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The Dhamma Theory

Philosophical Cornerstone
of the Abhidhamma
by
Y. Karunadasa
Buddhist Publication Society
Kandy Sri Lanka
The Wheel Publication o! "#$%"#&
Published in 1996
Copyright 1996 by Y. Karunadasa
ISBN 955!"#1$%!
&n earlier 'ersion o( this paper )as published by the Shin Buddhist Co*prehensi'e +esear,h
Institute- &nnual .e*oirs.
BPS /nline 0dition 1!#112
3igital 4rans,ription Sour,e5 BPS 4rans,ription Pro6e,t
7or (ree distribution. 4his )or8 *ay be republished- re(or*atted- reprinted and redistributed in any
*ediu*. 9o)e'er- any su,h republi,ation and redistribution is to be *ade a'ailable to the publi, on
a (ree and unrestri,ted basis- and translations and other deri'ati'e )or8s are to be ,learly *ar8ed as
su,h.
Contents
Y. Karunadasa..................................................................................................................................... 1
4he :heel Publi,ation No. "1!;"1$.............................................................................................1
Contents............................................................................................................................................... $
&bbre'iations...................................................................................................................................... $
4he 3ha**a 4heory......................................................................................................................... 5
Introdu,tion..................................................................................................................................... 5
I. 4he 0arly <ersion o( the 3ha**a 4heory...............................................................................6
II. 4he 3e'elop*ent o( the 4heory...............................................................................................9
III. Pa==atti and the 4)o 4ruths.................................................................................................1%
Abbreviations
& &>guttarani8?ya
&@a Aguttaranikya Ahakath
&bhi@a'@nA Abhidhammatthaviksin- ed. &.P. Buddhadatta 1Colo*bo- 19612
&bhi@a' Abhidhammvatra
&bhidh@s Abhidhammatthasagaha
&bhidh@s@s Abhidharmrthasagraha-sannayaB in,luded in Abhidhammatthasagaha- ed. by
Pa==?*oli 4issa 1&*balangoda- 19!62
&bhidh@s@s' Abhidhammatthasagaha-Sakhepavaan- ed. Pa==?nanda 4hera 1Colo*bo.
1C992
&bhidh@s@*hA Abhidhammatthasagaha-Vibhvin-k. ed. 3. Pa==?nanda 1Colo*bo. 1C992
&bhidh@*A Abhidhamma-Mak- ed. 3. Pa==?s?ra and P. <i*aladha**a 1Colo*bo.
19$92
3 3Dghani8?ya
3@a 3Dghani8?ya &AAha8ath?
3hs 3ha**asa>gaED
3hs@a !hammasaga Ahakath
3@A !ghanikya-k 1Colo*bo- 19%"2
It@a "tivuttaka Ahakath
K' Kath?'atthu
K'@a #athvatthu Ahakath
!
. .a66hi*ani8?ya
.@a Ma$$himanikya Ahakath
Nidd@a I Mahniddesa Ahakath
.il Miindapa%h
.il@A Miinda-k
.oh M&havi''hedan
PaAis PaAisa*bhid?*agga
PaAis@a (aisambhidmagga Ahakath
P*@'n (aramatthavini''haya
S SaFyuttani8?ya
S@a Sayuttanikya Ahakath
Sa,, Sa''asakhepa 1in )&urna &* the (ai +e,t S&'iety- 191%192
48p 4i8apaAAh?na
Gd Gd?na
<ibh <ibha>ga
<ibh@a Vibhaga Ahakath
<is* Visuddhimagga
<is*@sn Visuddhimrga-sannaya- ed. .. 3har*aratna 1Colo*bo- 1C9#191%2
<is*@*hA Visuddhimagga k 1(aramatthama%$s2- ed. ..
3ha**ananda 1Colo*bo. 19!C2
&ll re(eren,es are to P4S eds. unless indi,ated other)ise.
$
The Dhamma Theory
'ntroduction
3uring the (irst t)o ,enturies (ollo)ing the BuddhaHs parinibb?na there too8 pla,e- )ithin the early
Buddhist ,o**unity- a *o'e to)ards a ,o*prehensi'e and pre,ise syste*atisation o( the tea,hings
dis,losed by the .aster in his dis,ourses. 4he philosophi,al syste*s that e*erged (ro* this re(ined
analyti,al approa,h to the do,trine are ,olle,ti'ely ,alled the &bhidha**a. Both the 4hera'?da and
the Sar'?sti'?da- the t)o *a6or ,onser'ati'e s,hools in the early Sangha- had their o)n
&bhidha**as- ea,h based on a distin,t &bhidha**a PiAa8a. It is li8ely too that other s,hools had
also de'eloped philosophi,al syste*s along si*ilar lines- though re,ords o( the* did not sur'i'e the
passage o( ti*e.
&ll the di((erent *odes o( analysis and ,lassi(i,ation (ound in the &bhidha**a ste* (ro* a single
philosophi,al prin,iple- )hi,h ga'e dire,tion and shape to the entire pro6e,t o( syste*atisation. 4his
prin,iple is the notion that all the pheno*ena o( e*piri,al eIisten,e are *ade up o( a nu*ber o(
ele*entary ,onstituents- the ulti*ate realities behind the *ani(est pheno*ena. 4hese ele*entary
,onstituents- the building blo,8s o( eIperien,e- are ,alled dhammas.
1
4he dhamma theory is not *erely
one prin,iple a*ong others in the body o( &bhidha**a philosophy but the base upon )hi,h the
entire syste* rests. It )ould thus be Juite (itting to ,all this theory the ,ornerstone o( the
&bhidha**a. But the dhamma theory )as intended (ro* the start to be *ore than a *ere
hypotheti,al s,he*e. It arose (ro* the need to *a8e sense out o( eIperien,es in *editation and )as
designed as a guide (or *editati'e ,onte*plation and insight. 4he Buddha had taught that to see the
)orld ,orre,tly is to seeKnot persons and substan,esKbut bare pheno*ena 1suddhadhamm2 arising
and perishing in a,,ordan,e )ith their ,onditions. 4he tas8 the &bhidha**a spe,ialists set
the*sel'es )as to spe,i(y eIa,tly )hat these Lbare pheno*enaM are and to sho) ho) they relate to
other Lbare pheno*enaM to *a8e up our L,o**on senseM pi,ture o( the )orld.
4he dhamma theory )as not pe,uliar to any one s,hool o( Buddhis* but penetrated all the early
s,hools- sti*ulating the gro)th o( their di((erent 'ersions o( the &bhidha**a. 4he Sar'?sti'?da
'ersion o( the theory- together )ith its ,ritiJue by the .?dhya*i8as- has been ,riti,ally studied by a
nu*ber o( *odern s,holars. 4he 4hera'?da 'ersion- ho)e'er- has re,ei'ed less attention. 4here are
sound reasons (or belie'ing that the P?li &bhidha**a PiAa8a ,ontains one o( the earliest (or*s o( the
dhamma theory- perhaps e'en the oldest 'ersion. 4his theory did not re*ain stati, but e'ol'ed o'er
the ,enturies as Buddhist thin8ers sought to dra) out the i*pli,ations o( the theory and to respond to
proble*s it posed (or the ,riti,al intelle,t. 4hus the dhamma theory )as repeatedly enri,hed- (irst by
the &bhidha**a ,o**entaries and then by the later eIegeti,al literature and the *ediae'al
,o*pendia o( &bhidha**a- the so@,alled Llittle (inger *anualsM su,h as the Abhidhammatthasagaha-
)hi,h in turn ga'e rise to their o)n ,o**entaries.
In the present paper I )ill atte*pt to tra,e the *ain stages in the origin and de'elop*ent o( the
dhamma theory and to eIplore its philosophi,al i*pli,ations. Part I )ill dis,uss the early 'ersion o( the
theory as represented by the &bhidha**a PiAa8a. &t this stage the theory )as not yet pre,isely
arti,ulated but re*ained in the ba,8ground as the unspo8en pre*ise o( &bhidha**a analysis. It )as
during the ,o**entarial period that an atte*pt )as *ade to )or8 out the i*pli,ations o( early
&bhidha**a thought- and it is this de'elop*ent that I )ill treat in Part II. 7inally- in Part III- I )ill
dis,uss t)o other topi,s that re,ei'ed philosophi,al study as a ,onseJuen,e o( the dhamma theory-
na*ely- the ,ategory o( the no*inal and the ,on,eptual 1pa%%atti2 and the theory o( the t)o(old truth.
Both o( these )ere ,onsidered ne,essary *easures to preser'e the 'alidity o( the dhamma theory in
relation to our routine- e'eryday understanding o( oursel'es and the )orld in )hi,h )e d)ell.
1
4he ter* dhamma denotes not only the ulti*ate data o( e*piri,al eIisten,e but also the un,onditioned state
o( Nibb?na. In this study- ho)e'er- only the (or*er aspe,t is ta8en into ,onsideration.
"
'! The (arly )ersion of the Dhamma Theory
&lthough the dhamma theory is an &bhidha**i, inno'ation- the ante,edent trends that led to its
(or*ulation and its basi, ingredients ,an be tra,ed to the early Buddhist s,riptures )hi,h see8 to
analyse e*piri, indi'iduality and its relation to the eIternal )orld. In the dis,ourses o( the Buddha
there are (i'e su,h *odes o( analysis. 4he (irst- the analysis into nma and rpa-
1
is the *ost
ele*entary in the sense that it spe,i(ies the t)o *ain ,o*ponents- the *ental and the ,orporeal
aspe,ts- o( the e*piri, indi'idual. 4he se,ond is that into the (i'e khandhas 1aggregates25 ,orporeality
1rpa2- sensation 1vedan2- per,eption 1sa%%2- *ental (or*ations 1sakhr2- and ,ons,iousness
1vi%%a2.
!
4he third is that into siI dhtus 1ele*ents25 earth 1pahav2- )ater 1p&2- te*perature 1te$&2- air
1vy&2- spa,e 1ksa2- and ,ons,iousness 1vi%%a2.
$
4he (ourth is that into t)el'e yatanas 1a'enues o(
sense@per,eption and *ental ,ognition25 the eye- ear- nose- tongue- body- and *indB and their
,orresponding ob6e,ts5 'isible (or*- sound- s*ell- taste- tou,h- and *ental ob6e,ts.
"
4he (i(th is that
into eighteen dhtus 1ele*ents2- an elaboration o( the i**ediately pre,eding *ode obtained by the
addition o( the siI 8inds o( ,ons,iousness )hi,h arise (ro* the ,onta,t bet)een the sense organs and
their ob6e,ts. 4he siI additional ite*s are the 'isual- auditory- ol(a,tory- gustatory- ta,tile- and *ental
,ons,iousnesses.
5
No) the purposes (or )hi,h Buddhis* resorts to these analyses are 'aried. 7or instan,e- the *ain
purpose o( the khandha@analysis is to sho) that there is no ego either inside or outside the (i'e
khandhas )hi,h go to *a8e up the so@,alled e*piri, indi'iduality. None o( the khandhas belongs to *e
1n-eta mama2- they do not ,orrespond to LIM 1n-es&-ham asmi2- nor are they *y sel( 1n-es& me att2.
6
4hus
the *ain purpose o( this analysis is to pre'ent the intrusion o( the notions o( L*ine-M LI-M and L*y
sel(M into )hat is other)ise an i*personal and egoless ,ongeries o( *ental and physi,al pheno*ena.
/n the other hand- the analysis into eighteen dhtus is o(ten resorted to in order to sho) that
,ons,iousness is neither a soul nor an eItension o( a soul@substan,e but a *ental pheno*enon )hi,h
,o*es into being as a result o( ,ertain ,onditions5 there is no independent ,ons,iousness )hi,h eIists
in its o)n right.
%
In si*ilar (ashion ea,h analysis is used to eIplain ,ertain (eatures o( sentient
eIisten,e. It is- in (a,t- )ith re(eren,e to these (i'e 8inds o( analysis that Buddhis* (ra*es its
(unda*ental do,trines. 4he 'ery (a,t that there are at least (i'e 8inds o( analysis sho)s that none o(
the* ,an be ta8en as (inal or absolute. 0a,h represents the )orld o( eIperien,e in its totality- yet
represents it (ro* a prag*ati, standpoint deter*ined by the parti,ular do,trine )hi,h it is intended
to illu*inate.
4he &bhidha**i, do,trine o( dhammas de'eloped (ro* an atte*pt to dra) out the (ull
i*pli,ations o( these (i'e types o( analysis. It )ill be seen that i( ea,h analysis is eIa*ined in relation
to the other (our- it is (ound to be (urther analysable. 4hat the (irst- the analysis into nma and rpa- is
(urther analysable is seen by the se,ond- the analysis into the (i'e khandhas. 7or in the se,ond- the
nma@,o*ponent o( the (irst is analysed into sensation- per,eptions- *ental (or*ations- and
,ons,iousness. 4hat the analysis into khandhas- too- ,an be (urther analysed is sho)n not only by the
use o( the ter* khandha- )hi,h *eans Lgroup-M but also by the neIt analysis- that into siI dhtus. 7or in
the latter- the rpa@,o*ponent o( the (or*er is analysed into (our- na*ely- earth )ater- te*perature-
and air. 4hat the analysis into siI dhtus is also (urther analysable is seen (ro* the (a,t that
,ons,iousness- )hi,h is re,8oned here as one ite*- is *ade into (our in the khandha@analysis. 4hat the
sa*e situation is true o( the analysis into t)el'e yatanas is sho)n by the neIt analysis- that into
eighteen dhtus. be,ause the latter is an elaboration o( the (or*er. 4his lea'es us )ith the last- the
dhtu@analysis )ith eighteen ite*s. Can this be ,onsidered (inalN 4his supposition too *ust be
1
4he re(eren,e here is to its general sense. In its spe,ial sense nma-rpa *eans the (ollo)ing psy,ho@physi,al
aspe,ts5 LSensation- per,eption- )ill- ,onta,t- attentionKthis is ,alled nma. 4he (our *aterial ele*ents and the
(or* depending on the*Kthis is ,alled rpaM 1S II $2. In the o(t@re,urrent state*ent- vi%%apa''ay nmarpa-
the re(eren,e is to the spe,ial sense.
