So far, so good. Then he gets into objections:Why do all these dharmas…together constitute the rupaskandha?
i/ The Blessed One said: “Because it is incessantly broken…by contact with the hand”.
“To be broken” signifies “to be damaged” … But how is rupa damaged? By deteriorating, by being transformed”.
Again, very clear, and this ties into Greg’s comments on the earlier sections.ii/ According to other masters, the quality that makes physical matter rupa … is impenetrability, impact or resistance, the obstacle that a rupa opposes to its place being occupied by another rupa.
1. If this is so, the rupa that constitutes an atom, a “monad”, will not be rupa, for a monad, not susceptible to deterioration or resistance, is free from rupana.
(Response) Without doubt, a monad is devoid of rupana; but a monad never exists in an isolated state; in the state of agglomeration, being an agglomerate, it is liable to deterioration and to resistance.
Again not controversial. Then he brings up the topic from the previous section:2. Rupas of the past and the future are not rupa, for one cannot say that they are now in a state of resistance.
(Response) Without doubt, but they have been, and they shall be in this state.
Two grounds are proposed for rejecting this; the first isn’t convincing (that vijnapti is rupa so avijnapti must also be), the second is convincing (the mahabhutas are the support for avjinapti, so avijnapti like them is also rupa).3. Avijnapti is not rupa, for it is devoid of resistance.
He has a counter-objection and a counter-counter-objection at this point, which doesn’t appear essential, though in passing he makes the point that “the visual consciousness is not dependant upon an organ which is solely the cause of its arising”. He continues:
It’s discussing here the analogy between vijnapti and avijnapti as a tree and its shadow, but I thought that comment was helpful.That the shadow (of a tree) or the brilliance of a jewel exists dependent upon the tree, or on the jewel, is a hypothesis that does not conform to the principles of the Vaibhasikas … (they) hold that each one of the atoms of color which constitute share and brilliance, exists dependent upon a tetrad of primary elements.
So, we start to pull the strands together.
Ok, I’m a bit lost here. Why ten and not twelve? Are manas-ayatana (mind) and dharma-ayatana (thought) excluded? The list in the text mentions sprastavyayatana and sprastavyadhatu at the end of the list, so…presumably that makes ten? I guess this is because we haven’t yet discussed citta, and because although we’ve discussed avijnapti we haven’t yet discussed how this becomes dharma?14a-b. These same organs and objects are regarded as ten ayatanas, ten dhatus.
So we have ten ayatanas (gates) which correspond to the five indriyas (faculties) multiplied by two (the organ and the function – e.g. eye and sight), and ten dhatus, corresponding to the ten ayatanas.
Well, we have, but the preceding section has said a lot about the ayatanas but not much about the dhatus.(Commentary) we have explained rupaskandha and how it is distributed into ayatanas and dhatus
There are six categories of sensation; one for each sense organ and one for contact with the mind.We must now explain the skandhas.
14c. Sensation is painful impression, etc.
(Commentary) Vedanaskandha (feeling) is the threefold mode of feeling…sensation which is painful, pleasant, neither-painful-nor-pleasant.
14c-d. Ideas consist of the grasping of characteristics (nimitta)
(Commentary) The grasping of the diverse natures – perceiving…blue, yellow, long, short…is samjnaskandha (conception or ideation).
Again there are six types of this.
Then there’s a long digression in the commentary of which it’s probably worth noting:15a-b. Samkaraskandha (formations) are the samskaras different from the four other skandhas.
(Commentary) The samkaras are everything that is conditioned; …but the name is reserved for those conditioned things which are not included in either of the skandhas of rupa, vedana, or samjna, explained above, or in the skandha of vijnana explained below.
So we continue with the definitions:Also the Blessed One said, “The updanaskandha called samskara is so called because it conditions conditioned things,” that is to say, because it creates and determines the five skandhas of future existence.
So now we have almost the full set, and go on to define the aggregate of consciousness.15b-d. These three skandhas, with avijnapti and unconditioned things, are the dharmayatana, the dharmadhatu.
(Commentary) Vedanaskandha, samjnaksandha, samskaraskandha, plus avijnapti and the three unconditioned things (extinction through analysis, extinction not through analysis, and space), are seven things which are called dharmadhatu.
The text then explains that considered as an ayatana it is the mental organ; considered as a dhatu, it is the dhatus of the five sense aggregates plus manovijnanadhatu plus manodhatu. I found this a little confusing. There is a three-part system – object/faculty/consciousness. Isn’t it duplicative if this skandhas contains both manovijnanadhatu and manodhatu?16a. Consciousness is the impression relative to each object.
(Commentary) Vijnanaskandha is the impression relative to each object, the “raw grasping” of each object…(the) six classes of consciousness.
(footnote) …it grasps the blue, etc. but does not say that it is blue, etc.
Then a recap:
So the manas is the continuity of consciousness as we experience it?(Commentary) Rupaskandha is ten ayatanas, ten dhatus, and avijnapti. The dharmayatana, or dharmadhatu is vedana, samjna and samskaraskandha; avijnapti; and the (three) unconditioned things.
Vijnanasksandha is the mana-ayatana; it is seven dhatus…
(Question) Could a manas or manudhatu be distinct from the six classes of consciousness and from the mental consciousness?
(Answer) There is no manas distinct from the consciousness.
17a-b. Of these six consciousness, the one which continually passes away, is the manas.
(Footnote) …The consciousness which disappears is the immediately antecedent cause, the support of the consciousness which immediately follows…it is the consciousness which follows what the organ of sight is to the visual consciousness.
I’ll pause at this point and try to finish this section tomorrow.