Exposition of Paramattha Dhammas II (Rúpa)
Rúpa paramattha dhamma is the reality which does not know anything 1. It arises and falls away because of conditions, just as in the case of citta and cetasika.
Rúpa paramattha dhamma includes 28 different kinds of rúpa. The meaning of rúpa, material phenomenon or matter, is different from matter in conventional sense, such as table, chair, or book. Among the 28 kinds of rúpa, there is one kind of rúpa, visible object or colour, citta can experience through the eyes. That which appears through the eyes is the only kind of rúpa which can be seen by citta. As regards the other 27 rúpas, these cannot be seen by citta, but they can be experienced through the appropriate doorways by the cittas concerned. Sound, for example, can be experienced by citta through the ears.
Just as twentyseven rúpas are invisible realities, citta and cetasika are invisible realities, but there is a great difference between rúpa dhamma and nåma dhamma. Citta and cetasika are paramattha dhammas which can experience an object, whereas rúpa is a paramattha dhamma which does not know any object. Rúpa paramattha dhamma is saòkhåra (conditioned) dhamma, it has conditions for its arising. Rúpa is dependent on other rúpas for its arising, it cannot arise alone, without other rúpas. There must be several rúpas together in a small unit or group which arise together and are dependent on one another. The rúpas in such a group, called in Påli kalåpa, cannot be seperated from each other.
Rúpa is a dhamma which is infinitesimal and intricate. It arises and falls away very rapidly, all the time. When comparing the duration of rúpa with the duration of citta, one unit of rúpa arises and falls away in the time seventeen cittas arise and fall away, succeeding one another and this is extremely fast. For example, it seems that at this moment the citta which sees and the citta which hears appear at the same time, but in reality they arise and fall away apart from each other, with more than seventeen moments of citta in between them. Therefore, the rúpa which arises at the same time as the citta which sees must arise and fall away before the citta which hears arises.
Each rúpa is infinitesimal. If a mass of rúpas which arise and fall away together would be split up into the minutest particles which cannot be divided again, such a particle is an extremely small unit or group (kalåpa) of rúpas consisting of at least eight different rúpas which cannot be separated from each other. These eight rúpas are called the indivisible or inseparable rúpas, avinibbhoga rúpas. Among these are the four principle rúpas, mahå-bhúta rúpas, which are the following:
the Element of Earth or solidity (paìhavi dhåtu), the rúpa which is
softness or hardness
the Element of Water (åpo dhåtu), the rúpa which is fluidity or
the Element of Fire or heat (tejo dhåtu), the rúpa which is heat or
the Element of Wind (våyo dhåtu), the rúpa which is motion or
These four principle rúpas, mahå-bhúta rúpas, arise interdependently and they cannot be separated. Moreover, they are the condition for the arising of four other rúpas. These rúpas which are dependent on the four principle rúpas arise together with them in the same group. They are the following rúpas:
colour or visible object (vaùùo), the rúpa which appears through
odour (gandho), the rúpa which appears through the nose
flavour (raso), the rúpa which appears through the tongue
nutritive essence (ojå), the rúpa which is one of the conditions for
the arising of other rúpas 2
These four rúpas are, together with the four principle rúpas, included in the eight rúpas which cannot be separated from each other; these eight rúpas constitute the minutest unit, kalåpa, of rúpas which arise and fall away together very rapidly. The four principle rúpas cannot arise without these four derived rúpas (upådåya rúpas 3) which arise dependently on the four principal rúpas.
The four principle rúpas are the condition by way of foundation for the derived rúpas which arise together with them in the same group. However, although the derived rúpas arise simultaneously with the principle rúpas in the same group and are dependent on them, they are not in their turn the condition for the arising of the four principal rúpas.
There are altogether 28 kinds of rúpas, namely the four principle rúpas and 24 derived rúpas. If the four principle rúpas would not arise, there could not be the twentyfour derived rúpas.
The twentyeight rúpas can be classified in different ways, but here they will be explained from the perspective of their interrelation, to facilitate comprehension and memorization.
The different groups or kalåpas of rúpas which arise do not fall away immediately. A sabhåva rúpa, a rúpa with its own distinct nature or characteristic 4 lasts as long as the duration of seventeen cittas arising and falling away, succeeding one another. With regard to the arising and falling away of rúpa, four different aspects can be discerned which have been classified as four lakkhaùa 5 rúpas:
upacaya rúpa, the arising or origination of rúpa 6
santati 7 rúpa, the development or continuation of rúpa
jaratå rúpa , the decay of rúpa
aniccatå rúpa, the falling away of rúpa
These four lakkhaùa rúpas are rúpas without their own distinct nature, asabhåva rúpas 8 , but they are themselves characteristics inherent in all rúpas. All rúpas which have their own distinct nature, sabhåva rúpas, must have these four characteristics. These four characteristics are different: the arising of rúpa, its development, its decay and its falling away are all different characteristics. In other words, upacaya rúpa and santati rúpa are characteristics indicating the moments rúpa has arisen but not yet fallen away, wheras jaratå rúpa indicates the moment close to its falling away and aniccatå rúpa its falling away.
