Mangala sutta (Good-
Omen Discourse, Khuddakapåìha, Minor Readings, no 5)
composed by Ven. Sirimangala in Chiangmai.

Chapter 2

The Buddha

The Omniscient Buddha, the Exalted One, attained parinibbåna, his final passing away, between the twin Såla trees in the Salwood, a place of recreation for the Mallas of the city of Kusinåra. From then on the living beings in this world had no longer the opportunity to hear the teaching of the Dhamma directly from the Buddha himself. However, the Buddha left us the Dhamma and the Vinaya he had taught and laid down as our teacher, representing him after he had finally passed away 34 .
The measure of regard and respect Buddhists have for the Buddha’s excellent Dhamma is in accordance with the degree of their knowledge and understanding of the Dhamma and Vinaya. Even if a man would see the outward appearance of the Buddha, emanating his excellence, and hear the teaching of the Dhamma directly from him, or seize the hem of his garment and walk behind him step by step, but would not understand the Dhamma, he would not really see the Buddha. But if one sees and understands the Dhamma one is called a person who sees the Tathågata
There are three levels of understanding of the Buddhist teachings, the Dhamma as taught by the omniscient Buddha, namely:
the level of pariyatti or study of the Dhamma and Vinaya
the level of paìipatti or practice, the development of understanding
of the Dhamma with the purpose to realize the Dhamma by which
defilements are eradicated and the ceasing of dukkha is reached,
the level of paìivedha or penetration, the direct realization of the
Dhamma by which defilements are eradicated and the ceasing of
dukkha is reached.

The saying of the Buddha that whoever sees the Dhamma sees the Tathågata, refers to the seeing and realization of the Dhamma the Buddha attained at the moment of his enlightenment. This is the Dhamma consisting of the nine supramundane or lokuttara dhammas
36. The direct realization of the Dhamma, which is the level of paìivedha, is the result of the practice, paìipatti, the development of the understanding of the Dhamma. The level of paìipatti must depend on pariyatti, the study of the Dhamma and the Vinaya. The study is the refuge on which we are depending, it is the way leading step by step to the Dhamma of the level of paìipatti, the practice, and then to the Dhamma of the level of paìivedha, the realization.
The Dhamma, the teaching of the Buddha, has been preserved by memorizing and was passed on by oral tradition. It was recited from memory as heard from the disciples who were arahats and who had established the three parts of the teachings, called the Tipiìaka at the first Council, held shortly after the Buddha’s parinibbåna in Råjagaha. The Dhamma was recited from memory and passed on until it was committed to writing in the first century B.C. The Dhamma and Vinaya as established at the Council by the disciples who were arahats consists of three parts, namely:
the Vinaya Piìaka
the Suttanta Piìaka
the Abhidhamma Piìaka

