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The Essence Of Buddha Abhidhamma By Dr. Mehm Tin Mon Saddhhama Jotikadhaja, Ph.D

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Dr. M. Tin Mon, B.Sc.Hons., M.Sc., Ph. D.

Saddhamma Jotikadhaja

( Adviser to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Union of Myanmar )

      He was born in kamawet village, Mudon township, Mon State. Union of Myanmar, on January 13, 1934.

      His parents were U Yaw In and Daw Sein Tan who were devout Buddhists. They belonged to the Mon race and made their living by farming.

      Mehm Tin Mon attended Kamawet Primary School and Mudon State High School where he topped his class every year.

      He passed the High School Leaving Examination in 1951 with distinctions in Mathematics and General Science. He also passed the Matriculation Examination in the same year from the first division with distinction in Mathematics.


      He joined the University of Yangon in 1951. In the Intermediate Examination held in 1953, he scored the highest marks in Mathematics and Chemistry, and he was awarded the University Hoe Wah Kain Gold Medal as well as the University Scholarship.

      In the Bachelor of Science Examination held in 1955, he stood first with distinctions in Physics, Chemistry and Pure Mathematics. Again he was awarded a University gold medal called Esoof Bimiah Gold Medal.

      In 1956 he passed the B.Sc. Honours Examination in Chemisry with flying colours and a third Universit gold medal called U Shwe Lay Gold Medal was awarded to him.

      In 1957 he went to the United States of America to study at the University of Illinois on a State Scholarship sponsored by the Government of the Union of Myanmar. Here also he was awarded the University Fellowship for two consecutive years for his outstanding scholastic record. He gained the Master of Science Degree in1958 and the Doctorate Degree in 1960. He also won membership to Phi Lambaa Upsilon Society and Sigma Xi Society.

      He served his country for more than 36 years from 1956 to 1992 working as Lecturer and Head of Department of Chemistry in several Institutes and finally as Professor of Chemistry in the University of Mawlamyine (Moulmein). He retired from Professorship on December 1, 1992.

      During his service to the State, he headed the Buddhist Association of the Institute of Medicine (I), the Buddhist Association of the Institute of Education and the Buddhist Association of Mawlamyine University. He also served as Secretary and later as President of the Central Buddhist Association of Universities and Institutes in Yangon from 1983 to 1986. He succeeded in raising funds and building the beautiful two-storeyed Dhammayone (Community Hall for religious purposes) and the sacred Shrine (Pagoda) in the University of Mawlamyine.

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      Dr. Tin Mon also excelled in religious examinations. He stood first in the Abhidhamma Examination (Ordinary Level) in 1981. He also stood first in the Abhidhamma Examination (Honours Level) in 1983. Again in 1984 he stood first in the Visuddhi Magga Examination. These examinations are held annually in Myanmar by the Department of Religious Affairs.

      Dr. Tin Mon has written over thirty books on education as well as on Buddhism. He travelled throughout Myanmar deliverng lectures on Buddhism and conducting short intensive classes of Abhidhamma. He was awarded the title of Saddhamma Jotakadhaja by the Government of the Union of Myanfliat in 1994 for his outstanding contribution to the propagation of Buddhism.

      Dr. Tin Mon was appointed as an Adviser to the Ministry of Religious Affairs on August 1, 1993, and he has been serving the State in this capacity ever since.


      The teachings of Lord Buddha in the course of 45 years of His Buddhahood have been divided into three collections called Tipitaka in pali, meaning 'Three Baskets' literally.

      The first collection is known as 'Sutta pitaka'. It is the conventional teaching ( Vohara desana) in which Buddha used common vocabulary to explain His teachings. Practical aspects of tranquility and insight meditations are included in this collection.

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      The second collection is called 'Vinaya pitaka'. It is the authoritative teaching (Ana desana) in which Buddha used His authority over the monks to lay down rules and disciplines for them to follow. These disciplines embody the highest code of ethics and can surely purify one's action, speech and thought, thus making one noble and respectful.

      The third collection is 'Abhidhamma pitaka'. It is the higher teaching of the Buddha. Here Buddha employed abstract terms to describe the ultimate realities (paramatthas) in the Universe and Nibbana which is the summum bonum and the highest goal of Buddhism.

     So Abhidhamma may be regarded as the ultimate teaching (Paramattha desana) of Lord Buddha.

      The principles and the causal relations which Buddha expounded in Abhidhamma are so natural, so logical and so beautiful that they can pin-point the root cause of miseries in the world and the ways to eradicate these miseries.

     The most wonderful thing about Buddha's teachings is that the teachings contain both theory and practice, and they clearly and exactly define the human values, the best moral code, the eternal peace and the Noble Eightfold Path leading to that peace. All these valuable teachings have been verified time and again by millions of Ariyas, i.e., noble persons who had trodden on the path, and can still be verified at any time by any able person who will earnestly and steadfastly follow the path.

The Significance of Abhidhamma


      Sutta pitaka and Abhidhamma pitaka are collectively known as Dhamma — a pali word meaning 'the doctrine or the teaching' of the Buddha. Dhamma is the doctrine that can salvage persons who abide by Dhammo from falling into the four lower abodes (apayas) and that can purify the mind from defilements so as to achieve lasting peace and happiness.

      The prefix 'Abhi' is used in the sense of preponderant, great, excellent, sublime, distinct, marvellous, etc.

      Abhidhamma pitaka is more preponderant, more sublime and more marvellous than Sutta pitaka in the sense that

      (i) Abhidhamma pitaka contains more Dhamma groups (Dhammakkhandhas) than Sutta pitaka and Vinaya pitaka.

      (Abhidhamma consists of 42000 dhammakkhandhas whereas Sutta pitaka and Vinaya pitaka contain 21000 dhammakkhandhas each.)