The rúpa which is space, åkåsa rúpa, has the function of limiting or separating all the different groups or kalåpas of rúpas. Space in this context is not outer space, but the infinitesimal space surrounding each kalåpa. After its function it is also called pariccheda rúpa (pariccheda meaning limit or boundary). What we call matter consists of kalåpas, units of rúpas arising and falling away. The rúpas within a kalåpa are holding tightly together and cannot be divided. Matter, be it large or small, can only be broken up because the rúpa space is in between the different kalåpas, allowing them to be distinct from each other. Without space or pariccheda rúpa all rúpas would be tightly connected and could not be separated. Because of pariccheda rúpa which surrounds each kalåpa, even large matter can be broken up into infinitely tiny particles; it can be broken up only at those points where there is space 9. Pariccheda rúpa is another kind of asabhåva rúpa, which does not have its own distinct nature and does not arise separately; it arises simultaneously with the different kalåpas, and in between them.
No matter where rúpa arises, in whichever plane of existence, be it rúpa in living beings or in dead matter, there have to be the eight inseparable rúpas (avinibbhoga rúpas), the four lakkhaùa rúpas and the pariccheda rúpa together. These thirteen rúpas are never lacking.
With regard to the rúpas of the body in people or other living beings, in the planes of existence where there are five khandhas (nåma and rúpa), there are pasåda rúpas, sense organs, produced by kamma as condition. The following five rúpas are sense organs:
1: eyesense, cakkhuppasåda rúpa, which can be impinged on by
2: earsense, sotappasåda rúpa, which can be impinged on by sound
3: smellingsense, ghånappasåda rúpa, which can be impinged on by
4: tastingsense, jivhåppasåda rúpa, which can be impinged on by
5: bodysense, kåyappasåda rúpa, which can be impinged on by
tangible object: cold and heat (Element of Fire), softness and
hardness (Element of Earth), motion and pressure (Element of
Rúpas of the body cannot arise without citta, and, in the planes of existence where there are nåma and rúpa, citta is dependent on rúpas of the body. Each citta must have a particular rúpa of the body as the appropriate base for its arising. Seeing-consciousness (cakkhu-viññåùa) which performs the function of seeing arises at the cakkhuppasåda rúpa. Hearing-consciousness (sota-viññåùa) which performs the function of hearing arises at the sotappasåda rúpa. It is the same for smelling-consciousness, tasting-consciousness and body-consciousness, they each arise at the rúpa which is the relevant base.
All other cittas, besides these sense-cognitions, arise at the physical base which is called the heart-base, hadaya rúpa.
Some kinds of rúpa are produced solely by kamma and in each kalåpa produced by kamma the rúpa which is life-faculty, jívitindriya rúpa, is included. This rúpa sustains the rúpas which it accompanies in one kalåpa, it maintains their life. Therefore, the rúpas in the body of people and other living beings are different from the rúpas in dead matter.
The difference in sex as man and woman which generally occurs in humans and other living beings is due to two different kinds of rúpa, bhåva rúpas (bhåva meaning nature), which are the following:
Itthibhåva rúpa, femininity, a rúpa which permeates the whole body, so that it is manifested in the outward appearance, manners, behaviour and deportment which are feminine.
Purisabhåva rúpa, masculinity, a rúpa which permeates the whole body, so that it is manifested in the outward appearance, manners, behaviour and deportment which are masculine.
Each individual with bhåva rúpa, the rúpa which is sex, has either the rúpa which is femininity or the rúpa which is masculinity. In some cases the bhåva rúpa is lacking. Moreover, those who live in the Brahma world (higher planes of existence where one is born as result of jhåna, absorption concentration) do not have conditions for bhåva rúpa.
There can be motion of the body or parts of the body in people and other living beings due to citta, but there must also be specific rúpas which are conditioned by citta. If there would be only rúpas produced by kamma one could not move or perform different functions. For the movement of the body and the performance of its functions there are three kinds of vikåra 10 rúpas, rúpas which are changeability, and these are:
Lahúta rúpa, buoyancy or lightness, as occurring in the body of those who are healthy.
Mudutå rúpa, plasticity, the absence of stiffness, as occurs in well-pounded leather.
Kammaññatå rúpa, wieldiness, as occurs in well-melted gold.
