Kalaapa update

In an earlier post about jhaana – absorption, I mentioned kalaapa.

There is a reference to kalaapa in “Abhidhammatha Sangaha: A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma” by Ven. Aacariya Anuruddha and translated by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi with commentary by Ven. Sayadaw U Silananda and Ven Rewatadhamma.

You can also read about kalaapa here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/khin/wheel231.html and do a text search for “kalapa”.

  • “The real meaning of Anicca is that Impermanence or Decay is the inherent nature of everything that exists in the Universe — whether animate or inanimate. The Buddha taught His disciples that everything that exists at the material level is composed of “Kalapas.” Kalapas are material units very much smaller than atoms, which die out immediately after they come into being. Each kalapa is a mass formed of the eight basic constituents of matter, the solid, liquid, calorific and oscillatory, together with color, smell, taste, and nutriment. The first four are called primary qualities, and are predominant in a kalapa. The other four are subsidiaries, dependent upon and springing from the former. A kalapa is the minutest particle in the physical plane — still beyond the range of science today. It is only when the eight basic material constituents unite together that the kalapa is formed. In other words, the momentary collocation of these eight basic elements of behavior makes a man just for that moment, which in Buddhism is known as a kalapa. The life-span of a kalapa is termed a moment, and a trillion such moments are said to elapse during the wink of a man’s eye. These kalapas are all in a state of perpetual change or flux. To a developed student in Vipassana Meditation they can be felt as a stream of energy.”

The quote above is the view of some adbhidhamma scholars and the orthodox scholastic Theravada Buddhism. I personally don’t follow that line. I give preference to the suttas. It seems to me that the abhidhamma distorts the Buddha Dhamma in a number of ways. I may try to elaborate on this in future blogs. It may take a few years to write about though. I still have a lot to learn. It is even possible that as I study, I may develop different preferences than those I currently have. Ideally, we go beyond all preferences.

There is an alternative tradition that does not take the abhidhamma as the word of the Buddha. Abhidhamma was developed after the Blessed One’s parinibbaana and went through a period of development over 200-300 years until ancient Theravada Buddhists established the canonical texts. The abhidhamma doctrine was developed further in the commentaries which were not written down in the form that we have them now until about 1500 years ago by Ven. Buddhaghosa.  During the past 1500 years many sub-commentaries have been written about the abhidhamma.

These days meditation teachers take various stands regarding the abhidhamma intepretation of the Dhamma.  Some teachers ignore the abhidhamma and don’t comment on it. Some teachers openly say that the abhidhamma distorts the Buddhadhamma. And yet other teachers teach in conformity with the orthodox abhidhamma doctrine. Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw is in the later group.


    2 thoughts on “Kalaapa update

    1. rupa-kalapa, the subatomic particle comprising the material world, is not ultimate truth yet, as each of them may further be broken down into 4 basic elements, other transcent and non-traslucent constituents. In advanced stages of 4-element meditaion upon attaining sufficient concentration and wisdom light, one can see through the rupa-kalapas and witness himself all the elements/constituents that are arising and passing away at a tremendous speed. And all diligent yogis will report the same observations of elements upon seeing them, because these elements are ultimate reality that will not be distorted by individual past experience. Abhidhamma, the highest dhamma, is as high and deep as it claims to be. It is not a mere scholastic work, but is something that can testify yourself. For those who practice diligently they will know exactly how truthful the Abhidhamma carries.


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