*************** Namo Buddhaya ******************
As The Fully Enlightened Peerless Buddha said: “The whole world is contained within this body of about two yards in size”.
From the moment we were born, we have been doing one thing without fail – filling ourselves with various finds of food;
- Food we take through the mouth to survive, to nourish our bodies, to remove the uncomfortable feeling of hunger, to give our body energy and to look good and live longer.
- Food for mind and thoughts, to gather information, gain knowledge, identify things, etc.
Due to various reasons and conditions and situations we have passed though, we have reacted to situations and done certain things because of one main reason and motivation – the concept of “I” and “myself”. No matter how we may try to justify it ourselves otherwise, all of our actions of body, speech, and mind have been motivated by the notion of “I” and “myself”.
Now if you were to ask how and why we have these notions of “I” and “mine”, the reason is that we have a mistaken understanding of ourselves and the world – we got it all wrong! Once again it is not human nature to admit we are mistaken, At the root of the idea of “I” and “mine” is a fundamental ignorance, confusion, or lack of ability to see reality as is.
Reality cannot be seen by the naked eye as it is only visible to the concentrated, purified mind. The only way to overcome this fundamental confusion and develop an understanding of ultimate reality is to study and understand the Higher Doctrine, which is called ”Abhidhamma” in Pali.
There are two realities – apparent and ultimate. Apparent reality is what we call the ordinary conventional truth (sammuti sacca). Ultimate reality is the fundamental truth about ourselves and the world (paramattha sacca).
For instance, the smooth surface of the table where we eat or work is apparent reality. In an ultimate sense, the apparent surface consists of forces and vibrations of subatomic particles and energy.
For ordinary purposes, a scientist would use the term “water”, but in the laboratory the same scientist would refer to this same liquid as “H2O”. In the same way, the Buddha in the Sutta Piñaka resorts to conventional usage of terms such as “man”, “woman”, “being”, “self”, etc., but in the Abhidhamma Piñaka He adopts a different mode of expression. Here the Buddha employs the analytical method and uses abstract terms such as aggregates (khandha), elements (dhàtu), bases (âyatana), etc.
The word “paramattha” is of great significance in the Abhidhamma texts. It is a compound formed of “parama-” and “-attha”. “Parama-” is explained as immutable (aviparãta), abstract (nibbaññita); “-attha” means thing. Paramattha, therefore, means “immutable” or “abstract”. “Abstract reality” may be the closest equivalent in English for paramattha. Often translators will use the term “immutable” when translating “paramattha”, but it should not be understood that all “paramatthas” are eternal or permanent.
A brass pot, for example, is not paramattha in the sense of “immutable”. On the level of ultimate reality, the pot is changing every moment and may be even be reshaped into a vase by a skilled artisan. These two objects could be analysed and reduced into fundamental material forces and qualities, which, in Abhidhamma, are termed “Rupa Paramatthas”. While the Rupa Paramatthas are also subject to change, the distinctive characteristics of these Rupa Paramatthas are identically the same whether they are found in a brass vessel, a brass vase, or any other object. Rupa Paramatthas preserve their identity in whatever combination they are found—hence the commentarial interpretation of “Parama” as “immutable” or “real”. “-attha” corresponds to the English term “thing”. It is not used in the sense of meaning as something not subject to change.
There are four such Paramatthas or “ultimate realities” – rupa (“physical form” or matter), citta (mind or consciousness), cetasika (mental factors), and Nibbana. These four encompass all of reality, both mundane and supramundane. Rupa, citta, and cetasika are mundane and nibbàna is supramundane.