DOORS AND PHYSICAL BASES
pointed out the dangers of being infatuated by the objects we experience through the six
doors. He taught people to develop the wisdom which knows the realities experienced
through the six doors as nama and rupa, phenomena which are impermanent and not self. What
is 'dukkha', it cannot be happiness. When we come to know things as
they are, we will be less infatuated by objects.
We read in the 'Kindred Sayings' (IV, Salayatana-vagga,
Kindred Sayings on Sense, Second Fifty, Ch. III, par. 81, A brother) about the purpose of
the Buddha's teachings. The text states:
Then a number of monks came to see the Exalted One....
Seated at one side those monks said to the Exalted One:- -
'Now here, lord, the wandering sectarians thus question
us: 'What is the object, friend, for which the holy life is lived under the rule of Gotama
the recluse?' Thus questioned, lord, 'we thus make answer to those wandering sectarians :
'It is for the full knowledge of dukkha that the holy life is lived under the rule of the
Exalted One. Pray, lord, when, thus questioned, we so make answer, do we state the views
of the Exalted One, without misrepresenting the Exalted One by stating an untruth? Do we
answer in accordance with his teaching, so that no one who agrees with his teaching and
follows his views could incur reproach?'
'Truly, monks, when thus questioned, You thus make answer,
you do state my views.. in stating that it is for the full knowledge of dukkha that the
holy life is lived under my rule.
But if, monks, the wandering sectarians should thus
question you : 'But what, friend, is that dukkha, for the full knowledge of which the holy
life is lived under the rule of Gotama the recluse?'- - thus questioned you should answer
thus: 'The eye, friend, is dukkha. For the full knowledge of that the holy life is
lived... Objects...that pleasant or unpleasant or indifferent feeling that arises through
mind-contact,- - that also is dukkha. Fully to know that, the holy life is lived under the
rule of the Exalted One.' Thus questioned, monks, by those wandering sectarians, thus
should You make answer.'
In being aware of nama and rupa which appear, such as
seeing, visible object, feeling or thinking, we can prove the truth of the Buddha's
teachings by ourselves ; we can prove that the objects experienced through the six doors
are impermanent and not self. The truth will not be known if one follows other people
blindly or if one speculates about the truth. We read in the 'Kindred Sayings' (IV,
Salayatana-vagga, Third Fifty, Ch. V, par. 152, Is there a method?) that the Buddha said:
'ls there, monks, any method, by following which a monk,
apart from belief, apart from inclination, apart from hearsay, apart from argument as to
method, apart from reflection on reasons, apart from delight in speculation, could affirm
insight thus : 'Ended is birth, lived is the righteous life, done is the task, for life in
these conditions there is no hereafter?' 'For us, lord, things have their root in the
Exalted One... Well indeed were it if the meaning of this that has been spoken were to
manifest itself in the Exalted One. Hearing it from him the monks will remember it.'
'There is indeed a method, monks, by following which a
monk....could affirm insight...And what is that method?
Herein, monks, a monk, seeing an object with the eye,
either recognizes within him the existence of lust, malice and ignorance, thus : 'I have
lust, malice and ignorance', or recognizes the non-existence of these qualities within
him, thus: 'I have not lust, malice and ignorance.' Now as to that recognition of their
existence or non-existence within him, are these conditions, I ask, to be understood by
belief, or by inclination, or hearsay, or argument as to method, or reflection on reasons,
or delight in speculation?'
'Surely not, lord.'
'Are not these states to be understood by seeing them with
the eye of wisdom?'
'Then, monks, this is the method by following which, apart
from belief... a monk could affirm insight thus: 'Ended is birth...for life in these
conditions there is no hereafter."
The same is said with regard to the ear-door, the door of
the nose, the door of the tongue, the body-door and the mind-door.
When we study the Abhidhamma we should keep in mind the
purpose of the Buddha's teachings : the eradication of defilements through the wisdom
which realizes phenomena appearing through the six doors as they are. Through this method
there will be an end to the cycle of birth and death. We should remember that the
Abhidhamma is not a theoretical textbook but an exposition of realities appearing in daily
life. We learn about nama and rupa ; we learn about cittas which each have their own
function in the sense-door process and in the mind-door process. There are sense-door
processes and mind-door processes time and again, and objects are experienced during these
processes of citta. If there is awareness of characteristics of nama and rupa when they
appear, the panna is developed which can eradicate defilements. This kind of wisdom is
deeper than any kind of theoretical knowledge.
Nama and rupa which arise and fall away are conditioned
realities, they arise because of different conditions. Through the study of the Abhidhamma
we learn about different conditions for nama and rupa. Each reality which arises is
dependent on several conditions. For instance, seeing is vipaka, produced by kamma.
