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Dhātu

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'elements', are the ultimate constituents of a whole.

(1) The 4 physical elements (dhātu or mahā-bhūta), popularly called:

are to be understood as the primary qualities of matter.

In Vis.M. XI, 2 the four elements are defined thus:

"Whatever is characterized:

All four are present in every material object, though in varying degrees of strength. If, for instance, the earth element predominates, the material object is called 'solid', etc. - For the analysis of the 4 elements, s. dhātu-vavatthāna.

(II) The 18 physical and Mental elements that constitute the conditions or foundations of the process of Perception, are:

    1. visual organ (eye)
    2. auditory organ (ear)
    3. olfactory organ (nose)
    4. gustatory organ (tongue)
    5. tactile organ (Body)
    6. visible object
    7. Sound or audible object
    8. odour or olfactive object
    9. gustative object
    10. Body-impression
    11. eye-Consciousness
    12. ear-Consciousness
    13. nose-Consciousness
    14. tongue-Consciousness
    15. Body-Consciousness
    16. Mind-element
    17. Mind-object (mano-dhātu) (Dhamma-dhātu)
    18. Mind-Consciousness-element (mano-Viññāna-dhātu)


1-10 are physical; 11-16 and 18 are Mental; 17 may be either physical or Mental.

16 performs the function of advertence (āvajjana) towards the object at the inception of a process of sensuous Consciousness; it further performs the function of receiving (sampaticchana) the sensuous object.

18 performs, e.g., the function of Investigation (santīrana), determining (votthapana) and registering (tadārammana)

For the 14 functions of Consciousness, s. Viññāna-kicca.

Cf. M. 115; S. XIV and especially Vibh. II (Guide p. 28f), Vis.M. XV, 17ff.


Of the many further groupings of elements (enumerated in M.115), the best known is that of the 3 World-elements:

further the six-fold group:

Source

palikanon.com