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Keys to the Abhidhamma System

The Path from Matter to Consciousness


If you but seek’st enlightenment;
first it’s opposite must comprehend.
But what is the opposite of spirit?
Tis matter whose coarseness is most vivid.

But what is matter?, we might ask.
Everything, that you can grasp.
Anything, that you can see, can touch, can hear, or smell,
belongs indeed to matters spell.
Anything solid, liquid, fiery, or moving,
is matter in its forms you spooking.

But he who all these knows, indeed he knows,
what to enlightenment is opposed.

Yet, if you know them to their border,
and in your mind can put in order;
their spell will cease to reach you then,
their trouble for you will come to ‘ts end.


Next we have the life, that ‘s more than matter.
That, if compared, is refined and better.
Be’t plant, polyp, giraffe, or man,
the life within is all the same.
Makes grow, what starts as smallest thing,
takes in, excretes, and dies at end.
It feels, that is it’s central mark,
if you seek to explore it, here embark.


Yet higher still a thing is mind,
be it cruel, or be ‘t kind.
It thinks and thinks, is glad or sad,
becomes enraptured or else b’comes mad.


Perception still another thing,
distinguishes between a cube or ring,
distinguishes: tis good, tis bad;
distinguishes a rat from cat.


Yet, what is it, that knows these all?
Whose vision may go beyond each wall?
Tis consciousness spelled out as name.
And of this whole set, deserves best fame.
It measures universes space,
and calculates an aeons days.
It knows the life without, within;
can know a thought, be’t brilliant, be’t dim;
can see, can know perception’s workings
and with each knowing, will be growing.

In the ancient world, the wise man was often called the knower of the gods. The gods signifying hidden entities which were believed to be the controlling agents of the world. Entities which were accessible only to those who were initiated into their mysteries. In modern times too, there are wise people investigating hidden entities, only now they are designated ‘forces of nature’. The understanding of them, similar to the understanding of the gods of old, can give them certain powers over nature. The modern means of their studies being called the ‘Sciences’. A word coming from the meaning ‘to know’.

The Buddhist Abhidhamma system being almost a blend of both, might be thought of both as an ancient system of ‘scientific knowledge’ or a ‘divine science’; only its main aim is not so much to explore and explain the outer world, but primarily how the inner world of each individual is ruled and held together. This understanding too shall give the student certain powers, but rather over the forces of his own inner nature.

This blog is meant to be an outline of this Buddhist Abhidhamma. Actually, it is an extract from my book “Paramattha“, which may be downloaded here. The main aim of both, the book, and this blog, is to give to those who are inclined to meditate on the Abhidhamma and along the lines of Abhidhamma, subjects or headings for meditation that point in the definite direction of realising the highest Dhamma. Thereby one subject is usually providing the basis for the next. That is, it shows a method for contemplation.


Without any understanding of the body with its sensory organs and internal functions, as will be shown, it will not be possible to gain a comprehensive understanding of the mind. Thus the blog starts with matter. Without a sufficient understanding of the mind, it will not be possible to gain a comprehensive understanding of kamma, of virtue and vice, of knowledge, of vision and of samsara and nibbana (nirvana). All of which I will try to give some clues about, sufficient to make a start contemplating oneself.


Since time immemorial, or at least since the arising of the first traces of mind, what the mind pays attention to, is what we now call matter. Thus, since in here we hope to not just comprehend anything, but a whole universe of things, our search for ultimate truth is commenced best with this element of existence, called matter.

Hence, we might start our journey, by asking ourselves ‘What is matter?’.

For most people what matter is, seems to be so obvious a thing that probably only a few will bother thinking further about it. Consequently this blog is probably for the most part, written for the few only.

Nevertheless, throughout this blog, I will try to show, how an understanding of a certain thing is the first step in the direction of improvement. Accordingly, if a person is in any way dissatisfied with his experience of matter, to study matter may prove indeed quite useful a thing to progress out of the situation of this his dissatisfaction.

In the Buddhist system of thought, matter is divided into four primary elements. And consequently we start our exploration of the nature of matter with these four elements.

Four elements

Keeping an eye on the practical relevance of the exposition, the thing of primary importance regarding understanding the four elements, is to first understand their nature or characteristics, and secondly to learn how to balance them.

Commencing thus, anything material which is experienced as solid, as weight and/or as texture, we take to pertain to the earth element. Anything that is experienced as liquid, as clearness or as depth is grouped under the element of water. All forms of heat, radiation and light are taken as expressions of the fire element. While fluctuation, movement and anything which is subtle, is categorised under the wind or air element.

This is the first dissection of matter, which allows for a greater comprehension of what matter is.

When this can be done, various other forms of matter and phenomena belonging to the category of matter may become comprehensible. For example may forces such as magnetism, electricity, gravity, and others, equally be deduced through the comprehension of this basic form of classification and through a study of how these, arising in conjunction, will interact with one another to form all the variations of things pertaining to matter.

Accordingly we can consider a material force as electricity as a combination of the qualities of the fire and the air element. Magnetism, on the other hand may be said to arise due to the interaction of the qualities of water with those of fire. A force as cohesion or binding, comes about through the interaction of water with earth. Physical maturation arises through the interaction of the fire, the earth and the water element. The quality of expansion arises through the interaction of the element of fire with the air element, while the quality of pressure can be seen to come about through the interaction of the elements of air and earth.

But then, as has been said, not only is it important to learn to distinguish matter thus by means of the four elements, but as the experience of matter by itself very often is rather disagreeable an experience, a person will also have to learn how to balance these four elements out against one another. For that end he might try to recognise, that each element has a certain counter element to it. Thus, earth, being the most substantial of the elements, has as a counterpart the air element. An understanding which will suggest, that the best way to remove an excess in the earth element (i.e. too much heaviness), is through an increase in the air or wind element (i.e. increasing movement). A similar thing can be seen with the other pair. In that, an excess in fire (i.e. too much heat) for example, might best be balanced by an increase of the water element, etc.

And this then will be the first step in mastering matter.

The Four Elements as Sense-objects

Usually, these four elements first will have to be apprehended through any one of the 5 senses. And through each sense, they are apprehended somewhat differently in accordance with the nature of the sense-organ.

Regarding the object of the eye, there may be found two different qualities for consideration, one is the form of the object and another is the colour of it.*

Hence, there are earthy forms, such as heavy looking, coarse, bulky objects. There are fiery forms, such as objects which glow or radiate light. There are watery forms, marked by their translucency or clearness and depth of appearance. And there are airy forms such as those appearing subtle.
But then, there are also earthy colours such as brown, black, or grey. There are fiery colours such as red, orange and yellow. There are watery colours as deep blue, and green. And to the wind element may be assigned the colours of white and light blue.

