Dharma Questions: Abhidhamma (With Beth Upton)

[10/3/22 UPDATE: This post was originally published on 8/4/2022. Since then I decided to ask Beth Upton back to address some of these questions and had to change the blog post publishing date in order for WordPress to push this out as a new podcast. I told Beth beforehand I’d do an extra audio intro afterwards due to limited time, but I’ve changed my mind, and we didn’t even get to all the questions. For more of her background please see her website BethUpton.com and our previous talks and checkout her latest project sanditthika.org a fledgling community in rural Spain for dedicated meditators]

The following questions arose while listening to what appears to be seven published videos from a 2006 (or 2016?) lecture series on Abhidhamma from Pa Auk Sayadaw [see end of post for all these videos]:

  • describe visual details of various kalapas
  • how can there be essence (as in nutritive essence, or is this maybe an inaccurate translation?)
  • What’s on the inside of Pa auk Sayadaw’s right arm?
  • Did Buddha teach (specific) kasina meditations?
    • Why no extended teachings on kasina meditation in the suttas?
      • [More specifically I meant why no mention (that I know of) in the suttas of using colored discs for kasina mediation as put forth in the Visuddhimagga]
    • Beth references suttas on emptiness that mention kasina
  • What is the supportive nature of air element or how is the air element considered supportive?
  • Is it possible to discern pre- and post-kalapa phenomena as in being able to discern the causes and conditions leading up to the arising of a single kalapa and/or how the perishing of a single kalapa could influence, condition and/or be a cause to/of subsequent phenomena?
  • Could reality be significantly shifted/altered by/with different perceptual modes such as by variations in how of kalaps are perceived by meditators?
    • [While I did not mention this to Beth I wanted to emphasize: Let’s say Meditator B receives misleading Abhidhamma instruction with specific intent — deliberate or not — that differs significantly from Meditator A who receives right and proper Abhidhamma instruction taught with its true intent. Due to such high levels teachings and high levels of skill required to see and know Abhidhamma — and without discouraging (aspiring) practitioners — what could be some of the unforeseen negative consequences for Meditator B?]
  • What determines a kalapa’s location? How does this work?
  • How does Adhimokkha, decision work?

We did not get to the follow questions:

  • How does impingement happen, such as color impinging on eye base/sensitivity?
  • (If I’m getting this right) why is water not (considered) a tangible object (in these abhidhamma teachings)?
  • Is (the perception of) nonexistence conditioned? Why or why not and how?
  • How does fire element produce generations (of kalapas)? And why?
  • Is it (initially) easier for some to discern kalapas in fine/subtle material realms / deva realms / Brahmā realms? Why or why not?
  • Is there any significance(s) in (the) kalapas constituting DNA and/or various subatomic particles in establishment science?
  • What’s materiality/mentality like on boundary of form and the formless and what is the relationship of this, if any, to Nibbana?

Image sources:




Parts 2 – 7 of the aforementioned series:

Audio: Dharma Questions: Abhidhamma (With Beth Upton)

Published by josh dippold


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