Enumeration of Phenomena

400 B.C. | 124,932 words

*english translation* The first book of the Abhidhamma (Part 3 of the Tipitaka). The Dhammasangani enumerates all the paramattha dhamma (ultimate realities) to be found in the world. According to one such enumeration these amount to: * 52 cetasikas (mental factors), which, arising together in various combination, give rise to any one of... * ......

Part VI - On The Inquiry Into Rupam (form)

And The Buddhist Theory Of Sense

Taking dhamma, then, to mean phenomena considered as knowledge — in other words, as actually or potentially states of consciousness — we may next look more closely into that which the catechism brings out respecting rupam (Book II., and § 583) considered as a species of dhamma . By this procedure we shall best place ourselves at the threshold, so to speak, of the Buddhist position, both as to its psychology and its view of things in general, and be thus better led up to the ethical import of the questions in the first part.

The entire universe of dhamma is classed with respect to rupam in questions 1091, 1092 (Book III.). They are there shown to be either rupino, having form, or a-rupino, not having form. The positive category comprises "the four great phenomena (four elements) and all their derivatives".

The negative term refers to what we should call modes or phases of consciousness, or subjective experience — that is, to "the skandhas of feeling, perception, syntheses and intellect" — as well as to "uncompounded element". (The skandhas are also "elements" — that is, irreducible but phenomenal factors (see p. 129, n. 1) — but tliey are compounds.[1]) Kupam would thus appear at first sight to be a name for the external world or for the Extended universe, as contrasted with the unextended, mental, psychical or subjective universe. Personally I do not find, so far, that the Eastern and Western concepts can be so easily made to coincide. It will be better before, and indeed without as yet, arriving at any such conclusive judgment, to inquire into the application made of the term in the Manual generally. "

We find rupam used in three, at least, of the various meanings assigned to it in the lexicons. It occurs first, and very frequently, as the general name for the objects of the sense of sight. It may then stand as simply rupam (§ 617, "this which is visual form", as opposed to § 621, etc., 'this which is "sound," "odour,"' etc.). More usually it is spoken of as r up ar a mm a nam, object of sight (p. 1), or as rup ay atanarn, sphere (province, Gehiet) of sights or of visual form (pp. 172, 183 et seq.). It includes both sensations of colour and lustre and the complex sensations of form. Used in this connexion, its specialization is, of course, only due to the psychological fact that sight is the spokesman and interpreter of all the senses, so that "I see" often stands for "I perceive or discern through two or more modes of sensation".

On this point it is worth while pointing out an interesting flash of psychological discrimination in the Commentary. It will be noticed, in the various kinds of rupayatanam enumerated in § 617 (p. 183, n. 9), that, after pure visual sensations have been instanced, different magnitudes and forms are added, such as "long, short", etc. On these Buddhaghosa remarks:

"Here, inasmuch as we are able to tell "long", "short," etc., by touch, while we cannot so discern "blue," etc., therefore "long," "short" and the rest are not visual forms except inferentially (literally, not visual forms without explanation). A, B, placed in such a relation to C, D, is only by customary usage spoken of as something seen" (Asl. 816). [2]

This may not bring us up to Berkeley, but it is a farther step in that direction than Aristotle's mere hint —

"There is a movement which is perceptible both by Touch and Sight"

— when he is alluding to magnitudes, etc., being "common sensibles", i.e., perceptible by more than one sense.[3]

To resume: Kupam, in its wider sense (as 'all form'), may be due to the popular generalization and representative function of the sense of sight, expressed in Tennyson's line:

"For knowledge is of things we see . . ."

And thus, even as a philosophical concept, it may, loosely speaking, have stood for "things seen", as contrasted with the unseen world of dhamma arupino. But this is by no means an adequate rendering of the term in its more careful and technical use in the second Book of our Manual. For, as may there be seen, much of the content of ' form ' is explicitly declared to be invisible.[4]

Rupam occurs next, and, with almost equal frequency, together with its opposite, a rupam , to signify those two other worlds, realms or planes[5] of temporal existence, which Buddhism accepted along with other current mythology, and which, taken together with the lowest, or sensuous plane of existence, exhaust the possible modes of rebirth.

These avacaras, or loci of form and non-form, are described in terms of vague localization (§§ 1280-85), but it is not easy to realize how far existence of either sort was conceived with anything like precision. Including the "upper" grades of the world of sensuous existence, they were more popularly known as heaven or sagga (svarga), i.e., the Bright. Their inhabitants were devas, distinguished into hosts variously named. Like the heaven of the West or the Near East, they were located "above". Unlike that heaven, life in them was temporal, not eternal.

