Concepts II - Dhammas are the cause of name giving

Question: When we taste a sour flavour and we notice that it is sour, do we experience a concept?
Sujin: What is sour?
Question: For example, a sour orange.
Sujin: The flavour is a paramattha dhamma, and when we think of a sour orange the object is a concept. The words sour oranges are sadda pannatti (concept of sound). When we name something the object is a nama pannatti (a concept that is a name). If there were no sounds, no words, and we did not think of the meaning of things, we would not pay much attention to objects. When sound is the object of cittas of the ear-door process, and then of cittas of the mind-door process, sanna (mental factor of perception), which remembers the meaning of the different sounds, conditions thinking about words and names.
Everything can be called by a name, such as a pen, a pencil, a table or a chair; these are all names. There is no dhamma that cannot be called by a name. Since dhammas have distinctive characteristics, names are needed to make these known. Thus, dhammas are the cause of name giving.
The Atthasaliní (Book II, Part II, Ch. II, 391) describes the process of name giving. We read:

There is no being, no thing that may not be called by a name.

Also, the trees in the forest,

the mountains are the business of the country folk.

For they, on being asked, “What tree is this?”

say the name they know, as “Cutch,” “Mango tree.”

Even of the tree, the name of which they know not,

they say, “It is the nameless tree.”

And that also stands as the established name of that tree…

If there were no names it would be most difficult for people to understand one another.

Even paramattha dhammas need to be named.

The Buddha used concepts to classify dhammas according to their characteristics,

such as the following names:

The five khandhas,

The twelve ayatanas,

The eighteen elements,

The Four Noble Truths,

The twenty two indriyas,

The different groups of people (puggala).

Thus, the Dhamma the Buddha taught needs different terms and names in order to be understood.


Topic 289