Kalapas and akasa known during vipassana nana

Recording of discussion with Sujin Boriharnwanaket (2018)

https://www.dhammastudygroup.org/audio/2018-09-tw/2018-09-10-am.mp3 from about 49 minutes
Ajarn Sujin: So, akasa in between groups, see? So, when the experiencing of Rupa is there, as vipassana nana it’s there, as many groups.

sarah: It’s clear there has to be the space in between and it can be known, but it depends on the understanding of the groups of Rupa, otherwise it can’t be known.

Sukinder: From what Ajahn [sujin] said and Sarah said, it seems like there is understanding of different dharmas and groups, groups as in many many dhammas, each one is understood and hence the akasa can also be the object of understanding?

Sujin: Because at this moment when one experiences an object, it seems like there is only one object, but actually many groups of rupa.

Sukinder: Right, so we understand that there are many groups of rupa,
A. Sujin: when panna is there.

Sukinder: when panna is developed…But because of understanding different
A. Sujin: When it’s there, and panna, which experiences, there’s no doubt about the group and the kalapas…

Sukinder: So when we understand that there is a group,it means there are many kalapas, and in between there must be space, is that the kind of understanding?

A. Sujin [yes], At that moment, it has to experience space as well. It has to experience space as well.
Yes, because space is made with kalapas.

Sarah: So actually understanding groups is understanding space because they have to be separated.

Sukinder: That’s true inference, right? That seems to be true inference. But my question was, is the space the object of the citta?

A. Sujin: at the moment of touching it appears as they are.

Sukinder: including space?

A. Sujin: yes, because when you talk about many kalapas

Sukinder: but when you talk about kalapas we are not talking about individual rupas for example, hardness.

A. Sujin: how many kalapas at this moment of touching…
And when it’s there [there are] groups, different ones [and] akasa is in-between.

Sukinder: Still it seems like we’re…

A. Sujin: Because when it’s clear understanding like Vipassana, it’s not like the world we used to think about or we live. It’s a different world, the world of fully understanding, stage by stage, of what is heard.

Sarah:Right now, if we talk about understanding groups of rupa it is just thinking and wondering and how is it possible. But when it is the sammasana nana it is the direct understanding of groups, it’s not like now just thinking about the idea of kalapas and the same with akasa.

Sukinder: So it’s not like Satipatthana, but much higher?

A. Sujin: It is Satipatthana. It has to be Satipatthana all the way, even Lokuttara -citta

Sukinder: But if it is Satipatthana, we know that the object is a characteristic of Nama or Rupa. So the kalapa is…
A. sujin: Not the word, but the characteristic, which is as sharp to the directly discern the true nature of just that which appears as different kalapas.
Sukinder: But kalapa is not one rupa. So when we talk about satipatthana, it is knowing one characteristic of rupa.

A. Sujin: Nimitta.

Sukinder: One, oh yes, nimitta, many, many, but the same rupa we are talking about. So, but kalapa is not one rupa, one kind of rupa.

A. Sujin: What do you mean? When we talk about kalapa, we are talking about many rupas that arise together.

Yes, it depends on what kind appears. The kalapa of hardness is experienced, or the kalapa of what is experienced.

Sukinder: When we say the kalapa of hardness, we are talking about hardness as characteristic and kalapa that this hardness must arise with.

A. Sujin: yeah, many groups of hardness, right? at moment of touching.

Sukinder: many kalapas therefore.

A. Sujin: and what’s there in between kalapa: Space, so that is experienced when the many kalapas are experienced.

Nina van Gorkom: It’s hard to know because you think only by thinking, but it’s not thinking then, its direct. No, because it’s clear understanding. But we cannot imagine it now at all.

sarah: But the understanding begins to develop like when we first heard about visible object. we didn’t appreciate that it had to arise with other rupas and is conditioned by them, but now that seems obvious because there’s been the hearing and considering and getting used to the truth about that reality that the visible object is conditioned by those other rupes with hardness here for example. So the understanding develops.

