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By Nyanaponika Thera

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This enumeration of mental factors will be called the “List of Dhammas”. The word, dhamma, of course, is here again used in the sense of “thing” or “phenomenon’’. The classifying categories used in the first part of the sentence, are statements (1) about the “subjective” side of the cognitive process, (2) about the “objective” side. The statements about the “subject” refer to (a) the plane or sphere of consciousness (bhåmi); in our example: the sensuous sphere; (b) the kammic value; here: wholesome; (c) the emotional value; here: joyful; (d) presence or absence of knowledge; here: associated with knowledge; (e) spontaneous or non-spontaneous occurrence; here: spontaneous.

The “bodies” within which these abstract principles operate, are supplied in the analytical books of the Abhidhamma. In other words, analysis describes by crit48 ically chosen terms, the “things” which actually enter into those relations dealt with by the synthetical method. All these points are strong temptations to stress unduly the analytical aspect of the Abhidhamma philosophy. So it is all the more imperative to supplement it by constant awareness of the fact that the “things” presented by analysis, are never isolated, self-contained units,6 but are conditioned and conditioning.

In that way a bridge is built to another type of consciousness, and we can see from that example how the composition of a state of consciousness, that is, its internal relations, influences its external relations. As already mentioned, the Paññhàna investigates only the external relations, but in another work of the Abhidhamma, the Vibhanga, the internal relations, too, are treated. ). In that text, there are some deviations from the normal formula of the Dependent Origination, varying in accordance with the type of consciousness in question.

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Abhidhamma studies: Researches in Buddhist psychology (3rd edition, 1976) by Nyanaponika Thera


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