Can water be felt? An Introduction To Material Realities And The Sense Of Touch

Can water be felt? An Introduction To Material Realities And The Sense Of Touch. You can try to read this post cold, or you may read the previous three posts at my page. http://Plus.Google.com/+BhikkhuSubhuti #1 & #2 were posted May 12th. #3 was posted May 24th.

It is a funny picture isn't it? When I first saw it, I laughed internally and then immediately thought of Abhidhamma and said,, "Yup, That is how it really is!". We all sort of know that, but we really don't buy it. Water is water. It is this flowy watery stuff that we drink, wash and swim in. But in reality, we know it is just a bunch of molecules.

This knowledge is deep and mere children do not have this deepness to understand this included photograph. Geek Humor or Deep Humor? An interesting point is that the Abhidhamma knew about particle theory thousands of years ago. Isn't that cool? I am not sure why the history books do not give recognition to this, but they don't. Maybe it is too difficult to understand? Even if it were considered wrong by scientific standards, we study Aristotelian, Ptolemy Physics or the geocentric (earth centric) theories for historical purposes. I hope some of what I write will one day change this silence.

The Material Realities in Abhidhamma rely on the smallest indivisible piece of matter. It is called Kalapa which means group, or group of materiality. This group contains the four elements (Earth, Water, Fire and Air) and some other properties like Color, Taste, Smell and Nutriment all in a group, but it is the absolute smallest group that can exist. A Hydrogen Atom is sort of a group too. It contains a proton and an electron as a group. Oxygen is a single atom group too but it has protons, neutrons and electrons. Some reckon Kalapas are similar to quarks since it is smaller than an electron and is the smallest known particle to man. Not long ago, electrons were thought to be the smallest. That has changed and it is now believed that the smallest is a quark, but what is next? I personally believe Kalapas are something on another dimension since it is something that only the powerfully trained mind can know and see.

I want you to imagine everything made of particles. Imagine everything made up of fine little digital balls that turn on and off, and can be touched and felt. Without special tools, they will appear to be a continuous solid mass, but zoom in, and it will turn into a singular and digital mass of flickering particles that arise and pass away in randomness. Zoom out, and it will be a continuous mass again. Just like a cloud in the sky. Sand on the beach. Foam on the shore.

The human body is sort of like this. Slow down the natural time lapse photography we see and you will observe the cells in your body appear, reproduce, die and perish. But speed up the camera time lapse and go away from reality to what we naturally see and we will observe a solid continuously existing human that does not change. However, we do change. We know that, but we don't really know that all the time.

Just like I explained to you in the second Abhidhamma post, a computer screen or color halftone separation is not as it appears and we are often fooled with speed and lost proximity. This was why Abhidhamma calls them Ultimate Realities, because this is how it is on a real level. A pixel would be an ultimate reality for a computer screen's display of photos and videos. Remember that videos are made up of single pictures displayed in serial. These pixels are very small and refresh at about 80 Hz. This is how movement and change is simulated. It is similar to each frame on a video, but in the case of a computer screen or TV, it is just dots turning on and off. They do not move. It is just an illusion, just like Christmas lights do not move. Do you understand this it so far?

Say, "Yes." for me so I can move forward. Good! I am glad you are following me!

In the same way, we have Kalapa particles, like little tiny digital materiality balls, and there are 4 major different types of these particles based on the nutriment or cause for their existence. I might discuss the four types in a future lesson. All of the different types of particles arise and pass away very quickly, but slower than mind arises and passes away. They turn on and off just like the pixels of a computer screen, but they are three dimensional real materiality. It is possible to know and see these particles with the mind. Since it can be observed with the mind, a skilled yogi can see this penetrative Three Dimensional technology with the eyes open or closed with whatever they are looking at. One can penetrate and see depth in something as thin as a Lotus flower's petal. It is strange to describe, but some call it X-Ray vision. MRI vision would be more accurate. Unfortunately, the world's way of seeing is only just scratching the surface, to be taken literally.

OK! Enough with that mental seeing and onward with the Abhidhamma science!

I want to shy away from long and detailed introductions and keep you glued to the interesting stuff. This is very brief and general description, but also very deep. Pardon the water pun, but when people read about four elements and they have this knowledge, they understand things in a deeper way. It is just like reading something a second time around and knowing what all of the footnotes reference. It gives one a deeper level of understanding from the top level words. The Abhidhamma is the footnotes to the Buddhist texts and also to life in general, for what we see touch and feel and the connection between mind, matter, it's causes, and negation.

Sensing and Feeler Particles
We have "sensing" particles too. We call them Eye Sensitivity kalapas for the eye and the same for the sense doors. We have Eye Sensitivity particles, Ear Sensitivity Particles, and likewise for the nose, tongue, and body. The mind in the heart has heart-based-particles.. They help us have mind consciousness in the heart. Consciousness takes place in the location where the sense base (particles) are located. It can take place in the eyes, ears, nose tongue and mind. Most of it takes place where the mind is, There is another special thing to remember, Body sensitivity Particles are present in just about all parts of the body, especially where the five sense and mind are. This is why it hurts when someone pokes you in the eye.

Without materiality, we cannot have mind. Without mind, new replenishing sensitive particles can not be produced. That is why we have an idle process. It keeps our body/mind engine running. Do you remember the name? Life Continuum Consciousness or simply The Idle Mental Process.

As long as our mind is working, new particles can appear. As long as new particles are present, the mind can operate. We cannot see without working and "alive" eye sensitive particles. The same is true for all senses, especially the mind.

So Back To The Picture
The sense of touch is caused by "Feeler Particles". They can sense the touch of other particles that make up the objects we know and love. Like a nice soft pillow, or cool dip in the lake on a hot Summer's day. Your feeling particles can feel, earth (hardness), Fire (temperature), and Wind (pressure). However, they cannot feel water (flowing or cohesion). Flowing is inferred. Please remind yourself of the picture. If you were to go microscopic and know that your feelers were the same size as the particles you are "feeling," and there was only one split moment of time to sense the particle striking the feeler particle, then would you be able to sense move movement? The answer is, "No," if only one particle can be felt at a time and that is the case with Abhidhamma. Remember the mind is singular and only does one thing at a time.

Repeat aloud what you just learned with me now. "The mind only feels one particle at a time by only one feeler-particle for a split moment in time. It puts several of these conscious moments together to infer movement.". I did not hear you! Let's try one more time even though we are tired.

The mind only feels one particle at a time by only one feeler-particle for a split moment in time. It puts several of these conscious moments together to infer movement.
Now try to understand the mental exercise below to really understand!

Mental Exercise
Imagine yourself having sand poured over your finger tip. What would you feel? You would feel sand flowing in a similar way as water. However, in reality, the sand particles are striking against different "feeler particles" one at a time in succession to simulate movement. Take a high speed camera inside your mind's eye and zoom in all the way. Imagine your high-tech slow-mo instant replay technology rolling along, frame by frame with the feeler particles the same size as the sand particles. Moment by moment is one frame at a time. You would only feel the presence of the particles as Earth, Fire, and Air (hardness, temperature and pressure.) You would not feel flowing on a moment to moment basis because there is no movement in a freeze frame moment. One should also remind oneself of Abhidhamma lesson #2 that the mind is singlular and digital. In this case hardness can only be felt in one mind moment and temperature can be felt in another and the same with pressure. So only hardness flows, or heat flows, or pressure flows as an inferred process. The flowing sensation is inferred by time and other sense-feeling-particles in succession. It is just like how the movement of pixels is inferred. Remember, particles are like pixels and do not move. Nothing walks across your computer screen. It is all inferred. Your feeling of flowing is inferred for movement and assumed as flowing.