      (ii) Buddha used more numerous methods in expounding Abhidhamma than when He taught Sutta Dhamma;and

     (iii) In Abhidhamma Buddha analysed mind and matter in minute detail in terms of the ultimate realities known as 'paramatthas' . These 'paramatthas will be explained in the 'Introduction'

What is the Mind?


      Philosophers used to refer to 'mind and matter' as the two basic Principles of the world. But they fail to come to a unanimous conclusion as to what the mind is.

      Psychologists began their task by probing the nature of the mind. But, when they cannot specify and characterize the mind, they turn to the behaviour of animals and men. Thus Psychology becomes 'the study of behaviorism' rather than 'the science of the mind.'

      Today's science possesses no instrument to detect the mind. So scientists tend to deny the existence of the mind and fondle the theory that the brain functions as the mind. This theory cannot explain the strange phenomena of telepathy, clairvoyance, extra sensory perception, psychokinesis, out-of-body experiments, life after death, etc., which cannot be denied by science to-day. Besides brain-research has revealed that, although the brain functions as a super-computer if requires an external agent to run it just as ordinary computers need to be programmed by men. Isn't that external agent the mind?

      Abhidhamma describes the mind as a combination of citta (consciousness) and cetasikas (mental factors or concomitants of the mind). There are 52 cetasikas or mental factors — some can defile the mind, some can purify the mind and some are neutral. The total number of possible combinations between citta and cetasikas is 121.

      These combinations account for the various states of the mind. They explain fully why the mind is sometimes bad and sometimes good, sometimes sad and sometimes happy, sometimes wicked and sometimes noble, etc.


     In the practical aspects of His teachings, Lord Buddha described several ways for developing samadhi (concentration). When the unwholesome mental factors such as lobha (greed), dosa (anger), uddhacca (restlessness), kukkucca (remorse), vicikiccha (doubt), thina-middha (sloth and torpor) can be calmed down not to arise in the mind, then the mind is in — unperturbed, peaceful and lucid state. This is the state of upacara-samadhi (neighbourhood- or access-concentration), meaning it is close to jhana (absorption).

      At the state of (upacara-samadhi), since the defilements are absent from the mind, one enjoys tranquility and peace unmatched by sensual pleasure. A higher bliss is enjoyed when one can raise the degree of concentration a litter higher to jhana-samadhi

      After developing four rupa-jhanas (meditative absorptions of fine-material sphere) and four arupa-jhanas (absorptions of immaterial sphere), one can go a step further to develop abhinna (supernormal knowledge). There are five mundane (lokiya) supernormal powers:

     (1) divine powers (iddhi-vidha), (2) divine ear (dibba -sota), (3) divine eye (dibba-cakkhu) (4) penetration of the minds of others (ceto-pariya-nana) and (5) remembrance of former existences (Pubbe-nivasanussati)

      These supernormal powers far surpass the powers of telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, etc. With iddhi-vidha abhinna one can pass through walls and mountains without being obstructed, dive into the earth, walk over water and fly in the sky. With dibba cakkhu abhinnaone can see the apaya (lower) abodes as well as the worlds of devas and brahmas and the beings being reborn in the thirty-one planes of existence according to their kamma (karma or action). With ceto-pariya-nanaone can see the minds of others and know their intentions.


     The attainment of these supernormal powers is not, however, the goal of Buddhism. The penetrating power of the mind accompanied by upacara-samadhi or jhana-samadhiis utilised to observe the arising and the vanishing of nama (mind and its concomitants) and rupa (ultimate matter) in the body. These nama and rupa are invisible even under electronic microscopes, but they can be seen by the samadhi-mind!

      By meditating on the three common characteristics of nama and rupa -namely impermanence(anicca), suffering (dukkha) and not-self (anatta) and also on the causal relations between nama and rupa, one is treading along the Noble Eightfold Path and will sooner or later attain the first Magga (Path) and Phala (Fruition). Then one becomes a sotapanna ariya (noble person) and is fully guaranteed never to be reborn in the lower abodes again.

      The sotapanna ariya can enjoy the transcendental peace of Nibbana whenever he chooses. If he continues with his vipassana (insight) meditation he will realize the three higher Maggas and Phalas (Paths and Fruitions) in due course and become an arahat (perfect one) in this very life. Even if he does not continue with his vipassana meditation, the sotapanna will automatically become an arahat in no more than seven lives.

      In the arahat all the defilements are completely uprooted and destroyed. Since these defilements are the real causes of all miseries, their total destruction means complete happiness and eternal peace for the arahat.

      Thus by purifying the mind from all defilements which cause miseries and debase a person, one can become an arahat who is among the noblest persons in the worlds of men and devasand who can enjoy the highest and lasting peace of Nibbana for ever.

     So to become an arahat is the correct goal for men and devas, and this highest goal in life is attainable only through the correct analysis and understanding of mind and matter as taught by Lord Buddha.


      It should be emphasized here that whatever Buddha had taught us out of His omniscience and own experience can be tested and verified by any one with his own experience.

An intellectual Treat

     Abhidhamma deals with the realities that really exist in nature. It correctly and microscopically analyses both mind and matter which constitutes this complex machinery of man. It describes the six sense-doors in man, the six senses coming from outside and the arising of thought processes when the senses come into contact with the sense-doors.

      Various mental states together with the causes of these mental states are vividly enumerated. Whole some and unwholesome thoughts and their consequences are elaborated. Also the process of life and death and that of rebirth in various planes under the kammic force are clearly explained.

      Rupa, which comprises matter and energy, is subdivided and characterized to the ultimate states.