Similarly in regards to each sense organ.

Odours are apprehended through the nose. Thus, there are earthy odours, such as odours that are heavy, suffocating, or in some way coarse. There are odours that are of a fiery kind, such as those which have some characteristics of sharpness or stinging or burning. There are odours of a watery kind, like those that have some characteristics of moistness, clarity, or depth. And there are odours of the airy type, like odours of freshness, purity, and subtleness.

Flavours are apprehended through the tongue. So there will be earthy flavours, like heavy or nutty flavours, salty and peppery flavours, or any flavour of a coarse type. There are fiery flavours, as spicy, or biting flavours as bitter and sour. There are flavours of a watery kind, such as clear, easy down flowing flavours such as sweetness, or flavours with some characteristics of wateriness, such as those of salads and fruits. And there are flavours of the airy kind, such as flavours that are rather plain, subtle or tasteless.

Similarly with the element of sound, apprehended through the ear. There are earthy sounds, that are heavy, coarse, or painfully loud. There are sounds that are fiery, such as forceful or glorious kinds of sound. There are also sounds that are of a watery nature, such as sounds that are characterised by clarity and depth. And there are equally sounds of an airy nature such as sounds that are sounding very swift, fast, and subtle.

Concerning tangibles, there are those of an earthy kind, such as what feels solid, hard, or heavy. Tangibles of a fiery type, are experiences of heat, sharpness, or pain. A touch of a watery kind is what feels liquid or is experienced as possessing depth. And tangibles of an airy kind will be experienced as movement, fluctuation, or as subtleness.

Each of those sensory experiences, in turn, is conveyed via a certain medium. Thus, the main medium for the conveyance of forms and colours to the eye is the element of light (an element belonging to the fire element). The main medium for conveying tastes to the tongue is the element of water (viz. saliva). The main medium both for conveying smells to the nose and sounds to the ear is the element of air. And in regards to touch is the earth element the main medium of conveyance.

Thus may the whole of sensual experience be fitted into this basic scheme of classification.

The Life Element

Life-element Symbol

When these four elements have become balanced, matter may become a possible basis for the arising of a new element, the element of life.

The life element, or in traditional terms, the faculty of life, is a form of matter, that possesses the definiteness of the earth element, the subtleness and movement of the wind or air element, the energy, or heat of the fire element, and the clearness of the water element…harmonised to a degree of perfect balance.

In distinction to ordinary matter, life is not a mere static phenomenon, but rather a process that continues by itself, being initiated from a centre around which the process gravitates or revolves. This life is characterised by growth, and decline, by birth and by death.

And as long as it lasts, it will be drawn or animated by the duality of pleasure and pain, or attraction and repulsion. Wherein pleasure is the guiding principle towards growth and increase, while pain signals danger and threat. While, attraction being the natural inclination towards pleasure, and repulsion the instinct to escape pain.

Thus following this, its nature, a life gradually grows and becomes more complex. And growing in this fashion in complexity, one life becomes more and more an interaction of many lives and a chain of long processes.

When the elements have become balanced, and some understanding has been gained of the nature of life, and of life being rather a chain of processes and interactions, then, a certain exploration becomes possible as to the nature of such processes. This most conveniently is done within an living organism after a yet more detailed distinction of its constituent parts.

Four kinds of matter

All of the body’s organs, most of its fluids, some of its internal winds, as well as many of its internal forms of heat, such as body heat or to some degree the digestive heat, in Abhidhamma terms, are matter born of kamma. All forms of matter that are entirely foreign to the body, as matter which is either not yet assimilated in the body or such as is ready to be excreted†, are materially arisen-or caloric matter. Caloric matter, when broken down and assimilated by the bodies organs, supporting these, becomes matter born from nutriment. And finally, matter that arises in conjunction with mental impulses, is called mind-born matter.

The body’s digestive apparatus transforms food into readily absorbable nutriment or energy. This spreads throughout the body via an intricate network of blood vessels, feeding the various internal organs. The heart being the pump of the body, is the organ which pumps this nutriment-rich blood to the numerous places in the body. The numerous organs being fed by that energy thus come to life and begin to fulfill their respective functions. Thus, when the heart pumps blood to the lungs, the lungs begin to breath, when it pumps blood to the arm, the arm can be seen to move, and so on.

Then, the body being for the most part born of kamma, is an expression or manifestation of a persons kamma. Thus, receiving new nutriment, the body can make manifest a greater amount of a person’s kamma. This will first manifest through the arising of mind-born particles (which is the equivalent term to the modern word hormones).

Various organs produce mind-born matter related to various states of mind. Thus will the genitals produce mind-born matter related to mental states of lust. Liver and heart will produce mind-born matter related to mind-states of anger or joy, and so on. Those then will equally spread throughout the body, being pumped by the heart to various places. Hence it now can be seen, that an arm moved by the heart through its pumping actions, being fed by mind-born matter related to states of anger, will manifest an angry action, the facial muscles being moved by the the pumping action of the heart, containing blood conditioned by mind-states of joy, will manifest a smile or some joyful face expression. And a similar thing applies to any other mind-state. Thus, slowly an outer world is getting conditioned by those various bodily functions within.

On the reverse side, the world within is also continuously getting conditioned by the world without. Wherever some form is coming into contact with the eye, wherever sounds come into contact with the ear, wherever odours come into contact with the nose, flavours into contact with the tongue, or tangible objects into contact with the body, an impression is formed on the matter of these senses and conveyed to the mind via an intricate network of nerves, converging in the brain, the organ, which, for beings in the sense-sphere world‡ is the centre for the arising of consciousness.

That brain then, as it makes manifest, so to say the kamma of the brain, becomes gradually capable of wielding a certain amount of control over those processes below it. Its “arm of action” therein is the spine, the organ, we might call it, in which all the various nerves are rooted and along the extension of which they are lined up.

Thus the brain learns to control both sense-perception, as well as what other types of things manifest within the body, and what types of things are not allowed to manifest. So will it through introspection and control mechanisms gradually learn to master both the life without (the life perceived with the senses) and within. And as the brain becomes thus skillful in mastering what manifests without and within, that body’s internals will more and more acquire a condition of pliancy, smoothness, and freedom from obstruction.

