Why base of infinite space (a concept), is not permanent like all concepts?

From what I understand, concepts are permanent.
Base of infinite space (ākāsānañcāyatana) and base of nothingness (ākiñcaññāyatana) are concepts.

So why is arupa realm that is conceptual is not eternal? Is it because it is still conditioned? But then, can concepts be conditioned? Or maybe because the paramattha dhammas that make it up are conditioned and impermanent?

What are some ideas on this?

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Can you give the passage that indicates concepts are permanent?

When you say “Base of infinite space (ākāsānañcāyatana) and base of nothingness (ākiñcaññāyatana) are concepts” again can you supply a reference?

The actual mental states that take the object are not conceptual.
The objects of citta can be concept or reality but the citta and other mental factors are real.

There are different kinds of concept.
Chapter – ABHIDHAMMA.ORG Sujin Boriharnwanaket:
.The “Abhidhammattha Vibhavinı” (Book 8) distinguishes between six kinds of concepts that are names, that is, “ nāma-paññāti” (see “Visuddhimagga” VIII, note 11).

  1. Vijjamāna paññātis, concepts which make known what is real, for example, the words rūpa, nāma, vedanā (feeling), or saññā (perception).10
  2. Avijjamāna paññātis, concepts that make known what is not real, such as the words Thai or foreigner. These concepts do not represent absolute realities, citta and cetasika that are nāma, and rūpa. Thai or foreigners are not real in the absolute sense; they are conventional realities, sammutti dhammas. Could akusala citta (unwholesome consciousness) be Thai or foreign? Akusala citta is a paramattha dhamma (a reality); it is a dhamma that has its own characteristic. It is not Thai or foreign.
  3. Vijjamanena avijjāmāna paññātis, concepts of what is not real based on what is reaḷ There is the expression “the person with the six abhiññās.”12 The six abhiññās are real, but person is not. Thus, this is concept of what is not real based on what is reaḷ
  4. Avijjamanena vijjamāna paññātis, concepts of what is real based on what is not reaḷ There is the expression “woman’s voice.” The sound is real, but the woman is not reaḷ
  5. Vijjamanena vijjamāna paññātis, concepts of what is real based on what is reaḷ There is the term cakkhu-viññāṇa (eye-consciousness). Cakkhu (eye) is a reality, namely the cakkhuppasāda-rūpa (eyesense, a reality sensitive to colour or visible object), and viññāṇa (consciousness) is also a reality, namely the reality that experiences.
  6. Avijjamanena avijjāmāna paññātis, concepts of what is not real based on what is not reaḷ There is the expression “the king’s son.” Both king and son are not real; they are sammutti dhammas, conventional realities.
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I was reading “Handbook of Abhidhamma Vol 1” by U Silananda.

I couldn’t copy a direct quote or insert and image here, you can see the book in attached file.

Book page 32 (49): Pannati are timeless.

Book page 161 (178 in pdf). 161 (179 in pdf),. 164 (pg 181 in pdf) it says that the object is conceptual. Hence my question. If the world is conceptual, and concepts don’t “rise & fall” how come the existence is impermanent?

In another book (Fundamentals of Abhidhamma II) pg 91 (101 in pdf)
It says that 1st and 3rd arupa are “concept objects”.

Also There is a quote from VsM (mahatika?)

  1. “A [formed] dhamma with an individual essence is delimited by rise and fall because it is produced after having not been, and because after having been it vanishes. But space is called boundless since it has neither rise nor fall because it is a dhamma without individual essence” (Vism-mhþ 323).
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It is wonderful you are delving into Abhidhamma. :pray:
Concepts don’t exist so they are totally different from paramattha dhammas.
I think the sayadaw gave a good explanation:

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Concepts are like the shadows of what is really there, they have no real existence.
When we think of our mother or father that is not our mother or father - but the thinking processes are real.

Adapated from an old post:
Now let`s clarify the Tilakkhana - the 3 general characteristics, anicca (impermanence), dukkha and anatta. These 3 apply to all realities (paramattha dhammas). And here we need to differentiate realities and concepts.

The thinking process consists of different cittas and cetasikas, including feeling, all arising and passing away rapidly. These are paramattha dhammas, ultimate realities. Let us consider a couple of [examples of] thinking.

