Ultimate Reality

What is the best commentarial literature to refer to which discusses sabhāva-dhammas as being ultimate reality?

There are so many but it will be useful if we list a few references in this thread:
Compendium of Abhidhamma - Bodhi
The Fourfold Ultimate Reality (catudhaa paramattha)

Tattha vutt’aabhidhammatthaa
Catudhaa paramatthato
Citta.m cetasika.m ruupa.m
Nibbaanam iti sabbathaa

https://suttacentral.net/kv1.1/en/aung-rhysdavids?reference=main/bj/cck/csp/dr/km&highlight=true

he Fivefold Affirmative Presentation

PTS cs 1.1.1Theravādin: Is “the person” known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact?

Puggalavādin: Yes.

Theravādin: Is the person known in the same way as a real and ultimate fact is known?

Puggalavādin: Nay, that cannot truly be said.

Theravādin: Acknowledge your refutation:

  1. If the person be known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact, then indeed, good sir, you should also say, the person is known in the same way as any other real and ultimate fact is known.
  2. That which you say here is wrong, namely, (1) that we ought to say, “the person is known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact”, but (2) we ought not to say, the person is known in the same way as any other real and ultimate fact is known.
  3. If the latter statement (2) cannot be admitted, then indeed the former statement (1) should not be admitted.
  4. In affirming the former statement (1), while
  5. denying the latter (2), you are wrong.

The Fourfold Rejoinder

PTS cs 1.1.2Puggalavādin: Is the “person” not known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact?

Theravādin: No, it is not known.

Puggalavādin: Is it unknown in the same way as any real and ultimate fact is known?

Theravādin: Nay, that cannot truly be said.

Puggalavādin: Acknowledge the rejoinder: (1) If the person be not known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact, then indeed, good sir, you should also say: not known in the same way as any real and ultimate fact is known. (2) That which you say here is wrong, namely, that (1) we ought to say “the person is not known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact”, and (2) we ought not to say: “not known in the same way as any real and ultimate fact is known”.

If the latter statement (2) cannot be admitted, then indeed the former statement (1) should not be admitted either.

In affirming (2), while denying (1), you are wrong.

The Fourfold Refutation

PTS cs 1.1.3Puggalavādin (continues): But if you imagine we ought to affirm that (1) the person is not known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact, but we ought not also to affirm that (2) the “person” is not known in the same way as any real and ultimate fact is known, then you, who have actually assented to the very proposition contained in that negative question, must certainly be refuted in the following manner: let us then refute you, for you are well refuted!

  1. If (1) the “person” is not known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact, then indeed, good sir, you should have said as well that (2) the “person” is not known in the same way as any real and ultimate fact is known.
  2. What you affirm is false, namely, that the former statement (1) should be affirmed, but that the latter (2) should not be affirmed.

If the latter statement (2) is not to be affirmed, then neither truly can the former (1) be affirmed.

That which you say here—(1) should be affirmed, but not (2); this statement of yours is wrong.

The Fourfold Application

PTS cs 1.1.4Puggalavādin (continues): If this be a faulty refutation, look at the parallel procedure in your own argument (PTS CS 1.1.1). Thus, according to us (1) was true (the person is known, etc.); but (2) was not true (… known in the same way, etc.). Now we, who admitted these propositions, do not consider ourselves to have been refuted. You say you have refuted us; anyway we are not well refuted. Your argument ran that if we affirmed (1), we must also affirm (2); that if we did not admit the truth of (2), neither could we admit the truth of (1); that we were wrong in assenting to (1), while denying (2).

The Fourfold Conclusion

PTS cs 1.1.5Puggalavādin (continues): Nay (I repeat), we are not to be refuted thus,

  1. namely, that my proposition compels me to assent to your “known in the same way”, etc.;
  2. your pronouncement that my proposition (1) coupled with my rejection (2) is wrong;
  3. that if I reject (2), I must also reject (1);
  4. that I must affirm both or none.

This refutation of yours is badly done. I maintain, on the other hand, that my rejoinder was well done, and that my sequel to the argument was well done.

The Second Refutation

The Fivefold Adverse Controversy

PTS cs 1.1.6Puggalavādin: Is the person not known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact?

Theravādin: No, it is not known …continue as in PTS CS 1.1.1, reversing the speakers, and substituting “not known” for “known”.

The Fourfold Rejoinder

Theravādin: PTS cs 1.1.7Is the person known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact?

Puggalavādin: Yes …continue as in PTS CS 1.1.2, reversing the speakers, and substituting “known” for “not known”.

The Fourfold Refutation

Theravādin: PTS cs 1.1.8But if you imagine we ought to affirm that “the person” is known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact, but that we ought not to affirm as well that the person is known in the same way as any other real and ultimate fact is known, etc.…continue as in PTS CS 1.1.3, reversing the speakers, and substituting “known” for “not known”.