Thus, that consciousness arising in the brain, attuning by use of the spine and the nerves more often to the whole of the body, will function equally with ever greater ease.

Caloric Matter / Temperature born matter

Mind-born matter

Body and Emotions

The Senses

A Meditators nervous system

Meditators brain

Functions of the brain

A Meditators body condition

These then will allow the mind to experience realities, which are more subtle in nature than mere physical phenomena…

Luminous Body

Having delimited matter thus, it becomes possible to tell the limit of matter, that is, to make a start in distinguishing it from things immaterial.

The Life-Continuum


From the birth of the physical body until its death,…there flows along with its internal processes a mind that is deeply attached to the existence of the body. Depending on the physical form or process, this mind will manifest in various ways.

Dreams, Fantasies and Thoughts below the Threshold of Consciousness


These are the mental activities of Life left to itself

They constitute the first stirrings of a latent mind seeking manifestation.

Their essential characteristic is that mental activity and thought are entirely governed by sensation and bodily processes.

Yet, analogous to the generation of concepts through mental processing, during these processes, there happens a synthesis of various types of information into a new whole. But while in the former case the process is guided by reason, in the latter it is governed by the nature of a physical stimulation or internal physical processes.

As one example, one may consider the following scenario:

A man, while going for a morning walk, notices on the other side of the road an unfamiliar looking woman in a beautiful dress walking along that same road. Later during the day he reads in the newspaper that a monkey has escaped from the zoo. Then, at night, he lays down to sleep, finding himself jumping from tree to tree, wearing the beautiful dress of the woman from the morning, while chasing a monkey.

Traditionally will such consideration as the one above then be analysed into its constituent parts. Thus, to keep things still close enough to tradition, here a small listing of various mental factors involved.

The traditional listing of Mental factors involved will include:

  • The Mental Life Faculty
  • Various Perceptions
  • Delusion
  • A distorted View
  • Applied Thought
  • Sustained Thought
  • Contact with things external to a perceiver
  • Pleasant or Painful Feeling
  • Desire or Aversion

These will be the inner mental makeup of close to all “unconscious” processes.

Yet, as this blog is meant to show a step-by-step approach to truth, we first also want to show, how this part of the mind is building up on our previous considerations of various bodily processes. With that, we may be able to gain a much deeper comprehension of the mind also.

In the previous section, we explored the body, starting with the process of digesting food, and consequently, here we want to understand the mind side to that. Thus, we find, that the mind which is involved with the organs of digestion; in the absence of food in the stomach will oftentimes manifest thoughts and dreams related to food and drink. A stimulation to the sexual organs will produce thoughts or dreams of a sexual nature in the mind. Stagnations in the chest, in heart or liver, may generate thoughts and dreams related to joy or sadness, or desire or hate. While energisation of the senses will “turn on the senses”, producing an interest in their respective sphere (i.e. for the eye, physical forms etc.).

Even the activation of the brain may, if run automatic, generate only a semi-conscious desire to think about the subject put before the mind by the senses.

And, as all these processes very often get mingled up, either with each other, or with impressions from the past; continuously new connections are made between previously accumulated life experiences and new sense-stimulation or bodily processes; establishing a greater bond between mind and matter, with the mind as the subservient element.



Emotions are the mental activities of a Life involved with Life

Living in the human world, the life-continuum will oftentimes become interrupted while there is an adverting of the mind to the body or some other sense-object. And once a person started contacting sense-objects, he will slowly distinguish two major types of contact. That is, contact causing pleasure and contact causing pain or displeasure.

Experiencing thus pleasure and pain, various mind-states will arise in response or as a reaction thereto.

Trying to comprehend emotions we may divide them at first into two: a negative response towards an experience (pleasant or painful), we might call an unwholesome emotion and a positive response towards an experience we might term a wholesome emotion.

These in turn can be seen to possess their own qualities that too can be distinguished and classified by a subtle mind. Thus each mood has a mind of its own.

Unwholesome Emotions


Fear is the repelling or moving away from unpleasant sense-impressions.
Yet there are other mental factors involved:

– Mental Life
– Perception of an outer object (‘the feared’)
– Agitation
– Unpleasant Feeling
– Desire to move away

Greed / Desire

Desire is the wanting for more of what is perceived.
But other mental factors include:

– Mental Life
– Perception of an outer object (‘the desired’)
– Agitation
– Pleasant Feeling
– Possessiveness

The above two may only vaguely be termed as emotions, in the sense of movements of the mind. Both are a comparatively weak or more rudimentary kind of mental activity when compared to the next two.

Anger / Hatred

Anger is the minds resistance to life.
But it usually comes with various other factors.

– Mental Life
– Perception of an outer object (‘the hated’)
– Agitation
– Unpleasant Feeling
– Desire to hurt
– Aggressiveness
– One-pointedness on the object
– Applied and sustained thought
– Exertion
– Spiritual Delusion
– Lack of Conscience


Passion is the minds thirst for experience. But yet other factors involved are:

– Mental Life
– Perception of an outer object (‘the desired’)
– Agitation
– Pleasant Feeling
– Desire to get
– Possessiveness
– One-pointedness on the object
– Applied and sustained thought
– Exertion
– Spiritual Delusion
– Lack of Conscience

Anger and Passion may be more justifiably termed emotions. They possess or constitute a much greater amount of mental activity and contain much more mental energy than the former two.

Yet other examples of unwholesome states of mind are: pride, viscousness, jealousy, irritability, frivolity, shamelessness, laziness, insolence, instability, dullness, insatiability, lack of conscience, vindictiveness and stupidity. When these rule over the mind and become powerful, the expected result usually will be an undesirable one. Thus they are classed as ‘dark’ or ‘unwholesome’ states of mind.

Wholesome Emotions

Wholesome Mind

Then, there are also ‘bright’ states of mind. Examples of which are, braveness, intelligence, kindness, optimism, compassion, tranquility, respectfulness, forgiveness, thoroughness, conscience, responsibility, modesty, firmness, diligence and faith.

These are the mind’s turning towards higher things. Because they are experienced as beneficent, they are classed as wholesome.

In each case of emotionality, the mental life is also deeply interwoven with the life of the body and the nature of the predominant elements. Thus will fear often be accompanied by a sense of liquidity and dilution and a clear perception of the tread (qualities of the water element). Desire on the other hand and even more so passion, is often accompanied by an increase in heat (fire-element). A similar condition applies to anger (principally a form of passion). A condition of restlessness usually comes with an increase in the wind element. While pride mostly is accompanied by various tensions (an increase in the earth element)

Wholesome factors of mind too can be related to certain qualities of the elements. So will the mental factor of inner strength (vīriya) be related to the element of earth. Mindfulness or clarity may be quite obviously related to the water element. Inspiration, having a certain quality of inner light, can be seen to belong to the fire element. While wisdom having the capacity to enter into its objects of perception, can be related precisely because of that to the wind element, the subtlest of the elements.