But the Dhamma-sangani throws no new light on the kind of states they were supposed to be. Nor does Buddhaghosa here figure as an Eastern Dante, essaying to body out more fully, either dogmatically or as in a dream, such ineffable oracles as were hinted at by a Paul

"caught up to the third heaven . . . whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell — God knoweth"

, or the ecstatic visions of a John in lonely exile. The Atthasalini is not free from divagations on matters of equally secondary importance to the earnest Buddhist.[6][7]

Yet it has nothing to tell of a mode of being endowed with rupa, yet without the kama, or sensuous impulses held to be bound up with rupa, when the term is used in its wider sense.[8] Nor does it enlighten us on the more impalpable denizens of a plane of being where rupa itself is not, and for which no terms seem held appropriate save such as express high fetches of abstract thought.[9]

We must go back, after all, to the Nikayas for such brief hints as we can find. We do hear, at least, in the Digha Nikaya, of beings in one of the middle circles of the Form heavens termed Eadiant (Abhassara), as "made of mind, feeding on joy, radiating light, traversing the firmament, continuing in beauty".[10] Were it not that we miss here the unending melody sounding through each circle of the Western poet's Paradise,[11] we might well apply this description to Dante's ' anime liete,' who, like incandescent spheres:

' Fiammando forte, a guisa di comete,
E come cerchi in tempra d' oriuoli
Si giran.' ...

Liker to those brilliant visions the heavens of Form seem to have been than to the "quiet air" and "the meadow of fresh verdure" on that slope of Limbo where

"Genti v' eran con occhi tardi e gravi",


"Parlavan rado, con voci soavi."

Yet the rare, sweet utterances of these devas of Europe, discoursing with "the Master of those who know", may better have accorded with the Buddhist conception of 'beings made of mind' than the choric dances of the spheres above.

Among these shadowy beings, however, we are far from the fully bodied out idea of the "all form" and the "skandha of form" of the second and third Books of the Manual. It may be that the worlds of rupa and  arupa were so called in popular tradition because in the former, visible, and in the latter, invisible, beings resided. But whereas attributes concerning either are "sadly to seek", there is no lack of information concerning the attributes of form in the 'sensuous universe' or kamavacaram.

If the list given of these in the first chapter of Book II. be consulted, it will be seen that I have not followed the reading of the P. T. S. edition when it states that all form is kamavacaram eva, rupavacaram eva, that is, is both related to the universe of sense and also to that of form. The Siamese edition reads kamavacaram eva, na rupavacaram eva. It may seem at first sight illogical to say that form is not related to the universe of form. But the better logic is really on the side of the Siamese. On page 334 of my translation,[12] it is seen that the avacaras were mutually exclusive as to their contents.

To belong to the universe of form involved exclusion from that of sense. But in the inquiry into "all form" we are clearly occupied with facts about this present world and about women and men as we know them — in a word, with the world of sense. Hence the "all form" of Book II. is clearly not the form of the rupavacaram. It is not used with the same implications.

Further than this, further than the vague avacara geography gathered already from other sources, the Manual does not bring us, nor the Commentary either.

We come then to rupam in the sensuous plane of being, or at least to such portion of that plane as is concerned with human beings : to sabbam rupam and to its distribution in each human economy, termed r u p a k- khandho. Whether taken generally, or under the more specialized aspect, there seems to be unanimity of teaching concerning the various manifestations of it.[13]

Under it are comprised four ultimate primary, or underivable constituents and twenty-three secondary, dependent or derived modes. Thus:



(a) The Tangible (i.e., earthy or solid, lambent or fiery, gaseous or aerial elements, or great phenomena),
(b) The Fluid (or moist) Element.


(a) The Five Senses,
(b) The Four Objects of Sense (excluding Tangibles),
(c) The Three Organic Faculties. id) The Two Modes of Intimation,
(e) The Element of Space,
(f) Three Qualities of Form,
(g) Three Phases in the Evolution of Form,
(h) Impermanence of Form,
(i) Bodily nutriment.


To enter with any fulness of discussion into this classification, so rich in interesting suggestions, would occupy itself a volume. In an introduction of mere notes I will offer only a few general considerations.

We are probably first impressed by the psychological aspect taken of a subject that might seem to lend itself to purely objective consideration. The main constituents of the material world, classified in the East as we know them to have been classified, contemporaneously, in the West, are set down in terms of subjective or conscious experience. The apo-dhatu is not called explicitly the Intangible ; virtually, however, it and the other three "Great Phenomena", or literally "Great things that have Become"[14], are regarded from the point of view of how they affect us by way of sense. We might add, how they affect us most fundamentally by way of sense. In the selection of Touch among the senses the Indian tradition joins hands with Demokritus. But of this no more at present.