      Both nama (mind and its concomitants) and rupa (matter and energy) are very short-lived. They arise and dissolve in the order of a trillion (10 to the power12) times per second. So the view that consciousness flows like a stream as propounded by some modern psychologists like William James becomes extremely clear to one who understands Abhidhamma

      The law of Dependent Origination and the Law of Causal Relations are treated systematically and thoroughly in Abhidhamma. These laws find no parallel in any other philosophy.


      Finally the four great Noble Truths, i.e., the Noble Truth of suffering, the Noble Truth of the cause of suffering, the Noble Truth of the cessation of suffering and the Noble Truth of the path leading to the cessation of suffering, clearly come to light as one goes through Abhidhamma. These four Noble Truths are the ultimate truths that encompass all the causal relations in mundane as well as supramundane levels. Those who can vividly see these Noble Truths with their samadhi-mind or wisdom-eye will become enlightened as ariyas.

The Essence of Buddha Abhidhamma

     Just as natural sciences investigate the natural laws that control natural processes, so also Abhidhamma illustrates the natural truths that govern natural processes. But the levels of treatment are different.

     All natural sciences, such as physics, chemistry, biology, geology, geography, engineering, electronics and medical sciences, deal with matter and energy—the physical aspects of nature. Even psychology, which goes after behaviorism , cannot pin-point the mind and analyse it.

     But it is the mind which leads the world and the life of every-body. All sciences and philosophies are produced by the mind, governed by the mind and children of the mind. So the mind is undoubtedly the most powerful agent in the world!

      Abhidhamma pin-points the mind, analyses and characterizes the mind, describes the functions of the mind and puts the mind in its proper place. The true ability of every person lies in his mind. So nobody need look up to the sky and ask for help from some supernatural forces for the most powerful force lies within himself!


     Abhidhamma also tells about matter in relation to the mind. It also describes Nibbana (Nirvana) which is free from mind and matter. Natural sciences cannot turn a scoundrel to a noble man whereas Abhidhamma can. Scientists and philosophers cannot show the way to the cessation of suffering and to eternal peace whereas Abhidhamma can.

      Scientists, philosophers, psychologists and every lover of truth will find Abhidhamma to be a special intellectual treat.

     What knowledge is there in life which is more valuable than Abhidhamma which is the ultimate teaching of the fully enlightened One?

A Fitting Introduction

     The Abhidhamma pitaka consists of seven treatises—namely, Dhammasangani, Vibhanga, Dhatukatha, Puggalapannatti, Kathavatthu, Yamaka and Patthana.

      The subject matter of Abhidhamma is the four ultimate realities (paramatthas) and the causal relations between them. The treatment of the subject-matter is highly technical and remarkably systematic making use of purely philosophical terms true in the absolute sense.

      If one can patiently study the treatises on Abhidhamma, one cannot but admire the profound wisdom and the penetrative insight of Lord Buddha. But it is not easy to study Abhidhamma on one's own efforts as one may easily get lost in the wilderness of abstract terms and strange methodology.


      There is, however, a well-known treatise called Abhidhammattha Sangaha, which is the most fitting essence to Abhidhamma. This treatise , written by Venerable Anuruddha Thera, an Indian monk of Kancipura (Kanjeevaram), summerises all the important points of Abhidhamma very systematically.

      The treatise, originally written in pali, has been translated into several languages. In Myanmar the subject matter of this treatise is included in the course of study for novices and monks, and is also used as the course of Abhidhamma examinations held every year throughout Myanmar by the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

     The present book, entitled ' The Essence of Buddha Abhidhamma', further elaborates the subject - matter presented in 'Abhidhammattha Sangaha' in a simple and systematic manner with certain collaboration with scientific views and practical aspects. It is written more or less in the form which is used by the author as lecture guides in conducting Abhidhamma short courses.

     The courses prove to be very successful. So the reader will find this book to be thoroughly clarified and interesting to study the essential facts of Abhidhamma.

      Abhidhamma is really the golden knowledge which will help one to discard wrong views and to acquire the right view for one's total liberation from all miseries.


      There are two kinds of realities — apparent and ultimate.

      Apparent reality is the ordinary conventional truth or the commonly accepted truth (sammuti - sacca). It is called pannatti in Abhidhamma.


     Ultimate reality is the ultimate truth (paramattha-sacca). It is called paramattha in Abhidhamma.

      In basic science we learn about the apparent depth of an object in water. The apparent depth is shallower than the real depth. It appears to be the true depth due to the deviation of light rays on passing from a denser medium (water) to a lighter medium (air). So if a fisherman throws a spear at a fish where he sees it under water, the spear will not hit the fish, because the fish is not really there.

      In the same way pannattis or the apparent realities, though they seem to exist, do not really exist. What are the pannattis? Pannattis are the names of living- and non- living things; they also refer to the things and the persons themselves. Thus not only the names 'man, dog, table, house, etc.' are pannattis but the man, the dog, the table, the house, etc., are also pannattis.

      It is apparent that 'names' are not the ultimate realities because a particular thing has been given different names in different languages. There is an interesting episode about giving names in Myanmar.

      A lad by the name of Mr. Ba appeared for the matriculation examination. He failed in his first attempt. He appeared for the same examination again next year under the new name of Mr. Ba Hla. He failed again. In the third year he changed his name to Mr. Ba Hla Than and sat for the examination again. Again he didn't have a better luck. So to improve his luck he took the name of Mr. Ba Hla Than Tin in the fourth year. He failed in the examination again. Nevertheless he appeared for the examination again in the fifth year under a longer name of Mr. Ba Hla Than Tin Nyunt. Well, he passed the examination this time. So he was known as Mr. Ba Hla Than Tin Nyunt when he joined the University of Yangon.

