The Four Paramattha Dhammas - Rupa I

There are not only mental phenomena, there are also physical phenomena. Physical phenomena  or rūpa are the third paramattha dhamma. There are several kinds of rūpas which each have their own characteristic. There are four principle rūpas which are called the Great Elements (in Pāli: mahā-bhūta-rūpa).  They are:


1. 'Element of Earth' or solidity (to be experienced as hardness or


2. 'Element of Water' or cohesion

3. 'Element of Fire' or temperature (to be experienced as heat or cold)

4. 'Element of Wind' or motion (to be experienced as motion or



These ''Great Elements'' are the principle rūpas which arise together with all

the other kinds of rūpa, which are the derived rūpas (in Pāli: upādā-rūpa).

Rūpas never arise alone; they arise in ''groups'' or ''units''. There have to be

at least eight kinds of  rūpa arising together. For example, whenever the rūpa

which is temperature arises, solidity, cohesion, motion and other rupas have

to arise as well. ''Derived rūpas'' are, for example, the physical sense-organs

of eyesense, earsense, smellingsense, tastingsense and bodysense, and the

sense-objects of visible object, sound, odour and flavour.

Topic 174