Paramattha & Sammuti sacca: No good explanation

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    • #37024

      Dearest Lal, In doing research for a current paper, I have been unable to find a good explanation, application and contextual meaning of these two Pali phrases. As you are aware, the true meaning of various Pali words may change due to contextual applications. So, I wonder whether these concatenated phrases are unique to the Abhidhamma only. What are the comparative meanings between paramattha and sammuti? In general, I comprehend that ‘parama” and ‘attha” have specific meanings, but the contextual meaning, in regard to the Buddha’s teachings/usage of the concatenation of these two Pali words does not appear to have a good or complete explanation by Pali scholars. Additionally, resources such as the Pali Text Society, Sutta Central and TamilCube, only provide basic definitions without explanation. I thought perhaps you could provide some assistance in this area. Always, in metta, Dipobhasadhamma

    • #37027

      Hello Dipobhasadhamma,

      There are two main usages in Buddha Dhamma. In both, “paramattha” (“parama” + “attha”) means “ultimate truth” and “sammuti” means “conventional or adopted by humans”.

      1. The sammuti version of our world is to say it has humans, animals, Devas, houses, mountains, planets, stars, etc.
      – But in Abhidhamma all that can be reduced to 28 types of rupa, 81 types of citta, and 52 types of cetasika. That is the paramattha version.
      – Living beings with the perception of sammuti version of the world engage in unfruitful activities seeking pleasures in this world and only end up with NET suffering.
      – When that understanding comes, one becomes an Arahant and attains Nibbana (separate from this world). Nibbana is the true paramattha sacca in Buddha Dhamma.

      2. There are other versions of the usage in different forms.

      For example, when we use such expressions as ‘I’, ‘you’, ‘man’, ‘woman’, ‘person’, ‘individual’, we are speaking about things that do not exist in reality. They exist only for short durations within the beginningless rebirth process.
      – the Ultimate Truth is that there is no ‘person’, ‘individual’ or ‘I’ that will last. The only unchanging reality is Nibbana.

      However, while living in this world, an Arahant or even the Buddha needs to use conventional terms like “I” and “me.”

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