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Avigata Paccaya – Condition of Retention or Lastingness

All phenomena in manifest existence posses some amount of duration, long or short. The continuation of certain characteristics that occur in the course of that duration, is what is called the continuity of its identity.

In terms of the four elements is duration or lastingness symbolised by the earth element. But in manifest existence we can get a glimpse of a stable nature in regards to all of the four elements. This is best seen when we take a look at the entity we call our planet.

The defining element of this planet may be said to be the earth element, because this is thought of as lasting as long as the planet, and is indeed equivalent with the planet. But as we take a close look onto this our planet, we notice that actually this planet is to a large extent made up of water. And this water exists as quite a stable element, especially so in the oceans of the planet, where it seems to not have diminished perhaps for millions or billions of years. Then we are told by science, but may find support for it in phenomena like volcanic eruptions ourselves, that the very core of this planet is, for the most part, made of the fire element. While the air that surrounds us as the atmosphere of the planet is a prove of the possibility of a stable air element.

Within (and in regards to) the body, too, we have certain signs proving the condition of retention of identity. In the first place, the organs, the blood, the heat of the body, and the body’s ceaseless motion (internal manifestations of the four elements) maintain a certain continuous identity. If that identity would cease, that is, if the body’s organs would fall apart, or the blood would dry up, or the body’s heat would disappear, or the body’s motion would entirely cease; then death will set in.

Even externally, signs of continuous identity of a body are discernible. Things like the colour of the hair or eyes of the body, in most cases do not change before old age, and with few exceptions, whatever gender a person is born with, he will retain that gender until the end of his life.

Larger scale life phenomena such as nations and civilisations, too prove the validity of this condition. With them, similar to the constituent parts of a body (there called cells), the individual entities making up a civilisation or nation are ever changing phenomena, but the nation or civilisation is outliving them all, retaining at least some of its characteristics throughout its life.

Retention in relation to the mind means memory. Yet, memory is not entirely a mental thing. Even coarse material phenomena as stones or water, can retain impressions and ideas. This is the foundation of ancient talisman magic, as well as of ‘holy’ (blessed) water. And this has been brought in modern times to a high pitch of perfection, as modern information technology as computer, CDs, hard drives etc. all rely on this condition of matter being able to retain impressions and ideas.

Then is the body made up of the same material elements as earth and water and so on, interacting with each other to form living processes. So there will be more intricate ways of memory in relation to the body.

But then one might ask, how about the mind itself? Is there any memory or retention of ideas and impressions apart from matter?

Well, in modern times, we know about the technology of transmitting ideas via semi-material forces. An antenna can send out various information to a certain receiver. The information being temporarily stored in the electromagnetic waves send out by the antenna. Yet, the short-lasting nature of the electromagnetic wave, makes the storage of the idea equally short. Thus we can get some clue about the possibility of memory independent from matter, but we equally realise that in the nature we know of, memory does dependent for the most part on a material container containing it. Only we might contrive, that in as much as there may be entities whose body is somewhat similar to the electromagnetic waves of modern science, these may be able to maintain a more lasting memory even without a physical container.

Then, is memory intricately connected with consciousness, although expressing it the other way around is perhaps more accurate (viz. consciousness is intricately connected with memory). A human being is constituted of various parts, some material, but also some immaterial. The consciousness of the most primitive person will be aware of and responsive only towards things which are material. And as, both the material part of a person (viz. the body), as well as the material things contacted by the senses are ever changing, that person’s consciousness with its respective memory will be ever changing.

But, as beings evolve, consciousness grows in responsiveness towards ever more refined things, both internally, as well as externally.

The consciousness of the person of virtue not only is responsive towards material things, but too knows of, and is able to respond towards emotions and ideas. Consequently that person’s consciousness with its respective memory may last longer than the ever shifting material elements of the body or of the senses.

Still longer in duration will last the consciousness of a meditator who is able to both, transform his body in such a manner as to produce a stable current of energy, as well as his consciousness to respond towards that same energy. Which will mark the attainment of a finematerial sphere consciousness. This in turn, might then become still superseded by such a refinement of both body and consciousness as to bring about even an attainment to the immaterial sphere. And the beings who live in that sphere, may be expected to have both a memory and a consciousness which lasts for exceedingly long a period of time.

Intricately connected both with memory and with consciousness is another mental phenomenon, the idea. We have defined an idea as a combination of various designations put together by the process of thinking. But in here we might ask: Are there any lasting ideas?, or are all ideas just ephemeral things?

A sense-sphere consciousness develops ideas regarding the senses-sphere world. Some of which may last throughout the whole of a persons (sense-sphere) life. But many ideas will on account of their uselessness get constantly overwritten by newer ones.

But there do exist ideas in this world, which do last for a considerable amount of time, sometimes several centuries or even millennia. Which makes us wonder whether there might not be ideas whose validity is eternal.

Whether eternal or long-lasting, such consideration, in turn, might lead us to a speculation that is yet more interesting:

We have already seen, that consciousness’s duration so to say depends on what it is capable of responding towards, and we too have pointed out, that the consciousness of a refined person is capable of responding to ideas, consequently in here we may form some idea about the condition of a consciousness which is able to entirely respond only towards very long lasting if not eternal ideas.

This of course, would only be possible for a consciousness that attained already perfect responsiveness towards all the constituents of the being (five khandhas) it is itself part of…

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