Are Anusaya and Kamma a kind of Paramattha?

Fundamentals of Theravada by Bhikkhu Maggavihari

1.8.1.Saṅkhataparamattha is fourfold.
1.8.1.1. Paramatthadhamma – one citta, fifty-two cetasikas and eighteen rūpas that
have arisen and passed away (atīta), have arisen but not passed away yet
(paccuppanna) and have not arisen yet
1.8.1.2. Uppādino dhammā – the potency of vipākacittas and vipākacetasikas and
kammajarūpas that are supposed to arise as their cause (kamma) has gained the
opportunity to yield results
1.8.1.3. Paramatthajātika – certain stages and forces of cetasikas that remain dormant
influencing the mind of sentient beings
1.8.1.4. Anuppannadhamma – the potency of citta, cetasikas and rūpa that will arise
in future as long as relevant causes prevail

However there is a ‘new to Sri Lanka’ idea in his hand outs which is debated sometimes by the Sri Lankans I know.

He is said to be graduated in Burma ITBMU and talk about the existence of some energies apart from the generally accepted paramattha dhammas.

He has named them as Paramattha-jatikas which are Anusaya, Kamma and some Paccaya-energies out of 24 Paccayas.

And he says in his videos they do not come to uppada-thiti-bhanga like the normal sankhata paramatthas but exist as energies. So he conclude that they belong to the Paramattha-kind.

What are your opinions regarding this matter?


Apart from the physical and mental elements that have been shown above, in an average person there is a tendency for unwholesome thoughts to occur. That tendency is not concept, hence an ultimate nature that can be understood with wisdom. And this is called anusaya. Moreover, there is a karmic energy in him that would cause him to have future rebirths after death. That energy is also not a concept but an ultimate nature which is called kammasamaṅgītā. Both these anusaya and kammasamaṅgītā are paramatthajātika natures.

In addition, such a person is bound with the suffering that would occur if the conditions such as kamma and kilesas prevail. Though such suffering can be expressed as future lives of that particular person, in the ultimate sense they represent aggregates. Even while the person is still living in the present life, he is bound with those aggregates that are supposed to arise in future. This potency of aggregates in future lives can also be understood as an ultimate nature which is called anuppannadhamma.

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When we lift an object up it is said to have potential energy due to gravity. But potential energy is just that, “potential”, there is actually no present energy. So I think kamma is just like that, it has “potential” to create new citta/rupa, but there is no “paramattha” energy, only a “potential” energy for creation.

So kamma and anusaya is not paramattha because it is not a reality (like heat) but potential (like gravity).

In fact, the cause is the energy. When someone act it requires energy (just like lifting) that generate potential energy (kamma).

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Yes, it is the generally accepted way of interpretation by the Theravada scholars.

In the above lecture what the venerable names as a secondary kind of paramattha is this very potential. He sees a potential as something there is but not as a general paramattha.

And he categorize paccaya potentials like Upanissaya Paccaya also into this category.

I think this energy belief is caused by the acculturation of science (law of thermodynamics) into Buddhism. If some Buddhist sects appeared because of acculturation with local culture, we might not realize that our science education might influence our Buddhist interpretation.

In the first place, why do we assume that the appearance of nama and rupa requires energy. If they can just pop up from nothing then why should kamma be some kind of energy.

Yes, this potential is classically understood with a simile of “a bail” given by the Atthakatacariya Buddhadatta who was a contemporary of Atthakatacariya Buddhaghosa.

In Abhidhammavatara the Atthakatacariya Buddhadatta says what gives the vipaka (or the cause of the result) is neither “vijjamana kamma” nor “avijjamana kamma”,
but the “Kaṭatta” ( Done-ness/ the mere fact of “having been done” of the kamma.)

Kaṭattā paccayo kammaṃ, tasmā niccaphalaṃ na ca;

Pāṭibhogādikaṃ kammaṃ, veditabbaṃ nidassanaṃ.

In it’s old-tika:

kaṭattāyeva janehi kaṭattāyeva taṃ kammaṃ phalassa paccayo hoti,

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