Nina: Yes, like you[A. sujin] expressed many times that each visual object is really different because of the other elements that arise together with it make it so different. So that is a way of understanding better.

Sarah: And it shows how conditioned it is and how anatta it is because no one could decide what visible object is seen now. And each one is different and arises and falls away.

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copied from the 5th method pa-auk manual.

Abhiññā And Vipassanā
One can accept that past lives can be discerned by Pubbenivāsānussati Abhiññā and that future lives can be discerned by Anāgataṁsa ñāṇa which is a section of Dibba Cakkhu; but one may be Page 5 of 52 reluctant to accept that the pasts and futures Khandhas can be discerned by Vipassanā insight. The teachings of the Buddha and the explanations of the Commentary that past and future Upādānakkhandhā can be discerned by Vipassanā insight are as follows:

Ye hi keci bhikkhave samaṇā vā brāhmaṇā vā anekavihitaṁ pubbenivāsaṁ anussaramānā anussaranti, sabbete pañcupādānakkhandhe anussaranti etesaṁ vā aññataraṁ. Katame pañca? "Evaṁ rūpo ahosiṁ atītamaddhāna"nti, iti vā hi bhikkhave anussaramāno rūpaṁ yeva anussarati…Evaṁ vedano…Evaṁ sañño…Evaṁ saṅkhāro…Evaṁ viññāṇo… (Saṁyutta Nikāya-Vol.2-71 Burmese script)(Khajjaniya Sutta)

Pubbenivāsanti na idaṁ abhiññāvasena anussaraṇaṁ sandhāya vuttaṁ, Vipassanāvasena pana pubbenivāsaṁ anussarante samaṇabrahmaṇe sandhāyesaṁ vuttaṁ. Tenevāha…"sabbete pañcupādānakkhandhe anussaranti etesaṁ vā aññatara"nti. Abhiññāvasena hi samanussarantassa khandhāpi upādānakkhandhāpi khandhapaṭibaddhāpi paṇṇattipi ārammaṇaṁ hotiyeva. Rūpaṁ yeva anussaratīti evaṁ anussaranto na aññaṁ kiñci sattaṁ vā puggalaṁ vā anussarati, atīte pana niruddhaṁ rūpakkhandhameva anussarati. Vedanādīsupi esevanayoti. (Saṁyutta Commentary-Vol.2-266 Burmese script).

“Bhikkhus, there are some Samaṇas and some Brahmaṇas who, recollecting by insight the numerous past existences’ Khandha processes can discern them. Such Samaṇas and Brahmaṇas can recollect by insight the 5 Upādāna Khandhā or one the 5” (Khajjaniya Sutta). In the above Pāḷi, by using the word “Pubbenivāsaṁ” the Buddha did not mean that it is the recollection of past existence Khandhā process by the power of Pubbenivāsānussati Abhiññā. What the Buddha really meant by the word “Pubbenivāsaṁ” is that the Samaṇas and Brahmaṇas recollect the past existence Khandhā processes by the power of Vipassanā insight. Therefore the Buddha taught it as “sabbete pañcupādānakkhandhe anussaranti etesaṁ vā aññataraṁ…” - “…these Samaṇas and Brahmaṇas can recollect the 5 Upādānakkhandhā by insight. They can also recollect one of these 5 by insight…”

The reason is that there are only 4 objects of Pubbenivāsānussati Abhi ññā which are:

  1. 5 Khandhā that includes Lokuttarā dhamma,
  2. 5 Upādānakkhandhā that does not include Lokuttarā dhamma,
  3. Clan, complexion, food nutriment, happiness, suffering…etc connected with the 5 Khandhā,
  4. Various name concepts.

