Abhidhamma studies: Researches in Buddhist psychology (3rd by Nyanaponika Thera

By Nyanaponika Thera

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Additional info for Abhidhamma studies: Researches in Buddhist psychology (3rd edition, 1976)

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Now, the different professional activities of a single person correspond to the different functions of a single factor of consciousness. The number of tax units payable by the same person are to be compared to the number of classifications corresponding to the various functions of a single factor. This simile, however, only explains the inclusion of parallel factors, regarded separately and as functions of a single mental quality. It does not do justice to another important fact which properly rounds off and completes the explanations, namely, the arrangement of these quasi-synonyms into groups.

This is stated by the commentators of old: “Just as it is 6. See the commentarial axioms on p. 22. 49 impossible to touch with one’s finger-tip that very same finger-tip, so, too, the arising, continuing and ceasing of a thought cannot be known by the same thought” (Commentary to Majjhima Nikàya, Anupada Sutta). This statement that, strictly speaking, a thought has not a present, but a past object, holds good even if we have in mind the much wider term of the “serial present” (santatipaccuppanna), that is, the perceptible sequence of several moments of consciousness which alone is actually experienced as “present”, and if we ignore the socalled “momentary present” (khaõapaccuppanna), which consists of a single practically imperceptible moment of consciousness.

This illustration, after Bergson, is very frequently used in literature with or without the implication that, properly speaking, motion or change is illusory, or a reality of a lesser degree, while only the single static pictures, that is, self-identical physical and/or psychic (time) atoms have genuine reality. ) are illusory. If we take up another 52 aspect of that same simile, we shall get a more correct view of the facts concerned: to take a film of moving objects with the help of a mechanism called a “camera” and thereby to dissect the continuous motion of the objects, might be compared to the perceptual activity of the mind which, by necessity, must fictitiously arrest the flux of phenomena in order to discriminate.

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