     The point is that, since names can be chosen at will to designate various things and persons, they can not be ultimate realities. Yet we have to use these names in our everyday expressions and speeches to communicate with one another. Other people understand correctly what we mean and what we refer to. So these expressions and speeches with no intention of lying are called sammuti -sacca or conventional truth.

      Now according to Abhidhamma,, not only the names but also the things and the persons the names refer to do not really exist. You may argue:" Why? We can see the table, the house, the man, the dog and we can also touch them and feel them. Why don't they exist?"


     Well then —please show me the table. Isn't that wood that you are touching or pointing at? If you take out the pieces of wood from the table, does the table exist any more? It is similar with the house. If you pull down the four walls and take off the roof, the house will disappear.

     What about the man and the dog? If you take each part such as hair, nails, skin, flesh, blood, bones, intestines, heart, liver, lungs, spleen, etc., in turn and ask the question: "Is this the man or the dog?" The answer is always 'No'. So the man and the dog do not really exist.

     Again there is an interesting episode in the Buddhist chronicles between two wise persons — King Milinda and the arahat Rev. Nagasena.

      The King asked, "By what name shall I know you, Sir?"

     Rev. Nagasena answered, "My companions call me Nagasena. But the name and the person whom the name refers to do not really exist."

      The King commented, " If Nagasena and the person do not exist, to whom do people offer alms and who receives these offerings? Since you receive them, you really exist. Why did you tell a lie in spite of your higher nobility?"

     Rev. Nagasena enquired, " Your Majesty, did you come to this monastery on foot or by chariot?"

     The King replied, "I came by chariot."

     Rev. Nagasena enquired further, "Well then, please show me your chariot. Is the horse the chariot? Is the wheel the chariot? Is the axle the chariot? Is the carriage the chariot?"


      The King answered "No" to all these questions.

      Rev. Nagasena remarked, "Is there a chariot beside the horse, the wheel, the axle, the carriage, etc.?"

     The King again said "No."

     Rev. Nagasena commented, "Your Majesty, you said you came here by chariot; yet you could not show me the chariot! Why did you tell a lie inspite of your high honour?"

      The King consented, "There is no chariot beside the horse, the wheels, the axle and the carriage. Just a combination of these things has been named the chariot."

      Rev. Nagasena remarked, "Very well, your Majesty, you should understand Nagasena as you understood the chariot."

      The important point is that by paramattha or ultimate reality we mean something which cannot be changed into another thing or divided up into other things. It can neither be created nor destroyed by man.

     It really exists in nature and it holds on its characteristics till it perishes. It can stand the tests or the investigation by any method about its reality and real existence.

      Philosophers and scientists have been searching for the ultimate realities that really exist in the universe.

      Philosophers could not agree on any ultimate reality what was proposed by a well - known philosopher was disputed by another.

      Scientists first regarded matter and energy as the two ultimate realities. Matter has been divided into 92 natural elements, which in turn have been divided into 92 kinds of natural atoms and their various isotopes. Now-a-days atoms are generally believed to be composed of protons, neutrons and electrons —the protons and the neutrons form the nucleus with the electrons revolving in orbits around the nucleus.

     Although protons, neutrons and electrons may be regarded as the basic building blocks of atoms, they are not particles with definite forms and shapes since they can be emitted from atoms as rays. It is more appropriate to regard them as bundles of energy just as sun light is composed of photons — the basic bundles of light energy.

      Scientists have detected more than 80 sub atomic particles from the breakup of atomic nuclei. All these particles may also be regarded as bundles of energy as matter and energy are inter-convertible according to Albert Einstein's equation: E=mc2, where E represents energy, m the mass of matter and c the velocity of light.

      Thus from the point of scientific view, man, dog, table, house, all living and non-living things are not ultimate realities since they are composed of electrons, protons, neutrons and energy. Furthermore, since all the sub-atomic particles may be regarded as bundles of energy, only energy may be taken as the ultimate reality in science.

      In Abhidhamma there are four paramatthas or ultimate realities. They are rupa, citta, cetasika and Nibbana. In the analysis of rupa it is found to comprise the principles of matter and energy.

      Citta is consciousness, and cetasikas are mental factors or mental concomitants As citta and cetasikas can pick up the senses and are aware of the senses, they are collectively known as nama (mind).

     A person is made up of rupa, citta and cetasikas, or in other words just rupa and nama. These are the ultimate realities whereas the person is just an apparent reality.

     Nibbana — the principle of cessation of suffering and of lasting peace —always exists in nature. The only drawback is that we do not realize it. It can be realized only by magga-nana and phala-nana, i.e., the wisdom - eye accompanied by the Path and its Fruition.

     The principles of citta, cetasika and Nibbana are yet to be discovered by science. They are exactly specified and characterized in Abhidhamma and can be verified by samatha-vipassana bhavana i.e., tranquility and insight meditation.

The Four Paramatthas

      · (i) Citta =consciousness of the senses or awareness of an object.

     Citta, ceta cittuppada, mana, mano, vinnana are used as synonymous terms in Abhidhamma. In casual speaking, the mind usually refers to citta or mano.

     · (ii) Cetasika=mental factors or mental concomitants.

      · Cetasikas arise and perish together with citta. They depend on citta for their arising and they have influence on citta. There are 52 kinds of cetasikas. What we usually call 'mind' is actually a combination of citta and cetasikas. Neither citta nor cetasikas can arise independently.

     · (iii) Rupa =corporeality or material quality.

      It may change form and colour on account of heat or cold. There are 28 kinds of rupa.

      · (iv) Nibbana=extinction of defilements and suffering; absolute lasting peace.