Visible object conditions seeing by being its object (arammana). lf there is no visible
object there cannot be seeing. Eye-sense, the kind of rupa in the eye (pasada-rupa) which
is able to receive visible object, is another condition for seeing.
The rupa which is eye-sense can be the door (in Pali :
dvara) for seeing. A door or 'dvara' is the means through which citta experiences an
object. There is eye-sense arising and falling away all the time; throughout our life it
is produced by kamma. However, eye-sense is not a door all the time, because there is not
all the time the experience of visible object. Eye-sense is a door only when citta
experiences visible object. It is the same with the pasada-rupas which are the other
sense-organs. They are doors only when they are the means through which citta experiences
The eye-door is the means through which citta experiences
visible object. Not only the cittas which are cakkhu-dvaravajjana-citta
(eye-door-adverting-consciousness) and cakkhu-vinnana (seeing-consciousness) experience
the object through the eye-door, the other, cittas of that process, which are
sampaticchana-citta (receiving-consciousness), santirana-citta
(investigating-consciousness), votthapana-citta (determining- consciousness), the
javana-cittas and the tadarammana-cittas are also dependent on the same door, in order to
experience the object. After the rupa which is experienced by these cittas has fallen
away, the object can be experienced through the mind-door (mano-dvara).
Cittas arising in a process which experience an object
through one of the six doors are vithi-cittas (vithi means: way, course, process).
Vithi-cittas are named after the door through which they experience an object. For
example, the cittas which experience an object through the eye-door are called
cakkhu-dvara-vithi-cittas (cakkhu-dvara means eye-door) ; the cittas which experience an
object through the ear-door ; (sota-dvara) are called sota-dvara-vithi-cittas; the cittas
which experience an object through the mind-door (mano-dvara) are called
In between the different processes of citta there have to
be bhavanga-cittas (life-continuum). Bhavanga-cittas are not vithi-cittas.
not part of the process of cittas experiencing objects which time and again throughout our
life experiencing on the six doors. They experience an object without being dependent on
any doorway. As we have seen (Ch. 15), the patisandhi-citta, the bhavanga-cittas and the
cuti-citta of one life experience the same object as the last javana-cittas which arose
before the cuti-citta of the previous life. The patisandhi-citta, the bhavanga-citta and
the cuti-citta are vithi-vimutti-cittas (vithi-vimutti means: process-freed), thus, they
are different from the cittas arising in sense-door processes and mind-door processes.
It is useful to classify citta by way of dvara (doorway).
If one only classifies citta by way of function (kicca), but not by dvara, one may not
know which citta is referred to. For example, the panca-dvaravajjana-citta
(five-sense-door-adverting-consciousness) has the function of avajjana (adverting). If one
does not know that this citta performs the function of adverting through the five
sense-doors, one may confuse it with the mano-dvaravajjana-citta
(mind-door-adverting-consciousness) which also perform the function of avajjana. The
mano-dvaravajjana-citta, however, performs the function of avajjana only through the
Some cittas perform their function only through one door.
For example, the two types of citta which are sota-vinnana (hearing-consciousness, which
can be kusala vipaka or akusala vipaka), only perform their functions through one door,
the ear-door. Some cittas perform their function through more than one door.
Sampaticchana-citta (receiving..consciousness) performs its function through five doors,
depending on the doorway which is contacted by the object. Santirana-citta has different
functions performed through different doorways ; it also performs functions without being
dependent on any doorway and this is the case when it performs the function of patisandhi,
bhavanga and cuti.
Citta should also be classified according to feeling. For
example, santirana-citta can be accompanied by upekkha (indifferent feeling) and by
somanassa (pleasant feeling). Santirana-citta which is accompanied by somanassa can
perform the function of santirana (investigating) through five doors and the function of
tadarammana (registering, occurring after the javana-cittas) through six doors.
When santirana-citta is accompanied by upekkha (and in
that case it can be kusala vipaka or akusala vipaka), it can perform five functions:
The function of santirana through five doors.
The function of tadarammana through six doors.
The function of patisandhi, without being dependent on any
The function of bhavanga, without being dependent on any
The function of cuti, without being dependent on any
In the processes of citta the doorway (dvara) is the means
through which citta experiences its object. The physical base (vatthu) is another factor
which conditions citta by being its place of origin. In the planes of existence where
there are nama and rupa, cittas do not arise independently of the body ; a citta which
arises has a rupa as its place of origin. When there is seeing, could seeing arise outside
the body? When there is hearing or thinking, could these cittas arise without the body?
