Monthly Archives: February 2012

Conditionality in the Abhidhamma and the Casual Relations of Everyday Life

The last book, and the most voluminous, of the Abdhidhamma Pitaka is called Patthāna, or the “Book of Casual Relations”. The title of this chapter is composed of the prefix “pa” which means “various” and “thāna” meaning “relation” or “condition (paccaya)”. It gets this name from the fact that it enumerates and explains the twenty-four modes of casual relations, as well as the triplets (tika) and couplets (duka) already mentioned in the first chapter of the Abdhidhamma entitled Dhammasangani, or the “Classification of Dhammas”.

The universal twenty-four modes of casual relations or conditions (paccaya) explains the many ways in which one conditioned phenomena is perpetuated, and dependent upon, another conditioned phenomena. These twenty-four modes of conditionality are:

1. Root condition: hetu paccaya
This condition is said to resemble the root of a tree. A tree rests upon its root, and it will remain alive so long as its root is not destroyed. In this way, all mental states, whether karmically advantageous and disadvantageous, are entirely dependent upon their respective roots. These include the six roots (mula) of greed (lobha), hate (dosa), confusions (moha), greedlessness (alobha), hatelessness (adosa), and non-confusion (amoha).

2. Object: ārammana
This is something which, as an object, forms the condition for consciousness and mental phenomena. The physical object of sight consisting of color and light-wave is the necessary condition for the arising of visual-consciousness (cakkhu-viññāna); sound waves for ear-consciousness (sotā-viññāna); any object arising in the mind (whether material or mental, past, present or future, real or imaginary, etc) is the condition for mind-consciousness (mano-viññāna); etc.

3. Predominance: adhipati
The predominance condition refers to four things which are predominant dependent upon contemplation and the mental phenomena associated with them, namely: concentrated intention (chanda), energy (viriya), consciousness (citta), and investigation (vīmamsā). In the same state of consciousness, however, only one of these four phenomena can be predominant at a time. Whenever such phenomena as consciousness and mental properties are arising by giving contemplation to one of these four things, then this phenomenon is for the other phenomena a condition by way of predominance.

4. Proximity: anantara
5. Contiguity: samanantara
These two conditions are pretty much almost identical, for they refer to any state of consciousness and mental phenomena associated with them, which are the conditions for the immediately following stage in the process of consciousness. For example, in the visual process, visual-consciousness is immediately followed by a certain mind-element performing the function of receiving the visible object – a condition by way of contiguity; and so is this mind-element for the next following mind-consciousness element, performing the function of investigating the object, etc.

6. Co-nascence: sahajāta
This is the condition by way of simultaneous arising. This is a phenomena for which another forms – a condition in such a way that, simultaneously with its arising, another phenomena must arise. For example, in the same moment one of the four mental groups of feeling, perception, mental constructions and consciousness arises there also arises for the three other groups a condition by way of co-nascence or co-arising; or again each of the four physical elements solid, liquid, heat, motion is such a condition for the other three elements.

7. Mutuality: aññamañña
All the previously mentioned associated and co-nascent mental phenomena (as well as the four physical elements) are, of course, at the same time also conditioned by way of mutuality. This has been likened to sticks propped up upon one another.

8. Support: nissaya
This condition refers either to a pre-nascent or co-nascent phenomenon which is aiding other phenomena in the manner of a foundation or base, just as the trees have the earth as their foundation, or as the oil-painting rests on the canvas. In this way, the five sense-organs and the physical base of the mind are for the corresponding six kinds of consciousness a pre-nascent – that is, previously arisen, condition by way of support.

9. Decisive Support: upanissaya
This condition is threefold, namely a by way of object, proximity, and natural decisive support. These conditions act as strong inducement or cogent reason.

a.) Anything past, present or future, material or mental, real or imaginary, may, as object of our thinking, become a decisive support, or strong inducement, to moral, immoral or karmically neutral states of mind. Unskillful things, by incorrect thinking, become an inducement for an immoral life; by right thinking, an inducement for a moral life. However, skillful things may be an inducement not only to similarly skillful things, but also to unskillful things, such as self-conceit, vanity, envy, etc.
b.) This is identical with the proximity condition of anantara.
c.) Faith, virtue, etc., produced in one’s own mind, or the influence of climate, food, etc., on one’s body and mind, may act as natural and decisive support-conditions. Faith may be a direct and natural inducement to charity, virtue to mental training, etc.; greed to theft, hate to murder; unsuitable food and climate to ill-health; friends to spiritual progress or deterioration.