Again, in the second table, or secondary forms, the same standpoint is predominant. We have the action and re-action of sense-object and sense, the distinctive expressions of sex and of personality generally, and the phenomena of organic life, as "sensed" or inferred, comprehended under the most general terms. Two modes of form alone are treated objectively : space and food. And of these, too, the aspect taken has close reference to the conscious personality. Akaso is really okaso, room, or opportunity, for life and movement. Food, though described as to its varieties in objective terms, is referred to rather in the abstract sense of nutrition and nutriment than as nutritive matter. (Cf. p. 203, n. 3.)

Or we may be more especially struck by the curious selection and classification exercised in regard to the items of the catalogue of form.

Now, the compilers of this or of any of the canonical books were not interested in r u p a m on psychological grounds as such. Their object was not what we should term scientific. They were not inquiring into forms, either as objective existences, or as mental constructions, with any curiosity respecting the macrocosm, its parts, or its order. They were not concerned with problems of primordial vXr), of first causes, or of organic evolution, in the spirit which has been operative in Western thought from Thales (claimed by Europe) to Darwin. For them, as for the leaders of that other rival movement in our own culture, the tradition of Socrates and Plato, man was, first and last, the subject supremely worth thinking about.

And man was worth thinking about as a moral being. The physical universe was the background and accessory, the support and the 'fuel' (upadanam), of the evolution of the moral life. It was necessary to man as ethical (at least during his sojourn on the physical plane), but it was only in so far as it affected his ethical life that he could profitably study it. The Buddhist, like the Socratic view, was that of primitive man — "What is the good of it?" — transformed and sublimated by the evolution of the moral ideal.

The early questioning: Is such and such good for life-preservation, for race-preservation, for fun? or is it bad? or is it indeterminate ? becomes, in evolved ethics : Does it make for my perfection, for others' perfection, for noblest enjoyment ? does it make for the contrary ? does it make for neither ?

And the advance in moral evolution which was attempted by Buddhist philosophy, coming as it did in an age of metaphysical dogmatism and withal of scepticism, brought with it the felt need of looking deeper into those data of mental procedure on which dogmatic speculation and ethical convictions were alike founded.[15]

Viewed in this light, the category of rupam or of rupakkhandho becomes fairly intelligible, both as to the selection and classification of subject matter and as to the standpoint from which it is regarded. As a learner of ethical doctrine, pursuing either the lower or the higher ideal, the Buddhist was concerned with the external world just as far as it directly and inevitably affected his moral welfare and that of other moral beings, that is to say, of all conscious animate beings. To this extent did he receive instruction concerning it.

In the first place, the great ultimate phenomena of his physical world were one and the same as the basis of his own physical being. That had form ; so had this. That was built up of the four elements ; so was this. That came into being, persisted, then dissolved ; this was his destiny, too, as a temporary collocation or body, "subject to erasion, abrasion, dissolution and disintegration".[16] And all that side of life which we call mind or consciousness, similarly conceived as collocations or aggregates, was bound up therein and on that did it depend.

Here, then, was a vital kinship, a common basis of physical being which it behoved the student of man to recognise and take into account, so as to hold an intelligent and consistent attitude towards it. The bhikkhu sekho[17] "who has not attained, who is aspiring after the unsurpass- able goal", has to know, inter alia, earth, water, flame, air, each for what it is, both as external and as part of himself [18] — must know "unity" (ekattam) for what it is ; must indulge in no conceits of fancy (mamanni) about it or them, and must so regard them that of him it may one day be said by the masters:

Parinnatam tassa! — "He knows it thoroughly".

To this point we shall return. That the elements are considered under the aspect of their tangibility involves for the Buddhist the further inquiry into the sensitive agency by which they affect him as tangibles, and so into the problem of sensation and sense-perception in general. On this subject the Dhamma-sangani yields a positive and valuable contribution to our knowledge of the history of psychology in India in the fourth century b.c.

It may contain no matter additional to that which is reproduced in Hardy's "Manual of Buddhism" (pp. 399-404, 419-423). But Hardy drew directly from relatively modern sources, and though it is interesting to see how far and how faithfully the original tradition has been kept intact in these exegetical works, we turn gladly to the stronger attractions of the first academic formidation of a theory of sense which ancient India has hitherto preserved for us. There is no such analysis of sensation — full, sober, positive, so far as it goes — put forward in any Indian book of an equally early date.

