The Four Paramattha Dhammas - Distinguish mental conditions

Since citta and cetasika arise together it is difficult to experience the difference in their characteristics. The Buddha was able to directly experience the different characteristics of all cittas and cetasikas because his wisdom was of the highest degree. We read in the Questions of King Milinda (Book III, ''The Removal of Difficulties'', chapter 7, 87) that the arahat Nāgasena said to King Milinda:

''A hard thing there is, O King, which the Blessed One has done.''


''And what is that?''


''The fixing of all those mental conditions which depend on one organ of

sense, telling us that such is contact, such is feeling, such is saññā

(perception), such is volition and such is citta.''


''Give me an illustration.''


''Suppose, O King, a man were to wade down into the sea,

and taking some water in the palm of his hand,

were to taste it with his tongue. Would he distinguish

whether it were water from the Ganges, or from the Jamuna,

or from the Aciravatiํ, or from the Sarabhu, or from the Mahํ?''


''Impossible, Sir.''


''More difficult than that, great King, is it to have distinguished

between the mental conditions which follow on the exercise

of any one of the organs of sense!''

  Citta and cetasika are paramattha dhammas (absolute realities) which each have their own unchangeable characteristic. These characteristics can be experienced, regardless how one names them. Paramattha dhammas are not words or concepts, they are realities. Pleasant feeling and unpleasant feeling are real; their characteristics can be experienced without having to call them ''pleasant feeling'' or ''unpleasant feeling''. Aversion is real; it can be experienced when it presents itself.

Topic 174