AKB, Ch. 1, V. 26a-: Dimension of dharmaskandha; completeness of system of enumeration

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AKB, Ch. 1, V. 26a-: Dimension of dharmaskandha; completeness of system of enumeration

Post by PeterC »

26a. According to some, a dharmaskandha is of the dimension of the Treatise.
26b. The exposition of the skandhas, etc. constitutes so many dharmaskandhas.
26c-d. In fact, each dharmaskandha has been preached in order to heal a certain category of believer.
So there are three definitions given here for the size of a dharmaskandha. The first is the eponymous text, the Dharma-skandha-sastra, which has six thousand gathas. The second definition is from Buddhaghosa, which is that each explanation – e.g. of the ayatanas, the dhatus, the skandhas, etc. – is a dharmaskandha. The third is that there are eighty thousand different categories of beings and that the Buddha taught a different dharmaskandha for each of them.

I’m not yet sure why the text needs to introduce this definition. But let’s continue as I’m sure it will become clear.
(Commentary) In the same way that the dharmaskandhas are included within rupaskandha or samskaraskandha:
27. In this same way the other skandhas, ayatanas and dhatus should be suitably arranged with the skandhas, ayatanas and dhatus as described above, by taking into account the characteristics that have been attributed to them.
The commentary elaborates that there are other skandhas, ayatanas and dhatus mentioned in other texts can be mapped into this system. I’m not sure this is particularly important to us if we’re trying to understand this text as a standalone entity rather than trying to relate it to others, but:
(Commentary) There are five pure skandhas, sila, samadhi, prajna, vimukti and vimuktijnanadarsana.
These are the five lokottaraskandha (super-mundane components) from the Dharmasamgraha: virtue, concentration, wisdom, freedom and knowledge/insight into freedom. Vasubandhu says that sila is in rupaskandha, the rest are in samskaraskandha. (Would that be because only the first is not solely limited to the mind?)

The text continues, but I’m not completely familiar with all these definitions:
The first eight krtsnayatanas, being by their nature absence of desire, form part of the dharmayatana. If one considers them along with their following, they are by their nature five skandhas, and they are included within the mana-ayatana and the dharmayatana.
So the krtsnayatanas are defined in the Mahaprajnaparamitasastra as the totalities of earth, water, fire, wind, blue, yellow, red, white, space and consciousness. (These are also the ten kasinas from the forty objects of meditation in the Vishudhimagga, but we’re not doing Theraveda here.) So the first eight are obviously included in dharmayatana.
(Commentary) The same holds for the abhibhvayatanas.
The abhibhvayatanas are eight stages of control over perceptions. So clearly also dharmayatana.
The last two krtsnayatanas and the four arupayatanas are, by their nature, four skandhas, with the exclusion of rupa. They are included within the mana-ayatana and the dharmayatana.
So the last two krtsnayatanas are space and consciousness. The arupayatanas are space, consciousness, nothingness, neither-perception-nor-nonperception. Clearly these are included in the objects of consciousness.
(Commentary) The five “gates of entry into deliverance” (vimuktyayatana) are, by their nature, speculative knowledge (prajna); they are thus included within the dharmayatana. If one considers their following, they are included within the sabdaytana, the mana-ayatana, and the dharmayatana.
I don’t know the definition of the vimuktyayatana – I know, I’m a bad Buddhist. Google doesn’t seem to know either.
(Commentary) Two other ayatanas are left: the Asamhjnisattvas, which are included within the ten ayatanas, with the exception of smell and taste; and the Naivasamjnanasamjnayatanopagas…
OK, he totally made that up. I do not believe that is a real word.
…which are included within the mana-ayatana and the dharmayatana.
No footnote? That doesn’t merit an explanation? I can’t find either of those on the internet.
(Commentary) In this way the sixty-two dhatus enumerated in the Bahudhatuka should be arranged within the eighteen dhatus by taking their nature into consideration.
I’m hoping that one doesn’t need to really understand the mapping of these from one text’s system to another in order to understand the simpler of the two systems. I suspect the text will in time prove this to be overly optimistic.
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Re: AKB, Ch. 1, V. 26a-: Dimension of dharmaskandha; completeness of system of enumeration

Post by PeterC »

I've been distracted by work in the past week so not able to write up notes. Before I go forward on this section, I wanted to have a go at summarizing briefly where we've got up to in the categorization - a simplified list of lists.

First of all, we have the split of dharmas into conditioned and unconditioned. Unconditioned dharmas are space and the two kinds of cessation.

Five skandhas - rupa (form), vedana (feeling), samjna (ideas), samskara (formations), vijnana (consciousness).

Five indriyas, or faculties - caksur (eye), srotra (ear), ghrana (nose), jihva (tongue), kaya (touch)

...which match the five artha, or sensory objects - rupa (sight), sabda (sound), gandha (scent), rasa (taste), sparstavya (touch)...

...and the five ayatana, of the same name.

Of the skandhas, thus far we've spent most time on rupaskandha. Each element of this is analyzed into subcategories - up to 20 for visible matter, 8 for sound, each of which can be pleasant or unpleasant, six for taste, four for scent and eleven for touch. The categories of touch include the four mahabhuta, earth/solidity, water/moisture, fire/heat, and air/movement. The sub-categories of the elements of rupaskandha are defined largely by how they appear to the perceiver.

In addition to the five indriya/artha/ayatanas we have the mind - citta/thought, mano-ayatana, and manodhatu.

We have one outlier - the avijnapti-rupa, a non-informative continuity, which is introduced here because it's relevant to later discussion of formation of intent from vows. This is included into dharma-dhatu.

So adding these up we have the 18 dhatu elements. 5 sense organs, mind, five ayatanas, dharma-dhatu (which subsumes vedana-skandha, samjna-skandha and samskara-skandha), and the six consciousnesses. To add things up another way, rupa-skandha, dharma-dhatu and mano-ayatana taken together contain all dharmas.

Returning to the skandhas, ayatanas and dhatus. Those of sharp faculties mistake thought for self and can remedy this through apprehending the five skandhas. Those with medium faculties mistake form for self and can remedy this by apprehending the ayatanas. Those of dull faculties mistake form and thought for self and need to apprehend the 18 dhatus.

The skandhas are put in sequence from gross to fine - form, feeling, conception, formation and consciousness. The organs are put in sequence based on a few somewhat arbitrary conventions - how close they need to be to apprehend an object, and their physical position on the body.

The mano-dhatu is a bit out of place, as it's really a balancing item to preserve the object-faculty-consciousness system that we have with the five physical senses.

I'll resume with the text probably tomorrow. Hope everyone is keeping up with the reading...will there be a test at the end of this?
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