The Fourfold Application

Theravādin (continues): PTS cs 1.1.9If this be a faulty refutation, look at the parallel procedure in your own argument (PTS CS 1.1.6). Thus, according to us (a) was true (a soul is not known, etc.); but (b) was not true (… not known in the same way, etc.). Now we, who admitted these propositions, do not consider ourselves to have been refuted, etc.

The Fourfold Conclusion.

Theravādin: (continues): PTS cs 1.1.10Nay, I repeat, we are not to be refuted as you claim to have refuted us … wherefore your refutation was ill done, etc.

The Third Refutation

Theravādin: PTS cs 1.1.11Is the person known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact?

Puggalavādin: It is.

Theravādin: Is the person known everywhere in that sense?

Puggalavādin: Nay, that cannot truly be said.

Theravādin: Acknowledge the refutation: If the person be known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact, then indeed, good sir, you ought to admit that the person is known in that sense everywhere. You are wrong to admit the one proposition (A) and deny the other (C). If (C) is false, (A) is also false.

The Fourth Refutation

Theravādin: PTS cs 1.1.12Is the person known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact?

Puggalavādin: It is.

Theravādin: Is the person known always in that sense?

Puggalavādin: Nay, that cannot truly be said … continue as above, substituting “always” for “everywhere”.

The Fifth Refutation

Theravādin: PTS cs 1.1.13Is the person known … as in PTS CS 1.1.11in everything in the sense of a real and ultimate fact? continue as in PTS CS 1.1.11, substituting “in everything” for “everywhere”.

The Sixth Refutation

Puggalavādin: PTS cs 1.1.14Is the person not known … otherwise as in PTS CS 1.1.11 … everywhere in that sense? … substituting “not known” for “known”.

The Seventh Refutation

Puggalavādin: PTS cs 1.1.15Is the person not known … always in that sense? …

The Eighth Refutation

Puggalavādin: PTS cs 1.1.16Is the person not known … in everything that sense? …

Comparative Inquiry

Comparison with other Realities, simply treated

PTS cs 1.1.17Theravādin: Is the person known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact, and is material quality also known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact?

Puggalavādin: Yes.

Theravādin: Is material quality one thing and the person another?

Puggalavādin: Nay, that cannot truly be said.

Theravādin: Acknowledge the refutation: If the person and material quality be each known in the sense of real and ultimate facts, then indeed, good sir, you should also have admitted that they are distinct things. You are wrong to admit the former proposition and not the latter. If the latter cannot be admitted, neither should the former be affirmed. To say that the person and material quality are both known in the sense of real and ultimate facts, but that they are not mutually distinct things, is false.

The same form of controversy is then pursued concerning fifty-five other real and ultimate facts, or aspects of them, namely:

PTS cs 1.1.74Puggalavādin: Is the person not known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact?

Theravādin: It is not.

Puggalavādin: Did the Exalted One say: “There is the person who works for his own good”? And is material quality known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact?

Theravādin: Yes.

Puggalavādin: Is material quality one thing and the person another?

Theravādin: Nay, that cannot be truly said.

Puggalavādin: Acknowledge this rejoinder: If the Exalted One said: “There is the person who works for his own good”, and if material quality be known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact, then indeed, good sir, you should also have admitted that material quality and the person are two distinct things. You are wrong in admitting the truth of the former statement while you deny that of the latter. If material quality and person are not two distinct facts, then neither can you also say that the Exalted One predicated anything concerning a “person”. Your position is false.

PTS cs 1.1.75–129The controversy is now repeated with the successive substitution of each of the real and ultimate facts named in PTS CS 1.1.18PTS CS 1.1.73 for “material quality”.

from page 38 of Bodhi translation Root of existence

root of existence

Here the word occurs in the sense of things endowed
with a specific nature. This is the word-meaning: “They bear their
own characteristics, thus they are dhammas” (attano lakkhaóaí
dhárentì ti dhammá).
Sub. Cy. “They bear their own characteristics”: although there
are no dhammas devoid of their own characteristics, this is still
said for the purpose of showing that these are mere dhammas
endowed with their specific natures devoid of such attributions as
that of a “being,” etc. Whereas such entities as self, beauty, pleasurableness,
and permanence, etc., or nature (pakati), substance
(dabba), soul (jìva), body, etc., which are mere misconstructions
(parikappitákáramatta) due to craving and views, or such entities
as “sky-flowers,” etc., which are mere expressions of conventional
discourse (lokavoháramatta), cannot be discovered as ultimately
real actualities (saccikaþþhaparamatthato), these dhammas (i.e., those
endowed with a specific nature) can. These dhammas are discovered
as ultimately real actualities. And though there is no real
distinction (between these dhammas and their characteristics), still,
in order to facilitate understanding, the exposition makes a distinction
as a mere metaphorical device (upacáramatta).14 Or else they
are borne, they are discerned, known, according to their specific
nature, thus they are dhammas (dhárìyanti vá yathásabhávato
avadháriyanti ñáyantì ti dhammá).

