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11/26/08
3. Abhidhamma Pitaka of Scholasticism-The seven books of the Abhidhamma Pitaka in the Pali canon are: 3.1 Dhammasangani (”Summary of Dhamma” or “Classification of Dhammas), an enumeration of the entities constituting reality.1. Digha Nikaya (Collection of Long Discourses)-Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta To Kevatta-Lesson Three
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3. Abhidhamma Pitaka of Scholasticism-The seven books of the Abhidhamma Pitaka in the Pali canon are:

3.1 Dhammasangani (”Summary of Dhamma” or “Classification of Dhammas), an enumeration of the entities constituting reality.

Analysis
of Consciousness

One of the Abhidhamma’s
most important contributions to human thought, though still insufficiently
known and utilized, is the analysis and classification of consciousness
undertaken in the first of the
Dhammasangani. Here the human mind,
so evanescent and elusive, has for the first time been subjected to a
comprehensive, thorough and unprejudiced scrutiny, which definitely disposes
of the notion that any kind of static unity or underlying substance can
be traced in mind. However, the basic ethical lay-out and purpose of this
psychology effectively prevents conclusions of ethical materialism or
theoretical and practical amoralism being derived from its realistic and
unmetaphysical analysis of mind.

The method of investigation
applied in the Abhidhamma is
inductive, being based exclusively
on an unprejudiced and subtle introspective observation of mental processes.
The procedure used in the
Dhammasangani for the analysis of consciousness
is precisely that postulated by the English philosopher and mathematician,
A. N. Whitehead: ‘It is impossible to over-emphasize the point that the
key to the process of induction, as used either in science or in our ordinary
life, is to be found in the right understanding of the immediate occasion
of knowledge in its full concreteness…In any occasion of cognition,
that which is known is an actual occasion of experience, as diversified
by reference to a realm of entities which transcend that immediate occasion
in that they have analogous or different connections with other occasions
of experience’ (’Science and the Modern World’).

Whitehead’s term
‘occasion’ corresponds to the Abhidhamma concept
samaya (time,
occasion, conjunction of circumstances), which occurs in all principal
paragraphs of the
Dhammasangani, and there denotes the starting
point of the analysis. The term receives a detailed and very instructive
treatment in the Atthasalini the commentary to the aforementioned work.

The Buddha succeeded
in reducing this ‘immediate occasion’ of an act of cognition to a single
moment of consciousness, which, however, in its subtlety and evanescence,
cannot be observed, directly and separately, by a mind untrained in introspective
meditation. Just as the minute living beings in the microcosm of a drop
of water become visible only through a microscope, so, too, the exceedingly
short-lived processes in the world of mind become cognizable only with
the help of a very subtle instrument of mental scrutiny, and that only
obtains as a result of meditative training. None but the kind of introspective
mindfulness or attention (
sati) that has acquired, in meditative
absorption, a high degree of inner equipoise, purity and firmness (
upekkha-sati-parisuddhi),
will possess the keenness, subtlety and quickness of cognitive response
required for such delicate mental microscopy. Without that meditative
preparation only the way of inference from comparisons between various
complete or fragmentary series of thought moments will be open as a means
of research. But this approach too may yield important and reliable results,
if cautious and intelligent use is made of one’s own introspective results
and of the psychological data of meditative experience found in Sutta
and Abhidhamma.

In the Anupada Sutta
(Majjhima Nikaya 111) it is reported that the Venerable Sariputta Thera,
after rising from meditative absorption (jhana) was able to analyse the
respective jhanic consciousness into its constituent mental factors. This
may be regarded as a precursor of the more detailed analysis given in
the Dhammasangani.

Let us listen to
a voice from Indian antiquity appreciating the difficulty of that analytical
work and the greatness of its achievement. We read in the ‘Questions of
King Milinda’; “A difficult feat indeed was accomplished, O great
King, by the Exalted One” — “Which was that difficult feat,
O venerable Nagasena?” - “The Exalted One, O king, has accomplished
a difficult task when he analysed a mental process having a single object
as consisting of consciousness with its concomitants, as follows: ‘This
is sense-impression, this is feeling, perception, volition, consciousness.”
- “Give an illustration of it, venerable sir” - “Suppose,
O king, a man has gone to the sea by boat and takes with the hollow of
his hand a little sea water and tastes it. Will this man know, ‘This is
water from the Ganges, this is water from such other rivers as Jamuna,
Aciravati etc.?” - “He can hardly know that.” - “But
a still more difficult task, O king, was accomplished by the Exalted One
when he analysed a mental process having a single object, as consisting
of consciousness with its concomitants.”

The rather terse
and abstract form in which the Dhammasangani presents its subject matter,
the analysis of mind, should not mislead the reader into making him believe
that he is confronted with a typical product of late scholastic thought.
When, in the course of closer study, he notices the admirable inner consistency
of the system, and gradually becomes aware of many of its subtle points
and far-reaching implications, he will become convinced that at least
the fundamental outlines and the key notes of Abhidhamma psychology must
be the result of a profound intuition gained through direct and penetrative
introspection. It will appear to him increasingly improbable that the
essence of the Abhidhamma should be the product of a cumbersome process
of discursive thinking and artificial thought-constructions. This impression
of the essentially intuitive origin of the Abhidhammic mind-doctrine will
also strengthen his conviction that the elements of the Dhammasangani
and the Patthana must be ascribed to the Buddha himself and his early
great and holy disciples. What is called ’scholastic thought’, which has
its merit in its own sphere and does not deserve wholesale condemnation,
may have had its share later in formulating, elaborating and codifying
the teachings concerned.