This would not be possible. Where does seeing arise? It could not arise on our arm or in
our ear. It needs the eye as its physical base. The cakkhup- pasada-rupa, the rupa in the
eye which can receive visible object, is the physical base for the citta which sees. The
physical base or vatthu is not the same as dvara or doorway. Although the
cakkhuppasada-rupa is both dvara and vatthu for seeing-consciousness, dvara and vatthu
have different functions. The eye-door (cakkhu-dvara) is the means through which cittas of
the eye-door process experience an object. The cakkhu-vatthu (eye-base) is the physical
base, the place of origin for seeing- consciousness. The cakkhu-vatthu is the base only
for seeing-consciousness, not for the other cittas of that process. The other cittas of
that process have another vatthu The vatthu for hearing-consciousness is the
sotappasada-rupa for smelling-consciousness the ghanappasada-rupa, for tasting-
consciousness the jivhappasada-rupa, for body-consciousness the kayappasada-rupa.
There is a sixth vatthu which is not one of the
pasada-rupas. This is the hadaya-vatthu or heart-base. The hadaya-vatthu is a kind of rupa
which is the place of origin for the cittas which are not among the panca-vinnanas
(seeing, hearing, etc.) since these cittas have the pasada-rupa as their place of origin.
The hadaya-vatthu is different from the mind-door. The mind-door is a citta, the
bhavangupaccheda-citta, which is the last bhavanga-citta arising before the mano-
dvaravajjana-citta (mind-door-adverting-consciousness). The hadaya-vatthu is rupa, not
When sound contacts the ear-sense, the
panca-dvara-vajjana-citta (five-sense-door adverting- consciousness) which arises, has as
its place of origin the hadaya-vatthu, but the hearing-consciousness has the
sotappasada-rupa as its vatthu. All succeeding cittas of that process, however, have the
hadaya-vatthu as their place of origin. All cittas of the mind-door process too have the
hadaya-vatthu as their place of origin.
Vithi-vimutti-cittas which experience an object without
dependence on any door, also have a physical place of origin. Although they are not
dependent on any doorway, they could not, in the planes where there are both nama and
rupa, arise without a vatthu. A new life begins when the patisandhi-citta arises; however,
there is not only nama, there has to be rupa as well. The hadaya-vatthu is the rupa which
is the vatthu of the patisandhi-citta. All bhavanga-cittas and the cuti-citta have the
hadaya-vatthu as their physical base.
The five kinds of pasada-rupa are the vatthus of the
panca-vinnanas. As regards the vatthu of the two types of kaya-vinnana
(body-consciousness, which can be kusala vipaka or akusala vipaka), this can arise all
over the body. Any part of the body which has sensitivity, can be vatthu for the
The vatthu is the place of origin not only of citta, but
also of cetasikas arising together with the citta. Thus, except in the planes of existence
where there is only nama there has to be rupakkhandha as well when the four namakkhandhas
It is useful to classify citta by way of kicca (function),
arammana (object), dvara (doorway), vatthu, and in many other ways. In this way we will
have a clearer understanding of citta. We should, however, remember that this kind of
understanding is not yet the wisdom which eradicates lobha, dosa and moha. In the 'Kindred
Sayings' (V, Khnadha-vagga, Kindred Sayings about Radha, Ch.I, par. 4, To be understood)
At Savatthi .
As he thus sat at one side the Exalted One thus addressed
the venerable Radha:
-- 'I will show you the things to be understood, and the
understanding, and the person who has understood. Do you listen to it.'
The Exalted One thus spoke: 'And what, Radha, are the
things to be understood? Body, Radha, is a thing to be understood: so is feeling,
perception, the activities. Consciousness is a thing to be understood. These, Radha, are
the things to be understood. And what, Radha, is understanding? The destruction of lust,
the destruction of hatred, the destruction of ignorance,--this, Radha, is called
And who, Radha, is the person who has understood? 'Worthy'
should he be called, that venerable one of such and such a name, of such and such a clan -
- that, Radha, is the meaning of 'the person who has understood'.'
Sometimes the Buddha reminded people of the purpose of the
teachings in a longer discourse, sometimes in a shorter discourse, but one has to be often
reminded of the goal. What is the purpose of understanding, if it does not lead to the
eradication of defilements?
1. Can citta know arammana without being dependent on any
2. Through how many doors can citta know arammana?
3. Through how many doors does panca-dvaravajjana-citta
(sense-door-adverting-consciousness) experience an object?
4. Through how many doors does mano-dvaravajjana-citta
(mind-door-adverting-consciousness) experience an object?
5. Through how many doors does sota-vinnana (hearing-consciousness)
experience an object?
6. Through how many doors does santirana-citta perform the function
of santirana (investigating)?
7. Does santirana-citta perform the function of patisandhi independent
on a doorway?
8. Of how many cittas is cakkhu-vatthu (eye-base) the vatthu?
9. Of how many ahetuka cittas is hadaya-vatthu (heart-base) the vatthu?
10. Can the sotappasada-rupa (ear-sense) be dvara (door) or vatthu (base)
11. What are the respective functions of dvara and vatthu?
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