Uṇṇābhabrāhmaṇasuttaṃ: A little Abhidhamma found in SN

This was mentioned in our fundamentals class today. It caught my ear (and only my ear :grinning:) as a sutta reference which is Abhidhamma based and does not involve Venerable Sāriputta. Enjoy and remember!
The pāḷi english might not match in the tools you use… but the sutta name is correct.

uṇṇābhabrāhmaṇasuttaṃ SN book 5 mn-para-512 mm - page 191

“Pañcimāni, brāhmaṇa, indriyāni nānāvisayāni nānāgocarāni na aññamaññassa gocaravisayaṃ paccanubhonti.
“Brahmin, these five faculties have different scopes and different ranges, and don’t experience each others’ scope and range.

Katamāni pañca?
What five?

Cakkhundriyaṃ, sotindriyaṃ, ghānindriyaṃ, jivhindriyaṃ, kāyindriyaṃ.
The faculties of the eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body.

Imesaṃ kho, brāhmaṇa, pañcannaṃ indriyānaṃ nānāvisayānaṃ nānāgocarānaṃ na aññamaññassa gocaravisayaṃ paccanubhontānaṃ mano paṭisaraṇaṃ, manova nesaṃ gocaravisayaṃ paccanubhotī”ti.
These five faculties, with their different scopes and ranges, have recourse to the mind. And the mind experiences their scopes and ranges.”


The reason this sutta is so good for expressing a major part of abhidhamma is because the doors only happen one at a time, but the mind can also experience everything… well after immediately after that initial door process.


I am not able to see any Abhidhamma theme here, though. Instead, it reminds me of the Milindapañhā question about the senses - the eye cannot hear, the ear cannot smell, etc. Ven. Nāgasena gives the example of a person immersed in a cauldron of honey but having his mouth firmly shut and secured. The person would not be able to know that there is honey despite being immersed in it (i.e., the tactile sense would not provide him with the gustatory experience.)

“‘‘Na kho te, mahārāja, yujjati purimena vā pacchimaṃ, pacchimena vā purimaṃ, yathā, mahārāja, kocideva puriso madhughaṭasataṃ āharāpetvā madhudoṇiṃ pūrāpetvā purisassa mukhaṃ pidahitvā [pidahitvāva (ka.)] madhudoṇiyā pakkhipeyya, jāneyya, mahārāja, so puriso madhuṃ sampannaṃ vā na sampannaṃ vā’’ti? ‘‘Na hi bhante’’ti. ‘‘Kena kāraṇenā’’ti. ‘‘Na hi tassa, bhante, mukhe madhu paviṭṭha’’nti.” (Milindapañhapāḷi - 2-3. Milindapañho - 6. Vedagūpañho; MM Mln 57)

See the translation of the Uṇṇābhabrāhmaṇa Sutta, the relevant portion, in Bhikkhu Bodhi’s “The Connected Discourses of the Buddha”, p. 218:

“Brahmin, these five faculties have different domains, different resorts; they
do not experience each others’ resort and domain. What five? The eye faculty,
the ear faculty, the nose faculty, the tongue faculty, the body faculty. Now,
brahmin, these five faculties having different domains, different resorts, not
experiencing each others’ resort and domain—they take recourse in the mind,
and the mind experiences their resort and domain.”
“But, Master Gotama, what is it that the mind takes recourse in?”
“The mind, brahmin, takes recourse in mindfulness.”
“But, Master Gotama, what is it that mindfulness takes recourse in?”
“Mindfulness, brahmin, takes recourse in liberation.”
“But, Master Gotama, what is it that liberation takes recourse in?”
“Liberation, brahmin, takes recourse in Nibbāna.”


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For me, one of the main things that gave me faith in Abhidhamma was when I read that the seeing and hearing do not take place at the same time. When this is said, one can immediately recognize the momentariness of each door process.

I don’t have a computer science degree, but I did take a few classes. “Operating Systems” is not how to use “windows” or “MacOS” but rather to know how an operating system works. Operating systems manage how programs run in memory and how multiple programs are “run at the same time”.
Spoiler, they are run in serial back when we had single processors in the 90’s. With multiple processors that answer has sort of changed In this case we used interrupts (very similar to pañcadvāravajjana) to split the processing and do two different things separately, but at the millisecond level. When you are on a computer and doing video, voice and moving your mouse and keyboard, the same principles are applied for each peripheral input and how it interrupts the computer operating system.

So I think that momentariness can be seen in this sutta when the logic is expanded to how do we “seem to see and hear” at the same time.

Below is a link describing interrupts.

What is an interrupt request (IRQ) and how does it work? – TechTarget Definition.

An IRQ is important when multiple devices are connected to a computer. These devices need time to run their own operations and process some data and must, therefore, ask the processor to stop. They do this with an IRQ.

Once the device sends the IRQ, the processor momentarily stops so the computer can give the device time to run its operation. Every time a user moves a mouse, an interrupt handler tells the processor that it needs to stop what it’s currently doing so it can handle and interpret the mouse movements.