Monday, 28 February 2011


In his translations Xuang Cang uses 界 'world' to denote the term 'dhatu' as in 意識界. Ordinarily this would translated into English as 'mind-element' but this is problematic. First of all, it implies that whatever the mind is, is irreducible as it is elementary and possesses some atomistic quality. This is not implied in the Buddha's teaching. Dhatu means 'world', in the sense of the older, non-mathematical use of the term 'sphere' similar associations exist. Indeed, as with the Sanskrit, sphere has a number of meanings and in some ways the uncertainty of meaning acts to facility the insubstantial nature of the dhatus as implies in Buddhist thought. Amongst 'senses' found in the OED we find: '..the visible vault of heaven, in which the celestial bodies appear to have their place.' And, 'a place of abode different from the present earth or world; a heaven.' Clearly implied in such terms as rupadhatu etc.  When describing the features 'Of deities, persons, or things'. We also find: 'A province or domain in which one's activities or
faculties find scope or exercise, or within which they are naturally
confined; range or compass of action or study.' The more abstract the defintion, the more appropriate it becomes for use:  'The whole province, domain, or range of some quality, thing, etc.' and '..of action, activity, operation, etc.'

The notion of concentric spheres also applies, 'One or other of the concentric, transparent, hollow
globes imagined by the older astronomers as revolving round the earth
and respectively carrying with them the several heavenly bodies (moon,
sun, planets, and fixed stars).'  Whilst the skandha model is not concerned with cosmology the creation of the world as lived as a psychological process can be depicted as a set of rings.

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