10. Pre-nascene: purejāta
This condition refers to something that has previously arisen, which forms a base for something arising later on. For example, the five physical sense-organs and the physical base of mind, having already arisen at the time of birth, form the condition for the consciousness arisi
ng later, and for the mental phenomena associated with it.

11. Post-nascene: pacchājāta
This refers to consciousness and the phenomena associated with it, because they are – just as is the feeling of hunger- a necessary condition for the preservation of this already arisen body.

12. Repetition: āsevana
The condition of repetition refers to the karmic consciousness, in which each time the preceding impulse moments (javana-citta) are for all the succeeding ones a condition by way of repetition and frequency, just as in learning by heart and through constant repetition – the later recitation of which becomes gradually easier and easier.

13. Karma: kamma
The pre-natal karma or karmic intentions (kamma-cetanā) in a previous birth is the generating condition of the five sense-organs, the fivefold sense-consciousness, and the other karma-produced mental and material phenomena in a later birth. Karmic intention is also a condition by way of karma for the co-nascent mental phenomena associated with it, but these phenomena are in no way considered to be karma-results.

14. Karma-result: vipāka
The five kinds of karma-resultant sense-consciousness are a condition by way of karma-result for the co-nascent mental and material phenomena.

15. Nutriment: āhāra
In this sense, this condition is the “foundation” or sustaining condition, relating to the four kinds of nutriment, which are material and mental:
a.) Material food (kabalinkārāhāra)
b.) Sensorial and mental contact (phassa)
c.) Mental intention (mano-sañcetanā)
d.) Consciousness (viññāna)

16. Ability: indriya
This condition applies to twenty abilities (indriya). Of these twenty abilities, the five physical sense-organs – in their capacity as abilities, form a condition only for immaterial phenomena (visual-consciousness etc.), physical vitality and all the remaining abilities, for the co-nascent mental and material phenomena.

17. Absorption: jhāna
This condition is a named for the seven jhāna-factors, as these form a condition to the co-nascent mental and material phenomena. This condition does not only apply to jhāna alone, but also to the general intensifying ‘absorbing’ impact of these seven factors. These factors are:
a.) Thought-conception (vitakka)
b.) Discursive thinking (vicāra)
c.) Interest (pīti)
d.) Rapture and joy (sukha)
e.) Grief, sadness, etc. (domanassa)
f.) Equanimity (upekkhā)
g.) Concentration (samādhi)

18. Path: magga
This condition refers to the twelve path-factors, and the karmically advantageous and disadvantageous mental phenomena associated with them, as a way of escape from this or that mental constitution, namely:
a.) Knowledge (paññā or sammāditthi – right understanding)
b.) Right or wrong thought-conception (vitakka)
c.) Right speech (sammā-vācā)
d.) Right bodily action (sammā-kammanta)
e.) Right livelihood (sammā-ājīva)
f.) Right or wrong energy (viriya)
g.) Right or wrong awareness/mindfulness (sati)
h.) Right or wrong concentration (samādhi)
i.) Wrong views (mic
chāditthi)
j.) Wrong speech (micchā-vācā)
k.) Wrong bodily action (micchā-kammanta)
l.) Wrong livelihood (micchā-ājīva)

19. Associaton: sampayutta
This refers to the co-nascent and mutually conditioned four mental groups (khandha) as they aid each other by their being associated, by having a common physical base, a common object, and by their arising and disappearing simultaneously.

20. Dissociation: vippayutta
This condition refers to such phenomena as an aid to other phenomena by not having the same physical base and objects. Thus material phenomena are for mental phenomena, and conversely, a condition by way of dissociation, whether co-nascent or not.

21. Presence: atthi
This refers to a phenomenon – being pre-nascent or co-nascent – which through its presence is a condition for other phenomena.

22. Absence: natthi
23. Disappearance: vigata
These two conditions are almost identical. For an example, this can refer to a consciousness which has just passed, thus forming the necessary condition for the immediately following stage of consciousness by giving it an opportunity to arise.