If we turn from the
Abhidhamma to the highest contemporary achievements of non-Buddhist Indian
thought in the field of mind and ’soul’, i.e. the early Upanishads and
the early Samkhya, we find that apart from single great intuitions, they
teem with mythological ritualistic terms, and with abstract speculative
concepts. Against that background the realistic sober and scientific spirit
of Abhidhamma psychology (or its nucleus extant in the Sutta period) must
have stood out very strongly. To those who could appreciate the import
of that contrast, it will have sufficed to instil that high esteem and
admiration for the Abhidhamma of which we have spoken.

But even if compared
with most of the later psychological teachings of the East or the West,
the distance from Abhidhamma psychology remains fundamentally the same,
for only the Buddha’s teaching on mind keeps entirely free from the notions
of self, ego, soul, or any other permanent entity in, or behind, mind.


1. Digha Nikaya (Collection of Long Discourses)

Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta
To Kevatta

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Nalanda in Pavarika’s mango grove. Then Kevatta the householder
approached the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down, sat to
one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: “Lord,
this Nalanda is powerful, both prosperous and populous, filled with
people who have faith in the Blessed One. It would be good if the
Blessed One were to direct a monk to display a miracle of psychic power
from his superior human state so that Nalanda would to an even greater
extent have faith in the Blessed One.”

When this was said, the
Blessed One said to Kevatta the householder, “Kevatta, I don’t teach
the monks in this way: ‘Come, monks, display a miracle of psychic power
to the lay people clad in white.’”

A second time… A third time, Kevatta the householder said to the
Blessed One: “I won’t argue with the Blessed One, but I tell you: Lord,
this Nalanda is powerful, both prosperous and populous, filled with
people who have faith in the Blessed One. It would be good if the
Blessed One were to direct a monk to display a miracle of psychic power
from his superior human state so that Nalanda would to an even greater
extent have faith in the Blessed One.”

A third time, the Blessed One said to Kevatta the householder,
“Kevatta, I don’t teach the monks in this way: ‘Come, monks, display a
miracle of psychic power to the lay people clad in white.’

“Kevatta, there are these three miracles
that I have declared, having directly known and realized them for
myself. Which three? The miracle of psychic power, the miracle of
telepathy, and the miracle of instruction.

The Miracle of Psychic Power

“And what is the miracle of psychic power? There is the case where a
monk wields manifold psychic powers. Having been one he becomes many;
having been many he becomes one. He appears. He vanishes. He goes
unimpeded through walls, ramparts, and mountains as if through space.
He dives in and out of the earth as if it were water. He walks on water
without sinking as if it were dry land. Sitting cross-legged he flies
through the air like a winged bird. With his hand he touches and
strokes even the sun and moon, so mighty and powerful. He exercises
influence with his body even as far as the Brahma worlds.

“Then someone who has faith and conviction in him sees him wielding
manifold psychic powers… exercising influence with his body even as
far as the Brahma worlds. He reports this to someone who has no faith
and no conviction, telling him, ‘Isn’t it awesome. Isn’t it astounding,
how great the power, how great the prowess of this contemplative. Just
now I saw him wielding manifold psychic powers… exercising influence
with his body even as far as the Brahma worlds.’

“Then the person without faith, without conviction, would say to the
person with faith and with conviction: ‘Sir, there is a charm called
the Gandhari charm by which the monk wielded manifold psychic powers…
exercising influence with his body even as far as the Brahma worlds.’
What do you think, Kevatta — isn’t that what the man without faith,
without conviction, would say to the man with faith and with
conviction?”

“Yes, lord, that’s just what he would say.”

“Seeing this drawback to the miracle of psychic power, Kevatta, I
feel horrified, humiliated, and disgusted with the miracle of psychic
power.



Lesson Three

The closest Indian analogy to the position of black Americans is
that of Aboriginal Inhabitants of jambudvipa, that is, the Great Prabuddha
bharath (SC/STs) called as untouchables and made outcastes by the Central Asian
Invaders for millennia suffered discrimination and oppresion

Like blacks in the US, Aboriginal Inhabitants of jambudvipa, that
is, the Great Prabuddha bharath account for about 15 per cent of the
population; they are found disproportionately in low-status, low-income jobs;
their levels of education are lower than the upper castes; and they still face
daily incidents of discrimination for no reason other than their identity at
birth.

Only when an Aboriginal Inhabitants of
jambudvipa, that is, the Great Prabuddha bharath rules India can the
country truly be said to have attained its own “Obama moment.”

In theory, this already has happened: K. R. Narayanan, born into
a poor Aboriginal Inhabitants of jambudvipa, that is, the Great Prabuddha
bharath family, served as India’s
president, the highest office in the land, from 1997 to 2002.

But the Indian Presidency is a largely ceremonial position: real
power is vested in the office of prime minister, and no Aboriginal Inhabitants
of jambudvipa, that is, the Great Prabuddha bharath has come close to holding
that post. Since independence in 1947, a majority of India’s prime ministers have been
Brahmins, the highest Hindu caste.

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