The Vinaya Piìaka concerns mostly the rules of conduct for the monks so that they could lead the “holy life” (brahma cariya
37) perfectly, to the highest degree. The Suttanta Piìaka concerns mostly the principles of the Dhamma as preached to different people at different places. The Abhidhamma Piìaka deals with the nature of dhammas, realities, and their interrelation by way of cause and result.
The Buddha had realized through his enlightenment the true nature of all realities and also their interrelation by way of cause and effect. The Buddha explained the Dhamma which he had realized through his enlightenment in order to help other beings living in this world. In his incomparable wisdom, purity and compassion he explained the Dhamma from the time of his enlightenment until the time of his parinibbåna, his final passing away. The Buddha fulfilled the perfections in order to become the perfectly enlightened One, the Arahat, the Sammåsambuddha
38. He was endowed with extraordinary accomplishments (in Påli: sampadå) 39, and these were the “accomplishment of cause” (hetu), the “accomplishment of fruition” (phala) and the “accomplishment of assistance to other beings” (sattupakåra 40 ).
As regards the “accomplishment of cause”, this is the fulfilment of the right cause, namely the perfections necessary to attain enlightenment and become the Sammåsambuddha.
As regards the “accomplishment of fruition”, this is the attainment of four fruits or results which are the following accomplishments:
1: The accomplishment of wisdom (ñåùa sampadå), the wisdom arising with the path-consciousness, at the moment of his enlightenment
41. This wisdom is the basis and root-cause of his omniscience and his ten powers 42 (dasa bala).
2: The accomplishment of abandoning (pahåna sampadå). This is the complete eradication of all defilements, together with all accumulated tendencies to conduct which may not be agreeable, called in Påli: våsanå. Våsanå is conduct through body or speech, which may not be agreeable and has been accumulated in the past. This disposition can only be eradicated by a Sammåsambuddha
3. The accomplishment of power (ånubhåva sampadå), which is the power to achieve what one aspires to.
4. The accomplishment of physical excellence (rúpa-kåya sampadå). This consists of the special bodily characteristics manifesting his excellent qualities accumulated in the past
44 and also, apart from these, other physical qualities, which were pleasing to the eye, impressive to all people and giving them joy.
When the cause, the perfections, has been fulfilled, it is the condition for the accomplishment of the fruition, the attainment of enlightenment and becoming the Sammåsambuddha. Not just for his own sake did he become the Sammåsambuddha and gained freedom from dukkha (suffering, inherent in the cycle of birth and death). He fulfilled the perfections in order to attain enlightenment and acquire omniscience of the Dhamma so that he could teach the Dhamma to the living beings in this world who could thereby also become liberated from dukkha. If the Buddha had fulfilled the perfections in order to eradicate defilements and to become freed from dukkha only for his own sake, he could not be called the Sammåsambuddha.
There are two kinds of Buddha: the Sammåsambuddha and the Pacceka Buddha or “Silent Buddha”
As regards the Sammåsambuddha, he is someone who has realized by his profound wisdom, all by himself, the truths concerning all dhammas which he had never heard before, and has attained omniscience of those dhammas as well as mastery of special powers in the field of knowledge.
As regards the Pacceka Buddha, he is someone who by himself has thoroughly realized the truths concerning all dhammas which he had never heard before, but who has not attained omniscience of them nor mastery of special powers in the field of knowledge.
Thus, the cause, the fulfilment of the perfections, brings its result which is the attainment of Buddhahood accordingly. Cause and result are different in the case of the Sammåsambuddha and of the Pacceka Buddha.
The third accomplishment of the Buddha regards the assistance to living beings (sattupåkara). This is the accomplishment of constant assistance to the living beings of this world because of his disposition and his effort to do so. He wanted to help even people of evil character such as Devadatta
46. In the case of people whose faculty of understanding was not yet strong enough the Buddha waited with the teaching of Dhamma until the time was ripe for them. He taught Dhamma with the sole purpose to help people to gain freedom from all dukkha, without any consideration of gaining possessions, honour and so on for himself.
When the Sammåsambuddha had fulfilled the accomplishment of cause and the accomplishment of fruition, he was ready to help those who were receptive of his teaching be freed from dukkha, and this was the accomplishment of assistance to other beings. Thus, he was the Sammåsambuddha because he fulfilled the three accomplishments of cause, of fruition and of assistance to other beings.