     The defilements of citta are greed, hatred, delusion, etc.; they are the root cause of suffering and of the continuity of life. Thus absolute extinction of defilements means absolute deliverance from all future rebirth, old age, disease and death, from all suffering and misery. There is absolute lasting peace in Nibbana.

      The Sanskrit word 'Nirvana' literally means 'freedom from craving'.

      "Extinction of greed, extinction of hatred, extinction of delusion; this is called Nibbana.". (Samyutta Nikaya 38.1)

     Each of the above four paramatthas may be scrutinized for their real existence. Science may dispute the existence of the mind because it cannot detect it. But the existence of citta which is consciousness of the senses in man and animals cannot be disputed by anyone.

      The existence of cetasikas such as lobha (greed), dosa (anger), mana (conceit), issa (jealousy), alobha (non-attachment), adosa (goodwill), etc., in men and animals is also apparent. But it is important to see them as separate entities and not as parts of the mind or different mental states. The unwholesome cetasikas like lobha, dosa, mana and issa can be completely eliminated from the mind by means of insight meditation.

      The existence of rupa as matter and energy is easily seen. But Nibbana, being supramundane, cannot be perceived by the ordinary mind, but it can be observed by lokuttara (supramundane) cittas.

      It should be noted that all the paramatthas in their ultimate sense, are formless and shapeless just as bundles of energy are formless and shapeless. They are invisible under the best microscope, but cittas, cetasikas and rupas can be seen by the samadhi - eye. Nibbana can be realized by the wisdom of the Four Paths.

     Each paramattha will be treated at length in the following chapters.

Nama and Rupa

      Both citta and cetasikas are aware of the senses. They are always bent towards the senses in order to pick up the senses, and thus they are collectively called 'Nama'.

     A man is made up of nama and rupa (mind and body). Of the two, nama is aware of the senses and rupa is not. So nama is the leader and rupa, the follower. But in the sense sphere and the fine-material sphere, nama needs the support of rupa for, its arising.

      Nama is similar to a man with good eye-sight but no legs whereas rupa is like a blind man with good legs. A man without legs and a blind man meet outside a village and they hear the announcement on loud speaker that food is being distributed inside the village. They want to get food from the place. How can they go?

     Well, if the man with good eye-sight sits on the shoulders of the blind man, and the latter walks along the road as directed by the former, they will soon arrive at the desired place and enjoy food.

      Nama and rupa work hand, in hand like the two men above.

The Purpose of the ultimate Analysis

      To see things as they really are is the cherished goal of all lovers of truth including philosophers and scientists. When one cannot see the true picture of things, one sees the distorted picture and maintains the wrong view about them.

      One basic wrong view which has plagued men for aeons of time is Sakkaya-ditthi. It is 'personality-belief', interpreting the aggregates of rupa and nama as an individual or 'I' or 'atta'. Because of this sakkaya-ditthi, everyone wants to be a very important person (VIP), wants to pile up possessions for the benefit of 'I' and behaves in a selfish way. In fact all sorts of troubles and miseries spring up from this wrong view.

     Seeing others as a person, a man, a woman, an individual, etc., is also sakkayaditthi. Sakkdyaditthi gives rise to other wrong views which are uncountable in the world today.

     The dreadful thing about sakkayaditthi is that it can couple with bad kamma to throw one down to the lower abodes (apayas) once and again. According to Buddha's teachings, to get rid of sakkayaditthiis most important and most urgent. It is as urgent as putting out the fire on one's head when one's head is on fire and as removing the spear and treating the wound on one's chest when the chest is impaled by a spear.

     The study of Abhidhamma furnishes one with the right view that 'I' or 'atta' does not exist and what really exist in man are citta, cetasikas and rupa. Understanding the mental states can help one to control one's temperament and to avoid unwholesome mental states, thus reducing mental tension and curing many mental diseases.

     When one understands that the volitions (cetana), that direct one's action, speech and thought, bear kammic properties which cause rebirth and shape the destiny of beings, one becomes mindful to avoid unwholesome volitions.

      Furthermore, when one understands the causal relations described in Abhidhamma, one can get rid of all wrong views and hold a correct understanding of what is going on in the world.

     When one decides to follow the Noble Eightfold Path to free oneself from all miseries, one begins with the right view and develops sila (morality), samadhi (concentration) and panna(wisdom) step by step. In so doing one has to undertake samatha-vipassana (tranquility and insight) meditation and try to observe how the cittas, cetasikas and rupas are functioning, how they are being produced incessantly, how the causal relations really work and, in short, how all the phenomena described in Abhidhamma really take place.

      So the ultimate analysis in Abhidhamma is not for the pleasure of reading nor for the sake of knowledge alone; it is also to be Scrutinized by the samadhi- mind in order to develop insight wisdom leading to the Path and its Fruition (magga and phala.)

Akusala Cetasikas

(Immoral Mental Concomitants)

     There are 14 cetasikas which are ethically immoral. They may be divided into four sub-groups as follows.

1. Moha - catukka=akusala - sadharana (4)
(A group of four cetasikas headed by Moha)

         (1) Moha = avijja =delusion, ignorance, dullness

         (2) Ahirika=lack of moral shame, impudence

         (3) Anottappa =lack of moral dread, recklessness

         (4) Uddhacca=unrest, restlessness, distraction.

2. Lobha-tri =papanca -dhamma (3)
(A group of three cetasikas headed by lobha)

         (5) Lobha=raga =tanha =greed, attachment, sensuous desire

         (6) Ditthi =wrong view, evil opinion

         (7) Mana=conceit, pride

3. Dosa - catukka=Hateful ones (4)
(A group of four cetasikas headed by dosa)

         (8) Dosa=patigha =hatred, anger, aversion

         (9) Issa=envy, jealousy

         (10) Macchariya=avarice, stinginess, selfishness

         (11) Kukkucca=worry, scruples, remorse

4. End - tri=dull and wavering ones (3)

(The last three immoral cetasikas)

         (12) Thina =sloth

         (13) Middha=torpor

         (14) Vicikiccha=sceptical doubt, perplexity.


(1) Moha

      Moha is the ignorance of the true nature of sense-objects. All living and non-living things are made up of nama and rupa (mind and matter) which are endowed with the four common characteristics of anicca (impermanence), dukkha (suffering), anatta (non-self) and asubha (loathsomeness).

      As moha veils our mental eyes and shields us from seeing the true nature of things, we cannot see the extremely-rapid and incessant arising and dissolving of nama and rupa and the consequent four characteristics mentioned above. When we cannot see the true nature of things, we get confused and take the opposite characteristics to be true. So we see things as nicca (permanent), sukha (pleasant), atta (self or person) and subha (beautiful).

      On account of this wrong vision of moha, a chain of undesirable consequences including sufferings and miseries arises one after another. Thus moha is like the director of a movie film; it directs everything but we are not aware of it as we cannot see the director on the movie-screen. It is indeed the primary root of all evils and sufferings in the world.

      Moha is the leader of all the immoral cetasika. Moha and its three compatriots (ahirika, anottappa and uddhacca) associate with all immoral consciousness. So they are known as 'akusala - sadharana.

      Because moha is opposed to insight or wisdom, it is known as 'avijja.' Moha clouds our knowledge with regard to kamma and its consequences and the four Noble Truths.

(2) Ahirika

      Ahirika urges a person not to be ashamed of committing immoral actions, speeches and thoughts.

      In Puggala -pannatti (para.59) it is stated thus:

      'Not to be ashamed of evil or unwholesome things: this is called lack of moral shame. As a village-pig does not feel loathsome in eating night-soil, so ahirika does not feel loathsome in committing evil deeds.

(3) Anottappa

      Anottappa urges a person not to be afraid of committing immoral actions, speeches and thoughts.

      In Puggala -pannatti (para. 60) it is Stated: "Not to dread what one should dread, not to be afraid of evil, unwholesome things: this is called lack of moral dread."

      Anottappa is compared to a moth that is singed by fire. The moth, being unaware of the consequences, gets attracted by fire and plunges into the fire. In the same way anottappa, being unaware of the consequences, gets attracted, by evil, unwholesome things and plunges into evil deeds.

      It is mentioned in Anguttara Nikaya (II. 6): "There are two sinister things, namely slack of moral shame and moral dread, etc." It should be noted that the recklessness due to ahirika and anottappa arises as a consequence of moha which clouds the mind and blinds the eye from seeing the results of evil deeds (kamma).

(4) Uddhacca

      Uddhacca is the restless state of the mind which is compared to the disturbed state of a heap of ashes when hit with a stone.

      As we cannot see our face in boiling water, a restless mind will not see the consequences of evil deeds. Uddhacca is also a follower of moha which makes the mind confused and let distraction (uddhacca) arise consequently.

(5) Lobha

      Lobha is a strong desire for sensuous objects or jhana happiness. It will never give up this intrinsic nature of desiring however much one may possess. Even the whole wealth on earth cannot satisfy the desire of, Lobha. It is always on the look-out for something new.

      Thus one cannot be truly happy if one cannot eliminate Lobha.

      The second nature of lobha is attachment or clinging to sensuous objects or to jhana and jhanahappiness. This nature of attachment is compared with the sticky nature of monkey-catching glue. This glue is prepared by heating several kinds of sticky gum available in the forest to form a sticky paste.

      The monkey-catcher applies this sticky mess of gum on the trunks of several trees. When sun-rays fall on the gum, spectra of various colours appear. A monkey, being curious, touches the gum with one paw which becomes firmly attached to the gum. In struggling to pull out this paw, the monkey pushes the tree with the other paw and also kicks the tree with both legs. So both paws and both legs are stuck to the gum.

      Then the monkey tries to pull itself out by pushing the tree with its head. So the head is also stuck to the gum. The monkey - catcher may now come out from his hiding place and catches or kills the monkey easily.

      Remember that worldly people are, being attached firmly by lobha to sense-objects as well as to their possessions. They cannot renounce the world and their worldly possessions including wives or husbands, sons and daughters. So they are being caught up by old age, disease and death life after life.

      Lobha, together with its two great followers i.e., ditthi (wrong view) and mana (conceit), is responsible for extending the life cycle or the round of rebirth that is known as samsara. On account of this fact, Lobha, ditthi and mana are collectively , called 'papanca dhamma'.

(6) Ditthi

      Ditthi is usually translated as view, belief, opinion, etc. Samma-ditthi means right view and miccha-ditthi means wrong view. Here, as an immoral cetasika, ditthi is used in the sense of wrong view.

      It has been explained above that moha clouds the mind and blinds the eye not to see things as they really are. It makes one see things as nicca (permanent), sukha (pleasant), atta (self or person) and subha (beautiful). Because of this wrong Vision, lobha clings or attaches to this 'self or person' and ditthi takes the wrong view that 'self' and 'person' really exist.

      The most basic and universal wrong view is the 'personality-belief (sakkaya-ditthi) or 'ego-illusion' ( atta-ditthi). Sakkaya-ditthi believes that this combination of mind and body is 'I', 'you', 'he', 'she', 'man', 'woman', 'person', etc. Atta-ditthi believes in the existence of an 'atta or soul' or 'ego' or 'life-entity' in the body.

      From this sakkaya-ditthi or atta-ditthi as well as from the ignorance due to moha there spring up thousands of wrong views. Sakkaya-ditthi is one of the ten fetters binding to existence. It is eliminated only on reaching the path of stream-winning (sotapatti-magga).

