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SKANDHAS, ĀYATANAS, DHĀTUS continued…and Development of Five Groups II. KEY ATTRIBUTES A. Conditioned/unconditioned, Pure/impure, and the Four Noble Truths B. Pure/impure, Good/bad/neutral – the relationship of karma and liberation I. SKANDHAS, ĀYATANAS, DHĀTUS continued A. Significance of skandhas, āyatanas and dhātus - As teaching formulations, skandhas, āyatanas and dhātus arose and came to be interpreted in specific teaching contexts. i. Skandhas – Analysis of the person / experience into 5 aggregates or heaps, specifically to un-do the way in which the view of self arises from a tendency to gather together the psycho-physical organism and conceive that as being, as possessing, or as being possessed by, a substantial self existing on its own. ii. Āyatanas – Emphasizing an epistemological division of organ and object, and collectively referred to as “all” (sarvam, everything). The 12 (or 6) āyatanas are the entrances or gates for the arising of consciousness and point to an important emphasis in Buddhist analysis of mind: on HOW rather than WHAT (how we know and experience vs. what we essentially and substantially are). Note: the mind organ is distinct from the sense organs which are material form. The mind organ is immaterial and defined as “the just deceased consciousness”. The “just deceased consciousness” is actually a condition for the arising of any consciousness, called the “equal and immediately antecedent condition” (which we will discuss next week). In the case of mind consciousness, this condition is also the organ. With the sense consciousnesses, the organ separates and is positioned between the consciousness and the data. The mind essentially uses itself to look at mind objects. Sometimes it is simply stated that the mind-organ is designated as such just to continue the analogy of the other senses. From this perspective, an interceding mind-organ is unnecessary. Mental objects are immediately available to the mind consciousness without the mediation of a mind organ, unlike the sense consciousnesses. iii. Dhātus – While the 18 dhātus overlap with the 12 āyatanas, they also hold a different perspective. In name, the 12 āyatanas are identical to the first 12 dhātus, but in analysis, the 12th āyatana, mano-āyatana, also includes the 6 consciousnesses (dhātus 13.-18.). The basic triadic structure of the dhātus expresses the Buddhist analysis of the arising of consciousness, but additionally, the dhātus are also referred to as “lineages” (gotra). In the Abhidharma context of conceiving of the person as a series (santāna) which is a kind of continuity or contiguity, the criticism of ātman (self or soul) is a criticism of interpreting this series as being, possessing, or being possessed by, a substantially existing self. The analysis of the 18 dhātus emphasizes that instead of a unitary continuity, experience is actually composed of 18 distinct lineages (gotra), the 18 dhātus. Moreover, none of these lineages consists of, or includes, any unchanging element. Another important point regarding the 18 dhātus is that in this analysis, consciousness is distinguished into 6 types, which in turn is pertinent to the exposition of consciousness in the higher realms of existence and meditation. In the realm of subtle form (Rūpadhātu), there is no consciousness of smell or taste, and in the formless realm (Ārūpyadhātu), there is only mind consciousness (5 senses are completely absent - more on this next week). - The Abhidharmakośa (AKB) discusses the significance or meditative import of the skandhas, āyatanas and dhātus in terms of three aspects of living beings: a. error/delusion, b. faculties/capacities, & c. joy/predilection: Instruction by the category: 1 2 3 Skandha (heap, aggregate) Āyatana (gate of entry, access-door) Dhātu (lineage, species, source) a. Error/Delusion (moha) finding a “self” (ātman) in: Caitta (thought concomitants)
[SKANDHA: 1 RŪPA/4 CITTA]
b. Faculties (indriya) are… Sharp Medium Dull
c. Joy/Predilections (ruci) of one predisposed to a teaching that is: Condensed (5 skandhas) Medium-length (12 āyatanas) Extensive (18 dhātus)
Rūpa (material Form)
[ĀYATANA: 10 RŪPA/2 CITTA]
Rūpa-citta (form & thought)
[DHĀTU: 10 RŪPA/8 CITTA]
B. Interrelationships of skandhas, āyatanas and dhātus - The chart on the last page of last week’s notes illustrates the relationships between the teachings of the 5 skandhas, 12 āyatanas & 18 dhātus (Sutra teachings) as well as between those and the 5 groups (pañca-vastuka) & 75 dharmas (Abhidharma teachings). The chart thus connects the early taxonomies to the later, more developed analysis of the dharmas. [Also note for reference, I uploaded a small study of the 75 dharmas & an Abhidharma glossary on Moodle.]
the opposite of these 2 dharmas (disrespect and absence of fear).C. and present detailed descriptions of the significant activities or events (dharma) that interact cooperatively in those particular circumstances. The AKB states: “The names mind (citta). an expression of the central role of the defilements in the process of suffering and liberation. The translation of rūpa by Gestalt.This group of dharmas is subdivided into 6 groups in terms of moral valence reflecting the fact that it is the overall pattern (cetanā. one object. and the 4th group below sub-divide the 4th skandha. Kuśala-mahā-bhūmikas (Skillful Universals) [10 dharmas]: Dharmas only and always found in good minds. rūpa is defined as that which is capable of being struck. āyatanas and dhātus for classifying the dharmas. In dharma theory. as new developments were incorporated and expressed through dharma theory. avoids the dualism of mind and matter. coexist in one and the same mind? Subtle. Equality in number of substantial entities (dravya) – in any given moment. Note: there is some question about whether nāma-rūpa (name and form. Caita-sika (mental factors. . Note: “defiled” minds in this context can be akuśala (bad or unskillful) or avyākrta (morally neutral or indeterminate). Akuśala-mahā-bhūmikas (Unskillful universals) [2 dharmas]: Dharmas found in all bad or unskillful minds.Cox: “The previous taxonomic systems begin from specific circumstances of praxis. Citta (mind) [1 dharma] – This group is identical to the 5th skandha. Rūpa (material form) [11 dharmas] – This group is identical to the 1st skandha. vi. “intention”) of the mental states (caitta) that determine the karmic quality of a mind (and thus represent evaluative distinctions within the primarily descriptive 5 groups as a whole): i. Aniyata (Indeterminates) [8 dharmas]: Dharmas sometimes associated with good. Identity of object (ālambana) – they share the same object iii. are difficult to distinguish. etc…one mental state of each type. are the specific characteristics of the mind and its mental states. Kleśa-mahā-bhūmikas (Defiled Universals) [6 dharmas]: Dharmas found in all defiled minds. One discerns them. which I offer here. A new classificatory scheme arises from. takes the perspective of the dharmas themselves and sets out a delimited number of abstract genera that are intended to encompass every experienced event or phenomenon.” 1. However. Identity of aspect (ākāra) – they share the same mode of understanding (prajñā) in relation to the object iv. dharma theory: the five groups (vastuka). iv. and experience is the keynote of Buddhism. .As dharma theory developed. [only one mind. or in other words every possible individual instance of a dharma.The mind (citta) and the mental factors or mental states (caita-sika) are associated (samprayoga) in 5 ways: i. unquestionably. in each moment] Additionally. Mahā-bhūmikas (Great Grounds. it is termed manas because it knows (manute) and it is termed vijñāna because it distinguishes its object (ālambanam vijñānati). which does not exist in experience. . how much more so when one envisions them in the (psychological) moment (kṣana) in which they all exist. saṃskārā-skandha (formations-aggregate).” ii. If the differences of the taste of vegetables. . ii. Identity of support (āśraya) – that is. tastes that we know through a material organ. also referred to as cittasaṃprayukta-saṃskārā (formations associated with mind). 3. AKB: “How do we know that these ten mental states. concomitants of mind) [46 dharmas] – This group. Note that three of these categories are dedicated to the analysis of the defilements. Abhidharma texts continued to employ the traditional schema of skandhas. vijñāna-skandha (consciousness-aggregate). The fivefold taxonomy. associated with one sensation. Parītta-kleśa-bhūmikas (Defilements of Restricted Scope) [10 dharmas]: Dharmas found in some defiled minds. v. are referred to in the early discourses as “the two guardians of the world”. Some of these dharmas are associated with all minds not in high-level concentration states. the mind and its mental factors also share the same moral valence: good. and so forth. or as. Citta is the basic awareness of an object. iii. into two groups. there can only be one citta (mind) with one object in each moment (& one moral valence). distinct in nature. Respect (or modesty) and fear of wrongdoing (or shame). how much more so is this true with non-material dharmas that are perceived through the mental consciousness. “Universals”) [10 dharmas]: Dharmas present in all states of mind. rūpa-skandha. by contrast. they arise with the same organ or sense/mind-faculty. there can be only one mind produced. the caita represent a set of specific functions which operate in the arising of that awareness or in relation to that awareness. Guenther: “Our merest sense-experience is a process of Gestaltung or formulation. Identity of time (kāla) – they are simultaneous v. perception. the 4 mental skandhas and the 1 material form skandha) should be interpreted as a kind of mind-matter division. or that which offers resistance. The mind is termed citta because it accumulates (cinoti). bad or neutral. and consciousness (vijñāna) designate the same thing.” 2. bad or neutral minds. spirit (manas). The development of the 5 groups (pañca-vastuka) . the traditional pragmatic categories tended to obscure what were becoming extremely important distinctions. only with difficulty even when one is content to consider each of the mental states as developing in a homogeneous series.” Cox notes the delineation of citta (mind) from the caitta (mental states) “reflects an emphasis upon perception as the central sentient experience and a newly recognized need to isolate thought as an identifiable hub that connects the various activities constituting one sentient being…” In the Abhidharma context.
but do have a function. Impure dharmas. giving a coherent account of the diachronic soteriology of the accumulation of karma and the latent defilements. pratisaṃkhyā-nirodha (extinction acquired through deliberation). 5. These dharmas are associated with the series but not with the mind in a karmically determinate matter – they are undefiled and karmically indeterminate (or neutral).” these dharmas do have functions which in turn are the basis for determining the unique sva-lakṣaṇas (own-characteristics) and thus establishing the own-being (sva-bhāva) of these dharmas. With the exception of the path. with the exception of the Path. The first categorization introduced in the Abhidharmakosa is the distinction between pure and impure: Sāsrava – With-outflow. compounded. This group or category encompasses a miscellaneous collection of dharmas. A. All conditioned dharmas.Strictly speaking. unconstructed. etc. uncompounded. mental factors) – thus. “the all” (sarvam). or “heaps” (beyond space and time. Explained etymologically as “that which has been created (krta) by causes in union and combination. or outflow-free. an approach in terms of sāmānya-lakṣaṇa (common characteristics) that is both descriptive and evaluative. which corresponds to the 3rd Noble Truth of Extinction and nirvāṇa. constructed. disagreeable or neutral. cause and effect. They are impure because the defilements adhere to them. The second categorization in the Abhidharmakosa is the distinction between conditioned & unconditioned: Saṃskṛta – Conditioned. as a classification. Pure/impure. the unconditioned dharmas are subsumed (as objects of mind) under dharma-āyatana and dharma-dhātu with the scriptural support that the āyatanas and dhātus subsume everything. rather than embody. influenced by ignorance. . Disagreeable dharmas are suffering by reason of the suffering which is suffering itself (duḥkha-duḥkhata) ii. in terms of the synchronic dharma-theory. Agreeable dharmas are suffering by reason of the suffering which is change (parināma-duḥkhata) iii. by reason of 3 types of suffering: i. was a driving force in the development of a separate category or group of dharmas that are unconditioned (an importance perhaps obscured in subsuming the unconditioned dharmas under objects of mind in terms of the āyatanas and dhātus).The analysis in terms of attributes also starts to demonstrate how the dharmas function and work together in terms of the path of liberation in Abhidharma Buddhism. The most important unconditioned dharma is pratisaṃkhyā-nirodha (extinction acquired through deliberation). stained. KEY ATTRIBUTES . are beyond temporal process.” Conditioned dharmas are momentary.4. Conditioned/unconditioned. as well as states and forms of being in which there is a complete absence of perception and conception. impure.There are a number of key categorizations. Although “The unconditioned has neither cause nor result. and thus resemble mind. many dharmas thus subsumed (as objects of mind) cannot be the object of mind in the moment they are active (e. as they “do not correspond to the concept” of the skandhas. no cause and effect. whether they are agreeable. unconditioned. unstained. and acquires the characteristics of the unconditioned. 2. pure. In terms of the skandhas. conducive to the growth of the defilements. and the Four Noble Truths 1. using dharma-dhātu (mind-objects) to classify dharmas is weak in that the dharma-dhātu should thus include all dharmas as they can all be objects of mind. into which dharmas are analyzed. . are impure. Asaṃskṛta (unconditioned) [3 dharmas] – These dharmas are not conditioned or constructed. Only the pure path and the three unconditioned dharmas are pure. II. . impure (sāsrava). they cannot be piled up). . and acquires the characteristics of the conditioned. tending toward appeasement of the defilements under the influence of wisdom.These dharmas were for one reason or another necessary to hold the system together. made. important functional differences between the groups of dharmas and the basic reality-view (the co-existence of dharmas in a single moment) of dharma theory. Viprayukta-saṃskārā (disassociated formations) [14 dharmas] – These dharmas