Elements

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Elements

Postby lojong1 » Sun Oct 03, 2010 7:53 am

Stefan wrote:"And what is the wind property? The wind property may be either internal or external.

Some external winds from Rhys Davids Pali-English, Vaata:
"puratthima vata, pacchima, uttara, dakkhina (from the 4 quarters of the sky), saraja araja, sita uiiha, paritta adhimatta, kaja, verambha°, pakkha", supanna°, talavanta°, vidhQpana.°
These are characterized according to direction, dust, temperature, force, height & other causes (fanning etc.). Wind (of the air) S iv.218 (vata akase vayanti)."

I'd like to add tentatively 'vāta ākāsaṭṭha' (space wind), which is related to my favorite earthquake fantasy.
Last edited by lojong1 on Sun Oct 03, 2010 11:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Elements

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sun Oct 03, 2010 10:56 am

Sobeh wrote:The mistake is trying to get the dhatus to explain ontological reality; they don't. They simply explain the experiential reality humans share whereby all experiences of the external sense bases can be classed as one or another of the dhatus: earth, water, fire, air. It's similar to the five aggregates of form, feeling, perception, sankhara, vinnana - it isn't that we need to find out which of those five categories includes neurotransmitters, it's that any human experience will involve those five. So, too, any human experience of the external sense bases involves one or more of the dhatus.

As to the objective world that exists without human beings, the Dhamma has nothing to say. It isn't ontology, it's epistemology. Being clear on this point clarifies questions such as this.


In general terms I think I agree, though I'm puzzled about how anicca and anatta apply - they sound like "natural laws".

Looking at "sabbe dhamma anatta", doesn't "dhamma" mean that all phenomena?
And with "sabbe sankhara anicca", doesn't "sankhara" mean any conditioned formation?

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Re: Elements

Postby lojong1 » Sun Oct 03, 2010 12:00 pm

Everything on this post is from Chapter 6 abhidhammatthasangaha http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/abhidhamma.pdf
Some diacritics changed letters in transit.

8. Mahabhutani—lit., those that have grown great. The four great Essentials are the fundamental material elements which are inseparable. Every material substance, ranging from the minutest particle to the most massive object, consists of these four elements which possess specific characteristics.

17. Photthabba—owing to its subtlety, the element of cohesion (àpo/water) cannot be felt by the sense of touch. Only the other three Fundamental Elements are regarded as tangible. In water, for instance, the cold felt is tejo, the softness is pañhavi, and the pressure is vàyo. One cannot touch àpo as its property is cohesion.

9. Upàdàya-rupàni—Derivative or secondary material properties dependent on the Great Essentials. Like the earth are the Essentials; the Derivatives are like trees that spring therefrom. The remaining 24 råpas are
regarded as Derivatives.
10. Patthavi-dhàtu—The pàli term dhàtu means that which bears its own characteristic marks. Element is the closest equivalent for dhàtu. Pañhavi-dhàtu, literally, means the earth-element. It is so called because like the earth it serves as a support or foundation for the other coexisting råpas. Pañhavã (Saüskrt prñhivi), also spelt pathavi, puthavi, puthuvi, puñhuvi—is derived from puth, to expand, to extend. So far, though not very satisfactory the closest equivalent for pañhavi-dhàtu is ‘the element of extension’. Without it objects cannot occupy space. Both hardness and softness are characteristics of this element.
11. âpo-dhàtu—lit., the fluid element. âpo is derived from√ ap, to arrive, or from à +√ pày, to grow, to increase. It is ‘the element of cohesion.’ According to Buddhism it is this element that makes different particles of matter cohere, and thus prevents them from being scattered about. Both fluidity and contraction are the properties of this element. It should be understood that cold is not a characteristic of this element.
12. Tejo-dhàtu—lit., the fire-element is explained as ‘the element of heat’. Tejo is derived from √ tij, to sharpen, to mature. Vivacity and maturity are due to the presence of this element. Both heat and cold are the properties of tejo. Intense tejo is heat, and mild tejo is cold. It should not be understood that cold is the characteristic of àpo and heat is that of tejo; for, in that case, both heat and cold should be found together as àpo and tejo coexist.
13. Vàyo-dhàtu—lit., ‘the air-element’, is explained as the element of motion. Vàyo is derived from √ vày, to move, to vibrate. Motion, vibration, oscillation, and pressure are caused by this element.
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Re: Elements

Postby lojong1 » Sun Oct 03, 2010 12:38 pm

Chapter 6 abhidhammatthasangaha http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/abhidhamma.pdf
28. Akàsadhàtu / space element—Ceylon Commentators derive àkàsa
from à +√(root) kas, to plough. Since there is no ploughing
as on earth space is called àkàsa. According to Saüskrt
àkàsa is derived from à + √ kàs to view, to recognize.
In Ledi Sayadaw’s opinion it is derived from à +√ kàs,
to shine, to appear. âkàsa is space, which in itself is nothingness.
As such it is eternal. âkàsa is a dhàtu in the sense
of a non-entity (nijjãva), not as an existing element like the
four Essentials. By àkàsa, as one of the 28 råpas, is meant
not so much the outside space as the intra-atomic space
that ‘limits’ or separates material groups (råpakalàpas).
Hence in Abhidhamma it is regarded as a ‘paricchedaråpa’.
Although àkàsa is not an objective reality, as it is invariably
associated with all material units that arise in four ways.
Abhidhamma teaches that it, too, is produced by the same
four causes such as Kamma, mind, seasonal changes, and
food. Simultaneous with the arising and perishing of the
conditioned råpas, àkàsa råpa also arises and perishes.
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Re: Elements

Postby lojong1 » Sun Oct 03, 2010 1:08 pm

The Classical Elements (in Hinduism)
"The pancha mahabhuta, or "five great elements", of Hinduism are kshiti or bhūmi (earth), ap or jala (water), tejas or agni (fire), marut or pavan (air or wind), byom or shunya (or akash?) (aether or void). Hindus believe that the Creator used akasha, the most "subtle" element, to create the other four traditional elements; each element created is in turn used to create the next, each less subtle than the last. Hindus believe that all of creation, including the human body, is made up of these five essential elements and that upon death, the human body dissolves into these five elements of nature, thereby balancing the cycle of nature set in motion by the Creator. Each of the five elements is associated with one of the five senses, and acts as the gross medium for the experience of sensations. According to Hindu thought, the basest element, Earth, was created using all the other elements and thus can be perceived by all five senses - hearing, touch, taste, smell, and sight. The next higher element, water, has no odor but can be seen, tasted, heard, and felt. Next comes fire, which can be seen, heard and felt. Air can be heard and felt. "Akasha" (ether)is the medium of sound but is inaccessible to all other senses."
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Re: Elements

Postby pt1 » Sun Oct 03, 2010 2:01 pm

Hi,

In addition to the above, these suttas also explain a bit about the elements:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Also Visuddhimagga chapter XI has quite a bit on the elements.

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Re: Elements

Postby lojong1 » Sun Oct 03, 2010 2:39 pm

The New Akashic records
P.139 ff
Lots on Akasha/aakaasa/space element from Hindu and other perspectives (via New-Ager and many uninitiated historians).
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Re: Elements

Postby lojong1 » Sun Oct 03, 2010 3:19 pm

The 36 Tattwas/Tattvas, includes mahabhuta -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_36_tattvas
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Re: Elements

Postby Sobeh » Sun Oct 03, 2010 4:47 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:In general terms I think I agree, though I'm puzzled about how anicca and anatta apply - they sound like "natural laws".

Looking at "sabbe dhamma anatta", doesn't "dhamma" mean that all phenomena?
And with "sabbe sankhara anicca", doesn't "sankhara" mean any conditioned formation?


The Dhamma is still not making ontological claims about objective reality. The point to remember at all times is that "the world" in the Dhamma is not a discreet realist materialism, but is instead a description of phenomenological experience which is then framed by the Dhamma to facilitate liberation. To this end, we could specify "...which can be experienced" as clarifying the sabbes. If something can't be experienced, it can't lead to dukkha. Even though we know the lifespan of all stars is limited, this is a sort of anicca that isn't experienced, and therefore is not germane to the Dhamma.
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Re: Elements

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Sun Oct 03, 2010 7:34 pm

Furthermore, the Dhatus were only one of many,many tools in the Buddha's toolbox for exploring experiential reality. Where they are lacking the model of the skhandas fill in, etc. Then you can micro-manage with cetas and cetasikas. :P

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Re: Elements

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:16 am

Sobeh wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote:In general terms I think I agree, though I'm puzzled about how anicca and anatta apply - they sound like "natural laws".

Looking at "sabbe dhamma anatta", doesn't "dhamma" mean that all phenomena?
And with "sabbe sankhara anicca", doesn't "sankhara" mean any conditioned formation?


The Dhamma is still not making ontological claims about objective reality. The point to remember at all times is that "the world" in the Dhamma is not a discreet realist materialism, but is instead a description of phenomenological experience which is then framed by the Dhamma to facilitate liberation. To this end, we could specify "...which can be experienced" as clarifying the sabbes. If something can't be experienced, it can't lead to dukkha. Even though we know the lifespan of all stars is limited, this is a sort of anicca that isn't experienced, and therefore is not germane to the Dhamma.


Yes, I see what you mean, and "that which can be experienced" seems like a good way of thinking about it. It occured to me also that for example in the Anatta-lakkhana Sutta: The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic ( SN 22 ), the 3 characteristics are discussed specifically in terms of the 5 aggregates, ie in terms of our experience.

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Re: Elements

Postby Shonin » Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:51 am

... and yet 'that which is experienced' cannot but include what we experience/think of as material reality.

Keeping the emphasis phenomenological is not a matter of limiting the phenomena included in some way. It's a matter of dropping ontological thinking about it. Our entire world is itself 'that which is experienced'.
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