(7) Mana

      Mana (conceit), like ditthi, is also a by-product of moha and lobha. Moha gives the wrong vision that 'persons' exist and that they are permanent, pleasant and beautiful. So lobha clings to these persons, especially the one represented by oneself.

     Mana looks on this self-person as 'I am the best, I know most, I have no equals in the world'.

     This conceit or pride is of three kinds: the equality-conceit (mana), the inferiority-conceit (omana) and the superiority-conceit (atimana). As the saying goes: 'pride will have a fall', pride or conceit is not a virtue to be proud of.

      Mana is one of the ten fetters binding to existence. It vanishes completely only at the attainment of arahatship.

(8) Dosa

     Dosa is translated as hatred, anger or aversion. It is the most destructive element in the world. It is more frightful than the atomic weapon. Of course, when someone pulls the trigger on the atomic weapon, he does so under the influence of dosa.

     Normally, when one encounters with a desirable sense-object, clinging or attachment (lobha) arises, and when one encounters with an undesirable object, anger or aversion arises. The anger (dosa) destroys one first, before it destroys others.

     Not only inflated dosa as the one present in an angry person but also depressed dosa as the one felt by a sad or depressed person are destructive. According to Abhidhamma the one who retaliates an insult is more foolish than the one who starts the insult.

(9) Issa

     Issa has the characteristic of envying others' success and prosperity. As such it is objective, i.e., it looks not to oneself but to others.

(10) Macchariya

     Macchariya has the characteristic of concealing one's property. It does not appreciate to share one's property or special privilege with others. It takes the form of stinginess when one is reluctant to give money for charity.

     As mentioned in Anguttara Nikaya (IX, 49), there are five kinds of stinginess with respect to dwelling place, families, gain, recognition and knowledge. Contrary to issa, macchariya is subjective. Issa and macchariya make one unhappy without any inducement from others. One shall feel immediately happy if one can drive them away from one's mind.

(11) Kukkucca

     Kukkucca has the characteristic of grieving over evil that is done and the good that is not done.

     As it is useless to cry over spilt milk, it is of no use to repent or feel sorry about wrong doings.

     Issa, macchariya and kukkucca are three companions of dosa. They arise separately because their lines of reasoning are different, but when one of them arises, it is always accompanied by dosa.

(12) Thina

     Thina is the shrinking state of the mind like a feather before fire. When one is idle due to lack of viriya (effort), one is under the influence of thina. It is the sickness of citta.

(13) Middha

     Middha is the morbid state of mental concomitants. When one feels inactive or inert, one is influenced by middha. It is the sickness of cetasikas.

     Both thina and middha are opposed to viriya. Where there are thina and middha, there is no viriya

(14) Vicikiccha

     Vicikiccha is sceptical doubt about the Buddha, Dhamma, the Samgha, the Training; about things in past lives and future lives; about the Law of Causal Relations; and finally about the four Noble Truths.

     Vicikiccha is one of the five Hindrances and is also included in the ten Fetters to existence. It disappears completely and for ever at Stream-entry.

(Noble Persons)

      There are eight types of ariyas — namely, four magattha-persons and four phalattha-persons. The maggattha-persons, however, exist only for a conscious moment each, i.e., during the magga-citta they are experiencing. After the dissolution of the magga-citta, they become phalattha-persons.

      For example, a person is called a sotapatti maggattha person while the sotapatti-magga citta is arising in him. After the dissolution of this citta, sotapatti-phala citta arises in him and he is known as a sotapatti-phalattha person or sotapanna from this moment onwards.

      If a sotapanna again undertakes vipassana meditation, he will attain sakadagami-magga in due course. During this second magga-citta, he is called a sakadagami-maggattha person. After the dissolution of this citta, sakadagami-phala citta arises in him and he is known as a sakadagami-phlattha person or sakadagami from this moment onwards.

      A sakadagami may again undertake vipassana meditation. When he attains the third magga, he is known as an anagami-maggattha person while that magga-citta lasts. As soon as the magga-citta dissolves, anagami-phala citta arises in him and he is called an anagami-phalattha person or anagami from that moment onwards.

      Again an anagami may undertake vipassana meditation, and when he attains the fourth magga, he becomes an arahatta-maggattha person. But as soon as the arahatta-magga citta dissolves, arahatta-phala citta arises and he becomes an arahatta-phalattha person or arahat from that moment onwards.

      Thus the four maggattha persons exist for so short a duration that they cannot be pointed at. Only the four phalattha persons can be pointed at. Their distinct characteristics may be noted as follows.

1. Sotapanna or Sotapan

      A sotapanna is one who has attained sotapatti magga and sotapatti-phala. He (or she) can enjoy the peace of Nibbana whenever he wishes by developing the ecstatic absorption corresponding to sotapatti-phala samapatti.

      He is called a stream-winner because he has entered the stream that leads to Nibbana. The stream represents the noble Eightfold Path. He is no longer a worldling (putthujjana), but an ariya (noble person).

      A sotapanna has eradicated the two worst defilements, i.e., ditthi and vicikiccha, and three basic Fetters — namely, sakkaya-ditthi, vicikiccha and silabbataparamasa. He has also eliminated the coarse properties of the remaining defilements — the properties that can cast a person to the apaya abodes. So to him, the doors of the apaya abodes are closed for ever, neither will he be reverted to a worldling again.

      He has unwavering faith in Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. He will also steadfastly observe the five precepts and will abstain from committing any of the ten akusala-kamma-pathas, i.e., ten ducaritas or unwholesome actions. The four lobha-mula ditthigata- sampayutta cittas and the moha-mula vicikiccha sampayutta citta will never arise in him.