(For more examples on the relation between the elements and emotions see post ‘ Teachings on Matter‘).

Mental Processing

As emotions and desires and aversions become too numerous and by themselves unfulfilling, the mind learns to occasionally arrest itself in order to choose among them or amongst their objectives. Thus the mind investigates and names the objects it contacts, in order to move towards a comprehension of them.

The diagram above reveals the characteristics, functions, manifestations and proximate causes of each phase of the mental process.

Before the arising of the most rudimentary forms of mentation, primarily during deep dreamless sleep, there is the condition of utter unconsciousness. This is termed the stream of bhavanga, which being “all unconscious”, is usually taken to stand entirely outside the mental process.

In the first phase of the sequence of the activities of the mind, stand unconscious inclinations from the deepest past, that have almost no relation to the present life. These being thus, gain close to no mental energy from the present life and are due to that generally difficult to apprehend. As the mind awakens to greater life, there arise dreams, wandering (unconscious) thoughts and emotional reactions, which usually are the result of internal physiological processes or unprocessed sense impressions from the past. It is only when these unconscious processes become arrested, that adverting to present sense-objects and active conscious processing become possible. During active mental processing, the mind transforms sense-objects into ideas. First by giving a name to the thing apprehended (evolving a name concept), later by, via the process of thought, creating more complex ideas that give meanings to the object thus processed.

Note: Traditional teaching states that the mental process is made up of 17 mind-moments. Regarding this one may read the blog onLooking for the Meaning



A concept is a combination of various designations put together by the process of thinking.

Designating the objects of the senses, the mind turns physical objects into ideas. And, thinking about those simple name ideas, the mind creates ideas of their meaning. As the mind’s conscious activities thus grow, it ceases to be continuously disturbed by the ever present objects of the senses and learns to abide for ever more prolonged periods of time in a world of ideas, rather than a world of physical objects.

For elaboration: When an object is apprehended in an unclear manner, (that is, it is only received, without being properly investigated), it will usually be quickly followed by a vibrating bhavanga mind. That is, by some desire, aversion or emotional reaction. On the other hand, if an object has been apprehended clearly, that is, it has been investigated, it has been given an appropriate designation, and it has been thought about, it will be taken into the mind as a concept which the mind can then further elaborate on. Thus the life-continuum remains for longer periods arrested, while the conscious mind can grow in its own capacities.

Good and Bad

Good and Bad

Good and Bad are the most fundamental division of concepts

Creating thus concepts of the world, the mind divides the objects it contacts into a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’. And this will become the most basic division of ideas for the mind. So will at first, naturally following an instinctive distinction of feelings of pleasure and pain, whatever brings pleasure, be conceived of as ‘good’, while whatever brings displeasure or pain, will be conceived of as ‘bad’. This will be the most rudimentary idea of good and bad.

Yet, as ideas become both more numerous than impressions of pleasure and pain, as well as more complex, the basis of the idea of good and bad also slowly changes to the stock of acquired concepts.

Intention and Kamma

Intention and Kamma

Intention is the direction of the mind.

As the mind has learned to give meanings to the objects surrounding it, and based on that made evaluations along the line of ‘good’ and ‘bad’, it begins to make consistent choices. This is how kamma gets accumulated.

When the mind makes a certain decision in one direction or another, it will either create entirely new kamma, or it will modify kamma that has been created in the past. That is, an intention will either give a new direction to the workings of consciousness or it will modify the way along which consciousness used to work (and thus change experienced reality).

Thus consciousness either learns to “see” new things, or it will change the way it used to “see” particular things.

Intentions may then in turn also be classified into being of four different kinds: That is, there are strong intentions (viz. a strong will), there are habitual intentions, there are intentions which just follow the nature of a certain sense-impression, and there are intentions which are neither. Those we may for convenience sake term as random intentions.*

*For example, when you were young, you had the strong wish to become a doctor. And based on that wish, you were reading many medicine books and made various efforts to go to university. But then, you got hooked up with a girlfriend and due to that, making money became more important. Thus you developed various habitual intentions, such as a wish to please your girlfriend, the wish to make money, etc. Then, you occasionally watch TV and sometimes seeing some clever advertisement, you develop a wish for the thing advertised. Lastly, you may off and on have some wish coming up in you, which does not possess much strength, nor is it a habitual wish, nor do you remember that it relates to any recent sense-impression. Just some apparently random or arbitrary wish.

Four Ways of Kamma making
Four modalities of kamma

And, as thus the consciousness of the sensory world changes, so does the content of the life-continuum change. Hence will whatever has been wished for, be “taken in” (tadārammaṇa) as an image, where it occasionally will manifest in the form of desires, emotions or dreams, whenever that life-continuum vibrates.

Which means, that there are habitual desires, emotions and dreams; desires, emotions and dreams based on strong intentions (will); etc. These will be technically called ‘Vipāka’, ‘kammical resultants’, rather than ‘Kamma’



Time is for the mind a concept in the frame of which it seeks reference to direct its decision making.

Time and Kamma are intertwined. The result of past Kamma arrives at the present, where it may get modified and from where, if not destroyed in the present, it will continue to flow into the future.

Investigating and designating the things of the senses, the mind builds up concepts of the things it contacts. And when trying to make a decision in the present, it remembers these in the hope of anticipating possible future results therefrom. Thus the mind learns to extend into the past and into the future.

Consequently, as the mind’s store of concepts grows, so does the for it calculable time-span grow. And as in the beginning stages of conscious life the mind’s main reference gradually becomes the world of the body and the sphere of the senses, the mind will naturally begin to calculate for a better experience of the expected duration of the body and its surroundings contacted by the senses. Only gradually this conception may become surpassed by more elaborate ideas of life, making possible further-reaching time calculations.


Conceiving thus of a past and a future and a good and a bad, the mind seeks to make more often decisions that assure a greater ‘good’ in the vaster space of the future. Yet, as it may oftentimes be undecided as to the good and the bad of things, it seeks for outside sources of knowledge to guarantee a greater accuracy of decision making.

Learning and the mental process

Mental Hindrances

In the course of learning, what was before simply a desire, aversion or emotion, is now seen as a mental hindrance that obstruct the progress of the learning process.

The main hindrances to learning will be:

  • restlessness and worry
  • desire regarding things of the senses
  • aversion or ill-will
  • slothfulness, laziness and lethargy
  • doubt and confusion

While learning, the mind will initially contact very unfamiliar objects. Which in turn will produce confusions or emotional reactions. That is, the life-continuum will be repeatedly vibrating often for prolonged periods of time after the reception of the unfamiliar object (if not immediately directed towards a more familiar object). Repeated adverting to the object, receiving it, investigating it and finding an appropriate designation for it, will familiarise the object and allow for more prolonged periods of an arrested life-continuum even during the learning process.

Nevertheless, if too numerous or too strong old kammas are getting obstructed for too prolonged a period of time, there will usually be little space left for the generation of new kamma. Rather, as a consequence, the life-continuum will start vibrating more violently whenever the higher faculties (even the sense faculties) don’t check it by their own activity.

Only when activities are found wherein the vibrating mind’s content (i.e. the obstructed kamma) can flow unobstructedly will the pressure be released.

A prolonged period of arrested life-continuum comes about, when, with the progression of the learning process, within the life-continuum an idea has started manifesting, which is in agreement with the higher faculties; or, when the higher faculties have turned their attention towards an object, that is in agreement with the content of the life-continuum.

The higher faculties therein may be thought of as growing out of the manifesting latent mind, as flowers grow out of a leaf-butt of a tree or plant.



The primary aim of learning is the acquisition of knowledge.

When not just impressions, but ideas are, via the process of thinking (which in this case means learning), combined to form an integrated whole, they become “a body of knowledge”.

This “body of knowledge” is not just a store of impressions, but becomes a faculty of consciousness which sees the world it knows about as a connected whole.

Yet, we may divide knowledge into two, depending on what function it has in life. Thus, there is worldly knowledge, and there
is spiritual knowledge.

Worldly knowledge is a network (or body) of connected ideas related to the things of the senses. Usually accumulated with the desire to gain profit in the realm of the senses.

Spiritual knowledge is a network (or body) of connected ideas which give meaning to the things of the senses and the mind.

Consequently, while worldly knowledge, having its meaning in the senses, will make consciousness only arise in relation to sense-objects, allowing it to perish when its purpose is fulfilled, spiritual knowledge allows consciousness to expand from its centre of knowledge for as vast its connections are woven and for as long its extend permits.



Based on knowledge, there may arise a certain faculty, that can perceive a myriad things at one singular glance.

This is what is called intuition.*

When a mind possessed of knowledge, becomes aware of a certain thing, there becomes possible a synchronising (attuning) of the mind with its object of perception. This synchronicity of the mind with its object of perception allows the mind to penetrate ever deeper into the particularities of the object. Thus it may perceive a myriad things, where before there appeared a unified object.

Nevertheless, the trustworthiness or untrustworthiness of both what is apprehended as well as the interpretation thereof, will still depend on the mind’s general development. That is, the mind’s stock of knowledge and experience.

Intuitions can be both regarding very concrete things, such as the thought or way of thinking of another, or the proper ‘how to’ for solving a difficult issue at hand, or about abstract things, like an idea of the ultimate nature of things.

Training in a certain sphere will develop a greater power of intuition in regards to that sphere of development.

Thus, will a person on a spiritual path, training in virtue, develop a certain objective intuition in regards to ethical questions (then usually termed conscience). A person who is studying the mind, may develop a certain objective intuition in regards to the workings of his own and other people’s mind. While for a person training in meditative development, a certain intuition in regards to the capacities of the mind becomes possible.

* The proper pali word is ‘Aññātāvindriya’…’The Faculty of One who Knows’, treater briefly under the ‘Faculty Paṭṭhāna Condition’.
It is this faculty which this science both is based upon as well as which it seeks to develop.

Mental Development

As the mind acquires knowledge of things higher than the things of the senses, it’s interest to develop into higher regions of life increases. Thus the mind evolves a conception of something more ideal than what it experiences through the senses. And having conceived of it, it seeks to grow towards it.

For this the mind, aiming at its ideal, learning then will mean, becoming so skillful in inspiration (saddhā), clarity (sati), exertion and wisdom (etc.), as to be able to maintain sustained mental processes directed at developing increased inner freedom from all that stands between it and the ideal.

When some amount of success arises, due to the then much closer bond between body and mind (both having become more calm, malleable and light), the resultant phase of the mind is during mental processing not as such arrested, but starts getting itself processed. This growing unity between body and mind is what is called samādhi. This in turn will have to be ever greater rarified until it becomes the unity between the mind and its chosen ideal.

Life-continuum and Consciousness

Meditation, Initiation, Realisation

Usual ‘daily life meditation techniques’ will normally aim at, first arresting the ‘life-stuff’ and secondly at developing some habit of introspection,… of questioning the ‘life-stuff’ as to its truthfulness …considering, what in the rush of life one takes to be oneself, whether it might not be rather non-self, …what in the rush of life one takes to be happiness, whether it might not more truly be suffering (dukkha), …what in the rush of life one takes to be lasting, whether it might not rather be fleeting only.

Short-time meditation courses, using a form of ceremonial magic* and ideally aiming at the bringing about of the first initiation (in Buddhism sotapatti magga) and in the less ideal case conversion towards their own tradition or sect…will usually make use of various symbolic external objects and pleasant surrounding conditions in order to calm a person and to gradually “trick him” “out of his life-stuff”.

Gradually, especially in personal retreats, a person learns to calm his own ‘life-stuff’ and to develop the spiritual faculties …when these become mature,…he becomes capable of attaining samadhi.

*Which means you have an operator or leader, performing certain ritual or ceremonial actions directed at focussing the attention of the participants and through thus gradually gaining a certain control over the feelings of the participants, is leading them towards mind-states different from ordinary life.



A nimitta is a sign, that indicates, that the meditator has gained some amount of concentration. Principally is any sign of concentration a nimitta. Thus there may be just a feeling of stability or calm or lightness, or certain mental factors such as happiness or equanimity, or there may arise some visual perception such as light, colour or some form. And all such occurrences can be called nimittas.

