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In a book I am reading it says "This is what the Buddha realized by examining himself. With his strongly concentrated mind, he penetrated deeply into his own nature and found that the entire material structure is composed of minute subatomic particles which are continuously arising and vanishing. In the snapping of a finger or the blinking of an eye, he said, each one of these particles arises and passes away many trillions of times."

I don't understand how he saw this? What exactly did he see? When I meditate I dont see this. I just see thoughts.

  • Good question and even better asked When I meditate I dont see this., You have the right attitude, may you reach fruition on The Path! – Mishu 米殊 May 26 '17 at 12:52
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Superstition (unknowable unverified belief) takes many forms, including: "each one of these particles arises and passes away many trillions of times".

What the Buddha primarily saw in the enlightenment was how the mental generation of 'self-views' causes suffering.

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"I don't understand how he saw this? What exactly did he see?"

The question might fall under the Four Imponderables, namely the first acinteyya, i.e. the range of powers a Buddha develops:

The four imponderables are identified in the Acintita Sutta, Anguttara Nikaya 4.77, as follows:

The Buddha-range of the Buddhas [i.e., the range of powers a Buddha develops as a result of becoming a Buddha];

The jhana-range of one absorbed in jhana [i.e., the range of powers that one may obtain while absorbed in jhana];

The [precise working out of the] results of kamma;

Speculation about [the origin, etc., of] the cosmos is an imponderable that is not to be speculated about.

These imponderables the Buddha advices not to contemplate since they will only serve to agitate and destabilize the mind making it less suitable for practice.

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  • Is this the same as a "vexing question"? – user2341 May 28 '17 at 23:12
  • @nocomprende I don't know what a quote-unquote-vexing question is. This translation says "would bring madness & vexation", so, maybe yes: that is the same. I classify it as a question which leads to a "thicket of wrong views" -- which IMO want Alexander's solution to the Gordian Knot e.g. the way to solve the question is not to ask it, or to avoid it on the grounds that it "doesn't lead to the cessation of stress" and is therefore off-topic or unhealthy. – ChrisW Jun 3 '17 at 18:13
  • @ChrisW Wow I thought that the phrase "vexing question" was unique to Buddhism and well-known within it. Not sure what text I first read it in long ago, apparently it is not so commonplace as I thought. But, there is no reason you-all can not start using it now, since it it so apt, poignant and self-explanatory! I don't have a trademark on it. – user2341 Jun 4 '17 at 14:07
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I think this ideas are initially coming from Visuddhimaga and then from Abhidhamma Sangahata. Some commentators do not attribute this to Buddha as these are late additions. My personal opinion is that it is not that hard for a advanced practitioner to experience these.

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In the Dhanuggaha Sutta, in referring to an individual lifetime, the Buddha said “faster than the speed of the devas who rush ahead of the sun and moon, the force of one’s life span comes to an end”. In the Abidhamma, it is said that the most fundamental unit, the smallest ever that is found survives only 17 mind moments (citta kshana). One mind/thought-moment (cittakshana) is so short that it has been estimated that there are approximately 8,125 moments in a second. Distinguishing these cittakshana is harder than identifying cetasika.

In the Milindapañha it is said that, "If a man were to take a handful of water from the ocean and tasting it could say, ‘This water is from the Ganges, this from the Jumna, this from the Gandak, this from the Sarabhu, and this from the Mahi.’ More difficult than this is the distinguishing of those mental states that accompany any one of the senses."

As it is said in Abidhamma, the smallest particle lives only 17 mind moments, but it still consists of the 8 dhatu: Apo (Liquidity), Thejo (Heat), Wayo (Air), Patavi (Solidness), Warna (Color), Gandha (Smell), Rasa (Taste) and Ojasa (juice). Only a Buddha could see to such a level of detail, and see through the minute subatomic particles which are continuously arising and vanishing.

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Buddha sasana is Sila, Samadhi and panna. Depend on this one will see through the dhamma to certain extent accordingly. If to compare Buddha knowledge to the deep deep ocean, sotappana has one length of bamboo plant, sakadagami, twice, anagami, thrice, and arahant, four time of that bamboo length to measure the depth of deep deep ocean. So rupa and nama how come and go, you can see through depend on your level.

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The buddha teachers what he has realised for himself. Regarding matter most information is found the Abhidhamma.

The Life-Time of Matter-Rūpa

The life-time of matter or Rūpa is 17 times longer than that of citta. So, we can say that the life-time of rūpa is equal to 17 cittakkhaṇas, or 17 conscious moments, or 51 short instants (17X3 = 51); as there are 3 short instants in a moment of consciousness. Thus, rūpa also arises and dissolves at a tremendous rate of more than 58 billion times per second. The difference between citta and rūpa is as follows: citta arise one after another, whereas rūpa arise by manifesting as thousands of units in a small instant and it goes on constantly arising at every small instant in time. Therefore, rūpa may accumulate to become large masses that are visible to the naked eye, whereas the fleeting stream of consciousnesses is invisible to the naked eye.

Source: Process of Consiousness and Matter by Bhaddanta Dr. Rewata Dhamma

Through the Buddha did not preach everything he realised. What is important is found in the Teachings. Though you might not see them for your self out of faith perhaps you can accept. Through meditation parts of it may get revealed, but not to the extend the Buddha comprehended. If the parts you see is true perhaps you can assume the rest is true too.

Also any meditator who reaches the stage of Udayabbaya ñana and beyond can see the arising and passing of matter.

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  • Tho 'm reserved to take 17/51 or whatever the defined, I do get inspired by the quoted last part abt The difference between citta and rupa... I suggest to give ur answer some tone of indetermination but just a reference point would help keeping it free from incorrect imposition of any unconfirmed ideas. Imo the Ultimate Truth couldn't be confined or tagged by any human numbering, numbering belongs to the intellect only. – Mishu 米殊 May 26 '17 at 12:46
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Buddha isn't a regular human being, that's why you are unable to see something like that.

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