      He may, however, enjoy the sense pleasures as an ordinary person. But he will not be reborn more than seven times in the sense-sphere (kama-loka). He will become an arahat in due course and after that last life, he will enjoy the peace of Nibbana for ever.

      There are three types of sotapanna:

          (1) Sattakkhattu-parama-sotapanna = one who enters Nibbana after seven lives,

          (2) Kamakola-sotapanna = one who enters Nibbana after two to six lives,

          (3) Ekaviji-sotapanna = one who enters Nibbana after one life.

(2) Sakadagami or Sakadagam

      A Sakadagami is one who has attained sakadagami-magga and phala. He (or she) can enjoy the peace of Nibbana whenever be wishes by developing the esctatic absorption corresponding to sakadagami phala-samapatti.

      'Sakadagami'literally means once returner'. A sakadagami will be reborn only once in the sense sphere. He will then become an arahat and, after that last life, will be in Nibbana for ever. The cittas that arise in a sakadagami are the same as those which arise in a sotapanna with the only exception that a sakadagami enjoy sakadagami-phala-samapatti instead of sotapatti-phala-samapatti

      Compared to a sotapatti, a sakadagami has less raga, (lust, greed), dosa (illwill, hatred) and moha (delusion). Thus be is nobler than a sotapanna.

      There are six kinds of sakadagamis, namely:

          (1) Those who attain sakadagami in the human world and attain parinibbana here,

          (2) Those who attain sakadagami in the human world and attain parinibbana in a heavenly realm,

          (3) Those who attain sakadagami in a heavenly realm and attain parinibbana there,

          (4) Those who attain sakadagami in a heavenly realm and attain parinibbana in the human world,

          (5) Those who attain sakadagami in the human plane, and after being born once in a heavenly realm, attain parinibbana in the human plane,

          (6) Those who attain sakadagami in a heavenly realm, and after being born once in the human plane, attain parinibbana in a heavenly realm.

3. Anagami or Anagam

      An anagami is one who has attained anagami magga and phala. He (or she) can enjoy the peace of Nibbana whenever he wishes by developing the ecstatic absorption corresponding to anagami-phala samapatti.

     Anagami literally means 'no returner'. An anagami will not be reborn in the sense sphere. If he does not attain the arahatship in the present life yet, he will be reborn in a Brahma realm or Pure Abode Suddhavasa), where he will attain arahatship and pass to Nibbana.

      Since the anagami-magga eliminates the kilesa dosa (hatred) and the two Fetters—namely, kamaraga (sense desire) and patigha (hatred or illwill), an anagamiwill no longer experience anger, hatred, worry, despair, fright, and any unpleasant mental feeling, neither will he enjoy sense pleasures.

      His mind will always be in peace and he will enjoy the ecstatic peace of Nibbana whenever he wishes by developing anagami-phaIa-samapatti. If he attains all the eight jhanas, he can also enjoy Nirodha samapatti during which all consciousness and mental activity are temporarily suspended.

      There are five types of anagamis:

          (1) Those who attain arahatship within the first half of the life of the Pure Abode where they are reborn,

          (2) Those who attain arahatshipwithin the second half of the life of the Pure Abode where they are reborn,

          (3) Those who attain kilesa-parinibbana (i.e., arahatship) without having to struggle very hard,

          (4) Those who attain kilesa-parinibbanaafter struggling very hard,

          (5) Those who do not attain arahatship in the four lower abodes of the five Pure Abodes, but attain arahatship in the highest Pure Abode (i.e., Akanittha).

4. Arahat

      An arahat is one who has attained arahatta magga and phala. He (or she) can enjoy the peace of Nibbana whenever he wishes by developing the ecstatic absorption corresponding to arahatta-phala-samapatti. He can enjoy Nirodha-samapatti if he attains the eight jhanas.

      Since arahatta magga eliminates all the defilernents (kilesa) an arahat has no greed, ill will, delusion, conceit, personality belief and other bad mental factors. He has no attachment to anything; so he is free from all entanglements. He does not regard anything as his own; thus he has no reason to feel sad because something is taken or stolen from him.

      Because he has uprooted all dosa (anger, hatred or ill-will) from his mind, he will never experience unpleasant mental feeling which accompanies dosa mula cittas.All the twelve akusala-cittas (immoral consciousness) will never arise in him.

      As his mind is always free from all defilements, it is at the purest state, making him the noblest one.

      He is a true Saint worthy of respect by men and devas and worthy of receiving alms which are offered to him with the intention of enjoying the benefits in the present life as well as in future lives.

      An arahat, literally meaning a worthy one, does not accomplish fresh kamma activities, and he is not subject to rebirth because the conditions for his reproduction in matter have been destroyed.

      Sotapannas, sakadagamis and anagamis are called sekhas because they have yet to undergo a training. Arahats are called asekhas because they no longer need to undergo any training.

      The arahat realizes that what is to be accomplished has been done. A heavy burden of misery has finally been thrown away, and all forms of craving and all shades of delusion have been annihilated. He now stands on heights higher than celestial, far removed from uncontrolled passions and the defilements of the world.

      There are five types of arahats:

          (1) Pannavimutta-arahat = one who is emancipated through panna(wisdom),

          (2) Ubhatobhagavimutta-arahat =one who is emancipated in two ways, namely by arupajjhana and by ariyamagga.

          (3) Tevijja-arahat = one who possesses the three vijjas.

          (4) Chalabhinna-arahat = one who possesses the six abhinnas (supernormal powers),

          (5) Patisambhidhapatta-arahat = one who possesses the four samhhidhas, i,e., the knowledge of the meaning of each word, the knowledge of the text (pali), the knowledge of the origin of the words, and the determinate knowledge together with the accurate discrimination of the first three.