These three vikåra rúpas are asabhåva rúpas, rúpas without their own distinct nature. They constitute the adaptability of the four principle rúpas, the mahå-bhúta rúpas, they cause them to be light, soft and wieldy. The three vikåra rúpas arise only in the bodies of living beings, not in dead matter. The three vikåra rúpas cannot be separated. If there is in one kalåpa lahutå rúpa, lightness, there must also be mudutå rúpa, plasticity, and kammaññatå rúpa, wieldiness. The vikåra rúpas are produced by citta, by temperature and by nutrition. If citta causes motion of any part of the body, there must also be vikåra rúpas produced by temperature (the right temperature, not too hot, not too cold) and vikåra rúpas produced by nutrition (ojå rúpa, nutritive essence), otherwise the rúpas of the body cannot move, even if citta desires to do so. This occurs, for example, when people are paralyzed or incapacitated by a sprain or by other ailments.
When citta wants to display a sign expressing its intention by means of rúpas of the body, citta produces the rúpa which is bodily intimation, kåya-viññatti rúpa. This is a specific mode of expression by rúpas of the body which arise and display the intention of citta, in the expression of facial features, comportment of the body or gestures. Citta may convey its intention for example by staring in a stern way, by making grimaces displaying contempt or disappproval. If citta does not wish to display its intention kåyaviññatti rúpa does not arise.
When citta is the condition for sound, such as speech sound or the uttering of other sounds which convey a specific meaning, citta produces the rúpa which is speech intimation, vaci-viññatti rúpa. When this arises it is the condition for the rúpas which are the means of articulation, such as the lips, to produce speech sound. Without the arising of speech intimation it would not be possible to speak or emit other sounds which convey a specific meaning.
Bodily intimation and speech intimation are asabhåva rúpas, rúpas without their own distinct nature, which arise and fall away together with the citta which produces them.
Some sources classify the three vikåra rúpas (the rúpas which are changeability of rúpa) and the two viññatti rúpas together as five vikåra rúpas.
Another rúpa is sound, sadda rúpa. Sound is different from speech intimation, vaci viññatti rúpa. Sound is the rúpa which contacts the earsense, sotappasåda rúpa, and which is the condition for the arising of hearing-consciousness, sota-viññåùa. Some sounds arise conditioned by citta, and some do not, such as the sound of thunder, of storm, of engines, of drums, of the radio or of the television.
Summarizing the twentyeight kinds of rúpa, they are:
the 8 inseparable rúpas, avinibbhoga rúpas, including the 4
principle rúpas, mahå-bhúta rúpas, of:
motion or pressure (Wind)
and the 4 derived rúpas of:
Furthermore there are the following rúpas:
4 lakkhaùa rúpas (origination, continuity, decay and falling away,
characteristics inherent in all rúpas)
1 pariccheda rúpa or space (akåsa), delimiting groups of rúpa
5 pasåda rúpas, sense organs
1 rúpa which is heart-base, hadaya vatthu (base for cittas other than
1 rúpa which is life faculty, jívitindriya rúpa
2 rúpas which are sex, bhåva-rúpas
3 vikåra rúpas, rúpas of changeability (lightness, plasticity and
2 rúpas which are body intimation, kåya-viññatti, and speech
1 rúpa which is sound
Altogether there are 28 kinds of rúpa.
In some sources the number of rúpas which are classified varies. For example, in the Atthasåliní (Expositor II, Book II, Material Qualities, Ch 3, 339, 340) we find also a classification of rúpas as twentysix in number, because the elements of earth (solidity), fire (heat) and wind (motion or pressure) are classified together as one kind of rúpa, as tangible object (photthabbåyatana) which impinges on the bodysense, the kåyappasåda rúpa.
There are always several rúpas arising within one kalåpa. The number of rúpas which arise together is different depending on the types of rúpa concerned. There are several ways of classifying the twentyeight rúpas and this will be dealt with later on in the Appendix.
Exposition of Paramattha Dhammas III (Nibbåna)
Nibbåna paramattha dhamma is another kind of paramattha dhamma. The Buddha called it nibbåna, because it is the end of våna, which means craving 11.
The paramattha dhamma which is nibbåna is the cessation of dukkha. Citta, cetasika and rúpa are dukkha, because they are impermanent, they arise and then fall away. Desire should be eradicated so that there can be the end of dukkha. Desire is the origin, the cause of the arising of dukkha. It is the cause of the arising of the five khandhas, which are citta, cetasika and rúpa 12. Desire can be eradicated by developing paññå, wisdom, until the characteristics of the arising and falling away of citta, cetasika and rúpa have been penetrated. When paññå has been developed to the degree that nibbåna can be realized and clearly known, clinging and wrong view with regard to citta, cetasika and rúpa can be eradicated. Nibbåna is the dhamma which is the cessation of dukkha and the cessation of the khandhas 13. Nibbåna is reality, it is a paramattha dhamma, an ultimate reality, and it is a dhamma which can be clearly known.