But traditionally there are three kinds of specific nimittas enumerated: First there is the preparatory sign (parikamma nimitta), which is followed by the learning sign (uggaha—nimitta), and at last will arise the counterpart sign (paṭibhāga-nimitta). The preparatory sign is a visual perception of dull, dark colour and fuzzy outline which will usually arise when the mind is trying to attune itself to the coarser physiological processes, especially in the belly or that of the breath. The learning sign is a more clearly outlined perception, at times of some specific colour. This will usually arise when the mind attunes itself to the emotive processes in the heart. And finally there is the sign which fully resembles the mind as such. This may be seen as a perfect image of the idea, person or thing the mind is devoted to.

The quality of any such meditation experience will primarily be determined by a) the quality of the concepts used (that is, the ideas that give the incentive for a person to meditate) and b) a persons capacity to make his organism and higher faculties skillfully respond towards those concepts.

Bhumis – Planes of Exitence

As a person grows in purity, usually an understanding of the difference between body and mind begins to develop. Hence, the mind becoming purified, perceives itself as an entity apart from the body. This in turn naturally leads to the question of the condition of the mind after the death of its physical encasement.

This is perhaps THE most fundamental question of religion. Nevertheless, since the dawn of religion, and human pondering over that question, diverging answers have been given. From a life in an underworld, or a continuous life as a ghost, to an everlasting heaven, or everlasting hell. Yet, as understanding grows, we need not take diverging answers to stand against each other, but can draw a picture wherein all views of afterlife ideas become explainable, all fitting into one grand picture, all complementing one another, all shedding more light on those ideas that stand beside them.

Below, there is drawn an image which, in a rough manner, is seeking to encompass the totality of possible afterlife life, or afterlife experience. The key to the comprehension of which comes, when it is realised that the condition of the mind during life indicates the condition of the mind after death. Hence we get a scheme of things ranging from the most terrible suffering and torture the mind can possibly imagine, usually referred to as hell; to the loftiest, noblest, grandest, and most divine experiences the mind can conceive of.

Spheres of Consciousness

As it is realised, that the key to the comprehension of afterlife existence comes from the understanding of the mind during life, greater care may be taken to analyse the nature of conscious experience (viz. how the mind experiences the world) and the spheres in which consciousness may operate.

Following what has been said regarding consciousness, we find, that impressions, thoughts, and concepts which the life-continuum (usually becoming tangible through the various manifestations in the organism [i.e. feelings],) has become responsive towards, will delineate the sphere (or spectrum) of experience and thus also the sphere in which kamma making takes place.* A conception of good and bad will therein play a determining role in the nature of the experience and the direction that is set for the progression of the experience into the future.

*That is, only those impressions, thoughts and concepts, which are felt also in the organism will be kammically relevant, influencing the nature of conscious experience. An “artificial”, unfelt thought on Dhamma, etc. will not change the nature of consciousness, and hence of conscious experience.

When a being, having acquired a conception of good and bad, realises itself as being definitely bad, it will due to that get drawn to the places where suffering prevails.

For beings in the grip of suffering (or in a realm of suffering), mental processing generally will not go beyond the mere receiving of usually painful and unpleasant impressions, whereafter the life-continuum will just move into latency, bringing into manifestation (thereafter…i.e. life-continuum vibrating) kammical seeds that are responsive towards those painful and unpleasant impressions (i.e. inner mind states of agony and agitation).

Sense-sphere realm of existence (Kama-loka)

When a being, having acquired a conception of good and bad, perceives the good in the realm of the senses, it will due to that be drawn to the world of the senses. Thus, for human beings, as well as for animals, although the nature and quality of existence can greatly vary, the sphere of the senses is the main reference point for the workings of thought and the accomplishing of kamma. And so will in sense-sphere world, the main activity of consciousness be the receiving, designating and processing of sense objects and ideas related to the senses, occasionally followed by activity producing intentions.

Fine-material Realm (Rupa-loka)

Further, when a being, having acquired a conception of good and bad, perceives more and more the sphere of the senses as bad, and due to that searches for some higher good, it slowly draws away from the sense-sphere world into a world of finer matter. Finer feelings, light or apparitions, self-created or objectively real, gradually begin to appear more often in the field of consciousness. And the mind accumulating kamma in that sphere, begins to enter it more and more fully. Thus consciousness begins to expand in extend (that is, in space) and duration.

Immaterial Realm (Arupa loka)

When, based upon prior refinement, the mind can see and engage directly with ideas utterly disconnected from material things, consciousness becomes established in the immaterial sphere. Here the objects of conscious processing will be abstract ideas of a scientific or cosmological character. And based on such processing will the mind initiate kamma in that sphere. As there is no resistance to consciousness by any matter, as long it dwells in that sphere, there will be no perception of locality, nor of time. Both appear, when reflected upon as infinite and eternal.


Having seen the futileness of the realm of the senses, having glimpsed the imperfection of the fine-material sphere and recognising that the mere exploration of ideas is not in itself the highest path, consciousness, learning to comprehend each sphere in matters of ultimate truth and natural law, begins to enter and exit each in accordance with what is needed for spiritual perfection and liberation from worldliness. Thus, gradually it becomes accomplished in ‘moving about’ without accumulating any personal kamma in any of those spheres. With that consciousness’s proper sphere becomes the path of holiness.

The Nature of Experience of Different mind-states

If you follow the laws of earth well and intelligently, you may be able to procure positive results of a worldly nature.

If you have a thought based on a concept related to the deva-world… your consciousness part-takes of the laws of the deva-world. As when you give something to someone, without a thought of attachment, just thinking ‘it is good to give’. Thinking in this way, your thinking is in alignment with the laws of the deva-world, where everything is ever provided, where everything is ever flowing and where holding onto something, hindering the flow of life, will be so self evidently painful. Thus your consciousness being attuned to those laws, will start to function in alignment with those laws, i.e. you will learn to live in heaven on earth.

On earth you have to toil hard for your daily bread, while tuning into higher spheres, just ridding yourself of desire makes you worthy of gifts and a worthy recipient of the bounty that you start perceiving all around you, once you cleared the veil of worldly delusions.

On the reverse side of things, if you break the laws of the human world (without taking refuge in any higher laws), you will get various undesirable results in that world. And if you do thus due to your consciousness being able to work only under the coarsest of physical laws, you will get only results that are in accordance with those laws. You will be moulded in accordance with physical laws, where the strongest force bends or crushes all matter susceptible to it. There will be no consideration for your feelings or your mind.


Before ending this chapter, I want to say only a few things about Nibbana.

What we know about Nibbana is, that it stands for perfection. It is the end of phenomenal existence and the summum bonum of the spiritual life. It is where all saints are as one. It is the quintessence of all the virtues, as it is attained through the refining of virtue. It is where the subjective and the objective meet, for, it is objective in its sameness between what is witnessed by one saint and another, yet, it is touchable by the individual, although he will lose his subjectiveness or individuality for the time of entering into it.