The pre-Buddhistic Upanishads (and those, too, of later date) yield only poetic adumbrations, sporadic aphorisms on the work of the senses. The Nyaya doctrine of pratyaksha or perception, the Jaina Sutras, the elaboration of the Vedanta and Sankhya doctrines are, of course, of far later date. It may not, therefore, be uncalled for if I digress at some length on the Buddhist position in this matter, and look for parallel theories in the West rather than in India itself.

The theory of action and reaction between the five special[19] senses and their several objects is given in pages 172-190 and 197-200 of my translation. It may be summarized as follows :

A. The Senses.

First, a general statement relating each sense in turn:

  1. to Nature (the four elements),
  2. to the individual organism,

and affirming its invisibility and its power of impact.

Secondly, an analysis of the sensory process, in each case, into:

  1. A personal agency or apparatus capable of reacting to an impact not itself ;
  2. An impingeing "form", or form producing an impact of one specific kind ;
  3. Impact between (a) and (6) ;
  4. Eesultant modification of the mental continuum, viz. : in the first place, contact (of a specific sort) ; then, hedonistic result, or intellectual result, or, presumably, both.

The modification is twice stated in each case, emphasis being laid on the mutual impact, first as causing the modification, then as constituting the object of attention in the modified consciousness of the person affected.

B. The Sense-objects.

First, a general statement, relating each kind of sense-object in turn to Nature, describing some of the typical varieties, and affirming its invisibility, except in the case of visual objects[20], and its power of producing impact.[21]

Secondly, an analysis of the sensory process in each case as under A, but, as it were, from the side of the sense-object, thus :

  1. A mode of form or sense-object, capable of producing impact on a special apparatus of the individual organism ; 
  2. The impact of that apparatus ;
  3. The reaction or complementary impact of the sense-object ;
  4. Eesultant modification of the mental continuum, viz. : in the first place, contact (of a specific sort) ; then hedonistic result, or intellectual result, or, presumably, both.

The modification is twice stated, in each case emphasis being laid on the mutual impact, first as causing the modification, then as constituting the object of attention in the modified consciousness thus affected.

If we, for purposes of comparison, consult Greek views on sense-perception before Aristotle — say, down to b.c. 350 — we shall find nothing to equal this for sobriety, con- sistency and thoroughness. The surviving fragments of Empedoklean writings on the subject read beside it like airy fancies ; nor do the intact utterances of Plato bring us anything more scientific. Very possibly in Demokritus we might have found its match, had we more of him than a few quotations. And there is reason to surmise as much, or even more, in the case of Alkmseon.

Let me not, however, be understood to be reading into the Buddhist theory more than is actually there. In its sober, analytical prose, it is no less archaic, naive, and inadequate as explanation than any pre-Aristotelian theory of the Greeks. The comment of Dr. Siebeck on Empedokles applies equally to it: [22]

"It sufficed him to have indicated the possibility of the external world penetrating the sense-organs, as though this were tantamount to an explanation of sensation. The whole working out of his theory is an attempt to translate in terms of a detailed and consecutive physiological process the primitive, naive view of cognition."

Theory of this calibre was, in Greece, divided between impact (Alkmseon, Empedokles, with respect to sight, Demokritus, Plato, who, to impact, adds a commingling of sense and object) and access (efflux and pore theory of Empedokles) as the essential part of the process. The Buddhist explanation confines itself to impact.[23]

But neither East nor West, with the possible exception of Alkmaeon, had yet gripped the notion of a conducting medium. In Aristotle all is changed. "Eidola" which collide, and "aporrhoæ" which penetrate, have been thrown aside for an examination into 'metaxu.' And we find the point of view similarly shifted in Buddhaghosa's time, though how long before him this advance had been made we do not know. Nor was there, in the earlier thought of East or West, any clear dualistic distinction drawn between mind and matter, between physical (and physiological) motion or stimulus on the one hand, and consequent or concomitant mental modification on the other, in an act of sense-perception.

The Greek explanations are what would now be called materialistic. The Buddhist description may be inter- preted either way. It is true that in the Milinda-panho, written some three or four centuries later than our Manual, the action and reaction of sense and sense-object are compared in realistic metaphor to the clash of two cymbals and the butting of two goats.[24] But, being metaphorical, this account brings us really no further. The West, while it retained the phraseology characterizing the earlier theory of sense, ceased to imply any direct physical impact or contact when speaking of being "struck" by sights, sounds, or ideas. How far, and how early, was this also the case in the East ?

The very fact that the Buddhist theory, with all its analytical and symmetrical fulness of exposition, yields so very abstract and schematic a result leaves the way open to surmise that, even in the time of our Manual, the process of sense impression was not materialistically conceived.[25]

We are not told, for instance, where the mutual impact takes place, nor with what a distant object impinges. And if dhamma are conceived, as in the Manual, as actual or potential states of consciousness, and rupam is conceived as a species of dhamma, it follows that both the rupam, which is "external" and comes into contact with the rupam which is "of the self", and also this latter rupam are regarded in the light of the two mental factors necessary to constitute an act of sensory consciousness, actual or potential.

Such may have been the psychological aspect adumbrated, groped after — not to go further — in the Dhamma-sangani itself. That the traditional interpretation of this impact theory grew psychological with the progress of culture in the schools of Buddhism seems to be indicated by such a comment in the Atthasalini as:

"strikes (impinges) on form is a term for the eye {i.e., the visual sense) being receptive of the object of consciousness".[26]

This seems to be a clear attempt to resolve the old metaphor, or, it may be, the old physical concept, into terms of subjective experience. Again, when alluding to the simile of the cymbals and the rams, we are told by Buddhaghosa to interpret "eye" by "visual cognition", and to take the "concussion" in the sense of function.[27]

Once more, he tells us that when feeling arises through contact, the real causal antecedent is mental, though apparently external.[28]

Without pursuing this problem further, we cannot leave the subject of sense and sensation without a word of comment and comparison on the prominence given in the Buddhist theory to the notion of "contact" and the sense of touch. As with us, both terms are from the same stem. But phassa (contact), on the one hand, is generalized to include all receptive experience, sensory as well as ideational,[29] and to represent the essential antecedent and condition of all feeling (or sensation = vedana).

On the other hand, phusati, photthabbam (to touch, the tangible) are specialized to express the activity of one of the senses. Now, the functioning of the tactile sense (termed body-sensibility or simply body, kayo, pp. 181, 182) is described in precisely the same terms as each of the other four senses. Nevertheless, it is plain, from the significant application of the term tangible, or object of touch, alluded to already — let alone the use of "contact" in a wider sense— that the Buddhists regarded Touch as giving us knowledge of things "without" in a more fundamental way than the other senses could. By the table of the contents of rupam given above, we have seen that it is only through Touch that a knowledge of the underived elements of the world of sense could be obtained, the fluid or moist element alone excepted.

This interesting point in the psychology of early Buddhism may possibly be formulated somewhere in the Abhidhamma Pitaka. I should feel more hopeful in this respect had the compilers been, in the first instance, not ethical thinkers, but impelled by the scientific curiosity of a Demokritus. The latter, as is well known, regarded all sensation as either bare touch or developments of touch — a view borne out to a great extent by modern biological research. This was, perhaps a corollary of his atomistic philosophy. Yet that Demokritus was no mere deductive system-spinner, but an inductive observer, is shown in the surviving quotation of his dictum, that we should proceed, in our inferences, "from phenomena to that which is not manifest".

Now, as the Buddhist view of rupam calls three of the four elements "underived" and "the tangible", while it calls the senses and all other sense-objects "derived from that tangible" and from fluid, one might almost claim that their position with respect to Touch was in effect parallel to that of Demokritus. The Commentary does not assist us to any clear conclusion on this matter. But, in addition to the remark quoted above, in which visual magnitudes are pronounced to be really tactile sensations, it has one interesting illustration of our proverb, "Seeing is believing, but Touch is the real thing".

It likens the four senses, excluding touch, to four balls of cotton-wool, intervening between hammer and four anvils (i.e., Upadarupam, or derived form, without and within) and deadening the impact. But in Touch, hammer smites through wool, getting at the bare anvil.[30]

Further considerations on the Buddhist theory of sense, taking us beyond bare sensation to the working up of such material into concrete acts of perception, I propose to consider briefly in the following section. The remaining heads of the rupa-skandha are very concisely treated in the niddesa answers (pp. 190-197), and, save in the significance of their selection, call for no special treatment.

It is not quite clear why senses and sense- objects should be followed by three indriyas — by three only and just these three. The senses themselves are often termed indriyas, and not only in Buddhism. In the indriyas of sex, however, and the phenomena of nutrition, the rupa-skandha, in both the self and other selves, is certainly catalogued under two aspects as general and as impressive as that of sense. In fact, the whole organism as modifiable by the "sabbam rupam" without, may be said to be summed up under these three aspects.

They fit fairly well into our division of the receptive side of the organism, considered, psychophysically, as general and special sensibility. From his ethical standpoint the learner did well to take the life in which he shared into account under its impressive aspects of sense, sex and nutrition. And this not only in so far as he was receptive. The very term indriyam, which is best paralleled by the Greek Bvva/jiL(;, or faculty — i.e., "powers in us, and in all other things, by which we do as we do" [31] — and which is interpreted to this effect by Buddhaghosa,[32] points to the active, self-expressive side of existence. Both as recipient, then, and as agent, the learner of the Dharma had to acquire and maintain a certain attitude with respect to these aspects of the rupa-skandha.

The same considerations apply to the next two kinds of rupam, with which we may bracket the next after them. The two modes of "intimation" or self-expression exhaust the active side of life as such, constituting, as one might say, a world of sub-derivative or tertiary form, and calling quite especially for modification by theory and practice (dassanena ca bhavanaya ca). And the element of space, strange as it looks, at first sight, to find it listed just here, was of account for the Buddhist only as a necessary datum or postulate for his sentient and active life. The vacua of the body, as well as its plena, had to be reckoned in with the rupa-skandha ; likewise the space without by which bodies were delimitated, and which, yielding room for movement, afforded us the three dimensions.[33]

The grounds for excluding space from the four elements and for calling it derived remain in obscurity. In the Maha Eahulovada-Sutta (cited below) it is ranked imme- diately after, and apparently as co-ordinate with, the other four. And it was so ranked, oftener than not, by Indian thought generally. Yet in another Sutta of the same Nikaya — the Maha Hatthipadopama- Sutta — Sariputta

describes four elements, leaving out akaso . Eliminated for some reason from the Underived, when the Dhamma-sangani was compiled, it was logically necessary to include it under Derived Kupam. That it was so included because it was held to be a mental construction, or a "pure form of intuition", is scarcely tenable.

And yet the next seven items of derived form are apparently to be accepted rather as concepts or aspects of form than as objective properties or "primary qualities" of it. Be that as it may, all the seven are so many common facts about rupam , both as "sabbam" and as skandha. The Three Qualities[34] indicated the ideal efficiency for moral ends to which the rupa-skandha, or any form serving such an end, should be brought. The Three Phases in the organic evolution of form and the great fact of Impermanence applied everywhere and always to all form. And as such all had to be borne in mind, all had to co-operate in shaping theory and practice.

Concerning, lastly, the a h a r o, or support, of the rupa skandha, the hygiene and ethics of diet are held worthy of rational discussion in the Sutta Pitaka.[35]

We have now gone with more or less details into the divisions of rupam in the "sensuous universe", with a view of seeing how far it coincided with any general philosophical concept in use among ourselves. For me it does not fit well with any, and the vague term "form", implicated as it is, like ruparn, with "things we see", is perhaps the most serviceable. Its inclusion of faculties and abstract notions as integral factors prevent its coinciding with "matter", or "the Extended", or "the External World". If we turn to the list of attributes given in Chapter I. of Book II., rupam appears as preeminently the unmoral (as to both cause and effect) and the non-mental.

It was "favourable" to immoral states, as the chief constituent of a world that had to be mastered and transcended by moral culture, but the immoral states exploiting it were of the other four skandhas. It included the phenomena of sense, but rather on their physical pre-mental side than as full-fledged facts of consciousness. And it was sharply distinguished, as a constituent "collocation" or 'aggregate' (skandha, rasi), in the total aggregate of the individual organism from the three collocations called cetasika (feelings, perceptions, syntheses), and from that called citt a (intellect, thought, cognition). The attabhavo, or personality, minus all mental and moral characteristics, is rupam .

As such it is one with all rupam not of its own composition. It is "in touch" with the general impersonal r u p a m, as well as with the mental and moral constituents of other personalities by way of their r ii p a m . That this intercommunication was held to be possible on the basis, and in virtue of, this common structure was probably as implicit in the Buddhist doctrine as it was explicit in many of the early Greek philosophers.

It is not impossible that some open allusions to "like being known by like" may be discovered in the Pitakas as a consciously held and deliberately stated principle or ground of the impressibility of the sentient organism. No such statement occurs in our Manual. But the phrase, recurring in the case of each of the special senses, "derived from the four Great Phenomena", may not have been inserted without this implication. Without further evidence, however, I should not be inclined to attach philosophical significance in this direction to it. But on the one hand we have an interesting hint in the Commentary that such a principle teas held by early Buddhists.

"Where there is difference of kind (or creature), we read,[36] there is no sensory stimulus. According to the Ancients[37] "Sensory stimulus is of similar kinds, not of different kinds."

