Reply To: About SN22.95 Pheṇapiṇḍūpamasutta


LayDhammaFollower wrote: “So, we behave like donkey pulling cart (bearing painful PañcakKhanda), except not only carrot is not reachable but carrot in not there in the first place!

1. That is true in a more profound sense. We have what is called “ghana saññā” or “perception of dense matter.” Here, “ghana” means “thick/solid/dense,” not to be confused with “ghāna,” meaning the “ghāna pasāda rupa” responsible for smelling.

  • I just tried to look for a sutta on “ghana saññā” at Sutta Central, but nothing shows up. But “ghana saññā” is another form of “wrong perception” we have about material objects. 
  • We think our physical bodies are dense and that steel is highly dense.

2. However, the atoms that makeup everything in our external physical world are mostly empty space!

  • The average atomic radius is about 100 picometers (pm), about 10^-10 meters. The size of the nucleus, on the other hand, is much smaller than the size of the atom. The average size of a nucleus is about 5 to 10 femtometers (fm), which is about 10^-15 meters. Thus, a nucleus is about five orders of magnitude smaller in “radius” and volume-wise unimaginably tiny compared to an atom.
  • On the other hand, 99+% of the mass of an atom is in the nucleus!
  • That is why an atom is almost “void of matter”!

3. Yet, we perceive our bodies and everything around us to be “solid” and “dense.” That is the wrong perception of “ghana saññā.” But I have not seen any discussion on that in any English texts. 

  • So, LDF ‘s “hunch” is entirely accurate. 

4. To understand how “empty” an atom (or a physical object) is, we can ask the following question: “If all atoms on the earth are collapsed to the nuclear dimension what would be the earth’s radius?”

  • The radius of the Earth is about 6,371 kilometers (km). If all the atoms making up the Earth collapsed to their nuclear dimension, the radius of the Earth would be only  64 meters! That is smaller than a city block!
  • I asked the ChatGPT to do this calculation, and it got confused first; see  my chat on December 27, 2022, at 11:32 am: “Debunking the Great AI Lie – Video.”

5. The Buddha called the elementary unit of matter a “bhuta” or a ghost for that reason. At that level, it is impossible to detect, just as it is impossible to see a ghost. 

  • I mentioned this briefly in the post “The Origin of Matter – Suddhāṭṭhaka“; see, especially #10.
  • Scientists tried to pin down the “smallest unit of matter,” but it (Higgs boson) turned out to be a “packet of energy.” Per the Wikipedia article, “Higgs boson,”: “After a 40-year search, a subatomic particle with the expected properties was discovered in 2012 by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland.”
  • Thus, science has again confirmed the worldview of the Buddha!

6. Therefore, all our mental impressions about rupa are “distorted.”  Viññāṇa (including vipāka viññāṇa) is a magician; it presents a “distorted version” of the world. Understanding that is “yathābhūta ñāna.” 

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