!
See e.g. S III "%- C6@C%B . III 16.
$
See e.g. S II !"CB III !$1.
"
See e.g. 3 II $#!B III 1#!- !"$B & III "##B < 5!.
5
See e.g. S II 1"#B 3 I %9B III $CB & I !55B III 1%.
6
S III "9.
%
C(. A%%atra pa''ay natthi vi%%assa sambhav& 1. III !C12.
5
re6e,ted- be,ause although ,ons,iousness is here ite*ised as siI(old- its in'ariable ,on,o*itants su,h
as sensation 1vedan2 and per,eption 1sa%%2 are not separately *entioned. It )ill thus be seen that
none o( the (i'e analyses ,an be ,onsidered eIhausti'e. In ea,h ,ase one or *ore ite*s is (urther
analysable.
4his- it see*s to *e- is the line o( thought that led the Obhidha**i8as to e'ol'e still another *ode
o( analysis )hi,h in their 'ie) is not a*enable to (urther analysis. 4his ne) de'elop*ent- )hi,h is
*ore or less ,o**on to all the syste*s o( &bhidha**a- is the analysis o( the )orld o( eIperien,e
into )hat ,a*e to be 8no)n as dharmas 1S8t2 or dhammas 1P?li2. 4he ter* dhamma- o( ,ourse- loo*s
large in the dis,ourses o( the Buddha- (ound in a 'ariety o( senses )hi,h ha'e to be deter*ined by the
spe,i(i, ,onteIt. In the &bhidha**a- ho)e'er- the ter* assu*es a *ore te,hni,al *eaning- re(erring
to those ite*s that result )hen the pro,ess o( analysis is ta8en to its ulti*ate li*its. In the 4hera'?da
&bhidha**a- (or instan,e- the aggregate o( ,orporeality 1o( the khandha@analysis2 is bro8en do)n into
t)enty@eight ite*s ,alled rpa-dhammas. 4he neIt three aggregatesKsensation- per,eption- and *ental
(or*ationsKare together arranged into (i(ty@t)o ite*s ,alled 'etasikas. 4he (i(th- ,ons,iousness- is
,ounted as one ite* )ith eighty@nine 'arieties and is re(erred to as 'itta.
1
4hus the dhamma@analysis is an addition to the pre'ious (i'e *odes o( analyses. Its s,ope is the
sa*e- the )orld o( ,ons,ious eIperien,e- but its di'isions are (iner and *ore eIhausti'e. 4his
situation in itsel( does not ,onstitute a radi,al departure (ro* the earlier tradition- (or it does not as
yet in'ol'e a 'ie) o( eIisten,e that is at 'arian,e )ith that o( early Buddhis*. 4here is- ho)e'er- this
situation to be noted5 Sin,e the analysis into dhammas is the *ost eIhausti'e- the pre'ious (i'e *odes
o( analysis be,o*e subsu*ed under it as (i'e subordinate ,lassi(i,ations.
4he de(inition and ,lassi(i,ation o( these dhammas and the eIplanation o( their inter@,onne,tions
(or* the *ain sub6e,t *atter o( the ,anoni,al &bhidha**a. 4he Obhidha**i8as presuppose that to
understand any gi'en ite* properly is to 8no) it in all its relations- under all aspe,ts re,ognised in
the do,trinal and pra,ti,al dis,ipline o( Buddhis*. 4here(ore- in the &bhidha**a PiAa8a- they ha'e
,lassi(ied the sa*e *aterial in di((erent )ays and (ro* di((erent points o( 'ie). 4his eIplains )hy- in
the !hammasaga and other &bhidha**a treatises- one en,ounters innu*erable lists o(
,lassi(i,ations. &lthough su,h lists *ay appear repetiti'e- e'en *onotonous- they ser'e a use(ul
purpose- bringing into relie(- not only the indi'idual ,hara,teristi, o( ea,h dhamma- but also its
relations to other dhammas.
:ith this sa*e ai* in 'ie)- in bringing out the nature o( the dhammas- the &bhidha**a resorts to
t)o ,o*ple*entary *ethods5 that o( analysis 1bheda2 and that o( synthesis 1sagaha2. 4he analyti,al
*ethod do*inates in the !hammasaga- )hi,h a,,ording to tradition is the (irst boo8 o( the
&bhidha**a PiAa8aB (or here )e (ind a ,o*plete ,atalogue o( the dhammas- ea,h )ith a la,oni,
de(inition. 4he syntheti,al *ethod is *ore ,hara,teristi, o( the (ahna- the last boo8 o( the
&bhidha**a PiAa8aB (or here )e (ind an eIhausti'e ,atalogue o( the ,onditional relations o( the
dhammas. 4he ,o*bined use o( these t)o *ethods sho)s that- a,,ording to the *ethodologi,al
apparatus e*ployed in the &bhidha**a- La ,o*plete des,ription o( a thing reJuires- besides its
analysis- also a state*ent o( its relations to ,ertain other things.M
!
4hus i( analysis plays an i*portant
role in the &bhidha**aHs *ethodology- no less i*portant a role is played by synthesis. &nalysis
sho)s that the )orld o( eIperien,e is resol'able into a plurality o( (a,torsB synthesis sho)s that these
(a,tors are not dis,rete entities eIisting in the*sel'es but inter@,onne,ted and inter@dependent nodes
in a ,o*pleI )eb o( relationships. It is only (or the purpose o( de(inition and des,ription that things
are arti(i,ially disse,ted. In a,tuality the )orld gi'en to eIperien,e is a 'ast net)or8 o( tightly
inter)o'en relations.
4his (a,t needs e*phasis be,ause the &bhidha**i, do,trine o( dhammas has so*eti*es been
represented as a radi,al pluralis*. Su,h an interpretation is ,ertainly not ad*issible. It is *ostly
St,herbats8yHs )ritings-
$
*ainly based on the Sar'?sti'?da sour,es- that has gi'en ,urren,y to this
in,orre,t interpretation. LGp to the present ti*e-M obser'es Nyanaponi8a 4hera- Lit has been a regular
1
See 3hs. 5((.
!
Nyanaponi8a 4hera- Abhidhamma Studies 1Kandy- 19%62- p.!1.
$
C(. +he /entra /&n'epti&n &* 0uddhism 1Pondon- 19!$2B 0uddhist 1&gi' 1reprint5 Ne) Yor8- 196!2- <ol. I-
Introdu,tion.
6
o,,urren,e in the history o( physi,s- *etaphysi,s- and psy,hology that )hen a )hole has been
su,,ess(ully dissol'ed by analysis- the resultant parts ,o*e again to be regarded as little :holes.M
1
4his is the 8ind o( pro,ess that ,ul*inates in radi,al pluralis*. &s )e shall soon see- about a hundred
years a(ter the (or*ulation o( the dhamma@theory- su,h a trend sur(a,ed )ithin ,ertain s,hools o(
Buddhist thought and ,ul*inated in the 'ie) that the dhammas eIist in all three periods o( ti*e. But
the P?li &bhidha**a PiAa8a did not su,,u*b to this error o( ,on,ei'ing the dhammas as ulti*ate
unities or dis,rete entities. In the P?li tradition it is only (or the sa8e o( de(inition and des,ription that
ea,h dhamma is postulated as i( it )ere a separate entityB but in reality it is by no *eans a solitary
pheno*enon ha'ing an eIisten,e o( its o)n. 4his is pre,isely )hy the *ental and *aterial dhammas
are o(ten presented in inter@,onne,ted groups. In presenting the* thus the danger inherent in
narro)ly analyti,al *ethods has been a'oidedKthe danger- na*ely- o( ele'ating the (a,tors resulting
(ro* analysis to the status o( genuinely separate entities. 4hus i( analysis sho)s that ,o*posite things
,annot be ,onsidered as ulti*ate unities- synthesis sho)s that the (a,tors into )hi,h the apparently
,o*posite things are analysed 1ghana-vinibbh&ga2 are not dis,rete entities.
!
I( this &bhidha**i, 'ie) o( eIisten,e- as seen (ro* its do,trine o( dhammas- ,annot be interpreted
as a radi,al pluralis*- neither ,an it be interpreted as an out@and@out *onis*. 7or )hat are ,alled
dhammasKthe ,o*ponent (a,tors o( the uni'erse- both )ithin us and outside usKare not (ra,tions o(
an absolute unity but a *ultipli,ity o( ,o@ordinate (a,tors. 4hey are not redu,ible to- nor do they
e*erge (ro*- a single reality- the (unda*ental postulate o( *onisti, *etaphysi,s. I( they are to be
interpreted as pheno*ena- this should be done )ith the pro'iso that they are pheno*ena )ith no
,orresponding nou*ena- no hidden underlying ground. 7or they are not *ani(estations o( so*e
*ysterious *etaphysi,al substratu*- but pro,esses ta8ing pla,e due to the interplay o( a *ultitude o(
,onditions.
In thus e'ol'ing a 'ie) o( eIisten,e )hi,h ,annot be interpreted in either *onisti, or pluralisti,
ter*s- the &bhidha**a a,,ords )ith the L*iddle do,trineM o( early Buddhis*. 4his do,trine a'oids
both the eternalist 'ie) o( eIisten,e )hi,h *aintains that e'erything eIists absolutely 1sabba atthi2
$
and the opposite nihilisti, 'ie) )hi,h *aintains that absolutely nothing eIists 1sabba natthi2.
"
It also
a'oids- on the one hand- the *onisti, 'ie) that e'erything is redu,ible to a ,o**on ground- so*e
sort o( sel(@substan,e 1sabba ekatta2
5
and- on the other- the opposite pluralisti, 'ie) that the )hole
o( eIisten,e is resol'able into a ,on,atenation o( dis,rete entities 1sabba puthutta2.
6
4rans,ending
these t)o pairs o( eItre*ist 'ie)s- the *iddle do,trine eIplains that pheno*ena arise in dependen,e
on other pheno*ena )ithout a sel(@subsisting nou*enon )hi,h ser'es as the ground o( their being.
4he inter@,onne,tion and inter@dependen,e o( these dhammas are not eIplained on the basis o( the
di,hoto*y bet)een substan,e and Juality. ConseJuently- a gi'en dhamma does not inhere in another
as its Juality- nor does it ser'e another as its substan,e. 4he so@,alled substan,e is only a produ,t o(
our i*agination. 4he distin,tion bet)een substan,e and Juality is denied be,ause su,h a distin,tion
lea'es the door open (or the intrusion o( the do,trine o( a substantial sel( 1attavda2 )ith all that it
entails. 9en,e it is )ith re(eren,e to ,auses and ,onditions that the inter@,onne,tion o( the dhammas
should be understood. 4he ,onditions are not di((erent (ro* the dhammas- (or it is the dhammas
the*sel'es that ,onstitute the ,onditions. 9o) ea,h dhamma ser'es as a ,ondition 1pa''aya2 (or the
origination o( another 1pa''ayuppanna2 is eIplained on the basis o( the syste* o( ,onditioned genesis
1pa''aykra-naya2.
%
4his syste*- )hi,h ,onsists o( t)enty@(our ,onditions- ai*s at de*onstrating the
inter@dependen,e and dependent ,o@origination 1pai''a-samuppda2 o( all dhammas in respe,t o( both
their te*poral seJuen,e and their spatial ,on,o*itan,e.
1
Nyanaponi8a 4hera- p."1.
!
<is*@*hA 1$%.
$
S II 1%- %%.
"
Ibid.
5
S II %%.
6
Ibid.
%
7or a short but lu,id des,ription- see N?rada 4hera- A Manua &* Abhidhamma 1Colo*bo- 195%2- <ol. II-
pp.C%((.
%
''! The De*elopment of the Theory
4he (oregoing is a brie( su**ary o( the earliest phase o( the dhamma theory as presented in the boo8s
o( the P?li &bhidha**a PiAa8a- parti,ularly the !hammasaga and the (ahna. &bout a hundred
years a(ter its (or*ulation- as a rea,tion against it- there e*erged )hat ,a*e to be 8no)n as
puggaavda or Lpersonalis*-M
1
a philosophi,al theory that led to a (urther ,lari(i,ation o( the nature o(
dhammas. No) here it *ay be noted that a,,ording to the early Buddhist dis,ourses there is no denial
as su,h o( the ,on,ept o( the person 1puggaa2- i( by LpersonM is understood- not an enduring entity
distin,t (ro* the (i'e khandhas nor an agent )ithin the khandhas- but si*ply the su* total o( the (i'e
,ausally ,onne,ted and e'er@,hanging khandhas. 7ro* the point o( 'ie) o( the dhamma@analysis- this
,an be restated by substituting the ter* dhamma (or the ter* khandha- (or the dhammas are the (a,tors
that obtain by analysis o( the khandhas.
