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Sampayutta Paccaya- Condition of Attraction

Whenever one phenomenon is, by virtue of its own qualities, pulling towards itself another phenomenon, it is called attraction.

On all the conceivable scales of life, can there be found this condition of attraction. Matter from the tiniest of particles, to the matter of the whole universe is kept together through the condition of attraction. While mind, from the pettiest or coarsest of desires, to the loftiest feeling of love, too is an expression of this condition.

But how can we understand the condition of attraction in matters of the four elements?

All things of substance, fall onto earth,…that is the attraction of the earth element.

All things being soiled by dust or dirt, will find their dust or dirt cleared when entering the water, thus, that is the attraction of the water, that it attracts dirt into itself.

All things of little substance follow the direction of the wind, that is the attraction of the wind element.

All things living feel attracted towards the light, that is the attraction of the fire element.

But then, how about the body?

Each body part has its particular counterpart. And thus, when any particular body part becomes vivified by the mind, it produces a certain sense of attraction towards that corresponding counterpart.

So will an empty stomach vilified by the mind, produce a certain sense of attraction towards food. The sexual organs vivified by the mind will produce a certain sense of attraction towards a person (usually) of the other gender, or an attraction to other things that are of a sexual nature. The sense-organs vivified by the mind, will produce a certain sense of attraction towards beautiful sights, sounds etc.. And a brain vivified by the mind, will produce a certain sense of attraction towards things which might stimulate the intellect or intelligence.

And for a mind, that is deeply attached to the life of the body, these attractions then will dominate the activities of the mind.

But then there is also a deeper consciousness, which is often referred to as the rebirth linking consciousness.* A term which must not be stretched too far, in that although the infinite past will have for common people the greater bearing on their present habits and fixations of mind, this (deeper) consciousness (during life usually referred to as the bhavanga) can be modified also during a certain lifetime.

But this too is not exempt from the force of attraction. This consciousness is basically attracted to a certain counterpart to particular kinds of kamma performed in the past. So will past habits of mind or particular kinds of kamma from the past, cause consciousness to be attracted to objects and ideas which are so to say in accord with that particular kamma.

A past wish or aspiration to become a monk or a scholar, for example, even more so if vivified by supportive actions, will cause that consciousness to be attracted to learned people, books, libraries etc. While a past wish to become a rich businessman will equally so attract consciousness to items of a particular kind. In that case it will be rather items as money and perhaps businessman-suits, etc.

And all these, of course will have to be to a fair degree purified and modified, before the consciousness will become attracted to things of a subtler, fine-material kind.

Thus, evidently in regards to meditation this condition can not be ignored. As a person tries to remove his mind from the attractive force of sense-sphere objects, he can really do so only when there is some alternative force of greater attraction within.

But how could such force of attraction within be achieved?

Many a one would like to increase his own power of attraction, that is, his own capacity to attract whatever he may happen to like. Yet he does not know how such an end could be pursued intelligently.

By repeatedly wanting things, no doubt a certain power builds up and by repeatedly wanting a thing of a particular kind, no doubt such force also becomes more specialised in its capacity to react with that particular thing. But the building up of such force ever works in two directions, because that wanting some particular thing without, itself is due to the attractive force of that particular thing. Thus, by increasing the desire for it, one equally supports the attractive force on oneself of the thing desired. Which in turn somewhat weakens the power to attract. Which then again will have to be somehow counterbalanced. Hence an infinite cycle develops.

But then, thinking deeper about this condition, a person may ask, ‘What for this attraction towards things external’. An answer comes, ‘To have combinations and varieties.’ But then again ‘What for having combinations and varieties?’ …’Perhaps,’ may an answer come, ‘because the material attracted is not whole by itself’. But then, ‘How to become whole?’…A solution comes, ‘By conceiving of a condition of wholeness and attracting only what supports that conception.’ When this is done, consciousness, rather than being pulled around by what is attractive, begins to see, both in the good and the bad, opportunities for growing into that conception of wholeness. And a being that has become whole, really is the most attractive thing.


* I use this term here in a more liberal sense, because I do not yet see any good traditional Abhidhamma way of putting it.

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