Nibbåna paramattha dhamma 14 has been classified as twofold:
Sa-upådisesa nibbåna dhåtu, nibbåna with the khandhas remaining
An-upådisesa nibbåna dhåtu, nibbåna without the khandhas 15
Upådi in upådisesa is another designation of the five khandhas which include citta, cetasika and rúpa. As to nibbåna with the khandhas remaining, this means that all defilements have been eradicated, but that the khandhas are remaining, arising and falling away in succession. As to nibbåna without the khandhas remaining, this means the final falling away of the five khandhas, not to arise again, that is, the parinibbåna, the final passing away, of the arahat.
Because there is nibbåna with the khandhas remaining and nibbåna without the khandhas remaining, two kinds of nibbåna have been proclaimed 16.
When the Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi-tree, he attained nibbåna with the khandhas remaining, sa-upådisesa nibbåna dhåtu. He completely eradicated defilements and all the dhammas (citta and cetasikas) accompanying defilements, so that they could never arise again. However, the khandhas were still remaining, namely, citta, cetasika (which were without defilements) and rúpa, arising and falling away in succession.
We read in As it was said (Minor Anthologies, As it was said, the Twos, Ch II, VII) that the Buddha said to the monks:
Of what sort, monks, is nibbåna with the basis still remaining? Herein, monks, a monk is arahat, one who has destroyed the cankers (defilements), who has lived the life, done what was to be done, laid down the burden, won the goal, worn out the fetter of becoming, one released by perfect knowledge. In him the five sense faculties still remain, through which, as they have not yet departed, he experiences pleasant and unpleasant objects, undergoes pleasure and pain. The end of attachment, aversion and ignorance of that monk, is called, monks, the element of nibbåna with the basis still remaining.
An-upådisesa nibbåna is nibbåna without the khandhas remaining. When the Buddha, between the twin Sal trees, attained parinibbåna, his final passing away 17, this was an-upådisesa nibbåna, the final falling away of the khandhas. Citta, cetasika and rúpa fell away for good, never to arise again. This was the cessation of rebirth, the end of the cycle of birth and death.
There are four stages of attaining enlightenment and at each of these stages defilements are eradicated. The sotåpanna (streamwinner, who has attained the first stage of enlightenment), the sakadågåmí (once-returner, who has attained the second stage of enlightenment), and the anågåmí (non-returner, who has attained the third stage of enlightenment) are learners (sekha), because they still have to continue to develop higher degrees of paññå in order to eradicate the defilements which are still remaining. The arahat is non-learner (asekha), because he has eradicated all defilements completely, he has reached perfection and does not need to develop higher degrees of paññå any longer.
Nibbåna paramattha dhamma can be classified according to three characteristics:
Nibbåna is called voidness, suññatta, because it is void of all conditioned realities (saòkhåra dhammas). It is called signlessness, animitta, because it is void of signs, characteristics, of conditioned realities. It is called desirelessness, appaùihita, because it is without any basis of desire, namely, conditioned realities.
When someone has developed paññå to the degree that he is about to attain enlightenment, he may penetrate the dhammas which appear at those moments as impermanent, as dukkha, or as anattå. Only one of these three general characteristics can be realized at a time. When he attains nibbåna his way of emancipation is different depending on which of the three general characteristics of conditioned dhammas he has realized in the process during which enlightenment is attained. When he realizes dhammas which appear as impermanent he becomes liberated (realizes the four noble Truths) by the emancipation of signlessness (animitta vimokkha 18). When he realizes dhammas as dukkha he becomes liberated by the emancipation of desirelessness (appaùihita vimokkha) 19. When he realizes dhammas as anattå, non-self, he becomes liberated by the emancipation of voidness (suññatta vimokkha) 20.
With regard to these three ways of emancipation, vimokkha, four different aspects can be discerned 21 :
1: By predominance: when someone realizes dhammas as impermanent, the signlessness emancipation, animitta vimokkha, is predominant. When he realizes dhammas as dukkha, the desirelessness emancipation, appaùihita vimokkha, is predominant. When he realizes dhammas as anattå, the voidness emancipation, suññatta vimokkha, is predominant.
2: By steadfastness: when someone realizes dhammas as impermanent the citta is steadfast by the signlessness emancipation. When he realizes dhammas as dukkha, the citta is steadfast by the desirelessness emancipation. When he realizes dhammas as anattå, the citta is steadfast by the voidness emancipation.
3 : By inclination: when someone realizes dhammas as impermanent, the citta is guided by the inclination to signlessness emancipation. When he realizes dhammas as dukkha, the citta is guided by the inclination to desirelessness emancipation. When he realizes dhammas as anattå, the citta is guided by the inclination to voidness emancipation.