24. Non-disappearance: avigata
This is similar to the atthi condition, in that this refers to a phenomenon which through its non-disappearing is a condition for other phenomena.

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Six Harmonies Conducive to Amiability

According to the Saraniya Sutta (AN 6.12), there are six conditions which are conducive to amiability and engender feelings of endearment and respect, which lead to a sense of fellowship, a lack of disputes, and a state of harmony and unity. The Buddha recommended these to promote unity and harmony among the Sangha, but these same harmonies can apply to all sorts of relationships such as in a marriage, between co-workers, etc. These include:

1. Physical Harmony
2. Verbal Harmony
3. Mental Harmony

4. Moral Harmony
5. Economic Harmony
6. Doctrinal Harmony


The first harmony, physical harmony, includes living and working together in unity, love and good will with regard to our fellows – both to their faces and behind their backs. In order to create a stable relationship, it is advisable that people get along with each other and learn to treat each other as equals. The second, verbal harmony, means not saying harmful things, or quarreling which brings about anger and can lead to fighting. Talking too much often leads to careless remarks. When people are together, the negative karma of harmful speech is the most likely to incur.

The third harmony, mental harmony, means developing a mind of good will, such as being considerate of the thoughts and ideas of others. This includes being mindful of the welfare and benefit of others, not just one’s self.  The fourth, moral harmony, means unity in observing the same precepts, and encouraging each other in our practice. In Buddhism this would include the 5 precepts, and in society in general, this may include local laws and customs.

The fifth, economic harmony, means that whatever righteous gains one may obtain in a righteous way – it is shared equally with others. This does not just include money, but any form of recognition. We must learn to give and take and negotiate things fairly. However, when giving, one should not give with any ulterior motives or a discriminative mind. Generosity should be accompanied with empathy, conviction, compassion, and kindness. The practice of giving helps to weaken one’s habitual tendencies to cling — to views, to sensuality, and to unskillful modes of thought and behavior.

The sixth and final harmony is doctrinal harmony. This includes sharing knowledge and understanding with others so that everyone can improve together and reach the same level of understanding. This also changes the dynamic of how we function as a community, and we learn to do things not just out of our benefit – but for the benefit and welfare of others. Doing so helps us to abandon non-virtue and develop virtuous behavior. This is called delighting in the joy of Dharma through the eradication of ignorance and defilements. The more we practice the Dharma, the more happiness we will have. If we really engage in the Dharma with others, there will be mutual joy and benefit.

Whenever we treat others with a sense of harmony and unity, this will engender mutual respect and reverence. If we can respect each other in harmony, we will be able to accept that all human phenomena are equal, harmonious, peaceful, and beautiful. If everyone could do this, then true world peace would become an even greater possibility.

I’m a Buddhist, and What I Actually Do

Here are a few Buddhist takes on the “What I Do” meme. Enjoy.

Ajahn Chah on Meditation and the Mindful Way

“Remember you don’t meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it.”

“Meditation is like a single log of wood. Insight and investigation are one end of the log; calm and concentration are the other end. If you lift up the whole log, both sides come up at once. Which is concentration and which is insight? Just this mind.”

“To meditate you do not have to think much more than to resolve that right now is the time for training the mind and nothing else. Don’t let the mind shoot off to the left or to the right, to the front or behind, above or below. Our only duty right now is to practice mindfulness of the breathing. Fix your attention at the head and move it down through the body to the tips of the feet, and then back up to the crown of the head. Pass your awareness down through the body, observing with wisdom. We do this to gain an initial understanding of the way the body is. Then begin the meditation, noting that at this time your sole duty is to observe the inhalations and exhalations. Don’t force the breath to be any longer or shorter than normal, just allow it to continue easily. Don’t put any pressure on the breath, rather let it flow evenly, letting go with each in-breath and out-breath. You must understand that you are letting go as you do this, but there should still be awareness. You must maintain this awareness, allowing the breath to enter and leave comfortably. There is no need to force the breath, just allow it to flow easily and naturally. Maintain the resolve that at this time you have no other duties or responsibilities. Thoughts about what will happen, what you will know or see during the meditation may arise from time to time, but once they arise just let them cease by themselves, don’t be unduly concerned over them.”



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