are not of the nature of rūpa (material form). unmade. The defilements cannot “grow concordantly” in relation to the path and nirvāṇa. The importance of nirvāṇa. are “suffering” (duḥkha).g. MVS: “A dharma is said to be unconditioned if it has no arising and ceasing. Always pure (anāsrava). . typically dyads or triads. these dharmas had been lumped in somewhat uncomfortably under the saṃskārās. object.” Unconditioned dharmas have no activity. embodied in the unconditioned dharma. In terms of the āyatanas and dhātus.” Asaṃskṛta – Unconditioned. MVS: “A dharma is said to be conditioned if it has arising and ceasing. but they are disjoined from mind in that these dharmas are not associated with mind in the 5 ways outlined above – they do not share the same support. it tends to obscure.The unconditioned dharmas are not traditionally subsumed under the 5 skandhas. See below for more on conditioned vs. Moreover. Neutral dharmas are suffering by reason of the suffering conditioned existence (saṃskārā-duḥkhata) Anāsrava – Outflow-free.
unhindered. associated with ignorance (the “root” of all the defilements) and one of the other defilements – which consists of 21 mental states: The 20 above plus one defilement of limited scope (parītta-kleśa-bhūmika) or indeterminate (aniyata) dharma.) . c) There are also two types of neutral or undefined (avyākrta) minds: i. d) Further. obstructed) – Karmically indefinite but obstructive to liberation (e. good. Pure/impure. At the elimination of a defilement through a pure path. e) Meditation states can be good. 6 defiled universals. indeterminate. āyatanas and dhātus): All Dharmas (sarva-dharma) Conditioned (saṃskṛta) Unconditioned (asaṃskṛta) Temporal.Another key attribute is the distinction of good. or undefiled-neutral. the 10 good universals. belief in self (satkāya-dṛṣṭi)). Avyākrta – (Morally) non-defined. 72 dharmas. ii. Good/bad/neutral – the relationship of karma and liberation . hindered.This basic mapping of the dharmas illustrates an important point: nirvāṇa as unconditioned actually poses some problems for the Abhidharma tradition – if nirvāṇa is unconditioned and pure. Note: the “path” that is pure refers to the high-level attainment of the Path of Seeing (darśana-mārga) and the subsequent pure Path of Cultivation (bhāvana-mārga) [to be discussed in the 6th class]. apathy and the unskillful universals are absent in all dhyāna states. this classification also applies to the mental factors present in a moment of consciousness: a) A good or skillful (kuśala) mind in Kāmadhātu consists of 22 mental states: the 10 universals. B. “Independent” (āveṇika) – that is. how is it realized? How can any assemblage of conditioned dharmas lead to the unconditioned and in what sense can the unconditioned by acquired? The resolution posited here is that the pure path. Defiled (sāsrava) – which consists of 18 mental states: 10 universals. beneficial. .typically disagreeable sensation. bad or neutral . a good mind can also consist of 23 mental states. evil. wholesome.This classification concerns the moral causal order in terms of karma (action) of body. associated only with ignorance – which consists of 20 mental states: 10 universals. Nivṛta (veiled. neutral. Anivṛta (Non-veiled. one acquires a prapti (acquisition) dharma by which one is endowed (samanvāgama) with a (unconditioned) nirodha (extinction or cessation) of this particular defilement. The path leads to the unconditioned because it brings about definitive liberation from the defilements.it can be added to any of the above minds. vitarka and vicāra. Akuśala – Unskillful. etc.The Abhidharmakosa unfolds these two categories (pure/impure and conditioned/unconditioned) in terms of the 4 Noble Truths as follows (and also in relation to the skandhas. Has an undesirable result . With the potential addition of regret (kaukrtya). detrimental. “Associated” (saṃprayukta) – that is. which pertains to karma: Kuśala – Skillful. neutral. bad. and vitarka (reasoning) and vicāra (investigation). arising depending on causes. vitarka and vicāra.typically agreeable sensation. In as much as karma as defined as cetanā (intention) and cetanā is in turn the overall shape or pattern