Do this mental exercise again and again until you understand. Be sure to zoom in far enough slow it down all the way to a freeze frame moment where the contact arises.

Try to understand your own body now. Imagine what it is that you call you. Which moment and which particle? Go through your whole body and try to understand that the particles disappear. You felt something but now whatever helped you feel it is gone. That feeling is gone now too. Seeing is the same way. It is there in a freeze frame image which takes place in your eye-sensitive particle. Whatever helped you see is now gone. Who are you if it is all arising and passing away at incredible speeds? It is just like the cells in the body that are born, arise, die and perish. We all know that happens, but we are rarely aware of it happening. Use your time wisely to reflect on this. Use your slow motion camera to go all the way to a frame by frame mind, and also to zoom into the sensitive particles throughout your body and senses. Try to identify with something that lasts for only a moment, it is unlikely you will be able to do that.

A small note about the location of the mind
We believe the mind takes place in the Heart or more specifically the blood. We call this the mind door, the eye, the eye door respectively for the other sense. Neuroscience believes the mind door to be in the brain. I say it is like paying attention to the speakers of a stereo system and not knowing where the music really comes from. It is like paying attention to the mother board, hard drive and memory without paying attention to the CPU of a computer. A child only knows the computer screen, mouse, keyboard and power button. It is difficult for me to prove without you knowing about mental training. However, there is really little known about consciousness by modern science outside of seeing blood move around in the brain and reading electrical impulses from the brain. However, some Abhidhamma meditation teachers assert that it is the blood where the mind takes place. One thing neuroscience knows is that different consciousness states have blood in different parts of the brain. Science also knows that there are two heavy consumers of blood: The heart and the brain. This is where the two sciences can meet…but the heart wins this race as a blood consumer.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Remember there is much more to say and I am generalizing many parts for you to simply enjoy, understand and say "Wow!". Never the less, I am focusing on the deep undercurrents that are concepts which I believe are not so difficult to understand if explained in this way. That has been my goal of the previous three posts.

Trust me, the traditional way to learn this materiality stuff is to memorize the basic eight, nine or ten parts of a particle, and sometimes there are more in certain cases. You will also memorize the 28 types if materiality, the 54 types in the eye, the 54 types in the other senses and the 54 types in the mind. Likewise most of the body parts have 44 types. Did you get all that? That is what we call "knowing the numbers."
Abhidhamma is traditionally all about the numbers and matrices. "How many with? How many without?" are the common questions an Abhidhamma teacher will ask their students. That is why Mrs. Rhys Davids coined the phrase, "The Valley of Dry Bones," when she translated one of the first books into English. It stuck, and very few Westerners are interested in Abhidhamma these days.

This is how one normally learns and at the end, or mixed in the middle, one will learn that feeling is inferred. However, he might not fully understand its importance since he was so busy learning and memorising everything else and getting the numbers right. I hope you like this approach to digital-serial-singularity and find it interesting. I find it interesting and I enjoy sharing what I enjoy in a personal writing style with an applied technology approach for Abhidhamma. Rejoice!

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Picture credit: Google images.
http://themetapicture.com/caution-wet-floor/

References:
Please see pages 317-360 of A Manual of Abhidhamma, Narada for all of the lists and details of Materiality.
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/abhidhamma.pdf
Temporary Nature p 318
Atomic Theory History, p. 318
Four elements plus color taste, smell and nutriment pgs. 319-320
Top of page 330 mentions that flowing (apo) can not be felt and is inferred.
Page 330 has a mention if cardio theory (mind in the heart).
Lifetime of a Kalapa p. 334
Mind produced matter p. 343
Rupa (materiality) as groups (Kalapa) p. 354



Article by Bhikkhu Subhuti

Bhikkhu Subhuti is an American Buddhist Monk with roots in both Sri Lanka and Myanmar Forest Traditions. He currently resides in Myanmar but his heart sometimes floats back to Kauai, HI where he spent six months in 2015.