Nibbana, once even glimpsed, is where matter, mind, and consciousness will be inclining towards. Matter, in the sense that coarse material (environmental and bodily) circumstances will be sought to be escaped from or refined; mind, in the sense, that the contents of the thinking mind will be sought to be brought into alignment with the glimpsed truth of perfection, and consciousness, in the sense that consciousness will begin to pay attention to phenomena only in such a way as to realise some ultimate truth they might be capable of revealing.

But in a yet other sense, it may be said, that, Nibbana stands at the end of the spiritual journey, as matter stands at the beginning, while the road from one to the other, is travelled by the mind.


The aim of the Abhidhamma, is to draw within the aspirant of knowledge an image of reality, …an inner cosmos, however imperfect, which with every act of processing an impression or life experience, should become more real.

Whoever seeks to become wise, whoever seeks to become a superior person, must draw into himself life experiences and process them in line with his chosen path. Both good and bad experiences have to be welcomed, as the path to wisdom requires the understanding of both. Working in this way on his path, a person begins to remember his life experiences in an intelligent way. While before he might have remembered everything ever lamenting, and ever seeing himself as a victim, now both the good and the bad can be made to serve as an aid to his inner growth.

Now, the most important key for thinking along the line of a system is, to realise the logic of the system. Once that logic is realised, or understood, everything that is seeked to be understood, can be measured with the whole structure of the system. If even one point of contact with something known can be found, any problem can be turned into a solution.

To better realise the logic of the Abhidhamma, or to easier accommodate the above said drawing of a map in consciousness, I will give below a brief overview chart of the main categories of the Abhidhamma system. This will help the student to better memorise the fundamentals of the system, as well as to visualise how all things fit together.

Overview chart of the Abhidhamma

Gross matter refers especially to the matter of the body (treated usually either as body parts or as made up of the 4 elements) and the 5 senses with their respective objects.

Subtle matter will include fine-material matter, usually experienced as energy. But traditionally it also refers to matter in a wider sense, as for example the matter that distinguishes the sexes from each other (in a subtle manner, that is in a manner similar to distinguishing them by certain hormones). It also includes the life-faculty (vitality) as well as experiences of bodily buoyancy.

Mind can be divided into emotions (or mind-states), mental processes and ideas. Emotions although usually containing all the mental factors shown, are most easily knowable through the factors of mental-life (mental-life faculty) and feeling. Mental Processes, although containing all the above-shown factors of mind, may be most easily knowable through the mental factors of mental application, mental sustainment, and decision, (perhaps with exception of the life-continuum). Ideas (or concepts) (together with physical objects) are the contents of the thinking mind.

When considering about mental development, these categories are treated differently. As consciousness tries to shift from the sense-sphere world to the fine-material or even immaterial world, what were in life simply sensations or emotions with a justified purpose in that sphere, are then seen as hindrances, floods, bonds or defilements, which have to be overcome in order to make any progress. The main means to that will be mental processing, higher ideas and decision making.

Nibbana is the perfection which lies beyond mind and matter, but towards which these are meant to be directed.


Wherever the mind meets the body (and later wherever the mind meets the mind), there must be in the mind either a good designation or a good question…”What is it?”. If it is unwholesome: “How can I get rid of it?”. If it is wholesome: “How can I make it grow?”. Or else: “What is the cause of it?”, “What can I learn from it?”…Having the right type of question, the mind will be made capable of receiving a good answer. Doing thus, at some point in time, the mind will start to answer its own questions and undesirable experiences will be gotten rid of before they are hardly even noticed. While the mind will learn to effortlessly build up and make grow any good kammical seed or arisen good opportunity.

As the mind starts becoming ever more refined, subtler forms of knowledge become accessible

Slowly knowledge becomes knowledge of the whole universe and the whole of existence

Seeing thus into and through existence, a person becomes unbound and unbindable to any form of existence

The Patthana

The Patthana

‘The Paṭṭhāna’, traditionally regarded as the quintessence of the Buddha’s wisdom and as the surest proof of his omniscience; is a system which, in mathematical order, seeks to expand the comprehension of matter, mind and consciousness (as delineated in the previous part of this blog); to cover the entirety of existence.

In total there are 24 Paṭṭhāna conditions. And these may perhaps best be thought of as patterns in phenomenal realities (that is,
patterns in how material and mental things occur). But, as phenomenal realities are so to say the objects a meditator seeks to gain insight in, the Paṭṭhāna may be equally viewed as the grammar of insight. Thus, the Paṭṭhāna is a system which is seeking to reduce the infinite variety of phenomena or the infinite amount of life experiences, to a finite amount of universal realities which follow 24 possible modes or ways of relating to each other.

Sometimes the Paṭṭhāna is also called the system of Synthesis of the Abhidhamma. That is, it is synthesising the basic ideas of what matter, mind and consciousness are, into ideas of growing complexity. And it is doing that, by applying these 24 conditions to them, in quite the same manner as one would apply mathematical operations as plus, minus, division and multiplication to the numbers 0 to 9 in mathematics. Consequently, as such operations in mathematics allow for an infinitely larger use for those numbers, so do the Paṭṭhāna conditions allow for an infinitely larger use for the understanding of mind, matter and consciousness. And it is thus, that the Paṭṭhāna aims at providing the means for comprehending the entirety of existence.

A meditator wants to understand everything in his own reality. Therefore his understanding of anything will always start with an observation of matter, mind and consciousness. These are his computer hardware and computer software.

To comprehend the Paṭṭhāna conditions there may be two primary ways of asking an appropriate question. Either, as an example, one may ask: ‘What is the condition of mind, matter and consciousness in a state of meditation (Jhāna Condition)?, or in relation to kamma (Kamma Condition), or in a condition of latency (Purejāta Condition) etc.?’ Or, reflecting on some present condition of mind and matter, one may ask, …’How does this mind-state or physical condition relate to successful meditation (Jhāna Paccaya), or to the establishment of character (Hetu Paccaya)…Or, ‘Is it pointing to Nibbāna?'(Magga Paccaya), etc.

This will be the primary method, both for attaining a deeper philosophical knowledge of existence, as well as for understanding the ‘how to’ in regards to one’s higher aspirations .