And again:

"The solid, both within and without, becomes the condition of the sense of touch in the laying hold of the object of perception — in discerning the tangible".[38]

It is true that Buddhaghosa is discoursing, not on this question, but on what would now be called the specific energy, or specialized functioning, of nerve. Nevertheless, it seems inferable from the quotations that the principle was established. And we know also how widely accepted (and also contested)[39] this same principle — — was in Greece, from Empedokles to Plato and to Plotinus,[40] thinkers, all of them, who were affected, through Pythagorism or elsewise, by the East. The vivid description by Buddhaghosa {cf. below, pp. 173-174) of the presence in the seat of vision of the four elements is very suggestive of Plato's account of sight in the "Timseus", where the principle is admitted.

Whether as a principle, or merely as an empirical fact, the oneness of man's rupaskandha with the sabbam rupam without was thoroughly admitted, and carefully taught as orthodox doctrine. And with regard to this kinship, I repeat, a certain philosophical attitude, both theoretical and practical, was inculcated as generally binding. That attitude is, in one of the Majjhima discourses,[41] led up to and defined as follows : All good states (dhamma) whatever are included in the Four Noble Truths concerning 111.[See below, p. 276.] Now the First Noble Truth unfolds the nature of 111: that it lies in using the five skandhas for Grasping.[42]

And the  first of the five is that of rupam. Now rupam comprises the four Great Phenomena and all their derivatives. And the first of the four is Earth (the solid element). Then the solid within, or ' belonging to the self,' is catalogued, with the injunction that it is to he regarded as it really is with right wisdom (yathabhutam sammapannaya datthabbam). And this means that — while recognizing his kinship with the element to the full — the good student should not identify himself with it so as to see in it a permanent unchanging substance as which he should persist amid transient phenomena. He was to reflect,

'This is not mine, it is not I, it is not the soul of me !'

'It is void of a Self.'[43]

And so for the other three elements. In their mightiest manifestations — in the earthquake as in the flood, in conflagration as in tempest — they are but temporal, phenomenal; subject to change and decay. Much more is this true of them when collocated in the human organism. So far from losing himself in his meditation in the All, in Nature, in "cosmic emotion" of any kind, he had to realize that the rupam in which he participated was but one of the five factors of that life which, in so far as it engulfed and mastered him and bore him drifting along, was the great 111, the source of pain and delusion.

From each of those five factors he had to detach himself in thought, and attain that position of mastery and emancipation whereby alone the true, the Ideal Self could emerge — temporary as a phenomenal collocation, eternal by its ethical aspiration. And the practical result of cultivating "this earth-like culture" and the rest, as Gotama called it in teaching his son, was that "the mind was no longer entranced by the consideration of things as affecting him pleasantly or disagreeably", [M. i. 423, 424.] but "the disinterestedness which is based on that which is good was established". [M, i igg.] "And he thereat is glad" — and rightly so — "for thus far he has wrought a great work!"

These seem to me some of the more essential features in the Buddhist Dharma concerning Kupam. 

Footnotes and references:


Cf., e.g., Dhp. A., p. 413: . . . * all the compounds, with their divisions of skandhas, elements and spheres.'


The symbols are my own adaptation, not a literal rendering. In the account of the ' external senses ' or Indriyas given in the (later) Sankhya text-books. Professor Garbe points out that the objects of sight are limited to colour (rupa), exclusive of form (Garbe, 'Die Sankhya Philosophie,' p. 258).


' De Anima,' 11. vi.


O/. §§ 597 et seq,, 657, 658, 751, 752, etc.


* To the employment of ' universe ' for avacaram exception may be taken, since the latter term means only a pa7-t of the Oriental cosmos. I admit it calls for apology.


Cf.f e.g., on a similar subject. Sum. 110. He tells us, it is true (see below, p. 196, n. 4), that the food of the gods who inhabited the highest sphere of the sensuous world was of the maximum degree of refinement, leading perhaps to the inference that in the two superior planes it was not required.


If I have used it throughout Book I., it was because there the term avacaram seemed more suggestive of the logician's term 'universe of discourse,' or 'of thought,' than of any physically conceived actuality. It seemed to fit De Morgan's definition of ' the universe of a proposition ' — ' a collection of all objects which are contemplated as objects about which assertion or denial may take place,' the universe of form, for instance, either as a vague, vast concept ' in ' time and effort, or as a state of mind, a rapt abstraction — in either case a ' universe of thought ' for the time being.


See pp. 168-170: 'All form is that which is . . . related, or which belongs to the universe of sense, not to that of form, or tothat of the formless.'


See the four Aruppas, pp. 71-75.


D. i. 17. Again we read (D. i. 195), that of the three possible ' personalities ' of current tradition, one was made of mind, having form, and a complete organism, and one was without form and made of consciousness, or perception (arupi saniiamayo).