4 : By the way to liberation at the moment of attaining nibbåna: when someone realizes the aspect of impermanence the citta is being led unto nibbåna, cessation, by the influence of signless emancipation. When he realizes the aspect of dukkha, the citta is being led unto nibbåna, cessation, by the influence of desirelessness emancipation. When he realizes the aspect of anattå, he is being led unto nibbåna, cessation, by the influence of voidness emancipation.
Different Aspects of the four Paramattha Dhammas.
Citta, cetasika, rúpa and nibbåna are paramattha dhammas, they are reality. Citta, cetasika and rúpa which arise and fall away in succession, present themselves so that they can be cognized, and thus it can be known that they are reality. For example, when we see colour, hear sound or think, cittas arise and fall away in succession, performing different functions. Some cittas see colour, others hear sound, and others again are thinking, depending on the type of citta and the conditions which cause its arising. The sequence of citta, cetasika and rúpa is extremely rapid and that is why we do not notice the arising and falling away. People may believe that rúpa gradually changes and that citta arises when a person or other living being is born, that the same citta lasts during life and falls away only when that person or being dies. If we do not study and investigate the Dhamma, and if we do not develop sati, mindfulness, and paññå, understanding, in order to realize the characteristics of citta, cetasika and rúpa which are appearing, then we shall always be ignorant of the true nature of nåma dhamma and rúpa dhamma, of citta, cetasika and rúpa which arise and fall away in succession all the time.
The dhammas which arise, can arise because there are conditioning factors for their arising. They cannot arise without conditions. The venerable Såriputta gained confidence in the teaching of the Buddha when he met the venerable Assaji, one of the monks among the group of the first five disciples of the Buddha. The venerable Såriputta was so impressed by the venerable Assajis comportment that he followed him, asking him who his preceptor was and what his preceptor was teaching. The venerable Assaji answered 22 :
Ye dhammå hetuppabhavå tesaÿ hetuÿ Tathågato åha,
tesañca nirodho, evaÿvådí Mahåsamaùo ti.
Whatever dhamma arises from conditions, the Buddha teaches the
conditions and also the cessation thereof. The great Ascetic teaches
If the Buddha had not taught the dhammas and the ways they are conditioned, as he had realized through his enlightenment, there would not be anybody who would know which dhamma arises from which conditions. There would not be anybody who would know the dhammas which are the conditions for the arising of each type of citta paramattha dhamma, cetasika paramattha dhamma and rúpa paramattha dhamma. The Buddha had through his enlightenment penetrated the true nature of all dhammas. He taught that all dhammas which arise do so because of the appropriate conditions, and he also taught which are the conditions for the arising of dhammas. Dhammas cannot arise without conditions.
We say of people, of other living beings or of devas that they are born, but in reality citta, cetasika and rúpa are born. When a specific type of citta accompanied by cetasikas arises together with rúpa we say in conventional language that a person is born. When citta and cetasikas arise with the rúpa of a deva (being of a heavenly plane), we say that a deva is born. People, other living beings and devas have different kinds of births because the conditions for their births are different. The conditions which cause different births are numerous and they are most intricate. However, the Buddha, when he attained enlightenment, penetrated by his omniscience the true nature of all dhammas as well as all the different factors which are the conditions for their arising. He taught the true nature of each dhamma and he explained that whatever dhamma arises has conditions for its arising. The dhammas which arise are saòkhåra dhammas, conditioned dhammas.
We know that there are citta, cetasika and rúpa, because they arise, and they arise because of the appropriate conditions. Hence citta, cetasika and rúpa are saòkhåra dhammas 23. The Buddhas teaching is complete as to the letter and the meaning. The Buddha gave further explanations of Dhamma subjects the meaning of which people could misunderstand. He added words which described the meaning, making it even clearer. People could misunderstand the Buddhas teaching that the dhammas which arise because of conditions are saòkhåra dhamma ; they might believe that the dhammas which arise could continue to exist. Hence the Buddha taught that saòkhåra dhammas are also saòkhata dhammas, dhammas which have been conditioned 24. Saòkhata dhammas are the dhammas which have arisen and then fall away 25. The Buddha used the term saòkhata dhamma as well as the term saòkhåra dhamma in order to explain that a dhamma arises because there are conditions for its arising and that when the conditions fall away that dhamma which has arisen because of conditions also must fall away. Saòkhata dhamma is the dhamma which has arisen and then falls away. Hence, saòkhåra dhamma, the dhamma which is compounded by conditioning factors is also saòkhata dhamma 26. The paramattha dhammas which are citta, cetasika and rúpa are saòkhåra dhamma as well as saòkhata dhamma.
Sabbe saòkhårå aniccå - All conditioned dhammas are impermanent
Sabbe saòkhåra dukkha - All conditioned dhammas are dukkha
Sabbe dhammå anattå - All dhammas are non-self 27
All Saòkhåra Dhammas are Impermanent
All conditioned dhammas are impermanent. The decay and the impermanence of rúpa dhamma is apparent but the impermanence of nåma dhamma is hard to notice. We read in the Kindred Sayings (II, Nidåna-vagga, XII, the Kindred Sayings on Cause, 7, the Great Chapter § 61, The Untaught) that the Buddha, while he was staying near Såvatthí at Jeta Grove in Anåthapiùèikas Park, said to the monks:
The untaught manyfolk, monks, might well be repelled by this body, where the four great Elements come together, they might cease to fancy it and wish to be free from it. Why so? Seen is the growth and decay of this body, where the four great Elements come together, the taking on (at birth) and laying down of it (at death). Hence well might the many folk be repelled by it, cease to fancy it, and wish to be free from it.
Yet this, monks, what we call thought, what we call mind, what we call consciousness (citta), by this the untaught manyfolk are not able to feel repelled, they are not able to cease fancying it or to be freed from it. Why so? For many a long day, monks, has it been for the uninstructed many folk that to which they cling, that which they call mine, that which they wrongly conceive, thinking- that is mine, this I am, this is myself. Hence the untaught many folk are not able to feel repelled by it, are not able to cease fancying it, are not able to be freed from it.... But as to this, monks, what we call thought, what we call mind, what we call consciousness: one citta arises when another perishes, day and night....
Although citta, cetasika and rúpa arise and fall away all the time, it is hard to understand this and to become detached, to eliminate clinging to nåma and rúpa. Nåma and rúpa must be investigated and understood by paññå so that clinging can be eliminated. We read in the Dhammapada vs. 277-280 (Minor Anthologies) that the Buddha said:
All saòkhåra dhammas are impermanent, when one discerns this with wisdom, one turns away from dukkha; this is the Path to purity.
All saòkhåra dhammas are dukkha, when one discerns this with wisdom, one turns away from dukkha; this is the Path to purity.
All dhammas are non-self (anattå), when one discerns this with wisdom, one turns away from dukkha; this is the Path to purity.
If one does not realize the arising and falling away of nåma dhammas and rúpa dhammas so that clinging to wrong view can be eliminated, one cannot penetrate the four noble Truths and become an ariyan, a noble person who has attained enlightenment. The ariyan understands the meaning of awakening or Buddhahood, the Buddhas enlightenment. He understands this not merely by theoretical knowledge of the dhammas the Buddha taught, but by direct understanding of the dhammas the Buddha had penetrated by his enlightenment. The ariyan has eradicated all doubt concerning the dhammas the Buddha had penetrated, because the ariyan has realized those dhammas himself 28 . The ariyan has realized the meaning of Buddhahood because by attaining enlightenment he has penetrated himself the true nature of the dhammas the Buddha taught. The person who understands and sees the Dhamma, sees the Tathågata 29. The person who studies the Dhamma and practises the Dhamma in order to penetrate the true nature of realities can attain enlightenment and eradicate defilements depending on the stage of enlightenment he has realized, be it the stage of the streamwinner (sotåpanna), the once-returner (sakadågåmí), the non-returner (anågåmí) or the arahat 30 .
All Saòkhåra Dhammas are Dukkha
All saòkhåra dhammas, conditioned realities, arise and then fall away, be it wholesome citta or unwholesome citta, be it rúpa which is beautiful or rúpa which is ugly, they all arise and fall away alike. The arising and falling away of realities, their impermanence, means dukkha, unsatisfactoriness. The nature of dukkha inherent in all saòkhåra dhammas is not merely dukkha, suffering, in the sense of bodily pain, illness, or tribulations, or suffering caused by separation of what we like and association of what we dislike. The nature of dukkha inherent in all saòkhåra dhammas is their impermanence; when they have arisen they fall away and thus they should not be taken for happiness. Some people may wonder why all saòkhåra dhammas are dukkha, why even the citta which experiences happiness and enjoys pleasant objects is dukkha. Even the citta which experiences happiness does not last and thus it is dukkha. All saòkhåra dhammas, citta, cetasika and rúpa, are dukkha because they are impermanent, they do not last.
All Dhammas are Anattå
All dhammas are anattå. All four paramattha dhammas, citta, cetasika, rúpa and nibbåna are anattå. They are not self, they are not under anyones control.
Nibbåna is paramattha dhamma, it is reality. Nibbåna is not saòkhåra dhamma, it is visaòkhåra 31 dhamma, unconditioned dhamma. Nibbåna is the dhamma which does not arise 32, it is the opposite of saòkhåra dhamma. Saòkhåra dhamma is the dhamma which arises because of conditions whereas visaòkhåra dhamma is the dhamma which does not arise, which is unconditioned.
Nibbåna is asankhata dhamma, the dhamma which is not sankhata 33. Sankhata dhamma is the dhamma which arises and falls away whereas asankhata dhamma is the dhamma which does not arise and fall away. Nibbåna does not arise and fall away because it is not conditioned.
Citta, cetasika and rúpa, which are saòkhåra dhammas, are lokiya, mundane. They are susceptible to destruction 34. Nibbåna, which is visaòkhåra dhamma, is lokuttara. The word lokuttara means beyond the world, supramundane, free from the world 35.
Summarizing paramattha dhammas, they are:
nåma dhamma: (which knows an object): |
citta paramattha, 89 or 121 cittas |saòkhåra dhamma
cetasika paramattha, 52 cetasikas | saòkhata dhamma
rúpa dhamma: |
rúpa-paramattha, 28 rúpas |
nåma dhamma (which does not know an object):
nibbåna paramattha -- visaòkhåra dhamma
The Five Khandhas
The five khandhas, groups or aggregates, comprise: rúpakkhandha (all rúpas), vedanåkkhandha (feelings), saññåkkhandha (remembrance or perception), saòkhårakkandha (all cetasikas, except feeling and remembrance) and viññåùakkhandha (all cittas) 36.
Paramattha dhammas and Khandhas
Citta is viññåùakkhandha
Cetasika is vedanåkkhandha, saññåkkhandha, saòkhårakkhandha
Rúpa is rúpakkhandha
Nibbåna is not khandha. It is free from khandha (khandha
The term khandha refers to the dhamma which can be described as past, future or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near. Hence khandha is sankhata dhamma, the dhamma which is conditioned, which arises and falls away, and thus, it can be described as past, present, future, etc. Whereas asankhata dhamma, nibbåna, is the dhamma which does not arise, which is unconditioned 37 . It cannot be said of nibbåna that it has arisen, that it has not yet arisen, or that it will arise. It cannot be described as past, future or present. Therefore, visaòkhåra dhamma, nibbåna, is not khandha, it is free from khandha (khandha vimutta).
We read in the Kindred Sayings (III, Khandhå-vagga, First Fifty, Ch 5, § 48, The Factors) that the Buddha, while he was at Såvatthí, explained to the monks about the five khandhas and the five upådåna khandhas, khandhas of grasping:
I will teach you, monks, the five khandhas and the five khandhas that have to do with grasping. Do you listen to it.
And what, monks, are the five khandhas?
Any rúpa, be it past, future or present, inward or outward, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near, - that is called rúpakkhandha. Any feeling, any perception, any group of activities (or formations, saòkhårakkhandha), any consciousness, be it past, future or present, inward or outward, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near, that is called viññåùakkhandha. These five, monks, are called the five khandhas.
And what, monks, are the five khandhas that have to do with grasping (upådåna khandhas)? Any rúpa, monks, be it past, future or present... be it far or near, goes together with the åsavas (intoxicants 38), and is a condition for upådåna, grasping. That is called khandha of grasping, upådåna khandha. Any feeling... any perception... any group of activities... any consciousness, monks, be it past, future or present... be it far or near, goes together with the åsavas, and is a condition for upådåna, grasping. These are called the five upadåna khandhas.
The Three Paramattha Dhammas classified as Five Khandhas
Citta Paramattha Dhamma -all 81 (or 121) types are:
Cetasika Paramattha Dhamma - 52 types:
vedanå cetasika is: Vedanåkkhandha
saññå cetasika is: Saññåkkhandha
50 cetasikas are: Saòkhårakkhandha
Rúpa Paramattha Dhamma - all 28 types are: Rúpakkhandha
The Five Khandhas classified as Three Paramattha Dhammas
Rúpakkhandha -- is: Rúpa Paramattha Dhamma (28 rúpas)
Vedanåkkhandha -- is: Cetasika Paramattha Dhamma (vedanå)
Saññåkkhandha -- is: Cetasika Paramattha Dhamma (saññå)
Saòkhårakkhandha --is: Cetasika Paramattha Dhamma (50 cetasikas)
Viññåùakkhandha --is: Citta Paramattha Dhamma (89 or 121 cittas)
1 Which paramattha dhammas are saòkhåra (conditioned) dhamma?
2 Are saòkhåra dhammas saòkhårakkhandha (khandha of
3. Is visaòkhåra (unconditioned) dhamma sankhata dhamma?
4. Which khandha is asankhata (unconditioned) dhamma?
5. Is asankhata dhamma lokiya (worldly) or lokuttara
6. Is citta saòkhårakkhandha?
7. Is cetasika saòkhårakkhandha?
8. Which paramattha dhamma is vedanåkkhandha (the khandha of
9. Which khandha is not paramattha dhamma?
10. Which paramattha dhamma is not khandha?
1 Dhammasangaùi, Buddhist Psychological Ethics, Book II, Material Form, Ch I, § 595.
2 Rúpas can be produced by one of the four factors which are kamma, citta, temperature or nutrition.
3 All rúpas other than the four principle rúpas are derived rúpas, upådåya rúpas, because the latter cannot arise without the four principle rúpas.