In the above Pali Text, as the Buddha was not teaching about the discernment of these 4 objects by insight but was teaching only the discernment of the past 5 Upādānakkhandhā or one of them by insight, it can be understood that the Buddha only meant the discernment of past Khandhā by Vipassanā ñāṇa and not by Pubbenivāsānussati Abhiññā. In discerning the past Khandhā process by Vipassanā ñāṇa, it is not discerning ‘beings’, ‘persons’ but discerns by insight only the Rūpa, Vedanā, Saññā, Saṅkhāra & Viññāṇa which had ceased in the past life. (Saṁyutta-Vol.2-71; Samyutta Commentary-Vol.2-266 Burmese script)

The above are the references about the difference in power between Pubbenivāsānussati Abhiññā and Vipassanā ñāṇa and that the past and future can be discerned by Vipassanā ñāṇa.

The Technique To Search For The Cause Paccayasamuppanne hi apariggahite paccayapariggaho na sakkā hoti kātuṁ. Tasmā dhammaṭṭhitiñāṇaggahaṇeneva tassa hetubhūtaṁ pubbe siddhaṁ nāmarūpavavatthānañāṇaṁ vuttameva hotīti veditabbaṁ. (Paṭisambhida Commentary-Vol.1-18) - According to the above definition of Paṭisambhida Magga Commentary, the meditator who would like to discern = distinguish the causes by insight = Paccaya Pariggaha must firstly strive to be able to attain the NāmaRūpa Vavatthāna ñāṇa, that is to distinguish = discern the effects NāmaRūpa called Paccayasamuppanna. Page 6 of 52

What it means is that the meditator who wants to distinguish and discern the past causes by insight must already distinguished and discerned the present NāmaRūpa called Paccayuppannadhamma which arise because of past cause; and the past NāmaRūpa called Paccayuppannadhamma which were dependent upon a farther past cause (i.e., which arose because of the respective farther past cause). Furthermore, if the meditator wants to discern and distinguish that ‘because of the present 5 causes, the future 5 effects called Paccayuppannadhamma arise’, then he must already discerned and distinguished by insight the present NāmaRūpa called Paccayuppannadhamma which the present causes Avijjā-Taṇhā- Upādāna-Saṅkhāra-Kamma are dependent upon; and the future 5 effects called Paccayuppannadhamma which will arise because of those present causes. Only then can the meditator search for the past causes easily and can discern that because of the past causes, present effects arise. Similarly ‘the arising of future effects is because of present causes’ can also be distinguished and discerned by insight. Understand that the way is the same for the successive pasts and successive futures.

Therefore the meditator must firstly take note of the fact that before discerning ‘because of the cause, the effect arises’, he must already discerned the past 5 Khandhā, present 5 Khandhā and future 5 Khandhā.

Sayadaw Kumarabhivamsa has a website now with easy to find manuals. Take a peek.


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But the Sub-Commentary says:


vipassanāvasenā ti etarahi rūpavedanādayo anussaritvā “Pubbepāhaṃ evaṃvedano ahosi”nti atītānaṃ rūpavedanādīnaṃ paccuppannehi visesābhāvadassanā vipassanā, tassā vipassanāya vasena.

[‘As Vipassana’ means,
having recollected present rūpavedanā etc,
seeing “In the past too, I had vedanā like this”,
by “seeing the absence of difference between present and past rūpavedanā etc.” ]

I don’t understand what you are objecting to.

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The Sub-commentary seems to define “the recollection of past lives by vipassana” (mentioned in the Commentary-passage), as an Inferential Technique.

I think that is your own interpretation.

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As well as your own teacher’s.

Bhante, Ask from Venerable Maggavihari,

or from any Theravada Scholar outside the Paauk circles,

about the interpretation of the Sub-commentary passage.


While it can possibly mean that. It is difficult to explain and ven maggavihari said he could not explain for the item on “Past Lives” … but this off-topic item of past lives was to draw another relation.
On topic,
Ven maggavihari did say the vipassana knowledges can indeed be known without the need of abhiñña and that abhiñña is not needed to see kalāpa.

Furthermore, knowing the past causes of mind and matter is a vipassana knowledge. So we come full circle.

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