of mental factors. though a pattern of conditioned dharmas. along with vitarka (reasoning) and vicāra (investigation). Space & two types of cessation Impure (sāsrava) [the defilements adhere to them] Pure (anāsrava) Pure (anāsrava) 1st and 2nd Noble Truths 4th Noble 3rd Noble of Suffering (duḥkha-satya) & Truth of the Path Truth of Cessation Origination (samudaya-satya) (mārga-satya) (nirodha-satya) Aggregates of Clinging (Upādāna-skandha) Five Aggregates (pañca-skandha) = All conditioned dharmas 12 Āyatanas = 18 Dhātus = All dharmas (sarva-dharma) . b) There are two types of bad or unskillful (akuśala) minds: i. bad. of indistinct nature. unobstructed) – Karmically indefinite and not obstructive to liberation (includes various dharmas and phenomena). 2 bad universals. apathy (middha) can be good. defiled-neutral. Two sub-types: i. is pure.. Has no karmic result. 6 defiled universals. speech and mind. ii.g. unwholesome. vitarka and vicāra are absent in the 2nd dhyāna upwards. Has a desirable result . but certain mental factors are progressively absent in the higher states (regret. Undefiled (anāsrava) – which consists of 12 mental states: 10 universals. ii.
sāsrava (impure) has a wider scope than akuśala (unskillful). The same three mind-dhātus which can be pure are also the locus of basic problem – ignorance and grasping/attachment. are always morally indeterminate. sight-objects 5.Good or skillful but impure karma constitutes a kind of pivot point – on one hand. nose-organ 1. As good and neutral karma can be defiled. touch-consciousness 18. tongue-organ 9. smell-objects 7. touch-organ 6.. is not the fundamental problem. the 5 sense-organs. attachment Meditation (samādhi) Culminating in Cessation of thought & feeling Nirvāṇa (as ultimate quiescence) Ignorance. and 3 of the sense-objects. taste-objects 4. mind-objects and mindconsciousness) where liberating transformation takes place – they are the only three dhātus that can be pure. . misapprehension Insight (prajñā) Leading to Seeing the Four Noble Truths Nirvāṇa (as complete illumination) .Kuśala/akuśala/avyākrta (skillful/unskillful/undefined) pertain to karma. ear-consciousness 11. mind-organ 3. tongue-consciousness 17. nose-consciousness 13. Akuśala (unskillful) Avyākrta (undefined) Kuśala (skillful) Sāsrava (impure – tending to defilement) Leads to bondage and lower birth Leads to bondage. ear-organ X X Sāsrava (impure) Saṃskṛta Asaṃskṛta Avyākrta (morally undefined) Kuśala. Sense-experience. conducive to liberation Anāsrava (pure – abandons the defilements) N/A Does not obstruct liberation Leads to liberation . and bodily existence in general. nirvāṇa). karmically indefinite Leads to higher birth.Such analysis demonstrates for example that as it is the three mind dhātus (mind-organ. whereas sāsrava/anāsrava (pure/impure) pertain to the defilements – the cause and condition for saṃsāra (cyclic suffering).Abhidharma texts analyze a categorization of the dharmas such as the dhātus in terms of the attributes above and many others as well: 16. sound-objects 10. it is impure karma which maintains the cycle of rebirth (saṃsāra). and on the other hand. it is conducive to practices which realize liberation from saṃsāra (i.. . eye-consciousness Sāsrava (impure) or anāsrava (pure) X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X 14. expressed in competing values and approaches (as well as attempts at reconciliation and integration): [worldly-convention-centered] [emotion-centered] [intellect-centered] Basic Problem: Basic Practice: Basic Goal: Unskillful Action (karma) Ethics (śīla) Emphasizing Skillful (good) Action Good rebirth (Saṃsāra) / maintaining the social order Grasping. positive or negative. tangible-objects 12. mind-objects 8. akuśala or avyākrta Rūpadhātu Arupyadhātu Abandoned through meditation Abandoned through seeing or meditation or not abandoned X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X . morally. mind-consciousness 15.Skillful/unskillful and pure/impure tie-in to a set of inter-related underlying tensions running through Indian Buddhism. eye-organ 2. While all of the remaining dhātus are always impure.e.
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