3 Likes

Moved to new group Abhidhamma

Some more explanation of the Theravada meaning of realities ( classified as khandhas, ayatanas or dhatus).
Firstl.ly they are extremely brief and insubstantial:

"In the Book of Causation (Nidaanavagga) VII The Great Subchapter 61
(1) Uninstructed (1) p. 595 Samyutta Nikaya Vol 1 (translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"

But that which is called ‘mind’ and ‘mentality’ and consciousness’
arises as one thing and ceases as another by day and by night. Just
as a monkey roaming through a forest grabs hold of one branch, lets
that go and grabs another, then lets that go and grabs still
another, so too that which is called ‘mind’ and ‘mentality’
and ‘consciousness’ arises as one thing and ceases as another by day
and by night. [note 157]
"
[note 157: Spk: 'By day and by night (rattiyaa ca divasassa ca):
This is a genitive in the locative sense, i.e., during the night and
during the day. Arises as one thing and ceases as another (annadeva
uppajjati, anna.m nirujjhati): The meaning is that (the mind) that
arises and ceases during the day is other than (the mind) that
arises and ceases during the night. The statement should not be
taken to mean that one thing arises and some thing altogether
different, which had not arisen, ceases. “Day and night” is said by
way of continuity, taking a continuity of lesser duration than the
previous one (i.e. the one stated for the body). But one citta is
not able to endure for a whole day or a whole night. Even in the
time of a fingersnap many hundred thousand kotis of cittas arise and
cease (1 koti=10 million)
.

2.2. For each and every occurence of these instantaneous elements, khandhas, many conditions need to come together. And each of these conditions are equally brief and conditioned. It is actually amazing everytime we see or hear something, a little miracle, considering the brevity and the confluence of conditions needed for them to arise.

Note that in the Commentary to the Katthavathu the Andhakas thought citta could last much longer.p.69 Bimala Law pts

Now follows the controversy on 'duration of consciousness.'
Some, for instance, now the Andhakas, whose secession is
narrated above, hold that, judging by the apparent continuity
both of overt consciousnessinJhina and of sub-consciousness>
a single state of consciousness lasted for a length of time.2
In order to correct this view, the Sakavidin asks: “Does a
single (unit of) consciousness last even for a day ?” The
opponent assents. “Does one-half of the day belong to the
moment of arising?” is asked, not considering the dura-
tion of a moment, but because of the expression ‘origin and
decay ‘atthe end of the teaching: ‘all conditioned things are
impermanent and subject to origin and decay.’
Being asked: “Do these things come and go more quickly
than mind ?” he rejects, because he does not see any things
which come and go more quickly than mind. Being asked
again, he assents ip respect of that state of consciousnesswhich
he considers to have lasted for a length of time. With regard
to the question: ‘r Does any unit of consciousness last one’s
whole lifetime 1’’ he denies it in all places excepting the Mpa
plane, because of the expression "the devas of air3 last up
to 80,000 Boris in hfe,’’ but he assents in the case of those
who are in the Ariipa plane.
“Does then the mind of the devas who have reached the
Ariipa plane arise and cease moment by moment ?” is asked
. by the opponent. (The Sakaviidin) assents, because he fears
lest it would contradict the Suttas: "Sdject to origin and
1 Bhavangmitta, lit. thought (regarded as) becoming.–Ed.
P.of C.,p. 124.
3 Marc, or fihruts; cf. 5’. Nipita, 688.decay,’’ and so forth. Ee however mlintains its duration
through his pwn view.
The rest here is clear in meaning.
The controversy about the duration of consciousness
is ended.
VI

1 Like

It is the dhammas alone that possess ultimate reality: determinate existence “from their own side” (sarupato) independent of the minds conceptual processing of the data. Such a conception of the nature of the real seems to be already implicit in the Sutta Pitaka, particularly in the Buddha’s disquisitions on the aggregates, sense bases, elements, dependent arising, etc.,…

Thus by examining the conventional realities with wisdom, we eventually arrive at the objective actualities that lie behind our conceptual constructs. It is these objective actualities – the dhammas, which maintain their intrinsic natures independent of the mind’s constructive functions…

…the commentaries consummate the dhamma theory by supplying the formal definition of dhammas as “things which bear their own intrinsic nature” (attano sabhavam dharenti ti dhamma).

…concretely produced matter…possess intrinsic natures and are thus suitable for contemplation and comprehension by insight.

Great seers who are free from craving declare that Nibbana is an
objective state which is deathless, absolutely endless, unconditioned,
and unsurpassed.
Thus as fourfold the Tathagatas reveal the ultimate realities—
consciousness, mental factors, matter, and Nibbana.
-Bhikkhu Bodhi, Acariya Anuruddha, A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma, pages 3, 15, 26, 235, 260

1 Like

I hadn’t seen this before. Thanks for sharing!

1 Like