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Anantara Paccaya – Condition of Combinations

A combination is a coming together of various elements, material or immaterial, to form a new whole.

In fact, the whole universe is but a combination of elements.

But to start small, comprehending this condition in childlike simplicity, we seek to understand it first in matters of the four elements.

Thus we may observe, how the qualities of any of the elements changes, when combining with other elements. Earth becomes something like mud, when combining with the element of water. It becomes brittle, when in close contact with fire. And it becomes animated when combining with the air or wind element. Similarly, water looses its transparency and liquidity when combining with the element of earth. It may loose depth and increases in heat, when combining with the element of fire, while becoming less clear and more turbulent when combining with the element of air. The element of fire too will change depending on what it is in close contact with. So will the element of earth usually fuel it, the element of water decreases its strength, while the element of air will make it more animated and lively. And for the element of air itself likewise changes of quality may be seen. In that it in combining with the earth element, air is usually hindered in its freedom of movement, something which to a lesser degree holds true for combining with the water element, which may also make it denser. While the element of fire may further rarify the air element, apart from adding its quality of heat to it.

I have already indicated in the main blog (Keys to the Abhidhamma System), how various combinations of the elements will produce all of the manyfold observable phenomena of the world. Apart from that will an understanding of the proper combination of elements be exceedingly important to him who seeks to master his body, him who wants to cure his body and to him who wants to purify his body. To see how that is so, one may read the practical ‘Example on the Balancing of the Elements’ in the last part of the book.

Then we can observe that life-phenomena too combine, as has been shown before. So will various cells combine to make up tissues, tissues combine to make up organs, organs combine to make up a physical body and so on. Individual entities combine to make up a group. Groups combine to make up a society and different societies combine to make up a state or nation. And as the earlier ones are more established and thus more fundamental than the latter ones, much can be learned from the former in matters of creating better combinations of the latter.

Emotions too can be understood in matters of combination. So can for example the two emotions or mental states of anger and joy combine to become cruelty. Anger and greed may combine to become jealousy. Delusion and hate may become pride. A combination of fear and delusion may become a mental condition of dogmatism. Or greed and delusion may combine to become perversion, etc.

And so it is with wholesome factors of mind. They too may combine to become a mind state different from those entering the equation. So may for example joy and effort combine to become braveness. Wisdom and decision may become justness. Or joy and thoughtfulness (applied and sustained thought) may become inspiration, etc.

In other mental phenomena this condition of combination too can be seen. For example will rudimentary forms of mentality, such as the bare consciousnesses (awarenesses/knowings) of stimuli combine, until the stimulating object is properly received by (into) the mind. Many objects of a similar kind will have to be received again and again into the mind, before the mind will give a designation to that object. And that designation will be valid for all objects of that kind. Thus the mind learns to combine many objects into one name. Many such names or designations then will combine into a thought. And again many thoughts will combine into an idea (or concept). Until many ideas combined, become one faculty of knowledge. Much knowledge in turn then may combine into intuition, a process which may be taken to has its final phase in complete omniscience.

But then, there are other types of mental phenomena, such as dreams. These usually start their life at the point where the mind receives objects. But with them, manifold objects, do not combine to form one designation, but rather manifold objects combine into one dream.¹

In matters of the practical relevance of this condition will any person of modern education understand that this condition lies at the base of many of the sciences, but perhaps most obviously so of physics and chemistry. Following that, will the understanding of the proper combination of various elements be essential to produce medicines, chemicals for household use and so on. But this condition can of course also be understood in a reversed order, in that, a thing un-understood may be broken down into its component parts, until a level is reached where it can be comprehended. So may a condition of ‘I’m a bundle of suffering’ be broken down in order to find out what that ‘I’ is and whether it can not be put together in a manner that it won’t be just ‘a bundle of suffering’.

For that purpose one may analyse a person (i.e. oneself) into mind, matter and consciousness, as has been shown throughout this book and then try to find a more ideal mixture to put the parts together again.² And a similar thing can of course be done to any component thing, material or mental.

¹ Although in emotions and dreams designations and thought may be present, they rather arise as dream objects from the past and are not to be confounded with the creative activity of conscious thought. They may be taken to exist similar to a sound that occasionally enters the sphere of consciousness.

² For a practical example one may see the post on Dissatisfaction

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