The above graphic shows, how each of the three main categories converge in one of the Paṭṭhāna conditions which I have elucidated in another blog (click here). Thus, would any condition that would in ordinary terms be called a ‘life-situation’, be the convergence of matter, consciousness and mental factors in the presence condition. A condition of generating deliberately some new kamma, will be a convergence of consciousness, mental factors and matter in the condition of kamma, etc.

Five Niyama

By learning to comprehend thus the different relations between mind and matter, a person may then slowly come into a position to realise the laws governing the entirety of phenomenal existence.

And those will be the Niyama of which the Buddhist System distinguishes 5, which I will in here describe only briefly, but which I hope to be able to treat in greater length in the future.

To lead these ideas really to perfection, is of course a lifetime task and probably a task that takes more than a lifetime. Only a person who believes that the study and contemplation of this system can lead a person indeed to divine knowledge, will be willing to put forth the effort required to ‘gain the method’ of an ultimate comprehension of existence.

The method of contemplation is precisely the same as before. As a person gained a solid enough comprehension of various conditions that exist throughout various (in themselves) differing phenomena, he might slowly render his mind capable of comprehending unchangeable and eternal laws.

The first enumerated law is the Utu Niyama or the law of physical nature or physical existence. This is the law, that governs the coming into being and evolution of the physical Universe.

The second law, called Bīja Niyama or the law of heredity and growth, is a law that comes into play after the physical universe has reached a certain stage of evolution and balance. It is the natural law that governs the growth and reproduction of the various species from plant life to higher beings.

When life has evolved to such a degree, that it is capable of sustained growth and the building upon an inheritance of reasonably well functioning faculties, the third law, called Citta Niyāma, begins to take the lead. This is the law that governs the appearance and sequence in regard to all mental phenomena.

The fourth, Kamma Niyāma, is the law of cause and effect, specifically in regards to mind and intention. This too builds upon the previous ones, in that, through thinking and the creation of ideas, an intention develops, especially so in relation to the three periods of time, that is, past, present, and future.

The last law described, Dhamma Niyāma is the law of purification and perfection. It is the law that comes into play when a person becomes skillful in using the law of kamma. That is, a person, based on acquired learning about the imperfect nature of material or worldly life and the possibility of perfecting his being, is setting before himself to transcend this material or worldly life and works to become such perfected being.

Utu Niyama

Utu Niyama

The Law governing Physical Nature and the evolution of the Universe

click here

Bija Niyama

Bīja Niyama

The law governing the growth and reproduction of the various forms of life

click here

Citta Niyama

Citta Niyama

The Law governing the appearance and sequence in regards to all mental phenomena

click here

Kamma Niyama

Kamma Niyama

The Law of cause and effect, specifically in regards to Mind and Intention

click here

Dhamma Niyama

Dhamma Niyama

The Law pertaining to the religious Life, the purification from worldliness and the the perfection of Being

click here

The Practical Application of the Abhidhamma-System

Now as regards to practical matters. The Abhidhamma system may be used for an almost infinite amount of things. Principally should the study of this system give a person the key to comprehend any teaching or statement or problem whatsoever, be it religious, mathematical, philosophical, personal or whatever else. Because, although there is a certain relativity to all truths spoken or written down, there is yet the possibility of coming to a universal understanding of all. The approaches to that may vary, but the results of the approaches, if truly universal, can not contradict each other.

The clearer any system, as in our case the Abhidhamma system, is comprehended, the greater will be the impact on an individuals consciousness and consequently the faster and more efficient that individual will be able find solutions to particular problems.

Examples of the Abhidhamma’s usage range from being able to answer questions about simple everyday problems, or questions of a personal kind, to finding solutions to the most difficult of religious or philosophical questions. It can be used to devise initiation rituals or methods for meditation. It may be used for consultation. Or it can serve as a basis for communication amongst meditators, scholars and philosophers, to exchange personal insights and understanding. Even solutions to physical problems may be found through its study.

The key therein lies in the fact, that having a language to describe the various processes experienced both in meditation, as well as with general mindfulness practice, will facilitate the possibility of repeating successful experiments, in meditation and otherwise.

In here I give only one example of how the usage of this system may look like when applied to the practice of meditation. More examples can be found on this website and in my book, which can also be found on this website as a free-download.

How to use the diagrams?

As a meditator becomes aware of various kinds of sensations within his body, his mind may occasionally become interested in what it is that is experienced and perhaps how one particular experience relates to other things that he may know about. Thus, given the situation that a person starts only from scratch in matters of theory, when he gets some meditation experience…working with the diagrams, he may thereafter check under which heading he would want to fit his experience.* Initially accuracy will not be important, because the whole idea is, to first build a coarse structure and only later refine it. Then, once he established one thing, he may try to think how it relates to the other headings. For example in perceiving his body, he may classify as to what bodily functions he has noticed. Further he may seek to understand what mental functions he has noticed, whether his mind was mostly in a latent state of utter unawareness, whether his life-continuum was continuously vibrating due to some agitation or even dream, or whether he felt himself having generated at least some new kamma, and in the latter case was it wholesome or unwholesome kamma. If the meditator starts getting more pleasant experiences, he also may try to find out, whether his consciousness was entering the fine-material world or whether he was somewhat still continuously only in the sense-sphere world.

Investigating along these lines, a meditator will start collecting data and group it intelligently. From this raw-data he will over the years build up his own understanding of things, both in matters of meditation practice as well as his understanding of existence as a whole. He will generate an inner representation of the whole cosmos. The more harmonious this Cosmos, the more capable it is of balancing disharmonies also in the outer Cosmos. And the more complex it is, the more capable it is to respond to complex life situations.

*In the long run, one may want to learn at least the main categories of the system by heart and may during difficult times in meditation recite those items. With time, one may be able to find points of contact between what one has learned and what one is experiencing.

Note: The scheme laid out in here (until the Paṭṭhāna conditions), may be understood to be an elaboration of the older Buddhist scheme of the five khandhas (5 parts of a being). The correlation being as follows: The treatment of the 4 elements and that of the body relates to the rūpa khandha (often translated as the aggregate of matter). The short treatment on the life-element relates to the vedanā khandha (“feeling”). What is written about the life-continuum relates to the sankhārā khandha (usually translated as “mental formations”). In the present treatment, the two khandhas of saññā (“perception”) and viññāna (“consciousness”) are largely explained together. Perception (saññā) refers especially to the receiving part of the mental process, but it also exists as the perception of an object or idea during the process of thought. While viññāna or consciousness is principally referring to the entire treatment of the mental process beginning with the “adverting to an object”, thinking, intention, knowledge and intuition.

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