What does this mean? "All form is that which is: ...related to the universe of sense, not related to the universe of form" -Dhammasangani 2.2.3

What does this mean? “All form is that which is: …related to the universe of sense, not related to the universe of form”
-Dhammasangani 2.2.3

I don’t get it. Could someone please help? If it’s not related to the universe of form, but is related to the universe of sense, then what is related to the universe of form, if not form itself? That question aside, what does this mean generally?

Full quote:

Compendium of States or Phenomena
2.2. Material Form (rūpa kaṇḍaṃ)
[Material] Form under a Single Aspect (ekakaniddeso)
All form is that which is

not root condition,
not the concomitant of a root condition,
disconnected with root-condition,
causally related,
endowed with form,

of the Fetters,
of the Ties,
of the Floods,
of the Bonds,
of the Hindrances;
of the Graspings,
belonging to the Vices,
void of mental objects,
not a mental property,
disconnected with thought,
neither moral result nor productive of it,
not vicious yet belonging to the Vices,
not applied and sustained thinking,
not “applied, but only sustained thinking”,
neither “applied nor sustained thinking”,
not “accompanied by zest”,
not “accompanied by ease”,
not “accompanied by indifference”,
not something capable of being got rid of either by insight or by cultivation,
not that the cause of which may be got rid of either by insight or by cultivation,
neither tending to, nor away from, the accumulation involving rebirth.
belonging neither to studentship nor to that which is beyond studentship,
of small account,
related to the universe of sense,
not related to the universe of form,
nor to that of the formless,
not of the Unincluded,
not [something entailing] fixed [retribution],
unavailing for (ethical) guidance,
cognizable by the six modes of cognition,
subject to decay.
Such is the category of Form considered by way of single attributes.

I think it is the poor translation that messed thing up. Can try read Dhammasangani translation done by U Kyaw Khine.


Try to read following passage of definition for kāmāvacaraṃ, rūpāvacaraṃ, arūpāvacaraṃ. all the ultimates (paramatthas) can be classified into these mundane spheres. So the matter or material phenomena in above quote falls into first classification but not to second or third. This is how it has presented by this particular translator.

if you are really new to this philosophical teaching you have to get basic fundamentals of this treaties (Abhidhamma Pitaka) and word definitions. kāmāvacaraṃ which has translated as universe of sense is such a philosophical term should gradually understood.

“…There are four planes of consciousness. Three are mundane: the sense sphere, the fine-material sphere, and the immaterial sphere; the fourth plane is the supramundane. The word avacara, “sphere,” which qualifies the first three planes, means “that which moves about in, or frequents, a particular locality.” The locality frequented is the plane of existence (also bhúmi) designated by the name of the sphere, that is, the sensuous, the fine-material, and the immaterial planes of existence. However, though the three spheres of consciousness have a particularly close connection with the corresponding planes of existence, they are not identical. The spheres of consciousness are categories for classifying types of cittas, the planes of existence are realms or worlds into which beings are reborn and in which they pass their lives…”

read in the text for more details
(A Manual of Abhidhamma (Abhidhammattha Saògaha) by Bhikkhu Bodhi;29p)

with metta


Aloha and welcome Bhante! We are very happy to have you participate, especially in clarifying the abhidhamma questions, for which you are extremely knowledgeable. I hope you can request the other IITh monks to actively participate in this community.

sādhu! sādhu! sādhu!


Thank you @Venerable_Werapitiye I think I figured it out, your words help, and are much appreciated.

I looked at the selection in Pali:

kāmāvacarameva, na rūpāvacarameva, na arūpāvacarameva

Now it’s clear that it’s saying rupa is related to the kama realm because that’s where we are, and there is matter here, whereas in the rupa realm there are gods and not so much matter. The Pali helped me understand what was being spoken of.

The Immaterial World (arupa-loka). Consists of four realms that are accessible to those who pass away while meditating in the formless jhanas.
The Fine-Material World (rupa-loka). Consists of sixteen realms whose inhabitants (the devas) experience extremely refined degrees of mental pleasure. These realms are accessible to those who have attained at least some level of jhana and who have thereby managed to (temporarily) suppress hatred and ill-will. They are said to possess extremely refined bodies of pure light. The highest of these realms, the Pure Abodes, are accessible only to those who have attained to “non-returning,” the third stage of Awakening. The Fine-Material World and the Immaterial World together constitute the “heavens” (sagga).
The Sensuous World (kama-loka). Consists of eleven realms in which experience — both pleasurable and not — is dominated by the five senses. Seven of these realms are favorable destinations, and include our own human realm as well as several realms occupied by devas. The lowest realms are the four “bad” destinations, which include the animal and hell realms.

…in those realms in which the aggregate of material form is found, i.e. in the sensuous world and the fine-material world…
–Abhidhammattha Sangaha, Bhikkhu Bodhi, page 77

If there is rupa in both the kama loka and the rupa loka, why would the Dhammasangani say "all form is that which is that which is not related to the rupa loka (rupavacarameva)?

If the list given of these in the first chapter of Book II. be consulted, it will be seen that I have not followed the reading of the P. T. S. edition when it states that all form is kamavacaram eva, rupavacaram eva, that is, is both related to the universe of sense and also to that of form. The Siamese edition reads kamavacaram eva, na rupavacaram eva. It may seem at first sight illogical to say that form is not related to the universe of form. But the better logic is really on the side of the Siamese. On page 334 of my translation,[12] it is seen that the avacaras were mutually exclusive as to their contents.

To belong to the universe of form involved exclusion from that of sense. But in the inquiry into “all form” we are clearly occupied with facts about this present world and about women and men as we know them — in a word, with the world of sense. Hence the “all form” of Book II. is clearly not the form of the rupavacaram. It is not used with the same implications.

Further than this, further than the vague avacara geography gathered already from other sources, the Manual does not bring us, nor the Commentary either.

PDF file available here "na rupavacaram" - Google Zoeken

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Much appreciated!

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