Therefore, the Dhamma which the Sammåsambuddha taught is the Dhamma he completely penetrated when he attained enlightenment. Through the realization of the Dhamma at the time of his enlightenment his defilements were completely eradicated. The Buddha taught the Dhamma he had realized himself so that those who practised the Dhamma accordingly would also become free from defilements.
The followers of the Buddha should investigate and study the truth of the Dhamma which the Buddha realized through his enlightenment, in order to find out what this truth exactly is. In which way is the truth the Buddha realized different from the truth of the conventional world?
The Buddha realized the truth by his enlightenment and taught it to his followers so that they too would have understanding and practise the Dhamma accordingly until they would realize the truth themselves. The truth the Buddha taught is that everything which appears is a type of dhamma
47 , a reality, which is not self, not a being not a person. All dhammas which arise do so because there are conditions for their arising, such as attachment, anger, regret, unhappy feeling, happy feeling, jealousy, avarice, loving kindness, compassion, seeing, hearing; all of them are different types of dhammas. There are different kinds of dhamma because they arise because of different conditions.
One erroneously takes attachment, anger and other dhammas which arise for self, for being, for person, and that is wrong view, wrong understanding. It is wrong understanding because those dhammas, after they have arisen, fall away, disappear, are subject to change all the time, from birth to death. The reason for erroneously taking dhammas for self, being or person, is ignorance of the truth of dhammas. Whenever one sees one takes the seeing which is a kind of dhamma for self, one clings to the idea of “I see”. When one hears one takes the dhamma which hears for self, one clings to the idea of “I hear”. When one smells one takes the dhamma which smells for self, one clings to the idea of “I smell”. When one tastes one takes the dhamma which tastes for self, one clings to the idea of “I taste”. When one experiences tangible object through the bodysense one takes the dhamma which experiences this for self, one clings to the idea of “I experience”. When one thinks of different subjects one takes the dhamma which thinks for self, one clings to the idea of “I think”.
After the Buddha had realized through his enlightenment the truth of all dhammas, he taught this truth to his followers so that they too would understand that dhammas are not self, not a being, not a person. He taught about paramattha dhammas, ultimate realities, each with their own characteristic which is inalterable. The characteristics of paramattha dhammas cannot be changed by anybody, no matter whether he knows them or does not know them, no matter whether he calls them by a name in whatever language or does not call them by a name. Their characteristics are always the same. The dhammas which arise do so because there are the appropriate conditions for their arising and then they fall away. Just as the Buddha said to the venerable Ånanda
48 : “Whatever has arisen, come into being because of conditions, is by nature subject to dissolution.”
Because of ignorance one has wrong understanding and takes the dhammas which arise and fall away for self, being or person. This is the cause of desire and ever growing infatuation with one’s rank, title or status, with one’s birth, one’s family, the colour of one’s skin and so on. In reality, what one sees are only different colours appearing through the eyes, not self, not a being, not a person. The sound one hears is not self, not a being, not a person. What appears through the senses are only different kinds of dhammas which arise because of their appropriate conditions.
The wrong view which takes dhammas for self, being or person has been compared to the perception of a mirage. People who are travelling in the desert may perceive ahead of them a mirage of water, but when they come close the mirage disappears because in reality there is no water. The mirage they perceived was a deception, an optical illusion. Evenso is the wrong understanding which takes dhammas for self, being or person, a deception caused by ignorance, by wrong perception or remembrance, by wrong belief.
Words such as being, person, woman or man are only concepts used to designate what we see or hear. Moreover, it is evident that the different colours, sounds, odours, cold, heat, softness, hardness, motion or pressure, even though their characteristics have such variety, could not appear if there were no dhammas which can experience them, namely, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, experiencing cold, heat, softness, hardness, motion or pressure, knowing the meaning of the different things and thinking.
The dhammas which can experience different things such as the dhamma which experiences colour, the dhamma which experiences sound, the dhamma which experiences odour, flavour, cold, heat, softness, hardness, motion, pressure, the dhamma which knows the meaning of the different things and the dhamma which thinks about different subjects, all these dhammas which experience different things have been classified by the Sammåsambuddha as citta, consciousness.