9o)e'er- this )ay o( de(ining the ,on,ept o( person 1puggaa2 did not satis(y so*e Buddhists. In their
opinion the dhamma theory as presented by the 4hera'?dins led to a ,o*plete depersonaliQation o( the
indi'idual being and ,onseJuently (ailed to pro'ide adeJuate eIplanations o( su,h ,on,epts as rebirth
and *oral responsibility. 9en,e these thin8ers insisted on positing the person 1puggaa2 as an
additional reality distin,t (ro* the khandhas or dhammas. &s re,orded in the #athvatthu- the LPoints o(
Contro'ersy-M the *ain ,ontention o( the Puggala'?dins or LPersonalistsM is that the person is 8no)n
in a real and ulti*ate sense 1sa''ikahaparamahena upaabbhati2.
!
&gainst this proposition a nu*ber o(
,ounter@argu*ents are addu,ed- )hi,h need not ,on,ern us here. :hat interests us- ho)e'er- is that
in denying that the person is 8no)n in a real and ulti*ate sense- the 4hera'?dins ad*it that the
khandhas or dhammas are 8no)n in a real and ulti*ate sense. 4hus in their 'ie) )hat is real and
ulti*ate is not the person but the khandhas or dhammas that enter into its ,o*position.
$
No) the use o( the t)o )ords- sa''ikaha and paramaha 1Lreal and ulti*ateM2 as indi,ati'e o( the
nature o( dhammas see*s to gi'e the i*pression that in denying the reality o( the person the
4hera'?dins ha'e o'erstressed the reality o( the dhammas. 3oes this a*ount to the ad*ission that the
dhammas are real and dis,rete entities eIisting in their o)n rightN Su,h a ,on,lusion- it appears to us- is
not tenable. 7or i( the dhammas are de(ined as real and ulti*ate- this *eans- not that they parta8e o(
the nature o( absolute entities- but that they are not (urther redu,ible to any other reality- to so*e 8ind
o( substan,e )hi,h underlies the*. 4hat is to say- there is no Lbehind the s,enesM substan,e (ro*
)hi,h they e*erge and to )hi,h they (inally return. 4his *eans- in e((e,t- that the dhammas represent
the (inal li*its o( the &bhidha**i, analysis o( e*piri,al eIisten,e. 9en,e this ne) de(inition does
not erode the e*piri,al (oundation o( the dhamma theory as presented by the 4hera'?dins. .oreo'er-
this 'ie) is Juite ,onsonant )ith the state*ent o,,urring in the earlier teIts that the dhammas ,o*e to
be )ithout ha'ing been 1ahutv sambh&nti2 and disappear )ithout any residue 1hutv paiventi2.
"
:hy- unli8e the dhammas. the person 1puggaa2 is not re,ognised as real and ulti*ate needs
eIplanation. Sin,e the person is the su* total o( the ,ausally ,onne,ted *ental and ,orporeal dhammas
that ,onstitute the e*piri, indi'idual- it lends itsel( to (urther analysis. &nd )hat is sub6e,t to analysis
,annot be an irredu,ible datu* o( ,ognition. 4he opposite situation is true o( the dhammas. 4his brings
into (o,us t)o le'els o( reality5 that )hi,h is a*enable to analysis and that )hi,h de(ies (urther
analysis. &nalysability is the *ar8 o( ,o*posite things- and non@analysability the *ar8 o( the
ele*entary ,onstituents- the dhammas.
&nother do,trinal ,ontro'ersy that has le(t its *ar8 on the 4hera'?da 'ersion o( the dhamma theory
is the one ,on,erning the theory o( tri@te*poral eIisten,e 1sarvamastivda2. :hat is re'olutionary about
this theory- ad'an,ed by the Sar'?sti'?dins- is that it introdu,ed a *etaphysi,al di*ension to the
do,trine o( dhammas and thus pa'ed the )ay (or the erosion o( its e*piri,al (oundation. 7or this
1
See LPHorigine des se,tes bouddhiJues dHapres Para*?rtha-M trans. P. 3e*ie'ielle- M2anges /hin&is et
0&uddhi3ues- <ol. I- 19$!- pp.5%((.B R. .asuda- L/rigin and 3o,trines o( 0arly Indian Buddhist S,hoolsM 1trans. o(
<asu*itraHs 4reatise2- Asia Ma$&r- <ol. II- 19!5- pp.5$5%B 0d)ard ConQe- 0uddhist +h&ught in "ndia 1Pondon-
196!2- pp.1!!((.B &.K. :arder- "ndian 0uddhism 13elhi- 19%#2- pp.!C9((.
!
K' 1((. See too the rele'ant se,tions o( its ,o**entary.
$
Ibid.
"
C(. Ahutv sambhta hutv na bhavissati 1PaAis %62. 4va sabbe pi rprpin& dhamm ahutv sambh&nti hutv
paiventi 1<is* 51!2.
C
theory *a8es an e*piri,ally un'eri(iable distin,tion bet)een the a,tual being o( the dhammas as
pheno*ena and their ideal being as nou*ena. It assu*es that the substan,es o( all dhammas persist in
all the three di'isions o( ti*eKpast- present- and (utureK)hile their *ani(estations as pheno*ena
are i*per*anent and sub6e,t to ,hange. &,,ordingly- a dhamma a,tualiQes itsel( only in the present
*o*ent o( ti*e- but Lin essen,eM it ,ontinues to subsist in all the three te*poral periods. &s is )ell
8no)n- this resulted in the trans(or*ation o( the dhamma theory into a svabhvavda- Lthe do,trine o(
o)n@nature.M It also pa'ed the )ay (or a 'eiled re,ognition- i( not (or a ,ategori,al assu*ption- o( the
distin,tion bet)een substan,e and Juality. :hat interests us here is the (a,t that although the
4hera'?dins re6e,ted this *etaphysi,al theory o( tri@te*poral eIisten,e- in,luding its Juali(ied 'ersion
as a,,epted by the K?SyapDyas-
1
it )as not )ithout its in(luen,e on the 4hera'?da 'ersion o( the
dhamma theory.
4his in(luen,e is to be seen in the post@,anoni,al eIegeti,al literature o( Sri Pan8a )here- (or the
(irst ti*e- the ter* sabhva 1S8t svabhva2 ,a*e to be used as a synony* (or dhamma. 9en,e the
re,urrent de(inition5 L!hammas are so ,alled be,ause they bear their o)n natureM 1attan& sabhva
dhrent ti dhamm2.
!
No) the Juestion that arises here is )hether the 4hera'?dins used the ter*
sabhva in the sa*e sense as the Sar'?sti'?dins did. 3id the 4hera'?dins assu*e the *etaphysi,al
'ie) that the substan,e o( a dhamma persists throughout the three phases o( ti*eN In other )ords-
does this a*ount to the ad*ission that there is a duality bet)een the dhamma and its sabhva- bet)een
the bearer and the borne- a di,hoto*y )hi,h goes against the grain o( the Buddhist do,trine o( anattN
4his situation has to be ,onsidered in the ,onteIt o( the logi,al apparatus used by the
Obhidha**i8as in de(ining the dhammas. 4his in'ol'es three *ain 8inds o( de(inition. 4he (irst is
,alled agen,y de(inition 1kattu-sdhana2 be,ause it attributes agen,y to the thing to be de(ined. Su,h-
(or eIa*ple- is the de(inition o( 'itta 1,ons,iousness2 as Lthat )hi,h thin8sM 1'intet ti 'itta2.
$
4he
se,ond is ,alled instru*ental de(inition 1karaa-sdhana2 be,ause it attributes instru*entality to the
thing to be de(ined. Su,h- (or eIa*ple- is the de(inition o( 'itta as Lthat through )hi,h one thin8sM
1'intet ti etena 'itta2.
"
4he third is ,alled de(inition by nature 1bhva-sdhana2 )hereby the abstra,t
nature o( the thing to be de(ined is brought into (o,us. Su,h- (or eIa*ple- is the de(inition-L4he *ere
a,t o( thin8ing itsel( is 'itta 1'intanamattam eva 'itta2.M
5
4he (irst t)o 8inds o( de(inition- it is *aintained- are pro'isional and as su,h are not 'alid (ro* an
ulti*ate point o( 'ie).
6
4his is be,ause the attribution o( agen,y and instru*entality in'ests a dhamma
)ith a duality )hen it is a,tually a unitary and uniJue pheno*enon. Su,h attribution also leads to the
)rong assu*ption that a gi'en dhamma is a substan,e )ith inherent Jualities or an agent )hi,h
per(or*s so*e 8ind o( a,tion. Su,h de(initions are said to be based on tentati'e attribution
1samr&pana2
%
and thus are not ulti*ately 'alid.
C
It is as a *atter o( ,on'ention 1v&hra2- and (or the sole
purpose o( (a,ilitating the grasp o( the idea to be ,on'eyed-
9
that a duality is assu*ed by the *ind in
de(ining the dhamma- )hi,h is a,tually de'oid o( su,h duality.
1#
4hus both agen,y and instru*ental
de(initions are resorted to (or the ,on'enien,e o( des,ription- and as su,h they are not to be
understood in their dire,t literal sense. /n the other hand- )hat is ,alled de(inition by nature
1
See Y. Karunadasa- L<ibha6ya'?da 'ersus Sar'?sti'?da5 4he Buddhist Contro'ersy on 4i*e-M #ayani5
)&urna &* 6umanities and S&'ia S'ien'es 1Colo*bo- 19C$2- <ol.II- pp.16((.
!
C(. e.g. Nidd@a I !61B 3hs@a 1!6B <is*@sn < 6.
$
See &bhidh@s@*hA ". C(. /intet ti 'itta7 8rammaa vi$nt ti atth&7 9athha5 Visayavi$nanaakkhaa 'ittan
ti7 Sati hi nissayasamanantardipa''aye na vin rammaena 'ittam :uppa$$at ti tassa t akkhaat vutt7 4tena
nirambanavdmata paikkhitta h&ti 1ibid.2.
"
Ibid.
5
Ibid.
6
;a nippariyyat& abbhati 1ibid.2. C(. Svya kattuniddes& pariyyaaddh&. dhammat& a%%assa kattunivattanatth&.
<is*@*hA 1"1.
%
C(. (aramatthat& ekasabhv&pi sabhvadhamm& pariyyava'anehi viya samr&pitarpehi bahhi pakrehi paksyati7
4va hi s& suhu paksit& h&t ti 1&bhi@a'@nA 11%2. Sakasaka-ki''esu hi dhammna attappadhnatsamr&panena
kattubhv&. tadanukabhvena tasampayutte dhammasamhe kattubhvasamr&panena <paipdetabbassa= dhammassa
karaattha% 'a pariyyat& abbhati 1ibid. 162.
C
<is*@*hA "C".
9
Ibid. "91.
1#
3T !C.
9
1bhvasdhana2 is the one that is ad*issible in an ulti*ate sense.
1
4his is be,ause this type o( de(inition
brings into (o,us the real nature o( a gi'en dhamma )ithout attributing agen,y or instru*entality to it-
an attribution )hi,h ,reates the (alse notion that there is a duality )ithin a unitary dhamma.
It is in the ,onteIt o( these i*pli,ations that the de(inition o( dhamma as that )hi,h bears its o)n
nature has to be understood. Clearly- this is a de(inition a,,ording to agen,y 1kattu-sdhana2- and hen,e
its 'alidity is pro'isional. 7ro* this de(inition- there(ore- one ,annot ,on,lude that a gi'en dhamma is a
substantial bearer o( its Jualities or Lo)n@nature.M 4he duality bet)een dhamma and sabhva is only an
attribution *ade (or the ,on'enien,e o( de(inition. 7or in a,tual (a,t both ter*s denote the sa*e
a,tuality. 9en,e it is ,ategori,ally stated that apart (ro* sabhva there is no distin,t entity ,alled a
dhamma-
!
and that the ter* sabhva signi(ies the *ere (a,t o( being a dhamma.
$
I( the dhamma has no (un,tion distin,t (ro* its sabhva-
"
and i( dhamma and sabhva denote the sa*e
thing-
5
)hy is the dhamma in'ested )ith the (un,tion o( bearing its o)n@natureN 7or this i*plies the
re,ognition o( an agen,y distin,t (ro* the dhamma. 4his- it is obser'ed- is done not only to ,on(or*
)ith the in,linations o( those )ho are to be instru,ted-
6
but also to i*press upon us the (a,t that there
is no agent behind the dhamma.
%
4he point being e*phasised is that the dyna*i, )orld o( sensory
eIperien,e is not due to ,auses other than the sel(@sa*e dhammas into )hi,h it is (inally redu,ed. It is
the inter@,onne,tion o( the dhammas through ,ausal relations that eIplains the 'ariety and di'ersity o(
,ontingent eIisten,e and not so*e 8ind o( transe*piri,al reality )hi,h ser'es as their *etaphysi,al
ground. Nor is it due to the (iat o( a Creator Uod
C
be,ause there is no 3i'ine Creator o'er and abo'e
the (lo) o( *ental and *aterial pheno*ena.
9
Stated other)ise- the de(inition o( dhamma as that )hi,h bears its o)n@nature *eans that any
dhamma represents a distin,t (a,t o( e*piri,al eIisten,e )hi,h is not shared by other dhammas. 9en,e
sabhva is also de(ined as that )hi,h is not held in ,o**on by others 1ana%%asdhraa2-
1#
as the nature
pe,uliar to ea,h dhamma 1veika-sabhva2-
11
and as the o)n@nature is not predi,able o( other dhammas
1asdhraa-sabhva27
:>
It is also obser'ed that i( the dhammas are said to ha'e o)n@nature 1saka-bhva V
sabhva2- this is only a tentati'e de'i,e to dri'e ho*e the point that there is no other@nature 1para-
bhva2 (ro* )hi,h they e*erge and to )hi,h they (inally lapse.
1$
No) this ,o**entarial de(inition o( dhamma as sabhva poses an i*portant proble*- (or it see*s to
go against an earlier 4hera'?da tradition re,orded in the (aisambhidmagga. 4his ,anoni,al teIt
spe,i(i,ally states that the (i'e aggregates are de'oid o( o)n@nature 1sabhvena-su%%a2.
1"
Sin,e the
dhammas are the ele*entary ,onstituents o( the (i'e aggregates- this should *ean that the dhammas-
too- are de'oid o( o)n@nature. :hat is *ore- does not the 'ery use o( the ter* sabhva- despite all the
Juali(i,ations under )hi,h it is used- gi'e the i*pression that a gi'en dhamma eIists in its o)n rightN
&nd does this not a*ount to the ad*ission that a dhamma is so*e 8ind o( substan,eN
4he ,o**entators )ere not una)are o( these i*pli,ations and they there(ore too8 the ne,essary
steps to (orestall su,h a ,on,lusion. 4his they sought to do by supple*enting the (or*er de(inition
)ith another )hi,h a,tually nulli(ies the ,on,lusion that the dhammas *ight be Juasi@substan,es. 4his
additional de(inition states that a dhamma is not that )hi,h bears its o)n@nature- but that )hi,h is
1
/itta'etasikna dhammna bhvasdhanam eva nippariyyat& abbhati. &bhi@a'@nA 16B &bhidh@s@*hA ".
!
;a 'a sabhv a%%& dhamm& nma atthi 1&.T !12.
$
!hammamatta-dpana sabhva-pada 1ibid. %#2.
"
Sabhvavinimmutt k'i kiriy nma natthi 1&bhi@a'@nA !1#2.
5
!hamm& ti sabhv&. 1&.T 1!12.
6
0&dheyya$annur&dhavasena 13T %62.
%
!hammat& a%%& katt natth ti dassetu 1ibid. 6%$2. C(. !hammat& a%%assa kattunivattanattha dhammam eva
kattra niddisati 1&.T 662B see also <is*@sn < 1C"- <is*@*hA "C".
C
<is* 51$.
9
;marWpat& uddha issardna abhvat& 1ibid.2.
1#
<is*@*hA "C!.
11
&bhi@a'@nA $9$.
1!
<is*@*hA "C!.
1$
&bhi@a'@nA 1!$.
1"
PaAis II !11.
1#
borne by its o)n ,onditions 1pa''ayehi dhriyant ti dhamm2.
1
:hereas the earlier de(inition is agent@
denotation 1kattusdhana2 be,ause it attributes an a,ti'e role to the dhamma- ele'ating it to the position
o( an agent- the ne) de(inition is ob6e,t@denotation 1kamma-sdhana2 be,ause it attributes a passi'e role
to the dhamma and thereby do)ngrades it to the position o( an ob6e,t. :hat is radi,al about this ne)
de(inition is that it re'erses the )hole pro,ess )hi,h other)ise *ight ,ul*inate in the ,on,eption o(
dhammas as substan,es or bearers o( their o)n@nature. :hat it see8s to sho) is that- (ar (ro* being a
bearer- a dhamma is being b&rne by its o)n ,onditions.
Consonant )ith this situation- it is also *aintained that there is no other thing ,alled a dhamma than
the LJualityM o( being borne by ,onditions.
!
4he sa*e idea is eIpressed in the o(t@re,urrent state*ent
that )hat is ,alled a dhamma is the *ere (a,t o( o,,urren,e due to appropriate ,onditions.
$
In point o(
(a,t- in ,o**enting upon the (aisambhidmagga state*ent that the (i'e aggregatesKand- by
i*pli,ation- the dhammasKare de'oid o( sabhva- the ,o**entator obser'es that sin,e the aggregates
ha'e no sel(@nature- they are de'oid o( o)n@nature.
"
It )ill thus be seen that although the ter* sabhva
is used as a synony* (or dhamma- it is interpreted in su,h a )ay that it *eans the 'ery absen,e o(
sabhva in any sense that i*plies a substantial *ode o( being.
&nother ,o**on de(inition o( dhamma is that )hi,h bears its o)n ,hara,teristi,- saakkhaa.
5
Sin,e
saakkhaa is used in the sa*e sense as sabhva- this de(inition ,arries *ore or less the sa*e
i*pli,ations. 4hat ea,h dhamma has its o)n ,hara,teristi, is illustrated )ith re(eren,e to ,olour- )hi,h
is one o( the se,ondary *aterial ele*ents. &lthough ,olour is di'isible as blue- yello)- et,.- the
,hara,teristi, pe,uliar to all 'arieties o( ,olour is their 'isibility 1sanidassanat2.
6
9en,e it is also ,alled
pa''atta-akkhaa- indi'idual ,hara,teristi,.
%
&s in the ,ase o( dhamma and sabhva- so in the ,ase o(
dhamma and saakkhaa- too- their duality is only a ,on'enient assu*ption *ade (or the purpose o(
de(inition. 7or it is a ,ase o( attributing duality to that )hi,h has no duality.
C
&nd sin,e it is only an
attribution it is based on interpretation 1kappansiddha2
9
and not on a,tuality 1bhvasiddha2.
1#
9en,e the
de(inition o( earth ele*ent 1pahav-dhtu2 as Lthat )hi,h hasM the ,hara,teristi, o( solidity 1kakkha?atta-
akkha2
11
is said to be in'alid (ro* an ulti*ate point o( 'ie)- be,ause o( the assu*ed duality bet)een
the earth ele*ent and its ,hara,teristi,. 4he ,orre,t de(inition is the one )hi,h states that solidity itsel(
is the earth ele*ent- (or this does not assu*e a distin,tion bet)een the ,hara,teristi, and )hat is
,hara,terised thereby.
1!
&s the o)n@,hara,teristi, 1saakkhaa2 represents the ,hara,teristi, pe,uliar to ea,h dhamma- the
uni'ersal ,hara,teristi,s 1sma%%a-akkhaa2 are the ,hara,teristi,s ,o**on to all the dhammas. I( the
(or*er is indi'idually predi,able- the latter are uni'ersally predi,able.
1$
4heir di((eren,e goes still
(urther. &s the o)n@,hara,teristi, is another na*e (or the dhamma- it represents a (a,t ha'ing an
ob6e,ti'e ,ounterpart. It is not a produ,t o( *ental ,onstru,tion 1kappan2
1"
but an a,tual datu* o(
ob6e,ti'e eIisten,e and as su,h an ulti*ate datu* o( sense eIperien,e. /n the other hand- )hat is
,alled uni'ersal ,hara,teristi, has no ob6e,ti'e eIisten,e be,ause it is a produ,t o( *ental ,onstru,tion-
the syntheti, (un,tion o( *ind- and is superi*posed on the ulti*ate data o( e*piri,al eIisten,e.
1
&bhi@a'@nA "1"B 3hs@a 6$B PaAis@a 1CB .oh 6.
!
;a 'a dhriyamna-sabhv a%%& dhamm& nma atthi 1&.T !12. ;a hi ruppandhi a%%e rpday& kakkha@dhi 'a
a%%e pahav-day& dhamm vi$$ant ti7 A%%ath pana avab&dhetu na sakk ti A sabhvadhamme a%%e viya katv attan&
sabhva dhrent ti vutta 1ibid. !!2.
$
9athpa''aya hi pavattimatta eta sabhvadhamm& 1<is*4"6!2. See also &bhi@a'@nA 116B <is*@sn < 1$!.
"
Attan& eva v bhv& etasmi natth ti sabhvena su%%a 1PaAis@a III 6$"2.
5
Attan& akkhaam dhrent ti dhamm 1<ibh@a "52. See also <is*@sn < !%$B <is*@*hA $59.
6
PaAis@a I 16B <is*@*hA !".
%
S@a II !1$B <is* 5!#.
C
Abhede pi bheda-parikappan 1&bhi@a'@nA 1562.
9
<is*@*hA $6!.
1#
&bhidh@s@*hA $!B &bhidh@s@s 5!.
11
<is* $!1.
1!
C(. ;anu 'a kakkha@attam eva pahavdht tiB Sa''am eta7 +ath pi A abhinne pi dhamme kappansiddhena
bhedena eva niddes& kat&7 4va hi atthavisesvab&dh& h&ti 1<is*@*hA $6!2.
1$
3T 1#5. C(. Cpakkhandhass-eva hi eta <ruppanaakkhaa=. na vedandna7 +asm pa''attaakkhaan ti
vu''ati7 Ani''adukkhnattaakkhaa pana vedandnam pi h&ti7 +asm ta sma%%aakkhaan ti vu''ati 1S@a II !912.
1"
See &bhidh@s@*hA $!.
11
/n this interpretation- the three ,hara,teristi,s o( ,onditioned reality 1sakhata-akkhaa2Kna*ely-
origination 1uppda2- ,essation 1vaya2- and the alteration o( that )hi,h eIists 1hitassa a%%athatta2Kare
uni'ersal ,hara,teristi,s 1sma%%a-akkhaa2. Be,ause they ha'e no ob6e,ti'e reality they are not
ele'ated to the status o( dhammas. I( they )ere to be so ele'ated- that )ould under*ine the 'ery
(oundation o( the dhamma theory. I(- (or instan,e- origination 1uppda2- subsisten,e 1hiti2- and
dissolution 1bhaga2
1
are postulated as real and dis,rete entities- then it )ould be ne,essary to
postulate another set o( se,ondary ,hara,teristi,s to a,,ount (or their o)n origination- subsisten,e-
and dissolution- thus resulting in an in(inite regress 1anavahna2.
!
4his is the signi(i,an,e o( the
,o**entarial obser'ation5 LIt is not ,orre,t to assu*e that origination originates- de,ay de,ays- and
,essation ,eases be,ause su,h an assu*ption leads to the (alla,y o( in(inite regress.M
$
4he di((eren,e
bet)een the parti,ular ,hara,teristi, and the uni'ersal ,hara,teristi, is also sho)n in the )ay they
be,o*e 8no)able 1%eyya2- (or )hile the parti,ular ,hara,teristi, is 8no)n as a datu* o( sense
per,eption 1pa''akkha-%a2- the uni'ersal ,hara,teristi, is 8no)n through a pro,ess o( in(eren,e
1anumna%a2.
"
In )hat sense the dhammas represent the (inal li*its into )hi,h e*piri,al eIisten,e ,an be analysed
is another Juestion that dre) the attention o( the 4hera'?da ,o**entators. It is in ans)er to this that
the ter* paramattha ,a*e to be used as another eIpression (or dhamma. It )as noted earlier that the
use o( this ter* in this sense )as o,,asioned by the 4hera'?dinsH response to the Puggala'?dinsH
assertion that the person eIists as real and ulti*ate. In the &bhidha**i, eIegesis this ter* paramattha
is de(ined to *ean that )hi,h has rea,hed its highest 1uttama2-
5
i*plying thereby that the dhammas are
ulti*ate eIistents )ith no possibility o( (urther redu,tion. 9en,e o)n@nature 1sabhva2 ,a*e to be
(urther de(ined as ulti*ate nature 1paramattha-sabhva2.
6
4he ter* paramattha is so*eti*es paraphased as bhtattha 1the a,tual2.
%
4his is eIplained to *ean
that the dhammas are not non@eIistent li8e an illusion or *irage or li8e the soul 1purisa2 and pri*ordial
nature 1pakati2 o( the non@Buddhist s,hools o( thought.
C
4he e'iden,e (or their eIisten,e is not based
either on ,on'entions 1sammuti2 or on *ere s,riptural authority 1anussava2.
9
/n the ,ontrary- their 'ery
eIisten,e is 'ou,hsa(ed by their o)n intrinsi, nature.
1#
4he 'ery (a,t o( their eIisten,e is the 'ery *ar8
o( their reality. &s the Visuddhimagga obser'es5 LIt 1V dhamma2 is that )hi,h- (or those )ho eIa*ine it
)ith the eye o( understanding- is not *isleading li8e an illusion- de,epti'e li8e a *irage- or
undis,o'erable li8e the sel( o( the se,tarians- but is rather the do*ain o( noble 8no)ledge as the real
un*isleading a,tual state.M
11
4he 8ind o( eIisten,e i*plied here is not past or (uture eIisten,e- but
present a,tual and 'eri(iable eIisten,e 1savi$$amnat2.
1!
4his e*phasis on their a,tuality in the
present phase o( ti*e rules out any asso,iation )ith the Sar'?sti'?dinsH theory o( tri@te*poral
eIisten,e. 4hus- (or the 4hera'?din- the use o( the ter* paramattha does not ,arry any substantialist
i*pli,ations. It only *eans that the *ental and *aterial dhammas represent the ut*ost li*its to )hi,h
the analysis o( e*piri,al eIisten,e ,an be pushed.
4he des,ription o( dhammas as paramattha *eans not only their ob6e,ti'e eIisten,e 1paramatthat&
vi$$amnat2 but also their ,ogniQability in an ulti*ate sense 1paramatthat& upaabbhamnat2.
1$
4he (irst
re(ers to the (a,t that the dhammas obtain as the ulti*ate- irredu,ible data o( e*piri,al eIisten,e. 4he
se,ond re(ers to the (a,t that- as su,h- the ,ontent o( our ,ognition ,an also be (inally analysed into the
sel(@sa*e ele*ents. 4his is not to suggest that it is only the dhammas that be,o*e ob6e,ts o(
1
4hese are the three phases o( a *o*entary dhamma- a,,ording to the 4hera'?da 'ersion o( the theory o(
*o*ents.
!
See &bhi@a'@nA !CCB .oh 6%.
$
;a hi $ti $yati $ar $rati maraa myat ti v&haritu yutta. anavahnat& 1.oh 6%6C2.
"
3T 1#5.
5
&bhidh@s@*hA ".
6
&bhidh@s@s $.
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.oh !5C.
C
Ibid.B &bhi@a'@nA 1!$.
9
.oh !5CB K'@a C.
1#
Attan& pana bhtatya eva sa''ikah& 1.oh !592.
11
Bhi88hu X?Ea*oli- +he (ath &* (uri*i'ati&n 1Colo*bo- 19562- p."!1.
1!
<is* II 159.
1$
See <is*@*hA !!%B .oh !5CB It@a 1"!.
1!
8no)ledgeB (or it is spe,i(i,ally stated that e'en pa%%attis- i.e. ,on,epts- )hi,h are the produ,ts o( the
syntheti,al (un,tion o( the *ind and hen,e la,8 ob6e,ti'e ,ounterparts- are also 8no)able 1%eyya2.
1
In point o( (a,t- in the te,hni,al ter*inology o( the &bhidha**a- the ter* dhamma is so*eti*es
used in a )ider sense to in,lude anything that is 8no)able.
!
In this sense- not only the ulti*ate
realitiesKthe dhammas properKbut also the produ,ts o( *ental interpretation are ,alled dhammas. 4o
distinguish the t)o- the latter are ,alled asabhva-dhammas- i.e. dhammas de'oid o( ob6e,ti'e reality.
$
4he use o( this ter* in this )ider sense is re*inis,ent o( its earlier *eaning as sho)n in the P?li
Ni8?yas- )here it is used in a 'ery general sense to in,lude all ,ogniQable things on the e*piri,al
le'el. 9o)e'er- there is this situation to be noted5 &lthough both dhammas and ,on,epts 1pa%%attis or
asabhva-dhammas2 ,onstitute the ,ontent o( 8no)ledge- it is into the dhammas that the ,ontent o(
8no)ledge ,an be (inally analysed. 4hus there is a ,lose parallelis* bet)een the dhammas on the one
hand and the ,ontents o( 8no)ledge on the other. 4hat is to say- the ulti*ate irredu,ible data o(
,ognition are the sub6e,ti'e ,ounterparts o( the ulti*ate irredu,ible data o( ob6e,ti'e eIisten,e.
I( the ter* paramattha brings into (o,us the irredu,ibility o( the dhammas- the ter* avipartabhva
sho)s their irre'ersibility.
"
4his ter* *eans that the essential ,hara,teristi, o( a dhamma is non@
alterable and non@trans(erable to any other dhamma.
5
It also *eans that it is i*possible (or a gi'en
dhamma to undergo any *odi(i,ation o( its spe,i(i, ,hara,teristi, e'en )hen it is in asso,iation )ith
so*e other dhamma.
6
4he sa*e situation re*ains true despite the di((eren,es in the ti*e (a,tor- (or
there is no *odi(i,ation in the nature o( a dhamma ,orresponding to the di'isions in ti*e.
%
Sin,e a
dhamma and its intrinsi, nature are the sa*e 1(or the duality is only posited (or purposes o(
eIplanation2- to ,lai* that its intrinsi, nature undergoes *odi(i,ation is to deny its 'ery eIisten,e.
4he relati'e position o( the dhammas is another aspe,t o( the sub6e,t that reJuires ,lari(i,ation. 3o
they har*oniously blend into a unity or do they di'ide the*sel'es into a pluralityN In this ,onne,tion
)e *ay do )ell to eIa*ine t)o o( their i*portant ,hara,teristi,s. /ne is their a,tual inseparability
1sasahat- avinibbh&gat2-
C
the other their ,onditioned origination 1sappa''ayat2.
9
4he (irst re(ers to the (a,t that in a gi'en instan,e o( *ind or *atter- the ele*entary ,onstituents 1V
dhammas2 that enter into its ,o*position are not a,tually separable one (ro* another. 4hey eIist in a
state o( inseparable asso,iation (or*ing- so to say- a ho*ogeneous unity. 4his idea is in ,onsonan,e
)ith an earlier tradition re,orded in the early Buddhist dis,ourses. 7or eIa*ple- in the .ah?'edalla
Sutta o( the .a66hi*a Ni8?ya it is said that the three *ental (a,torsKsensation 1vedan2- per,eption
1sa%%2- and ,ons,iousness 1vi%%a2Kare blended 1sasaha2 so har*oniously that it is i*possible to
separate the* (ro* one another and thus establish their identity.
1#
4he sa*e idea (inds eIpression in
the Miindapa%ha.
11
:hen N?gasena 4hera is as8ed by King .ilinda )hether it is possible- in the ,ase
o( *ental (a,tors )hi,h eIist in har*onious ,o*bination 1ekat& bhvagata2- to separate the* out and
establish a plurality as5 L4his is ,onta,t- and this sensation- and this *entation- and this per,eption-M
and so on- the elder ans)ers )ith a si*ile5
LSuppose- / 8ing- the ,oo8 in the royal household )ere to *a8e a syrup or a sau,e and )ere to
put into it ,urds- and salt- and ginger- and ,u*in seed- and pepper and other ingredients. &nd
suppose the 8ing )ere to say to hi*5 HPi,8 out (or *e the (la'ours o( the ,urds and o( the salt-
and o( the ginger- and o( the ,u*in seed- and o( the pepper- and o( all the things you ha'e put
into it.H No) )ould it be possible- great 8ing- separating o(( one (ro* another those (la'ours that
1
&bhi@a'@nA ""5.
!
C(. Sakhatsakhatapa%%attidhammesu na k&'i dhamm& rammaapa''ay& na h&t ti dasseti7 +en-eva hi Dya ya
dhamma rabbhE ti aniyam& kat& ti7 ;anu 'a Dya ya dhammanE ti vuttatt pa%%attiy gahaa na h&t tiB ;ya
d&s&7 !hammasaddassa %eyyav'akatt 1&bh' ""52.
$
&bhi@a'@nA $"6. C(. ;a hi abhvassa k&'i sabhv& atthi 1<is*@*hA 5$92.
"
&bhi@a'@nA "B <is*@*hA !!55 saakkhaa-sakht& aviparta-sabhv&.
5
1akkhaa-ana%%athatta 1&bhidh@s@*hA 6!2.
6
;a hi sabhv kena'i sahabhvena sa sabhva $ahanti 1.oh 692.
%
;a hi kabhedena dhammna sabhvabhed& atthi 1<is*@*hA 19%B &bhidh@s@*hA 1!$2.
C
<is* $%6- $C1B &.T "$B 48p 59.
9
48p 6!((.
1#
;a 'a abbh imesa dhammna vinibbhu$itv vinibbhu$itv nnkaraa pa%%petu 1. I "C#2.
11
.il 5C59.
1$
had thus run together- to pi,8 out ea,h one- so that one ,ould say5 H9ere is the sourness- and here
the saltiness- and here the pungen,y- and here the a,idity- and here the astringen,y- and here the
s)eetnessHNM
1
In li8e *anner- it is *aintained- )e should understand the position o( the *ental dhammas in relation
to one another.
!
4his situation is true o( the *aterial dhammas- too. In this ,onne,tion the Atthasin adds that the
*aterial dhammas- su,h as ,olour- taste- odour- et,.- ,annot be separated (ro* one another li8e
parti,les o( sand.
$
4he ,olour o( the *ango- (or instan,e- ,annot be physi,ally separated (ro* its taste
or odour. 4hey re*ain in inseparable asso,iation. 4his is )hat is ,alled positional inseparability
1padesat& avinibbh&gat2.
"
/n the basis o( this prin,iple o( positional inseparability it is *aintained that
there is no Juantitati'e di((eren,e 1pamat&2 a*ong the *aterial ele*ents that enter into the
,o*position o( *aterial ob6e,ts. 4he di((eren,e is only Jualitati'e. &nd this Jualitati'e di((eren,e is
based on )hat is ,alled ussada- i.e. intensity or eItrusion.
5
4o gi'e an eIa*ple5 &s the (our pri*ary
ele*ents o( *atter are in'ariably present in e'ery instan,e o( *atter- (or they are ne,essarily ,o@
eIistent 1saha$ta2 and positionally inseparable 1padesat& avinibbh&ga2-
6
the Juestion arises )hy there is a
di'ersity in *aterial ob6e,ts. 4he di'ersity- it is *aintained- is not due to a di((eren,e in Juantity
1pama2 but to a di((eren,e in intensity 1ussada2.
%
4hat is to say- in a gi'en *aterial ob6e,t one pri*ary
ele*ent is *ore intense than the others. 7or instan,e- in a relati'ely solid thing su,h as a stone-
although all the pri*ary ele*ents are present- the earth ele*ent is *ore intense or LeItrudedM than
the others. So is the )ater ele*ent in liJuids- the heat ele*ent in (ire- and the air ele*ent in gases.
C
4he best illustration (or the relati'e position o( the *aterial ele*ents is gi'en in the Visuddhimagga
)here it is said5 L&nd 6ust as )ho*soe'er the great ,reatures su,h as the spirits grasp hold o(
1possess2- they ha'e no standing pla,e either inside hi* or outside hi* and yet they ha'e no standing
independently o( hi*- so too these ele*ents are not (ound to stand either inside or outside ea,h other-
yet they ha'e no standing independently o( one another.M
9
4his eIplanation is 6usti(ied on the
(ollo)ing grounds5 I( they )ere to eIist inside ea,h other- then they )ould not per(or* their
respe,ti'e (un,tions. I( they )ere to eIist outside ea,h other- then they )ould be resol'able.
1#
4he
prin,iple o( positional inseparability is also resorted to as a ,ritiJue o( the distin,tion bet)een
substan,e and Juality. 9en,e it is ,ontended that in the ,ase o( *aterial ele*ents )hi,h are
positionally inseparable it is not possible to say5 L4his is the Juality o( that one and that is the Juality
o( this one.M
11
4he (oregoing obser'ations should sho) that the *ental as )ell as the *aterial dhammas are not
a,tually separable one (ro* another. In the ,ase o( the *ental dhammas- the ter* used is sasaha
1,on6oined2B in the ,ase o( the *aterial dhammas- the ter* used is avinibbh&ga 1inseparable2. 4his raises
the Juestion )hy the dhammas are presented as a plurality. 4he ans)er is that- although they are not
a,tually separable- yet they are distinguishable 1vibhgavanta2 one (ro* another.
1!
It is this
distinguishability that ser'es as the (oundation o( the dhamma theory. 9en,e it is o(ten *entioned in
the P?li sub@,o**entaries that the real nature o( the things that are distinguishable ,an be brought
into (o,us only through analysis.
1$
4his distinguishability is possible be,ause although the dhammas are
har*oniously blended 1ekat& bhvagata2- they are ,ogniQed se'erally 1g&'arannattat2
1"
and are thus
1
+he Fuesti&ns &* #ing Miinda- trans. 4.:. +hys 3a'ids 1reprint5 Ne) Yor8- 196$2- p.9%.
!
7or other illustrations- see 3hs@a !%$- .@a II !C%- &bhi@a'@nA !9$.
$
3hs@a !%#.
"
See &bhidh@s !CB <is*@sn $C9.
5
See <is*@*hA "51B &bhi@a'@nA !%$.
6
See 48p $- 1"- 16B &bhidh@s !C.
%
<is*@*hA "51B &bhi@a'@nA !%$.
C
See Y. Karunadasa- 0uddhist Anaysis &* Matter 1Colo*bo- 196%2- p.!6.
9
<is* $C%.
1#
<is*@*hA $6"B see also &bhi@a'@nA !"C.
11
<is* """"5.
1!
See e.g. &bhidh@s@*hA 5B <is*@*hA !1B &bhi@a'@nA !!.
1$
Vibhgavantna dhammna sabhvavibhvana vibhgena eva h&ti 1&bhi@a'@nA !!B <is*@*hA "%#2.
1"
.il 5C59.
1"
established as i( they )ere separate entities. It is- ho)e'er- *aintained that *aterial dhammas are
*u,h *ore easily distinguished than *ental dhammas.