  1. Think of a flying elephant. The process of thinking that imagines this, whether a graphic visualisation or your no-frills, idea only version, consists of cittas and cetasikas which are real. The object of this thinking is a concept, not real.
  2. Think of your mother or father (whether alive or not). Again same process - the cittas and cetasikas of the thinking process are real but the object, mother and father, is concept- not real.
  3. If your mother and father were right in front of you now (talking to you) and you think of them, again the object is concept, not real; but the thinking process is real. The colours are real, the sounds are real, but mother and father are concepts.

Example 1 is easily understood as merely a concept, not real. It is number 2 and especially number 3 that we get confused by.

The Tilakkhana of anicca, dukkha and anatta apply to realities only - so right now the 5 aggregates, khandhas, are real, are arising and ceasing, they are dukkha .

But the concepts like Robert, Citta, computer are not real, Robert and computer seem to last but the underlying realties are rising and falling. So without the Buddha’s teaching we are deceived and live clinging to these unreal shadows.

Comprehensive_Manual_of_Abhidhamma trans. Bodhi

Analysis of Concepts
There are such terms as “land,” “mountain,” and the like,
so designated on account of the mode of transition of the respective
elements; such terms as “house,” “chariot,” “cart,” and the like, so
named on account of the mode of formation of materials; such terms
as “person,” “individual,” and the like, so named on account of the
five aggregates; such terms as “direction,” “time,” and the like,
named according to the revolution of the moon and so forth; such
terms as “well,” “cave,” and the like, so named on account of the
mode of non-impact and so forth; such terms as kasióa signs and
the like, so named on account of respective elements and
distinguished mental development.
All such different things, though they do not exist in the ultimate
sense, become objects of consciousness in the form of shadows of
(ultimate) things.
They are called concepts because they are thought of, reckoned,
understood, expressed, and made known on account of, in
consideration of, with respect to, this or that mode. This kind of
concept is so called because it is made known

Concepts can be classified in many ways. Imaginary things like a unicorn and God and rabbits horns can be considered as different types of pannati from trees.
Trees, computers, humans, Robert, Citta, are the shadows of what is really there - and what is really there are only namas and rupas, mentality and matter, insignificant dhammas because they pass away instantly. These concepts are more deluding than concepts like unicorns (which we know have no reality).

Because of accumulated avijja, ignorance, these type of concepts (pannatti) delude and instead of being given their correct status - as neccessary designations* - they are assumed to be actual. And that is where all problems begin and end.

*Note that these designations happen long before they are linguistic labels. What is called a thought in conventional language is comprised of billions of momentary arisings which repeatedly take a concept as object and may include mentally naming it. Because of this repetition - and the lack of insight into the actual dhammas - the illusion of permanence is solidified.

The commentary to the UDANA ( translation by Peter Masefield from PTS) (p71,vol1, enlightenment chapter)

it is ignorance since it causes beings to dart among becomings and so on within samsara…, it is ignorance since it darts among those things which do not actually exist [i.e. men, women etc] and since it does not dart among those things that do exist [.e. it cannot understand the khandas, paramattha dhammas].

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Hello RobertK,

So basically what happens is that: The ultimately real and momentary cittas & cetasikas experience concepts of (infinite space & nothingness) which are not ultimately real.

Thus anicca remains, despite timeless concepts.


Thank you!

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Right. It must be so subtle, those objects, let alone the mind that knows them.
A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma
The Abhidhammattha Sangaha of Ácariya Anuruddha
§19 The Immaterial Attainments

Next one withdraws any kasina except the space kasina, and does the preliminary work by contemplating the space that remains as infinite. By doing so, one enters the first immaterial attainment. When one does the preliminary work by contemplating the first immaterial-sphere consciousness as infinite, one enters the second immaterial attainment. When one does the preliminary work by contemplating the absence of the first immaterial-sphere consciousness thus, “There is nothing,” one enters the third immaterial attainment. When one does the preliminary work by
contemplating the third immaterial attainment thus, “This is peaceful, this is sublime,” one enters the fourth immaterial attainment.

Citta: Thus anicca remains, despite timeless concepts.

Yes. The sublime mindstates during jhana are arising and falling away instantly but because they repeatedly take the same object with no gap the state appears stable. That is why this attainment can even increase the view of self for those who are able to attain it outside the sasana.

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