Chapter 3

Exposition of Paramattha Dhammas I (Citta and Cetasika)

Citta, or consciousness, is the dhamma which is the leader in knowing what appears, such as seeing or hearing. Cittas have been classified as 89 types in all, or, in special cases, as 121 types 49.
Cetasika or mental factor, is another type of dhamma which arises together with citta, experiences the same object as citta, falls away together with citta and arises at the same base as citta. Cetasikas have each their own characteristic and perform each their own function. There are 52 types of cetasikas in all.
Rúpa or physical phenomenon, is the dhamma which does not know or experience anything, such as colour, sound, odour or flavour. There are 28 types of rúpas in all.
Nibbåna is the dhamma which is the end of defilements and the ceasing of dukkha. Nibbåna does not have conditions which could cause its arising, it does not arise and fall away.

Citta Paramattha

When we see different colours, the eyes themselves do not see. The eyes are only a condition for the arising of seeing, which is a citta. When sound impinges on the ear, the sound and the ear do not experience anything, the ear is not citta. The dhamma which hears the sound, which experiences the sound, is citta. Thus, citta paramattha 50 is the dhamma which experiences colour, sound or other objects. These paramattha dhammas, which are real, are “abhidhamma” 51, non-self, beyond control, dependending on the appropriate conditions. Even if a Buddha had not been born and discovered the truth, dhammas arise and fall away because of their own conditions and their own true nature. We read in the “Gradual Sayings”, Book of the Threes, Ch XIV, § 134, Appearance, that the Buddha said:

Monks, whether there be an appearance or non-appearance of a Tathågata, this causal law of nature, this orderly fixing of dhammas prevails, namely, all phenomena are impermanent.
About this a Tathågata is fully enlightened, he fully understands it. So enlightened and understanding he declares, teaches and makes it plain. He shows it, he opens it up, explains and makes it clear: this fact that all phenomena are impermament.

The same is said about the truth that all conditioned dhammas are dukkha and that all dhammas are non-self.
The Sammåsambuddha is the pre-eminent preceptor, because he realized all by himself through his enlightenment the nature of all dhammas. He realized the truth that dhammas are non-self, not a being, not a person, and that they cannot be controlled by anybody.
The term “abhi” can mean great, mighty. Abhidhamma is the dhamma which is mighty, because it is anattå, non-self, it is beyond anybody’s control. When the Buddha had attained enlightenment he taught all the dhammas he had realized himself, he taught their true nature and also their different conditions. The Buddha respected the Dhamma he had penetrated. We read in the “Kindred Sayings” (I, Sagåthå-vagga, Ch VI, § 2, Holding in Reverence) that the Buddha, when he shortly after his enlightenment was staying at Uruvelå, was considering to whom he could pay respect, but that he could find nobody in the world who was more accomplished than himself in morality, concentration, insight, emancipation, or knowledge of emancipation. We then read that he said:

This Dhamma then, wherein I am supremely enlightened- what if I were to live under It, paying It honour and respect!”

The Buddha did not teach that those dhammas he had realized could be controlled by him. He proclaimed that even he, himself, could not cause anybody to attain the path-consciousness and fruition-consciousness which experience nibbåna at the moment of enlightenment and to become liberated from dukkha. He taught that only the practice of the Dhamma is the condition for the person who practises to attain the path-consciousness and fruition-consciousness which experience nibbåna at the moment of enlightenment and to become liberated from dukkha.
Paramattha dhamma or abidhamma is not a dhamma which is beyond one’s ability to understand because paramattha dhamma is reality. Right view, right understanding, is actually knowing the characteristics of paramattha dhammas as they really are.
Citta is the paramattha dhamma which arises and cognizes different objects, such as colour, sound, odour, flavour, tangible object or other things, depending on what type of citta arises. For example, the citta which arises and sees colour through the eyes is one type of citta. The citta which arises and hears sound through the ears, is another type of citta. The citta which arises and experiences cold, heat, softness, hardness, motion or pressure through the bodysense is again another type of citta. The citta which arises and thinks, which knows through the mind-door different subjects, is again another type of citta. All this occurs in accordance with the type of citta which arises and with the conditioning factors which cause the arising of different types of citta.
At the moment when citta sees something there is not just the citta which sees, nor is there just the object which is seen. There must be the citta which sees as well as the object which is seen by the citta. Whenever there is an object which is seen, colour, it is evident that there must also be a reality which sees, the citta which sees. However, if one is only interested in the object which is seen, it prevents one from knowing the truth, from knowing that the object which is seen can only appear because citta arises and performs the function of seeing that object. When one thinks of a special subject or story, it is citta which thinks of concepts or words at those moments. When citta arises it experiences something, and that which is known by citta is called in Påli årammaùa, object.
The Påli term årammaùa (or ålambana) in the teaching of the Sammåsambuddha refers to that which citta knows. When citta arises and sees what appears through the eyes, that is the object of citta at that moment. When citta arises and hears sound, sound is the object of citta at that moment. When citta arises and experiences odour, odour is the object of citta at that moment. It is the same in the case of the citta which tastes flavour, the citta which experiences cold, heat, softness, hardness, motion or pressure through the bodysense or the citta which thinks of different subjects; whatever is known or experienced by citta is the object of citta at that moment. Whenever there is citta there must each time be an object together with the citta. When citta arises it must experience an object, there cannot be a citta which does not know anything. There cannot be just citta, the dhamma which knows something, without an object, that which is known by citta.
Citta, the reality which knows an object, does not only exist in Buddhism or in the human world. The citta which sees or hears etc. is a paramattha dhamma, it is universal and does not belong to anyone. If someone conceives the idea of “this person sees” or “that being hears”, it is due to the outward appearance and to his memory. If there were no outward appearance and no memory, he would not conceive the citta which sees as “this person sees”, or the citta which hears as “that being hears”. Citta is paramattha dhamma. No matter which being or which person sees, the citta which arises and sees can only see what appears through the eyes. The citta which hears can only hear sound. The citta which sees cannot experience sound and the citta which hears cannot experience what appears through the eyes. It is not in anyone’s power to alter the characteristic and the nature of a paramattha dhamma. The citta, a paramattha dhamma which arises and cognizes an object, can arise because there are the appropriate conditions for its arising. If there are no conditions citta cannot arise. If, for example, sound does not arise and impinge on the earsense, the citta which hears cannot arise. If odour does not arise and impinge on the smellingsense, the citta which experiences odour cannot arise. The different types of citta can only arise because there are conditions which are appropriate for the arising of those types of citta. There are 89 different types of citta, or, in special cases, 121 types of citta, and for the arising of each of these types there is not just one condition but several conditions. For example, the citta which sees needs for its arising the condition which is the eye, the rúpa which is eyesense (cakkhuppasåda
52), and the rúpa which is visible object or colour, that which appears through the eyes.
Citta is a paramattha dhamma which is not rúpa. The paramattha dhammas which are not rúpa are nåma-dhammas. Citta, cetasika and nibbåna are nåma-dhammas and rúpa is rúpa-dhamma