1
4hus- (or instan,e- the distin,tion bet)een
,olour- odour- taste- ta,tation- et,.- is easy e'en (or an ordinary person to *a8e- )hile to distinguish
*ental pheno*ena one (ro* another is said to be the *ost di((i,ult tas8 o( all. 4his situation is )ell
illustrated in the (ollo)ing reply gi'en by N?gasena 4hera to King .ilinda5
LSuppose- / 8ing- a *an )ere to )ade do)n into the sea- and ta8ing so*e )ater in the pal* o(
his hand- )ere to taste it )ith his tongue. :ould he distinguish )hether it )ere )ater (ro* the
Ru*n?- or (ro* the &,ira'atD- or (ro* the .ahDN .ore di((i,ult than that- great 8ing- is it to
distinguish bet)een the *ental ,onditions )hi,h (ollo) on the eIer,ise o( any one o( the organs
o( sense- telling us that su,h is ,onta,t- and su,h sensation- and su,h idea- and su,h intention-
and su,h thought.M
!
4he other ,hara,teristi, )hi,h )as re(erred to earlier is the ,onditioned origination 1sappa''ayat2 o(
the dhammas. 4his is a8in to the ,on,eption dis,ussed abo'e- (or it also see8s to eIplain the nature o(
the dhammas (ro* a syntheti, point o( 'ie). In this ,onne,tion (i'e postulates are re,ognised as
aIio*ati,- either i*pli,itly or eIpli,itly5
1i2 It is not e*piri,ally possible to identi(y an absolute original ,ause o( the Ldha**i,M pro,ess.
Su,h a *etaphysi,al ,on,eption is not in a,,ord )ith Buddhis*Hs e*piri,al do,trine o( ,ausality- the
purpose o( )hi,h is not to eIplain ho) the )orld began but to des,ribe the uninterrupted ,ontinuity
o( the saFs?ri, pro,ess )hose absolute beginning is not ,on,ei'able.
$
In this ,onne,tion it *ust also be
re*e*bered that as a syste* o( philosophy the &bhidha**a is des,ripti'e and not spe,ulati'e.
1ii2 Nothing arises )ithout the appropriate ,onditions ne,essary (or its origination. 4his rules out
the theory o( (ortuitous origination 1adhi''asamuppannavda2.
"
1iii2 Nothing arises (ro* a single ,ause. 4his rules out theories o( a single ,ause 1ekakraavda2.
5
4heir re6e,tion is o( great signi(i,an,e- sho)ing that the &bhidha**i, 'ie) o( eIisten,e re6e,ts all
*onisti, theories )hi,h see8 to eIplain the origin o( the )orld (ro* a single ,ause- )hether this single
,ause is ,on,ei'ed as a personal Uod or an i*personal Uodhead. It also ser'es as a ,ritiJue o( those
*etaphysi,al theories )hi,h atte*pt to redu,e the )orld o( eIperien,e to an underlying
transe*piri,al prin,iple.
1i'2 Nothing arises singly- as a solitary pheno*enon.
6
4hus on the basis o( a single ,ause or on the
basis o( a plurality o( ,auses- a single e((e,t does not arise. 4he in'ariable situation is that there is
al)ays a plurality o( e((e,ts. It is on the re6e,tion o( the (our 'ie)s re(erred to abo'e that the
&bhidha**i, do,trine o( ,onditionality is (ounded.
1'2 7ro* a plurality o( ,onditions a plurality o( e((e,ts ta8es pla,e. &pplied to the dhamma theory-
this *eans that a *ultipli,ity o( dhammas brings about a *ultipli,ity o( other dhammas.
%
/ne i*pli,ation that (ollo)s (ro* the ,onditionality o( the dhammas as dis,ussed so (ar is that they
in'ariably arise as ,lusters. 4his is true o( both *ental and *aterial dhammas. 9en,e it is that
)hene'er ,ons,iousness 1'itta2 arises- together )ith it there arise at least se'en *ental ,on,o*itants
1'etasika2- na*ely- ,onta,t 1phassa2- sensation 1vedan2- per,eption 1sa%%2- 'olition 1'etan2- one@
pointedness 1ekaggat2- psy,hi, li(e 1arpa-$vitindriya2- and attention 1manasikra2. 4hese se'en are
,alled uni'ersal *ental (a,tors 1sabba'itta-sdhraa2 be,ause they are in'ariably present e'en in the
*ost *ini*al unit o( ,ons,iousness. 4hus a psy,hi, instan,e ,an ne'er o,,ur )ith less than eight
,onstituents- i.e. ,ons,iousness and its se'en in'ariable ,on,o*itants. 4heir relation is one o(
ne,essary ,onas,en,e 1saha$ta2. :e thus ,an see that e'en the s*allest psy,hi, unit or *o*ent o(
,ons,iousness turns out to be a ,o*pleI ,orrelational syste*. In the sa*e )ay- the s*allest unit o(
*atter- )hi,h is ,alled the basi, o,tad 1suddhahaka2- is in the ulti*ate analysis a ,luster o( 1eight2
1
.@a II !C%.
!
Fuesti&ns &* #ing Miinda- p.1"!.
$
Anamatagg&-ya bhikkhave sasr&G pubb k&i na pa%%yati 1S II 1%C2.
"
3 I !CB Gd 69.
5
3hs@a %C.
6
4kassa dhammassa uppatti paisedhit& h&ti 1ibid. %92.
%
Ibid. %C((.
15
*aterial ele*ents- na*ely- the (our pri*ary ele*entsKearth- )ater- (ire- and airKand (our o( the
se,ondaries- ,olour- odour- taste- and nutriti'e essen,e 1&$2. None o( these eight *aterial ele*ents
arises singly be,ause they are ne,essarily ,onas,ent 1niyata-saha$ta2 and positionally inseparable
1padesat& avinibbh&ga2.
1
It )ill thus be seen that in the sphere o( *ind as )ell as in the do*ain o( *atter
there are no solitary pheno*ena.
It is in the light o( these obser'ations that the Juestion posed earlier as to )hether the dhammas
eIhibit a unity or a plurality has to be dis,ussed. 4he ans)er see*s to 'eer to)ards both alternati'es
although it appears paradoIi,al to say so. In so (ar as the dhammas are distinguishable- one (ro*
another- to that eItent they eIhibit plurality. In so (ar as they are not a,tually separable- one (ro*
another- to that eItent they eIhibit unity. 4he reason (or this situation is the *ethodologi,al
apparatus e*ployed by the Obhidha**i8as in eIplaining the nature o( e*piri,al eIisten,e. &s
*entioned earlier- this ,onsists o( both analysis 1bheda2 and synthesis 1sagaha2. &nalysis- )hen not
supple*ented by synthesis- leads to pluralis*. Synthesis- )hen not supple*ented by analysis- leads
to *onis*. :hat one (inds in the &bhidha**a is a '&mbined use o( both *ethods. 4his results in a
philosophi,al 'ision )hi,h beauti(ully trans,ends the diale,ti,al opposition bet)een *onis* and
pluralis*.
'''! Pa++atti and the T,o Truths
:hat e*erges (ro* this &bhidha**i, do,trine o( dhammas is a ,riti,al realis*- one )hi,h 1unli8e
idealis*2 re,ognises the distin,tness o( the )orld (ro* the eIperien,ing sub6e,t yet also distinguishes
bet)een those types o( entities that truly eIist independently o( the ,ogniti'e a,t and those that o)e
their being to the a,t o( ,ognition itsel(. 9o) does this do,trine interpret the L,o**on@senseM 'ie) o(
the )orld- a 8ind o( nai'e realis* in the sense that it tends to re,ognise realities *ore or less
,orresponding to all linguisti, ter*sN In other )ords- )hat relation is there bet)een the dhammas- the
ulti*ate ele*ents o( eIisten,e- and the ob6e,ts o( ,o**on@sense realis*N :hat degree o( reality- i(
any- ,ould be besto)ed on the latterN
It is in their ans)ers to these Juestions that the Obhidha**i8as (or*ulated the theory o( pa%%atti
K,on,epts or designationsKtogether )ith a distin,tion dra)n bet)een t)o 8inds o( truth-
,on'entional 1sammuti2 and absolute 1paramattha2. 4his theory assu*es signi(i,an,e in another ,onteIt.
In *ost o( the Indian philosophies )hi,h )ere asso,iated )ith the tma@tradition and subs,ribed to a
substantialist 'ie) o( eIisten,e- su,h ,ategories as ti*e and spa,e ,a*e to be de(ined in absolute
ter*s. 4he proble* (or the Obhidha**i8as )as ho) to eIplain su,h ,ategories )ithout ,o**itting
the*sel'es to the sa*e *etaphysi,al assu*ptions. 4he theory o( pa%%atti )as the ans)er to this.
:hat *ay be des,ribed as the (irst (or*al de(inition o( pa%%atti o,,urs in the !hammasaga.
!
9ere
the three ter*s- pa%%atti- nirutti. and adhiva'ana are used synony*ously and ea,h ter* is de(ined by
lu*ping together a nu*ber o( appropriate eJui'alents. In .rs. +hys 3a'idsH translation5 L4hat )hi,h
is an enu*eration- that )hi,h is a designation- an eIpression 1pa%%atti2- a ,urrent ter*- a na*e- a
deno*ination- the assigning o( a na*e- an interpretation- a distin,ti'e *ar8 o( dis,ourse on this or
that dhamma.M
$
I**ediately a(ter this de(inition- a Lpredi,ation o( eJuipollent ter*s-M
"
it is obser'ed
that all the dhammas ,onstitute the path)ay o( pa%%attis 1sabbe dhamm pa%%atti-path2.
5
&s sho)n by this de(inition- designation is the pa%%attiB )hat is designated thereby is the pa%%atti-
patha. :hether the ter* pa%%atti- as used here- denotes the indi'idual na*es gi'en to ea,h and e'ery
dhamma only- or )hether it also denotes na*es assigned to 'arious ,o*binations o( the dhammas- is
not eIpli,itly stated. &,,ording to the &bhidha**a- it *ay be noted- e'ery ,o*bination o( the
ob6e,ti'ely real dhammas represents a no*inal reality- not an ob6e,ti'e reality. 4he (a,t that the ter*
pa%%atti in,ludes na*es o( both ,ategories- the ob6e,ti'e and the no*inal- is suggested not only by
1
See A Manua &* Abhidhamma 1trans. o( &bhidh@s2- N?rada 4hera 1Colo*bo- 19562- pp.%9((.B Karunadasa-
0uddhist Anaysis &* Matter- pp.155((.
!
9 tesa tesa dhammna sakh sama%% pa%%atti v&hr& nma nmakamma nmadheyya nirutti
vya%$ana abhip& 13hs 11#2.
$
0uddhist Manua &* (sy'h&&gi'a 4thi's 1trans. o( 3hs2- C.&.7. +hys@3a'ids 1Pondon- 19!$2- p.$"#.
"
Ibid.
5
3hs 11#.
16
)hat is stated else)here in the &bhidha**a PiAa8a-
1
but also by the later eIegesis.
!
:e *ay ,on,lude
then that a,,ording to the !hammasaga de(inition- pa%%atti denotes all na*es- ter*s- and sy*bols
that are eIpressi'e o( the real eIistents as )ell as o( their ,o*binations in di((erent (or*s.
&nother i*portant (a,t that should not be o'erloo8ed here is that a,,ording to the later eIegesis
pa%%atti in,ludes not only na*es 1nma2 but also ideas ,orresponding to the* 1attha2.
$
Sin,e the
assign*ent o( a designation ,reates an idea ,orresponding to it- )e *ay interpret the abo'e de(inition
to in,lude both. It is true- o( ,ourse- that the dhammas do not eIist in dependen,e on the operation o(
the *ind- on their being designated by a ter* and ,on,eptualised by *ind. Ne'ertheless the
assign*ent o( na*es to the dhammas in'ol'es a pro,ess o( ,on,eptualiQation. 9en,e pa%%atti in,ludes
not only the na*es o( things- )hether they are real or no*inal- but also all the ,on,epts ,orresponding
to the*.
4his theory o( pa%%atti- presented as an,illary to the do,trine o( dhammas- is not a ,o*plete
inno'ation on the part o( the &bhidha**a. Su,h a theory is ,learly i*plied in the early Buddhist
analysis o( e*piri,al eIisten,e into the aggregates- sense bases- and ele*ents- and the only really ne)
(eature in the pa%%atti theory is its syste*ati, (or*ulation. &,,ordingly the ter* LpersonM be,o*es a
,o**on designation 1sammuti2 gi'en to a ,ongeries o( dependently originated psy,ho@physi,al
(a,tors5 LRust as there arises the na*e H,hariotH )hen there is a set o( appropriate ,onstituents- e'en so
there ,o*es to be this ,on'ention Hli'ing beingH )hen the (i'e aggregates are present.M
"
4here is-
ho)e'er- this i*portant di((eren,e to be noted5 the early Buddhist idea o( sammuti is not based on a
(or*ulated do,trine o( real eIistents. &lthough )hat is analysed is ,alled sammuti- that into )hi,h it is
analysed is not ,alled paramattha. Su,h a de'elop*ent is (ound only in the &bhidha**a- as )e ha'e
already seen.
