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Dharma in Sautrantika Buddhist philosophy: Final Notes
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In my previous posts on the meaning of a notion “Dharma” in Buddhism philosophy and their different classifications you have seen that all dharma-elements in the Buddhist philosophy are treated as something equal and homogenous. All dharmas are connected with each other in certain relations and connected between them. The structure of a conscious alive being or continuum (santayana) includes all types of dharmas. In the theory on dharma we find an analysis of a human personality, only it encompasses all elements, both sensible and consciousness and processes. Dharma theory analyses a human being in its complicity – not only a material body and psychic perceptions, but also everything what is experienced and ordinary called an “external material world”.
In my previous posts I have reviewed all types of dharmas and their possible classifications in the philosophy of Buddhism, according to the fundamental 5th century treatise “Abhidharmakoša” by Vasubandhu, which represents the fundamental views of the Sautrantika school of Buddhist philosophy and is representing the philosophical or “abhidharmic” views of the so called Theravada or Hinayana Buddhism. It is the basis from which originated the further philosophical developments of Cittamatra and Madhyamika philosophies or Mahayana/ Vajrayana traditions of Buddhism, respectively. According to Vasubandhu and several other researchers my explanations were done.
We can conclude that the most general meaning of the notion of “dharma” is an element from what the existence consists. But because the Buddhist philosophy recognizes altogether 75 types of those elements, it would not be far from truth to name each one of them or even all of them together by word “dharma”. Particular meaning becomes more clear upon viewing it in particular text, context and from the specific character of usage.
But we still can outline the meanings we meet most frequently and how they are constructed. For instance, we can start the logical chain with a manifestation of element that creates an element of existence. This element features certain qualities, described in its classification, and that’s why it is called a carrier of its quality or feature. We can discover all dharmas in our experience, so they are something really existing (at least as far as Theravada Buddhism interprets it). All those Dharmas together form the Buddha Dharma or the teaching that explains the cessation of all those dharmas by reaching the “highest” Dharma per excellence Nirvana. Likewise all the existence consists from dharmas or elements, for this reason it is also a dharma (as mentioned in some texts as “all dharmas”, meaning “All that exists”).
The list of all 75 Dharmas: