Abhidhamma in Daily life
DOORS AND PHYSICAL BASES OF
Buddha pointed out the dangers of being infatuated by the objects we experience
through the six doors. He taught people to develop the wisdom which knows
the realities experienced through the six doors as nama and rupa, phenomena
which are impermanent and not self. What is impermanent is 'dukkha',
it cannot be happiness. When we come to know things as they are, we will
be less infatuated by objects.
We read in the 'Kindred Sayings'
(IV, Salayatana-vagga, Kindred Sayings on Sense, Second Fifty, Ch. III,
par. 81, A brother) about the purpose of the Buddha's teachings. The text
Then a number of monks came
to see the Exalted
In being aware of nama and rupa which
appear, such as seeing, visible object, feeling or thinking, we can prove
the truth of the Buddha's teachings by ourselves ; we can prove that the
objects experienced through the six doors are impermanent and not self.
The truth will not be known if one follows other people blindly or if one
speculates about the truth. We read in the 'Kindred Sayings' (IV, Salayatana-vagga,
Third Fifty, Ch. V, par. 152, Is there a method?) that the Buddha said:
One.... Seated at one side those
monks said to the
Exalted One:- -
'Now here, lord, the wandering sectarians
question us: 'What is the object,
friend, for which the
holy life is lived under the rule
of Gotama the recluse?'
Thus questioned, lord, 'we thus
make answer to those
wandering sectarians : 'It is for
the full knowledge of
dukkha that the holy life is lived
under the rule of
the Exalted One. Pray, lord, when,
we so make answer, do we state the
views of the
Exalted One, without misrepresenting
the Exalted One
by stating an untruth? Do we answer
with his teaching, so that no one
who agrees with
his teaching and follows his views
could incur reproach?'
'Truly, monks, when thus questioned,
You thus make
answer, you do state my views..
in stating that it is
for the full knowledge of dukkha
that the holy life is
lived under my rule.
But if, monks, the wandering sectarians
question you : 'But what, friend,
is that dukkha, for
the full knowledge of which the
holy life is lived under
the rule of Gotama the recluse?'-
- thus questioned you
should answer thus: 'The eye, friend,
For the full knowledge of that the
holy life is
lived... Objects...that pleasant
or unpleasant or indifferent
feeling that arises through mind-contact,-
- that also is
dukkha. Fully to know that, the
holy life is lived under
the rule of the Exalted One.' Thus
by those wandering sectarians, thus
should You make
'ls there, monks, any method,
by following which
When we study the Abhidhamma we should
keep in mind the purpose of the Buddha's teachings : the eradication of
defilements through the wisdom which realizes phenomena appearing through
the six doors as they are. Through this
a monk, apart from belief, apart
from inclination, apart
from hearsay, apart from argument
as to method, apart
from reflection on reasons, apart
from delight in
speculation, could affirm insight
thus : 'Ended is birth,
lived is the righteous life, done
is the task, for life
in these conditions there is no
'For us, lord, things have their
root in the Exalted
One... Well indeed were it if the
meaning of this that
has been spoken were to manifest
itself in the Exalted
One. Hearing it from him the monks
will remember it.'
'There is indeed a method, monks,
which a monk....could affirm insight...And
Herein, monks, a monk, seeing an
object with the
eye, either recognizes within him
the existence of lust,
malice and ignorance, thus : 'I
have lust, malice and
ignorance', or recognizes the non-existence
qualities within him, thus: 'I have
not lust, malice and
ignorance.' Now as to that recognition
of their existence
or non-existence within him, are
these conditions, I
ask, to be understood by belief,
or by inclination, or
hearsay, or argument as to method,
or reflection on
reasons, or delight in speculation?'
'Surely not, lord.'
'Are not these states to be understood
them with the eye of wisdom?'
'Then, monks, this is the method
by following which,
apart from belief... a monk could
affirm insight thus:
'Ended is birth...for life in these
conditions there is
The same is said with regard to the
ear-door, the door
of the nose, the door of the tongue,
the body-door and the
method there will be an end to the
cycle of birth and death. We should remember that the Abhidhamma is not
a theoretical textbook but an exposition of realities appearing in daily
life. We learn about nama and rupa ; we learn about cittas which each have
their own function in the sense-door process and in the mind-door process.
There are sense-door processes and mind-door processes time and again,
and objects are experienced during these processes of citta. If there is
awareness of characteristics of nama and rupa when they appear, the panna
is developed which can eradicate defilements. This kind of wisdom is deeper
than any kind of theoretical knowledge.
Nama and rupa which arise and fall
away are conditioned realities, they arise because of different conditions.
Through the study of the Abhidhamma we learn about different conditions
for nama and rupa. Each reality which arises is dependent on several conditions.
For instance, seeing is vipaka, produced by kamma. Visible object conditions
seeing by being its object (arammana). lf there is no visible object there
cannot be seeing. Eye-sense, the kind of rupa in the eye (pasada-rupa)
which is able to receive visible object, is another condition for seeing.
The rupa which is eye-sense can be
the door (in Pali : dvara) for seeing. A door or 'dvara' is the means through
which citta experiences an object. There is eye-sense arising and falling
away all the time; throughout our life it is produced by kamma. However,
eye-sense is not a door all the time, because there is not all the time
the experience of visible object. Eye-sense is a door only when citta experiences
visible object. It is the same with the pasada-rupas which are the other
sense-organs. They are doors only when they are the means through which
citta experiences an object.
The eye-door is the means through
which citta experiences visible object. Not only the cittas which are cakkhu-dvaravajjana-citta
(eye-door-adverting-consciousness) and cakkhu-vinnana (seeing-consciousness)
experience the object through the eye-door, the other, cittas of that process,
which are sampaticchana-citta (receiving-consciousness), santirana-citta
(investigating-consciousness), votthapana-citta (determining-consciousness),
the javana-cittas and the tadarammana-cittas are also dependent on the
same door, in order to experience the object. After the rupa which is experienced
by these cittas has fallen away, the object can be experienced through
the mind-door (mano-dvara).
Cittas arising in a process which
experience an object through one of the six doors are vithi-cittas (vithi
means: way, course, process). Vithi-cittas are named after the door through
which they experience an object. For example, the cittas which experience
an object through the eye-door are called cakkhu-dvara-vithi-cittas (cakkhu-dvara
means eye-door) ; the cittas which experience an object through the ear-door
; (sota-dvara) are called sota-dvara-vithi-cittas; the cittas which experience
an object through the mind-door (mano-dvara) are called mano-dvara-vithi-cittas.
In between the different processes
of citta there have to be bhavanga-cittas (life-continuum). Bhavanga-cittas
are not vithi-cittas. They are not part of the process of cittas
experiencing objects which time and again throughout our life experiencing
on the six doors. They experience an object without being dependent on
any doorway. As we have seen (Ch. 15), the patisandhi-citta, the bhavanga-cittas
and the cuti-citta of one life experience the same object as the last javana-cittas
which arose before the cuti-citta of the previous life. The patisandhi-citta,
the bhavanga-citta and the cuti-citta are vithi-vimutti-cittas (vithi-vimutti
means: process-freed), thus, they are different from the cittas arising
in sense-door processes and mind-door processes.
It is useful to classify citta by
way of dvara (doorway). If one only classifies citta by way of function
(kicca), but not by dvara, one may not know which citta is referred to.
For example, the panca-dvaravajjana-citta (five-sense-door-adverting-consciousness)
has the function of avajjana (adverting). If one does not know that this
citta performs the function of adverting through the five sense-doors,
one may confuse it with the mano-dvaravajjana-citta (mind-door-adverting-consciousness)
which also perform the function of avajjana. The mano-dvaravajjana-citta,
however, performs the function of avajjana only through the mind-door.
Some cittas perform their function
only through one door. For example, the two types of citta which are sota-vinnana
(hearing-consciousness, which can be kusala vipaka or akusala vipaka),
only perform their functions through one door, the ear-door. Some cittas
perform their function through more than one door. Sampaticchana-citta
(receiving..consciousness) performs its function through five doors, depending
on the doorway which is contacted by the object. Santirana-citta has different
functions performed through different doorways ; it also performs functions
without being dependent on any doorway and this is the case when it performs
the function of patisandhi, bhavanga and cuti.
Citta should also be classified according
to feeling. For example, santirana-citta can be accompanied by upekkha
(indifferent feeling) and by somanassa (pleasant feeling). Santirana-citta
which is accompanied by somanassa can perform the function of santirana
(investigating) through five doors and the function of tadarammana (registering,
occurring after the javana-cittas) through six doors.
When santirana-citta is accompanied
by upekkha (and in that case it can be kusala vipaka or akusala vipaka),
it can perform five functions:
1. The function of santirana through five doors.
2. The function of tadarammana through six doors.
3. The function of patisandhi, without being dependent on any door.
4. The function of bhavanga, without being dependent on any door.
5. The function of cuti, without being dependent on any door.
In the processes of citta the doorway
(dvara) is the means through which citta experiences its object. The physical
base (vatthu) is another factor which conditions citta by being its place
of origin. In the planes of existence where there are nama and rupa, cittas
do not arise independently of the body ; a citta which arises has a rupa
as its place of origin. When there is seeing, could seeing arise outside
the body? When there is hearing or thinking, could these cittas arise without
the body? This would not be possible. Where does seeing arise? It could
not arise on our arm or in our ear. It needs the eye as its physical base.