:e should note that in the &bhidha**a- a ,lear distin,tion is dra)n bet)een sammuti and
pa%%atti. (a%%atti- as )e ha'e seen- re(ers to ter*s 1nma2 eIpressi'e o( things both real 1paramattha2
and ,on'ention@based 1sammuti2 and the ideas ,orresponding to the* 1attha2. In ,ontrast- sammuti is
used in a restri,ted sense to *ean only )hat is ,on'ention@based. It is this *eaning that (inds
eIpression in the ,o*pound sammuti-sa''a 1,on'entional truth2. 4hat (or the &bhidha**a sammuti is
not the sa*e as pa%%atti is also seen by the (a,t that in the !hammasaga de(inition o( pa%%atti Juoted
abo'e- the ter* sammuti does not o,,ur a*ong its synony*s.
&lthough the theory o( pa%%atti is (or*ally introdu,ed in the )or8s o( the &bhidha**a PiAa8a- it is
in the &bhidha**a ,o**entaries that )e (ind *ore spe,i(i, de(initions o( the ter* along )ith *any
eIplanations on the nature and s,ope o( pa%%attis and on ho) they be,o*e ob6e,ts o( ,ognition. 7or
eIa*ple- be,ause pa%%attis are )ithout ,orresponding ob6e,ti'e reality- the ,o**entaries ,all the*
asabhva-dhammasKthings )ithout a real natureKto distinguish the* (ro* the real ele*ents o(
eIisten,e.
5
Sin,e sabhva- the intrinsi, nature o( a dhamma- is itsel( the dhamma- (ro* the point o( 'ie)
o( this de(inition )hat is Juali(ied as asabhva a*ounts to an abhva- a non@eIistent in the (inal sense. It
is in re,ognition o( this (a,t that the three salient ,hara,teristi,s o( e*piri,al realityKorigination
1uppda2- subsisten,e 1hiti2- and dissolution 1bhaga2Kare not applied to the*. 7or these three
,hara,teristi,s ,an be predi,ated only o( those things )hi,h ans)er to the &bhidha**i, de(inition o(
e*piri,al reality.
6
&gain- unli8e the real eIistents- pa%%attis are not brought about by ,onditions
1pa''ayahitika2. 7or this sa*e reason- they are also de(ined as Lnot positi'ely produ,edM
1aparinipphanna2. Positi'e produ,tion 1parinipphannat2 is true only o( those things )hi,h ha'e their
o)n indi'idual nature 1veika-sabhva2.
%
/nly a dhamma that has an o)n@nature- )ith a beginning and
an end in ti*e- produ,ed by ,onditions- and *ar8ed by the three salient ,hara,teristi,s o( ,onditioned
eIisten,e- is positi'ely produ,ed.
C
1
C(. K' ,ontro'ersy on the ,on,ept o( person 1puggaa2.
!
See belo)- p. $5.
$
See belo)- pp. $$@$".
"
S I 1$5.
5
&bhi@a'@nA $"6.
6
See K'@a 19C99.
%
&.T 11"((.
C
Ibid. 116.
1%
7urther- pa%%attis di((er (ro* dhammas in that only the latter are deli*ited by rise and (allB only o(
the dhammas and not o( the pa%%attis ,an it be said- L4hey ,o*e into being ha'ing not been 1ahutv
sambh&nti2B and- a(ter ha'ing been- they ,ease 1hutv paiventi2.M
1
(a%%attis ha'e no o)n@nature to be
*ani(ested in the three instants o( arising- presen,e- and dissolution. Sin,e they ha'e no eIisten,e
*ar8ed by these three phases- su,h te*poral distin,tions as past- present- and (uture do not apply to
the*. ConseJuently they ha'e no re(eren,e to ti*e 1kavimutta2.
!
7or this sel(@sa*e reason- they ha'e
no pla,e in the traditional analysis o( e*piri,al eIisten,e into the (i'e khandhas- (or )hat is in,luded in
the khandhas should ha'e the ,hara,teristi,s o( e*piri,al reality and be sub6e,t to te*poral di'isions.
$
&nother note)orthy ,hara,teristi, o( pa%%attis is that they ,annot be des,ribed either as ,onditioned
1sakhata2 or as un,onditioned 1asakhata2- (or they do not possess their o)n@nature 1sabhva2 to be so
des,ribed.
"
Sin,e the t)o ,ategories o( the ,onditioned and the un,onditioned ,o*prise all realities-
the des,ription o( pa%%attis as eIe*pt (ro* these t)o ,ategories is another )ay o( unders,oring their
unreality.
:hat the (oregoing obser'ations a*ount to is that )hile a dhamma is a truly eIistent thing
1sabhvasiddha2- a pa%%atti is a thing *erely ,on,eptualised 1parikappasiddha2.
5
4he (or*er is an eIistent
'eri(iable by its o)n distin,ti'e intrinsi, ,hara,teristi,-
6
but the latter- being a produ,t o( the *indHs
syntheti, (un,tion- eIists only by 'irtue o( thought. It is a *ental ,onstru,t superi*posed on things
and hen,e possesses no ob6e,ti'e ,ounterpart. It is the i*position o( oneness on )hat a,tually is a
,o*pleI 1samhekaggahaa2 that gi'es rise to pa%%attis.
%
:ith the dissolution o( the appearan,e o( unity
1ghaa-vinibbh&ga2-
C
the oneness disappears and the ,o*pleI nature is dis,losed5
4hus as )hen the ,o*ponent parts su,h as aIles- )heels- (ra*e- poles- et,.- are arranged in a
,ertain )ay- there ,o*es to be the *ere ter* o( ,o**on usage L,hariot-M yet in the ulti*ate
sense- )hen ea,h part is eIa*ined- there is no ,hariot- and 6ust as )hen the ,o*ponent parts o( a
house su,h as )attles- et,.- are pla,ed so that they en,lose a spa,e in a ,ertain )ay- there ,o*es
to be the *ere ter* o( ,o**on usage Lhouse-M yet in the ulti*ate sense there is no house- and
6ust as )hen trun8- bran,hes- (oliage- et,.- are pla,ed in a ,ertain )ay- there ,o*es to be the *ere
ter* o( ,o**on usage Ltree-M yet in the ulti*ate sense- )hen ea,h ,o*ponent is eIa*ined-
there is no tree- so too- )hen there are the (i'e aggregates 1as ob6e,ts2 o( ,linging- there ,o*es to
be the *ere ter* o( ,o**on usage La being-M La person-M yet in the ulti*ate sense- )hen ea,h
,o*ponent is eIa*ined- there is no being as a basis (or the assu*ption LI a*M or LI.M
9
In a si*ilar )ay should be understood the i*position o( oneness on )hat is ,o*pleI.
4)o 8inds o( pa%%atti are distinguished. /ne is ,alled nma-pa%%atti and the other attha-pa%%atti.
4he (irst re(ers to na*es- )ords- signs- or sy*bols through )hi,h things- real or unreal- are
designated5 LIt is the *ere *ode o( re,ognising 1sa%%kramatta2 by )ay o( this or that )ord )hose
signi(i,an,e is deter*ined by )orldly ,on'ention.M
1#
It is ,reated by )orldly ,onsent 1&kasaketa-
nimmit2 and established by )orldly usage 1&kav&hrena siddh2.
11
4he other- ,alled attha-pa%%atti-
re(ers to ideas- notions- or ,on,epts ,orresponding to the na*es- )ords- signs- or sy*bols. It is
produ,ed by the interpretati'e (un,tion o( the *ind 1kappan2 and is based on the 'arious (or*s or
appearan,es presented by the real ele*ents )hen they are in parti,ular situations or positions
1avatth-visesa2.
1!
Both nma-pa%%atti and attha-pa%%atti thus ha'e a psy,hologi,al origin and as su,h
both are de'oid o( ob6e,ti'e reality.
1
<is*@*hA !1#.
!
C(. Vinsabhvat& attdikavasena na vattabbatt nibbna pa%%atti 'a kavimutt nma 1&bhidh@s@*hA $62.
$
.@a II !99.
"
C(. Sakhatsakhataakkhana pana abhvena na vattabb sakhat ti v asakhat ti v 1K'@a 9!2.
5
&bhidh@s@*hA 5!5$.
6
A%%ama%%abyatirekena paramatthat& upaabbhati 1<is*@*hA 19C2.
%
Ibid. 1$%.
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3T 1!$.
9
X?Ea*oli- (ath &* (uri*i'ati&n- p."5C.
1#
<is*@*hA !!5.
11
&bhidh@s@*hA 5$.
1!
&bhidh@s@*hA 151B &bhi@a'@nA $1%((.B .il@A %C.
1C
;ma-pa%%atti is o(ten de(ined as that )hi,h *a8es 8no)n 1pa%%panat& pa%%atti2 and attha-pa%%atti
as that )hi,h is *ade 8no)n 1pa%%piyatt pa%%atti2.
1
4he (or*er is an instan,e o( agen,y de(inition
1kattu-sdhana2 and the latter o( ob6e,t de(inition 1kamma-sdhana2. :hat both atte*pt to sho) is that
nma-pa%%atti )hi,h *a8es attha-pa%%atti 8no)n- and attha-pa%%atti )hi,h is *ade 8no)n by nma-
pa%%atti- are *utually inter@dependent and there(ore logi,ally inseparable. 4his eIplains the
signi(i,an,e o( another de(inition )hi,h states that nma-pa%%atti is the ter*Hs relationship )ith the
ideas 1saddassa atthehi sambandh&2 and that attha-pa%%atti is the ideaHs relationship )ith the ter*s
1atthassa saddehi sambandh&2.
!
4hese t)o pairs o( de(inition sho) that the t)o pro,esses o(
,on,eptualiQation and 'erbaliQation through the sy*boli, *ediu* o( language are but t)o separate
aspe,ts o( the sa*e pheno*enon. It is (or the ,on'enien,e o( de(inition that )hat really a*ounts to a
single pheno*enon is treated (ro* t)o di((erent angles- )hi,h represent t)o )ays o( loo8ing at the
sa*e thing.
4he di((eren,e is established by de(ining the sa*e )ord- pa%%atti- in t)o di((erent )ays. :hen it is
de(ined as sub6e,t it is nma-pa%%attiKthe ,on,ept as na*e. :hen it is de(ined as ob6e,t it is attha-
pa%%attiKthe ,on,ept as *eaning. I( the (or*er is that )hi,h eIpresses 1v'aka2- the latter is that )hi,h
is eIpressible 1va'anya2.
$
In this sa*e sense- i( the (or*er is abhidhna- the latter is abhidheya.
"
Sin,e
attha-pa%%atti stands (or the pro,ess o( ,on,eptualiQation it represents *ore the sub6e,ti'e and
dyna*i, aspe,t- and sin,e nma-pa%%atti stands (or the pro,ess o( 'erbaliQation it represents *ore the
ob6e,ti'e and stati, aspe,t. 7or the assign*ent o( a ter* to )hat is ,onstru,ted in thoughtKin other
)ords- its eIpression through the sy*boli, *ediu* o( languageKin'ests it )ith so*e 8ind o( relati'e
per*anen,e and ob6e,ti'ity. It is- so to say- ,rystallised into an entity.
No) the de(inition o( attha-pa%%atti as that )hi,h is *ade 8no)n by nma-pa%%atti gi'es rise to the
Juestion as to )hat its position is in relation to the real eIistents 1dhammas2. 7or i( the real eIistents-
too- ,an be *ade 8no)n 1V attha-pa%%atti2- on )hat basis are the t)o ,ategories- the real and
,on,eptual- to be distinguishedN :hat should not be o'erloo8ed here is that a,,ording to its 'ery
de(inition attha-pa%%atti eIists by 'irtue o( its being ,on,ei'ed 1parikappiyamna2 and eIpressed
1pa%%piyamna2. 9en,e it is in,orre,t to eIplain attha-pa%%atti as that )hi,h is ,on,eptualiQable and
eIpressible- (or its 'ery eIisten,e ste*s (ro* the a,t o( being ,on,eptualised and eIpressed. 4his rules
out the possibility o( its eIisting )ithout being ,on,eptualised and eIpressed. In the ,ase o( the
dhammas or real eIistents the situation is Juite di((erent. :hile they ,an be *ade 8no)n by nma-
pa%%atti- their eIisten,e is not dependent on their being 8no)n or ,on,eptualised. :here su,h a real
eIistent is *ade 8no)n by a nma-pa%%atti- the latter is ,alled vi$$amna-pa%%atti-
5
be,ause it represents
so*ething that eIists in the real and ulti*ate sense 1paramatthat&2. &nd the notion or ,on,ept 1V attha-
pa%%atti2 ,orresponding to it is ,alled ta$$-pa%%atti- the 'erisi*ilar or appropriate ,on,ept.
6
4his does
not *ean that the real eIistent has trans(or*ed itsel( into a ,on,ept. It only *eans that a ,on,ept
,orresponding to it has been established.
I( the do,trine o( dhammas led to its an,illary theory o( pa%%atti as dis,ussed abo'e- both in turn led
to another de'elop*ent- i.e. the distin,tion dra)n bet)een t)o 8inds o( truth as sammuti@sa''a
1,on'entional truth2 and paramattha-sa''a 1absolute truth2. &lthough this distin,tion is an
&bhidha**i, inno'ation it is not ,o*pletely disso,iated (ro* the early Buddhist tea,hings. 7or the
ante,edent trends that led to its (or*ulation ,an be tra,ed to the early Buddhist s,riptures the*sel'es.
/ne su,h instan,e is the distin,tion dra)n in the &>guttara Ni8?ya bet)een ntattha and neyyattha.