4 Sabhåva rúpa is a rúpa with its own distinct nature. Sa in Påli means with, and bhåva means nature. There are also asabhåva rúpas which, though classified among the 28 kinds of rúpa, are not separate rúpas with their own nature, but special qualities connected with other rúpas. They will be explained later on.
5 lakkhaùa means characteristic.
6 upa means first, and caya means heaping, heaping up.
7 santati means continuity.
8 a in Påli means not. Asabhåva, without a distinct nature.
9 Santi Phantakeong explains in his lexicon that a sheet of paper can be torn off, or wood and iron can be cut through only at those points where there is pariccheda rúpa, because the rúpas within a kalåpa cannot be separated.
10 Vikåra means change or alteration.
11 Minor Anthologies, As it was said, the Twos, Ch 2, VII. Våna means weaving or craving. Ni is a particle meaning negation. Another etymology: vå is blowing. Nibbåna is blowing out, extinction.
12 The five khandhas are rúpakkhandha (rúpa), vedanåkkhandha (feeling), saññåkkhandha (remembrance or perception), saòkhårakkhandha, including all cetasikas except feeling and saññå, and viññåùakkhandha, including all cittas.
13 So long as there are defilements there are conditions for rebirth. When all defilements have been eradicated, there is the end of the cycle of birth and death, and then the khandhas do not arise again.
14 Minor Anthologies, As it was said, the Twos, Ch 2, VII, and its commentary.
15 Sa means with, upådi means substratum of life, the khandhas, and sesa means remaining. An means the negation of the first aspect of nibbåna.
16 As it was said and commentary.
17 Dialogues of the Buddha II, no. 16, Mahå Parinibbåna Sutta.
18 Vimokkha means liberation, emancipation.
19 Dhammas which arise and fall away are not happiness, they are not worth clinging to, they are dukkha. The person who has realized dukkha when he is about to attain nibbåna becomes emancipated by desirelessness.
20 Dhammas are void of the self.
21 See The Path of Discrimination (Minor Anthologies), First Division, V, Treatise on Liberation, third recitation section, 65.
22 Book of Discipline IV, Mahåvagga, the Great Division, 38.
23 saòkhåra is derived from saòkharoti, to combine, put together or compose.
24 saòkhata is the past passive participle of saòkhåroti: what has been put together, composed.
25 Gradual Sayings I, Book of the Threes, Ch V, § 47.
26 Dhammasangaùi, Buddhist Psychological Ethics, Book III, Part I, Ch III, the Short Intermediate Set of Pairs.
Santi Phantakeong explains in his Lexicon, that saòkhåra dhamma and sankhata dhamma refer to the same realities, but that these different terms have been used to explain more clearly the nature of conditioned dhammas. Saòkhåra dhamma refers to: dhamma which depends on other dhammas which condition its arising, whereas sankhata dhamma refers to: dhamma which, apart from being conditioned, is dhamma which arises and falls away.
27 Khuddaka Nikåya, Mahå-Niddesa, Suddhaììhaka Sutta, The Purified, no. 4. Not translated into English. See also Dhammapada (Minor Anthologies), vs. 277-280.
28 Kindred Sayings V, Mahå-vagga, Book IV, Kindred Sayings on the Faculties, Ch V, § 3, Learner.
29 Kindred Sayings II, Middle Fifty, Ch 4, § 87, Vakkali.
30 Minor Anthologies, Verses of Uplift, Ch V, § 5, Uposatha Sutta.
31 Vi is a particle which here denotes negation.
32 Minor Anthologies, The Path of Discrimination, Treatise I, On Knowledge, Ch I, section 1, 18.
33 The particle a denotes negation. See Gradual Sayings I, Book of the Threes, Ch 5, § 47.
34 The Påli term lujjati, to be broken up, has been associated in meaning with loko, the world. See for example Kindred Sayings IV, Second Fifty, Ch 3, § 89.
35 Uttara means higher, beyond. Lokuttara is beyond the world. The cittas which experience nibbåna when enlightenment is attained are lokuttara cittas. This will be explained further on.
36 The Book of Analysis, I, Analysis of the Aggregates, 1-32.
37 Buddhist Psychological Ethics, Book III, Part II, Appendix II and Book III, Part I, Ch III, § 1086.
38 A group of defilements.