The cakkhuppasada-rupa, the rupa in the eye which can receive visible object,
is the physical base for the citta which sees. The physical base or vatthu
is not the same as dvara or doorway. Although the cakkhuppasada-rupa is
both dvara and vatthu for seeing-consciousness, dvara and vatthu have different
functions. The eye-door (cakkhu-dvara) is the means through which cittas
of the eye-door process experience an object. The cakkhu-vatthu (eye-base)
is the physical base, the place of origin for seeing-consciousness. The
cakkhu-vatthu is the base only for seeing-consciousness, not for the other
cittas of that process. The other cittas of that process have another vatthu
The vatthu for hearing-consciousness is the sotappasada-rupa for smelling-consciousness
the ghanappasada-rupa, for
tasting-consciousness the jivhappasada-rupa,
for body-consciousness the kayappasada-rupa.
There is a sixth vatthu which is
not one of the pasada-rupas. This is the hadaya-vatthu or heart-base. The
hadaya-vatthu is a kind of rupa which is the place of origin for the cittas
which are not among the panca-vinnanas (seeing, hearing, etc.) since these
cittas have the pasada-rupa as their place of origin. The hadaya-vatthu
is different from the mind-door. The mind-door is a citta, the bhavangupaccheda-citta,
which is the last bhavanga-citta arising before the
The hadaya-vatthu is rupa, not nama.
When sound contacts the ear-sense,
the panca-dvara-vajjana-citta (five-sense-door-adverting-consciousness)
which arises, has as its place of origin the hadaya-vatthu, but the hearing-consciousness
has the sotappasada-rupa as its vatthu. All succeeding cittas of that process,
however, have the hadaya-vatthu as their place of origin. All cittas of
the mind-door process too have the hadaya-vatthu as their place of origin.
Vithi-vimutti-cittas which experience
an object without dependence on any door, also have a physical place of
origin. Although they are not dependent on any doorway, they could not,
in the planes where there are both nama and rupa, arise without a vatthu.
A new life begins when the patisandhi-citta arises; however, there is not
only nama, there has to be rupa as well. The hadaya-vatthu is the rupa
which is the vatthu of the patisandhi-citta. All bhavanga-cittas and the
cuti-citta have the hadaya-vatthu as their physical base.
The five kinds of pasada-rupa are
the vatthus of the panca-vinnanas. As regards the vatthu of the two types
of kaya-vinnana (body-consciousness, which can be kusala vipaka or akusala
vipaka), this can arise all over the body. Any part of the body which has
sensitivity, can be vatthu for the kaya-vinnana.
The vatthu is the place of origin
not only of citta, but also of cetasikas arising together with the citta.
Thus, except in the planes of existence where there is only nama there
has to be rupakkhandha as well when the four namakkhandhas arise.
It is useful to classify citta by
way of kicca (function), arammana (object), dvara (doorway), vatthu, and
in many other ways. In this way we will have a clearer understanding of
citta. We should, however, remember that this kind of understanding is
not yet the wisdom which eradicates lobha, dosa and moha. In the 'Kindred
Sayings' (V, Khnadha-vagga, Kindred Sayings about Radha, Ch.I, par. 4,
To be understood) we read.
Sometimes the Buddha reminded people
of the purpose of the teachings in a longer discourse, sometimes in a shorter
discourse, but one has to be often reminded of the goal. What is the purpose
of understanding, if it does not lead
As he thus sat at one side the Exalted
addressed the venerable Radha:--
'I will show you the things to be
the understanding, and the person
who has understood.
Do you listen to it.'
The Exalted One thus spoke: 'And
are the things to be understood?
Body, Radha, is a
thing to be understood: so is feeling,
activities. Consciousness is a thing
to be understood.
These, Radha, are the things to
And what, Radha, is understanding?
The destruction of lust, the destruction
the destruction of ignorance,--this,
Radha, is called
And who, Radha, is the person who
'Worthy' should he be called, that
of such and such a name, of such
and such a clan
- - that, Radha, is the meaning
of 'the person who has
to the eradication of defilements?
1. Can citta know arammana
without being dependent on any doorway?
2. Through how many doors
can citta know arammana?
3. Through how many doors
experience an object?
4. Through how many doors
experience an object?
5. Through how many doors
does sota-vinnana (hearing-consciousness)
experience an object?
6. Through how many doors
does santirana-citta perform the function
of santirana (investigating)?
7. Does santirana-citta perform
the function of patisandhi independent
on a doorway?
8. Of how many cittas is cakkhu-vatthu
(eye-base) the vatthu?
9. Of how many ahetuka cittas
is hadaya-vatthu (heart-base) the vatthu?
10. Can the sotappasada-rupa (ear-sense)
be dvara (door) or vatthu (base)
11. What are the respective functions
of dvara and vatthu?