Cetasika paramattha.

When citta arises and cognizes an object, another kind of nåma-paramattha dhamma arises together with the citta and experiences the same object as the citta. That nåma-paramattha dhamma is cetasika (mental factor). Cetasikas are for example anger, love, happiness, unhappiness, avarice, jealousy, loving kindness or compassion. These dhammas are cetasika paramattha dhamma, not citta paramattha dhamma.
Phenomena such as anger, love, happiness or unhappiness are dhammas which are real, they are not self, not a being, not a person. They are dhammas which must arise together with citta. If there would not be citta, cetasikas such as anger, love or unhappiness could not arise. There are 52 kinds of cetasika paramattha dhammas in all. Anger (dosa) is one type of cetasika with the characteristic of coarseness or ferociousness. Love or attachment is another type of cetasika, lobha cetasika, with the characteristic of clinging, not letting go, desiring the object which is experienced. Thus we see that cetasikas are not all of the same type, that each of them is a different dhamma with its own characteristic. They do not only have different characteristics, but also their manifestations and the conditions which make them arise are different in the case of each of them.
Citta paramattha dhamma and cetasika paramattha dhamma are nåma-dhammas which experience an object and which arise together. Cetasika arises and falls away together with citta, experiences the same object as citta and arises at the same physical base as citta. Thus, wherever citta arises and falls away also cetasika arises and falls away. Citta paramattha dhamma and cetasika paramattha dhamma cannot be separated, they do not arise and fall away without one another. However, they are different types of paramattha dhamma. Citta is the leader in knowing an object and the different cetasikas which arise together with the citta experience the same object as the citta, but they have each a different characteristic and a different function with regard to the experience of the object. It is because of the fact that each citta which arises is accompanied by a different number of cetasikas and by different types of them that there are 89 or, in special cases, 121 different types of citta. Each type of citta is different, because cittas know different objects, they have different functions and they are accompanied by different types of cetasikas. Some cittas, for example, have as their object that which appears through the eyes, some have as object sound. Some cittas perform the function of seeing, some the function of hearing. Some cittas are accompanied by lobha cetasika (attachment), some cittas are accompanied by dosa cetasika (aversion or anger).
When people who can receive the teaching listen to the Abhidhamma and investigate the paramattha dhammas which appear by paññå (understanding) accumulated in the past, they can at that moment penetrate the true nature of paramattha dhammas. Therefore, in the time of the Buddha, when the Buddha who was pre-eminent in teaching had finished his exposition of the Dhamma, there were many people who could attain enlightenment and experience nibbåna. Those people listened to the Dhamma, they understood and investigated the truth and came to know the paramattha dhammas which appeared at that moment as they really are. When the Buddha, for example, taught that seeing-consciousness, the citta which performs the function of seeing, is impermanent, they had sati-sampajañña (sati and paññå)
54 and when they were seeing they knew the true nature of that citta; they realized it as a nåma-dhamma, not self, not a being, not a person. When they were hearing they had sati-sampajañña and they knew the characteristic of the dhamma which was hearing. When paññå penetrates the characteristic of impermanence, of the arising and falling away, and of the nature of dukkha of the paramattha dhamma which appears at that moment, there can be the elimination of attachment and of the wrong view that paramattha dhammas are self, permanent and happiness. Therefore, we should correctly understand that the Dhamma the Buddha realized through his enlightenment and taught, and which has been compiled and recorded as the Tipiìaka, deals with the true nature of all dhammas. When we have studied paramattha dhammas and understood what they are, we should investigate the paramattha dhammas which are appearing so that we can realize the true nature of their characteristics. In this way doubt and ignorance of the characteristics of paramattha dhammas can truly be abandoned.
When one studies paramattha dhammas with the purpose of having more understanding of them, one should also investigate with regard to them the different causes which bring different effects. This is the way to thoroughly understand their nature. We should, for example, know whether the dhamma which sees is the same as the dhamma which hears, or whether this is not the case. We should know in which respect they are the same and in which respect they are different. It is true that the dhamma which sees and the dhamma which hears are citta paramattha dhamma. However, they are different cittas because the conditions for their arising are different. The citta which sees is dependant on visible object appearing through the eyes, which impinges on the rúpa which is eyesense (cakkhuppasåda); this conditions its arising. Whereas the citta which hears is dependant on sound which impinges on the rúpa which is earsense (sota-pasåda); this conditions its arising. Thus, the citta which sees and the citta which hears have different functions and are depending on different conditions.


1 See the “Expositor”, Atthasåliní, Introductory Discourse, 26. The teachings as compiled (not yet written) literature are thus enumerated in the scriptures as nine divisions, for example in the “Middle Length Sayings” I, no. 22.

2 The Påli term sutta means: that which is heard. The word of the Buddha which has been heard.

3 The three Piìaka, or Tipiìaka, are the three divisions of the teachings, namely: the Vinaya, Suttanta and Abhidhamma. When the teachings are classified as nine divisions, the Vinaya is in the section of Sutta. The “Atthasåliní” mentions in this section on Sutta the Sutta-Vibhaòga and Parivåra, which belong to the Vinaya.

4 In the “Atthasåliní” the counting is hundred and twelve.

5 The P.T.S. has edited and translated these two books as three parts, the “Suttavibhaòga”.

6 Nikåya means “body” or collection.

7 I am giving the English titles, as used in the tranaslations of the P.T.S. “The Dialogues of the Buddha” have been edited in three volumes.

8 Edited in three volumes.

9 Edited in five volumes.

10 Edited in five volumes.

11 This collection consisting of sixteen parts has been edited in different volumes, but not all of them have been translated into English.

12 These sections are in the Påli text but not in the English edition.

13 Translated into English and edited by the P.T.S. in one volume together with the translation of its commentary “The Illustrator of Ultimate Meaning”.

14 Of this text there are several English translations.

15 I add the English title when it has been translated into English.

16 The Mahå-Niddesa and the Cúîa-Niddesa have not been translated into English.

17 This has not been translated into English

18 The commentary to the Khuddakapåtha has been translated into English as I mentioned, but the commentary to the Sutta Nipåta has not been translated.

19 Translated into English are: the Udåna Commentary (two volumes), the Commentary to the Vimånavatthu, “Vimåna Stories”, the Commentary to the Petavatthu, “Peta Stories”, the Commentary to the Therígåthå, “Commentary on the Verses of the Therís”.

20 In the English edition of the Buddha’s Birth Stories, parts of the Commentary have been added.

21 In two volumes

22 In two volumes

23 Yamaka means “Pair”. This has not been translated into English.

24 There is a translation of part of the Paììhåna. There is also a “Guide to Conditional Relations”, vol. I and II, explaining part of the Paììhåna, by U Narada, Myanmar. Vol. II is no longer available.

25 Only the Commentary to the Kathåvatthu has been translated into English, with the title of “Debates Commentary”.

26 He lived in the fifth century of the christian era and stayed in the “Great Monastery” of Anurådhapura, in Sri Lanka.

27 Thera can be translated as Elder or senior monk, a monk who has been ordained for at least ten years.

28 In two volumes. One translation by the P.T.S. and another one by T.W. Rhys Davids.

29 One edition as translated by Ven. Nyåùamoli, Colombo, and one edition as translated by Pe Maung Tin, P.T.S.

30 Translated by Ven. Nårada, Colombo. Another edition by P.T.S. has the title of “Compendium of Philosophy”.

31 The P.T.S. edition suggests that the date is between the 8th and the 12th century A.D.

32 Translated into English by P.T.S.

33 I could add to this enumeration the Nettippakaraùa, translated as “The Guide”, P.T.S. and the Peìakopadesa or “Disclosure of the Piìakas” which has not been translated into English. They are compilations of a school which, according to tradition, traced its descent to Mahå-Kaccana, one of the great disciples of the Buddha. Dhammapåla has written a commentary on the Netti, probably late fifth century A.D.

34 Dialogues of the Buddha II, no 16, Mahå-Parinibbånasutta.

35 Khuddaka Nikåya, Minor Readings, “As it was said” (Itivuttaka), The Threes, Ch V, no. 3. Tathågata is an epithet of the Buddha.

36 There are eight types of lokuttara cittas (supramundane consciousness) which realize the lokuttara dhamma which is nibbåna. There are four stages of enlightenment and for each of those there are two types of lokuttara citta, path-consciousness and fruition-consciousness. This will be explained later on.

37 Brahmacariya, the life of those who develop satipaììhåna, right understanding of realities, in order to become an arahat.

38 Universal Buddha, who found the Path all by himself and could teach the truth to others.

39 Abhidhammattha-vibhåviní-ìíkå.

40 Satta is being and upakåra is assistance.

41 The magga-citta is the lokuttara citta, supramundane citta, experiencing nibbåna and eradicating defilements. It is accompanied by wisdom, paññå, which is called magga-ñåùa.

42 These powers are his perfect comprehension in the field of wisdom, such as comprehension of deeds (kamma) which bring their appropriate results, comprehension of the elements, the khandhas (mental and physical phenomena), the sensefields, comprehension of the inclinations of other beings, remembrance of his former lives, knowledge of the passing away and rebirth of other beings, the destruction of defilements. (Middle Length Sayings I, no. 12, “The Greater Discourse on the Lion’s Roar”).

43 Even arahats, those who have no defilements, can have behaviour which is not pleasing, such as speaking fast or running, accumulated in the past. Such conduct is not motivated by akusala citta, unwholesome consciousness, since they have eradicated all defilements.

44 See “Dialogues of the Buddha” III, no. 30, “The Marks of the Superman”.

45 Puggala Paññatti, “Designation of Human Types”, Ch I, Division of Human Types by One, 28, 29. Pacceka is derived from the Påli paìi eka, by himself. Eka means alone.

46 He tried to kill the Buddha on various occasions.

47 Dhamma has several meanings, it does not only mean doctrine. In this context dhamma means everything which is real, reality.

48 Dialogues of the Buddha II, no. 16, Mahå Parinibbåna Sutta, Ch V, 144.

49 This will be explained later on.

50 The Påli term paramattha is derived from parama, superior, highest, and attha, which is meaning. Paramattha dhammas are realities in the highest or ultimate sense.

51 Abhidhamma, the third part of the Tipiìaka, means “higher Dhamma”, Dhamma in detail. It deals with ultimate or absolute realities, different from conventional truth. Ultimate reality or paramattha dhamma can also be called abhidhamma.

52 cakkhu means eye, and pasåda means clearness or sense-faculty. The cakkhu pasåda rúpa is able to receive the impingement of colour.

53 Dhammasangaùi, Buddhist Psychological Ethics, Book III, Nikkhepa-kaùèaÿ, The Deposition, Part II, 1309, 1310.

54 Sati is the cetasika which is mindfulness. Its function will be explained later on.