%
4he (or*er re(ers to those state*ents )hi,h ha'e their *eaning Ldra)n outM 1nta-attha2- i.e. to be
ta8en as they stand- as eIpli,it and de(initi'e state*ents. 4he latter re(ers to those state*ents )hi,h
reJuire their *eaning Lto be dra)n outM 1neyya-attha2. 4he distin,tion alluded to here *ay be
understood in a broad )ay to *ean the di((eren,e bet)een the dire,t and the indire,t *eaning.
1
&bhidh@s $9B &bhidh@s@*hA 151B Sa,, ''.$%((.B P< '.1#66.
!
&bhidh@s@s' 5$.
$
&bhidh@s@s 159.
"
&bhidh@s@s' 5".
5
Sa,, '.6CB .@a I 55.
6
Ibid.
%
& II 6#.
19
4he distin,tion is so i*portant that to o'erloo8 it is to *isrepresent the tea,hings o( the Buddha5
L:hoe'er de,lares a dis,ourse )ith a *eaning already dra)n out as a dis,ourse )ith a *eaning to be
dra)n out and 1,on'ersely2 )hoe'er de,lares a dis,ourse )ith a *eaning to be dra)n out as a
dis,ourse )ith a *eaning already dra)n out- su,h a one *a8es a (alse state*ent )ith regard to the
Blessed /ne.M
1
It see*s 'ery li8ely that this distin,tion bet)een ntattha and neyyattha has pro'ided a
basis (or the e*ergen,e o( the subseJuent do,trine o( double truth. In point o( (a,t- the ,o**entary to
the &>guttara Ni8?ya see8s to establish a ,orresponden,e bet)een the original sutta@passage and the
4hera'?da 'ersion o( the t)o 8inds o( truth.
!
/ne interesting (eature in the 4hera'?da 'ersion o( the theory is the use o( the ter* sammuti (or
relati'e truth. 7or in all other s,hools o( Buddhist thought the ter* used is savHti. 4he di((eren,e is
not si*ply that bet)een P?li and Sans8rit- (or the t)o ter*s di((er both in ety*ology and *eaning.
4he ter* sammuti is deri'ed (ro* the root man- to thin8- and )hen pre(iIed )ith sam it *eans
,onsent- ,on'ention- general agree*ent. /n the other hand- the ter* savHti is deri'ed (ro* the root
vH- to ,o'er- and )hen pre(iIed )ith sam it *eans ,o'ering- ,on,eal*ent. 4his di((eren,e is not
,on(ined to the 'o,abulary o( the theory o( double truth alone. 4hat else)here- too- Sans8rit savHti
,orresponds to P?li sammuti is ,on(ir*ed by other teItual instan,es.
$
Sin,e sammuti re(ers to
,on'ention or general agree*ent- sammuti-sa''a *eans truth based on ,on'ention or general
agree*ent. /n the other hand- the idea behind savHti-satya is that )hi,h ,o'ers up the true nature o(
things and *a8es the* appear other)ise.
"
4he 'alidity o( the t)o 8inds o( state*ent ,orresponding to sammuti and paramattha is set out as
(ollo)s5
State*ents re(erring to ,on'ention@based things 1saketa2 are 'alid be,ause they are based on
,o**on agree*entB state*ents re(erring to ulti*ate ,ategories 1paramattha2 are 'alid be,ause
they are based on the true nature o( the real eIistents.
5
&s sho)n here- the distin,tion bet)een the t)o truths depends on the distin,tion bet)een saketa and
paramattha. No)- saketa in,ludes things )hi,h depend (or their being on *ental interpretations
superi*posed on the ,ategory o( the real.
6
7or instan,e- the 'alidity o( the ter* LtableM is based- not
on an ob6e,ti'e eIistent ,orresponding to the ter*- but on *ental interpretation superi*posed on a
,ongeries o( *aterial dhammas organised in a parti,ular *anner. &lthough a table is not a separate
reality distin,t (ro* the *aterial dhammas that enter into its ,o*position- ne'ertheless the table is said
to eIist be,ause in ,o**on parlan,e it is a,,epted as a separate reality. /n the other hand- the ter*
paramattha denotes the ,ategory o( real eIistents 1dhammas2 )hi,h ha'e their o)n ob6e,ti'e nature
1sabhva2. 4heir di((eren,e *ay be set out as (ollo)s5 :hen a parti,ular situation is eIplained on the
basis o( ter*s indi,ati'e o( the real ele*ents o( eIisten,e 1the dhammas2- that eIplanation is
paramattha-sa''a. :hen the sel(@sa*e situation is eIplained on the basis o( ter*s indi,ati'e o( things
)hi,h ha'e their being dependent on the *indHs syntheti, (un,tion 1i.e. pa%%atti2- that eIplanation is
sammuti-sa''a. 4he 'alidity o( the (or*er is based on its ,orresponden,e to the ulti*ate data o(
e*piri,al reality. 4he 'alidity o( the latter is based on its ,orresponden,e to things established by
,on'entions.
&s pointed out by K.N. Rayatille8e in his 4ary 0uddhist +he&ry &* #n&Iedge- one *is,on,eption
about the 4hera'?da 'ersion o( double truth is that paramattha-sa''a is superior to sammuti-sa''a and
that L)hat is true in the one sense is (alse in the other.M
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4his obser'ation that the distin,tion in
1
Ibid.
!
&@a II 11C.
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See e.g. 0&dhisattvabhmi- ed. G. :ogihara 14o8yo- 19$#$62- p."C. Perhaps the only single 4hera'?da teIt
)here savHti is used instead o( the usual sammuti is the Sinhala sannJ to &bhidh@sB see &bhidh@s@s 159.
"
See 0&dhi'aryvatra-pa%$ik 1Bibliothe,a Indi,a- Cal,utta- 19#"1"2- p.1%#. 7or a detailed a,,ount o( the
theories o( truth as presented by 'arious Buddhist s,hools- see P. de la <allYe Poussin- LPes 3euI- Pes Zuatre-
Pes 4rois <eritYs-M M2anges 'hin&is et b&uddhi3ues- <ol. <- pp.159((.
5
Saketava'ana sa''a &kasammutikraa K (aramatthava'ana sa''a dhammna bhtaakkha7 1&@a I 5"B K'@
a $"B 3@a I !512
6
See Sa,, ''.$((.
%
Rayatille8e- p.$6".
!#
Juestion is not based on a theory o( degrees o( truth )ill be,o*e ,lear (ro* the (ollo)ing (ree
translation o( the rele'ant passages ,ontained in three ,o**entaries5
9erein re(eren,es to li'ing beings- gods- Brah*?- et,.- are sammuti-kath- )hereas re(eren,es to
i*per*anen,e- su((ering- egolessness- the aggregates o( the e*piri, indi'iduality- the spheres
and ele*ents o( sense per,eption and *ind@,ognition- bases o( *ind(ulness- right e((ort- et,.- are
paramattha-kath. /ne )ho is ,apable o( understanding and penetrating to the truth and hoisting
the (lag o( arahatship )hen the tea,hing is set out in ter*s o( generally a,,epted ,on'entions- to
hi* the Buddha prea,hes the do,trine based on sammuti-kath. /ne )ho is ,apable o(
understanding and penetrating to the truth and hoisting the (lag o( arahatship )hen the tea,hing
is set out in ter*s o( ulti*ate ,ategories- to hi* the Buddha prea,hes the do,trine based on
paramattha-kath7 4o one )ho is ,apable o( a)a8ening to the truth through sammuti-kath- the
tea,hing is not presented on the basis o( paramattha-kath. and ,on'ersely- to one )ho is ,apable
o( a)a8ening to the truth through paramattha-kath- the tea,hing is not presented on the basis o(
sammuti-kath.
4here is this si*ile on this *atter. Rust as a tea,her o( the three <edas )ho is ,apable o(
eIplaining their *eaning in di((erent diale,ts *ight tea,h his pupils- adopting the parti,ular
diale,t )hi,h ea,h pupil understands- e'en so the Buddha prea,hes the do,trine adopting-
a,,ording to the suitability o( the o,,asion- either the sammuti@ or the paramattha-kath. It is by
ta8ing into ,onsideration the ability o( ea,h indi'idual to understand the 7our Noble
4ruths that the Buddha presents his tea,hing either by )ay o( sammuti or by )ay o(
paramattha or by )ay o( both. :hate'er the *ethod adopted the purpose is the sa*e-
to sho) the )ay to I**ortality through the analysis o( *ental and physi,al
pheno*ena.
1
&s sho)n (ro* the abo'e Juotation- the penetration o( the truth is possible by either tea,hing- the
,on'entional or the ulti*ate- or by the ,o*bination o( both. /ne *ethod is not singled out as superior
or in(erior to the other. It is li8e using the diale,t that a person readily understands- and there is no
i*pli,ation that one diale,t is either superior or in(erior to another. :hat is *ore- as the ,o**entary
to the &>guttara Ni8?ya states spe,i(i,ally- )hether the Buddhas prea,h the do,trine a,,ording to
sammuti or paramattha- they tea,h only )hat is true- only )hat a,,ords )ith a,tuality- )ithout
in'ol'ing the*sel'es in )hat is not true 1amus-va2.
!
4he state*ent5 L4he person eIistsM 1V sammuti-
sa''a2 is not erroneous- pro'ided one does not i*agine by the person a substan,e enduring in ti*e.
Con'ention reJuires the use o( su,h ter*s- but as long as one does not i*agine substantial entities
,orresponding to the*- su,h state*ents are 'alid.
$
/n the other hand- as the ,o**entators obser'e- i(
(or the sa8e o( ,on(or*ing to the ulti*ate truth one )ould say- L4he (i'e aggregates eatM 1khandh
bhu%$anti2- L4he (i'e aggregates )al8M 1khandh ga''hanti2- instead o( saying5 L& person eats-M L&
person )al8s-M su,h a situation )ould result in )hat is ,alled v&hrabheda- i.e. a brea,h o( ,on'ention
resulting in a brea8do)n in *eaning(ul ,o**uni,ation.
"
9en,e in presenting the tea,hing the Buddha does not eI,eed linguisti, ,on'entions 1na hi 0hagav
sama%%a atidhvati2-
5
but uses su,h ter*s as LpersonM )ithout being led astray by their super(i,ial
i*pli,ations 1aparmasa v&harati2.
6
Be,ause the Buddha is able to e*ploy su,h linguisti, designations
as LpersonM and Lindi'idualM )ithout assu*ing ,orresponding substantial entities- he is ,alled
Ls8illed in eIpressionM 1v&hra-kusaa2.
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4he use o( su,h ter*s does not in any )ay in'ol'e (alsehood.
C
S8il(ulness in the use o( )ords is the ability to ,on(or* to ,on'entions 1 sammuti2- usages 1v&hra2-
designations 1pa%%atti2- and turns o( spee,h 1nirutti2 in ,o**on use in the )orld )ithout being led
1
&@a I 5"55B 3@a I !515!B S@a II %%.
!
3@a I !51.
$
See Rayatille8e- p.$65.
"
S@a I 51.
5
K'@a 1#$.
6
C(. K'@a 1#$5 Atthi pugga& ti va'ana-mattat& abhinives& na ktabb&.
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S@a I 51.
C
C(. .@a 1!55 +asmv&hra-kusaassa &kanthassa satthun& K Sammuti v&harantassa musvd& na
$yati7
!1
astray by the*.
1
9en,e in understanding the tea,hing o( the Buddha one is ad'ised not to adhere
dog*ati,ally to the *ere super(i,ial *eanings o( )ords.
!
4he (oregoing obser'ations should sho) that a,,ording to the 4hera'?da 'ersion o( double truth-
one 8ind o( truth is not held to be superior to the other. &nother interesting ,on,lusion to )hi,h the
(oregoing obser'ations lead is that as (ar as the 4hera'?da is ,on,erned- the distin,tion bet)een
sammuti-sa''a and paramattha-sa''a does not re(er to t)o 8inds o( truth as su,h but to t)o )ays o(
presenting the truth. &lthough they are (or*ally introdu,ed as t)o 8inds o( truth- they are eIplained
as t)o *odes o( eIpressing )hat is true. 4hey do not represent t)o degrees o( truth o( )hi,h one is
superior or in(erior to the other. 4his eIplains )hy the t)o ter*s- kath 1spee,h2 and desan
1dis,ourse2- are o(ten used )ith re(eren,e to the t)o 8inds o( truth.
$
In this respe,t the distin,tion
bet)een sammuti and paramattha ,orresponds to the distin,tion *ade in the earlier s,riptures bet)een
ntattha and neyyattha. 7or- as )e sa) earlier- no pre(erential 'alue@6udge*ent is *ade bet)een
ntattha and neyyattha. &ll that is e*phasised is that the t)o 8inds o( state*ent should not be
,on(used. 4he great ad'antage in presenting sammuti and paramattha in this )ay is that it does not
raise the proble* o( re,on,iling the ,on,ept o( a plurality o( truths )ith the )ell@8no)n state*ent o(
the Suttanip?ta5 L4ruth is indeed one- there is no se,ondM 1eka hi sa''a na dutyam atthi2.
"
1
3@a I !51.
!
;a va'anabhedamatta ambitabba 1&bhi@a' CC2.
$
&@a I 5"B &bhi@a'@nA $!".
"
Suttanip?ta '.CC".
!!
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