There is no lack of music in some of the lower Indian heavens. Cf., e.g., M. i. 252, on Sakka the god enjoying the music in his sensuous paradise. And see Vimana Vatthu, passim.


§§ 1281-1284 of the P. T. S.'s edition.


Cf., e.g., S. iii. 59, with Dh. S., § 584, and Vis. Mag.


Better in Greek ra yi^yvofjueva, or in German die vier grossen Geicordenen. How the Buddhist logic exactly reconciled the anomaly of apodhatu as underived and yet as inaccessible to that sense which comes into contact with the underived is not, in the Manual, clearly made out. In hot water, as the Cy. says, there is heat, gas, and solid, and hence we feel it. Yet by the definition there must be in fluid a something underived from these three elements.

The Buddhist Sensationalism was opposed to the view taken in the Upanishad, where the senses are derived from p r a 3 n a (rendered by Prof. Deussen ' consciousness '), and again from the World Soul. In the Garbha Up., however, sight is spoken of as Jive. The Buddhist view was subsequently again opposed by the Sankhya philosophy, but not by the Nyaya.


G. Groom Eobertson, ' Philosophical Kemains,' p. 3.


D. i. 76, e.g.


The brother in orders undergoing training. M. i. 4.


M. i., pp. 185, et seq. ; pp. 421, et seq.


They are called ' special ' in modern psychology to distinguish them from organic, general or systemic sense, which works without specially adapted peripheral organs.


This insistence on the invisibility of all the senses, as well as on that of all sense-objects except sights or visual forms, is to me only explicable on the ground that rupam recurring in each question and each answer, and signifying, whatever else it meant, in popular idiom, things seen, it was necessary, in philosophic usage, to indicate that the term, though referring to sense, did not, with one exception, connote things seen. Thus, even solid and fiery objects were, qua tangibles, not visible. They were not visible to the kayo, or skin- sensibility. They spelt visible only to the eye.


See p. 183, n. 1.


Geschichte der Psychologie,' i. 107.


Access comes later into prominence with the development of the * Door-theory.' See following section.


*Milindapaiiho,' p. 60. S.B.E., vol. xxxv., pp. 92, 93. Cf. below, p. 5, n. 2.


Note 2, p. 175, below, suggests the eye, in the case of sight. If so, in what shape did the object get there ?


Asl. 309. Cakkhum arammanam sampaticcha-yamanam eva rupamhi patihannati nama.


Ihid.lOS: 'kiccatthen' eva.


See below, p. 5, n. 2.


See below, p. 4, n. 2.


Asl. 263; below, p. 127, n. 1.


Kepublic, v. 477.


AsL, p. 119 and jMssim.


See below, p. 194, n. 1 ; also M. i. 423. In the former passage space is described as if external to the organism ; in the latter Gotama admonishes his son respecting the internal akaso. On the interesting point put forward by Professor von Schroeder of a connexion between a k a 9 a and the Pytha- gorean oX/ctt?, see Professor Garbe in the Vienna Oriental Journal, xiii., Nro. 4 (1899). The former scholar refers to the ranking of space as a fifth element, as a schicankend uherlieferte Bezeichmmg. It was so for Buddhism.


Lightness, plasticity, wieldiness, pp. 194, 195.


C/., e.g., M. i., Suttas 54, 55, 65, 66, 70.


Asl. 313. Bhuta visese hi sati pasado va na uppajjati. ' Samananam bhutanam hi pasado, na visamananan ti' Porana. 


Ibid., 315. Ajjhattika-bahira pathavi etassa kayapasadassa arammanagahane . . . photthabbajanane paccayo hoti.


Cf. Aristotle's discussion, De An., i. 2, 5.


Cf. the passage, Enn. i. 6, 9, reproduced by Gothe:


M. i. 184, et seq.


See below, p. 276.


Ibid., p. 323. I have retained the meaning of ' Grasping ' as dictated by Buddhaghosa for the group of the Four Kinds of Grasping. Dr. Neumann renders upadanakkhandho by element of the impulse to live (Lebenstrieb ; an expression doubtlessly prompted by Schopenhauer's philosophy). It would be very desirable to learn from the Papanca - Sudani (Buddhaghosa's ' Commentary on the Majjhima Nikaya), whether the Commentator interprets the term to the same effect in both passages. Dhammadinna, the woman-apostle, explains upadanam, used with a similar context, as meaning ' passionate desire in the five skandhas-of -grasping.' (M. i. 300.) 


See above, p. xxxvi, where the context leaves no doubt as to what the reflection is meant to emphasize.

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